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updated: 5/16/2012 5:49 AM

Freezing onions and picking pineapple

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Q. Can you freeze onions whole?

Tanya, Illinois

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A. Yes, you can freeze a whole (or even quartered) onion. You'll have to peel, wash and core it beforehand. I prefer to chop my onions, freeze them flat on a baking sheet (to prevent them from sticking and clumping together) and then transfer them to a freezer storage bag. I chop or even dice them because that's how I use onions when cooking. Thaw them in the refrigerator or use frozen and straight from the bag. The texture changes when onions are frozen, so use them for cooked dishes.

Q. How do you select a good pineapple?

Dee H., Wisconsin

A. Look for a plump, firm pineapple with green crown leaves. While pineapples do not ripen like bananas once they're picked, you can be fairly confident that a pineapple at your local store is ripe and delicious, even if it looks green. I look for green and golden yellow tones. You don't want a pineapple that shows any sign of deterioration, such as bruising, leakage, wrinkles, softness or wilted or brown leaves. There's no need to tug on the crown to check for ripeness.

Q. I'm getting a bunch of sour cream later this week at $.19 for 16 ounces, with coupon. Aside from beef stroganoff, baked potato topping and nachos, what can I do with it? I'm looking for dinner or snack ideas.

Khaski, New Hampshire

A. I have a few recipes on my blog. Visit frugalvillage.com/2009/10/07/uses-for-leftover-sour-cream. You can use it in homemade salad dressings, waffles, cake batter, dips, casseroles, sauces, cookies, tacos and quick breads such as banana bread. As a treat, you might enjoy strawberries dipped in sour cream and brown sugar, too.

Q. Are there plants I can add to my garden to help deter mosquitoes?

Pauline, Michigan

A. You can try lemon balm, lemon grass, ageratum, citronella plants, marigolds, horsemint, catnip, rosemary, garlic, eucalyptus or peppermint.

Q. I'm looking for a homemade steak sauce recipe. I'd like something similar to A.1.

Lori, Florida

A. Here's a recipe shared by Brenda in the forum section of frugalvillage.com: In a saucepan over medium-high heat mix ½ cup orange juice, ½ cup raisins, ¼ cup each soy sauce and white vinegar, 2 tablespoons each Dijon mustard, ketchup and chili sauce and 1 tablespoon dried grated orange peel. Boil and stir continuously for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cool 10 minutes, dump mixture into blender and purée. Pour into bottle or jar and cover tightly. Will last about three months.

I think it tastes better if you let it sit for a couple of days in the fridge to let the flavors come together. My own batch didn't last two weeks, so if you have a big family or teenage boys like I do, I would double the recipe.

Q. I have half a dozen scratch-baked cornbread muffins I stashed in the freezer, and I'm trying to come up with a way to use them up that isn't a casserole. Any ideas?

C.H., Missouri

A. I would simply reheat them and eat them. You can make croutons for salad by crumbling the muffins onto a baking sheet and baking in the oven at 250 degrees until golden brown. The croutons will taste great on salads, soups, stew and chili. Try this cornbread salad recipe: allrecipes.com/Recipe/cornbread-salad-i/Detail.aspx.

If you prefer something sweet, you could heat them and add some strawberries and whipped cream.

• Sara Noel owns Frugal Village (frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. Send tips, comments or questions to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St, Kansas City, MO, 64106, or email sara@frugalvillage.com.

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