Shrimp Creole


Shrimp Creole is a flavorful Louisiana recipe that relies on the flavors of the trinity (celery, onion and green pepper) along with Tabasco to give it a kick.  It’s served over rice, which makes it one of our favorite frugal dishes.

However, don’t confuse it with Gumbo!  Gumbo is Cajun rather than Creole.  Gumbo is created by slow-cooking roux until golden brown.  Creole dishes are usually a bit spicier, and don’t contain a roux.  Both include the trinity and are ”improvisational” dishes, as the basic recipe may be altered to include whatever ingredients the cook has available (Wikipedia).

Frugal Tips:  I use bagged frozen shrimp for this recipe.  About every 2-3 months, I find it on sale at Cub Foods during their BOGO sales.  Since I’m able to store it in my deep freeze, I buy several bags when the price is low.

Shrimp Creole
Serves: 4-6
Creole flavors plus rice and shrimp come together for this easy dish
  • ½ C. (1 stick) butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 14-5-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Tabasco
  • 1 lb. cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  1. Melt butter in skillet. Add onion, green pepper and celery and saute until soft (about 5-7 minutes). Add salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic. Pour in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat. Add shrimp five minutes before serving and heat through. Serve over white rice.

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Spanish Rice with Bacon

spanish rice

Spanish rice is the perfect side to serve with any Tex-Mex dish.  Bacon and chicken stock add tons of flavor to this classic.

Spanish Rice with Bacon
Serves: 6

Bacon makes everything better, including Spanish rice!
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, finely diced
  • 1 C. uncooked white rice
  • 1 C. chicken broth
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 tomatoes, finely diced
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a skillet, brown the bacon. Remove bacon to cool.
  2. Add onions and green pepper to bacon grease and saute until translucent.
  3. Add uncooked rice to onion and green pepper mixture and stir until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add diced tomatoes, chopped bacon. Season with chili powder, salt, and pepper.
  5. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.


Crock Pot Orange Chicken

Crock Pot Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken is what my kids usually order when we eat at Chinese restaurants.  By making it at home, we can get our takeout “fix” for less.   Plus, by making it in the crock pot it’s even easier.

If I were to make it again (or if I were cooking for a larger group) I’d probably double the batch.  This version served our family of four with no leftovers.   Now what am I going to eat for lunch today?!

Frugal Tips:  Learn how to make copycat versions of your favorite restaurant foods at home.  It really does help you fight the temptation of blowing your budget by eating out too often!

Crock Pot Orange Chicken
Cook time: 
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A crock pot version of your favorite Chinese takeout food! Easy for the busy cook, and easy on the budget.
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ pieces
  • ½ C. flour
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate (half the can), thawed
  • 4 Tbsp. brown sugar
  1. Coat the chicken pieces in flour and salt mixture. Brown in olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, combine orange juice, vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar. Place browned chicken in bottom of crock pot, then pour orange mixture over it. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours. Serve over rice.

  Crock Pot Orange Chicken

Just mix the ketchup, vinegar, orange juice and brown sugar to create the coating/sauce for your orange chicken.

Crock Pot Orange Chicken

Coat all your chicken pieces in flour

Crock Pot Orange Chicken

Brown the chicken in a little bit of olive oil

Crock Pot Orange Chicken

Place the chicken in the crock pot and pour sauce on top

Benihana Fried Rice Copycat Recipe

benihana fried rice recipe copycat

Rice recipes are inherently frugal.  Problem is, too many people don’t make it correctly.  When it comes to making rice, the right type of rice is important.   Believe it or not, not all rice is created equally.  A true risotto requires arborio rice, sushi a sticky short-grain, and for certain Indian dishes only Basmati will do.  Also, attention to detail in its preparation is equally important.  When it comes to making fried rice, the key is to use cold, day-old rice.  Who knew?

I was browsing the internet for a copycat version of the Benihana Fried Rice.  All the recipes I saw didn’t include those important details!  Plus, adding garlic to the butter was omitted in many of them.  It makes a big difference.   My whole family loved this dish, and my husband said, “This is the best fried rice you’ve ever made.”  This recipe is definitely a keeper.   My only regret is not making more.  Sadly, there are no leftovers.


Benihana Fried Rice Copycat Recipe
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Serves: 4
  • 4 C. cooked Jasmine rice, day old and cold
  • 5 Tbsp. butter
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • 1 C. chopped onion
  • 1 C. chopped carrots
  • ⅔ C. chopped green onions
  • 3 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  • 5 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 eggs
  1. In a 350 degree oven, toast your sesame seeds for 15-20 minutes until light brown. Meanwhile, In a large skillet, melt the butter along with the minced garlic and ginger over medium heat. When garlic is translucent, add the onions, green onions, and carrots. Add the cold, cooked rice and soy sauce. Cook until the rice starts to get slightly brown and crispy. Push rice/vegetable mixture to the side of the skillet, and scramble the eggs. Once scrambled, mix in to the rice/vegetable mixture. Add sesame seeds at the end of the process and serve.

California (Sushi Roll) Adventures

sushi california rolls

Living in Southern Minnesota, finding good sushi isn’t easy.  Luckily, finding the ingredients to make good sushi isn’t that hard.  Lately, I’ve recently been teaching myself to roll my own.  My first attempt was not bad, but not great.  Thanks to my friends at Mommysavers and their advice on how to make sushi rolls at home I quickly determined that my main mistake was layering on too much rice.  My second go-round (pictured here) was much more successful.  This time, I only added ONE cup of the sushi rice (instead of one and a half) to the Nori paper, which made all the difference.  You can make sushi at home too, with minimal practice.  All you need is a sushi kit (which are pretty  cheap on Amazon), good sushi rice, and a little patience.

Easy Sushi Rice
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Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
Sushi rice is easy, but it requires short-grain sushi rice (found in ethnic grocery aisles) in order for it to work.
  • 1½ C. sushi rice (don’t use long grain rice)
  • 1½ C. water
  • 1½ Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1½ Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  1. Rinse the rice thoroughy first, until the water runs clear. Heat a saucepan with 1½ C. water and rice over medium-high heat. Once it begins to boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Pour over sushi rice and toss so that all the grains are coated. Refrigerate rice at least two hours before making sushi.


How to Make Sushi Rolls

After the sushi rice has cooled and is ready to go, tear off a piece of plastic wrap and place it on your sushi mat as shown below.  Next, place the sheet of Nori on the plastic wrap.  Spread one cup sushi rice on top of the Nori, using your sushi paddle or your wet fingers to press it down evenly.  You’ll want an even, thin layer of rice.  If it’s too thick, it will be hard to roll tightly without the ingredients squirting out all over the place.

At this point, you can either flip the nori over so that the rice side is down (and on the outside of the roll) or leave it the way it is.  I flipped it over so the rice would be on the outside of my California rolls.  If desired, shake a little sesame seed or poppy seed on the rice.

For Califormia rolls, place your avocado, cucumber, and imitation crab inside.  For a Philadelphia roll, substitute the crab for smoked salmon and include a strip of cream cheese.  Experimenting with ingredients is the fun part!   Let your own taste be your guide; there are no right or wrong ingredients.  Starting on one end, use your mat to roll your sushi, pressing down as you go to create a compact roll.  With a sharp knife (it helps to wet it slightly) cut in six pieces.  Enjoy!

Frugal Tips:  Supplies to make sushi rolls can often be found at ethnic grocery stores for much less than at specialty stores.  Also, check Amazon for the best prices on your sushi mat and paddle and other tools.

california rolls