Nutty Brown Rice Pilaf

One of the things that I love about cooking is the fact that there is no end to the possibilities. There are so many different varieties of dishes out there that I could cook a different meal every night and still never run out of options. There are so few things in life that are that endless in possibilities. And for people who feel stuck in dull rut in their life, having that kind of change and excitement to something as simple as an evening meal can be a breath of fresh air. I challenge myself to try to discover a new recipe at least once a week, not just because I have a blog to write but because we need that little bit of variety in our lives to distract us from times in life that can feel stressful and repetitive.

This particular discovery of a new way to prepare brown rice was so popular that my family begged me to make it again, threatening to delete my photos so that I would be forced to make it again. But they don’t need to worry about following through with their threats, even looking at the photos again is making my mouth water for this delicious, nutty side dish.

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Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

There is just something about the smell of baking cookies that puts a smile on faces young and old. It’s a smell that warms you from the inside out, even before you have taken your first bite. Because of convenience we have sadly become a society that bakes less and less, instead looking to store bought brands to feed our sweet tooth. But when you look at the overall cost of that one box of cookies and how much it costs to bake them from scratch you might discover as I did that I was losing money going for the store bought versions. So not only was I losing that amazing warming smell and the moist goodness of homemade cookies, I was paying more! As you may have come to realize through reading this blog that is a big pet peeve of mine. Why pay more when I can do it for less and it tastes better? Yes life does get busy and it is hard to make the time to make things from scratch but I have found if I really want something I make the time for it. Making the time for something like homemade cookies is just one of the ways that I like to tell people that I love them and from the smiles I get afterwards I think they know it.

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Sesame Cilantro Pasta Salad

During hard financial times it is often easy to get discouraged. When you no longer have the money to go out and it can leave you feeling isolated as you opt to stay in more and not hang out with friends because you don’t like to be reminded about the things you can’t do because of money. But it doesn’t have to be like that, in fact it is times like this that should bring us all a lot closer together. One great way to save money and still enjoy your relationships is to plan a family/friend potluck BBQ. Have everyone bring their own meat and a side dish and plan a meeting place. If you have a large enough space in your garden plan it there, if not find a local park with picnic tables and BBQ pits. You can even plan different lawn games to make sure kids and adults alike have fun things to do without spending a lot of money. Getting together for a potluck saves money by having everyone chip in the cost of a meal out and it provides a much needed social time for families and friends.

There is a wonderful abundance of cheap, delicious potluck ideas out there on blogs and recipe sites you can find suggestions from Celebrity Chef’s like Bobby Flay’s Honey-Rum Baked Beans or Jamie Oliver’s Pasta Salad. But by far my favorite is a recipe is one that I found from, I altered it slightly to fit my taste and this dish has become a standard that has people asking for the recipe every time.

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Smoked Haddock Macaroni and Cheese

You never know where you will find your next inspiration for dinner, it can come from reading a blog, a magazine article or maybe even just a recommendation from a friend. Keeping your mind open to new ideas can help keep your meal times interesting so that your family looks forward to a night in rather then spending money on an expensive night out. For this recipe I found inspiration in my mother-in-law’s Weightwatchers cook book, Fabulous & Filling. So not only was this a delicious meal but I knew that it was a slightly better for your option that I could feel good about.

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Artichoke Pesto Pasta

So I love hunting for new inspiration of recipes to try and it often takes me to new places of discovery. The other day I found myself searching through images from a website that I use called and I stopped in my tracks when I stumbled upon this incredible recipe. It was one of those love at first sight situations and I just knew I had to make it. The best thing about it for me was that all of the ingredients were things that I keep stocked in my pantry on a regular basis. Which means that this is a simple dish that I can create cheaply because all of the ingredients are on hand. I altered the recipe slightly to make it a much easier dinner to throw together and I am happy to say the result had people scrapping their plates for every last drop. And personally nothing says success better then that.

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