Thrifty Thursday Link Party #12

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by Shannah Coe on August 21, 2014

Welcome back to the Thrifty Thursday link party! This party continues to grow each week and we love seeing all the new things you link up. Be sure to spread the word about the party because more links = more exposure for everyone.

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Take a look at some of the most popular projects from last week’s party:

8.15 Party Features

1. 15 Things Not to Spend Money On
2. How to Save Money Using RIT Dye
3. Real Life Bride Welcome Bag
4. 30 Clever Uses for Household Items
5. Homemade Oreo Ice Cream Cake
6.  5 Week Weight Loss Challenge

Now, let’s get on with the party! Link up below and then be sure to grab a button to spread the news about this great, new link party. We definitely want to see this party grow and grow!

A few reminders about how the party works:
1) Link up your recipes, crafts, DIY projects, thrifty tips, etc using the tool below. Please DO NOT link up Etsy shops, deals, coupons, giveaways or anything else you are selling. This party is for creative/informative posts only.
2) Visit at least 3 other links in the listing to see what other people are working on.
3) We’d love it if you would include a link back in your linked post to our website in your post so others will know to come here and join the party too!
4) Please leave a comment on the post after linking.

Thrifty Thursday Button

If you are reading this in our email or a RSS reader please click here to check out the party.

Make sure to sign up to receive notification when each week’s linky is live so that you don’t miss out!

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Alex & Cassie
 

Best Gluten-Free Flour Recipe Ever: Makes for Near Perfect Replacement

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by Cassie on August 20, 2014

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I am so excited! After a long time of trying many recipes, combinations, concoctions and other gluten-free ideas – I think I have finally found the winner! The best of the best when it comes to gluten-free flour!

You see, at our home, one way that we live frugally, but live life to the fullest, is by creating our own homemade versions of store-bought products.

We make our own breads, our own pancake/waffle mix, our own bulk muffin mix and all are wonderful – except for a relatively recent discovery of two members of our family with gluten issues.

There was “sticker shock” on gluten-free products and mixes. They are seriously an arm and a leg when you have a $125 weekly grocery budget for a family of 7, who tries to using their budget for natural, organic and whole living.

Well, this recipe has been the answer and I am so excited to finally share a gluten-free flour recipe,that is not only gluten-free, but nut free too (we can’t use almond or nut flours due to nut allergies too!).  In addition, the flours we are using are organic, corn-free, dairy-free, soy-free and non-gmo.

You really can’t get much better than that and for a decent price too!

Not only does it have all of these (or rather lack of these) ingredients, but this mix actually does make very fluffy and tasty foods! So good in fact, my hubby and kids turn their noses up at anything gluten-free and leave it for the GF members.

Well, when I cook now, I make two of something – the regular and the GF version – and my family members, especially Alex, have preferred the gluten free versions.  That is AMAZING to me!

Now that I have finally found the perfect recipe, I finally feel great about sharing many GF recipes with you too! So along with our traditional, money-saving, taste bud-pleasing recipes, you will start to find a GF collection that is just as tasty (or better tasting)!

I found this recipe from A Little Sanity site, where Erika claimed this was the “Best Gluten-Free Flour Mix” and if you are like me… you are like..”yeah right” until you try it! Right?  Well that was me!  And I was impressed to say the least!

Just like my homemade cleaning recipes and other recipes, I try and try until I find what I consider to be the best combination of ingredients to do a good, natural job!  

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Here’s what you need:

  • 4 1/4 Cups Brown Rice Flour
  • 4 1/4 Cups White Rice Four
  • 4 1/4 Cups  Sweet Rice Flour
  • 4 1/2 Cups  Tapioca Flour (aka Tapioca Starch)
  • 2½ TBSP Xanthan Gum

As a note, the xanthan gum comes in a several sizes, but most commonly 6-8oz.  This means you will have tons left over and be able to use it for a very long time.   This is a very important ingredient as it is the gluten replacer.

The bags are plastic/paper flour type bags, which are not great for longer term storage and so I just put all of the remaining xanthan gum in a recycled spaghetti sauce jar to store for longer term.

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How To make the Best Gluten-Free Flour Ever

It’s so easy, that I am not even going to break it down – just mix all of these in a big bowl until well mixed and then store in a glass container.

Then use this mix as a replacement in recipes for the flour.

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I picked up these at Hobby Lobby during a common sale where they will have glass storage for 50% off.  This sale happens about once a month and they have teeny tiny glass storage to giant glass storage for a great price with the common sale!  The other place has been Walmart. In addition, I recycle all of my glass food jars, we’ve also used the giant Costco/Sam’s Club pickle jars for dry pre-mix storage solutions.

Where to get the best prices on the ingredients for the Gluten-Free Flour Mix 

So, I wanted to talk about the price of this mix. It is actually quite affordable, especially when compared to many pre-made gluten-free products, or baking mixes. This still fits in our budget, unlike many products.

I purchased all of the products from one of my favorite sites: Vitacost.  I had to also buy products that were totally peanut and tree nut free due to other allergies – so this can affect prices.  However, even with that, it was still a fantastic deal! This is a big batch of bulk mix and it will last a while.

