Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hello everyone!

yes, she lives.... I know I owe you all some great recipes! Cola Barbeque Beef, Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries... I promise to get back in the swing. But first, check out my entry in the Paula Deen Real Women of Philadelphia contest!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

$0.88 per serving ~ Ravioli and Broccoli

This was thrown together on a whim...

Ravioli and Broccoli~ $4.40 total cost, $0.88 per serving
2 packages mini ravioli (I used Seviroli's Mac-a-Roli) $2.00
1 bag broccoli florets $2.00
1 stick unsalted butter, cut up $0.40
grated lemon peel
2 handfuls grated cheese

1. Boil water and cook ravioli according to package directions. Steam broccoli in microwave 3-4 minutes.
2. Drain ravioli. Place butter into hot pot. Return ravioli to pot and add broccoli. Gently stir until butter is melted. Add lemon peel to taste and grated cheese. Toss and serve.
Makes 5 servings

The Verdict
This was ready in about 10 minutes! Jim and I loved it. The kids, not so much. I was bummed because I really thought they'd like these "mac-a-roli" that are filled with cheddar and ricotta. They taste like a less-salty macaroni and cheese dish. But neither of them ate it. I will try this again with regular cheese ravioli, and just do the mac-a-roli in plain butter and garlic.

Friday, March 26, 2010

$0.39 oer serving ~ Super Fast Rotini with White Beans

Fridays are hectic in my house. We get home from work around 4:15 and at 5:15 I need to get Josh off to gymnastics. Usually we rely on "breakfast for dinner" but I had an idea for something fast and easy...

Super Fast Rotini with White Beans ~ $0.39 per serving, $2.55 total cost
1 13.25 oz. box whole grain rotini ($1.00)
olive oil
minced garlic
1- 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings, NOT drained ($0.80)
1- 15.5 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed ($0.75)
chopped dried onion
shredded or grated parmesan cheese

1. Boil water, cook and drain rotini according to package directions.
2. While waiting for water to boil/rotini to cook, saute garlic in olive oil until fragrant.
3. Add tomatoes, beans, and spices to taste. Bring to bubbling and cook about 15 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
4. Serve sauce over pasta, topped with cheese.
Makes 4 servings

The Verdict
Jim devoured this. Julia devoured it. Josh was grumpy and didn't eat at all. I really liked it too, and we have NO leftovers. I will definitely make this again, but I will double it next time! I served it with crusty bread to sop up all the sauce... YUM :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

$0.88 per serving ~ Bottom Round Pot Roast with Onion Gravy, Sheri's Roasted Carrots, and Mashed Potatoes

Every now and then my supermarket runs a bottom round special... a 2-3 lb. roast, a pound of stew cubes, and 2 pounds of sirloin steak at 99 cents a pound!!! That is just too good to pass up, but I rarely get to actually use the roast as is because a good roast takes a long time. It's been dreary, cold, and rainy this weekend, and I'm not going out, so I get to experiment! My girl Sheri, whom I've never met but know online for nearly 5 years, talked about this fantastic recipe for carrots as well, so I decided to try them too!

Bottom Round Pot Roast with Onion Gravy~ $5.00 total cost
1 3 lb. bottom round roast ($3.00)
Kosher salt
black pepper
crushed bay leaves
salt-free steak seasoning
1 cup beef stock ($1.50)
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 large onions, sliced ($0.50)
4 tbsp minced garlic
more spices to taste
1-2 tbsp cornstarch
1-2 tbsp water

1. Mix the salt, pepper, and spices together in a small bowl (eyeball it, you need about 1/3 cup of the mixture.) Rub the mixture onto all sides of the roast. Brown the roast on all sides in a dutch oven or deep coverable stock pot.
2. Remove the roast to a plate. Deglaze the pot with stock and vinegar. Add more spices if desired (I added more rosemary and bay), sliced onions and minced garlic. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Place the roast on top of onion mixture, cover and reduce heat to low.
3. Simmer over low heat for 3 hours. Remove roast to platter and tent with foil, let stand 20 minutes. Meanwhile, mix cornstarch into water and then add to pot drippings. Stir until thickened. If desired, use immersion blender to puree onions.
4. Slice roast against the grain and serve topped with pan gravy.

Sheri's Roasted Carrots ~ $1.00 total cost
1 pound baby carrots ($1.00 at the Acme "buck a bag" sale!)
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper.
2. Roast at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, tossing once while cooking.

