Easy Baba Ganouj Dip

Baba Ganouj is a yummy and healthy middle eastern dip you’ve got to try. I’ve stayed away from this in the past because I’m a) not a huge fan of eggplant and b) it seemed a little too involved having to roast a whole eggplant first. I’ve enjoyed making the much easier version below and I hope you will as well.  If you don’t have tahini or are looking for a slightly more frugal way to make this, try using some unsweetened peanut butter instead. I prefer the baba ganouj with tahini, but the pb will do in a pinch. I serve this with pita, crackers or some cut up raw veggies.

Baba Ganouj
Recipe type: Dip
  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut the eggplant into 2 inch chunks, wrap them in foil and bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until the flesh is soft. Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. Remove the skin from the cooled eggplant and place it in a blender. Add the garlic, parsley, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil. Blend until smooth.
  4. The dip tastes great right away, but letting the flavors blend in the refrigerator for a couple hours will be even better.


baba ganouj

Homemade Kettle Corn

Last night I posted a new Frugal Tip about having a family movie night. An essential ingredient for us is popcorn. While any popcorn will do, my absolute favorite is Kettle Corn. There’s just something about the sweet and salty combination on every single crunchy kernel.

Yes, you can buy the microwaveable kind. It’s fairly inexpensive and only takes a few minutes to pop in the microwave. In fact, if you would have come over to my house 5 months ago, there’s a pretty good chance you would have seen some of that in my pantry. Then our microwave broke and we made it a bit of a challenge to see how long we could live without it. Despite the fact that I could most of our meals from scratch, we had gotten quite depended on it. We used it to heat up leftovers, reheat coffee that had gotten cold and the likes.

It took a little time to adjust but we were managing quite well without it. Until we all sat down to watch a movie and were missing the popcorn. We still had some microwave bags left over, and my husband decided to pop them in a large pop with a lid. It was very easy and almost as fast as the microwave version. And the taste was soo much better.

I picked up some popcorn kernels on my next shopping trip and started to experiment. Here’s my favorite version of sweet and salty Kettle Corn. Give it a try and see if you don’t like it better than the store bought kind.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Kettle Corn
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 4
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste
  1. Get out a large pot with a lid. I have one with a long handle and a glass lid that works really well. Add the vegetable oil and heat it over medium heat.
  2. Add your kernels and and the sugar. If you're not sure if the oil is hot enough, toss in a couple of kernels and see if they pop.
  3. Add the lid and holding the lid with one hand, move the pan around, tossing the kernels in the vegetable, sugar mixture. Alternate having it on the heat and moving the kernels around by gently shaking the pot right above the burner until most of them have popped.
  4. Pour your movie snack into a large bowl and add some salt to taste.


I recommend you grab a big handful as you’re taking it over to your family. It’ll be gone fast it’s so good.

Bowl of homemade kettle corn

Kale Chips – Healthy Delicious And Frugal Snack

I never thought I would want to try making Kale Chips.  It just seemed like such an odd recipe.  But, not only did I try them, I liked them, and now I am hooked on them!

A while back, I started seeing recipes start popping up all over the place for Kale Chips.  Since I cook kale quite often in soups, stews, or even just sauteed in a skillet as a side dish, I finally thought, “Why not?”  So, I gave Kale Chips a try and now they are one of our favorite snacks;  and not just me, but my husband and daughter have grown quite fond of them, as well.

The nutritional value is tremendous, which makes this recipe appealing right from the start.  But, add in how cheap kale is and I just can’t see a reason NOT to make this snack.

And the best news is they taste great!  With just a bit of natural tartness, they don’t need much more flavoring.  I just sprinkle on a bit of kosher salt after they come out of the oven.  Of course, a light sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese is nice, too.

I hope you’ll give this recipe a try.  It took me a while to convince myself that the recipe would work and that it would taste good.  Now I make Kale Chips several times a week and they never last long enough even to cool off!  Enjoy!

