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!