Recipe Time: Spice is Life

Perhaps we covered this already, but for your sake, lets go over again yes?

So, we can cook now yes? Well, I’m sure many have skimped out on spices and herbs though, settling with just salt n pepper yeh? Well, I’m here to say, try it, you’ll thank me later.

For the baker, vanilla extract(none of that artificial stuff either), ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground ginger, and possibly cloves. It might cost a pretty penny, but it will last quite a while. In order to skip out of buying most of these spices, you can also just buy pumpkin seasoning if you wish. Basic stuff can add nice flavor to stuff.

Then for other cooking, I would recommend some of the above, along with hot spices and herbs. Cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika, oregano, thyme, rosemary,  basil, ground cumin, onion power, garlic powder, and sage. To further cut this list down you could just buy Italian seasoning, and regular chili powder.

Plain beans and rice, eh… I’d rather eat ramen if I’m a little honest. There are plenty of ways to make this better, if you prefer spicy, I’d recommend adding some cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder, some onion powder, some garlic powder to the beans as they finish cooking. You can also add some garlic and onion powders to the rice as it boils, makes it less bland. Perhaps herbal, maybe…? Well go with oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage when cooking the rice. Add the onion and garlic powder to the beans as they cook.

Perhaps you order some pizza, mmm pizza, well… sprinkle some cayenne pepper around it can make it nice and spicy far better  than the flakes can, not saying you should forsake them, just makes it better. Fry a chicken fillet, add the spices to the mix. Dear lord I made some of THE best chicken strips EVER in my honest opinion just using some of the ingredients above. In fear of upsetting fry chicken companies it was decent (but it was also awesome at the same time, you didn’t hear that from me).

Garlic mashed potatoes, bursting with flavor roast potatoes and carrots, THE BEST EGG SANDWICH EVER, hearty stews, the list can literally go on forever with all the ingredients in the world. So why settle for bland when relatively cheap spices can be found even at the dollar store? One doesn’t have to go all out with name brand and organics (although it would help with potency), to get a nice meal.

Perhaps you have some extra herbs and spices, well, go on into the comment section (somewhere down below) and add them, along with a small example of how you’d use it. This is by no means a total list, and can be expanded as needed. I did not include liquids other than vanilla extract for instance. Also did not include sauces or the like either.


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Living: Food II

What is better than barebones basics? When you splurge on your food now and then. Now, I’m not saying get a party sized bag of chips along with all the soda you can get. No, this is more along the lines of using what was available and working more ingredients in. Buying a bit more better food that doesn’t quite have the shelf life of the staples without prep work. More proteins for the diet, and more fresh stuff for the taking.

Updated grocery list:
Vanilla Extract
Ground beef
Ground Cinnamon
Tomato (fresh, canned: diced, puree, paste, sauce, jar)
Oranges (~4)
Square Crackers
Cooking oil (not spray)

Updated cooking equipment:
Crock Pot (slow cooker)
Deep Dish Bake pan (cassarole dish?)
Stock Pot/Soup Pot 6-8qt (I would recommend something without the plastic/rubber grips, this is why we have oven mitts, and a thick bottom for even cooking)
Oven Mitts and/or pot holders (I totally forgot these in the previous post)

So, we can make beans and rice. Right, enough with that I say. Lets make chili!

Dry beans (I use pinto but whatever you choose is fine)
Ground Beef(hamburger)
Chili powder
Tomato (sauce/puree/paste)

Soak the bean (overnight or for at least 2-6 hours), then start cooking them I’d say about noon, or slow cook them from morning. When soft add the hamburger(break into pieces for faster cooking, brown ahead of time if you wish), chopped onion, spices(paprika, chili powder). Once the hamburger is browned and cooked, add in the tomato. Let simmer until desired thickness. Done. For a quick dinner canned beans can be a nice substitute as opposed to the prep work for dry beans.

This is a barebones chili, you can spice it up however you wish, add whatever you want. We can do many things with this chili now, read further on.

Indian Tacos
Make some fry bread (I would recommend finding a recipe that has clear instructions, I’ve typed and retyped my recipe, it was a mess trying to explain it, good luck). Prep some lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese like you’re making tacos, any thing extra such as sour cream, onion and what not is your call.

Put a fry bread on a plate (pull it apart first if you wish), then add the chili on top, along with your standard taco stuff (lettuce, tomatoes, onion, so-on).

Nom Nom Nom. Eat with a fork & knife (or spoon, depending if you pulled the bread apart before adding stuff).

