Monday, November 30, 2009

Guest Blogger: LeekFixer Gets TFH in Le~Fix

During the first Eat on $30 Challenge, The Frugal Hostess had the pleasure to "meet" Leekfixer on Twitter.  He's been a faithful online friend every since. Leekfixer writes about his suburban farming adventures on The Funny Farm, and, when she read that he had recently made her favorite-food-of-all-time pate, FruHo insisted that he write about it here.  And now, Gentle Friends, TFH is truly in Le' Fix about pate. 

Hi Ya’ll, Leekfixer here. Leekfixer is not used to writing in 3rd person so he hopes you can forgive him if he messes up once in a while. He noticed that The Frugal Hostess shortens her name to FruHo when she writes her posts. Leekfixer figures she is trying to save space on the page, you know, being her frugal self. (really he thinks she’s lazy but don’t tell her I , we, he said that ;). Leekfixer figured he’d follow her lead and shorten his name too. Le’Fix . Seems about right since this post is about French food.

Le’Fix was at a party a while back where they were serving lots of really good food. One thing in particular he really liked was some kind of spread on crackers. He asked the fella who was having the party what it was, and The Fella said it was pate´. Le’Fix asked what was in it. The Fella said it was chicken livers. Well Le’Fix has eaten fried chicken livers before, and he did not like them all that much [Editor’s note: Because Le’Fix is insane.] but he really liked this French version.

He was rooting around in the freezer the other day and found a package of chicken livers he got from the local grassfed beef farm in the summer. Le’Fix was going be throwing his own party (that’s English for soireé) so he decided to make some of those French fried chicken livers. Being a man, Le’Fix doesn’t really like to follow directions, but, seeing as how he did not have a clue as to how the French make that pate´ he figured he better look it up on the internet. He got really excited when he read the recipe (French for directions) because it said to used four of his favorite things: bacon fat (Le’Fix always called it bacon grease but La’Fix - French for Le’Fix’s wife - said he should call it bacon fat because grease makes it sound like the stuff that is leaking out from under his truck), uh, anyway, bacon fat, garlic, butter and party likker. Yeah, there’s chicken livers in there too.

Like he said earlier, Le’Fix doesn’t much like to follow directions so he made some changes to the recipe. For one thing it called for something called ghee. What the heck is ghee?  It’s not even French; he found out on the internet. So he figured he’d use some bacon grease fat instead. The directions called for 6 oz. of ghee so Le’Fix figured he would probably need to fry up a whole package of bacon to get that much fat. He got the bacon frying in the cast iron skillet. Then he rounded up the rest of the stuff he needed. He got a couple sticks of butter out of the fridge. The recipe called for shallots which Le’Fix figured was French for garlic so he chopped up six big, fat cloves. Then he noticed that the directions called for soaking the chicken livers in milk for four hours or overnight. Well, Le’Fix had lots of stuff to do for the party so waiting til tomorrow was not an option. He poured the milk over the livers and stuck them in the fridge where he didn’t have to look at them because they looked pretty gross.

The next thing he saw he needed was sherry which he knew was some fancypants kind of French party likker. He figured party likker was party likker so he looked in the old party likker cabinet and found an open bottle of Scotch whiskey. Le’Fix grew up in the Valley of Virginia where lots of Scottish folks settled. He has some Scottish blood in him too, so he figured it would work OK. This pate´ is already turning into some kind of international dish anyway what with the ghee and all so he figured adding another country would be just fine. By now Le’Fix had worked up a powerful thirst so he poured himself a shot of party likker and tossed it back. Then he ate about half the bacon. He couldn’t help himself. The smell was overpowering his self-control. [Editor’s note: Sounds like The Frugal Hostess’s style of cooking bacon – one for the plate, one for her mouth.]

While he was waiting for the livers to soak up the milk (gross) he decided to make some crackers to put the pate´ on for the party. Le’Fix  does not trust anything that comes in a box or can, no matter what it says on the label. He figured ya’ll might like to make your own crackers too so he posted his cracker recipe here[Editor’s note: If you don’t already, please start reading the Funny Farm. It’s funny and farmy.]