The Verdict
Josh did not speak until his plate was emptied. Jim pronounced it "fantastic", Jim's mom said it was delicious, and Julia said "yummy", disregarded her fork and proceeded to shovel it into her mouth with her fingers. I served it with Idahoan Four Cheese Mashed Potatoes (they are so good and so fast) for a total meal cost of $8.00! We had at least 4 leftover helpings, so I'm calling this a 9 serving meal though I may use the leftover roast and onions for something else.

Alison's Aloha Bread

My high school friend Alison said "It's called Aloha bread because it's gone in seconds!" I liked that so much I named the recipe after her!

Alison's Aloha Bread
2 and 3/4 cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup canola oil
1 tsp coconut extract
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup coconut
2 mashed bananas

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Mix first 4 ingredients in a bowl by hand.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well blended.
3. Pour into prepared loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Makes 2 loaves of 8 servings each.

The Verdict
This is so moist and delicious, it's more like a cake than a quick bread. Josh likes it with cream cheese, I like it with butter, Jim likes it plain, and Julia likes it in her hair, on her face, on the floor... this one is definitely a hit. I wrap the second loaf tightly in plastic wrap and then foil to freeze it for a later date. Thaw it out and it's ready to slice!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Aunt Lina's Banana Bread

I'm not sure who Aunt Lina actually is. If you come from a big Italian family, anyone of your generation is your cousin and anyone of your parents' generation is your aunt or uncle, regardless of their actual relation to you (or lack thereof!) So finding a recipe in my mother's scrawled handwriting titled "Aunt Lina's Banana Bread" only tells me that someone my grandmother's age gave this to her. No recipe I've ever gotten from a grandmother has ever been bad! And I had some superripe bananas to use up!

Aunt Lina's Banana Bread
5 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of loaf pan.
2. Beat butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugars and beat well. Add egg, egg whites, and vanilla, beat until well blended. Add banana and beat on high for 30 seconds.
3. Combine dry ingredients (except nuts) in a bowl. Add half the flour mixture to better mixture and beat. Add milk and beat. Add rest of flour mixture and beat well. Add walnuts if desired and mix well.
4. Pour batter evenly into prepared pan. Tap twice on counter to make sure it is even. Bake until brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
5. Cool in pan on wire rack for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on rack. Wrap well and let sit overnight for best flavor.

The Verdict
It was delicious, it was hearty, it was... gone in two days. Success!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Who Needs Cinnabon? cinnamon rolls

The only bad thing about these is that they take a lot of time, so I can't make them for breakfast. Although I wonder if I could refrigerate them after the second rise, and then take them out first thing in the morning and back them after they come to room temperature...

Cinnamon Rolls $0.26 per serving, $3.15 total cost
1 cup warm (about 100 degrees f) milk ($0.20)
2 eggs, room temperature ($0.20)
1/3 cup butter, melted ($0.35)
4.5 cups bread flour ($0.65)
2.5 tsp bread yeast ($0.05)

1 cup packed brown sugar ($0.20)
2.5 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened ($0.35)

3 oz. cream cheese, softened ($0.50)
1/3 cup butter, softened ($0.35)
1.5 cups confectioners sugar ($0.25)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt

1. Place first 5 ingredients in bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle and press start.
2. When the cycle ends, turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, beat 1/3 cup softened butter until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
3. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread beaten butter on dough, then sprinkle evenly with cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 pieces. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, roughly 15 minutes. WHile baking, beat together final 5 ingredients. Spread on warm rolls before serving.
Makes 12 servings.

The Verdict
Wow. Just wow :)

$0.89 per serving ~ Better than Frozen Fish Sticks

Josh was asking for fish sticks. (I know, what kid asks for fish sticks? Josh is weird!) I always hated the frozen ones, so I decided to make my own. Probably didn't save all that much money on it, but I know what is in it!

Better than Frozen Fish Sticks ~ $0.89 per serving, $7.15 total cost
1.5 cups flour ($0.25)
1 tbsp dry mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups buttermilk ($1.00)
2 eggs ($0.20)
1.25 pounds tilapia, cut into 32 strips ($5.00)
2 cups panko bread crumbs ($0.25)
1 cup canola oil ($0.45)

1. Mix flour, mustard, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and eggs and stir till well blended.
2. Coat fish strips in egg mixture, then breadcrumbs. Heat oil in a large pan.
3. Fry in batches until done, turning once, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
4. Serve immediately with your choice of dipping sauce.
Serves 8

The Verdict
The kids absolutely devoured this. Jim's mom enjoyed it, Jim (who hates fish) really liked it, and I enjoyed it too. This is a HUGE recipe. I get my fish from BJ's, but next time I will freeze half and only make half a batch. I served this with mashed potatoes (Idahoan from a bag, $1.00) and broccoli, cauliflower and carrots (Pictsweet frozen, $1.00) This was a hit!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

$0.63 per serving ~ No Tomato Pasta Fazool

Snowed in with the second of back-to-back major blizzards, it was definitely time for comfort food! "Pasta e fagioli", or beans and macaroni, are a staple of Italian immigrant poverty food. Most versions are made with tomatoes, but with Julia wearing as much as she eats lately, I wanted to make something with a little less stain potential.

