Posts Tagged ‘The Dinner Diva’

Growing Greens at Food Stamps Cooking Club

January 31st, 2013

You might not be thinking about growing a garden just yet, even though the seed catalogs are pouring in these days. Leanne Ely, the Dinner Diva from Saving Dinner is showing us a wonderful idea we could do immediately-crummy weather notwithstanding- and I wanted to share it with you:

Grow your own lettuce bowl indoors
by Leanne Ely

I don’t know about you, but I have a really hard time buying produce that I can easily grow myself. At my house, we eat a lot of salad. As many of you know, I serve a large green salad with almost every meal that goes on the table. All of those heads of lettuce can add up!

So, I recently started looking into some ways to grow my own lettuce indoors and I thought I would share what I’m learning with y’all.

All you need is:

* A large round pot, about 6 inches deep (or a container of some sort with roughly the same depth)
* Organic potting soil (look for the kind with perlite in it-thats those little round white balls)
* Mesclun mix seeds (or whatever lettuce you like best)
* Water
* A sunny window

You’ll need a window that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. If your lettuce doesn’t get enough sun, it will get tall and spindly and that isn’t what you want.

To grow your lettuce:

1. Fill your container to the halfway mark with soil. You can sprinkle some fertilizer on there if you want to. Moisten the soil and sprinkle a couple pinches of seeds on top. Sprinkle a little more soil over the seeds and spritz the surface with more water.

2. Water daily and keep the pot in the sun or under a grow light. The seeds should sprout up in about seven days and your first harvest should be ready in about a month.

To harvest your lettuce:

After you cut your lettuce the first time (leave the growing crowns alone!), you’ll only have to wait another two weeks for a fresh crop.

And it’s pretty much just that easy!

Fresh lettuce greens are just the best, aren’t they?

Do you do any indoor gardening? Have any tips to share?

Leanne has been teaching people how to Save Dinner and how to nourish our families for a long time. Her daily messages are full of information and heart. We appreciate being able to share today’s message with our Members.

Now to find a large pot…

~Connie Baum
The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Spice Advice and Food Stamps Cooking Club

May 9th, 2011


Need Spice Advice? We have it here!

Greetings to all you precious Club Members and Guests!  A GINORMOUS magnifying glass has been pressed into service because your humble blogger has been aching to get back into the game.

Because we are gaining new club members in DROVES-thanks to all the new people who have submitted their names and email addies-it felt important to share with you the information we got today from Leanne Ely, The Dinner Diva from Saving Dinner.

As you  know, we are sending out a series of messages about cooking tips, including spices.  Because of that subject matter we want you to have THIS, too:

“The Ultimate Spice Cabinet Clean Out
by Leanne Ely, C.N.C

How many of us have professed to want to eat healthier, lose weight and get organized? It’s almost as if these three things are the ultimate trifecta! Believe it or not, one of the best ways to do all three of these things is to spice up your low calorie fare with herbs and spices.

But before you can organize your spices, you need to do a quick spice check. I’ve got this feeling we’ve got some OLD, ancient spices sitting in those cupboards! Let’s go on an archaeological dig and see what kind of fossils we can unearth. Here’s how you’re going to know you need some new spices–

You may need some new spices if:

*The date stamp on the bottom of the jar was from when you were in high school:

*The company who made the spice in the first place is out of business. Since 1980!

*The can is rusted and the label indistinguishable-you don’t know what’s in there.

*The label is missing so you smell it to identify it and can’t!

*The smell of the spice smells oddly like the garage on a rainy day.

*You mistakenly grab ground ginger for white pepper and it didn’t ruin what you were making because it had no flavor!

According to the website of McCormick Spice, if you still have spices in a tin can, you know the square and rectangular shaped cans with shaker and spoon out tops, they are seriously out of date-with the exception of black pepper-they have not manufactured the cans in over 15 years!!

