Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

French Toast Casserole reminds me of Christmas morning or a celebration brunch, but it’s easy enough to have any time.  I love that it can serve a crowd without having to stand over a hot griddle cooking a few slices of bread at a time.  The pumpkin flavor and pecan butterscotch topping, makes this dish especially festive.

You can bake it in a 9×13 casserole dish, muffin tins, a Bundt pan, or even a slow cooker.  It makes a great freezer meal, or a prep the night before dish. I’ll give instructions for each variation at the end.

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

1 loaf, 20 oz of bread.  We like Saralee Artisan Golden Wheat Bread

Read more

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Flautas

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Flautas

This low-cost entree is fast to make and really yummy.  They travel well, if you find yourself needing a meal on the go.  A few tablespoons of cheese in each one brings out flavor and adds protein without breaking the bank.  Presenting another meatless main dish to throw into your rotation.  Read more

Calico Bean Soup and Cornbread

Hearty bean soup is the perfect low cost dish for this spring weather that can be cloudy, drizzly and chilly in between the sunny, warm days.  It tastes so good, no one will realize how cheap it is to make. Beans are full of fiber, which is so good for you and yet can feel a little terrible at the same time if you aren’t used to it.  I have a hack for that.

calico bean soup

My dad was given this soup as a Christmas Gift from his secretary one year when I was a girl and the whole family loved the mix of flavors. My mom begged for the recipe and it has been a cherished favorite ever since.

Calico Bean Soup

3 cups of mixed beans (A 6 or 9 bean mix works great)

5 cups of water

1 Tbs dried chives

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried savory

½ tsp cumin

1 bay leaf

½ tsp black pepper

1 can, 15 oz chopped tomatoes, undrained

The night before: Combine dry beans with 9 cups of water in a large bowl. Sit on the counter overnight. In the morning: Drain beans.  If you forget to pre-soak the beans, this recipe will still work.  Just add an extra cup of water.

Some say beans are harder to digest if you don’t presoak them.  We get gas either way.  Just being honest.  We are saved the embarrassment if we remember to take amylase enzyme before eating.  Amylase breaks down starches and helps the probiotics process the fiber. I take an enzyme blend to prevent any digestion discomfort.

Slow Cooker Method: Place drained beans in a slow cooker. Add cooking water seasonings, and tomatoes. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Pressure Cooker Method: Place drained beans in a pressure cooker. Add cooking water seasonings, and tomatoes. Or combine ingredients in a pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 40 minutes.

Discard bay leaf and sprinkle with dried or fresh parsley just before serving.

1/8 of the pot of soup has 122 calories; 15 net carbs, and 14g of protein



This is a great all-purpose cornbread recipe and goes with a lot of different dishes.  Corn and Beans have complimentary proteins so when eaten together you get all the essential amino acids. Ground millet can be subbed for the cornmeal for those with allergies or sensitivities to corn.  It tastes very similar to the real thing.  Doubling the recipe is the perfect amount for a 9×13 pan.
1 cup cornmeal (or Masa Harina)

1 cup hard white wheat flour

1 Tbs Baking Powder

½ tsp salt

2-4 Tbs coconut sugar (brown sugar or honey) (If you are used to cake like cornbread go for the higher amount of sugar)

2 eggs

1 cup milk

¼ cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the middle of the bowl. Add eggs, butter, and milk. Stir until just combined. Pour batter into a greased 8×8 inch pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve with butter and honey.  Makes 9 2″square servings.

A 2” inch square has 144 calories; 23 net carbs and 6g protein

Another Easy Meatless Main Dish: Frittata

About once a week I serve a meatless main dish to save on the grocery budget.  It’s important to still have plenty of protein for the people I love, so using plenty of eggs and a sprinkle of cheese makes this happen for little expense.  This is a Sunday favorite, because it’s so easy and we always have the ingredients on hand.