When I made this, I used these exact products, but there are lots of options, including Bob’s Red Mill (which we love, but not nut safe and it makes it even cheaper).

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You can head to the Vitacost site for all of the ingredients at a discount.  If you get these exact sizes and packages, here’s how this works:

  • The Tapioca Flour (2.5 lbs) and Sweet Rice Flour (3 lbs) will make for 2.5 batches.
  • The Brown Rice Flour (2 lbs.) and the White Rice Flour (2 lbs) will be about 1.5 batches.
  • Xanthan Gum will last for around 12 -14 batches (haven’t used it all yet to know for sure!).

Each batch of this mix is a large bulk amount that usually lasts me 3-5 weeks of regular use.  So this is a few months worth of mix for a much better price than buying already made flour.

You get free shipping with orders for $49 or more OR if you are a first time customer to Vitacost…. you can get $10 off your total order of $30 or more if you use this link HERE for the $10 coupon! 

Returning Customers: Head to Vitacost HERE to see the current sale prices on these ingredients

First-time Customers: Use this link HERE to check sale prices and get a $10 off coupon on the Vitacost site!

If you use the $10 coupon for first time customers to Vitacost, it is even that much better of a deal!

You can probably also find these at various health food stores in your area. Kroger will often have a decent health foods section too!

I hope you have as good of results as we have had with this recipe.  It has been a huge help to the budget and makes GF living a bit more enjoyable!

See more Recipes in our Recipe Art Gallery

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Alex & Cassie
 

Did You Buy Peanut Butter or Nut Butters From Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Kroger or Safeway? If So, Read This Recall!

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by Alex on August 20, 2014

Salmonella Peanut Butter Slump

We wanted to give you all a head’s up about this important recall, because peanut butter and nut butters are a frugal staple in nearly every home as many strive to feed their families affordable, healthy, proteins – it just comes with the territory. In addition, this is a food that is very often consumed by our sweet children, who are at a higher risk of getting very sick due to their small size.

They are also sold at very popular nationwide stores,  so many thousands could be affected!

What is recalled and where?

The affected products include Arrowhead Mills Peanut Butters, MaraNatha Almond Butters and Peanut Butters and specific private label nut butters sold under the Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Kroger and Safeway brands.

These particular brands and products may have been contaminated with salmonella.

If you would like to see the complete list of products affected, then you can see this list on the FDA.gov site.

What is “salmonella”?

It is a food poisoning caused by infection with salmonella bacterium.

According to this CNN report: “ The CDC reports that people in a normal state of health who ingest Salmonella-tainted food may experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, which typically begin within 12 to 72 hours. This may be accompanied by vomiting, chills, headache and muscle pains.

These symptoms may last about four to seven days and then go away without specific treatment, but left unchecked, Salmonella infection may spread to the bloodstream and beyond. It can cause death if the person is not treated promptly with antibiotics.

Children, the elderly and people with compromised immune symptoms should practice extreme caution.”

What to do now?

Fortunately, the company will be refunding or replacing your purchase.  Contact the company directly at 1-800-937-7008 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. CT for a replacement or refund. Then throw out the peanut or nut butter so that you don’t risk accidental ingestion for anyone in your home!

Sources:

Do you have any of these in your home?  What do you plan to do?

Top photo credit:  blog.cleveland.com

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Alex & Cassie
 

Eggplant Recipes and Usage Ideas: Pasta Replacements, Recipes and Even Preserving

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by Alex on August 19, 2014

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What to do with fresh eggplant?  Eggplant is a hard and seemingly funny one!  But this is where we are at now with our Ideas for using fresh garden veggies series.

I have always been fascinated by eggplant.  It is such a weird and unique veggie.  I must say, we have received it in our co-op produce basket quite a number of times, so although, this is one veggie that we haven’t actually grown at home, if you are a part of co-ops or other produce shares, you might come across this fairly often.  Of course, you may be the type that just loves to go and buy one at the grocery store too!

Either way, we want to share ideas on what to do with eggplant.

Fresh Garden Eggplant Idea #1 – Use in Pastas

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So for the first idea, we wanted to share this great recipe for Eggplant Pasta HERE. Check out the recipe.

In fact, we have talked about eggplant being a great pasta replacement in many recipes.  We shared 4 Tips to Make Healthier Pasta and one way is to replace half of the pasta with veggies and eggplant is at the top of that list!  And within the pasta replacement category, one of the most popular ways is in lasagna.  Replace half of the lasagna noodles with strips of eggplant instead.

Fresh Garden Eggplant Idea #3 –  Grilled Eggplant

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Like I said above, eggplant is an fascinating veggie – it’s uses for eating are often quite unique.

Now while grilling veggies is not unique at all, how to grill eggplant is a more unique process than most veggies.

There are grilling secrets to have your eggplant come off the grill just right and have good taste and consistency.

How To Grill Eggplant  - Easy Steps to Perfected Eggplant Grilling

You will want to soak the eggplant in a salt water for at least 30 minutes.