The shelf life of spices is as follows:

Ground spices: 2 to 3 years

Whole spices: 3 to 4 years

Dried Herbs: 1 to 3 years

Great rule of thumb to figure out what to keep and what to pitch-if your spice is over a year old, it needs to be tossed. To keep your spices fresh and nice, you will want to buy only what you need and mark the bottom of the container with a Sharpie, indicating the date you purchased the spice.

I love buying my spices at the health food store (they are unbelievably fresh and cheap, because you buy what you need) and discount stores like Wal-Mart (2 for $1.00!). You can always have fresh spices when you get them this way.

Are you ready to spice up your life with some FRESH spices? Old Spice is cologne, not what should be hanging out in our spice drawers. Let’s get some fresh ones this week!

Now that you have all fresh and new spices, be sure and pick up a copy of our Ultimate Mix Ebook to create some spice, soup and sauce mixes of your own!

Copyright (C) 2011 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.

This information will be helpful for everyone who has a kitchen.  It will be of particular interest to those who use SNAP or WIC; for those who get food from a food pantry or those who have food commodities.  Many of our Club Members are simply frugal and careful with their food budgets Users of Angel Food Ministries will benefit from this, too!

Your messages continue to delight the heart of your Webmaster…please keep them coming  at !

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.


Freezer Meals at Food Stamps Cooking Club

April 11th, 2011


Filling your freezer may be easier than you might imagine!

Are you living on a dime?  Do you yearn to turn OFF the TV, turn ON mealtime conversation, in the quest to do your part toward saving dinner?

If you use SNAP or WIC’s EBT cards or food commodities, food pantry food or Angel Food Ministries food, you may find the following information helpful.  Perhaps you are just plain old fashioned frugal; in any case-we hope to offer you ideas you can take to the bank!

Leanne Ely sent out a message earlier today that hit my hot button.  I thought about it as I prepared our noon meal and with her ideas in mind here is what I did:

I sliced a couple of good sized onions and caramelized the thin rings in some oil.  I sprinkled some salt and pepper over them as they cooked.  Then I laid 4 thin slices of beef liver over the soft onions and drizzled chicken broth over the whole works .  I covered the skillet and slid it into the oven, which was set at 300 degrees.  That parked there for about 90 minutes and smelled divine!

While that did its thing I made a white sauce with a chunk of butter, a spoonful of corn starch and a splash of milk, adding water and more milk to get the consistency we like.  When it began to bubble I added a frozen package of spinach I got ON SALE and allowed it to thaw right in the gravy.  I seasoned it well.

As it cooked, I remembered the potatoes I had baked for Sunday dinner.  I chopped two very small potatoes and dropped them into the gravy.

We could never eat that much food at one sitting-even a meal so tasty as that!-so I was delighted to put our leftovers into flat plastic freezer bags.  We now have a very nutritious, really quick, super easy, PAID FOR meal, waiting in the freezer for us to reheat.  Simple?  You bet.

Leanne thinks along the same lines.  Here is what she had to say this morning;

Secrets to Preparing Delicious Freezer Meals

by Leanne Ely, C.N.C

A few years ago (quite a few years ago, actually), a new cooking trend was born – Once A Month Cooking – OAMC for short. The whole idea was to spend a day cooking, freeze what you make, they reheat it as needed; sort of DIY Stouffers concept.

Great idea, soggy delivery. The proponents of this type of cooking said it only took a day to make a month’s worth of meals and you had “great” dinners that you could reheat anytime. The problem was that most of these dinners took on the watery characteristics of reheated casseroles and the flavor of the food was as lukewarm as their presentation. The other issue is time – a whole day for heaven’s sake! Who can literally take a day off from life to do this?

In the early 2000’s, a new version of OAMC was born and the result was dinner assembly franchises popping up like ground hogs in the spring. Everywhere you turned in suburbia you could find several types of these storefronts.

The idea of these places goes like this: come into their store, spend two hours or so assembling 12 to 15 meals from their already chopped veggies and pre-prepared ingredients, so all you have to do is put them together raw, label and freeze for cooking at a later day, thus removing the OAMC twice-baked casserole deal. The problem is it doesn’t come cheap.