Usually 1-2 tacos will fill you up. This can easily feed a whole family

Chili Dogs, Burgers, Fries, So On
You can easily drizzle the chili on pretty much whatever, no guarantee it would taste good on Everything, but hey, who am I to say? Sometimes it is easy to make too much chili, and must endure and be creative.

get some ground beef, mix it together with eggs, oatmeal, bread slices/crumbs, onion, herbs and spices. Mash & Mix together, flatten it or roll it into a loaf, put in the preheated oven at 350. Let it cook for about an hour? When browned and cooked thoroughly, you can cool it off and freeze it, then again to eat now, you can put demi glace, or tomato sauce on top(put back in oven for about 5 more minutes until sauce is hot).

It is easy to make too much, and is advisable to cook ahead of time, make single portions and freeze it. You have an instant meal, just have to microwave for about 2-3 minutes. Serve with potatoes, or rice a roni.

Roast Potatoes Carrots & Gravy

Simple to make, kinda easy to mess up as well. Some would spice up the roast in many ways, others would just toss it all together and eat what comes out. You can slow cook all day, or cook on high for say an hour.

The trick with the gravy is this: use the juices from after cooking, its like veggie and beef stock all rolled into one. Put some of the “stock” into a sauce pan(frying pan works as well for you single people) and simmer it. In a separate bowl, add some flour and maybe some seasoning (whatever that may be: onion powder, garlic powder, salt pepper, so on, trust me it’ll give it some more flavor, you do not want to go overboard though), mix in some water until its mostly liquid no clumps! Slowly stir in, stir the gravy as needed, it should thicken up within a minute or so. If not, just let it simmer until thickened. Tada! Gravy that isn’t so full of sodium or starches! For a creamy kick use milk? Half & Half?

With the extra left overs you can easily convert this recipe into Stew, just add more water, some more veggies(corn, peas, green beans, rutabaga, sliced celery, so on) and some pasta(rotini, elbow macaroni, egg noodle, so on). You can also add in Tomato(diced, puree, paste, sauce).

For a side you can have fry bread, buckskin bread, or whatever really. Your budget is the limit.


Everyone should learn how to make this. Simple recipe calls for jar spaghetti sauce, and cooked spaghetti. Why stop there though? Why not use ground beef? Sausage? Heck, sirloin or something?

Boil some spaghetti pasta. Brown some ground beef with some onion, herbs & spices (oregano, thyme, rosemary, onion powder, garlic powder). Once ready add Tomato(diced, sauce, so on), simmer it down some. You can either mix this in with the drained spaghetti, or serve on top of it, your call. The internet is your friend here, there is quite  the number of ways to make this.

Rice a Roni hack

Did you know you can stretch those boxes of rice a roni just a little bit? Take some thin spaghetti (small handful) break it into small pieces about the same size as the box kind. Take about 1/4 cup of rice uncooked and add it in. When it comes time to add the water, you can substitute the water for broth of the box flavor (chicken with chicken broth, beef with beef broth, or generally vegetable broth). Bullion cubes can work in a pinch in place of liquid broth.

If for some reason you don’t like the packets that come with it, or don’t want to get it, you can always just break apart spaghetti, add rice, fry it until golden brown, add water, then bullion/broth. It probably tastes better, and is probably more healthy.

Sneaking in some more nutrients to pancakes. You can add in some cream of wheat when mixing the batter. Mash up a banana along with it. Its Pancakes, you can do much with such a simple meal. There is a whole day dedicated to pancakes, no joke. I seen some people put the batter over a cooking bacon strip, that blew my mind away the first time. Add some flavor with a few drops of vanilla extract? Perhaps some ground cinnamon.

Snack time! Peanut butter and celery sticks. Cheese and crackers. Carrot & Celery Sticks. Sliced apples. Peanut Butter and banana sandwich.


I think I’ll stop here for today, otherwise we’ll run out of Life topics, particularly the food category. Still, it is a somewhat impressive list of recipes considering all we’re adding is ground beef half the time along with some fresh veggies. Just building on our previous post here.

Remember, there are some nice generic and store brand foods that taste the same, sometimes better, than name brand goods. Organics may cost more, but may very well be healthier? I don’t know. Be on the look out for new shipments, get down the sales pattern. For instance, Safeway has $5 Fridays. No idea if the prices are actually lower or higher, its your judgement call. This is probably when they rotate the goods. Outlet stores sometimes have good deals.

Local farmers market, sometimes prices are good, other times not so much. Your call here I say.