He figured he might as well have another shot of party likker and finish off the bacon then get to putting the pate´ together. He tossed the garlic into the bacon fat, drained the milk off of the livers (gross) and tossed them into the pan just like the Southern do when frying up chicken livers. The directions said to let them cook until they got brown and most of the liquid (considerable it said) had been cooked off. After that it said to deglaze the pan with the party likker. Le’Fix figured what that meant was to pour the party likker into the pan with the livers. It said to use a half a cup which, if Le’Fix calculated right, was equal to 4 shots. Whoohoo this pate´is gonna be good! The bottle was almost empty by now so Le’Fix figured he might as well finish it off so he could put in the recycle bin. He did, too.

Then he read that he should put in some rubbed sage. Well by this time Le’Fix was in no mood to be rubbing on some sage so he got some fresh marjoram (he grew it himself) out of the fridge and proceeded to chop it up Morimoto style. He figured it was about 2 tablespoons but things were getting a little blurry by now so he wasn’t really sure. He tossed the marjoram at the pan and let everything cook down like it said until the party likker was gone.

Much of the rest of the process was a blur but Le’Fix remembers taking the pan off the stove and burning the crap out of his hand. While he was doctoring up his hand the concoction had cooled down enough to put into the food processor with 1 and ½ sticks of the softened butter. He really likes salt so he put a pinch or 2 in there and whirled it around until it looked like, well, until it was smooth and creamy.[Editor’s note: Gross.]

Next the directions said to spoon it into a ramekin. WTF is a ramekin? Must be French for some kind of fancypants bowl. So Le’Fix got out his fanciest bowl and scooped the pate´ into it. Then he smoothed it out on top really good, put some rosemary leaves on there for decoration (he grew it himself) then poured the remaining ¼ stick of melted butter over the top to seal the deal.

Tres Bien!

Chicken Liver Pâté

1 lb livers from pasture-fed chickens
1 pint fresh milk
fat from 1 lb. bacon (about 1/2 cup)
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram, finely chopped
½ cup scotch whiskey
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1¾ sticks of butter softened to room temperature
Fresh rosemary leaves (for garnish)

1.  Rinse chicken livers gently, drain them and put them in a bowl.
2.  Pour the fresh milk over the chicken livers and allow them to marinate for at least 4 hours.
3.  Heat bacon fat in a skillet until melted.
4.  Add the diced garlic and simmer over low heat until translucent (be careful not to burn it). About 10 minutes.
5.  Drain the chicken livers.
6.  Add the chicken livers to the onions and bacon fat. Simmer chicken livers until cooked through and until the liquid has cooked down to a thick sauce. About 20 minutes.
7.  Add the marjoram, salt, and the scotch whiskey.
8.  Continue to cook until the scotch has been reduced to a thick sauce. About 10 minutes.
9.  Allow the mixture to cool.
10.  Add the liver mixture and 1½ sticks of softened butter to a food processor and process until smooth.
11.  Spoon pâté into a bowl, smooth the top surface and garnish with fresh the rosemary leaves.
12.  Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter ( if you have any more bacon fat you can use it in place of the butter) and gently pour over the top of the pate´ covering the whole surface.
13.  Place the pate in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow it to set up. The butter topping helps to preserve it and keep the top moist. It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks while undisturbed.
14.  Remove it from the refrigerator at least four hours before serving.

The Frugal Hostess is craving pate. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

DIY XMAS: Caramels

The Frugal Hostess can't stop making candy.  Really.  This was inspired by the Betsy-Tacy books that TFH read when she was little.  For some reason, the main characters found making caramels as easy as blinking.  Not so.  TFH has tried it a thousand times, albeit with most of those times involving one or more wrong ingredients, and she's never had much success.  That is, until now.  Reader, FruHo presents: caramels!!!

Now, TFH is not going to pretend to have her own recipe or one adapted from someone else's.  When you're dealing with boiling hot sugar and soft ball stages (who knows), it's best to leave it to the experts.  This website has the recipe FruHo used, and it also has great explanations of all of the weird terms one encounters during candy-making.  Really, check it out; TFH will wait for you. 