Kale Chips
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This recipe will surprise and delight you. It may take you a few times to get the 'chips' just the right size so they crisp up nicely, but make a couple batches, tweak the size, timing, and oven temperature, and you'll soon get them to come out delicious and crispy every time.
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 4
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • optional: other seasonings such as grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, or herbs
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees* and get out a large baking sheet. (*Oven temperatures vary. Be sure to watch your first batch carefully, and then adjust temperature according to your oven.)
  2. Wash the kale.
  3. Cut the leafy part of the kale off of the stems; discard the stems.
  4. Cut the kale into pieces about the size of a quarter. Try to keep all the pieces as close to the same size as possible.
  5. This part is very important - thoroughly dry the kale. Use a salad spinner if you have one. If not, dry with paper towels or with the 'swinging towel' method where you bundle the kale inside a clean towel and swing the towel around in big circles.
  6. Place the dry kale in a big bowl, drizzle on the olive oil, and mix with your hands until the kale is coated. Don't use too much olive oil or the kale will get soggy instead of crispy.
  7. Dump the kale onto the baking sheet and spread out into as much of a single layer as possible.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Then, using tongs, pick the kale up and flip it around and over as much as possible.
  9. Slide back into oven and cook an additional 10 minutes, or until the kale starts to get dark in color and begins to crisp.
  10. Again using tongs, toss the kale around once more. They should be crispy enough to remove from the oven, but if not, you can let them bake for another 5 minutes, more or less.
  11. Remove the baking pan and toss them around again. The kale chips will actually get crispier once they are removed from the oven and you toss them around.
  12. Salt lightly, taste, and add more seasoning if desired.
  13. Serve as snacks or toppings for soups, stews, or casseroles. You can also mix in with quinoa, rice, or pasta dishes.

Once you get the process down, you’ll be making Kale Chips more and more often, and finding lots of ways to use them.  But, like I said, they rarely last long enough to make it to another dish in our house.  Truth be told, they rarely make it off the baking sheet!

Give these nutritious snacks a try and be sure to come back and comment below with your thoughts.

Warm Herbed Mixed Nuts – Gifts In A Jar

  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed or chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup whole walnuts

Get a pint jar washed and ready, including the lid. You can use a canning jar if you have it, but any pretty jar will do.
Put the ingredients in the jar in the order listed.
Cut a piece of pretty fabric to fit over the jar’s lid with plenty hanging over. Place the fabric over the lid and tie it on with a ribbon or piece of yarn.

Write out the following preparation instructions on a little card and punch a hole in the top of the card then tie on to the ribbon:

To Prepare Snack You’ll Need:

  • 1 jar mix
  • 2 Tbsp butter

Put small skillet on low heat.
Add the mix and butter; cook, stirring, until nuts brown slightly and mixture becomes fragrant and toasty.
Dump out onto a paper towel covered plate and let cool slightly before eating.

Homemade Christmas Gifts and MoreWould you like to steer clear of the holiday shopping crowds? You can with this guide to Homemade Christmas Gifts and More.

Making Homemade Christmas gifts is one way to actually enjoy the process of gift-giving. Not only are homemade gifts and decorations frugal, they’re more fun!

We don’t have to rush out to the mall to shop for Christmas when we have ideas for creating gifts right at home. Take time to enjoy your holiday season. Click on and download now to start planning your frugal AND fun Christmas.


Easy Baked Brie With Cranberry Orange Glaze

  • 1 package of refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1 round or wedge of Brie cheese (do not remove rind)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup leftover cranberry orange relish (depending how much Brie you use)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • sprinkle of light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and lightly spray a cookie sheet or cover with parchment paper.
Unroll the crescent rolls on the cookie sheet, pinching the perforations closed.
Set the Brie on top of the dough.
Top the Brie evenly with the leftover cranberry orange relish. Pull the dough up over the Brie, with the seams facing up, cutting off the extra dough as you go.  Pinch the seams together.
Drizzle melted butter over the dough (or brush it on) and sprinkle the brown sugar on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Remove and let stand at room temperature for 8 to 10 minutes.

