Kitchen Tips – Emergency Substitution List

Ever start a recipe, get halfway through preparing it only to discover that you were missing an ingredient? Yeah…me too. With the rising cost of gas prices, I hate having to run to the store for just one thing. So here is a list of emergency substitutions that may reduce the need  to run out to the store. I hope this helps you as much as it helped me. 🙂

Allspice: 1 tsp = 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp cloves

Self-rising flour: 1 cup = 1 cup minus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt


Self-rising cornmeal: 1 cup = 1 cup plain cornmeal minus 2 Tbsp plain cornmeal + 1 1/2Tbsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt

Honey: 1 cup = 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1/4 cup water

Sweetened condensed milk: 1 can= 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp of evaporated milk + 1 cup sugar+ 3 tbsp butter; heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves

Cake flour: 1 cup = 1 cup – 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Cornstarch (for thickening): 1 Tbsp = 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Baking powder: (Version 1)1 tsp = 1/4 tsp baking soda+ 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

(Version 2) 1 tsp = 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 cup buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt (to replace 1/2 cup of liquid called for in recipe)

Granulated sugar: 1 cup = 1 cup packed brown sugar or 2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Corn syrup: 1 cup = 1 cup granulated sugar + 1/4 cup liquid

Unsweetened chocolate:  1 oz square = 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 Tbsp butter, margarine or oil

Whole milk: 1 cup = 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water

Buttermilk:  (Version1)1 cup= 1 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar + enough whole milk to make 1 cup (let it stand 5 min. before using)

(Version2) 1 cup = 1 cup whole milk + 1 3/4 tsp cream of tartar

(Version 3) 1 cup = 1 cup plain yogurt

I hope these are of some use to you. 🙂 Keep in mind that there are some recipes that do not work well with substitutions, some of these are only meant to be used if you find yourself in a pinch.

Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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Easy Crustless Coconut Pie

I’m a little sentimental about this pie…It’s one of the first things I ever made for my husband. 🙂 The first time I made it he told me it was very similar to a Vietnamese dessert that he grew up eating. Of course I was proud of myself for making something that he enjoyed so much. Since then I’ve made lots of meals that he loves…in fact, he seems to love most of the things I make (even some of the things that I thought bombed, lol). But this one is still special to me because it was one of the first things.

It is incredibly simple!

You will need:

4 beaten eggs

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 cups milk

3/4 stick margarine, melted (I use Best Life because it is not hydrogenated)

3/4 cup flour

1 Tablespoon vanilla

2 cups coconut

Simply mix everything in the bowl together…it will be lumpy.

Pour into 2 lightly greased pie pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 min.

Now relax with a cup of coffee, some pie and a good book! 🙂

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Zesty Tuna Patties

Need a frugal, healthy meal in a hurry? These zesty tuna patties fit the bill!

You will need:

Four 5oz cans tuna, drained

4oz cracker crumbs or breadcrumbs (one sleeve of saltines)

1 medium pepper, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 tsp minced garlic cloves

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

4 eggs

First lightly sautee the onion and pepper. Add in the minced garlic and cook a few seconds longer.

Mix the cracker crumbs, parmesan cheese, and dry spices together until well blended.

Add in all other ingredients.

Mix well…until it looks like a paste.

Shape into patties and fry a little oil. Be sure and flip it halfway through. They will be golden brown on both sides when done.

Serve with rolls and veggies and you have a quick, healthy meal!

Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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Che Chuoi – Sweet Coconut Tapioca With Bananas

I remember when my husband and I first got married I knew very little about making Vietnamese foods. Many of the recipes looked daunting and some of the ingredients were unfamiliar to me.

Over the years I have figured many things out with help from cookbooks, the internet, family and our church family. While I am still learning, there are a lot of things that I have figured out how to make, that no longer seem difficult.

Now I have a new sister-in-law who finds herself pretty much where I was a few years ago. I hope to post some recipe tutorials that will simplify the making of Vietnamese cuisine in order to help my new sis and anyone else who is interested in trying a few Vietnamese dishes.

This recipe is like a Vietnamese version of tapioca pudding.

