Monday, December 28, 2009

The best bread ever, or why I don't buy bread in the store anymore...

Long story very short, Jim bought me a breadmaker 6 years ago, and it sat in the box for 4 years. Then it came out and I occasionally used it to make dough for rolls or cinnamon bread. It wasn't until this past summer, when we were cutting our grocery budget to the bone, that I started my quest for the perfect toast and sandwich bread in my breadmaker. So far, this is my favorite:

Rapid Buttermilk Bread ~ $1.15 per loaf
1 1/2 cups hot water (100 degrees F)
6 tbsp. cultured buttermilk powder ($0.35 per loaf, $5.99 per canister)
2 tbsp. softened butter ($0.10)
2 tbsp sugar, brown sugar, or honey ($0.05)
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups bread flour ($0.50 per loaf, $3.99 per 5 lb. bag)
2 tbsp instant bread machine yeast ($0.15 per loaf, $6.99 per jar)

1. Add ingredients to pan according to bread machine directions. Make sure you add buttermilk powder immediately after the hot water, then continue as directed.
2. Bake on rapid cycle for a 2 pound loaf.

The Verdict
This bread is amazing... soft, moist, tender, and perfect for toast, sandwiches, grilled cheese. Which sweetener you use is a matter of taste. I prefer the honey, but the kids seem to like the brown sugar best. It keeps a good long time, not that much of it gets left for long. I am going through 2 loaves a week, so it's a good thing that it is SO much cheaper than storebought!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mom's Muffins ~ Twisted!

My mom used to make these muffins on Saturday mornings... and it was a miracle if any of them were left by lunchtime! This is her exact recipe, but with my new twist... white whole wheat flour! I never use regular white flour anymore. In everything but bread, white whole wheat flour is a perfect substitute, it is healthier and has more fiber, but doesn't change the taste or texture!

Mom's Twisted Muffins
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (almond is also very good in these. Play around with flavor!)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix all wet ingredients in one bowl. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
3. Pour into lined muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes at 350.
Makes 12 - 15 regular sized muffins

The Verdict
Josh ate 3 of them and still wanted more. I guess he likes them just as much as I did when I was a kid! These freeze beautifully. I like them best fresh from the oven with a tiny bit of butter and grape jelly :)

Living Thankfully ~ Mom's famous Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday at home. I loved helping my mom in the kitchen. Now, with my own children under my feet, I enjoy bringing those same traditions to our table. This year we spent Thanksgiving with my sister and her two boys as well as my dad and stepmom. I made these for us all to share.

Corn Pudding
1 stick butter
1 can creamed corn
1 can whole niblets corn, drained
1 package corn muffin mix
1 egg
1 8 oz. container of sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt butter, then mix with all other ingredients.
3. Pour into a 2.5 quart casserole dish.
4. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serves 6-8

This is so bad for you... and so delicious. It can be made the day ahead and reheated, or frozen up to a month ahead.

Bourbon Sweet Potatoes
4 large cans sweet potatoes, drained
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup Jim Beam bourbon
2 cups mini marshmallows

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mash together sweet potatoes, butter, sugars, and bourbon.
3. Place in large casserole dish. Top with mini marshmallows
4. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 or until marshmallows are golden brown.
Makes 10-12 servings

This is my personal favorite. I eat this for breakfast for days following Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I think I'm going to do it...

For the next month, Puttanesca's kitchen will chronicle the "getting ready for Christmas" process in my house! That means...

Yes, I'm going to share my prized cookie recipes from my Mom and grandma. Yes, I'm going to share my recipes for my candies and sweets and goodies that I give to my friends.

I hope you all enjoy the new direction this blog will take for the season!

Monday, November 16, 2009

$0.59 per serving ~ Ham and Mashed Potato Casserole with Cheesy Veggies

Josh requested mashed potatoes on Monday... I wound up with way too much left over. This was based on one of my grandma's old recipes with a few changes.

Ham and Mashed Potato Casserole ~ $2.70 total cost, $0.34 per serving
3 cups hot mashed potatoes (free!)
2 eggs, separated ($0.20)
1 cup evaporated milk ($0.50)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
white pepper
garlic powder
1 cup diced deli ham ($1.00)
2 tbsp butter
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($1.00)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix lemon juice into evaporated milk and let stand 5 minutes.
2. Blend together mashed potatoes, egg yolks, milk, and spices.
3. Fold ham into potatoes.
4. Separately beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into potatoes.
5. Butter a large casserole dish. Place potatoes into dish, and dot top with remaining butter.
6. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
7. Top with cheese and bake 10 more minutes.
Makes 8 servings

The Verdict
This was a HUGE success. Josh ate 3 servings, Julia 2, and Jim 2, plus Josh wants it for breakfast in the morning! I served it with frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots in a light butter sauce ($1.00, $0.25 per serving.) I know what I am doing with leftover potatoes from now on!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

$1.44 per serving ~ Pumpkin Apple Soup and Crispy Cheese Sandwiches

I've been really sick with asthmatic bronchitis. I know when I get sick all I want is soup and comfort food... so I decided to use what I had in the house to make some "upscale" sick food.

Pumpkin Apple Soup ~ $4.20 total cost, $0.70 per serving
1/2 lb. bacon, chopped fine ($1.25)
1 large onion, chopped ($0.25)
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree ($1.00)
1 large apple, chopped unpeeled ($0.25)
2 cups apple cider ($0.25)
1 cup water
4 chicken boullion cubes ($0.10)
1/4 cup brown sugar ($0.10)
salt to taste
dash liquid smoke
3 tsp. white pepper
2 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 cup heavy cream ($1.00)

1. Lightly saute onion and bacon in a large soup pot.
2. Add pumpkin, apple, cider, water, boullion cubes, brown sugar, salt, liquid smoke, white pepper, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir well to combine. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
3. Use immersion blender to puree in pot, or remove to food processor and process till smooth.
4. Over very low heat, add in cream and stir until well combined. Serve immediately
Makes 6 small servings.

Crispy Cheese Sandwiches ~ $2.75 total coast, $0.64 per serving)
8 slices bread (from breadmaker, loaf cost $0.75 to make)
4 slices each provolone and muenster cheeses ($2.00)
grated cheese.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Butter 4 slices of bread and sprinkle with grated cheese. Place face down in pyrex dish. Top with 1 slice of each cheese. Butter the other slices of bread and top the sandwiches, butter side up.
3. Bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of sandwiches, flip, and bake 10 more minutes.
Makes 4 servings.