Good, right?  So, here are a couple of helpful hints.

1.  Wax paper is not the same thing as parchment paper.  Bastards.

2.  If you want those cute little cubes of caramel candy a la Kraft or whatever, you should double this recipe, as it only makes enough for little flat squares that are half the size.  No idea whether doubling it will work, BTW.  But try!

3.  That thermometer thing in the recipe, you know, the one that you were planning to ignore?  Yeah, don't ignore it.  FruHo had every intention of judging the caramel by eye alone until FruHubs insisted otherwise, and she would have been SCREWED if she had.  FruHubs set up one of those thermometers that has a digital read-out and an alarm.  He set the alarm for the desired temperature and then told TFH to hold the stick part in the center of the (hot, boiling, arm-scarring) concoction without touching the pot.  (No, not that kind of pot.  Geez.)  It was hard, and FruHo needed to wear pot-holders on both hands so she could switch every so often, but the results were great.  The point at which she would've thought it was done and when it was actually done (when the alarm sounded) were miles apart.  Seriously.

4.  The Frugal Hostess recommends refrigerating the final product (after you've cut it, etc.) and then letting it come to room temperature before eating.  They taste very buttery and yummy, probably more buttery than you would expect.  But in a good way.  You'll love 'em!

The Frugal Hostess is getting fatter by the minute from eating all this candy.  Soon, she'll have to be fork-lifted out of the house. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009


SPOILER ALERT: If you are expecting a Christmas gift from The Frugal Hostess, this might be it.  So, look away!

OK, seriously, you're still reading.  The Frugal Hostess could not be more broke, and this is really what you're getting.

Don't say she didn't warn you.

Remember a few weeks ago when The Frugal Hostess made truffles?  Here's the recipe, and here are some pictures.

This is sweetened condensed milk with chopped up maraschino cherries.  Once you add the chocolate and ball these up, they get rolled in Dutch process cocoa.  This is the easiest version of chocolate-covered cherries you can make, and they are delicious.

This is sweetened condensed milk with chopped up jalapeno peppers in it, and it is the base of a truffle that is a work in progress.  Theoretically, you sift cocoa and a tiny bit of cayenne pepper together, then roll the truffles in that and top with a piece of candied jalapeno (cut into strips, cover with brown sugar and butter, bake for 30-45 minutes).  However, that does not taste good.  Or peppery.  Just tasted like dusty chocolate.  Any suggestions?

And this is sweetened condensed milk with ground coffee beans.  Add the chocolate, roll into balls, coat with white chocolate, and top with chocolate-covered coffee beans.

See?  Chocolate.  Yum-o-riffic.

The Frugal Hostess loves candy. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Junk Drawer Stocking Stuffers (Episode 2)

Now that you've collected everything you possibly can out of your junk drawers, it's time to look again.  That's right; go back to your junk drawers.  This go-round, you're going to pull out every box of matches you can find.  Note the word "box" in that last sentence.  You don't want any books of matches - you definitely want boxes.  The Frugal Husband fills his pockets with matches anytime he's anywhere that has them, so if your junk drawers are barren, just saunter up to your neighborhood bar and swipe a handful.  (What?  They want you to take them.)

Next, pluck out any stray buttons, safety pins, and spools of thread.  If you have to raid your sewing box, go for it.  And if the phrase sewing box is making you laugh right now, you are either a sick bastard or have never watched Little House on the Prairie.  Loser.

Why am I doing this, you ask?  Because, Dear Readers, in today's episode of Junk Drawer Stocking Stuffers, we're making match box sewing kits!  Ingenious!


Match boxes
Decorative paper (or patterns cut out of a magazine)
Glue stick
Safety pins


1.  Cut and fold the decorative paper around the match box.

2.  Glue it on.

3.  Cut another piece of paper small enough to fit inside the box.  For extra credit, cut two sides with pinking shears to mimic the look of sewing kits that aren't free.  Rad.

4.  Wrap thread around the pinked paper by taping one end to the paper, wrapping, and then taping the other end down.  The Frugal Hostess totally realizes this is a very confusing direction.  Do your best to suffer through.

