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Pumpkins – Many uses – Pies, soups, breads, seeds…

From the fall harvest we acquire pumpkins, squash, apples and so much more.  I try to make the most of this harvest as I possibly can.  As we head off to the apple farm, making 2-4 trips each fall, I pick up bushels of apple seconds, squash and pumpkins when they are not growing in my own garden.  I usually pick up a few squash on each trip and 2-4 pumpkins each year.

Working with pumpkins is not really all that hard.  I think the reason I at first procrastinate is that I love how a pumpkin looks on my fall table setting.  The second reason is in the awkwardness in having to cut it in half in order to bake it for what I use it for, yet once I start, the process runs along smoothly.

This morning, I have baked pumpkin in order to make puree for pies, soups and breads.  In addition I decided to try my hand at making seasoned pumpkin seeds. Usually I just save a few to try planting the following year.

How I prepare my pumpkin for fresh puree to be used in Pies, breads, cookies, soups, etc.:

PUMPKIN PUREE

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degree F.
  2. I cut my pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and strings (saving the seeds for replanting or making roasted pumpkin seeds)
  3. To save my pan from burning, I place aluminum foil on my baking pan (I use my cookie sheets) and curl up the edges so that the juice from the baked pumpkin does not burn or run off the edges
  4. Place my two pumpkin halves cut side down on the aluminum that is over the baking pan,  You can remove the pumpkin stem if you wish, I tend not to.
  5. Bake for 1 1/2 hours

    www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

    www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

  6. Remove from oven and cool.
  7. By cooling, the pumpkin get softer, making it easier to scoop out and work with.
  8. Scoop out the pumpkin from its shell and place in food processor or blender.
  9. Blend until smooth.
  10. Use immediately in recipes or freeze in quart ziploc freezer bags.  Lay flat for better storage.

    www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

    www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Now, what about those seeds??

Some have made beautiful necklaces out of them, some have shelled them for eating, and some have roasted them in their shells for snacking enjoyment.

There are many recipes online that can share how to make roasted pumpkin seeds.  Since I try not to avoid a high intake of salt, my method does not incorporate salt.  But, if you are one to enjoy salt, consider sea salt as a healthier option.

www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

CINNAMON COATED PUMPKIN SEEDS

  1. First I sprayed my cookie sheet with coconut oil, made sure it was well covered to prevent the shells from burning and sticking to the cookie sheet.
  2. In a bowl, after rinsing my seeds 4 times, I strained them, then put them in a bowl mixed with cinnamon.  Since I do not measure “how much” I will estimate maybe a 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of cinnamon.
  3. If you decide to use salt, you can use the same amount as the cinnamon, yet no more than double what you used.
  4. Mix the seasonings with your seeds.  Yes, the seeds are still wet from rinsing and draining.
  5. Lay them out in a flat layer on your greased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 350 degree F at 5 minute intervals, turning every 5 minutes for no more than 20 minutes.  Twenty minutes was perfect for what I roasted.  Whether it was because I oiled my pan well, or the shells were still moist, might be the reason.  I’ve read a few other places where people have trouble burning their seeds.

OTHER OPTIONS FOR ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Plain roasted sunflower seeds w/salt, same method with 1/2 tsp of salt

Sweetened pumpkin flavored – consider 1/4 – 1/2 sugar w/1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice

Sweetened – 1/4 c sugar plus 1/4 c butter (or butter substitute for our family – milk sensitivities)

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Getting Full Value From Chicken

This is a picture of my nephew's chickens that he raises for eggs.   We used to have chickens when we lived in ME, but for now we rely on the local farmers and grocers for our source for chicken protein.

This is a picture of my nephew’s chickens that he raises for eggs.
We used to have chickens when we lived in ME, but for now we rely on the local farmers and grocers for our source for chicken protein.

Without taking into account the cost per pound for chicken, sometimes the best value for your dollar is purchasing a whole chicken that you will bake or cook within your rotisserie.  I realize that buying the pieces makes like easy, and sometimes the cost makes it worth it.

NOTE:  Always shop with your health in mind first, buying quality brand cuts of meat.  A healthier lifestyle saves on medical costs.

But, have you opted for the whole chicken in order to get all that you can from this roaster?  I enjoy utilizing my rotisserie, but also enjoy the oven baked chicken.  With both options, you can get more than just an evening meal with possible left-overs for lunch or the next evening.

With a 3-4 pound chicken I am able to serve my husband and I three – four meals.  Of course, these meals are portioned sized allowing us to enjoy more vegetables, while not over consuming on protein.

But what about “boring” repeat meals?  It does not happen.  Each evening or lunch, the chicken can be used in a casserole, sandwiches, or another dinner variation with different vegetables and side dishes.

In addition to the meals, I am able to get at least four cups of chicken broth made from boiling the carcass in water and seasonings.  No preservatives, no salt, etc.  This provides enough broth to make a batch of soup, use in a casserole or a side dish of rice.

When our three daughters were living at home, this size chicken would produce one full evening meal, leftovers for a casserole, along with the broth to make home-made chicken noodle soup.

When I purchase boneless chicken breast, which is the only other type of chicken I purchase, I do not have the option to make broth.  I still enjoy buying my chicken this way for the other meals I prepare, but when I need to stretch our grocery dollars, this is one option that makes sense.

What do you do with your leftover chicken?  Share here in the blog, as I would love to hear from  you.

We can all eat healthy on a slim budget.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Preserving the Berries

ReflectiveTapestryBlackberries

Fall has arrived, and I am beginning to make jams and jellies from the preserves and realized that before I posted about making jams and jellies, I would like to share about how I preserve my berries so that I can later bake, create dessert toppings as well as prepare jams and jellies.