The Verdict
I made the mistake of scooping out very big bowls of this soup... it is such a rich soup, with such complex flavors, that only a little felt like a lot of food! WOW! It was so delicious. Jim loved it, his mom adored it, Josh liked it but didn't eat very much, and Julia wore most of hers. Josh did LOVE the cheese sandwich, and between him and Julia they demolished 2 whole sandwiches!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

$0.68 per serving ~ Lentil Bean Soup

I was feeling vaguely creative and had to use the crock pot. I threw this together on a whim...

Lentil Bean Soup~ $6.75 total cost, $0.68 per serving
1 cup dried lentils ($0.75)
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed ($0.80)
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed ($0.80)
1 28 oz. can chunky crushed tomatoes ($1.00)
1 cup chopped carrots (free from the garden)
1 large sweet onion, chopped ($0.40)
4 cups vegetable broth ($2.00)
4 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp. coriander
1 tbsp. black pepper
grated cheese

1. Place all ingredients in crockpot. Stir to mix.
2. Cover, cook on low 7-8 hours
Makes 10 servings

The Verdict
Julia ate a lot of this, but wore more than she ate. What a mess! Josh enjoyed it, but liked the fresh bread dunked in it best. Jim liked it, and I loved it. Plenty of leftovers. Next time I'll add more spices.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Josh's Star Wars Stew

Josh is obsessed with Star Wars. As in, he watches it every day if we let him. So last night when he was grumpy and didn't want to eat, we named everything in the stew after Star Wars...

Josh's Star Wars Stew ~ $5.75 total cost, $0.96 per serving
1 lb. ground beef ($2.00) May the Force beef with you...
3 potatoes, chopped ($1.00) Darth Taters
2 beets, chopped (free from our garden) Obi-Wan KenoBeets
5 carrots, chopped (free from our garden) Lando Carrotrissian
1 head bok choy, chopped (free from the CSA) ChewBokChoy
1 red onion, chopped (free from the CSA) Qui-Gonion Jinn
12 oz. beer ($1.00)
1 cup chili sauce ($1.50)
1/4 cup brown sugar ($0.25)

1. Brown ground beef and place in crock pot.
2. Mix chopped vegetables together and add to crock pot.
3. Mix beer, chili sauce and brown sugar together. Pour over meat/veggie mix.
4. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
Makes 6 servings.

The Verdict
Julia ate more than she wore, which is a triumph right now. Josh enjoyed it, but liked the bread fresh from the breadmaker better. Jim said it was delicious, and I ate two helpings. I will definitely use that sauce again in different stew combinations!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A brief Puttanesca update...

I don't know if anyone is still reading, but I apologize for my absence. Marching band season is drawing to a close... we only have one more competition, and after that it is only football games. I've had no time to get creative in the kitchen. But I will return in a week or so with all new, fun recipes!

Like everyone else, my family budget is feeling the pinch of this economy. We had to switch daycares, which meant more outlay of cash. So I will do my best to continue to create delicious, different recipes on a meager budget. I won't let the money crunch stop my food fun!

So I have a question for you, if you are still paying attention... what's your favorite way to stretch your food dollar?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

$0.48 per serving ~ Clean-out-the-Crisper Pasta

The school year has begun, and with me working with the marching band after school, we've been too busy for me to come up with new recipes! However, we had a lot of veggies in the fridge and I wanted to use them all up. This was inspired by something I saw on a cooking show with someone whose name rhymes with Machael May.

Clean-out-the-Crisper Vegetable Pasta ($0.48 per serving, $2.88 total cost)
1 pound whole wheat penne ($0.88)
1 medium zucchini (all veggies free from our CSA)
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium bell pepper
1 red onion
3/4 cup flaxseed meal ($1.00)
3 branches fresh basil (all herbs grown in our garden)
2 branches flat-leaf parsley
2 branches mint leaves
3 tbsp. minced garlic
3/4 cup grated cheese ($0.50)
1 cup ricotta cheese ($0.50)
black pepper
balsamic vinegar
olive oil

1. Cut all vegetables into a 1-inch dice. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and grated cheese. Roast 15-20 minutes in oven.
3. Cook penne in salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup cooking water.
4. Place flaxseed meal, herbs and garlic in food processor. Pulse while drizzling in 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil. Put herb mixture in a large bowl and stir in about 1/4-1/3 cup grated cheese.
5. In a separate bowl, mix ricotta with nutmeg and black pepper to taste. Set aside.
6. Stir reserved cooking water into herb/cheese mixture. Toss together roasted veggies and cooked penne with herb sauce. Stir ricotta into pasta and serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings.

The Verdict
Jim and I both went nuts over this. Josh said he didn't like it, ate all the veggies and left the pasta behind?!? Julia enjoyed it, but as of yet we've not found a food she doesn't like. When I make it again I will try different veggies and use more garlic and cheese... the flavor was subtler than I expected.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's been so long...

But we've been loving our new mini deep fryer! Potatoes sliced thin, deep fried and topped w salt and pepper, zucchini fries, you name it. So let me share the best way to batter and fry, well, ANYTHING.

Beer-Battered Anything
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup beer (I recommend a darker beer, we used Newcastle Brown Ale)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • 3 large onions, sliced into rings (or zucchini in strips, or cleaned mushrooms, or...)
  • 2 quarts oil for frying
  1. Sift flour into a large bowl. In another large bowl, whisk egg yolks. Mix in beer, butter and spices to taste. Set aside 1 cup of flour for dipping the veggies. Slowly stir the egg yolk mixture into the remaining flour and mix well. Allow the mixture to stand 30 to 60 minutes.
  2. Heat deep fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  3. In a small bowl, stiffly beat the egg whites. Gently combine the egg whites with the batter.
  4. Coat each veggie with flour and dip into batter.
  5. Deep fry the battered veggies, several at a time, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve.
The Verdict
This was amazing on onions and zucchini! There was NOTHING left on the table. I want to try it on fish because it tasted like fish and chips batter. Wow. Just wow.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Zucchini Parmesan

Anyone who gardens knows that Zucchini is the Italian grandmother of the vegetable world... "Eat, eat, don't you want more? But I made this just for you!" As usual, my zucchini is overproducing and I am coming up with as many different ways as I can to cook this stuff! Good thing everyone in my house likes it.