Baked Brie

Fried Stuffing Nibbles With Cranberry Pesto

  • 6 cups leftover stuffing
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 cup seasoned fine bread crumbs
  • 1 cup leftover cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • oil for frying

Put leftover stuffing onto a work surface and firmly pat about 1 inch thick layer, then cut into bite-sized cube shapes, set aside.
In a small bowl, add the eggs and milk and whisk until blended well.
In a separate small bowl, put the bread crumbs.
Coat each individual stuffing cube by dipping first in the egg/milk mixture, then dredge in the bread crumbs, making sure they are covered well; then set on platter while you prepare the pesto.
To prepare pesto:  Put cranberry sauce, pepper and walnuts in food processor and pulse until almost smooth, then spoon out into a small bowl and set aside.
To prepare stuffing nibbles:  In a deep heavy skillet or fryer, preheat oil to 350 degrees. Pour enough oil in so you have about 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep layer.
When oil is at 350 degrees, gently add several stuffing cubes in and fry until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove each one to drain on a paper towel covered cooling rack. Sprinkle with salt while still hot from the fryer if desired.
Serve with the cranberry pesto as a dip.

Classic Kid Friendly Finger Foods – Perfect For A Picnic Or Party

and separate into triangles along the perforations.
Sprinkle each crescent roll lightly with the garlic powder and Italian seasonings.
Put pepperoni on the roll, then place half a length of string cheese on top.
Roll up (from wide side to point) and put on baking sheet.
Bake according to crescent roll instructions, until light golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack.
Serve with warm pizza sauce for dipping.

Bundled Up Dogs

  • refrigerated crescent rolls
  • hotdogs

Unroll the crescent rolls and separate along the perforations into triangles.
Put a hotdog on each crescent roll and roll (wide side to point) and put on baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven according to crescent roll directions.
Serve with your favorite condiments for dipping.

These are great finger-foods for picnics, parties, or even snacks.  There is a reason they are considered classics!  Enjoy!

p.s.  I shared these recipes, and a few more, with my friend Tracy at MomsInABlog.com.  Be sure and click on the link to see how easy it is to make a fun, and easy, picnic with just a few kid-friendly recipes.

Homemade Cracker Recipes

Saltines are a staple at our house that are served with all sorts of soups and stews. They are also perfect in all sorts of casserole recipes and my favorite – meatloaf.

Here’s a quick and easy homemade cracker recipe that tastes just like saltines. Often it ends up being cheaper to buy them at the store, but it’s fun to make them every once in a while. The taste is great and you can control the amount of salt (if any) you put on them.

Basic Saltines:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 large egg

You will also need a large mixing bowl and and a fine sieve to make your crackers.

Sift flour, salt and baking powder and place into a large mixing bowl.

Cut cold butter into small chunks and “cut” into the flour until it reaches a grainy consistency.

Add milk and egg and knead until it becomes a stiff dough. Roll the dough out really thin. You can cut the dough into squares or you can also cut circles.

Prick little holes in the crackers with a fork and bake them in a 400 degree preheated oven for about 10 minutes.

*Tip: If you would like to make round crackers and don’t have any cookie cutters, just use the rim of a small glass or cup. Dip the rim into a little flour first and then you can cut your crackers.

If you like salted crackers, sprinkle the uncooked crackers with a little bit of coarse salt.

This next recipe is a bit more of a “special occasion” cracker. I make these as an appetizer when we have company over.

Parmesan Herb Crackers:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 ozs grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

Place butter into the bowl of your electric mixer and mix it until it becomes creamy.

Grate fresh Parmesan cheese (it’s okay if you need to buy already grated Parmesan from the market). Add cheese, flour, salt and thyme to the butter and mix until it form a ball of dough.

Place a long piece of plastic wrap on your work surface and place the dough ball in the center of one end. Form the dough into a log and roll it up in the plastic.Place the log into the freezer for 30 min.(this makes it easier to slice.)

Remove from the freezer after thirty minutes and cut the log into ¼ inch thick slices. Place the slices on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 20 minutes.

No-More-Expensive Microwave Popcorn – Video

Our family loves popcorn for snacking anytime day or night.  What I don’t like is the salt and additives that I see in the store-bought microwave popcorn.  Yes, they are convenient, but how much easier can you get than throwing popcorn in a bag and throwing it in the microwave?  Check out this video for the simplest, cheapest, and healthiest microwave popcorn you can get. [Read more…]

DHA-Enhanced Baby Muffins

  • 1/3 cup of softened butter
  • 1/3 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of granulated cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 DHA-enhanced stage 2 containers of baby food (fruit is sweeter, but veggies work too!)
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup DHA-enhanced rice cereal (I prefer Gerbers DHA Rice Cereal)
  • 1/4 cup of multi-grain baby cereal