You will need:

2 cups water

1 14oz can coconut milk (not coconut water…it should be thick, white and creamy looking, not thin)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup uncooked granulated tapioca

1/2 tsp salt

2 large ripe bananas, cut in 1/4 pieces

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds (optional and since my husband hates sesame seeds, I leave them out)

Mix the water and coconut milk in a medium pan. At first it will look a little chunky.

Bring the water and coconut milk to a boil (careful it doesn’t boil over, especially when you start adding things)

Reduce heat to medium-low then stir in sugar, tapioca and salt.

Cook for 30 min. stirring frequently. Then stir in bananas.

Remove from heat, cover and let sit for about 15 min. You can serve this warm or chilled. Here is where you would sprinkle on some sesame seeds if you desire. I hope this will be a simple and fun recipe for you to try! 🙂


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Spring Bird’s Nest Candies

Earlier this winter I found this recipe for Bird’s Nest Candies and decided this would  be a cute treat for my kids this Spring. This recipe is really easy and would be great for an Easter party!

You will need:

3 c. mini marshmallows

3 TBSP  butter

1 tsp vanilla

4 c. dry chow mein noodles

12 oz. chocolate chips

small egg-shaped candies, jelly beans, m & m’s, etc.

First melt the butter and marshmallows on medium heat, stirring frequently.

After the marshmallows and butter are melted, add the vanilla.

Continue stirring on medium heat for about  30 seconds

Stir in chow mien noodles until coated with marshmallow mixture.

Add in chocolate chips while mixture is still hot, until chocolate chips melt.

The mixture should look like a strange, goopy mess. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, shape into nests. Be sure not to let it cool too much, or it will harden and you won’t be able to shape it. I found it helpful to pour the mixture out on a separate cookie sheet, grab pieces and shape them and place onto a separate cookie sheet. top with your egg-shaped candies.

After they harden, serve and enjoy! 🙂

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Poofy Cheeks

11 Money Saving Ideas

Yes, I know…most people would have posted 5 or 10, or some easily divisible number. I’m just weird like that. 😉

Some of these ideas have been around a while. And not all of them will work for everyone. But, they have worked for my decent sized family so far.

1. Cut your family’s hair at home. We save up to $288 a year cutting our own hair! This is figuring a trim for 6 people every three months at $12 per trim. I keep my hair fairly long, but I trim my own bangs. My husband and boys all have hair that grows very fast, so someone is always needing a trim. It takes a little practice to cut hair, but there are lots of tutorials on Youtube to show you how. If you invest in a decent pair of clippers it makes it easier. Plus, the money you save will pay off the clippers in no time. (And yes, the little shaggy haired kid in the picture got his haircut shortly after the photo was taken 😉  )

2.  Utilize online deal sites. We use slickdeals.net This site keeps an updated list of deals at different stores and websites. We saved over $200 on our tv by utilizing this site. I have found Izod shirts for $4, shoes for under $2, baby clothes for $2 -$6 etc… all at reputable stores like Best Buy, The Children’s Place, Kohls, The Gap and Old Navy.

3.  Plan a menu. Planning a menu really does save a lot of money. First of all, you know exactly what you are going to make each night. It forces you to actually look in your cupboards and freezer to find out what ingredients you already have and which ones you need. This prevents buying excess or duplicates. Also, menu planning keeps you from having to run to the store as much. I don’t know about you, but the more I’m at the store, the more things I see that we “need.” This inflates our grocery bill. If I have everything planned out, I can usually make do for a while and determine whether I need item “x” or not.

4. Make it yourself. You can save a lot of money making your own breads, puddings, candies, cleansers and laundry detergents. Plus, there is the added benefit of cutting down on the less than desirable ingredients that the store brand versions have.

5.  Shop Thrift. Shopping thrift stores and Goodwill are a great way to save money. We often find great deals at Once Upon A Child (click the link to find a location near you), You can save money on books movies and games at Half.com. Another great source for used games and equipment is Gamestop.

