July 08, 2011

Tightwad Gazette III - Day Four - July 8th

Here is today's reading from the Tightwad Gazette III.  Lot's of great advice in today's reading - especially the Create a Dinner Casserole recipe.  Enjoy this - it is classic Amy Dacyczyn.  Lots of great money saving ideas. 

If anyone tries the Create a Casserole Dinner recipe, let us know what you made.  I am always on the lookout for some interesting recipes. 


When you are shopping and you find a good deal on over ripe bananas let’s say 15 cents a lb. do you buy them? Okay in our area and 15 years after Amy wrote this book the price would be more like 29 cents per lb.

Of course, Amy says to go ahead and buy those bananas as there are a lot of recipes you can use them in. Also bananas can be frozen whole in their peels, sliced or mashed and frozen in a baggie. I freeze bananas mashed in ½ cup portions as they take up less freezer space. Also when I purchase a bag of over ripe bananas, there are usually a few that are not too over ripe to eat. If you do freeze the bananas whole, simply thaw them and then cut open the end and squeeze the liquidy banana out. No need to mash here.

So what do you do with these over ripe bananas? Make a banana shake or smoothie or take the smoothie mixture and freeze in a Popsicle mold. How about banana “ice cream?” Simply combine frozen bananas with enough orange juice to keep the mixture blending. Add some other fruits, freeze and top with some homemade granola.

What about banana French toast? Simply mash one banana and mix well with 2 eggs, a little milk and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Pour into a blender to “blenderize.” Dip bread slices into mixture and fry on both sides in oiled pan. Serve with fruit puree or syrup.

And then you can always make the standard banana bread to eat and give away. Think about it. Wouldn’t a neighbor or friend love a loaf of fresh baked banana bread as a treat? I also make banana cake by reducing the amount of liquid in my yellow cake recipe and adding mashed banana. I make banana icing by adding mashed banana to my favorite icing recipe and delete all other liquid from it.


Here’s a great idea for summer fun in the backyard, make your own bubbles. Mix 6 parts water, 2 parts Joy dishwashing liquid and ¾ part corn syrup. Mix this ahead of time for the best results. This is cheaper than the recipe that requires glycerin.


Make your own brown sugar by taking 1 cup of white sugar and mix in 2 tablespoons of molasses. This reader said that this homemade version of brown sugar is cheaper than buying a 2 lb. bag of store bought brown sugar. A lot of the brown sugar you buy is “beet” sugar mixed with molasses. However, you can buy actual brown sugar which is usually a name brand and is more expensive. I personally can’t tell the difference in baking so I buy whatever is cheapest. Since I stock up on “brown” sugar when it is on sale at $1.50 or less for a 2 lb. bag, I don’t need to mix the homemade version. But this is great to know that in a pinch you can make your own. I always have molasses or sorghum on hand so I can always use this as a backup if I am out of brown sugar.


In the spirit of Amy’s recipes for Create a Muffin and Create a Quiche, we now have Create a Dinner Casserole. It’s all about using up leftover bits of food and creating an interesting, delicious meal. Actually this recipe was given to Amy by a newsletter reader and quickly became a favorite.

Create a Dinner Casserole

1 cup main ingredient
1 cup second ingredient
1 to 2 cups starchy ingredient
1 ½ cups binder
¼ cup “goodie”

Main Ingredient suggestions: tuna, cubed chicken, turkey, ham, seafood.

Second ingredient suggestions: thinly sliced celery, mushrooms, peas, chopped hard cooked eggs.

Starchy ingredient suggestions: Thinly sliced potatoes, cooked noodles, cooked rice.

Binder suggestions: cream sauce, sour cream, can of soup.

Goodie suggestions: pimiento, olives, almonds, water chestnuts.

Topping suggestions: potato chips, cheese, bread crumbs.

Thoroughly mix your combinations of the above ingredients. If it seems dry, add some milk or vegetable or meat stock. Place in a buttered casserole dish, top with the topping and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.

One evening I was home alone and I looked in the fridge and found 2 hardboiled eggs. I made a cream sauce, added some grated cheddar cheese and the chopped hardboiled eggs. I poured the concoction over some toast and it was delicious. Now my family would never eat something like this, but this to me was true comfort food and was delicious.

The lesson here in this casserole recipe is that some of the best recipes are concoctions that you make up with what you have on hand. When you are making up your own recipe for a casserole you might want to keep track of what you put in the casserole in case you would ever want to replicate it.

Our next reading for the Tightwad Gazette gives some great tips from readers along with some Tightwad Transformations from Amy's readers, frugal skin care and making pies.  


Anonymous said...

I am shocked !I did NOT know there were extra "create recipes".
I do the casseroles every winter but refuse to turn on the oven in the summer. Any idea which Tightwad Gazette they would be in?
Thanks for the reading and I believe the H.B.eggs on toast with cheese sauce would be yummy.

Martha said...


Here is the link to the Create a Muffin recipe: http://thepathtofrugality.blogspot.com/2011/05/tightwad-gazette-ii-day-19-may-7th.html

This was in the Tightwad Gazette II.

The quiche recipe is in Tightwad Gazette III which we haven't gotten to yet. Let me know if you want me to skip ahead a few pages and I will publish it this week.

Sass said...

Out of curiosity (since you always have molasses on hand).... have you ever had a bottle explode in your hand? This happened to me last weekend and I have not been able to determine the "why"!

Rose said...

The create a casserole concept is a time tested method for creating dinner. I came across it about 20 years ago from our local extension office. I still have their printouts and recipes. One I use on a regular basis is the Master Mix (Bisquick) recipe. We go through it very quickly. I also like the Magic Mix recipe which is a white sauce recipe. Thanks for reminding me of these quick, frugal and flexible recipes!


Anonymous said...

Thank you Martha for the muffin recipe. I am not too sure about a savoury muffin, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Maybe it will fly better in winter?
Thanks again