Tag Archives: 5 ingredients (or less)

sweet nothings

Last time, I was talking about a sweet discovery. Today, I offer another—an¬†indulgent¬†recipe this nutrition student makes once every other year ūüėČ Because there is nothing nutritious¬†about this dessert—perhaps dessert’s very definition?¬†I served this as an easy¬†end to a gourmet family¬†dinner. This was everyone’s facial response to my announcement:

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

Smitten Kitchen, makes 16 2-inch squares or 32 1- x 2-inch small bars

4 ounces (1/4 pound or 1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan

1 10-ounce bag marshmallows

1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

6 cups Rice Krispies cereal (use slightly less than half a 12-ounce box)

Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides. I use a 9 x 13 glass pyrex.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty.

Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute.

As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.

Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together.

Quickly spread into prepared pan. Use a buttered piece of waxed or parchment paper to press it firmly and evenly into the edges and corners.

Let cool, cut into squares, get ready to smile. Ah, nostalgia.

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Filed under budget, dessert, lickety-quick

food of the gods

There are things in life for which Americans offer incessant apologies: sneezing, asking questions, arriving early, arriving late, and the worst offender:¬†apologizing for apologizing. This is why I am not sorry to¬† make—yet¬†again—a fuss over feta.

Andrew and I ventured into Whole Foods last weekend to recycle wine corks from our wedding (three years is not too late to consider Mother Earth). At the entrance, a young woman offered eight locally-made dips. One particular feta dip was so phenomenal, we talked about it the whole way home. It was a life-changing cheese moment for us both. Though still not worth the $10 for  4 measly ounces.

A single glance at the ingredient list made this simple to re-create at home. Imported feta—essential¬†here—is¬†a creamy experience that shames all fetas you’ve known before. For $6, this high-end tub¬†of¬†feta was still far¬†less than the gourmet dip, and made a generous batch.

jalapeno feta dip

1/2 large red onion

1/2 jalapeno

about 1 lb. imported feta block, in brine (sheep & goat milk blend)

2 tablespoons olive oil

On the large holes of¬†a box grater, grate the red onion. With a paring knife¬†(and gloves on), slice the jalapeno in half, scraping out the white ribs and seeds. Dice the jalapeno and wash your hands well—do not touch your eyes or nostrils… even an hour later!

In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and soften for about five minutes. Add the jalapeno and soften two minutes more. The onions should be translucent, not brown.

Break the feta into a large bowl, and pour the hot contents of the skillet directly over the feta. With a wooden spoon, gently break the feta to incorporate the pepper and onion.

Spoon onto toasted pita (I love whole wheat pita, torn and baked at 250F until crisp). This appetizer is even more phenomenal paired with my slow-roasted tomatoes. This can be made, along with pita chips, within 20 minutes… just in time to take to a friend’s house to share!


A note on spice: I can handle only mild heat, and this dip barely approaches medium. The creamy feta balances the pepper well so it’s not too hot. If you want a little more kick, consider using the entire jalapeno.

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Filed under lickety-quick, small bites

better to give (than to eat all the cookies)

The holidays storm in each winter just moments before we get around to our pocketfuls of good intentions. Like the grand notion of baking for every family on our new street. We had a day in mind, and Andrew swore he would stand by my side and not allow yet another baking disaster. But we found endless errands to run on Baking Day, and Christmas week was upon us.

In the end, we attempted a less complicated recipe. Naturally—as¬†December tasks go—at¬†the last minute. ¬†On my only previous attempt, I had produced a succesful¬†batch¬†meringues.¬†And. They. Are. So. Dang. Simple. While I don’t know if they really count as cookies, they were well-appreciated and enjoyed by our neighbors. Fewer neighbors than we planned, as only one-third baked as pretty enough to give as gifts. The remainder resembled teeny toadstools, and were utterly delicious.