So what’s a time stretched harried homemaker to do? Do it yourself, of course! There is a way to do this. Here’s how:

Find meals that can be assembled in their raw state, defrosted successfully, then cooked freshly. A good example of this is meatloaf. All you have to do is make your meatloaf mixture, shape it, then put it in a freezer zipper bag, mark the bag and date it, then on the day you want to use it, defrost it and bake it. You will never know that your meatloaf was previously frozen!

Here is a recipe that we have on our very first Twenty for the Freezer, a downloadable menu with 20 recipes that you assemble all at once, freeze and cook later as needed. When you have a freezer full of meals like this to choose from, you will say good-bye to the drive thru forever!

In a 1 gallon plastic freezer bag, mix and blend well together:

Mega Marvelous Meatloaf
Serves 4

2/3 cup dried stuffing mix
1 egg
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 1/3 teaspoons garlic powder
2/3 teaspoon thyme
1/3 cup ketchup
2/3 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Seal the bag and blend the mixture together by squeezing and kneading the bag. Unseal the bag, starting at the bottom of the bag, roll the mixture to force out any air then seal the bag again. Insert this bag into a gallon sized plastic freezer bag and place a copy of the recipe into the 2nd bag as well and seal it. Place your label on the bag or write the name and date on the bag and place in the freezer.  ~Leanne Ely, C. N. C”

In the interest of full disclosure, I ordered Leanne’s freezer meals menu.  I am very pleased with it and it is full of wonderful recipes, ideas and tips for not a lot of money.  Leanne and the Food Stamps Cooking Club share the philosophy of helping people eat well with little money.

Oh!  I’d be remiss if I did not mention the CONTEST they are having at Saving Dinner.  It’s all explained on their site in a video starring Leanne herself!  And as you may have suspected, today’s blog post is sponsored by The Dinner Diva herself, Leanne Ely, whose mission in life is Saving Dinner!

We love mail!  Send us your thoughts at  Thanks, everyone!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Is Leanne Full o Beans?

February 25th, 2011


It's the end of the month...beans help us make it to the end of every month on full tummies!

One of Mother Connie’s own personal comfort foods is beans of any kind prepared in any dish.  Leanne Ely, The Dinner Diva, whose job it is to help us in Saving Dinner, has written about it and what she has to offer follows here:

“Dear Readers,

Are you tired of wasting money on canned beans?  Not sure what to do with dry beans? Want some quick tips to make it easier? Keep reading and you’ll learn a few things to get you started in the right direction. Then, be sure and click on the link to view my latest video. These are packed full of fun information to help you get dinner to the table! You won’t want to miss this article or video!

After breakfast comes lunch and then, it’s dinner time. Do you know what’s for dinner tonight? Find out with Leanne’s SAVING DINNER BOOKS HERE.

To Your Health–


If you wanna get down and dirty and really get cheap, you need to start thinking beans, legumes; the dried variety. Bean there, done that, got the t-shirt!   Sorry; couldn’t help myself.

Being the quintessential cheap eat and nutritional wunderkind that beans are, nothing beats a big batch o’ beans. They are easy to prepare and virtually foolproof to make, especially when you employ these tips:

#  The Presoak: After your beans have soaked overnight, give them a rinse and put fresh water in the pot for cooking. Some people may complain that you’re throwing away some of the nutrition, but honestly, you’re eliminating a lot of musicality of beans by doing this–if you’re following my lead.
#  The Salting. Wait until your beans are completely tender before adding salt. Salt can make the tenderizing process not happen.
#   The Water. If you have hard water, your beans may not soften. Use bottled water if that is the case. You can add some baking soda too (1 teaspoon per quart).
#   The Age. Old beans mean tough beans. Make sure you buy your beans fresh and that they’re from a market with a good turnover. Otherwise those beans may stay as hard as granite–even if you diligently apply all these fine steps. Beans are beans, but old beans are rocks.