5.  Add a needle, a couple of buttons, and some safety pins, and you have another delightful Junk Drawer Stocking Stuffer!

The Frugal Hostess spent at least 20 minutes making this fool thing. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook. for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Junktique Sale

Here are some pictures of Junktique.

This is the rack of designer clothes The Frugal Hostess was selling.  The leftovers are going on Ebay or Etsy - anyone have a preference?

Here is a close-up of the price tags TFH made.

This is the shoe rack.  Shoes were one of the biggest sellers.  The first pair to go were the Burberry thong wedges.

There were a lot of ladies' smalls - vintage compacts, dressing table knick-knacks, handbags, jewelry, and about a hundred scarves.

She also had some assorted housewares, including three vintage travel bars and a bunch of green planters.  Where did those planters come from?

FruHo has never had more fun, or been more exhausted, in her life.  Stay tuned for her next scheduled appearance/yard sale.

The Frugal Hostess gets lonely. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Junk Drawer Stocking Stuffers (Episode 1)

Man oh man, have you ever been out of town on Christmas Eve, ready to snuggle up to some eggnog, and realized that you didn't bring a single stocking stuffer?  How dreadful.  This has happened to The Frugal Hostess more times than she can count, and it is not only embarrassing to "run out to the drugstore for some Pepto" while you're hanging with the in-laws, but those last-minute items really add up.  Mini bottles of nail polish remover, crazy Christmas keychains, and Livesaver storybooks do not come cheap.

This year, it will be different.  This year, you will have Junk Drawer Stocking Stuffers.

Here's what to do.

1.  Get a shopping bag of moderate size.  Really, who cares what size.  But use one that can't be otherwise repurposed as gift wrap.

2.  Loop the handles over your arm.

3.  Walk from room to room, searching through every junk drawer and random collection basket for possible stocking stuffers.  You know just the thing - a promotional pen?  Check.  Golf ball your dog found in the park?  Check.  Tiny perfume sample bottle?  Check.  Handiwipes and peppermints that came with your BBQ takeout?  Checkity-check-check.  If it's too good to throw away and has landed in your junk drawer, it is good enough to stuff in a stocking. 

In The Frugal Hostess's anything but humble opinion.

Photo by Judith Angharad
The Frugal Hostess has quite the stocking planned for you, as long as you make a comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FruHubs Food: Chuckwagon Baked Beans

Cutting to the chase before you fall asleep after what would have been a very long story about meat, The Frugal Hostess.....  Wait.  How many stories have you heard recently that start like that?  Since when is there such a thing as a long story about meat?  But, honestly, TFH has more long stories about meat than she does short ones.  It's exhausting.

So...where were we?  Ah, yes.  Meat.  So, The Frugal Husband wanted to smoke some ribs for his Weekly Football Extravaganza, but the ribs he bought (from Eden Farms, an ethical pork producer) had this weird and inconvenient extra flap of meat on them.  Known as, well, that flap of meat.  He wasn't really into chowing down on ribs plus meat flap, so he cut it off to use later.  (The long version of this has something to do with St. Louis - is that possible? - and the pros and cons of the Cardinals, and some other confusing stuff, so consider yourself lucky that TFH is here to edit).  FruHubs decided to use the flap in some Chuckwagon Baked Beans.

What?  What do you do with your extra meat flaps?  Hmmm???

These Chuckwagon Baked Beans are freakin' delicious.  Delishable.  You would stab your dad for some; they're that good.  If you don't have a meat flap to add, try adding 6-8 ounces of another type of meat - pork loin leftovers, ground beef, grilled flank steak (yum), etc.  You know, four ounces would be enough, if you only had leftovers....


1 pound dry pinto beans
4 slices of bacon
Medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 minced jalapenos
14 oz. can of whole organic tomatoes, pureed
Meat flap (or other meat, or nothing at all)
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
4 cups stock (pref. chicken or pork - but you can use all water if you're out of stock)
1 can of Coke (NOT Diet!!!)


1.  Soak pinto beans in water overnight (different water than in ingredients above).  Do not, FruHubs insists, try to do a quick soak or four hours or anything else but overnight, or you and everyone around you will regret it.  A lot.