Frugal Value Living Before Freezing Berries 10

When summer arrives, the urge to pick berries becomes a passion for me.    Partially because we eat them year round and by picking enough to get through the winter season, I am guaranteed a fresh supply until the following year of picking.  The other part is the therapeutic affect it has on me of being out in nature reaping the harvest of what God has provided.

Frugal Value Living Freezing Berries 7

Berries are extremely easy to preserve.  Many times the first thought people have when they go out to pick berries is to return home and immediately make muffins, pancakes, jams and jellies.  But, if you are one to pick to preserve or one who might not have the time to do all that culinary stuff when you return, there is a way to preserve these delightful treats for your future desires.

First, keep a few days worth of fresh berries to enjoy with your morning breakfast, salads, desserts, etc.  Once that is done take the time to prepare your berries for the freezer.

Frugal Value Lifestyle Freezing Blueberries

Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.  Berries that do not need to be hulled like strawberries can be washed, then lightly dried.  Once dried, place a layer of berries on flat tray surfaces, (I use cookie sheets and baking pans) and place them into the freezer.  After a few hours (or overnight) you can remove these marbled berries and place into freezer safe containers or freezer bags.  This allows the berries from sticking to each other, which is perfect when baking, as one should never completely thaw their berries before baking.  This prevents them from becoming soggy and keeps them whole in the baked goods.

Frugal Value Lifestyle Freezing Berries 4

With strawberries, one  must hull their berries and remove any bad portions.  You can freeze them whole or in slices.  I freeze them both ways.  Freezing them whole takes less time to preserve, yet in slices (not much longer to put up) the strawberries are perfect when you want them for going over your future desserts.   Again, as with the other berries, once frozen (over night) I remove from the trays and place into freezer bags or freezer containers.

Frugal Value Living Freezing Berries 8

Freezing your berries is simple.  All you need are baking pans and cookie sheets that you already have in your kitchen cupboards, freezer safe ziploc bags and some time to prepare your fruit.

Frugal Value Living Freezing Strawberries 1

Enjoy the harvest all year round by preserving your food safely,

Laura

NOTE:  One thing I noticed this year was the high cost of picking berries at the farm, so in an effort to conserve our limited resources, I sought out other options.  I was notified of a location where I could pick blackberries for free, found a few sources where the berries were much cheaper to purchase already picked, and our family was blessed with a gift of a few gallons of blueberries and raspberries (already frozen, so the work for these gifts was already done).  In addition, we do have some blueberry, raspberry and blackberry plants.  This year our plants produced a “few” raspberries, a gallon of blackberries, and maybe a 1/2 gallon of blueberries.  Not as much as I would like to pick and preserve, but certainly a start towards being self-sufficient with berries.

Frugal Value Lifestyle Freezing Berries 2

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Is the Coupon Worth It? – Chips

Every now and then I will share my experiences and thoughts on coupon usage.  You will find that I do use them, but I am not a huge fan of them because sometimes they are simply not worth the fuss.  Yet, I still browse through the Sunday flyers as well as online sites.

Much of my focus with coupon use is for products we actually use, and yet I will sometimes cut a few for what I consider “luxury” items.  Today I saved $5.55 on my trip, a 7% savings.  Certainly not as much as I would like, but in reality, it wasn’t just about saving with an available coupon but also in value.

Our goal today was to purchase only the items we needed, which was some dairy, fruit, veggies and water.  Yet, considering I had a craving for chips last night, my morning list included trying to use a coupon for pringles.  Two things caused me to avoid using that coupon:

Choosing the healthier option with a cost savings over the coupon option. Pringles vs. Lays

Choosing the healthier option with a cost savings over the coupon option.
Pringles vs. Lays

  1. Since I am focused on remaining gluten free, I found as I read the label that Pringles is made with wheat starch.  This does not bother my husband, but for me it makes a difference.  Okay, maybe I do not need chips this time around….
  2. Well, lets compare prices.  Pringles was at a price of $1.50 and next to them was Lay’s Stax at a price of 99 cents.  Okay, frugal momma here.  The coupon for Pringles is $1.00 off 4 containers.  Seriously??? I need to purchase 4 canisters to use this coupon?  basically 25 cents off each container.  Let’s do the math…25 cents off one canister makes them $1.25 each, still more expensive than Lays Stax at 99 cents and no pressure to purchase four canisters at once.

As a frugal shopper, my goal is to purchase what we need, at a fair price, use a coupon is available, with a focus on quality.

  • Did I need four canisters of chips?  No.  This purchase was to satisfy a craving but not a need.  To purchase extra canisters in the house would first require that I spend more than planned and also meant that there would be the temptation to consume more than necessary throughout the week.
  • Did I look for a fair price?  Of course.  I know that in the past that Pringles is a chip that our family enjoys.  But, when they are suggesting a higher price than its competitor, and requiring a bulk quantity to tempt me into purchasing their product, then I do not consider it a great deal.
  • Access to a coupon?  No coupons were in my coupon file of products we use, yet I still saved by not being drawn into having to purchase four canisters in order to use a coupon.  Sure, coupons can help save on the groceries, but only if used on products you will consume.
  • Looking for quality:  In reading the ingredients, I found that not only did the Lays Stax have healthier ingredients, it fit within my need to stay away from milk and gluten.  Plus, I personally find that the Lays brand has a thicker chip, and a better flavor.

NOTE:  We only purchased two cansiters of Lays Original.  I did not look at the labels of their other flavors to see if they contained milk or wheat, but my comparison “original to original” to each brand, scored with Lays as having the better nutritional value.

NOTE:  Soy is contained in this product.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor