Kale, Kale and More Kale

As soKielbasa Potato Kale Skilletme of you know, I love a bargain.  Especially when that bargain is food.  Why?  Because I love to cook AND food is one of the best ways to save money.  Everyone has to buy food!  Everyone!  If we have a $200/week (sorry, I’m choking) food bill, cutting back is one of the best ways to save money.  I’m sure I could have a $200 food bill but I am too  cheap thrifty to spend that much.  Instead my food bill is about $40-$60 per week depending upon how many I am feeding…and who is living in the house or living at school.  One of my daughters likes organic food, so our food bill may go up when she is home.

So, last week, I was shopping at my favorite produce market…Friendly Fruit, aka leftovers from Sid Weiner’s Gourmet Outlet.  They had a huge, I mean huge bag of chopped kale for $2 or $3.  All chopped and washed, ready to go.  I could not, would not pass that up!  I thought I would just make some Kale Soup and some smoothies.  Well, it was A LOT of kale.  And, I did not feel like Kale Soup.  While I did make many smoothies, I happened along to a recipe for Potato Kielbasa Skillet at the Taste of Home website.  I had to change up a few things, like add kale instead of spinach, remove the bacon and thyme from the recipe and change the cooking instructions.  Basically, I made another recipe with what I had on hand and what I like.  The result was an amazing dish that I know I will be making again.  Plus,  it was all done in one pan and in less than 30  minutes.  I hope you enjoy it, too!


Kielbasa, Potatoes and Kale Skillet

  • 1 pound potatoes, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 12 ounces smoked kielbasa
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 dashes of pepper
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  1. Place potatoes and water in the Rockcrok or other microwavable and stovetop safe pan. Cover and microwave on high for 4 minutes or until tender; drain.
  2. Add oil, kielbasa and onion to the potatoes.  Saute for 15 minutes or until kielbasa and potatoes are lightly browned. Stir occasionally so the potatoes do not burn.
  3. Combine the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and pepper; stir into potato/kielbasa mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; add kale simmer, uncovered, until kale is wilted.

Linda’s Italian Sausage Shepherds Pie

Sometimes I get Sweet Italian Sausage on sale.  Most of the time it is $2.99/lb. where I shop.  But sometimes, it drops to $1.49 or even $.99/lb. for quick sale.  When I see those prices, I pick up a few packages.  Because it’s reduced for quick sale, I need to use it right away or package it up in 1 lb. or 3/4 lb. packages and put it in the freezer for later use.

Not long ago, I found a really good deal on Italian Sausage and came up with a Shepherds Pie using up the sausage.  It was a huge hit at home and also at my cooking class “What’s Linda Cooking”.  I hope you enjoy this and hopefully we will find some sausage on sale at $.99/lb.!

Linda’s Italian Sausage Shepherds Pie

  • 1 lb Italian Sausage-casings removed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes (either homemade or packaged)
  • 2 cups green beans (cooked)
  • 1 cup cheese

Remove casings from sausage and sauté though with chopped onion, breaking up into crumbles in a 12″ oven safe skillet.

Meanwhile, mix cheese with mashed potatoes and other spices of your choice.

Once sausage is cooked, move to the sides of the pan.  In the middle of the pan, melt butter and combine with flour.  Cook for 30 seconds or so.  Add water and combine with meat to make a gravy. Turn off heat.  Add green beans on top of the sausage.  Then top with the potato and cheese mixture.  Dot with butter and bake in a 350 degree oven until bubbly about 20 minutes.

Serve with a salad.

Louisville Hot Dogs

Louisville Hot DogI love to travel. I love to travel for business and for pleasure. In my former job, I would travel to sales meetings and to conference shows. I loved talking with people at conferences.

I love going to new places, new cities and eating what the locals eat.  Normally, I will not eat at the hotel.  I know the hotels don’t want to hear this but the hotel restaurants tend not to be “local” establishments.  Don’t I ask the concierge for restaurant ideas.  I normally ask the bellmen, the hotel desk staff or the valet.  Why?  I ask them where they go to eat lunch in the city.  They go to where the locals eat.  The concierge normally sends me to restaurants that are touristy places.  I don’t want to go to a tourist place.  I want to eat locally.

For food talk, I love talking to cab drivers, people walking along in the city, hotel staff, etc.  Really anyone who is from the area.  I like to find out those hidden gems.

When my husband and I went to the Big Island of Hawaii, we asked the Valets where to go for  breakfast.  They told us about a little place about 15 minutes away from the hotel.  We went there and had a jackpot breakfast of pancakes, eggs, a linguica type sausage, homefries, and toast.  We ate like kings!  The plates were huge and filled with delicious food.  The whooping cost?  $15 with tip!  That’s right, $15 with tip!!!  We went there 1 other time…it was that good.  When we went back to the hotel, we heard the hotel breakfast was great but was $50 per person.  That’s right, $50 per person!!! Ouch!  We told everyone about the breakfast we had.  Needless to say, the restaurant was busier the next time we went with people we saw at the hotel.

On a recent trip, I went to Louisville, KY for a conference.  During a lunch break, we saw a Panera Bread across the street from the convention center.  While I love Panera Bread, I do not want to go the same chain restaurant that I could at home.  I want a different experience.  I want a local experience.

I spied a food cart just across the street to my left and told my friends that I wanted to go there instead.  Off we went to talk to the guy at the hot dog cart.  I asked him what was so special about his hot dogs.  He told me about the toppings he has…garlic aioli, sweet pepper sauce, caramelized onions, potato sticks (I love potato sticks) and coleslaw.  I was sold!  I told him to put it all on the dog.

I loved every minute of eating this delicous hot dog.  I recreated it at home and got 2 thumbs up from my family.  I cooked it a the Council on Aging got rave reviews.

So, here is the kind of recipe I used.  And, if you want to see me in action, cooking the Louisville Hot Dogs, go to this link

Here’s the recipe:

Louisville Hot Dogs

  • Grilled Hot Dogs
  • Sweet Red Pepper Sauce
  • Garlic Aioli
  • Caramelized Onions
  • Cold slaw
  • Potato Sticks

Put hot dogs in a bun of your choice. Top with Aioli, Pepper Sauce, Onions, Potato Sticks and then Cold Slaw. Enjoy! Super yummy!

Sweet Red Pepper Sauce


  • 1 cup roasted red peppers (from water-packed jar)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a blender, combine the red peppers, vinegar, and oil and process until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Garlic Aioli

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of one lemon, juiced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Directions
  • Mix mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.


  • Ingredients
  • 6 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Salt and pepper


In a large bowl, make dressing by combining mayonnaise, vinegar, celery seed, sugar, salt and pepper. Combine cabbage and carrots on top of dressing. Toss dressing into cabbage mixture and let chill.

Pretzel Wrapped Hot Dogs–What Could Be Better?

Pretzel dogs done

My daughter and I were walking in the mall.  I hate malls.  I hate shopping…except food shopping.  But, my daughter was called out of work due to the weather & wanted me to go to the mall with her.  Much to my dismay, I ended up at the mall. (I thought she had a driver’s license and a car just so I wouldn’t have to do this!) But,  I’m getting off track.  Back to the story.

Off to the mall we went.  While there, we spied a pretzel place selling pretzels wrapped around a hotdog.  Pretzel + Hot Dog = YUM!!!  Being frugal and knowing I can cook just about anything (except Turducken but that’s another story), I passed on buying the Pretzel Wrapped Hot Dogs.

I thought about those hot dogs for a few days.  I checked out my refrigerator and confirmed that I did indeed have hot dogs.  Tonight, was the night!  I gathered all my materials…flour, yeast, sugar, butter, baking soda and those hot dogs.  And to make it easy, my bread machine.  Off I went on my culinary adventure (hot dogs = culinary…ha, ha, ha).