Note: we doubled this recipe, and they lasted well for four days in an airtight container on the counter. Maybe they last longer, but they all were eaten by then. Also, if you do not want to purchase superfine sugar, you can pulse regular cane sugar in a food processor. I used Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips; you could also use a dark chocolate bar.

Dark Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

adapted from Emeril’s recipe, yields four dozen small cookies

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

2/3 cup superfine granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until fluffy but not at all dry. (Be careful not to over beat.) Add the sugar gradually, about 3 tablespoons at a time. When 1/2 of the sugar has been added, add the vanilla extract. Continue beating and adding remaining sugar in batches, until all of the sugar is dissolved and the meringue is very shiny and tight. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chopped chocolate.

Working one teaspoon at a time, push a teaspoonful of meringue from the tip of 1 teaspoon with the back of another teaspoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving 1-inch of space between cookies. Or, quickly spoon mixture into a plastic gallon zip-bag with the tip cut and dollop onto the parchment. Place baking sheets in the preheated oven and turn the oven off. Leave the cookies (undisturbed) in the oven for at least 2 hours and up to overnight, or until cookies are crisp and dry. I like to leave them overnight, but only when I have another dessert in the house to hold me over.

In case the neighbors want to know…

Per Cookie: (48); Calories: 44; Total Fat: 2.5 grams; Saturated Fat:0.5 grams; Protein: 1 gram; Total carbohydrates: 5 grams; Sugar: 5 grams; Fiber: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 3 milligrams

Now I did not create this blog as a venue for profanities, but I had to chuckle when one meringue recipient stated, “These are fucking unbelievable.”

Some other gifts I whipped up last week:

This pillow for Mom’s birthday I stitched over an insert. It was the sweater I wore in my high school senior portrait.

And a few handmade scarves I presented in these darling World Market take-out boxes to my co-workers. Andrew called them Lindsey’s Scarf LoMein.

What’s your favorite gift you gave away this year?


Filed under budget, dessert, techniques

rosemary’s baby (back ribs)

In the spirit of Halloween, I could not help myself.

If you salivated over¬†read Andrew’s meat-lovers’¬†birthday menu from my last post, it might have also¬†dawned on astute readers that ribs with a side of grilled hot dogs left little for the vegetarians in the group.¬†Yes, I whipped out my top-secret, future award-winning¬†mac and cheese, but thought the menu could use a little greenery.

Here’s a swift¬†budget-friendly side dish to feed a crowd, a tasty last-minute¬†Linvention. Like the rest of Andrew’s birthday dishes, it’s only five ingredients.

Rosemary Grilled Vegetables

a Linvention, serves 12

1 sweet onion

1 bunch petite asparagus

3 large redskin potatoes

olive oil

2 large sprigs of rosemary

you will also need

aluminum foil

a mandolin

Scrub the potatoes. Keeping the asparagus tied in a bunch, remove the woody asparagus stalk by slicing 1.5 inches from the bottom. Discard the woody asparagus ends and cut the bunch into thirds; the asparagus pieces should be about 2 inches in length. (If you can only find jumbo asparagus, remove woody ends and cut each stalk into 1-inch pieces).

Peel the onion. Using a mandolin or slicing disc, slice the potatoes and sweet onion into very thin slices. Because the potatoes take longest to cook through, you could cut each potato in half before slicing to decrease grilling time. Add the potatoes and onion slices to the bowl with asparagus. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat, and sprinkle with two large pinches of coarse salt.

Snip the rosemary sprigs into 1-inch pieces and toss with the vegetables.

Add one handful to each sheet of aluminum foil (at least 12 x 15 inches). Make sure each packet has at least one sprig of rosemary. Enclose the vegetables leaving an accessible opening on top.

Put each foil packet, opening face up,¬†over direct medium high heat—checking after about 8 minutes. The potatoes should be tender enough to pierce with your fingernail. Once the potatoes are cooked, remove from the grill and serve.

I had never combined asparagus with rosemary or potatoes, and what a delightful combination. Of course, this would also be a lovely melange for roasting in the oven on the coldest days. There are still lovely autumn days ahead to grill outdoors! What are you grilling?

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as seen on tv

Television I adore: Frasier, Monk, I Love Lucy, Arrested Development—anyone sensing an off-air theme here?¬†I mention this little trivia because¬†Pear readers love to discuss reality cooking shows, and I’m saying it again: I simply don’t watch them. Remember when I judged Iron Chef? I’m not competitive in nature, whether we’re talking about my flute playing or putt-putt game. I don’t watch much food tv anyhow, with¬†our new condo kitchen¬†far from living room¬†viewing potential, and I prefer to spend my time in there. Listening to LPs.

Back in the day, when we lived in our¬†apartment (you know, two months ago), I would come home from work, throw on my apron, and saute simultaneously with¬†Ina. My routine has changed,¬†but one particular¬†television¬†recipe stuck in my mental taste buds all this time. So¬†I finally attempted Claire Robinson’s White Pizza.

“Attempted”¬†is a joke, because a first grader could create this 5-ingredient wonder¬†with equal success.

And Andrew had a cow it was so good—not one complaint over the lack of pepperoni.

This would be a smashing appetizer. Add it to the repertoire, folks. Fab.u.lous.

Easiest White Pizza

God Bless You, Claire Robinson, serves 4

garlic-flavored olive oil

1 lb. ball pizza dough, thawed

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup whole milk ricotta

2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves, more for garnish

Never a fan of fresh oregano, I insist you try it in this context. This is how oregano was meant to be enjoyed. If your mother-in-law’s wild oregano bush is not so close by, you’ll just have to grab one of those fresh herb packs in the salad section. Trust me. Do not skip the oregano.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third of the oven.

Brush the pizza pan/pizza stone with oil. (Homemade garlic oil: heat several crushed cloves of garlic in oil over low heat  until fragrant). 

On a work surface, using your hands¬†(or, who are we kidding, a rolling pin), press the pizza dough into a large flat disk and transfer it to the greased pan. Using your fingers, press the dough out until it has stretched to the perimeter of the pan. Create a dough “lip” around the outer edges of the pan. Brush the entire surface of the dough lightly with garlic oil and pierce the bottom of the crust all over with a fork, to prevent bubbling.

Evenly spread the mozzarella over the crust. Using 2 spoons, dollop teaspoon-sized mounds of ricotta evenly over the mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and evenly sprinkle the chopped oregano over the top.

Bake in the lower third of the oven until the crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly and browning on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes before garnishing with additional oregano—serious¬†about this—and slicing into 8 pieces.

I served this with a very simple salad of romaine and dried figs. Drizzle lightly with equal parts balsamic vinegar and agave nectar whisked together. One of those unexpected Linventions that complemented this light meal. It might sound dainty (and risky for a pepperoni-loving spouse), but Andrew returned for thirds.

What’s your favorite pizza topping?


Filed under budget, dinners, lickety-quick

rethinking the bean

Research¬†Andrew’s favorite vegetable on wikipedia¬†and you find the unfortunate truth:

Green beans are often steamed, boiled, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles. A dish with green beans popular throughout the United States, particularly at Thanksgiving, is green bean casserole consisting of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French fried onions. Green beans are of nearly universal distribution. They are marketed, canned, frozen, and fresh.

Precisely the problem.

I’ve told you before, I am not a green bean gal. Perhaps because I knew them only in canned form for most of my life.

The market on Saturday had a few touches of summer remaining: eggplants, peppers, peaches. Then I spied a few crunchy beans, encouraged to find there is still time to try something new. Before we move into canned casserole season (good grief!), give it a try: grill your greens.

Lindsey’s Grilled Green Beans

1 lb. fresh green beans

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

crushed red chili flakes (preferable not from a jar living in your pantry since the last presidential election)

three cloves fresh garlic, crushed

coarse salt, fresh black pepper

Wash the beans well. Using kitchen scissors (one of my favorite tools), snip just tip of the closed ends.

