Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2 dinners in 1 post! Hearty Corn Chowder ($1.34 per serving) and Nana's Quiche ($1.11 per serving)

I've been so swamped with holiday preparations that I forgot to post! The chowder was last night's dinner and the quiche was tonight...

Fast and Hearty Corn Chowder ~ $1.34 per serving, $5.35 total
2 tbsp. butter ($0.15)
1 medium onion, chopped ($0.35)
2 tbsp. flour
1 can corn, drained ($0.65)
2 medium potatoes, chopped ($1.00)
4 cups milk ($1.20)
8 oz. deli ham, chopped ($2.00)
white pepper

1. Melt butter in soup pot. Saute onions until slightly colored but not brown. Add flour and make roux. Stir constantly till bubbly.
2. Add corn, potatoes, and milk. Simmer until thickened.
3. Stir in ham and spices to taste. Continue to simmer until heated through.
Makes 4-5 servings

The Verdict
Everyone enjoyed this soup. It was VERY filling. We all needed to add more salt and pepper, so you can be a bit heavy-handed with the spices, the milk soaks a lot of it up. This was SUPER fast and easy!

Nana's Quiche ~ $1.11 per serving
, $6.85 total
1 Pre-made frozen pie shell ($1.80)
8 oz. deli ham, chopped ($2.00)
1 cup shredded cheese ($1.80)
3 eggs ($0.75)
1 cup heavy cream ($0.50)
2-3 Tablespoons grated cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Bake pie shell for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
3. Place ham in the bottom of the browned pie shell.
4. Top with grated parmesan cheese, then shredded cheese.
5. Blend slightly eggs, cream, salt and pepper and pour over cheeses.
6. Bake 45 min. to 1 hour. Should be golden brown.
7. Let the quiche sit for nearly an hour before serving for best results (and easier slicing.)
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict
My stepmom makes this, Josh calls her Nana. You can replace the ham with bacon, artichokes, or mushrooms. Play with the cheeses and spices. Ham works best with cheddar, artichokes with italian blend, and bacon with swiss. This is one of the only ways I will eat eggs!!!! Serve with a green salad for dinner, or with hash browns and fruit for brunch.

Monday, December 15, 2008

$0.77 per serving ~ Vegetarian Chili

The crockpot saved my life again! I knew today would be crazy because it was Jim's first day at his new job. I didn't expect to be sick too! So Jim and Josh got a yummy hot meal and I got to go to bed as soon as I got home.

Vegetarian Chili ~$0.77 per serving
1 medium onion, chopped ($0.35)
1 small green bell pepper, chopped ($0.35)
3 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes with mild green chiles, undrained ($3.00)
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed ($0.75)
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed ($0.75)
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 package vegetable protein crumbles ($2.50)

1. Dump all ingredients except protein crumbles into crockpot. Stir well. Cook on low 8 hours.
2. Stir in protein crumbles and cook another 30 minutes. Serve.
Makes 10 servings

The Verdict
I served this to my friends J&W a while back. W is an unrepentant carnivore, so I didn't tell him it wasn't ground beef. When I told him after his first bite, he was stunned... and then asked for seconds. And thirds! This is a mainstay on my meal planning rotation.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

$0.69 per serving ~ Quick & Dirty Spaghetti Sauce

I've been a bad Puttanesca! Things have been so crazy preparing for the holidays that I've been making only things I've already posted, eating leftovers, or having pancake nights for the family. When both parents are music teachers, holiday frenzy takes on a whole new meaning as we are both preparing and performing numerous concerts and working on our music for our church.

SO to make up for my absence, here is my "quick and dirty spaghetti sauce". (To my long-standing friends, this is NOT my traditional sauce that takes hours to make. I have shared that recipe with only 2 people who aren't blood relatives, and I will continue to keep that one secret.) I made this last night while finishing up all my yummies for my holiday baskets.

Quick & Dirty Spaghetti Sauce~ $0.69 per serving
1 lb. spaghetti ($1.00)
1 lb. ground meatball mix (beef, pork, and veal) ($1.50)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped ($0.35)
4 tbsp. minced garlic
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded ($0.10)
1 small zucchini, peeled and shredded ($0.15)
2 28 oz. cans tomato puree or crushed tomatoes ($2.00)
1 small can tomato paste ($0.40)
Salt and pepper

1. Saute vegetables and garlic in olive oil until soft.
2. Add ground meat and brown until cooked through.
3. Add tomatoes and tomato paste, spices to taste. Saute 20 minutes.
4. Serve over cooked spaghetti.
Makes 8 servings

The Verdict
Jim loves this almost as much as my traditional meat sauce. So does Josh. And even though I'm blessed to have a kid that eats his veggies, if you shred them fine enough they disappear into the spaghetti, so it would slip by a picky eater! Serve it with good bread to sop up the leftover sauce! I prefer to use thin spaghetti or angel hair because it really grows in the pot... you get far more servings out of thinner pastas. Grandma's secret!

