Meatless Monday – Roast Pumpkin and Honey Soup

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, meal planning is key.

You can save a lot of money buying fresh but if you don’t keep on top of things then what you buy can quickly turn and you just end up throwing cash in the bin. Deciding how much to buy can be a precise art. As I’m sure I will write about more in other articles, you want to visit the grocery store as infrequently as possible. You will always spend more overall on lots of small trips rather than one big shop. But if you buy too much of one thing you’re sure to see wastage

However, there are exceptions to this rule. One of them for me is pumpkin. Pumpkins are huge, cheap and seem to last forever. If you get a big one, it can sometimes seem like you are putting pumpkin in every meal and just not getting through it.

This recipe is my go-to when I just want to get leftover pumpkin out of my fridge. As with most soups this is ideal because it freezes so well that it doesn’t really matter how much of it you make.

 

Ingredients (for four)

  • 1kg of pumpkin cut into 1-2 inch chunks with skin on (separate the pips as well)
  • 2 brown onions
  • Keens curry powder
  • Honey
  • Roughly 1 litre of vegie stock (or chicken of you’re not fussed about the vegetarian thing)
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Sriracha sauce (optional)
  • Greek yoghurt to garnish

Steps

  1. Heat the oven to 220 degrees celsius.
  2. Put chopped pumpkin and onion, peeled and cut into wedges, in a baking tray. Drizzle olive oil over everything then a tablespoon or so of curry powder and drizzle a couple tablespoons of honey, then mix so the pumpkin and onion are fully coated. This is all flavouring so measurements are only rough guides. Do it to your own tastes (that’s what I do). Keeping the pumpkin skin on is also key to this soup. When roasted it will add a deep caramelized flavour to the soup and, like the skin of many fruit and vegetables, it is packed with a lot of great nutrients and goodies.
  3. Roast the pumpkin until the pumpkin is completely soft and the tops are starting to crisp and brown.
  4. Put the contents of the baking tray into a pot on the stove (don’t leave anything, scrape in all the crispy and crunchy goodies). Put in about a litre of stock, bring to boil and then reduce to a consistence simmer. Let the pumpkin break up for a while. How much stock you use will depend on how thick you want your soup. I litre will give you a quite a thick liquid.
  5. While the pumpkin is simmering, melt some butter and mix in the Sriracha sauce is using. Toss the pumpkin seeds in this mixture and pop it in the oven to crisp then up They go from crispy to burnt in a matter of seconds so monitor them closely. This will be used as a garnish that adds a nice bit of crunch to the soup and is also a really yummy way to use more of the pumpkin.
  6. Blend the pumpkin, onions and stock into a smooth mixture.
  7. Put the soup into some bowls and top with some roasted seeds and a dap of Greek yoghurt.

 

The 5-Step Guide To Doing It

Welcome to The Frugal Mrs Jones’s 5-step guide to doing it. What is it? In this case, it can be something, anything, and everything — paying off your credit cards, starting an emergency fund, asking someone out, calling your parents, eating something other than ramen, paying your bills, balancing your checkbook, creating a budget, cutting your expenses, getting a hair cut, getting them all cut, planning a vacation, eliminating your debt, finishing your thesis, or walking your dog.

Step 1: Admit that you need to do it.

The first step is to simply admit that it needs to be done. This is easier said than done. It’s really easy to put it off until you’re not as busy, or any of the other excuses you can come up with. However, the truth is that it will never get done until you face the reality that you need to do it.

Step 2: Convince yourself that you can do it.

Now that you’ve admitted that it needs to be done, the next challenge is convincing yourself that you can actually do it. To do this, you have to overcome your fear of failure. The key thing to remember is that there’s a 100% chance of failure if you never try doing it in the first place.

Step 3: Start doing it.

The previous two steps were just mental preparation for this step. Now it’s time to start the physical act of doing it. This is probably the easiest step of the entire process. A lot of people start doing it, but many people never make it any farther.

Step 4: Keep doing it.