With the side of a large knife (or bottom of a small skillet), whack each clove of garlic until it comes out of its papery skin and is well smashed. Into a gallon-size bag, put the washed and trimmed beans, a drizzle of olive oil to coat the beans, a small drizzle of balsamic vinegar, the garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and pinch of red chili flakes.

Marinate the beans at least 20 minutes—though¬†you could¬†refrigerate for an hour or so; they’re hardy.

Distribute the beans on the grill (or grill pan) over medium heat, turning occasionally. Cook until they have grill marks and are tender when pierced with a small sharp knife.

Should you want to dress things up a bit, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds or freshly toasted almond slivers.

If you don’t have a grill or grill pan, use this same recipe for green beans roasted on a metal baking sheet (or two, don’t crowd the veggies!)¬†at 400F¬†until tender—about 30 minutes.

What food do you love that your significant other absolutely does not?




a vintage photo, ringing in the new 2010 with more spectacular string beans… roasted sicilian-style for my closest girlfriends.


Filed under budget, dinners, health, techniques, the basics

sweet birthday balsamic

Hello old friends (and new)! We moved fully into our new home in a mere 8 days, but are still without internet—hence the lack of recent posts. With the new school year and grad school semester in full swing, you might notice increasing last-minute, budget-friendly recipes. Because, let’s face it, that’s all we all have time for these days.

Sometimes the most pleasant bites come from last-minute refrigerator¬†raids—remember¬†our blue cheese crackers? When we received an invitation to Michelle’s birthday dinner (friend since 1st grade, on a historical note), I knew I could not show up with just Bonnie and Clyde—the¬†pewter birds I purchased earlier.

Michelle, her brother Steven and their cousins joined me for a Saturday morning market trip to savor¬†the scenery I’ll miss most about summer.

Including this massive melon.

So¬†here they are friends, gobble ’em up before we embrace the season of squash.

Balsamic Watermelon Bites

inspired by Feast on the Cheap, adjust the size according to your crowd

watermelon, cubed into 1-inch pieces

feta, diced

fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

balsamic vinegar, at least 1/2 cup

Balsamic reduction, a fabulous and easy syrup, can last for some time in the fridge, so better to make more and drizzle the rest over salad or other fruits and veggies. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup (or more) balsamic vinegar over medium heat. Swirl the vinegar occasionally and keep over moderate heat until it reduces by about half. You’ll know it’s ready when the syrup coats a spoon, or the pan surface upon tilting. Set the syrup aside, off the heat.

Use a small measuring spoon to scoop out a portion in the center of each cube.

Pour the syrup about halfway into each cup.

Nestle the feta cubes gently atop the pools of syrup and sprinkle the platter with fresh mint.

This is quick and less-messy when assembled directly on a large serving platter covered in wax/parchment paper or a paper towel. Gently slide the watermelon off before serving—these also¬†travel wonderfully when wrapped tight in several layers of saran.

Appetizer? Dessert? You decide. A sweet birthday tweet treat. Right, Michelle?

Which piece of summer will you miss most?

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fruit roll-ups

Wow, the 125th post on A Pear to Remember. Let’s start at the beginning—of the day, that is. Americans¬†face abundant¬†breakfast options for a sweet start to the¬†day:


It’s a shame¬†my lactose intolerance means I can’t pile those whole grain Reese’s puffs in a bowl of cold milk—surely you know my love for¬†cuisine inspired by¬†late-night desserts? Because I can’t enjoy milk and cereal (finding lactaid “milk” intolerable), and I get awfully bored¬†with repeated¬†meals, I’ve been concocting interesting dishes to supply my morning calories.

As part of my Nutrition graduate studies, this summer I’m fully engrossed in Introduction to Epidemiology—you¬†can imagine the fuel one needs to take those exams… and I don’t mean in the form of “Hot Fudge Sundae” pop-tarts.¬†So I wrapped up a sweet, high-fiber, high protein breakfast that satisfies until my beloved¬†lunchtime study break.

