Mix it up Monday: Festival Sausage Bake

Thought we would try out a bit of a new format that we have been working on and start sharing some of the recipes that we use frequently and not so frequently around here that taste great and aren't expensive to make.

We recently discovered the blog Mr Food. There are great meal ideas here and free Ecookbooks!

The recipe I want to share with you is called Festival Sausage Bake.

We had this last night for a potluck and made enough to have frozen meals for work and school lunches.

From their blog here is the recipe:

What You'll Need: 
1 pound rigatoni pasta 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 1/4 pounds hot Italian sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces 
2 large green bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips 
2 medium-sized onions, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 teaspoons minced garlic 
2 (26-ounce) jars spaghetti sauce 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese 

What To Do: 
Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.   

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage, peppers, onions, and garlic, and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until sausage is cooked through and peppers and onions are tender, stirring occasionally.   Drain sausage mixture, and place in a large bowl. 

Add pasta, spaghetti sauce, and Parmesan cheese; mix well. Pour into a 9" x 13" baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake 20 minutes.   Remove foil; sprinkle sausage bake with mozzarella cheese then bake 10 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted. 
Read more at http://www.mrfood.com/Casseroles/Festival-Sausage-Bake#BsvHftoueopBQkbM.99

We cheated with recipe a bit for time and money purposes. Here's how we cut corners:

We didn't preheat the oven while the sausage and pasta were cooking. We waited until about 5 minutes before we put it in the oven and we cooked it at the same time as our dessert to save money on heating costs.

We used 3 sausage lengths instead of 1 1/4 pounds (We bought from a local farmer to save money. We purchased a large amount and froze them to save even more money).

Peppers (switched one for a jalapeƱo to add some more spice. Peppers, onions and garlic were used from our garden to lower the cost even more and keep it local.)

Only one jar of spaghetti sauce instead of two (I bought a tonne of it on sale for $0.90 awhile back).

Used less Parmesan cheese and used mozzarella cheese that I had bought and stocked up on when it was on sale last month.

This meal cost us around $5 to prepare, served a bunch of people at the potluck and made 4 extra lunches for the freezer. I had to bake it in the largest casserole dish and it was filled to the brim!

We loved it. Everyone said it was very tasty. I would definitely make this again.

Let us know if you've tried it and what your thoughts are. 

Do you have a meal that is low in cost and high in taste? Share the recipe and the picture with us and we will feature it on a future Monday post.

Enjoy your day!

How to Build a Mini Hoop Greenhouse

I would love to live in an area where it was warm all year round. Because I live on Prince Edward Island, although extremely beautiful in the summer, my growing season isn't nearly as long as I would like. I have to wait until the end of May, beginning of June to put out tomato, pepper and other transplants. I started doing research on how I can get the most from my garden.

One of the ways was to build a mini hoop greenhouse. You can do this too, and here's how:


PVC or PEX piping
Rebar or U clips if you have boards around your garden
Heavy Duty Painters Plastic (3.5ml)
Rocks, bricks or heavy sticks

Time spent: less than an hour


-After prepping and tilling garden (which had been done on an earlier day), measure garden. This is our side garden and it measures 20'x4'.


-Measure out where your rebar will be placed. It can be placed 3-4 feet apart. I used 1 foot rebar for our posts. It's cheaper, I found, to buy a long piece of rebar and have it cut to size, than to buy the sizes that I needed. It saves you about 45% doing it this way.

-Stick rebar in the ground until only a few inches are shown.


-Take your PVC or PEX piping measure and cut with a hacksaw where you need it.

- I found it cheaper to buy it in a 50 ft length and cut it myself, than to buy it cut already. About 1/2 price.

-Be careful when cutting it! We don't want any ER visits from this project!


-Measure all pieces the same size. This is where some help comes in handy. I had some very cute help helping me through this project.


-Take piping and insert into rebar on either side of the garden. It's so easy a child could do it!


-Open your painters' plastic and spread it over your hoop house to see if you need to trim any off. Because of the size of my garden, I didn't need to cut any.


-Pull the plastic tight around the hoops. Draw it from the sides to the front and fold under. Here's where you need the heavy rocks, bricks, sticks or whatever. Use the rocks to hold it in place. I also placed it around the sides to have extra protection from the wind as it can get fairly windy on this Island.