Soups, once cooled off, can be frozen, just remember to leave some space between the soups and the lid/seal, water likes to expand once frozen. I would not recommend though, refreezing after rewarming something. Furthermore, plastic has this habit of picking up the essence of foods(taste, smell), so Tupperware can spoil relatively fast after repeated use. Plastic can even become brittle with repeated freezer time, or prolonged freeze. Sometimes food can even pick up the plastic taste.

For more storage information, the internet can be your friend, but research is a constant ally against bad information. I am not the End All Be All, even I get things wrong. -Kenneth

You can leave a comment down below, on my Twitter (@trihazard), or leave me a message on my E-mail (I am still learning this blogging thing, so have patience please).

Life: Food

Here is a list of grocery items that won’t totally break the bank:

  1. Ramen packets (why would you buy the cups? you get less than you pay for)
  2. Eggs aren’t that expensive, and are very versatile.
  3. Potatoes, 5lb bag will last weeks, and many uses
  4. Carrots(2lb goes for $3-$4)
  5. 2-4 Apples
  6. Bundle of Bananas
  7. Dry beans, easy to cook, easy to prep.
  8. Rice, 10lb bags cost about $5 and can last a month.
  9. Oatmeal
  10. Pasta (one or all of the listed)
    1. Elbow macaroni
    2. Rotoni
    3. Spaghetti
  11. Peanut butter (not crunchy)
  12. Fruit Jam
  13. Loaf of bread
  14. 1 pack of cheese slices
  15. 5lb bag of sugar
  16. Spice for life, these are basic spices to give flavor to bland food:
    1. onion powder
    2. garlic powder
    3. chili powder
    4. cayenne pepper(for the spicy kick)
    5. oregano
    6. salt & pepper
  17. Cooking oil spray, saves money for small cooking tasks such as baking/frying
  18. Butter
  19. Condiments:
    1. ketchup
    2. mayonnaise
    3. pickles
  20. Milk (up to you on type and size)
  21. Trade in soda for coffee and tea.
    1. One can of coffee can last at least a month, and costs $7-$15 compared to $5-$6 for a 12 pack of soda.
    2. 100ct tea box costs about $4-$5, less if on sale.

With these it is possible to live for a month or 2. Anything else is extra.

Now, I’m assuming you have an oven with elements on it, if not, all you need then is a microwave and a hot plate. If you don’t have a fridge, then you can cross off the eggs, milk, cheese, and butter. There is such thing as mayonnaise you don’t have to refrigerate, but I wouldn’t trust it. 1 coffee maker, size up to you, I would not recommend getting a keurig coffee maker, even with refillable cups.

Here are some basic things to help you make meals:

  1. 8 inch frying pan
  2. 2- 2 quart sauce pans
  3. 4 quart mixing bowl
  4. baking sheet(if you have an oven)
  5. 1 shredder
  6. cooking spoons
    1. 1 with slits/holes
    2. 1 w/out slits/holes
  7. ladle
  8. spatula
  9. whisk
  10. 1 sharp cooking knife, not serrated.
  11. One of each per person
    1. Bowl
    2. Plate
    3. spoon
    4. fork
    5. knife (steak&butter)
    6. cup with handle (multi-purpose you know)

Now, I will teach you a few recipes with nothing but he above mentioned ingredients.

Potato salad:
2 potatoes
2 Eggs
pickle (1 whole, or a few slices)

Peel the potatoes. Boil the potatoes and eggs(separately mind you), drain the water and cool them off once done. peel the eggs. Dice up the Potatoes, eggs, and pickles, mix them together with the mayonnaise. Done. It should not be hot.

Rice ‘n Beans

Sort through about 1/2 cup of beans, rocks and debris can be missed through packaging. Soak them overnight. you can either slow cook them all day, or cook them on medium-high heat. You can season the beans with onion/chili/cayenne powder as they cook. once they start getting soft cook about 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of water. You can add a dash of onion powder to the cooking rice, it gives it some flavor. tada, rice and beans for dinner. You can also use potatoes instead of rice.

Macaroni salad is the same as potato salad, except you cook macaroni instead of potatoes.

Fried egg sandwich
whisk the 2 eggs in a bowl with your optional seasoning (salt,pepper, cayenne). have your frying pan on medium heat, spray with cooking oil before adding eggs. try to keep the egg mix in a squarish pattern for the bread. flip as needed for hopefully even cooking. once done, add a slice of cheese if you wish to the top of the egg then put between 2 slices of bread. tada, egg sandwich.

Egg Salad Sandwich
Boil 2-4 eggs, cool them off, peel them, then mash them with a fork, add in mayonnaise, salt/pepper(as needed). put between 2 slices of bread, tada. Nom Nom.