Combine the brown sugar, cane sugar, cinnamon, & baking soda in a mixing bowl. Add the butter & mix until all big lumps are gone. Add baby food and egg. Mix until smooth. Slowly mix in flour, & then slowly mix in cereals. Preheat oven to 375 degre es. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop the batter into a 12-hole cupcake pan (lightly oiled – I used canola oil, but olive oil or PAM would work too). Sprinkle a little cinnamon & sugar on top of each muffin. Bake for 15-17 minute. Let sit for 10min & carefully remove from cupcake pan. Optional ingredient: mix in dried fruit or trail mix to add variety. Let your little ones enjoy warm or refrigerated. Perfect for ages 9m-36m.

editor's note: from Beech-Nut, information regarding DHA

Cheeseburger Side Shots

  • 1 loaf frozen bread, thawed and risen once

Filling ingredients:

  • onion powder to taste
  • mustard to taste
  • 1 Tblsp. buttermilk powder
  • 1 pkg of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 lb cooked ,crumbled, cooled ground beef

Mix filling ingredients together; should taste like a cheeseburger.

Punch down bread and divide dough in half, roll thin, in a rect. shape. 15×10.

Cut six squares. Put about 1/4 cup filling in middle of each square, fold up edges, eggwash edges and pinch edges as needed. Eggwash tops and sides, place on greased baking sheet.
Bake 350 degrees 15 min.

They taste just like the ones at the store without all the preservatives. My grandsons live with us and they really like them. I quit buying the pre-made ones in the freezer department after reading they were full of nasty stuff.  And I get 12 good sized side-shots out of this recipe. Now I make them with sausage, eggs, and cheese. You can freeze these too. Hope everyone who makes these like them. I try to mimick a lot of store-bought foods.

Gluten Free Summer Treats

I don’t know about where you are but here in Pennsylvania it has been extremely hot the past few weeks.  So I thought that I would share some of the cool treats that I like to make for my granddaughters.

They are not only refreshing, but are better for the girls than the store bought frozen treats.  Besides with the Frozen Fruit Pops I control the amount of sugar.

                                               Frozen Fruit Pops

  • 1 1/2 Cups of fresh fruit  (strawberries, pineapple, peaches*, or whatever your child likes)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

In a blender, blend the fruit, sugar, honey and lemon juice with 1 cup of ice until mixture is semi chunky.  Add another 1/2 cup of ice and blend until smooth.

Pour mixture into popcicle holders** and freeze until firm.  About 5 hours, or over night. 

*If using peaches or other fruit with a skin on it, remove skin before blending in the blender.

                                               Frozen Pudding Pops

  • 1 small package Jello brand pudding mix any flavor
  • 2 Cups cold milk

Whisk ingredients until completely mixed about 2 minutes.  Pour into popcicle holders.**  Freeze about 5 hours or overnight.

**Run popcicle holders under warm water for a few seconds to unmold the frozen treats.  If you don’t have popcicle holders you can always use bathroom size dixie cups and popcicle or craft sticks.  Just freeze slightly before inserting the sticks into the center of the cups, and remember to peel the paper off first.

I use Jello brand pudding because that is the only brand I am certain is gluten free.  But, as always, check ingredients before using.

I hope you and your children have fun making these and enjoy them as much as my granddaughters do.

Mary Blackburn has been gluten free since 1988 and is the owner of http://www.easyglutenfreeliving.com.  She invites you to visit her site for more gluten free living tips and recipes.  While you’re there, take a moment to sign up for The Gluten Free Gazette, her bi-weekly newsletter filled with articles and answers to your questions about gluten, gluten free living and celiac disease.

Texas FireCrackers

4 sleeves of saltine crackers
1 Cup EVOO
4 Tbsp Dried Red Chili Peppers
4 tsp Garlic Salt

In a large plastic container lay down one sleeve of crackers, pour 1/4 cup of Olive oil evenly over them and dump 1 Tsp of Garlic Salt and 1 Tbsp of Dried Red Chili Peppers. Repeat until all ingredients are added to container. Seal the container and gently spin/shake it to coat crackers and then set it upside down on the counter. Flip ever 15 – 20 minutes. for about an hour to coat crackers evenly.