Walnut and Ricotta Breakfast Wraps

a regular Linvention, makes four wraps

6 walnuts

3 tbsp. ricotta cheese (low-fat if you prefer)

1/4 cup chopped strawberries (other berries or peaches; fresh and frozen work)

2 whole wheat tortillas

optional, tasty garnishes:


fresh mint

With a food processor

Blend berries, ricotta, and walnuts. Add a splash of milk or juice to loosen if necessary.

Without a food processor

Combine thinly sliced berries, ricotta, and walnuts (crushed into very small pieces) in a bowl.

Taste your ricotta-fruit mixture and adjust to your liking. Spread the mixture onto each tortilla, sprinkling lightly with cinnamon/mint if using. Roll tightly and slice each in half at a diagonal. Enjoy with coffee or juice!

photos from here, here, and here

Andrew and I have been obsessed starting our day with Newman’s Own Special Blend medium roast. What’s your favorite morning beverage?


Filed under brunch, health, lickety-quick, small bites

the money sandwich



Oh it’s not an expensive lunch. It’s slang, people.

Urban dictionary.com defines money for the modern age:

money (adj.) of unusually high quality; very good; excellent

This wine is money.

I’m not re-writing the English language, just keeping you in the know.¬†But I am¬†interested in redefining the ol’ lunchbox sandwich. I brought this to¬†work much of the past school year and it kind of became my trademark. Then¬†a few friends started making it themselves, and one teacher offered¬†me money¬†(that’s old-fashioned currency) to make it for her.

Favorite¬†bread, preferred apple, sharp cheese and you’re all set. The lovely surprise I’ve found taking this sandwich on the go is the mayo’s acid keeps the apples from browning.¬†An addicting, fresh take on lunch—ideal to take anywhere (including my favorite vineyard happy hour, where the wine is so money).

Apple Cheddar Sandwich

inspired by a wonderful sandwich I had at Arena’s Deli in Rehoboth

fresh sandwich bread

sharp cheddar

tart apple (such as Granny Smith)

mayo or mustard

optional add-ons:

romaine or butter lettuce

alfalfa sprouts

Slice the apple very thin with a sharp knife (a mandolin makes this a faster job in the morning hours). Spread your favorite condiment on the bread, layer the apple, cheese slices, and greens (if using).

That’s it!

Perfect with unsalted kettle chips. And¬†pickles—plural because I require a minimum of five.¬†It is also¬†truly the same time commitment as PB & J, and a far better conversation piece.

Talk about a *scrumdiddlyumptious pantry find!

What’s your favorite sandwich?


*from Urban dictionary.com: scrumdiddlyumptious (adj.) a word originally coined by Roald Dahl, a kickass author of books that ruled many a childhood; extremely tasty

This chocolate bar is scrumdiddlyumptious.


Filed under budget, health, lickety-quick, small bites

a mighty (frugal) menu

I love cooking grand things, but the reality is the only adjustable expense in our budget is groceries (trickier to negotiate car payments, tuition, insurance). So I still cook grand things, just with minimal ingredients. Of course you can find recipes aplenty on this blog with less than five ingredients.

Feast on the Cheap is a stellar blog that calculates each meal expense for readers. No time to do that here, but I do want to share a few ways we have managed to keep eating healthy, delicious, fresh meals. You know, on top of paying the bills.

I know¬†frozen¬†meals are cheap, but I simply won’t compromise health for “easy”(ouch, look at those sodium counts).¬†Meals often need to be homemade if controlling fat, calories, salt and nutrients is important to you. But I’m a super, super busy full-time grad student this summer, so I’m looking for do-able and delicious budget meals. A few thoughts…

Keep the cabinet/fridge/freezer stocked with the basics. Like ravioli.

It’s amazing how much you can make with ingredients from your cabinet alone. One of our favorite Indian meals¬†is mostly canned goods (beans, tomatoes) with ingredients from our spice rack and a scoop from our basmati rice supply. Click here for my cabinet basics. When truly stuck, roasted garlic linguine is always a favorite and¬†delicious possibility.