You have to keep it up once you start doing it. Beware of this step though because if you blow it here, you may end up falling back down to Step 1. You will experience obstacles along the way, and it’ll be tempting to take the easy way out. However, instead of giving up, remind yourself of why you need to do it and the fact that you can do it.

Step 5: Do it until it’s done.

You can finally see the finish line, but it still seems so far away. Well, put on your glasses, throw in your contacts, or get laser eye surgery! You’re almost done, so just keep doing it. Finish what you needed to do and what you know you can do by doing it until it’s done.

7 Ways for College Students to Save Money Over the Summer

For college students, the summer is a great opportunity to get a head start on financing the upcoming school year — or it can mean frittering away what you’ve worked hard to save the previous year. Hopefully you’re determined to fall into the former category and see the next few months as a building block rather than a stumbling block for your financial future.

If so, here are seven ways you can save money over the summer:

1. Work.

Obviously the best way to keep your cash flow flowing throughout the summer is to get a job and have money coming in.

Whether it’s mowing lawns or working at a friend’s mother’s law office, make sure you have something to do so you’re not only spending money, you’re also replacing it — and possibly even saving up for the fall.

2. Stay away from late night fast food.

Aside from being the healthy thing to do, staying away from fast food is also money-smart. Yes, it’s easy to pull into a drive-thru when you get hungry on a late summer evening, but those overpriced milkshakes and fries add up fast.

Guard against late night fast food binges by making sure you have plenty of snacks in the house — even if you’re still not going to grab a piece of fruit, a bag of frozen french fries will be cheaper than stopping at a fast food place.

3. Volunteer.

If you volunteer, you won’t have money coming in, but at least it’ll keep you busy. One of the big reasons students spend more money than they should throughout the summer is because they have nothing else to do.

Think about it, what do you do when you’re bored in the summer? Go to the mall? Go out to eat? Go grab a five-dollar iced coffee? Stop boredom in its tracks by filling up your time with volunteering at a children’s summer camp, nursing home, or whatever interests you — as an added bonus, you’ll be helping others in the process.

4. Take classes at a local college.

Yes, you’ll be spending money to take the class, but it might be cheaper than taking courses at your university and even help you graduate sooner, saving you money overall.

And again, you’ll be keeping yourself busy between going to class and studying, so that will leave you far less time to be bored and wondering where you can spend money.

5. Travel frugally.

For many students, summer is a time for taking off and seeing and experiencing new people, places, and things — as well it should be so long as you can afford it. Decide first how much money you have to spend on a vacation and then pick your destination.

When choosing where to go, don’t forget all the interesting places close to home that maybe you have never visited, or you’ve only seen as an elementary school student. Before your trip, budget everything (transportation costs, accommodation, meals, admission fees, extras like souvenirs, etc.), and stick to it as closely as possible.

6. Start your own tip jar.

Yes, this is common sense, but a great way to save money is by literally putting it away somewhere and not touching it.

Start your own tip jar by throwing in loose change, or, consider putting in each and every five-dollar bill you receive; you’d be surprised at how quickly they add up.

7. Get school books early.

As summer winds down and you start thinking about school again, consider getting a jump start on the semester buy buying your books ahead of time, preferably online for maximum savings.

Meatless Monday – Sriracha Lime Roasted Chickpeas

Let me begin by stating I could probably live the rest of my life without ever eating another sweet.  While I do enjoy them on occasion, they are not what I crave when I actually crave something.  My downfall has always been salty/crunchy.  And nothing, I mean absolutely nothing, satisfies that craving better than sitting down with a bowl of freshly popped popcorn drizzled with butter.

As for the Chickpeas, I’ve never been a fan.  While they were meaty I also found them too pasty.  Their texture was a total turn off to me and every recipe I come across that uses them I substitute a different bean, usually Cannellini.  But the more I read the more I discovered that these crunchy, little, flavored nuggets were satisfying the cravings of my fellow popcorn fanatics, in a healthier way,  so I knew I had to try them.

There are a bazillion different ways to flavor them but the main gist is to use 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt per can of beans.  After that, the flavoring possibilities are practically endless.