For this dish, it helps to have a cast iron skillet that will go from stove top into the oven. Before the gas stove, we had a glass cook-top that was too delicate for cast iron. I could still make frittata by transferring the vegetables to an oven-proof dish and adding the eggs before baking.Frittata 8

You can vary the vegetables you use in the frittata.  It’s a nice way to use up leftover side veggies from the week.  I had leftover broccoli and onions on hand. That’s all I used in this dish, but mushrooms, bell pepper, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and olives are all good.  You can also use bits of leftover meat like ham, sausage or bacon if you aren’t set on keeping it meatless.  The recipe recommends 2-4 cups of veggies.  I did 2 cups since I just had one type of veggie, but would go closer to 4 cups if I was using a wide variety of vegetables.

frittata plated 4We went super simple on the side dishes too.  Asparagus was on sale for $1 a lb, so I sauteed the spears while the frittata baked and peeled a few clementines.Frittata plated 2


2-4 cups vegetables

1 Tbs butter

8 eggs

¼ cup plain 0% Greek Yogurt

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp white pepper

1 cup of shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in an oven proof skillet and sauté vegetables until they are hot and tender. Meanwhile, beat eggs with milk or yogurt, salt and pepper. Pour beaten eggs over the top and cook a few minutes until the eggs start to cook on the bottom. Transfer the skillet to your oven and bake for 20-25 minute or until set. Sprinkle with cheese and return to the oven until melted.

1/8 of the frittata has 12 g of protein and 164 calories

Does your family enjoy frittata?  Do you have a favorite go to Sunday dinner?


Easy Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

Easy Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

Meat and Cheese are the two most expensive categories in my grocery budget. I keep costs down by choosing less expensive proteins a few times a week like eggs.   While I’m not a fan of vegan protein alternatives like tofu and TVP,  I do enjoy fresh or dry roasted edamame.

how to prepare tofu

If someone in my home developed food allergies to all dairy and eggs I’d consider tofutti. Until then…. nope.

Eggs, on the other hand, are little compact nuggets of serious nutrition.  2 large eggs have 140 calories, 12g of protein, and everything necessary to grow a chick = lots of nutrients.   Plus at $1.50 a dozen, a serving of 2 eggs is only $.25.

Grant Slicing Eggs

We like to have hard boiled eggs on hand for snacking.  They are also great chopped on top of a chef’s salad, in egg salad, potato salad, tuna salad, creamed eggs over biscuits, deviled (stuffed) eggs….you get the idea.

Boiled eggs are easy to cook, but may not be so easy to peel.  When eggs are freshly laid, they are slightly acidic which makes the shell stick tightly to the albumin in the egg white and impossible to peel cleanly. The hen covers her eggs with a protective coating as they are laid which keeps this acidic level intact and the egg fresh outside the fridge for 10 days.

peeling eggs

Commercial eggs have the protective coating washed off.  This allows the natural CO2 trapped in the egg to dissipate through the porous shell reducing the acidity and the stickiness of the shell.  Commercial eggs will ripen in the refrigerator to be easy to peel in about 10 days. By the time they reach our homes commercial eggs are typically perfectly ripe.

If you have your own hens, you’ll need to wash the eggs you hope to boil with warm water and a soft cloth before storing in the fridge.  Label them so you’ll be able to tell the date they will be ready to boil and peel (10 days ripened.)  Oiling the eggs for storage will make it impossible for them to ripen to easy peel stage.

Eggs in steamer

We enjoy steaming our eggs instead of boiling them in water.  They don’t crack since they aren’t in the rocking boiling water to knock them around.  We think they are easier to peel than boiled eggs and don’t have the grayish green line separating the yolk from the white, unless we forget about them and over do it.

I use our combo steamer/slow cooker/rice cooker to do it, because it automatically starts timing when the water comes to a boil and sets of an alarm when they are done.  I simply fill the bottom with 2 inches of water, fill the top basket with eggs, set it to steam for 15 minutes and go to something productive.

Peel eggs with a spoon

When the alarm sounds , I use oven mitts to lift out the steamer basket and plunge it into a sink of cold water to stop the cooking process.  When they are cool enough to handle, I tap and roll the eggs on a paper towel (or cloth towel) to break up the shell, then slip a spoon between the shell and the egg.  The spoon curves with the egg keeping it protected and the peel slips off pretty quickly this way. If the spoon doesn’t slide well, I oil the tip with a touch of olive oil.

How about you, does peeling eggs frustrate you? Do you have a family tradition for making eggs easy to peel?