I came up with a really great recipe that got 2 (count them) TWO thumbs up from my kids.  Success!!!  Enjoy…

Pretzel Wrapped Dogs

  • 3/4 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (I used regular but you can use Kosher)
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp of butter cut into 4 equal pieces

Put into your bread machine and put on the dough cycle.

  • about 10 cups water
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup baking soda

Once bread machine beeps and finishes its cycle, take dough out of the machine and cut into 8 equal pieces.  Bring a big pan of water (about 10 cups or so)  and baking soda to a boil.

Meanwhile, take each section of dough and roll each into a rope about 10 – 12 inches long.  Wrap each dough rope around each hot dog and seal the ends.

Place pretzels 2 at a time in the boiling water for about 30 seconds.  (1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi…or use a timer or guess)

Remove them with a slotted spoon and put on a greased baking sheet (I used a stone)


  •  1 egg yolk beaten with a little water (I saved the white for an egg sandwich for tomorrow’s breakfast)
  • Kosher salt

Brush each pretzel dog with egg and top with a sprinkle of salt.  (or add some grated cheddar cheese = extra yummy)

Bake at 450 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Done and delicious!!!

Leftover Chicken–What now?

bbq chicken sandwichI love chicken!!!  I love the price.  I love chicken’s versatility as an ingredient.  I love the leftovers I can have with a whole roasted chicken.  There are so many different meals I can make from one little (or big) roasted chicken.

This week I purchased a whole chicken for about $.89/lb.  It was reduced, so I needed to either cook it that day or throw it in the freezer.  I decided to cook right away.  Cooking quickly without heating up the kitchen was a must.  Butterflied grilled chicken was the answer.  It was fabulous and we ended up with leftover chicken breast.  My family prefers roasted dark meat chicken.  Needless to say, we had leftover chicken breast.

What to do with leftover chicken breast that is quick, easy and again, does not heat up the kitchen.   BBQ Chicken Sandwiches!!!!  Here’s what I did:

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches


  • 4 cups of shredded, cooked chicken meat
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
  • 1 small sliced onion
  • 1 small sliced green pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns or buns of your choice


Sauté the peppers and onions.  Add the chicken and barbeque sauce and combine.  Once heated through divide the mixture among the buns.

What do you make with leftover chicken?  Please comment.  I would love to hear your ideas!

Mom, Why not make Beef Stroganoff?

beef stroganoff3Have you ever had a plan for dinner and then someone in you house, asks for something else?  That is exactly what happened to us today.

I took out some ground beef with the idea of making a Beef and Ramen Noodle dish.  This was a new dish I was going to try.  Not one of my more adventurous eaters, my daughter asked for Spaghetti.  Not feeling like spaghetti and tomato sauce, I suggested Beef Stroganoff.  She immediately agreed to that…it’s one of her favorites.

But there was a problem.  I have no sour cream in the house.  Do I run out and buy some sour cream?  Not make the stroganoff?  Not really options I liked.  I came up with an adaption to the recipe and made a very respectable, if not delicious version of Beef Stroganoff.

Instead of using sour cream, I made a Béchamel Sauce and just added more milk to get that “creamy” type consistency.  It was delicious!!!  So, the next time you are missing an ingredient, instead of running out to buy said ingredient, try to adapt the recipe.  You just may find a lighter version and a better version.  How about you?  Have you adapted any recipes because of missing ingredients?  And how did they come out?

Beef Stroganoff Linda Style

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion chopped
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp Adobo seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

beef stroganoff2











Sauté ground beef with onion, mushrooms and seasonings until beef in no longer pink


1 1/2 tbs flour

Stir to coat beef and veggies.  Cook for 1 minute


about 3/4 cup of milk

Cook until thickened and bubble

Serve with 1/2 lb of spaghetti or egg noodles.  I like to also serve with green beans.