I did a lot of recipe reading before Mr. Foodie left town and settled on two flavor profiles.  I then spent an entire Saturday afternoon and part of Sunday playing around with them.  Sriracha with Lime and Wasabi (hoping to find something like Wasabi Peas).  I ended up doing six different batches.  Straight from the can, from the can but peeling each and every bean (based on one blogger’s preference) and marinating overnight.  If you have anything close to Carpal Tunnel I DO NOT recommend peeling each and every bean.  I don’t have the affliction but by the time I was done peeling an entire can of beans I was definitely ready for a pain pill…or a very stiff drink.

In the end, the Wasabi was a total failure no matter what I did.  I was left with a bunch of black, burnt, balls with a bitter flavor that was totally inedible.  As for peeling, the peas shrunk to about half their size and while they may have been a tad bit crunchier there was no noticeable difference in flavor.  Save your wrists and finger tips.  Peeling is unnecessary in my opinion.  The same with marinating overnight.  No noticeable difference in flavor, at least as far as the Sriracha is concerned.  If you want some roasted chickpeas just open a can, drain them, rinse them, rub off any existing loose skins so they don’t burn, season and roast.

Period.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can Chickpeas
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-½ teaspoon Sriracha Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Lime Juice
  • ½ teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Grated Lime Zest

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Zest the lime and set aside.
  4. Rinse and drain chickpeas. With a paper towel, pat dry and rub chickpeas to get off any loose skins.
  5.  In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, Sriracha sauce, lime juice and sea salt. Add chickpeas to the sauce and toss to coat.
  6. Dump the chickpeas evenly on the pan.
  7. Place in the oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until crunchy.
  8. Remove from baking sheet to a bowl and sprinkle with reserved lime zest.  Toss to coat and allow to cool.
  9. Once cool, store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.

So here’s my honest opinion.

My popcorn addiction runs too deep.  It is firmly embedded in my DNA at this point.  I’m not sure anything will ever come close to satiating that craving.

With that said, these are quite the tasty little buggers.

Not blow my mind, over the top but they are crunchy and quite tasty and I love the fact that I’m getting a little protein from them.

They are good for when you need a handful of something crunchy or as a salad topping in place of starchy croutons.  I also wouldn’t hesitate to throw a bowl of these out at my next party.

I’ll do them again and will continue to experiment with different flavor profiles and report back!

Meatless Monday – Summer Vegetable Pancakes

Got Summer Squash?

Are you in the never-ending battle of looking for new ways to use them?

Me, too.

Give these little guys a try before summer ends.

Mr. Foodie grew up eating something similar and, in full disclosure, he enjoyed these much more than I did.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with them.  I just thought they’d be…I don’t know…”lighter”, maybe?  I think I was expecting them to be more like a Potato Pancake, kind of light and fluffy.  The texture is much more dense and I think more than anything, because they weren’t what I was expecting, I may have over-judged them a bit.  However, since he liked them and gave them Two-Thumbs-Up I figured the issue was mine alone and they deserved a post.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg
  • hot sauce to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Steps

In one bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.

In another large bowl, beat egg.  Then add hot sauce, milk, carrot, zucchini, and onion.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.

Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium heat.  When oil is hot, drop mixture in by the tablespoon.  Flatten slightly with back of spoon.  Cook until golden, about 2 minutes, then flip and continue cooking on the other side.

Drain on paper towels.

These look burnt but they weren’t.  I had made them earlier in the day and we reheated them on the top rack of our grill while our chicken was grilling.  They got a little more browned while they warmed through but did not burn.

Give these a try and let me know what you think.

Why We Procrastinate

I was going to write this post the other night, but I decided to put it off until later. I’ve noticed that I’ve been doing that with a lot of things in my life lately — paying bills, filing my taxes, responding to emails, writing blog posts. Why is this happening?

Studies show that some of the most common reasons for procrastination include:

  • Fear and anxiety of the task
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Bad time management
  • Lack of confidence that you can succeed
  • Fear of failure
  • The quest for perfectionism
  • Personal issues (love life, finances, etc.)