  1. Wash the eggplant and then slice into round slices.
  2. Then prepare a bowl of salt water – dissolve 1 TBSP of salt in about  1/2 cup of warm water. Then add 4 cups of cold water.
  3. Place your eggplant in the water (using something to keep them immersed) for about 30 minutes.  If you have more eggplant than water, just double the water/salt mixture above. You want the eggplants fully submerged and free to soak in the water.
  4. Then take out of the water and place on paper towels. Take another paper towel and pat each piece dry!
  5. Prepare your grill to the high temperature.
  6. Brush your eggplant with an olive oil, salt and pepper blend.
  7. Place oiled side down on the top rack of the grill and cook for about 5 mins.
  8. Similar to the zucchini – we find it is best to cook these with the grill open on the highest heat and on the top rack.
  9. Flip the eggplant over, and brush the other side with the olive oil/salt/pepper blend and cook for another 5 minutes.
  10. Serve immediately and warm.

This is best served right away, reheated or leftover grilled eggplant is not great.

Fresh Garden Eggplant Idea #3 – Roasted Eggplant

This is the year-round alternative to grilling and still very good!

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The benefit of roasted eggplant is that you can add a bit more flavor without losing it to the grill!

So it is quite a tasty way to go!

How to Make Roasted Eggplant

  1. Wash and slice the eggplant (it can also be cubed, but we always prefer the round slices).
  2. Then make an olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper (and parmesan if wanted!) mixture in a medium bowl.
  3. Then add your eggplant slices and toss and mix until all sides of the eggplant is well coated in the mixture.
  4. Lay the pieces flat on a greased pan and place in a 400 degree oven for 25-35 minutes.
  5. They will be done when they are soft and have been browned on the top.  You can also add a bit of shredded Mozzarella Cheese the final 5 minutes.
  6. Again, serve immediately.  Top with more parmesan or even mozzarella.

I tend to think of this as a perfect side to an Italian themed meal.  Eggplant couples well in pasta but it is also great as a side to pasta too. 

Fresh Garden Eggplant Idea #4 –  How to Freeze Eggplant

Now the next thing we wanted to share, was how to freeze eggplant. If you really like the idea of including it in your pasta, then freezing is a great option! Remember, when it comes to freezing veggies, you will not be able to use them as a raw eating option and many cooking options will not taste right either. But pasta, frying, or sautéing are all a good way to go for your frozen eggplant.  

The process is also very similar to the other veggies – you need to blanch them first!

How to freeze eggplant:

  1. Wash the eggplant
  2. Trim the ends off.
  3. Then peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler.
  4. Slice the eggplant into thickish slices (about 1/3 – 1/2 inch thick).
  5. Bring a pot of 8 cups of water to a rolling boil (you want a generous amount of water).
  6. Then add the eggplant to the rolling boil.
  7. Immediately add 1/4 cup of lemon juice (this prevents browning).
  8. Blanch for about 3 minutes. 
  9. Drain and immediately add to a bowl of ice water and soak in ice water for about 3 minutes.
  10. Then drain them and let them dry for a few minutes.  A salad spinner will also help speed up drying time. Even dabbing with a paper towel will help!
  11. Finally, bag them up and label them with the date! Freeze and enjoy later!  You can bag in sandwich size bags with many slices in one bag and plan to use it all at one time from that smaller serving.  If you want to freeze them all in one large gallon+ size bag and just take out a handful at a time, you will first need to freeze them flat on a cookie sheet and then, once solidly frozen (like overnight), transfer them to the gallon size bag and when you need a bit of eggplant, just grab what you need from the bag.

What do you make with eggplant?

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Keep watching for more ideas on using your garden veggies as we have many more veggies recipes and ideas to share this summer with you as you make the most of your garden and farmer’s market finds! 

For actual garden ideas, we wanted to remind you that we have been sharing so many gardening ideas on our Garden Gallery of Ideas HEREPinterest HERE and Facebook HERE that we hope you are seeing some incredible results with your homegrown food supply.  And, as always, we will continue to share gardening tips and ideas on all our site.

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Alex & Cassie
 

Container Gardening Ideas: Reuse Spice Rack as a Container Garden

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by Alex on August 19, 2014

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Container gardening is a great alternative, even addition to many households for garden growing ideas. It is a very convenient way, especially for those that have small spaces or where it is difficult for someone to garden (other limitations in the ground soil or physical limitations of bending over).

Not only do herbs grow well, but other foods like lettuce is a fantastic container gardening veggie and we love to grow lettuce as all you have to do is cut the leaves off and then let it keep regrowing and regrowing. Not only does lettuce do this in the ground, but in containers too!  However, the benefit of containers is that you can bring them inside when the weather is no longer suitable for growing outside and still have lettuce.  We actually use our garden light table.

So for one idea, we came across this repurposed spice rack garden as a great idea for growing foods from A Suburban Farmer.  Her and her husband found these at a garage sale for $3 and total saw a need they could fill with small space gardening.

Really, anything of this sort can work – just follow the same concept, even with smaller racks and containers and you can have a convenient and successful growing garden!

See the full instructions and details at A Suburban Farmer. 

 So if anything, grow your own lettuce and herbs and use items like these too!

What do you think of this idea? 

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Alex & Cassie