2.  Fry bacon in stockpot.  (From FruHubs: Bacon is kind of bullshit lately, leaner than it used to be.  Add a spoonful from your bacon fat jar or some olive oil if you aren't getting the fat you need.)  Add chopped onion and cook until translucent.  Then add garlic and jalapeno.

3.  To bacon and cooked vegetables, add can of tomatoes and let caramelize for a few minutes.

4.  Add dry ingredients.  Cook for a few minutes.

5.  Add water, stock, Coke, barbecue sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, as well as meat flap.  Cook this into a sauce for a while.

6.  Add soaked beans that have been drained, bring to boil, and then reduce heat.

7.  Simmer for one hour or until desired consistency and taste.

This is delicious with corn bread, either the Jiffy or the old-fashioned skillet kind.  FruHubs puts jalapenos and cream cheese blobs in corn bread, while TFH coats the top with salt and Tabasco and mixes cheddar cheese inside.

The Frugal Hostess gets lonely. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.  If you get bored, you could also peruse FruHo Holidays.

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DIY XMAS: Stack of Books

In honor of faithful reader, Karen, today's DIY XMAS is for the book-lover on your list.  The Frugal Hostess herself is a voracious reader, and she would absolutely love a gift like this.

Cheap and easy, as you've come to expect from FruHo, is the name of the game when giving a Stack of Books.  Here are the steps:

1.  Identify four or five interests of your intended giftee.  For TFH, this would be: entertaining, old-fashioned preserving, etiquette, 1960s left political movements, art - well, she could go on and on, but you get the idea.  If your recipient isn't forthcoming about her interests, you might list some key characteristics like national origin or heritage, hometown or home state, or profession.  You'll need to have at least a few options for each person,because you can't count on finding everything you need in one store.

2.  Go to the thrift store or used book store and pick out volumes that relate to the interest(s) you've identified.  In The Frugal Hostess's opinion, it's better to buy four books about gardening than one each about gardening, cooking, yarn, and pet rocks.  There's just something more appealing about a stack of different takes on one subject.

3.  Be sure that the books you choose are quite obviously old, rather than appearing to be your own cast-offs.  While this may seem counter-intuitive, the point of this gift is that you selected several old books on a subject the recipient likes, rather than that you had a stack of books lying around and felt like you could pass them along.  Make sense?

4.  Wrap them individually but tie a ribbon around the whole package.  That would be fun to open.

5.  Bonus options: 
- Add a card that says something like, "I know you love to knit, so I found a bunch of interesting old knitting books for you to look at." 
- Decorate the package with something that hints at the contents, like a pair of knitting needles or something.  That would be cool.  Although perhaps a bit dangerous if they're sharp.  But, as an adult, The Frugal Hostess is certain you will make the right decision.
- Create a bookmark to go with the theme of the books.  Just make sure it's not too dorky.  Bookmarks walk a fine line.

Voila - cheap and easy, just like we like it!

The Frugal Hostess has read everything. Would you like to challenge her to a speed-reading contest?  If so, please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

DIY XMAS: Cinnamon Rolls

OK, sorry, The Frugal Hostess has yet to post a single episode of the DIY XMAS series.  Oops.  She's been working on it, don't you worry, but she realized that two of her three total readers are family members and thus potential DIY XMAS gift recipients who, you know, might not like to know how cheap their gift was prefer a surprise.  So, TFH had to do a bit of shuffling.  But, she's supposedly got it together now, so let the D-ing IY commence!

Well, except for, in just this one case, FruHo is DI-ing it a la The Pioneer Woman and Paula Deen.  (And, seriously, if you read this blog and don't read The Pioneer Woman, you have your priorities completely jacked up and need to have your internet connection taken away.)  With some major minor changes, as per usual.

These cinnamon rolls are a great holiday gift for neighbors and co-workers.  It's also a good idea to make these if you'll have a lot of holiday company, as they are impressive (play up the "from scratch" angle) and make the house smell good.  And, you know how TFH feels about cinnamon, so these must be good if she will choke them down.