Questions I invariably get asked but hate answering has to do with the “musicality” of the fine bean. Listen, there is no swift answer. If you ask enough people, they’ll all come up with their own remedy for fixing this indelicate problem. But the best one, believe it or not, is just eat more beans. Oh yes, more beans. Then your body becomes adjusted and you’ll be a little more discreet in the aftermath of your bean consumption. However, all bets are off that I’ll ever show up at your house while you’re going through the “adjustment” period!

WAIT…I almost forgot. Want a beanie kinda recipe? Here you go. This is my old faithful standby.  Gets me thru just about anything!

Crock Pot Mixed Beans and Turkey Ham
Serves 6

1 cup dry beans – mixed, your choice
Presoaked  *see above for instructions
3/4 cup carrots- Diced
3/4 cup celery – Diced
3/4 cup onion – Chopped
1 1/2 cups turkey ham Chopped
2 cans chicken broth – Or veggie broth
1 1/2 tablespoons parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook beans on high for four hours in crock pot or until beans are tender.  After beans are cooked, add remaining ingredients and cook 2-3 more hours until done. Add more water as needed.

Per serving: 223 Calories; 4g Total Fat; 21g Protein; 10g Fiber; 26g Carbohydrate; 33mg Cholesterol; 1026mg Sodium Food Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain (Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:  Serve with cornbread and a big green salad.

VEGETARIANS:  Skip the ham and you’re there!”

Copyright (C) 2010 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.

Here’s hoping you can find a moment to cruise by Leanne’s website and learn more about Saving Dinner in your own home!  Also, be sure to enter your name and email, if you have not already done so, on the box in the upper right hand corner of this page so you can receive our series of cooking tips and the infrequent messages we send along.

If you are new to the Club House, especially if you are living on a dime,  we welcome you with open arms and invite your comments and emails at !

We cater to those who use public assistance, such as food commodities, food pantries or have EBT cards for WIC or SNAP.  We find favor with those who are just plain frugal or those who love using Angel Food Ministries and/or Farmers Market coupons.  Everything we offer is meant to help the food budget while keeping everyone in the family as healthy as can be!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Is YOUR Child Hungry?

January 26th, 2011

This little face could well be the poster child for "We Are Poor and Hungry"

The chances are good that if your eyes have fallen on this page that you are holding an EBT card for SNAP or WIC.  It might be that you procure Angel Food Ministries supplies or it could be that you have food commodities or items from a food pantry to fund your grocery budgets.  OR, you might just be frugal in your food buying habits…but we dearly hope you do not have any hungry children sitting in your circle.

The Dinner Diva had something to say about hunger in her blog post today and I want to share that with you here:

“Dear Friends,

This is going to be short and sweet and all over the place, LOL, so I numbered everything, 1, 2, 3. Put on your seat belt and enjoy!

1) Today is our huge catalog sale with everything we have* on sale for 20% off!  Click on this link to see our humongous catalog page…bet you didn’t know we had over 100 mealtime solutions , did you?

2) Now for a complete change of subject, one that is truly shocking.

Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans does not have access to enough food? Sadly, there are over 14 million children who live in food-insecure households and there are 49 million Americans who do not get enough food every day. You read that right–49 million!

3) This sale is for a much bigger purpose than just having a sale–we also want to help Feed America. Look who is helping us in this quest!

I know you remember hunky John Schneider from Dukes of Hazzard? Oh yes you do (hey, he’s also on Desperate Housewives right now!) and now that you have all recovered (thanks John for the shout-out!), 20% of this sale is going to

I don’t have to tell you about all the great things we have–they’re all sitting there on that pretty little catalog page, take a PEEK!

And help us Feed America, will you? Get yourself something you want to help feed your family and feed a family in need as well.

That’s it, I’m done. Told you it was short and sweet!

Leanne Ely

*except Menu-Mailers (TM) and Premium Memberships

Copyright (C) 2010 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved

Mother Connie here:

This message from The Dinner Diva was not put here to wring money from your wallet.  No.  It was posted to bring awareness to a serious and growing problem.  It is an OUTRAGE that this country should have hungry people, hungry children.  Should there be activity on the links The Dinner Diva included, there is no harm but the real purpose of her message is that those who CAN help, SHOULD help.