Plan your meals for each day of the week.

This also includes days you know you will be going out¬†or provided dinner somewhere—less¬†meals to purchase/plan for the week!¬†This seems easy enough, but for me this requires sitting down for about 20 minutes with a few favorite cookbooks/cooking blogs to decide what is compatible with ingredients we have + meals for which I have time. Oh, yes, and the double task of planning ways to make each meal vegetarian/carnivore-compatible. 20 minutes is truly sufficient with a pen, paper, and some inspiration. Easier to make meals you’re excited to eat.¬†This saves tremendous time when you know what you will have each night of the week—nothing¬†so expensive as indecision. Indecision is the gateway to carry-out.

Double-duty ingredients.

Have a plan for all your perishable ingredients. Do something interesting and different with chicken on both nights, make small salad variations to use up your romaine (or grill it!), use mushrooms in a pre-made sauce one day, on pizza the next. Have¬†a plan for all your food so it won’t go to waste, and freeze what you can.

Cook and eat smart.

Preheating the oven when you don’t have to? Not in our hot apartment. Quick methods make for time-saving meals (one skillet; salad in a single bowl). We cook on this¬†stovetop grill to save time¬†and cook our non/vegetarian meals simultaneously. Plus grilling is fun. We also do leftovers for lunch, so our sandwich supplies tend to last us through the weekend.

Know what is in your fridge at all times, and clear out leftovers every week. Eat leftovers within four days, according to¬†the mayo clinic’s¬†food safety recommendation.¬†I find a stuffed fridge unappetizing.

Buy wisely.

We keep our weekly¬†grocery store bill to $70 a week.¬†Not intentionally, it just almost always happens this way; the more expensive weeks are when we let our “stock” items get too low and we’re desperate.

I do not do coupons because they are often for processed/unhealthy stuff I wouldn’t purchase anyway.

Now, there are only two of us, yes, but $70 each week gets us both meals for the week on top of the basics to re-supply (milk, OJ, cereal, olive oil).¬†We find Trader Joes far more affordable than the grocery stores more geographically convenient, but worth the drive when we’re paying nearly half. Really.

What does this look like?

Last week’s plan¬†(all purchased at Trader Joes to complement current cabinet supply):


cookout with family and friends for the Fourth

I contributed this completely free-from-the-pantry appetizer


burgers (him) and mushrooms (me) on the grill with Indian potatoes

bought whole-wheat hamburger buns (freeze the rest for free meals in the future), beef patties, bag of baby red potatoes, pre-cut baby bellas


grilled pepperoni (him) and mushroom (me) pizza with cantaloupe salad

bought whole-wheat refrigerated pizza dough, small whole cantaloupe, head of lettuce


chicken (him) and eggplant (me) on the grill with Indian corn

bought free-range chicken thighs, small eggplant, and one bag frozen corn kernals (student time saver)


chicken (him) and paneer-mushroom (me) masala with cumin-basmati and naan bread

one jar curry sauce (me), one jar masala sauce (him), frying cheese, frozen naan


breakfasts, snacks, desserts

bananas, apples, strawberries, whole-wheat pretzels, almond-flaxseed butter, assorted juices, milk, eggs (French toast is a bi-monthly go-to), whole-wheat sandwich bread, sliced turkey, cheese, yogurt, nuts, bag of lemons, coffee, tea

This week:

Dinner with Andrew’s family

Greek salad with flatbread

Grilled cheese quesadillas with corn-scallion sauté

Stir-fry with rice

Improvisation on Artichoke in A minor

Barley with corn and basil

Cold pesto tortellini salad

(free! frozen tortellini + lots of windowsill basil)

frugal Fridays: happy hour picnics at a vineyard just 6 miles from our house. free music! cheap wine!

What’s cooking at your place?


Filed under budget, dinners, health, here to share, lickety-quick, the basics