Zucchini Parmesan
Zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
Italian dressing of your choice
Breadcrumbs (I used a mix of seasoned and panko)
Tomato Sauce of your choice
Shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Marinate zucchini in Italian dressing for at least 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
3. Coat zucchini rounds in breadcrumbs (no need to dip in egg, the dressing will hold the breading on.) Place in one layer in a baking dish
4. Bake uncovered about 15 - 20 minutes
5. Remove from oven. Drizzle with sauce and top with cheese. Bake again 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

The Verdict
We made 3 trays of this... it was all gone within two days. We cut it up small for Julia and she loved it too! You could serve this with pasta as a side, over rice, in a sandwich, or as a stand alone dish. You can certainly use jarred sauce... I know, you're thinking, "But Puttanesca! You're Italian! Don't you make your own?" Yes, I do, but jarred sauce is very convenient, especially for parmesan dishes, pita pizzas, etc. I open a jar of sauce, pour it all into a saucepan, spice it up (extra garlic, onion powder, and oregano, usually) and return it to the jar. Stored in the back of the refrigerator, it will keep a few weeks.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Mess o' Produce" Stir-fry and a Yummy Meatloaf Glaze

Mess o'Produce Stir-Fry
Stir-fry oil of your choice
Minced garlic
2-inch piece of fresh gingerroot, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup fresh green beans, sliced in 1 inch pieces
1 head bok choy, chopped (reserve leaves for a salad!)
Vegetable stock
Soy and teriyaki sauces, to taste

1. Heat oil in a large wok or skillet. Saute garlic and gingerroot until fragrant.
2. Add green onions and saute until soft
3. Add carrots and stir fry 2-3 minutes
4. Add green beans and stir fry 2-3 minutes
5. Add bok choy and stir fry 2-3 minutes
6. Add enough vegetable stock to fill about halfway to top of veggies. Bring to bubbling. Cover and cook another 5-7 minutes.
7. Remove from heat. Stir in soy and/or teriyaki sauces to taste

The Verdict
Everyone loved this as a side dish! It was a big hit. I will try it with other vegetables. Just try to add the veggies in order of which needs the most cooking time, so nothing is over- or under-done.

Yummy Meatloaf Glaze
Equal parts brown sugar, ketchup, and pineapple preserves (1/3rd cup of each for 4 servings, 1/2 cup for 6 servings.)

1. Mix together well. Pour over meatloaf and cook for the final 20 minutes of cook time.

The Verdict
This is Josh and Jim's favorite way to eat meatloaf, though it makes leftover meatloaf sandwiches very messy...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The long lost Puttanesca!

I know, I know!

This blog is shifting focus slightly for the summer. We purchased a CSA from a local organic farm. We also planted 3 "square foot gardening" plots. So I'll be focusing on our recipes for xall our wonderful fresh produce!

Grandma's Cook-Any-Greens
1 bunch fresh greens of any kind (kale, swiss chard, collard greens, beet greens, mustard greens, rapini, etc.)
Olive Oil
Minced Garlic
Chicken or Vegetable Stock

1. Chop greens (1/2 inch pieces for stems, 1 inch for leaves)
2. Saute garlic in olive oil until fragrant.
3. Add stem pieces and saute 5 minutes.
4. Add enough stock to fill the bottom of the pan but not cover the pieces entirely.
5. Cover and braise stems about 10 minutes.
6. Add leaves, re-cover, and braise 5 more minutes.
Serves 6 as a side dish

The Verdict
What a great side dish! So far I've cooked chard, dinosaur kale, and beet greens this way. Josh didn't express an opinion but ate his whole serving. Good thing, because there's always TONS of dark greens in NJ gardens!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

$1.38 per serving ~ Veal Bolognese

I almost never buy veal. Too expensive! But my Italian appetite loves it, so when I saw veal with $2.00 off coupons because it was near expiration, I jumped on it. If you buy near-expiration meat, just freeze it right away, and then use it right after thawing.

Veal Bolognese ~ $1.38 per serving, $8.25 total cost
1 lb. ground veal ($5.00)
2 tbsp. minced garlic
1 small onion, chopped ($0.35)
1/2 cup dry red wine (leftovers are free!)
1/2 cup chicken stock ($1.00)
1 large carrot, finely chopped ($0.25)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes ($1.00)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. large curly pasta ($0.65, I used rotini)
1/2 cup grated cheese
Fresh basil leaves

1. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, brown veal, garlic, and onion in deep skillet until cooked through.
3. Add wine to deglaze skillet, loosening all browned bits.
4. Add stock, carrots, tomatoes, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Simmer at least 15 minutes, untill carrots are tender.
5. Meanwhile, toss hot pasta with grated cheese.
6. Just before serving, remove bay leaf, add fresh basil, and toss with pasta. Serve with bread and more cheese at the table.
Makes 6 servings.

The Verdict
This is one of Jim's favorites. Josh said he didn't like it, but then he finished his plate and asked for more. I've been taking the leftovers for lunch all week!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

$0.93 per serving ~ Ground Beef Biscuit Stew

I was feeling ambitious...

Ground Beef Biscuit Stew ~ $0.93 per serving, $5.53 total
1 lb. ground beef ($2.00)
1 medium onion, chopped ($0.25)
1 10 oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables ($0.88)
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce ($0.25)
1 14.5 0z. can of diced tomatoes, drained ($1.00)
2 1/4 cups baking mix ($0.50)
2/3 cup milk ($0.15)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($0.50)
1 tbsp. spicy brown mustard

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Saute beef and onion over medium heat until fully cooked.
3. Stir in vegetables, sauce, and diced tomatoes. Heat through.
4. Pour into greased 11x7 baking dish. Cover. Bake for 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, stir baking mix, milk, cheese, and mustard together until a dough forms.
6. Remove dish from oven and uncover. Drop dough by spoonfuls over the casserole.
7. bake 15 more minutes until golden brown.
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict
This went over well. Jim said "not thrilling, but nice." Josh said very little but ate most of it. I want to tweak it with more seasonings next time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

$1.31 per serving ~ Better than McNuggets Chicken Fingers with Green Beans, Cheesy Rice, and Cole Slaw

I'm back with a new recipe!

Better than McNuggets Chicken Fingers ~ $0.81 per serving, $3.25 total cost
2 cups french fried onions ($1.00, Aldi's brand)
2 tbsp. flour
1 egg, beaten ($0.25)
4 boneless chicken breasts, sliced into "fingers" ($3.00)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine onions and flour in a gallon size zipper bag. Crush as finely as possible.
3. Dip chicken in egg, then coat in onion crumbs. Place into baking dish.
4. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Makes 4 servings

The Verdict
I served this with green beans ($1.00) and Rice a Roni brand Broccoli au Gratin rice ($1.00) and there was no talking at the table... just empty plates. I will enjoy the leftovers at lunch. The chicken was so flavorful!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

$0.35 per serving ~ Cowboy Chicken Mac N Cheese

Yes, I know, I know. I've been stuck in a rut and not making anything interesting, so I've had nothing to post for AGES! But Puttanesca is back!