Mother Connie will climb down off her soap box tomorrow and get back to the basics of the Magic Master Mix.  Thank you for indulging her passion…people and food…and do feel free to expound with your comments here and in our InBox:

And please, won’t you consider some way you might be part of the solution to this issue?  You are a clever lot.  I’ll bet someone will come up with a LIST!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Cheap n Healthy After School Snacks, Anyone?

October 18th, 2010

Leanne Ely has favored us with after school snack ideas today!

After School Snack Ideas By Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

Dear Friends,

They walk in the door and before you can even say “Hi, how was your day?” they’re saying “I’m hungry!”. It’s easy to grab a bag of chips, a cookie, or a can of pop but you want to offer them something different. You’re looking for quick and easy but healthy too. Is there such a thing? You bet there is and I’m here to help you fill their empty bellies with after school snacks you can give your children with confidence. And don’t forget, preparing these snacks with your kids is a great time for some of the best conversations. You can find out a lot about your kids and their lives while talking and working in the kitchen together.

Here’s just a few ideas to get you thinking:

Mini Pizza – English muffin pizzas offer a healthy dose of calcium and are quick and easy to create. All that is needed are whole wheat English muffins, pizza sauce, and shredded cheese. Apply a bit of sauce to each muffin, and sprinkle with the cheese. Heat in the oven just until the cheese is melted. You can engage your kids in conversation as you prepare this snack together.

Fruit – A common after school snack, but you can spice it up by adding some a healthy fruit dip. Simply mix some plain low-fat yogurt, lemon juice and honey. You can experiment with this dip and change it up by adding some cocoa instead of lemon juice or molasses and cinnamon instead of honey. Use your creativity and your cupboards to their full potential. Your kids can help you by washing the fruits while you prepare the dip.

Mix It Up – Tossing together a variety of ingredients can make for a special blend of trail mix. Items such as almonds, popcorn, dried fruit, cashews, and pretzels, can be added to make a unique yet tasty snack. Consider the preferences of your children when combining the foods for this snack. Trail mix will last for days, so you can make up a big Rubbermaid bowl full over the weekend for a quick snack that requires no preparation.

For more snack ideas check out my Snack Series here:
Leanne, Your Dinner Diva

Saving Your Dinner since 2001, Saving

Copyright (C) 2010 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.

Users of EBT cards from SNAP or WIC; consumers who avail themselves of Angel Food Ministries and those who visit food pantries and use food commodities will surely find worth in Leanne’s ideas.  So will those who simply follow a frugal path and watch every food dollar closely.   Besides that, Leanne makes us drool!

The big excitement around here is the “birth” of a new baby sister blog:  SoapyTeeth!  It’s kinda cute and it’s all about saving money on your dental bills with state of the art dental care.  You might wanna cruise on over there and scope it out.
Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Food Stamp Cooking Club: Fast Food? Not Food!

October 12th, 2010

Fast food is not really edible. It SO belongs in this trash can.

By Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

Dear Friends,

Everyone knows that fast food isn’t the healthiest option out there. However, with increasingly hurried lifestyles, it’s easy to give in to the temptation to head to your local drive-through and pick up a quick meal. Complicating matters even further, brightly painted playgrounds and characters with friendly faces lure your children to fast food restaurants. And let’s not forget those tempting plastic toys.

But just how bad is this food? Can you even call it food? In one famous experiment, a New York City artist purchased a happy meal from McDonald’s and took photos of it every day. By day 137, the plain hamburger and fries looked nearly identical to the way they looked on the first day. How many preservatives do you think are in that food so that it shows no signs of decay after more than four months? Are you putting all those chemicals in your body or your children’s bodies?  Of course, you can do as one popular fast food chain says and “have it your way”.  But is that really your way?

Real food has a short lifespan. Natural food will not look the same even one day later, much less 137 days later. It if was once living it will decay.