You can fry carrots, potatoes, as you wish. Trust me its better than steaming/boiling the veggies.

Cook the pasta as needed, drain the pasta and set aside. while still heated put the pan back on the element. add 3-4 cheese slices, milk as needed to make creamy cheese sauce. too much milk and you’ll have to add more cheese. add in pasta while cheese sauce is still hot. mix. eat. Yum.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Warm up frying pan on medium heat, put 1-2 slices of cheese between 2 slices of bread, lightly spray pan with cooking oil, put sandwich on it, fry until golden brown on both sides. take off and eat.

Fried Rice
1 cup rice
1-2 eggs
1 carrot (optional)
Cook the rice and set aside. Scramble some eggs, fry them. shred a carrot in with the egg. add in the rice and fry up for a bit. spray with oil as needed.
Surprisingly enough you can also do this with ramen noodles too.

Mashed Potatoes
peel, slice, and boil the potatoes until done, drain the water. add in some butter, mix in some milk while mashing/stirring the mix. Should make mashed potatoes. You can even add garlic powder to the water as its cooking for flavor.

Do I really need to explain how to make PB&J? Well you could bake it, or grill it, no idea how the grilling thing would taste though.

That’s about 9 dishes right there. I’m pretty sure I’ve left out many more, but that is where you the reader can fill in. You don’t have to cook all of these things, or buy every item on the list, this is just a reference. Also, this does not account for meats/poultry and so on. These meals can be doubled as needed.

Also, dollar store is not a good place to get too much groceries, I could get 5-6 cans of tuna fish compared to the 4-5 cans for $5. I could also get 1 dozen eggs compared to the 3 packs of 4 for less at a grocery store. Remember, sales are all only good when you check the unit price. It is usually the little white/yellow square next to the price. You could also buy microwave food. I’d recommend egg rolls, burritos, and/or pizza pockets.

Also, if you have a freezer, you could buy a roast for like $18, slice it up into thick slices, cook later as steak, or slice it thin for stir-fry, dice it up for simple stew. buying chicken tenders is also an option, thaw a tender out, dice it up for stir-fry, chicken soup, or bread it up and deep fry it for chicken strips. Pork chops seem to be reasonably priced, can be used for many things, or just plain baked/fried.

Here’s another tip, to reheat pizza you can fry it in the pan, yeah, just turn on the pan, put the frying pan on it to medium heat, put the pizza slice(s) on it bread down, and cover. It is more effective than microwaving it.

So, simple foods, bought as needed, cooked as needed if you wish to add your own money saving dish please do so. -Kenneth

Recipe Time! Buckskin Bread!

This is something my mom taught me to do. It’s a bread that usually goes good with the soups she also taught me. We called it buckskin bread (don’t ask, I don’t know, she learned it from her grandmother), its supposed to be a type of flat crunchy bread, yet the way I make it is kinda fluffy. It can also double as fry-bread when portioned and deepfried. It is easy to double or triple really. Usually I don’t measure much and just go with it.

1 cup flour
~2-3 teaspoons baking powder1/3-1/2 cup (any liquid)milk
pinch or so of salt

Preheat oven to 350. Mix half of the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add in milk and stir until it looks like pancake batter. Slowly mix in rest of flour. It shouldn’t stick to your hands when done. Let it  rest a few minutes, (here is where i knead it a bit, to make it fluffy) then flatten out with your hands, how flat is up to you. Put on baking sheet and put it in the oven. Wait about, 20 minutes(?) give or take. It should be kinda golden brown, hard on top. Cut into squares (corners will be uneven but whatever) or bars. Serve with soup, tada! Buckskin bread!

You could even use this recipe as pizza dough, Add garlic/onion/oregano powder in mix, flatten it as much as you want/can, add sauce then toppings, put in oven, tada! This is a pizza I made with the recipe, cooked chicken, yellow/red peppers, brocoli. The sauce was Prego. It was my first homemade pizza.


It is essentially a blank recipe, you can add your favorite spice, such as oregano, thyme and what not.
Alternatively you could deep-fry them, instead of flattening it all at once, make a ball with some dough, flatten it out into saucer size I want to say. Add to oil wait about say, a min? turn over, should be golden brown when flipped. wait about another minute, take out onto paper towels. Double recipe as needed. To save oil and to get a more bready fry-bread, use enough oil to cover bottom of pan and then some, oil should not cover the dough. This bread you can make indian tacos! Just top with Chili, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese and whatever else you want such as salsa, sour cream. Eat with knife & fork.

This is best with soups! Or even just butter and jam!