Frugal Friday: nonstick cooking spray alternative

I recently bought a really cheap brand of nonstick cooking spray. It was $2-something at Smart and Final. That would have been a great find, except it didn’t work. It left gunky residue on my pans and it didn’t keep food from sticking. Ick!

I kept thinking there has to be a greener way… a more frugal way… to keep food from sticking. 

THEN. I bought a bottle of liquid lecithin at the local health-food store. I had to have one tablespoon for a recipe. (Don’t you hate it when you just have to have one tablespoon and have a whole bottle of whatever left? I’m just sayin’….)

But that jiggled my memory a bit. When I was a student at a boarding high school, we used some sort of lecithin-oil combination instead of nonstick cooking spray. We used to use wax paper to spread it around the deck pans for the food deck, etc. and I figured that wouldn’t be too green. 

What else could I use to spread around a liquid solution? I thought of using a spray-bottle, but then I would have to find a food-grade spray bottle. It would likely be plastic. And I’d rather not use plastic. I googled around, and found a stainless food-grade spray can, but the reviews were mixed. In the reviews, however, I read that “real chefs” use brushes to brush oil. Now, why didn’t I think of that?

I already had a pastry brush. I decided to use an old applesauce jar to store the lecithin solution. But what is the recipe for this nonstick liquid?

One part liquid lecithin + one part liquid oil = nonstick liquid

(I don’t know what else to call it… nonstick liquid sounds boring, to be sure, but that’s what it is.)

Oh, and I used canola oil in case you’re wondering.

Directions: You just dip your brush into this liquid and brush it onto your casserole dish, baking dish, etc. I don’t use very much. I just get it nice and greasy-looking, but not so there are puddles of liquid. Spread it evenly. 

I have been using this for a few days now and it works very well on everything that I have tried it on. I can’t vouch for it on all surfaces, but I’ve even tried it in my breadmaker and it works like a charm. (The bread used to stick to the bottom of the machine.) 

Nonstick cooking 101

For more Frugal Friday tips from everyone else, visit Fish Mama’s website.

Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 10:09 pm  Comments (4)  
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Tofu Tuesday, a day late

Breakfast casserole for #tofutuesday
Breakfast casserole for #tofutuesday
I was thinking of making breakfast burritos on Monday night, but opted for this easier-sounding breakfast casserole. Plus I just really, really wanted to try the “Mom’s Morning Casserole” from the Vegan Brunch Cookbook.

I did make a few adjustments on this recipe. I pre-boiled the potatoes so they were already tender, so I just layered them in the bottom of the casserole dish. Then I layered the other layers on top without baking anything, and I baked it the next morning for about 45 minutes total. That went well. 

The other major change I made was that I didn’t have tempeh, so I used TVP (textured vegetable protein). I reconstituted it with some broth I had on hand and a little water. I also didn’t have any fennel to add. 

DH and I really liked it!

And so far, all the recipes from Vegan Brunch have been incredible. I’m so pleased with the book, and totally recommend it!

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 10:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Sugar-free blueberry pie

For the recipe, visit my post here.

For the explanation of how to do the lattice top, visit this short video tutorial on YouTube. 

Sugar-free blueberry pie filling

Blueberry pie, before baking

Pie, baked

Published in: on July 12, 2009 at 3:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Going green… by eating greens!

In January we had the chance to visit a wonderful vegan restaurant. It’s quite a drive from where we live so we don’t go there often, but it was definitely worth trying out. (Oh, and it’s also more expensive than most restaurants we usually go to. Another reason why we shouldn’t live closer to it… haha!) My husband ordered their lasagna and with his dish he got these incredible greens. I think the menu called them “Sautéed kale with sundried tomatoes.” I bought the restaurant’s cookbook in hopes that the greens recipe would be in there, but it wasn’t. (There are some other really great recipes in there, though.)

Ever since, I’ve been experimenting with greens. You know, I never really would consider sitting down and munching on a pile of greens and actually enjoying myself. But the way I’ve been trying them, they have really turned out very yummy!

Here’s what I’ve been trying.

1. I get a bunch of greens – so far I’ve only tried kale and Swiss chard. Chop it up. Big pieces are ok. They will kind of shrivel up a bit. (Oh, and you will not believe how much they will shrink. I’ve started out with my big skillet FULL of greens and have them wilt down so much that I wished I had more!)

2. Get out your skillet, fry pan, or whatever, and put a LITTLE bit of olive oil in the bottom. I don’t like really oily greens. I learned once that olive oil is monounsaturated fat which is better than other types of oils. (Flax oil is supposedly very good too but it oxidizes quickly. Um, but we are oxidizing the oil by heating it, so whatever.)