Monday, December 8, 2008

$0.90 per serving ~ Creamy Beef & Potato Stew

I am so glad I put food in the crockpot last night... I have a wicked cold and we would have been eating microwave pizzas tonight if I hadn't!

Creamy Beef & Potato Stew ~ $0.90 per serving
1 lb. ground beef ($2.00)
1 16 oz. package frozen cut green beans ($1.00)
1 pkg. dry au gratin potato mix ($0.75)
1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 cups water
1.5 cup half and half ($0.75)
Grated cheese to taste

1. Crumble ground beef into crock pot. Cook on high for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until meat is completely cooked. Drain and return beef to crockpot.
2. Add green beans, potatoes and sauce mix, and spices. Stir and pour water over mix. Cook on low 7-8 hours.
3. Stir half and half into meat mixture. Cook about 30 minutes or until completely heated. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese.
Makes 5 servings.

The Verdict
I didn't like this much, I thought it was kind of bland. Jim and Josh really enjoyed it though. I think I need to add more cheese. Cheese makes everything better!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

One Month of Menu Planning...

This is my attempt to plan out dinners so that nothing other than dairy and produce is purchased during the month of December....

12/7 - Dogs, Beans & Cornbread
12/8 - Beef & Potato Stew
12/9 - Mac n' Cheese Soup with Ham
12/10 - Vegetarian Chili
12/11 - Nana's Quiche
12/12 - Stromboli
12/13 - Dave's birthday, no dinner at home
12/14 - Creamy Wild Rice Soup
12/15 - Ham & Cheese Pie
12/16 - Kielbasa and sides
12/17 - Leftovers
12/18 - Tuna Macaroni & Cheese
12/19 - Corn Chowder
12/20 - Leftovers again
12/21 - Cheesy Sausage and Penne
12/22 - Beef & Cheddar PotPie
12/23 - Pancakes
12/24 - Christmas Eve Dinner
12/25 - Christmas Day Dinner
12/26 -Leftovers and refrigerator clean out before vacation!

I had my sister and my good friends J&W over to celebrate my birthday... I made a big pot of my IN-famous vodka sauce and two pounds of rotini. J&W brought munchy appetizers, my sister and her date brought lots of booze and some really good bread. I wound up getting a cake from Friendly's instead of ColdStone, but it was all worth it. AND there are leftovers for lunch this week!!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

FREE - Leftovers tonight!

Tonight is more leftovers... Turkey Soup and the rest of last night's biscuits! Tomorrow is my birthday... I'm thinking leftover Fettucine Alfredo and I may stop at Cold Stone Creamery for something indulgent....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Leftovers tonight...

The last of the Turkey Chili with Garlic and Cheese Biscuits.

I really love GOOD leftovers! We still have Turkey Soup, Fettucine Alfredo, and Sausage Cheese Dip in the refrigerator... I can't decide which to have tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

$0.75 per serving ~ Fettucine Alfredo

This is one of my all-time favorites. I haven't made it in a long time...

Fettucine Alfredo ~ $0.75 per serving
1 box whole grain fettucine ($1.00)
1 stick butter ($0.50)
2 cups heavy cream ($1.00)
2 cups grated cheese ($2.00)
white pepper

1. Cook fettucine according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.
2. Melt butter on stove. Blend in cream and cook until hot. Add cheese and stir until completely melted and well blended. Remove from heat and stir in spices to taste. Toss with pasta.
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict
I am amazed at how much less expensive the Market Pantry brand heavy cream at Target is, compared to the grocery store! You can replace the heavy cream with light cream, half and half, or even whole milk! Whole milk would need to cook a bit longer to thicken up. However, do NOT skimp on your grated cheese for this sauce. Use REAL parmesan or romano (I prefer romano), not the stuff in the green canister. Your tastebuds will thank you! (And the Rossano brand romano cheese at BJs in the HUGE bag? As good as the expensive hunks of cheese at the specialty store.) Thanks to Target and BJs, I can enjoy this more often.

You can add peas and ham for a heartier dish, just add frozen peas a few minutes before the pasta is finished cooking and drain them together, and add diced ham to the sauce when heating it through. ALWAYS serve with bread :)

Monday, December 1, 2008

$0.25 per serving ~ Leftover Turkey Soup

This is a day and a half process... I did the first step all day Sunday and the rest overnight.

Leftover Turkey Soup ~ $0.25 per serving
Turkey Carcass (free!)
8 cups water
Salt and pepper
4 stalks celery, chopped ($1.00)
1.5 cups carrots, chopped ($1.00)
1 medium onion, chopped ($0.30)
1/2 cup uncooked rice ($0.20)
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
ground cloves

1. Place carcass in crockpot and pour water over it to cover. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low 8-10 hours.
2. Drain broth into bowl. Return broth to crockpot. Pick meat from carcass and add to broth. Add chopped vegetables, rice, and spices (to taste) to broth. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
Makes 10 servings

The Verdict
Just like Grandma makes. Serve with crusty bread to sop up all the broth!