While The Frugal Hostess is ordinarily quite firmly opposed to disposable, well, anything other than toilet paper, delivering or freezing these in disposable aluminum pie pans is a good way to accomplish using them for a gift, unless you have been buying up pie pans at the thrift store for a few months.  New pie pans = $6 or so, whereas a package of three aluminum pans is about $1.50.  Again, this is only for anyone experiencing the drier end of a cash flow problem; if you have enough to budget about $10 per person, make the pie pan the real gift and the cinnamon rolls a bonus.

Here are directions for making 12-15 rolls adapted from Paula Deen; The Pioneer Woman has a big batch recipe if you want to make a great deal at once.


1/4 oz pkg yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup scalded milk (you know, just under boiled.  TFH always adds a splash more to account for the milk that sticks to the pan.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3.5 - 4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup melted butter (use the extra for the pan)
3/4 granulated sugar
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
Optional raisins and/or pecans

4 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons of hot water

Directions - Make dough and let rise for 60-90 minutes. 

1.  Dissolve yeast in warm water.  TFH usually adds a pinch of sugar and whisks this lightly, as it supposedly "feeds" the yeast and makes it more excited or something.  Who knows if this is actually necessary.
2.  In a large bowl, mix milk, butter, salt, and egg.  Add two cups of flour and mix, then add yeast mixture.  Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough is easy to handle (although it will still be sort of sticky).  TFH found 3.5 cups, plus another perhaps eighth of a cup, of flour were plenty.
3.  Kneed for five minutes or so on a floured surface, then place in a greased bowl and cover to let rise, at least one hour.  Cooking spray is fine for greasing the bowl, and you can just rinse out the ingredients bowl and use it again rather than dirtying up a new bowl.

Make the rolls, and let them rise again.  Unlike the South.

4.  When dough has doubled in size, punch it down like that dough has thoroughly pissed you off.
5.  Roll out on floured surface to about 15" by 9".  Easier said than done, of course, but your best bet may be rolling it too big and folding over the excess, since it won't affect the appearance of the final product.
6.  Melt filling butter and brush all over the rolled out dough, followed by the sugar and cinnamon (mix together first).  Add any optional ingredients.
7.  This is the exciting part!  Roll the filled dough longways (from the 15" side), and then pinch the crease to the roll to seal it.  GIANT LOG OF CINNAMON ROLLS!!!  Cut the log into slices (12-15, with 14 being the ideal amount for two aluminum pie pans).

8.  After you butter the pan(s) and sprinkle sugar all over the place (fine to use leftover sugar and cinnamon mixture, BTW), arrange the rolls closetogether and let rise for another 45 minutes.
9.  Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes.

Make the icing while the rolls are baking.  Please note, ingredients listed produce about twice as much icing as you actually need.  You could use the excess on cookies or some gross foods you may have received.

10.  Mix melted icing butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla together.  Then add hot water a little bit at a time until you like the thickness of the icing.
11.  Spread icing on rolls after letting them sit for ten minutes.

Long-Term Planning

The Frugal Hostess suggests that you make and bake off rolls for gifts before freezing, rather than refrigerating or freezing the raw dough.  This dough gets a little tough when it sits, so you are better off to freeze the baked rolls and then ice them when you're ready.  TFH promises, because her mama told her so, that baked goods do really well in the freezer, so quit worrying (lookin' at you, FruHubs).

The Frugal Hostess loves Christmas! That is all.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

FruHubs Food: Butternut Squash Risotto with Pancetta

Remember how The Frugal Hostess said that she was on the road to redemption?  That she was slowly gaining FruHubs' respect back with her beet-slinging ways?   HA!

The Frugal Husband is not one to rest on his culinary laurels.  (Except that he just now almost set the house on fire with hot oil.  Which is not exactly resting on his laurels, but neither is it very Top Chef behavior.  Just sayin', FruHubs.)

So here's what he made for dinner on Thursday.  As usual, The Frugal Husband is opposed to recipes, so he found a couple and tailored them to his preferences.   In other words, don't be offended if this is your family's contribution to the Smithsonian Institute, and he changed it.