Cowboy Chicken Mac N' Cheese ~ $0.35 per serving, $2.10 total cost
1 box of macaroni and cheese, prepared ($0.80)
3 leftover BBQ chicken cutlets, cooked and diced (FREE!)
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted ($0.50)
1/2 cup milk ($0.10)
1/4 cup BBQ sauce, plus some for topping
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided ($0.70)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare macaroni and cheese according to package directions.
2. Stir in chicken, soup, milk, BBQ sauce, and half of the cheese. Pour into greased baking dish.
3. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and drizzle BBQ sauce over the top.
4. Bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes.
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict
I served this with green beans on the side, which are always a hit in my house. Josh took one bite of this and said "Mommy, you make the best dinners!" That in itself is made of win. But Jim said nothing... he just ate 3 servings and smiled. Definitely a winner! I got an incredible sale on mac n'cheese (discussed in the last post) so I stockpiled a TON. I will be doing a lot of mac n' cheese experimentation this summer...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Help me, faithful readers!

So due to a great sale at the Acme and some really great couponing, I have stockpiled 45(!!!!) boxes of mac n' cheese at a price of about $0.35 per box.

So, what's YOUR favorite way to tart up mac n' cheese? What do you like to serve it with? Do you mix other ingredients into it? Inquiring Puttanescas want to know!!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What to do with all those veggies?

You know your kids need to eat veggies, but they don't like them. Your hubby won't eat them. YOU don't like them....

Veggie Pancakes or Fritters
2 cups cooked vegetables, broken into small pieces
4 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
3/4 to 1 cup Bisquick

1. Add vegetables to beaten eggs and stir to coat.
2. Add garlic, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
3. Mix with Bisquick, a little at a time, until a thick batter forms.
4. Cook like pancakes on a preheated pan or griddle, or fry in preheated oil until golden brown.
5. Serve hot.
Makes 10 - 15 pancakes

The Verdict
I made these with leftover cauliflower and this was a HUGE hit with Josh, Jim, and my father- and stepmother-in-law. They are also good with broccoli, grated zucchini, or grated carrots. A great way to use up extra veggies. Josh likes them cold for snacks too!

Holidays a la Puttanesca

We're on Spring Break here, and I'm vacationing in many ways, including not stressing out about food, but just eating what's in the house. I did learn a little about holidays on the cheap this year though!

Easter Dinner:

2 Kosher Chickens, roasted with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon. (lemons $0.50, the chickens were FREE!)
Fried Corn (corn $3.35, heavy cream $0.50, butter $0.50, honey, salt, and pepper)
Italian-style broccoli ($3.00 for broccoli, bread crumbs, grated cheese, balsamic vinegar)
Bourbon Sweet Potatoes ($2.50 for potatoes, butter $0.50, brown and white sugar $0.25, mini marshmallows $0.50, bourbon, vanilla)

Total Cost for Easter Dinner: $11.60

Want the recipes? Comment and let me know!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

$1.00 per serving ~ Apple Pie Pork Chops with Stuffing

My sister mentioned a recipe like this and I searched high and low to find something close!

Apple Pie Pork Chops with Stuffing ~$1.00 per serving, $6.00 total cost
1 can apple pie filling ($2.00)
6 boneless pork chops ($3.00)
1 box stuffing mix, prepared ($1.00)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray bottom of 11x7 baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Spread pie filling in bottom of pan. Top with pork chops, followed by stuffing. Cover with foil and bake 30-40 minutes.
3. Uncover and bake 10-15 more minutes, until pork is fully cooked.
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict

Jim and Josh both went nuts for this! I served it with some steamed snap peas and baby carrots. I was not nuts about it, but told Jim I would like to try it with peaches or apricots instead.

$0.94 per serving ~ Gingered Beef and Rice

This came from Mom's school of protein + starch + veggies = dinner in one pot.

Gingered Beef and Rice ~ $0.94 per serving, $3.75 total cost
1 lb. lean ground beef ($2.00)
2 tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 6.2 oz box rice and vermicelli mix - Fried Rice flavor ($0.75)
2 cups water
1 medium bell pepper, chopped ($0.25)
8 oz. frozen sugar snap peas ($0.50)
1/4 slivered almonds, if desired ($0.25)
soy or teriyaki sauce to taste

1. Saute beef and ginger in large skillet until beef is thoroughly browned. Drain.
2. Add rice mix and seasoning packet. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil.
3. Lower heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add pepper and snap peas. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Remove from heat and stir in almonds. Serve with soy or teriyaki sauce.
Makes 4 servings.

The Verdict
Josh, who has been sick with strep throat, found his appetite again when I gave him a bowl of this. He said "Mommy, this is SO yummy!" Jim thought it was just ok. I thought it was boring until I topped it with some Thai sweet chile sauce. All in all, not a bad experiment, and very easy for a work night!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

$0.65 per serving ~ Beef and Bean Medley

When I saw this recipe in a BH&G cookbook, I realized I had everything on hand so I decided to try it.

Beef and Bean Medley ~ $0.65 per serving, $6.50 total cost
1 lb. ground beef ($2.00)
1 small onion, chopped ($0.25)
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled ($1.00)
1 28 oz. can baked beans ($1.25)
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained ($0.75)
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained ($0.75)
1 cup ketchup ($0.50)
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. pepper

1. In a large skillet, good ground beef and onion until beef is browned. Drain fat and transfer to crock pot. Add crumbled bacon and all beans.
2. In a bowl, combine ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, water, and pepper. Stir to combine and add to crock pot.
3. Stir well, cover, and cook on low 6 hours.
4. Serve with tortilla chips if desired.
Makes 10 servings

The Verdict
I wasn't actually home to eat this, so I'll have it for lunch tomorrow. Jim pronounced it "tasty" and ate 3 helpings. Josh, on the other hand, took one bite and then finished his tortilla chips without eating another bite, so I guess that's a no from him.

$0.51 per serving ~ Vegetable Shepherd's Pie

This is an old favorite of mine...

Vegetable Shepherd's Pie ~ $0.51 per serving, $3.25 total cost
2 pouches Roasted Garlic and Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, prepared ($1.00)
1 small onion, chopped ($0.25)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 16 oz. package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed ($0.75)
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained ($0.75)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce ($0.50)
1 tbsp. soy sauce

1. Prepare potatoes according to package directions. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Saute onion in oil in large saucepan. Stir in vegetables, beans, tomato sauce, and soy sauce. Heat through until bubbly.
3. Pour into 2 quart casserole and top with potatoes. Sprinkle paprika over top. Bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes.
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict
Jim always loves this, as do I. Josh asked for a peanut butter sandwich instead. He usually eats this, though, he was just in a bad mood.

I had a box of strawberries from Jim's mom, and I had some heavy cream from the last time I made quiche. Cleaning out my pantry I found cobbler/shortcake mix... so we had strawberry shortcake and fresh whipped cream for dinner. Josh had it again for breakfast!!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

$1.50 per serving ~ Apricot Chicken with Sesame Ginger Rice and Carrots with Navy Beans and Spinach

Yes, Puttanesca is back from the depths of high school musical season! And if I play it just right, I'll have 3 new recipes in the next 3 days!