6.  Cut down on disposables. This one is a bit more difficult for me. There are some time saving conveniences to disposables that are worth the money for me. But I have managed to cut down on the number of paper towels I use by using bar towels instead. You can also use re-washable dish sponges, cloth napkins and cloth diapers to save money. Diapers is one area that I prefer disposable, however. I don’t particularly care for the idea of having to hand rinse the poopy ones…blech!

7. Cook outside in the summer.  OK, so that might sound a little weird. This last summer I was pregnant with my daughter and dealing with very bad morning sickness. We had a countertop convection oven that my husband moved outside onto our porch. This way I could continue to bake and cook foods, but not have to smell them cooking. The added benefit was that it did not heat the house up. This saved money on our electric bill in two ways…one,  the smaller oven used less electricity. And two, the air conditioner didn’t have to work overtime to cool things off.

8.  Go meatless. Incorporating a few meatless meals a week into your menu plan will not only save money, but it’s healthy, too!

9. Wash laundry at night. Washing  laundry at night  is another way to keep the air conditioner from working overtime. And, if you can hang things on a line, you’ll save even more money!

10. Look for alternatives. Simple substitutions can save you money. For example, I often substitute sausage ($1.30lb) for ground beef ($2.39lb). I like the L’Oreal face creams but don’t like the price at $8 – $12 per item. I substitute the Aldi (Lacura) brand (which is high quality) which is only .99 cents to $3.99. Most Aldi brands are made by the brand name companies anyway, so you get the same item at a significant discount. Plus, if you add in Aldi’s double money back guarantee if you are dissatisfied…how can you lose? We also prefer aluminum free deodorant. Burt Bees is approx. $8. Expensive! Axe has several aluminum free varieties for about $3.

11. Don’t substitute quality items. There are some brand name items that just work better than others. For me, Dawn dish soap is one of those items. When I tried switching to less expensive brands I ended up using so much more to get the job done. I found that I saved more money by using the brand name in this case. Another brand name items that I find work better are Purex Crystals vs. fabric softeners. Also, some generic drugs are not worth your time. My husband suffers from migraines and takes Excederin. So far we have not found a generic excederin that works as well.

These are just a few of the ideas that I incorporate into our home to save money. What money saving ideas work for you?

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It’s Really Not Complicated – Make Your Own Laundry Soap

For those of you who haven’t tried it…making your own laundry soap may sound difficult, messy, or just too complex to mess around with to make it worth the money you save. I promise you, it’s really not that hard. And you don’t need a lot of hard to find ingredients. 🙂

All you need is a bar of hard soap (remember whatever scent your soap is will be the scent of your detergent), 1 box of baking soda (that’s right…baking soda!), and (optional) 1 cup Borax powder.

You will also need a grater and a medium saucepan. Or you could use my sister’s method, which involves wrapping the soap in a towel and pounding it with a hammer. I prefer the grater because the soap flakes end up more uniform in size.

Here’s my soap all grated.

Put just enough water over the soap flakes to cover them. Melt the soap over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Fill a large stockpot or bucket with about 2 gallons of hot water. Pour melted soap into the hot water and stir well.

Stir entire box of baking soda into soapy water and stir.

If you want, you can stir about a cup of Borax in.

This will just about fill three large laundry soap containers. Be sure to shake it before using…the contents will gel a bit after settling.

The benefits?

First of all cost:

I bought a 3 pack of hypoallergenic Dial from the Dollar tree. I only used one bar of soap so it cost about .33 cents.

Baking soda cost about .60 cents (you can use generic which is cheaper…about .40 cents)

One cup Borax approx. .70 cents (that’s figuring high)

Total cost  $1.63 for approximately 168 loads of laundry!

Another benefit is that it is hypoallergenic. If you have family members with soap allergies, this is the perfect, thrifty solution.

The soap may look different than the store bought brands, but it cleans very well  You can use it  in standard and HE washers as it doesn’t make a lot of suds.

This soap is more eco-friendly because it does not contain the harmful toxins that store bought soaps usually have.

I hope this makes the idea of making your own detergent less complicated, and hopefully answered some of your questions. If you have any more questions about making your own laundry soap feel free to ask! 🙂

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Creations by Kara