If you think you’re safe from the chemical overload when you order from the light menu, think again. Even the so-called healthier meals at these places are loaded with salt, sugar, and fat. Certain menu items may indeed be lower in fat but they are still pumped with preservatives to help prolong their shelf life and reduce the company’s overhead. Fast food is indeed cheaper than buying fresh food at the store. That’s because the food they sell bears little resemblance to what you would buy in the grocery store. If you’re often in a hurry, look into meal planning like our Menu-Mailers and freezer cooking. If you’re on a budget, clip coupons and scour sales flyers.

Think about it: one fast food meal usually contains more sodium, fat, and calories than you should consume throughout an entire day. YIKES! It’s also full of unnatural chemicals that your body doesn’t recognize and doesn’t know what to do with.  DOUBLE YIKES! Is it really worth saving a little bit of time and money tonight if it means shortening your life in the long run?  You still “lovin’ it”?

Leanne, Your Dinner Diva Saving Your Dinner since 2001,

Copyright (C) 2010 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.

As you can see, The Dinner Diva, Leanne Ely, and Mother Connie are on the same page when it comes to real food.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Maxine Had an Old Dead Chicken?

September 21st, 2010

Maxine Sullivan knows just what to do with an old, dead chicken and she shares her knowledge with the Club today!

Old, dead chickens are right up Maxine Sullivan’s alley when it comes to frugal food prep!  Maxine has been kind enough to prepare not only an old dead chicken, but some wise words that will benefit the Club greatly.  We thank Maxine for her generous offer to share her knowledge and experience and present her offering here:

“One of the most frugal skills a cook can have is the ability to cut up a whole chicken. This will take a maximum of 5 minutes of your time-about two minutes after you get good at it-and yield big savings. How big?

I never pay more than .79 lb. for whole fryers, and from time to time I get them for .69 and even .59 lb. At .79 lb., a 3-1/2 to 4 lb. chicken costs around $3.20 and will feed 4-5 people! At .59 lb., I can get a chicken big enough for a meal for around $2.

When they are on sale, I always stock up. Even if you only have the freezer across the top of your fridge, you can buy 1-3 extra birds. Just slide the unopened package into a bread bag and close it with a twister-tie. Write the date on the package.

Cutting up a chicken isn’t hard, and it’s a good way to work out your aggressions, LOL. I learned this skill from my late father, who was born in 1909.   His turned out neater than mine do.

Start by removing the neck and giblets, if any, from the cavity of the bird. Start with the chicken breast-side down on the cutting board and, using a heavy, sharp knife, cut off the wings at the joint where they attach to the body. Cut off the tip of each wing–that’s the 1/3 end of the wing that doesn’t have any meat. Next, cut the leg and thigh off the body-you may find it easier to move the leg/thigh around in order to find the joint. Now locate the joint between the leg and thigh and cut them apart. You’re almost done!

Look inside the body cavity and notice where the ribs come together. You need to cut the breasts and backs apart more or less along this line. You may find it easier to make your first cut at the edge of the body cavity, from the inside, or to snip along the ribs with a pair of kitchen shears. Once the body is in two pieces, it’s time to cut the breasts into smaller portions. Separate the breasts by using your shears to vertically cut through the soft bone of the breast. Finish by using your knife like a cleaver. If you want more pieces of chicken, cut each breast in half.

I never cook the backs, but if you do, cut them in half horizontally at the joint. Be sure to clean the inside of the backs thoroughly under running water.  I think those things that look like guts are the chicken’s lungs.  If no one in your family eats the backs–they don’t have much meat–set them aside with the wing tips and neck and freeze them for soup. Every time you cut up a chicken-even if it has been previously frozen-add the backs, wing tips and neck to your freezer bag. When you have enough–say, from 3-4 birds–thaw them and use to make chicken soup stock.

I always throw the chicken pieces into a sink full of cold water, rinse them, and pat dry. Frugal tip: use a clean terrycloth rag, instead of paper towels, to dry the chicken, rinse the rag and put it in the dirty laundry.

It has taken me longer to write this than it would take to cut up 2 or 3 chickens. And I’m a fast writer! Really, it’s that fast and that easy. If you’ve never done it, you really should give it a shot the next time whole fryers are on sale.