1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (2 cups)
2 tablespoons half and half
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 oz diced pancetta or bacon (FruHubs used pancetta but he says, "Next time I'm going the bacon route.")
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock (make your own, yo)
Pinches of curry, cumin, cinnamon, brown sugar, basil, salt, pepper
(Pinch means like 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.  TFH doesn't particularly love cinnamon, or curry, or brown sugar in savory food, so she would err on the side of a very, very, very small, perhaps invisible, pinch.  But don't tell FruHubs.)  [From FruHubs: Now, now, you need 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of the brown sugar,1/4 a teaspoon of the cinnamon, and touch of the other stuff.  And she loved this or else it wouldn't be posted.] (This is his nice way of saying that TFH gobbled up every bite.)
2 tablespoons (or whatever - seriously, could there ever be too much?) Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons cold butter
Crushed pistachio nuts & chives for topping


1.  Cook squash in boiling water until fork tender.
2.  Meanwhile, fry the pancetta in the olive oil until crispy.  If you're using bacon, you know how to fry it.  Reserve two tablespoons of fat in pan (And you know that means save the rest in your bacon fat jar.  What?  Sorry, didn't hear you - what do you mean you don't have a bacon fat jar?  Are you in need of an intervention, or perhaps some methadone?).
3.  In reserved fat, cook onion until it's translucent, adding garlic when you're almost done.  (Garlic cooks so much more quickly than onion, so please ignore anyone who tells you to throw those two ingredients in the pan at the same time, as said anyone is freaking cra-zay-zy.  And you know which f-word really belongs back there.)  Add the rice and stir until coated with fat.
4.  In a surprising second "meanwhile" move, bring the stock to a simmer.
5.  Now's where it starts to be a big risotto pain, because you have to stir non-stop for 25 minutes.  So, do some stretches, pour a glass of wine, and put someone on standby in case you have to pee.  Careful, now: Add a ladle-full of stock to the rice and cook, stirring nonstop (you heard correctly) until all the stock is absorbed.  Then add more, and do it again.  And again, and again, and again until the rice is tender and lovely.  This will take fo-evv-ah, so be ready.  Oh, and did TFH mention that this takes a while?
6.  After your arm is about to fall off from the constant stirring, add the spices, squash, cheese, butter, half & half.  Stir some more.  Don't let it burn!  Be sure to scrape down those sides!  Don't screw it up in the home stretch!!!
7.  Put that delicious risotto in some bowls and top it with pancetta (be generous), pistachios, and chives.  Eat it.  Die happy.

The Frugal Hostess realizes she is the luckiest woman in town. But still, please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe (over there, to the left) so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Seasonal Side Dish: Beets

Nothing could be easier to make.  Even The Frugal Hostess, who has recently impressed and horrified FruHubs with Lentil Loaf, among other culinary disasters, could pull this off.  In fact, she did - last night, when she made up this recipe.

Beets (fresh, not from a can)
Goat cheese
Walnuts (or pecans) - candied optional
Vinaigrette makings (more on that below)

1.  Cut the ends from and peel some beets.  Three beets made four servings for TFH, but it sort of depends on the beets, so, you know, do your best.
2.  Slice the raw beets into medallions.  Try to make these as even in thickness as you can.  But don't cut off your finger tip.  Be moderate in your perfectionism.
3.  Boil said beet medallions for about 20 minutes or until fork tender.
3.  Let cool while you make something else.
4.  To prepare, put a beet medallion on the plate, dribble on some vinaigrette, top with a chunk of goat cheese, and repeat.  Three high is plenty.  Then top with nuts and more vinaigrette.  If you use FruHo's vinaigrette recipe below, you'll discover it to be runny as hell (although delicious), so you might like to serve it on the side in a little sauce boat or shot glass.

Notes on Vinaigrette
1.  TFH is famous for making all salad dressing from scratch, and equally famous for totally winging it in terms of measurements.  If it doesn't work out, you have no one to blame but yourself.
2.  Please do not go out and buy new ingredients to make this salad dressing.  Every ingredient can be replaced by a substitute, so use what you have.
3.  If you, for some crazy reason, want to use [disgusting, dreadful, and poisonous] bottled dressing on this, pick one that is one the sweeter side - golden Italian or something.  TFH doesn't really know what's on offer, but you get the idea.