Apricot Chicken ~ $1.00 per serving, $6.00 total cost
2 tsbp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
2.5 lbs chicken thighs ($4.00)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup dried apricots ($1.25)
1 small onion, sliced ($0.25)
1 cup chicken broth ($0.50)

1. Melt butter with oil in skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in skillet until golden brown (about 5-6 minutes per side.)
2. Scatter apricots in bottom of crockpot.
3. Remove chicken and place on top of apricots in crock pot.
4. Saute onion in drippings until soft.
5. Add chicken broth to skillet and bring to a boil, loosening browned bits into the broth.
6. Pour broth and onions over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
7. Remove chicken carefully to a serving tray (it tends to fall apart.) Pour remaining juices into skillet and coor about 10 minutes, until thickened. Pour over chicken on tray and serve.
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict
I served this with a Near East Sesame Ginger rice ($1.00 total, 4 servings) and frozen vegetables ($1.00 total, 4 servings). Jim enjoyed it, I enjoyed it, and Josh said "Mommy, you can make this again!" It was a hit. A little more work than my usual crockpot meal, but definitely worth the extra time on a weekend.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bad Puttanesca!

Bad planning on my part. BAD!
The crockpot meal I planned for this week only cooks 4 hours on low, so that gets moved to the weekend. I forgot that Jim & I have a gig Wednesday- Saturday nights, so everything I wanted to make has to be shifted around so that I do the fastest and easiest the next 3 days. ARGH! I hate when I screw up!

Last night - healthy carbonara (which I didn't make a few days prior.)
Tonight - spaghetti with sauce pre-made and frozen
Tomorrow - hot dogs/burgers with beans and frozen veggies
Saturday - apricot chicken in the crock pot
Sunday - back on schedule, whew!

Monday, March 16, 2009

$1.35 per serving ~ Steak & Guinness Pot Pie

My husband is as Irish as they come, so I need to cook Irish food on St. Patrick's day... but he doesn't like corned beef or cabbage! So my friend Trip passed on this fantastic recipe for me to try. I modified it slightly for the Crock Pot because Tuesdays are very hectic.

Steak & Guinness Pot Pie ~ $1.35 per serving, $13.50 total cost
2 lbs. round steak, cut into small pieces ($4.00)
8 slices bacon, chopped ($3.00)
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. shortening
2 bottles Guinness ($4.00)
2 cups raisins ($1.00)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 box premade pie crust ($1.50)

1. Combine beef and bacon, sprinkle with flour and mix to coat.
2. Place in skillet with shortening and brown, then drain. Mix with 1 bottle of beer, brown sugar, and raisins. Pour into crock pot.
3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
4. About 30 minutes before you want to eat, brown bottom pie crust in oven according to package directions. Pour meat mixture in, cover with top crust, and brown in oven according to package directions.
Makes 10 servings

The Verdict
Holy cow, WOW! Thank you Trip! This was AMAZING. Definitely going to make this a St. Patrick's Day tradition. I served it with mashed potatoes and kale. YUMMY!!!!! Next time I may monkey with the filling and add some carrots or other non-potato root veggies.

Almost a month of meal planning...

3/15 - cavatelli ($0.54 a box!) with frozen spaghetti sauce
3/16 - leftover ham chowder
3/17 - Steak & Guinness Pot Pie
3/18 - cheesy sausage and penne
3/19 - leftovers
3/20 - healthy carbonara
3/21 - dinner out
3/22 - make-your-own pizza (pizza dough was $1 at ShopRite!)
3/23 - mac n' cheese soup with ham
3/24 - crockpot apricot chicken
3/25 - flank steak sandwiches
3/26 - leftovers
3/27 - Moroccan turkey & squash stew
3/28 - Quiche
3/29 - Veggie Shepherd's Pie
3/30 - ravioli w/ frozen vodka sauce
4/1 - beef & bean medley
4/2 - gingered beef & rice
4/3 - Josh's favorites soup
4/4 - apple pie pork chops
4/5 - leftovers
4/6 - chickpea ragout
4/7 - tuna mac n' cheese
4/8 - Italian chicken cutlets
4/9 - creamy wild rice soup
4/10 - leftovers
4/11 - birthday party

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In need of inspiration...

I sat down last night and meal planned for the next month. And while I was successful, I find myself getting stuck in a rut, making the same things over and over. It's great that I have so many recipes my family loves, but I get bored!!!! In the plan that gets me through to Easter, I only have 4 new recipes...

So, share with me! What recipes do you love? Are there websites or blogs that inspire you to cook? Which Food Network cook are you addicted to? Talk to me!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

$0.92 per serving ~ Upside Down Pizza Casserole

Upside Down Pizza Casserole ~$0.92 per serving, $5.50 total cost
1 lb. ground beef ($2.00)
1 cup tomato sauce ($0.25)
1 cup shredded mozzarella ($1.75)
1 canister of 10 biscuits ($1.50)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown ground beef on stovetop over medium heat. Drain fat. Add sauce and stir through.
2. Pour into 2-quart casserole dish. Top with cheese. Flatten biscuits with hand and place on top of cheese, spread out over entire dish.
3. Bake for 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict
Josh said "This is the most delicious dinner, Mama!" with his mouth full, and didn't stop until he had a second helping. Jim loved it. If you're like me, you'll want to doctor up the prepared spaghetti sauce with your own spices... you can add chopped pizza toppings (mushrooms, onions, bacon, pepperoni) to the mix as well. This was super fast and easy.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

$0.51 per serving ~ Christine's Corn Fritters

My mom used to make these when I was a kid. This and broccoli were the regular side dishes to a dinner of baked chicken cutlets. At some point she stopped frying them and started cooking them like pancakes, but when I found this recipe in with some others of hers, I knew I needed to make them the old fashioned way...

Christine's Corn Fritters ~ $0.51 per serving, $2.55 total cost
1 1/3 cups buttermilk baking mix ($1.30)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 14.75 oz can cream-style corn ($0.50)
1 egg, beaten ($0.25)
1 cup oil for frying ($0.50)
syrup or molasses

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
2. While heating, sift together baking mix and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. In a small mixing bowl, combine corn and egg.
3. Combine egg and flour mixtures, stir gently.
4. Drop batter by tablespoonsful into hot oil one layer at a time. Fry approx. 1 minute on each side until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper or towel. Serve with maple syrup or molasses if desired.
Makes 5 servings of 3 fritters each.