Now it’s time to clean up. Wash your cutting board and knife in hot, soapy water. Add a squirt of chlorine bleach to the water. Rinse well and allow the board and knife to air dry. Wipe down your counter with the same water, rinse your dishcloth well, and put it in the laundry. We don’t want any club members to get salmonella!

From time to time, you may see “thrifty packs” advertised at a lower price than whole fryers. Only buy these if your family likes dark meat. What you are getting is a whole chicken plus an extra thigh and leg. In some cases, you may be getting all dark meat. You may also be getting backs–which really aren’t a good buy. I find I get the most for the money by buying whole fryers. Heck, if you want to roast one, you don’t even have to cut it up first–just clean the body cavity thoroughly.

Tomorrow I’ll have a-new to me-chicken recipe for you to try. I made it for the first time last night, and it’s a definite keeper. Next week, we’ll make homemade chicken soup with the backs and wings.  It’s almost like getting a free meal!”

–Maxine Sullivan

O golly, Maxine.  For those who are using WIC or SNAP or Angel Food Ministries; even those who have food commodities or food pantry food, this is great and useful information.  Even if people just want to be frugal and make great food for very little money, this will help every single one of the Club Members!

Here’s the kicker, kids:  As she mentioned, Maxine has another goody for us tomorrow so do stay tuned and let your circle of influence know so they can get in on the fun.  They can also sign up for the series of cooking tips, if they have not already done so.


Please feel free to visit our sponsors to see what good things they are offering and to see how you might enhance your life.
You are also welcome to send your thoughts to because we LOVE to hear from you!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Quiche!

September 13th, 2010

It's a shame you cannot smell this delectable quiche, let alone taste it! O my stars and garters, but it's delish!

Are you a fan of Leanne Ely, The Dinner Diva?  She is out in the world Saving Dinner. I was completely enthralled with her recent offering for a quiche recipe.  I was not prepared for how utterly delicious and how ABSOLUTELY EASY it is to prepare.

Of course, you know Mother Connie.  She had to put her spin on it so here’s what we had for lunch today:

Mother Connie’s Pared Down Version of The Dinner Diva’s Quiche

This will serve two hungry people twice.  And both people will be happy two times, I guarantee it!

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 scosh (a scosh is my mom’s word for just a dab) of milk or water

salt and pepper just the way you like it.  I like lots of pepper.

1/2  of a 10 oz package of frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze the excess moisture out  (Save the other half for your next salad)

1 leek, sliced and soaked in salt water to get rid of the grit.  Drain and saute until the leeks are tender.

4 oz taco cheese, grated

Beat the eggs, milk or water, and seasonings.  Add the leeks.  Into a greased pie plate, pour the whole works and top with the cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees-I started mine in a cold oven so the oven and the mixture could warm together.  After 20 minutes, check for doneness.  It will have a nice brown crust on top and should be firm.  If you over bake it, your quiche will be tough.  If you under bake it the eggs will be runny.  YUCK

This far exceeded my expectations for lunch!  I hardly had room for the chunk of Foccacia bread and dish of cinnamon applesauce I had set out!  Here’s hoping you like this dish as much as we did.

We have two wedges left from this recipe; they will become breakfast sammies on Foccacia bread tomorrow!  I can hardly wait to wake up to that hearty, protein-packed breakfast!  With a small glass of juice, we’ll be set for a great, productive, healthy day!

Again we thank Leanne Ely for a great idea we could tweak.  You can get her great ideas, too, by signing up for her email messages on Saving Dinner.

Leanne is always on the hunt for recipes and ideas to save time and money in the kitchen and to share.  Who isn’t?

If you are holding an EBT card for SNAP or WIC; if you utilize Angel Food Ministries foods; if you have access to food commodities or a food pantry, this is the place to come for help and encouragement.

Maybe you love comfort food; it could be you are just frugal and want clever ways to save on your food dollars.  This is the place for you.

We so love hearing from all of you.  We appreciate your ideas and tips and comments.  will get your messages to us.