That seems like a pretty comprehensive list of the human experience. I’m guessing that most of you have experienced at least one or, more likely, all of the items listed above at one point or another in your life. If not, then you might want to see a doctor to make sure you’re not a robot. The truth is we all procrastinate.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
— Mark Twain

I must admit that I have some fear and anxiety about doing my own taxes for the first time, which may explain why I still haven’t finished them yet. The fact that I already know that I’ll owe the IRS some more money when I do file my taxes may be another reason I’ve been putting them off.

Procrastination is really just a battle against yourself. The obstacles that keep us from getting things done are all in our head. How many times have you used the “I just don’t have enough time” excuse? Have you ever spent so much time trying to make something perfect that you never actually get it done?

The key to overcoming these obstacles is turning your irrational thoughts and fears into concrete goals and tasks. If you set more realistic goals for yourself, then you’ll be less likely to get stuck on trying to make something perfect before moving on. If you prioritize the tasks to reach your goals, then you’ll see that there is enough time to get most, if not all, of your tasks done.

With that being said, what’s the point of trying to overcome procrastination? If we all procrastinate, then won’t we just put off overcoming procrastination too?

Meatless Monday – Veggie Quesadilla’s with Smoked Gouda

Ok, seriously?  Smoked Gouda?  In case you didn’t hear that the first time let me repeat myself.  Smoked Gouda.  There’s NO WAY this recipe could be bad.  Unfortunately, it’s another night time kitchen shot and the only thing bad about this recipe are the photos.

And ok, so it’s not my most frugal meal but it’s still frugal, kinda.  The Smoked Gouda was something I bought last January and even though it was on the pricey side, I did use a coupon.  I remember because the exact same coupon came out again this year.  And once this hunk of yellow goodness hit my kitchen my Super Frugal Spidey Senses started tingling.  So what did I do?  I cut it up in to pieces and hid them in the deep freeze.  Yes, that’s right.  I actually hid them.  I managed to make that small wedge of  creamy gold last a full year.

A few months ago I pulled a small piece out and made something similar but the other night I perfected an ooey, gooey treasure that Meatless Monday dreams are made of.  The Veggie Quesadilla with Smoked Gouda and Cheddar.

Once again, I have no specific measurements.  This is more of a method, than a recipe.  Just use what you have available or your favorites in quantities that are reasonable.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tortillas
  • 1 Red Pepper, roasted
  • 2 Portobella Mushrooms
  • Carmelized Onions (I keep baggies in the freezer and will do a post on that some day)
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Cheddar

Steps

  1. The first thing to do is roast the red pepper. Cut the pepper in half, remove all the seeds, drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill, skin side down, until the skin is black and blistering.  Put in a bowl, cover with a towel or even plastic wrap for a minimum of 20 minutes.  This does a few things.  It helps cook the flesh of the pepper a bit in a smoky atmosphere from the charred skin and makes it soft and flavorful.  It also helps steam the skin so it pulls right off.  It also saves a lot of the juices from the pepper.  Since you grill them skin side down, a lot of juices pool on the flesh side.  You can carefully set them in a bowl without losing all the yummy juices.
  2. Next is the Mushrooms.  There’s two schools of thought when it comes to cleaning mushrooms.  Brush lightly or rinse quickly with water.  Alton Brown says it’s ok to rinse with water  (check out the video at the 8:15 mark) which is a good thing because I’ve always given my mushrooms a quick rinse.  However, I also allow them to air dry afterward.  So do what you want with your fungi.  I’ll rinse and air dry mine.  Next, comes the cooking part.
  3. Slice the mushrooms and saute in a hot pan.  Don’t keep flipping them around, leave them be so they can caramelize.  Also, don’t fill the pan too full or you’ll steam them in stead of saute’ them.  I did mine in a couple different batches.
  4. Once the mushrooms were done remove them from the pan, wipe it out and added a small amount of oil.  Then fill one side of a tortilla with the ingredients above, fold the tortilla over and cook it in the pan until it is crispy on one side then flip.

These are over the top delicious and the bonus is they’re not that bad for the waistline.  Just a small amount of Smoked Gouda goes a long way to adding a mouth watering smokiness without making you feel like you’re chewing on a piece of burnt hickory wood.