The Verdict
I was planning to serve leftover Creamy Ham Chowder tonight. I really wanted to do something a little bit different so that Josh wouldn't get bored... man, was this the right choice! He ate the soup AND 4 fritters, saying "Mama, this is SO yummy" over and over again! Jim took one bite and said, "Yeah, these can't be good for you. I don't think I care." They were just like I remember my Mom's. I shouldn't make them often, but I will make them again.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

$1.13 per serving ~ Buffalo Chicken Cacciatore

Buffalo Chicken Cacciatore ~ $1.13 per serving, $4.50 total cost
1/2 cup brown rice ($0.15)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces ($2.50)
2 celery stalks, sliced thin ($0.25)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained ($1.00)
1/2 cup wing sauce ($0.30)
1/4 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing ($0.30)

1. Preheate oven to 350 degrees. Cook rice according to package directions. Spoon into greased 8 inch square pan.
2. Heat oil over medium heat. Saute celery and chicken until chicken is completely cooked.
3. Remove from heat, stir in tomatoes and wing sauce. Spoon over rice. Do not stir.
4. Bake uncovered at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
5. Drizzle dressing over the top and serve.
Makes 4 servings

The Verdict
Josh said "So spicy, mama!" and asked for some cheese instead. Jim said it was spicy too, but he ate two helpings. I think it was fine, but the leftovers will get spicier with time. I will decrease the wing sauce next time, but this was a nice dinner when we want something a little different!

Monday, March 2, 2009

$0.33 per serving ~ Creamy Ham Chowder

Back at Christmas I froze a hambone with a ton of meat on it. Since a huge snowstorm was predicted, I started this Sunday night. It is definitely worth the overnight work for this one...

Creamy Ham Chowder ~ $0.33 per serving, $3.25 total cost
1 ham bone with meat remaining (free!)
water to cover
1 stick butter ($0.25)
8 tbsp. flour
4 cups low-fat milk, divided ($1.20)
2 15 oz. cans corn ($1.50)
3 carrots, diced ($0.30)
2 tbsp. dried minced onion
2 tbsp. minced garlic
salt and pepper
sweet smoked paprika

1. Crack ham bone. Place in 6 quart CrockPot. Add enough water to just cover. Cover and cook on low 8 hours or overnight.
2. Drain over large bowl. Pick through, discarding bone, fat, and skin. Shred remaining meat and set aside.
3. Allow broth to cool. Skim fat from top (VERY important!!!!!)
4. Melt butter in a large soup pot. Remove from heat and mix in flour until smooth.
5. Slowly add 2 cups milk, stirring constantly. Return pot to stove and cook on low heat until thickened.
6. Stir in corn, shredded ham, diced carrots, dried minced onion and minced garlic. Slowly stir in remaining 2 cups milk and the ham broth.
7. Simmer without boiling 30 minutes.
8. Add salt, pepper, and paprika to taste. Serve and enjoy!
Makes 10 servings

The Verdict
I will never throw away a ham bone again. This was amazing! Everyone loved it, Josh had seconds and Jim had thirds! And there is enough left for two full meals. I definitely recommend using the Hungarian sweet smoked paprika if you have it, it's sweeter and smokier than regular paprika (duh, who'd have thunk it!) You could of course add more/different vegetables... potatoes, turnips, parsnips, peppers, chopped tomato... the possibilities are endless!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

$0.67 per serving ~ Rosemary Apricot Spaghetti

Another recipe from the newspaper that looked too good not to try!

Rosemary Apricot Spaghetti ~ $0.67 per serving, $4.00 total cost
1 box whole grain thin spaghetti ($1.00)
1/4 cup olive oil ($0.25)
4 tsbp. minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth ($0.75)
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup slivered dried apricots ($0.50)
1/2 cup dry chorizo sausage, diced ($1.50)
Salt and pepper

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions in salted water. Drain and place in large serving bowl.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook until just golden, stirring often. Add broth, rosemary, apricots and chorizo to skillet and cook through for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Toss with pasta, serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict
Josh left the sausage behind but housed the spaghetti and apricots. Jim enjoyed it, I had seconds. This was SO easy. I may try it next time with a different dry sausage, as I'm not the biggest fan of chorizo. It was a nice change of pace!

I am defrosting the frozen ham bone from Christmas... we're getting 10-14 inches of snow overnight, which means tomorrow is a day for soup. And baking with Josh!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Meal planning night!

Tonight I will sit down and plan out a month's worth of dinners. How do I do it? Well, picture me on the floor in my living room... a pile of cookbooks to one side, the Acme, Shopright, Target and Wal-Mart flyers to my other side, and a list of what's in my current grocery stockpile in front of me. Then I'll look at what's on sale and plan around what ingredients I already have or can get on the cheap. I keep a few things in mind as well. Tuesdays are usually CrockPot days because Josh has his gymnastics lesson at 5 and is hungry as soon as he gets home. Mondays are "quick fixes" because Jim either has martial arts or meetings at church. Thursdays I usually cook vegetarian because I have dance and don't want a belly full of meat!

Actually, cooking vegetarian meals at least twice a week has had a few very good effects... one, a cut in our food bill, as meats are usually the most expensive of ingredients, and two, a broadening of our palates! Josh will eat almost anything, and I think that's because I've given him variety from day one.

Monday, February 23, 2009

$0.80 per serving ~ Chickpea-Tomato Ragout over Couscous

I needed something super-fast and a big change from our recent dinners. This was inspired by a recipe in the newspaper, with a few of my own changes.

Chickpea-Tomato Ragout over Couscous ~ $0.80 per serving, $4.80 total cost
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced ($0.30)
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed ($1.50)
1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, drained ($0.50)
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tbsp. honey
2. tbsp. lemon juice
1 3/4 cups broth of your choice ($1.00)
Salt and pepper
1 cup couscous ($0.50)
Water according to couscous directions

1. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Saute onion and garlic until fragrant. Sprinkle with cumin and stir to mellow.
2. Stir in chickpeas, tomatos, thyme, honey, lemon juice, and broth (I used vegetable). Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
3. While chickpeas are cooking, prepare couscous according to package directions.
4. Taste chickpeas and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve over couscous in shallow bowls.

The Verdict
This is my favorite new recipe in a LONG time! Delicious and fresh-tasting, filling but not heavy, super fast and easy, and everyone enjoyed it. This was a great choice for a stressful day when I wanted something different and "spring-y". It was like being at a Morroccan restaurant! I think I'll make some mint tea tonight and complete the experience.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

$0.60 per serving ~ "I'm Tired and Embarassed" Dinner

I have no energy:

I'm Tired and Embarassed Dinner ~ $0.60 per serving, $3.50 total cost
1 pound ground beef ($2.00)
1 package "Cheesy Italian Shells" Hamburger Helper ($1.00), prepared with water only
1 cup frozen broccoli ($0.50)

1. Prepare according to package directions. Add broccoli at the same time as the pasta.
Makes 7 servings

The Verdict
It's food, it's easy, Jim & Josh always like it. Grandma taught me to keep stuff in the house for nights just like this. At least I'm marinating a flank steak for tomorrow's dinner...