3. Add your greens of choice. Sprinkle with sea salt. (Sorry, I don’t have a specific amount. Just to taste.)

4. Add any (or all) of the following to the sautéeing greens:

  • dehydrated or fresh onions (both are yummy)
  • sundried tomatoes
  • pumpkin seeds – these add a really nice crunch! And they are good for men’s health… good for your hubby!
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • minced garlic cloves
  • nutritional yeast flakes

I strongly suggest adding the minced garlic and the nutritional yeast flakes. Those add a wonderful, wonderful flavoring. If you haven’t discovered nutritional yeast flakes yet, they’re WON-DER-FUL on greens. I think you should be able to get them at a health food store. You can also find nutritional yeast flakes online – just google it.


[Note: Don’t sautée the greens too long – just enough to wilt them and get sort of tender. I don’t like my greens mushy. If you do, feel free to modify my rough recipe. But the longer you cook the greens, the less nutritious they will be.]

Speaking of nutritional yeast flakes, I’ve gotta tell you a slightly-related story.

My mom makes this sauce where she melts a stick of margarine in a small pot and adds 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes, stirs it up, and serves it over boiled or steamed (tender, anyway) cauliflower. Yummy.

Well, when I was much younger, I was at my younger brother’s little kids class at church with him, and the teachers asked all their kids for favorite foods. And you know… kids were piping up answers like, “PIZZA!” “ICE CREAM!” …

And my bro pipes up, “CAULIFLOWER!”

The parents all looked at my mom with the “what-kind-of-food-do-you-serve-your-kid” kind of look, and meanwhile she was trying not to laugh too hard. 

Anyway, yes. Nutritional yeast flakes make greens… and cauliflower… taste delicious. My brother is living proof of the fact.

(In the picture in this post, you can see the picture of my sautéed Swiss chard there in the corner. The rest of the food? Well, I’ll get to that some other time…)

I’m linking this recipe at Tammy’s Recipes – head over there for more great kitchen tips!

Published in: on March 23, 2009 at 8:30 pm  Comments (4)  
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French toast, dairy-free style

img_2691I edited this recipe a bit. It was originally from the CHIP (Coronary Heart Improvement Program) cookbook but I changed it a bit and I think it turned out yummy!

I got the idea for the baguette because one of my coworkers brought French toast to work one day for breakfast, and it was super-yummy. He used French bread (which had never crossed my mind. You’d think that I would put two and two together… French toast… French bread, but no. Ahem, moving on.) And as I was trying to figure out what I could do for breakfast this particular morning this week, I thumbed through my Native Foods cookbook and discovered a yummy-looking French toast recipe and I decided to use their idea of almond flavoring. Hence, the addition of almond flavoring. 



1 pkg (12 oz) silken tofu, firm, lite

3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 long skinny baguette loaf (I used the whole grain artisan baguette from Stater Brothers)

1. Place tofu, water, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and almond extract in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a flat-bottom dish (I use a pie pan.)

2. Preheat a frying pan (I used nonstick although I know there is some debate out there about the healthfulness of teflon. Well, I’m not getting to that point yet, so excuse moi but I used a nonstick pan. 😛 ) 

3. Dip one slice of the baguette in the blended tofu mixture, making sure the slice of bread is coated well. I actually soaked each piece in the batter for about 5 minutes before frying.

4. Fry each piece until golden brown on all sides.

5. Repeat process until all the tofu batter has been used. This uses 1 entire long skinny baguette, or 1 loaf of bread.

I served this with my sugar-free fruit sauce. So there you have it — a healthy, hot breakfast with only natural sweetener  — basically, no refined sugar at all! Perfect for keeping everybody’s immunity up during flu season. This is supposed to serve 6 people.

For more hot breakfast ideas, stop by the Happy Housewife’s site!

Published in: on February 17, 2009 at 9:21 pm  Comments (2)  
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Dairy-free pancakes and sugar-free fruit sauce


I have to confess that I usually don’t cook hot breakfasts like this on the week mornings that I go to work. This picture on the left was taken on a weekend. If I do cook a hot breakfast, it is this hot cereal (click here). However, I made pancakes this evening and made enough for later this week. So I am joining in in the ways I can. 


2 cups whole wheat flour (or I like mixing regular whole wheat with King Arthur’s white whole wheat flour)

1 t. salt

2 T. honey

2 T. Ener-G baking powder (or a little less other baking powder – I prefer aluminum-free brands such as Rumford or Featherweight)

2 1/4 cups water


Blend all together in a blender or with a wire whip or with an electric hand mixer. Let sit 5 minutes to become foamy.

Pour onto hot griddle or hot nonstick pan (I usually spray with nonstick spray anyway). Cook until golden brown on each side.