Enjoy these…soon.

5 Ways To Save Money When Eating Out

Even though it can be a lot cheaper to cook for yourself than eat out, it’s also nice to relax, hang out with friends, and enjoy a meal at a restaurant every once in a while. Here are some tips on how I do it without breaking my budget.

Lunch instead of dinner. Lunch specials are cheaper than dinners, and breakfasts are usually even cheaper. If possible, I’ll meet up with my friends earlier in the day, we save some money, and it’s still just as fun!

Share. If you go to a restaurant with a significant other or friend, split a dinner and an appetizer between the two of you. At most restaurants this will be plenty of food for two people and cheaper than paying for two dinners.

Eat leftovers. Most restaurant portions are so huge these days that you can easily take home the leftovers and eat it as another meal. Two meals for the price of one!

Drink water. This one is simple. Water is free. Save and few bucks every time you eat out, and the savings add up quickly. If water is too bland, ask for a slice of lemon or lime for taste.

Wait for dessert. At most sit-down restaurants, desserts are a rip-off. Drop by the grocery store on the way home, pick up some ice cream, and make your own delicious concoction for only a fraction of the cost.

8 Ways To Earn Extra Money

1. Become a Mystery Shopper

Signup to as many Mystery Shopping companies out there. Here you work an independent contractor and get paid to shop and eat. While you probably can’t replace your day job with your earnings as a Mystery Shopper this is a great way to earn some extra money. I have gotten paid to eat at some of my favorite restaurants, shop at shoe stores and I even get to evaluate associates at gas stations and convenience stores to see if I get ID’d when buying tobacco and alcohol.

You will have to sign up for these mystery shopping companies individually as each companies specialize in different niches and clients. I have found a lot of them by just performing a google search for “mystery shopping”. I would say that I do not do that much mystery shopping and I have made an easy $100-$200 per month in the past. Not too bad! If I was more active I could make much more money.

2. Sign up and Drive for a Ride Sharing Company

Sign up for a ride sharing company such as Uber or Lyft. They pay you to drive people around. I signed up and started driving. It seems worth it based on what they pay. The best part is it is all done through an app on your phone and all payments are electronic – no need to worry about cash. Accepting rides and all payments are done through their app. The best part is it is on your own time – you turn the app on and off as you choose.

3. Become a Freelancer

Sign up on a freelance job site and start freelancing. There are a bunch of jobs available from writing gigs, to online marketing to accounting, to IT gigs. Easy way to make some extra money. Sites have popped up that help you get gigs include Outsource.com , Elance and Upwork. Check them out.

4. Signup for Airbnb

Do you have an extra bedroom you are not using? List your space on Airbnb and rent it out. On Airbnb you can rent out your spare bedroom on a nightly basis and make money at the same time.

According to their website, Airbnb is a “trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world”. No matter what you want, it is on Airbnb. Whether that is an apartment just for one night, a house for a week or a villa for a month. Airbnb provides an easy way for people to monetize their extra space.

5. Signup for DogVacay

Ce.ate a profile and signup to take care of other people’s dogs. You charge a rate and all the payments and admin matters Dogvacay does for you. I charge $30/night for boarding. For instance if you did this for just 8 days that is $240 in your pocket!

6. Rent your car

Sites like Turo exist where you post an ad of the car you have to rent. People then inquire you to rent your car for a day or two or maybe even a week. You set the price of what you can accept. For instance if you charge $50/day for your car and rent your car for 7 days over the course of the month that is $350! This doesn’t really work for me since I rely on my car a lot throughout the month.

7. Sell Things on eBay

Create a free account on eBay and sell things you have that you don’t really use anymore.

8. Start your own blog or Youtube Channel

Create valuable conentent such as articles on a blog or videos on your own Youtube Channel. Once you gain enough interest and visitors you can start earning ad revenue by placing ads on your site or in your videos through Google Asense. Note, this is not a quick way to earn money. It takes time to get an audience. Once you build a big enough audience and interest there is a potential to make some considerable amount of money!