- Place a thermometer inside your hoophouse and monitor the temperature for a couple of days before putting transplants inside. Keep an eye on the temperature. Mine was up to 44 degrees Celsius  one day and it was only 15 outside. If you need to cool your hoop house down, just use the clothespins to pin up the opening on either end to let the air go through. Remember to keep a watch on the temperature when the house is open as well. 

I would love to see your hoop house! Send a picture to our email: fighting2bfrugal @ yahoo dot ca,  or pop on over to our Facebook page and share it there!

Cloth Diapers, a Win, Win, Win Situation For All!

Everyone knows that using cloth diapers is a win-win solution, both for the environment and for your wallet. So why do most people use disposable diapers?

Is it that we think of the old-style diapers, complete with safety pins and restrictive folding requirements to avoid leaking? Do you remember poking yourself while diapering a baby accidentally?

Or, is it that we dread that stinky diaper pail?

It's time to throw aside your old notions of cloth diapers! Twenty-four cloth diapers can replace almost 4,000 disposable one, and hundreds of dollars back in your pocket. And... the planet will love you.

( https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Giggling-Green-Bean/112918898728374?ref=ts&fref=ts)

For today's parents, there are so many cloth diaper options, ranging from new designs available from retailers to tutorials that teach you how to make your own, such as this YouTube tutorial that shows how easy it really is:

A great new cloth diaper design comes by way of the Canadian company AppleCheeks. They have kindly sent along one of their cloth diapers for a giveaway to help you, or someone you know, on their journey of a better diaper.

To enter our contest, head over to our Facebook page, "like" us, share the post, and leave a comment under our AppleCheeks contest regarding any product that you like to use that saves money and the environment! 

One entry per person. 
Contest is open worldwide. 
Contest closes on February 7th, 2013, with the drawing on February 8th, 2013. Good luck!

Here's a tutorial to show just how easy and carefree using AppleCheeks reusable diapers are.


New Year's Eve Celebration on the Cheap

2012 has been a year of fiscal belt tightening in many homes. According to many news sources, more people will be spending New Year's in their own home this year. Between the cost of entertainment, babysitters, and what not, it may not be an affordable date night for you.

I can't remember the last time we went out, without the children, on New Year's.

Here I am to share some options with you so that you can still celebrate the big night without breaking the bank.

-Have a stay in night. Order in some special food, or for a less expensive option, buy a frozen entree meal to celebrate. To save even more money, cook a special meal at home with those that you want to be with.

-Buy some decorations at the dollar store or make your own hats, confetti and other fun decorations. 

-While you're staying in, why not have some others on as well? You could have a potluck, or just have everyone bring their leftover Christmas treats.

-Have a games night with your friends. Charades, Aggravation, Cranium, Monopoly (ugh), any new games that anyone got for Christmas, turn on some music for dancing, or just hang out and socialize.

-If everyone has children, why not invite them and have a movie night, or a games room for the children. Put an older child in charge. The younger ones may, or may not, make it to midnight.

-Go view your town's firework display

-Many places have free family friendly New Year's Celebrations. Check with your local town/city hall to see what your area is offering.

However you chose to celebrate New Year's Eve, do it responsibly. Do not drink and drive. Under any circumstances. Stay safe and have fun.

And, Happy New Year!

Looking for Ways to Save Money This Christmas? -November Radio Column

November radio column is posted up! Take a listen to hear some ways to save money this Christmas. Then share your ideas here or on our facebook page. To listen to the radio column click here. To share on our Facebook page click here.  On the column we talked about the 4 gift rule. What are you thoughts?

Salsa Recipe

Here for your tastebuds and garden bounty, is my salsa recipe. I hope you like it! Have a salsa recipe to share? Comment, email, or Facebook us!

Liz's Salsa Recipe:

20 large tomatoes
6 large onions
1 3/4 cup vinegar
6 large peppers
3 hot peppers
8 tsp cummin
8 tsp salt
9 dashes of hot sauce
3 small cans of tomato paste
7 tsp oregano
10 cloves og garlic
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp crushed chillies
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
6 tbsp cornstarch

I cut everything up in my food processor, throw it all in a large stock pot and simmer it for 25 minutes or more, stirring occasionally. This makes a medium hot recipe. Sometimes I switch the quantity around for the hot and sweet peppers depending on what has grown in the garden and if I want hotter salsa or not. Then place it in a hot water bath for 20 mins. Tastes better after it's been stored for a few months and the flavours have had time to set.

What's your favourite salsa recipe? Please share it with us!