Monday, February 16, 2009

$0.59 per serving ~ "Josh's Favorites" Soup

Today I asked Josh what his favorite vegetables were. He said "Sweet potatoes, corn, peppers, carrots, black beans, tomatoes, and broccoli!" I didn't have any broccoli in the house, but I had the rest, and here is the result...

"Josh's Favorites" Soup ~ $0.59 per serving, $4.70 total cost
1 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped ($0.25)
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 red pepper, chopped ($0.50)
1 carrot, chopped ($0.10)
1 large sweet potato, chopped ($0.65)
1 can corn ($0.45)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with basil and oregano, undrained ($0.50)
2 cups vegetable stock or broth ($1.50)
2 cups water
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained ($0.75)
2 tsp. lemon or lime juice

1. Heat oil in soup pot. Add onion, garlic, red pepper and carrot and cook, stirring frequently, until tender.
2. Stir in sweet potato, corn, tomatoes, stock/broth, and spices. Heat to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in beans and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in juice.
Makes 8 servings

The Verdict
Josh was in heaven! That alone would be reason to make it again. It was surprisingly filling with a nice kick from the cayenne. I will enjoy this for lunch this week!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

$1.00 per serving ~ Mom's Famous Onion Soup

Yes, yes, I know.... 11 days without Puttanesca?!?!? Suffice to say we've been dealing with a lot over here, but all is well. This month I did my first ever monthly meal plan... and I only needed about $30 worth of groceries, plus my existing stockpile, to complete it! I even have a few "reserve" meals for moments when I just can't face the kitchen.

With that said, let me share a family favorite:
Mom's Famous Onion Soup ~ $1.00 per serving, $6.00 total cost
1/2 cup butter ($0.25)
5 large sweet onions, chopped ($1.25)
2 tbsp. flour
1 32 oz. box beef. chicken, or vegetable stock ($2.50)
salt and pepper
hardened bread ends (leftovers, free!)
6 slices mozzarella ($1.00)
6 slices swiss cheese ($1.00)

1. Melt butter in soup pot. Add onions and saute until browned, stirring regularly.
2. Add flour and stir until smooth.
3. Add stock and pepper to taste. Simmer 30 minutes covered.
4. Add salt to taste. Place bread ends in soup bowl, top with 1 slice each mozzarella and swiss. Ladle hot soup over top. serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict
When Jim saw me chopping onions, he was very happy. I don't make this very often, which is strange because it is so easy and so delicious! Josh wanted just the broth and bread, but he left all the onions in the bottom of the bowl. Typical 3 year old! The verdict is, I should make this more often!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

$2.09 per serving ~ Shredded Beef Wraps with Steamed Broccoli

Shredded Beef Wraps ~$1.59 per serving, $9.50 total cost
1 flank steak ($4.50)
2 cups beef stock ($1.50)
1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, not in oil ($1.00)
3 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. cumin
1 package flour tortillas ($1.50)
1 cup shredded cheese ($1.00)

1. Cut flank steak into quarters. Place in CrockPot. Add stock, tomatoes, garlic, and cumin. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
2. Remove beef to bowl and shred with fork. Pour remaining ingredients into blender and puree until smooth. Mix into shredded beef.
3. Serve beef topped with cheese wrapped in tortillas.
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict
Josh really loved this. He thought the wrapped up sandwich was fun and liked the taste. Jim liked it enough to pack some for tomorrow's lunch. I will probably play with the spices next time, but I definitely enjoyed it. I served it with a head of broccoli steamed in the microwave topped with a bit of salt and pepper.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

$0.96 per serving ~ Super Fast Mini-Meatloaves with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Mixed Veggies

Jim has been begging for meatloaf, but who has time to bake a meatloaf for an hour on a school night?

Super Fast Mini-Meatloaves ~ $0.31 per serving, $3.25 total cost
2 lbs. ground beef ($2.50)
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs ($0.25)
2 eggs ($0.50)
4-5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
garlic powder to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until well blended.
2. Spray cups in a 12-cup muffin pan. Form meat mix into 12 balls and place into muffin tin.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Makes 12 servings

The Verdict
I served this with mashed sweet potatoes (Betty Crocker box, $1.20 total cost prepared, $0.40 per serving) and Green Giant Immunity Defense frozen veggies($1.00 total cost, $0.25 per serving.) Jim thanked me for finally making meatloaf and declared that the leftover minis were the perfect size for meatloaf sandwiches. Josh didn't say anything, but his demolished empty plate said it all for him. Success!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

$0.35 per serving ~ Brown Lentil Soup

I have a terrible cold. So I made Italian comfort food. This is what happens when I "wing it" in the crock pot!

Brown Lentil Soup ~ $0.35 per serving, $3.50 total cost
1 lb. brown lentils, picked over and rinsed ($1.00)
2 cartons (32 oz. each) vegetable broth ($2.50)
1 cup prepared tomato sauce ($0.25)
8 oz baby carrots ($0.50)
1 medium onion, chopped ($0.25)
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
grated cheese to taste

1. Combine all ingredients except grated cheese in 6 qt. CrockPot. Cook on low 8-10 hours.
2. Serve topped with grated cheese.
Makes 10 servings(!!!!!)

The Verdict
I served this with bread fresh from the breadmaker. Everyone had seconds and there is still plenty for lunch. It tastes just like my grandma used to make! If you like lentils, you will love this.

Friday, January 23, 2009

$0.35 per serving ~ Waffles and Ice Cream

This is what happens when a family has a week where at least one member is sick EVERY day, and then the last workday of the week throws not one but THREE curveballs at me...

Make waffles according to recipe on box. ($0.40 total cost, $0.10 per waffle)
Scoop ice cream on top. ($2.00 for gallon of ice cream on sale plus coupon, $0.25 per serving)
Eat, enjoy, go to sleep.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

$0.65 per serving ~ Harvest Beef Stew

Tuesdays are usually crazy days with Josh's gymnastics lesson, so Tuesdays are always CrockPot or leftovers meals. Tonights was DELISH!