Vinaigrette Ingredients
Honey (tupelo is what TFH uses, but any will do)
Apple cider vinegar (or white wine, or rice wine, or white - although not as much)
Oil (TFH used olive but wishes she had used canola instead - the flavor was too overpowering)
Salt & pepper
Juice from one-quarter of an orange (lemon or lime would be fine, or orange liqueur, or limoncello)
Powdered ginger
Red pepper flakes
Basically, you want citrus and ginger and spice in there.  How you get it is your business.

1.  Whisk that all up.
2.  Um, maybe try equal parts of the first three and a splash or sprinkle of the remaining ingredients.
3.  Jars are usually great for making salad dressing because you can shake the hell out of it, but TFH finds honey responds better to being whisked.  Just so you know.  Honey has very delicate feelings, and we need to respect that.

Quick Candied Nuts

This didn't work completely, although it did create the crunch and texture TFH was looking for.  If you have your own version or prefer to do it the long way, go wild.  You could even - sakes alive! - serve raw walnuts for all FruHo cares.

Brown sugar
Cayenne pepper (optional)

1.  Fill a small loaf pan with one layer of walnuts.
2.  Cover walnuts with brown sugar.  TFH put way too much, which is why she says it wasn't a complete success - there was a ton of sugar leftover.
3.  Dot generously with butter.  Real butter, obvi.
4.  If you like, sprinkle in some cayenne pepper.
5.  Throw in the oven for as long as you possibly can before serving, 40 minutes minimum at 350.

All told, in terms of difficulty versus response, this side dish was a huge success.  The Frugal Husband raved about it, and he doesn't even smile much.  The Frugal Hostess is on the long, slow march to redemption.

The Frugal Hostess is appearing at Junktique on Sunday, Nov. 15.  And by appearing, she means selling her crap.  Hope to see you there!  You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

FruHo's Guide to Being a Lovely Guest

The Frugal Hostess went to an amazing event on Sunday.  There were about 9,472 restaurants and 6,844 wine makers, and you just wandered around a beautiful farm eating and drinking as much as you could cram into your mouth.  Man.  It was awesome. 

OK, there weren't really that many restaurants and wineries.

It reminded TFH that it's as important to be a good (and frugal) guest as it is to be a good hostess.  As the opportunity to be a guest will most likely cross your path at some point in the next couple of months, here is FruHo's Guide to Being a Lovely Guest.

1.  Arrive on time for pre-game events, such as dinner before the theater or drinks before a party.  Seriously, you will totally jack up everything if you don't.  For bigger parties, be between 10 and 20 minutes late, but not more than that.  (And those of you who are shaking your head because TFH has been later than that to your party, hush.  FruHubs is slower than a turtle, and it's all his fault.)

2.  Par-freaking-ticipate.  Seriously.  You have no one to blame but yourself if you don't have fun, and you should really help everyone else do the same.  See a shy guy near the cheese dip?  Pretend that you are getting paid to be there, and make yourself saunter over.  If you have ever been the person whose friend hasn't arrived yet, you should appreciate the absolute shame shower that pours down on you when there's no one to talk to.  Share your social umbrella and make conversation.

3.  If you bring something and start consuming it (a bottle, a cake, a jar of pickled pigs feet), don't take it with you when you leave.  That is so weird.  Consume what the host provides and leave your crap at home, or bring something to share.  You can't have it both ways, swinger.


5.  If you don't like something you are served, you can either eat it anyway (reason #447 why TFH is fat) or say that you're allergic.  Unless you are asked directly, you can't say you don't like something.  You are not four.

6.  Do not hit on the host; steal something out of a cabinet; drop a baby on his head; or throw up in a closet.  TFH may or may not have done some or all of these things, and they are never charming.

The Frugal Hostess is doing Eat on $30 this week and donating the difference to Wholesome Wave.  They are a great charity.  Just sayin'.  Have you subscribed to this blog yet?  No?  Dork.

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