Recipes, Recipes, and More Recipes

Posted by on Mar 9, 2013 | 0 comments

Recipes, Recipes, and More Recipes

Trying to find the time and resources to get back to the basics is never easy in any of our worlds. The average American is busier today than in any other decade. With the challenges the economy has given us in the last six years, many chefs and home cooks alike are going back to hand-made versus prepackaged to save their budgets.

I am no different. I have tried to curb my spending in every way. I have found over time that while convenient, prepackaged goods have more salt, sugar, and  preservatives than I’d like to serve unless there is no alternative. While we’re on that subject, I’ll also point out that you’ll generally fork out less cash out of pocket if you’re careful.



Nobody wants to hear that you can save money with coupons. Nobody wants to sit over the Sunday paper and clip coupons versus read the funnies. Okay, I don’t want to. Maybe you do, and I’m happy for you if you have the patience. My biggest savings is from watching the weekly sale papers. Seriously, if there are four grocery stores in town, you’ll get four sale papers every week in the mail. Compare prices.

For example, you have eight guests coming over for a Saturday night. You plan on making Chicken Cordon Bleu( breaded, baked chicken breasts, stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese). Now we all know you’re not going to invite folks over if you can’t afford to, but let’s have a good example of how much money you can save if you watch the sale papers.

Kroger has boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $2.49/lb. Ingles has them for $2.99/lb. Food Depot has them on sale for $1.99/lb. On average, a family pack of these chicken breasts have approximately eight breasts and weigh around four pounds. If you look at the numbers, you’ll save $4.00 right off the ripper, and that’s just the meat. If you watch closely and pay attention, the savings will add up faster than you think.








Enough with the lessons though. Let’s get on to some of the recipes I’ve meant to put on the website but haven’t. So much for good intentions, right?

I’ve realized that many of you aren’t subscribed to The Grip, my local independent paper in my hometown of Griffin, Georgia. The paper has taken up a lot of my free time that I was previously using for writing this blog. So I thought it might be fun to feature some of the recipes I’ve included in The Grip, that you, my loyal readers can apply your savings lessons to. Remember, try to stick to seasonal fruits and vegetables. You’ll not only enjoy better tasting products, but will also save money.

Mus Pepper Jelly


Muscadine Pepper Jelly   Yield: Approximately 6-8 pints

8 cups minced bell peppers (green is a must, but I like red as well for color contrast, food processor works well on pulse)

6 jalapenos stems removed, but seeds and ribs included pulsed with a food processor or minced fine

3 cups Muscadine juice (For tips on extracting the juice, please visit my website

3 cups apple cider vinegar

4-5 cups sugar (I used four, you may like it sweeter)

2 boxes Sure Jell pectin, pink box


Start by prepping the vegetables. I made it quick by using my food processor on pulse until the peppers resembled a relish consistency. Set aside. Gather the juice, sugar, vinegar, and pectin, and set that next to the vegetables.

Fill the stock pot two-thirds full of water (so that when the jars are added for processing there’s at least an inch or two above each jar). On high heat, let this come to a boil. The trick here is to sterilize all the tools you will use before you begin the jelly. I was new at this and sterilized the tongs, ladle, jars, and when it came to the lids, I put them in a sauce pot and covered them with boiling water; letting them sit until just before I was ready for them.

In a heavy bottomed stock pot, add peppers, Muscadine juice, vinegar, and sugar. Good tip, add one teaspoon butter to reduce foaming. Bring to a rapid boil stirring as you go. Once at a hard boil add the two packets of pectin boil for an additional minute and remove from the heat. This will be a thin mixture, but don’t worry. The pectin will help it jell as it sits. Line up the sterilized jars and ladle mixture into each, leaving ¼ to ½ inch headroom for each jar. Remove lids and screw tops from the water bath, wipe the rim of each jar clean, and assemble jars.

Next, with the tongs add the kitchen towel to the sterilization stock pot. By doing this you’re insuring the jars don’t break when added to the pot for processing. Add the jars and allow to process for ten minutes at a rolling boil. Carefully remove jars and set aside on a kitchen towel to cool. Once cool, check the jars for proper sealing by pressing a finger in the center of each top. If there is no movement, voila! Jelly perfected by you, the home cook. This jelly is suitable for Christmas gifts, hostess gifts, and a nice reminder of warmer weather for you and your family all winter long.


Banana BreadBanana Bread    yield 1 loaf

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup vegetable shortening

2 lg eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 mashed bananas

¼ cup buttermilk

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ cup minced walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and place a loaf pan on the bottom rack, partially filled with water. The steam from this will improve the quality. Only about a half inch of water is needed. Grease your 9X5 loaf pan well and set aside.

Sift flour, baking soda together and set aside. Cream shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, and eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition. Add bananas, and dry mix alternately with buttermilk to incorporate all. Fold walnuts in last, and scrape into loaf pan.

Bread will take between 50 minutes and an hour. When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, the bread pulls away from the sides of the pan, and a touch test springs back to you, will indicate it is done.

Let cool for approximately 10 minutes and remove from pan. Let it sit for another five to ten minutes and immediately wrap in aluminum foil and let sit for six to eight hours. I know it’s tough when it smells so good, but trust me on this.

Red Velvet Cake


With my schedule on the road, I’ve had terrible luck trying to order cakes ahead of time. I never know exactly when I’m going to show up. The variable difference can lead to the bakery being closed and showing up empty handed.

So back to the blackboard I went in search of a simple solution to a vexing issue in my world.

My thought was this, create a recipe that was easy to follow, didn’t take a pastry chef to decorate, and didn’t look like the artwork of a small child. I was also making this for someone very special who wanted a traditional Southern favorite; red velvet cake.

The end result moist and tender, was easily frosted, and decorated. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, this cake was as delicious as it was easy.


Red Velvet Cake

½ cup shortening

1 ½ cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 ounces red food coloring

2 Tablespoons Hershey’s Special Dark powdered cocoa

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 Tablespoon white vinegar



Cream shortening and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix together the red food coloring and cocoa to form a smooth paste, adding it to the cake mix to avoid lumps. In a medium bowl sift flour and salt together, adding it to the mix alternating with the buttermilk. Fold the baking soda and vinegar in last. Grease and flour two nine inch cake rounds and pour equal amounts of batter into each. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until done. Remove from rounds before completely cool and place on wire rack to finish cooling. Do not frost until completely cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces cream cheese or 1 ½ blocks softened

5 Tablespoons butter softened

5-5 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

3 Tablespoons heavy cream *optional* If you use this option you must add the extra ½ cup of sugar

2 Tablespoons real vanilla extract


Cream butter and cream cheese, adding sugar one cup at a time. Add heavy cream and vanilla.


I hope y’all have enjoyed my recipe re-cap! There will be plenty more recipes to come and lots of new adventures to share in the coming months. I have juggled a few schedules, made a bit of time, and have my inspiration back. Never say die, say damn, as my Grandpa would say. Until next time folks, eat well, laugh often, be free, and be you! ♠

Gypsy Gourmet♠


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