Harvest Beef Stew ~ $0.65 per serving, $6.50 total
1 lb. beef cubes ($1.50)
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped ($1.00)
1 large red onion, chopped ($0.25)
1 cup dried apricots ($0.50)
1 cup dried plums, halved ($0.50)
1/4 cup flour
pepper to taste
salt to taste
ground cloves to taste
3 and 1/2 cups chicken broth ($1.75)
1 cup apple cider ($0.50)
2 large apples, cored and cut into large chunks ($0.50)

1. Mix beef, parsnip, onion, apricots, and plums in 6 quart Crock Pot. Sprinkle flour, pepper, salt, and cloves over mixture and toss until all pieces are coated. Pour over broth and cider, mix well.
2. Cook on high 3 hours or on low 6 hours.
3. Add apples, mix, and cook for 30 minutes on high or 1 hour on low.
Makes 10 servings

The Verdict
This was absolutely fantastic! It smelled wonderful and was delicious, savory with a hint of sweetness. I served it with bread fresh out of the breadmaker. The only thing I would change would be to do it all on low rather than high, and shorten the final cooking time, as the fruits got too mushy to hold their shapes. Josh said "Mommy, this is the best dinner ever!"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nana's $0.50 Garlic Toast and the one recipe I can't ever share...

Tonight we used up the last of my heirloom meat sauce. That's the recipe I can't share... it's been passed down through many generations of little Italian peasant women. When I make it, I am makingat least 5 or 6 meals at once. So we had the last frozen container of it tonight over ravioli with my stepmom's amazing garlic toast. Jim calls it garlic crack...

Garlic Butter for Toast ~ $0.50 total cost
1 stick of butter ($0.50)
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. freeze dried parsley
Sliced Italian Bread (I use leftovers!)

1. Melt butter in microwave.
2. Let butter cool slightly and mix in garlic and parsley.
3. Pour into tub and refrigerate until solid.
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and cover baking sheet with foil.
5. Spread garlic butter on both sides of each slice of bread.
6. Bake for 3 minutes on each side. Remove immediately.

The Verdict
I made 12 slices. There's 1 left. :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I've been a bad, bad, Puttanesca...

I've allowed myself to get so caught up in the chaos that sometimes surrouds life with kids and two working parents that I've gotten off track. I've been allowing myself to give in to the ease of ordering pizza or making grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.... but everyone is getting bored, including me! Today I plan to work on a meal plan for the rest of the month. I don't want to go out and buy anything other than milk, eggs, bread, or produce (and baby formula, but I think I have enough to get through the rest of the month already.)

I tried two new recipes, but they were so disappointing I won't even post them!

Stay tuned. And while you're waiting for my next recipe, some tips for time saving:

1. When you buy meat in bulk, separate it into 2 pound packages. Most recipes call for 1 pound... but you can brown/grill/bake both pounds and refreeze half of the cooked meat for later use.

2. The crock pot is your friend. It will brown ground meat in about half an hour on the high setting... no stirring or watching needed!

3. When you get your veggies home, pre-prep them. Pick over and break up your green beans, pre-peel and chop your squash, etc. Just don't pre-wash greens and herbs unless you plan to store them wrapped in paper towels and use them quickly! Moisture will make them spoil faster.

4. If you like fresh herbs, you can freeze them! I have big bags of fresh basil, parsley, and cilantro in my freezer. I pull the bag out, cut off enough for my recipe, seal it and put it back. Herbs keep a long time frozen!

Monday, January 5, 2009

$0.90 per serving ~ Sausage and Butternut Squash Stew

I had ever ingredient on hand, all things I wanted to use up, and I found this recipe in an old newspaper as I was tying up the recycling. Had to try it, since our Tuesdays have become so hectic with Josh in gymnastics and me in AquaFit class now.

Sausage and Butternut Squash Stew ~ $0.90 per serving, $7.20 total
1 large butternut squash, seeded and diced ($2.00)
3 small potatoes, peeled and diced ($0.50)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds ($0.50)
1 can green beans, drained ($0.45)
2 cups beef broth or stock ($1.75)
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. crushed rosemary
1/2 pound turkey kielbasa, sliced ($1.00)
3 medium onions, chopped ($1.00)
1/4 cup cold water
2 tbsp. corn starch
Parsley to garnish

1. Combine all but last 3 ingredients in crockpot. Cover and cook on low 8 hours.
2. In a measuring cup, mix water and cornstarch and pour into the stew. Mix well and heat until liquid has thickened.
3. Serve garnished with parsley.
Makes 8 servings.

The Verdict
This was just "ok." Kind of bland, kind of boring, just kind of "there." I make better dishes with variations on these ingredients. If you try this one, play with the spices to get the flavor more interesting!

$0.48 per serving ~ Lasagna Soup

Yes, two posts in one day. This was tonight's surprising dinner:

Lasagna Soup ~ $0.48 per serving, total cost $4.75
1 lb. ground beef ($2.00)
1 small chopped onion ($0.35)
1 package lasagna dinner mix ($0.75)
5 cups water
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes undrained ($0.75)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained ($0.45)
1 can green beans, drained ($0.45)
2 tbsp. grated cheese, plus more to taste

1. Cook beef and onions in soup kettle over medium heat until cooked through. Drain.
2. Add lasagna sauce package (reserve noodles), water, tomatoes, corn, green beans, and 2 tbsp grated cheese. Bring to boil.
3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add lasagna noodles.
4. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Serve hot, with grated cheese to taste.
Makes 10 servings

The Verdict
WOW! Each of us (including Josh) ate 2 bowls and there are still 5 single serve containers left over. This was absolutely delicious and super easy. I suspect water will need to be added to the leftovers as the noodles will soak up the broth. Best with crusty bread to soak it all up!

$0.91 per serving ~ Cheater Chicken Pot Pie

I belong to a mommies' board since back before my Josh was born. There are a great bunch of ladies there! We have our ups and downs but on the whole they are wonderful and supportive and fun. Michelle passed me this recipe and I HAD to try it...

Cheater Chicken Pot Pie ~ $0.91 per serving, $4.70 total
1 lb. cooked chicken breast ($2.00)
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables ($0.75)
1 can cream mushroom soup ($0.75)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 lb. bag frozen diced potatoes (hashbrowns)
1 tube of light crescent rolls ($1.00)
1/2 C milk ($0.20)
pepper to taste

My substitutions:
Leftover french fries, diced, instead of hashbrowns (FREE!)
Golden Mushroom condensed soup, instead of cream of mushroom ($0.75)

1. Shred 1 lb. of chicken breast, mix it with frozen potatoes and mixed vegetables.
2. In a separate bowl, mix 2 cans of soup with milk. Add a pinch of pepper to taste.
3. Pour soup mixture over chicken/veggie mixture, stir to combine.
4. Pour into bottom of 9X13 baking dish, bake at 375 until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
5. Unroll tube of crescent dough, separate into 4 flat rectangles. Place onto pot-pie mixture, bake as directed on can (or until they are lightly browned, about 20 minutes).
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict
Definitely EASY. And Josh said "Delicious dinner, Mommy!" It's a hit, and it's definitely a keeper. Thanks, Michelle!