Posts Tagged ‘make ahead’

Pumpkin pie is a reminder of fall. It’s a delicious, traditional treat, and it would be hard to imagine Thanksgiving festivities without one or two pumpkin pies to finish off the meal. No matter how stuffed people are from a large holiday dinner, they always will find room for at least one slice. Pumpkin pie is a good choice for reasons other than its tradition and popularity. It’s a lower-cost dessert to bake, and uses healthy ingredients, making it one of the better dessert choices. Replace sugar with agave nectar for an even lower sugar dessert! Check out the following three reasons why making pumpkin pie is a healthier, low-cost option.

Making pumpkin pie from scratch is a frugal choice

Around the holidays there are always pre-made pies available in your grocery store’s bakery section. At other times of the year you can often find them amongst the frozen foods and desserts. This may make you wonder why you should bother making your own. The answer is that making your own allows you to control what goes into the pie. This is always beneficial to the healthfulness of the recipe and the frugality of the dessert. Purchasing your own ingredients means you can opt for the cheapest choices, and take advantage of deals at the grocery store. An added bonus is that once you have the basic ingredients on hand, you can continue making more pies without additional cost. In the long run, you’ll be amazed by the amount you can save if you avoid the pre-made pie. Next time you’re craving pumpkin pie, skip the bakery section and instead try this low-calorie pumpkin pie recipe, it only costs around one dollar to make!

Using less ingredients means spending less money, and saving on empty calories

There are many different types of pumpkin pies. These days you can find recipes that include layers of cream cheese, or caramel and pecan toppings. These will certainly add variety to your table; however, the traditional pumpkin pie uses fewer ingredients. BetterBudgeting.com suggests that the less-traditional recipes are much sweeter than the original. You’ll save some money, and some calories, if you stick to the tried-and-true version of the recipe.

Starting with fresh pumpkin is a healthy choice

Store-bought pumpkin pie filling usually has added sugar, and other things, like preservatives. If you start with the whole pumpkin, you’ll know that everything going into your pie is high-quality and fresh. When picking out your pumpkins you should choose smaller ones, as they pack a lot more flavor then the larger pumpkins.  Bonus points if you are growing your own pumpkins!

When it gets closer to the holiday season, you may find yourself thinking of pumpkin pie. And why not? It’s an excellent dessert option. Remember, to be frugal and healthy, stick to fresh and fewer ingredients, and make your own from scratch.


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Big Brother is officially a student and is off and running in his first week of Kindergarten.  That means there really is a bedtime now, no two ways about it.  I feel rushed and Big Brother is still learning how to tell time, he is trying at least.  There is a way to be on time for dinner though, get out your crock-pot!  If yours is anything like mine, it was housed in the bottom of a cupboard and is missing its lid.

Apologize to your topless crock-pot and fit it with another lid.  Tin foil and a large kitchen towel may be substituted if needed.

Before you go to sleep tonight, fill up the crock-pot.  Option 1) Cover and refrigerate until morning, then put it on LOW whilst you work, or 2) Turn the crock-pot on LOW now so you can turn it off before it burns dinner, then refrigerate just before leaving for work.

I’m going with option 2.

Carne Guisada (before)

A certain someone likes mushrooms, so those are the extra special ingredient which would not normally appear in a traditional Carne Guisada.  Be your own chef, right?  Well that’s what I intend to do…

Midnitechef’s Carne Guisada (via Crock-pot)

  • 1 pkg Carne Guisada seasoned beef (approx. 1.5 lbs)
  • 1/2 onion, large dice
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, large dice
  • 1 roasted Poblano pepper, seeded peeled and diced
  • 1 15oz canned tomato + 2 cans water
  • 1 cup sliced baby Portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 baby carrots, sliced crosswise

Combine everything but the beef in the pot, mix to distribute.  Add the beef and stir slightly, add more water to just cover.  Set the crock-pot to LOW and cook for 6-8 hours.

Serve with rice, tortillas, avocado, lime wedges, and a tall glass of <insert your favorite beverage here>!

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Any time is perfect for a batch of Pozolé!

With a little planning you can make part of this  soup while you are at work, then finish it off once you arrive home. The cabbage topping can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator, the lime juice will keep everybody fresh. If you don’t have time to make totopos, you can certainly use your favorite corn tortilla chips.

I make Pozolé during the holidays for guests and especially on cool days here in Texas. Traditionally in my husband’s family, this dish is made with pork.  I have used whole cut up chicken, turkey drum sticks, and even left-over turkey from Thanksgiving to prepare it.  It’s just fabulous any which way you make it.  If you see cans of hominy on sale, stock up!  The only special ingredient here is the achioté, you’re best bet is to look at Fiesta (in Texas) or Google for the nearest latino/mexican market in your city.  If I could find one in Edmonton (Alberta), I’m sure you’ll find one in your area! 



  • Large pot or crock pot – the bigger the better!
  • Pork roast of some kind (shoulder or rump), fat trimmed.
  • Canned hominy (sorta like chick peas or garbanzo) – twice as much as the pork!
  • Achiote, six 1″ cubes (it comes as a brick in a box)
  • Vinegar – 1/4 cup
  • 3-5 Garlic cloves, whole,
  • 1 whole white onion, peeled and halved
  • Bouquet garni: 6 green cardamom pods, tbsp coriander seeds, tbsp black peppercorns, cilantro stems, smashed garlic cloves, 1-3 whole Serrano peppers (adjust to size and heat of the peppers, and to taste). Tie up in a sachet of cheesecloth or coffee filters.
  • 1 small green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 white onion (or shallots if you like the fancy stuff), fine slices
  • 2-3 limes, juiced
  • Optional horse radishes, sliced
  • Optional avocado, sliced or diced for garnish – alternative is guacamole 🙂
  • Optional cilantro, chopped roughly for garnish
  • Really good option is totopos (tortilla chips made by frying fresh corn tortillas – yum yum!)

This takes a while to make, you could let the crock pot do much of the work for you. Cover the pork roast with water and add a bit of salt, bouquet garni, whole onion and the garlic. Simmer the meat until mildly cooked, this was 4 hours on high in my crock pot. Remove the meat to cutting a board. Degrease the surface of the cooking liquid with a flat spoon, you can strain the liquids to get all the little bits out and the garlic and onion to end up with a “cleaner” soup.  Reserve the strained liquid and bouquet garni, add these back to the pot.

Chop up the achiote then grind up in a blender with a cup of warm water. You may need to add another cup of water after pouring out the first bit of spiced liquid, because it tends to clump up in the bottom, grind/blend some more until it’s all dissolved. Add blender contents to de-greased liquid in your pot. Turn on heat to medium-high if you turned it off to blend the achiote. Add the vinegar and salt to taste.

It’s best to wash the hominy, as with any canned beans. Add hominy (maïze treated with a lye solution) to the pot. The pork can be torn with a fork into large chucks, while removing visible fat too. Add chucks of meat to the pot. You may want to adjust the salt to taste. Stir gently to be sure the achiote is well distributed. Turn down the heat a bit. Let it simmer away for as long as you can stand it, about 30mins to 1 hour.

In the meantime you can prepare the toppings:  Toss in a bowl the shredded cabbage, onion, lime juice, and radishes. The more lime juice the better! You may need more if they are small or do not carry too much juice. Option to add the cilantro here. Slice the avocado right before serving.

To serve:  Ladle soup into a bowl, take a balance of hominy, broth and meat. Top with the cabbage mixture, I like to add a lot of it for the contrast in temperature and flavor. Avocado can go on last, or be eaten on the side with totopos…

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