No Tomato Pasta Fazool ~ $0.63 per serving, $5.03 total cost
olive oil
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed ($1.00)
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed ($1.00)
2 medium carrots, chopped ($0.08)
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced ($0.10)
1 small onion, chopped ($0.10)
minced garlic
5 cups vegetable stock ($2.50)
1 cup small shell pasta, uncooked ($0.25)
crushed red pepper
salt & pepper
grated cheese

1. Separate 1/2 cup of the cannellini beans, mash them thoroughly and set them aside.
2. Saute carrot, celery, onion, and garlic in olive oil until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add stock, pasta, all mashed and whole beans, and spices to taste. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer 15 minutes or until pasta is tender. Serve topped with grated cheese.
Makes 8 servings

The Verdict
Everyone seemed to enjoy this except Julia, who pushed her bowl aside and only ate the bread. I served this with fresh semolina bread (recipe to come, I need to tweak it more) to sop up all the delicious broth. You can certainly use all cannellini beans for a more traditional soup, but I like to make food as colorful as possible for the kids. I definitely would use the more expensive extra-virgin olive oil to saute the vegetables as it does make the soup more flavorful. This hearty soup goes a long way. When reheating it, be sure to add some extra water or broth, as the pasta and beans will soak up all the liquid when refrigerated. I think Grandma would like this version of old-fashioned pasta fazool!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

$0.49 oer serving ~ Spaghetti with Veggies and Lentils

It's been a while since I've done something new in my Crock Pot. I decided this New Year to challenge myself to at least two vegetarian dinners per week. This was a good one.

Spaghetti with Veggies and Lentils ~ $4.85 total cost, $0.49 per serving
1 medium onion, chopped ($0.10)
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped ($0.15)
2 celery stalks, chopped ($0.10)
1 can diced tomatoes, liquid included ($0.90)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce ($0.60)
1 cup vegetable stock ($0.75)
1/2 cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed ($0.25)
garlic powder
crushed red pepper
1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti ($1.00)
grated cheese

1. Add first 7 ingredients to crock pot. Add spices to taste, stir to combine.
2. Cook in crock pot on low for 8-10 hours.
3. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, and stir into lentil/veggie mixture
4. Top each serving with grated cheese
Makes 10 servings

The Verdict
No one said ANYTHING, not even Julia. Bowls were quickly demolished and seconds requested. When I asked Josh if he liked it, he looked up with his mouth full, nodded quickly, and took another bite. Success!

It was a bit thicker than I liked, so I thinned it just before adding the spaghetti by stirring in extra vegetable stock. TONS of leftovers.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

$0.81 per serving ~ Quickest Ever Chicken Pot Pie

This was a super speedy dinner... easy to put together and get on the table!

Quickest Ever Chicken Pot Pie ~ $0.81 per serving, $4.85 total cost
3 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped ($2.00)
1 16 oz package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed ($1.00)
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted ($0.70)
1/2 cup french fried onions, divided ($0.50)
onion powder
kosher salt
white pepper
1 egg ($0.25)
1/2 cup milk ($0.10)
1 cup biscuit/pancake mix ($0.30)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Mix chicken, vegetables, soup, and 1/4 cup of the onions together. Spice to taste and blend well. Place into a deep casserole dish. (This can be done ahead of time and left in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld.)
3. Beat together the egg and milk. Mix in biscuit mix until just moistened.
4. Pour over the chicken mix. Top with remaining onions.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Makes 6 servings

The Verdict
Before dinner was even out of the oven Josh was running around the house singing "Chicken pot, chicken pot, chicken pot PIE!!!!!!" with Julia chiming in on "PIE!!!!" and laughing hysterically. Thank goodness they enjoyed this enough that the singing was worth the energy! They both attacked it and demolished their plates. Josh said it was "super yummy" and Julia answered him with "yeah, ummy!" Jim enjoyed it too and we both have leftovers for lunch at work today. I need to be more heavy-handed with the spices, since I felt it needed a bit more rosemary and onion. Maybe adding garlic next time? Or a touch of liquid smoke? It's definitely worth making again!