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!