Variation: add 1 cup blueberries to the batter or sprinkle in a few carob (or chocolate) chips

The picture above is these pancakes with berry sauce on top with scrambled tofu on the side (I’ll have to post that recipe another time.)

The berry sauce is very easy, and yummy! It’s sugar-free, too. What you’ll need:

1 can frozen apple juice concentrate

1 bag (?? size?? well, not too big. Sorta small – maybe around 4 cups or 1 quart) frozen berries

1 or 2 tablespoons cornstarch

a little bit of water

Put the apple juice concentrate in a pot on the stove. Turn on the burner and place your berries in the melting apple juice concentrate. Mix the cornstarch in a cup with a little bit of water (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup is good) until lumps are all gone and set aside. When the mixture comes to a good boil, add the cornstarch mixture, being sure to stir it again before adding to the pot as cornstarch tends to settle at the bottom. The fruit mixture should thicken right away! Serve on your favorite pancakes, waffles, or even on toast with nut butter.

If you want more great hot-breakfast ideas, please visit the Happy Housewife’s website.

Published in: on February 10, 2009 at 7:52 pm  Comments (5)  
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My favorite breakfast

OK, so this is one of my all-time favorite breakfasts, both to eat and to make. I just made some this morning, in fact. 🙂

Baked Oatmeal

Preheat oven to 375°. Boil together: 

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 t. salt

Mix together separately:

  • 3 c. quick oats
  • 1/2 c. soymilk powder (I suppose you could use regular milk powder)
  • 1/2 c. coconut
  • 3/4 c. chopped dates
  • 1/4 c. oil

Mix dry ingredients together with boiling water. Pour into a casserole dish. I like to sprinkle it with a few pecans, and bake at 375° for 45 minutes – 1 hr. (Depends on how browned you like it.) Once again, a low (predominately natural) sugar breakfast! (I use sweetened coconut, and the dates sweeten the oatmeal beautifully.)

This was one of my favorites as a kid. Once, my parents had a brunch birthday party for me and I requested this dish, along with some other food (I don’t remember what). I don’t think my fruit-loop-lovin’ friends loved it as much as I did, but oh well. 😉 Honestly, this is a really wonderful dish. If your family enjoys eating naturally, this just might be awesome for them! If they don’t, well, they can adjust.

Note: I also come from the same family where my younger brother announced in his church class, when asked what his favorite food was, that he loved cauliflower! The other parents looked at him in shock/ horror/ veiled distain, and then at my mom (as if to say, “what?! your kid likes cauliflower… how do you get him to eat it… do you bribe him… bla bla bla…“), who tried not to laugh, and nodded her head. Coming soon… the famous cauliflower recipe!

Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 9:48 am  Comments (2)  
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Breakfast savings

I never knew how expensive cereal was until I started my own home. My husband loves cereal, and some of his particular favorites include Weetabix (which averages $4-something-a-box for the organic biscuits), Grape Nuts, and Raisin Bran. Yeah. They’re not what I call cheap. (And he goes through it quickly!)

On the other hand, I love granola and I can make it at home and it lasts me awhile.

But I had to think of something QUICK and EASY that I could just throw on the table in the morning before running out the door to work. Oh, and it also had to be economical/ frugal.

So I figured out that hot cereal is a great way to go. Here’s what I do for my “hot cereal special”:

Combine 1/4 cup each of the following options:

  • whole wheat berries
  • oat groats
  • brown rice
  • millet
  • amaranth (actually this stuff is strong flavored and I only like a tablespoon or two. See how you like it. My brother loves it!)
  • Any other whole grains that you and your family like!

I usually put about 1 1/2 cup worth of the above options in my slow cooker (my slow cooker isn’t very large). Add about 6 cups of water (depends on how fast your slow cooker cooks and if your grains will dry out) and set it on “low” and let it cook overnight.

The next morning, about 1 hour before serving, I add a handful or two of raisins and the same for sweetened coconut. (You can add other dried fruits like small dried pineapple but watch the cost because it can add up!) Sprinkle a little salt and mix everything up.

Then, in your blender, add 1 -2 cups water, 1/2 to 1 cup date pieces, dried milk powder, and a little honey. (I use nondairy milk powder. Use whatever works for you.) Blend it until it is smooth. Taste it. It should be pretty sweet. This is your sweetener for the hot cereal.

Stir most of the blended date sauce into the hot cereal, and let the slow cooker cook for another hour or so. Serve! It should be pleasantly sweet.

See, now you saved some money, you avoided sugar which lowers immune systems, and you had a quick and easy breakfast!

For more ways to save, visit Biblical Womanhood.

Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 3:57 pm  Comments (5)  
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