Frugal Food Adventures: Beef Rolls from Downton Abbey Cooks (2)

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I knew when I planned on making a huge beef roast this week that I would have to figure out what to do with the leftover beef and vegetables. I’ve pinned quite a few recipes from the Downton Abbey Cooks blog and being a fan of savories, remembered I had pinned this recipe for Mrs. Patmore’s Beef Rolls on my Downton Abbey Menu board.

We are not usually fans of leftovers. I will eat them most of the time, but I’m not a big meat fan to begin with, so if we have a leftover meat dish the leftovers will more often then not go to waste. My husband hates taking leftovers to work. That’s not a very frugal habit, I know, but it’s one of a very few vices of his.

I’m a pretty cook baker, but I’m not terribly confident with my pie crust skills. Nevertheless, the dough for the rolls was pretty easy to make. I have a basic pastry blender and cut the shortening into the dry ingredients before mixing with the milk. It took about 7 minutes to mix it and do a basic roll out with a rolling pin. It was not a perfect square or perfectly even in thickness, but it still worked just fine. It made about 13 beef rolls.

I estimate that I spent about 50 cents for flour, shortening, baking soda, salt, and milk to make the dough. I minced up the cold beef and veggies and didn’t make any additional gravy.

Our verdict?

My husband, son, the toddler Miss C and myself all liked them. Our 5 year old Miss E declared them yucky and wanted a peanut butter sandwich, but she did eat the roll and picked off the beef and veggies.

Yes, I will probably make them again, and they might be even better with extra gravy on them next time.

Frugal Vegetarian Meal: Roasted Veggie Wraps with Herbal Cream Cheese


I don’t usually buy cream cheese, but I had a couple of packs of light cream cheese sitting in my fridge since Thanksgiving. I decided I needed to use it up, along with some zucchini and mushrooms that were getting ready to turn.

I roasted the zucchini and mushrooms in the oven with some red onion, bell pepper, and garlic with a tiny bit of olive oil, and added a drained and rinsed can of black beans at the end of the roasting to add some protein. (Plus, I love beans!)

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I had some Ole herbed spinach low carb tortillas to use up as well, so I mixed the package of cream cheese with some green onions, smeared the tortilla with it, and topped it with the beans and veggies.

The result was absolutely delicious!

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Roasted Veggie Wraps with Herbed Cream Cheese

8 burrito sized tortillas (wheat, corn, or whatever you choose)

8 oz. light cream cheese, softened

1/2 bunch green onions, minced

1 large red onion, diced

2 zucchini squash, diced

8 oz sliced mushrooms, sliced

1 sweet bell pepper, sliced thin

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp minced garlic

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

(Optional) Diced tomato, shredded cheddar cheese,  fresh basil or cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all the vegetables except for the green onions in a 13 x 9 roasting pan. Mix in the garlic and oil and stir to make sure vegetables are coated. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, then add the beans to the pan. Roast until vegetables have softened.

Mix the softened cream cheese with the green onions and stir until well combined. Spread 1-2 TB of the cream cheese mixture into the center of a tortilla and top with roasted vegetables. Top with fresh diced tomato, herbs, or shredded cheese if desired. Fold edges over and serve. Makes about 8 servings.

Frugal Food Adventures: Bean and Zucchini Cutlets

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I know there are a lot of bean haters out there. I was once one of you. Not to call my mom out, but the only edible bean dish she could make was baked beans, and I never got the chance to enjoy really well made bean and lentil dishes until I was a vegetarian living on my own in college.

One of my goals is to get you to try some bean dishes. Beans and legumes are a cheap source of protein and in general good for you (though I do know some of you can’t have them for medical reasons, because of needing a low residue diet. You can just enjoy the pretty pictures and ignore).

For those of you who have been scarred for life after poorly made childhood bean meals, or just find them icky, I suggest trying this recipe for Bean and Zucchini Cutlets. It comes from the site Sandra Vungi Vegan. She is an Estonian blogger, and I have been making quite a few of her recipes lately, as I am a huge lentil lover and she has a fair number of lentil recipes on her blog. She does have a book out in English called Vegan Dinner Party as well.

These cutlets are vegan and only have a few ingredients. Don’t be put off by the word vegan either. Just think of them as a fresh veggie and bean dish with fresh herbs and seasonings, made with whole foods.

We are not curry fans, so I switched it up and used a 1/4 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (everything tastes good with that stuff!), a teaspoon minced garlic, only one onion, and a handful each of fresh cilantro and fresh parsley.

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Yes, there was a lot of green stuff in them. My kids love green stuff, so they were cool with it. They held together well despite having no egg.

I served them with pan-roasted Brussels sprouts and a quick mustard-caper sauce from the book The Veganomicon. I highly recommend the book for easy vegetarian recipes. We’ve tried many of the recipes and haven’t gotten a bad one yet.

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Yes, my husband and kids LOVED this. All my children are used to lots of veggies, and they ask me to make Brussels sprouts. My 5 year old daughter kept asking for more mustard-caper sauce.

So, who is going to try a bean dish this week? What are you making?

Frugal Food Adventures: Beef Vegetable Soup

Slow Cooker Beef Vegetable

I’ve tried many recipes for Beef Vegetable Soup, and I have always found that I have to adjust them. Either they have things I don’t like in this type of soup (black eyed peas, pasta, rice), or they are missing elements that I consider essential (Worcestershire sauce, LOTS of okra, lima beans).

This recipe is easy and makes a huge vat. With five of us, it typically lasts 3 days.

Beef Vegetable Soup

10 servings

1-1.5 pounds lean stew beef

1 large onion, finely diced (can use frozen)

1 bag frozen vegetables for soup

1 bag frozen cut okra

1 bag frozen lima beans

3 15-oz cans diced unsalted tomatoes, undrained

1 bouillon cube, flavor of your choice (I usually only have vegetarian in the home)

1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

1 TB Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp celery seed

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

6 cups water (I fill an empty tomato can three times)

I don’t brown my meat ( I have no time for that!), but browning your meat will give an additional roasted flavor. If you want to brown your meat, put it in a pan in a couple TB of oil, and brown all sides.

If you are like me, and want the easy route, dump all ingredients into a 6 qt slow cooker right away. Set on high and cook for at least 7 hours. It’s done when the meat is tender and easily pulls apart with a fork.

(Note: If you like pepper, feel free to add some to taste. I add mine to my own serving. My kids won’t eat it otherwise.)

Frugal Food Adventures: Polenta With Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts

I think it’s safe to say that I am list-obsessed. I have a list of daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, and yearly goals. I have long term goals, bucket list goals, career goals, and personal goals.

To ensure I don’t just make a bucket list that never gets fulfilled, I have a yearly list and a seasonal list. I have one for myself and one for the kids. This year’s list for me included learning to swim in deep water (done!) and learning to shoot a gun (done!).

My seasonal list for the family  includes fun activities (the amusement park, sprinkler park, hiking, and swimming this summer) and food (late summer peach pie, fresh tomato salad, watermelon fresca drink). I love food!

Earthy and savory foods are some of my fall bucket list favorites. I saw this recipe for Sage Polenta Bowls with Roasted Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts, and had to try it. I’m willing to try just about anything with mushrooms in it.

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I used my sale-bought polenta ( half of my $1.49 box), plus Brussels sprouts ($1.99) and mushrooms ($0.99) from Aldi. It cost me about $3.74 to make a batch, and was delicious and filling! I will definitely make it again.

My kids are HUGE Brussels sprouts fans, so yes, they all ate their serving with gusto.

If you are interested to see which foods and crafts we have on our Fall Bucket List, you can check out my board on Pinterest.