Our sponsors, like Saving Dinner, love to hear from you, too.

We also invite you to pop by The Healthy and Wealthy You, as well as Mother Connie Sez and Rapid Cash Review for your reading and learning pleasure.  There is a wealth of information out there in cyberspace and some of it has been captured on these recommended sites.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Is Your Menu Dull?

September 9th, 2010

Sometimes we look at our food supply and all we see are tater peels, or so it seems.

Do you have picky eaters who put their toes under your table?  Are you mystified when it’s time to prepare a meal because you don’t know what to put together?  And, when it’s time to make dinner, do you ever feel as if you are searching through Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, which was bare as bare could be?

It surely can seem that way, to be sure.

An account from the Associated Press reveals that our pioneer ancestors subsisted on “FLOUR MUSH” which was a mash of ground seeds, salt brush and sagebrush.  It kept them alive but I’ll betcha a nickel it was boring as all hollow.  No doubt it gave dull a whole new dimension.

Can you imagine putting a pile of flour mush on a pioneer daddy’s plate after he had chopped wood or plowed or wrestled with critters all day?  And what child back then would not have yearned for just ONE happy meal?

OK.  We may be leaning hard on the local food pantry for our sustenance.  We may be devouring food commodities and grumbling about the lack of variety.  We may have EBT cards for WIC and SNAP.  But at least we do not have to eat flour mush three times a day.

I just can’t resist sharing a story about my own parents.  Forgive me if you’ve heard it before; just smile and pretend it’s all new to you:

In 1933, Dad worked for a grocery chain.  You may have heard of it-Safeway Stores.  Times were hard and when he and mom were transferred to a small town in Kansas there was a mix-up over the paychecks.  On pay day, Dad’s check did not arrive.  So they ate out of the cupboard during  that two week pay period.  When the canned goods that had filled the shelves and foodstuffs that had stocked the icebox (Did you notice I did not say REFRIGERATOR?  It was indeed a box for ICE.) ran out, they consumed corn meal mush.  Mom boiled it, she fried it, she baked it in muffin tins.  They ate corn meal mush three times a day for days on end and were grateful to have any food at all.

Finally, one noon when Dad came home for lunch, he was carrying a grocery sack FULL of anything but corn meal! He had received his paycheck and picked up some groceries before taking his lunch break!  Mom saw him coming and she threw the batch of gruel she had waiting for him over the fence for the neighbor’s chickens.  Those old hens thought sure they had won the Hen House  lottery!

The first time I heard that story there was no Mickey D’s; in those days no one ever thought of credit cards to ‘get by on’ and it had never occurred to anyone in this story that they could ask for help.  Who knows where help might have come from, anyway?  Their relatives lived out of state; there were no ‘check to cash’ stores on any corner in Kansas then.  There were no Food Banks, either.

Human ‘beans’ are resourceful creatures.  They manage.  They make do.  You know that yourself.  You may BE one of the people who uses public assistance or maybe you are just a frugal sort of person who appreciates pinching pennies and squeezing buffaloes until they bellow!  This is why you have been drawn to this page.

I think YOU have stories similar to this.  We would LOVE to hear your stories of survival and resourcefulness.  Won’t you send them to  Thanks, people.

For you faithful followers who saw the squash recipe on a very recent post, I am amused and delighted to tell you that Leanne Ely, The Dinner Diva ,posted a very similar recipe on her website today!  I’m so sure she is copying us!  grin

Mother Connie will spare you a recipe today, knowing you have some food for thought here.  I do hope your menus are not dull and if you think they are you are in a good place to garner some new ideas.  We offer recipes, tips, food news, and occasionally we are favored with posts from experts who care about users of public assistance to fund their food budgets.  We also hope you’ll surrender your email address in order to receive our series of cooking tips.  Once in awhile we offer a broadcast message but we don’t want to overload your Inboxes.

We just crave your comments here like we crave ice cream or moon pies.  Won’t you favor us by leaving a message for us on this page?  Click on “comments” and remember, you are free to remain anonymous.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.