Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ginger Poached Pears with Honey

8 Bartlett pears ($.2.75)
1/2 C. apple juice or cider ($.15)
1/4 C. sugar ($.05)
1 T. lemon juice ($.05)
1/2 tsp. ground ginger ($.05)
2-3 T. honey ($.35)

In a medium sized sauce pot, add apples juice, lemon juice, ginger, and sugar - heat over low heat.

While the juices come to a light simmer, peel and quarter the pears. Remove the core, stem, and seeds. When the sauce comes to a simmer, add in the pears and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the pears are tender. Drizzle with honey.

Serve hot, topped with French vanilla ice cream.
Sprinkle with toasted nuts (walnut, almond, hazelnut, or pecans) if desired.

Yields = 6-8 servings
Cost: $3.40
Cost per serving: $.57

Pear Applesauce

I love using a mix of apples to make a great applesauce, to me the complexity of the flavor really benefits from a variety of apples. From a tangy Granny Smith, to a soft and juicy Empire, the apples are in season and better than ever. I've been making uge batches of applesauce to can and when I saw pears on sale - I had to give this combination a try and it worked like a charm, probably my best batch of sauce that I've made so far...and I've made 7 batches of sauce so far, each yielding about 6-10 pint jars canned.

For this batch, I used these varities of apples:
Rome, Empire, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Gala, HoneyCrisp, Jonathan, and McIntosh. I just buy the cheapest apples, preferrably the ones that look a little soft and I add in any snacking apples that have gotten too soft to snack on.

4 lbs. Barlett ($2.25)
8 lbs. apples ($3.35)
1-2 tsp. ground ginger ($.05)
2-3 T. cinnamon ($.75)
1-2 tsp. nutmeg ($.15)
2 C. water
1 C. sugar ($.15)
1 1/3 C. dark brown sugar ($.25)

Peel and core apples and pears, rough chop the fruit and add to a large stock pot. Add in water and spices, cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, until the apples and pears start to cook apart. Use a potato masher to help the apples breakdown into the sauce. Cook another 15-20 minutes over medium-low. Add sugars - 1/3 C. at a time, stirring in well.

Cook another 5 minutes and either cool for 30 minutes before transferring to an airtight container and chilling in the refrigerator or begin the canning process.

Yields about 7 pints.
Cost: $6.95
Cost per pint: $1.00

Blueberry Hazelnut Bars

An easy combination of a coffeecake and a tea bar, this is super easy to put together and packs a big flavor punch. The fruit gives this treat an amazing depth of flavor and the hazelnuts provide a lovely crunch in this yummy bar.

This recipe works great for the blueberries I bought on sale during the summer and popped in my freezer. Keep the berries frozen and just rinse before adding to the batter. I've also scored several 1 lb. containers of chopped hazelnuts for $1.99 lb. at my favorite grocery store - and over the past 2 months, I grabbed about 5-6 pounds of chopped hazelnuts. I plan to make some killer biscotti next month, but now, I just love the flavor combination of blueberries and hazelnuts - the perfect blend of tart, tangy fruit and sweet, crunchy nuts. Since I'm all about using what you can afford, this recipe fits well - especially when I'm short on time, it comes together in just a few minutes.

1 box French vanilla cake mix ($.50)
1/4 C. unsweetened applesauce ($.20)
1/3 C. dark brown sugar ($.10)
2 eggs ($.10)
pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1/4 C. hazelnut coffee creamer ($.20)
1 tsp. almond extract ($.10)
3/4 C. blueberries (frozen works great) ($.40)
1/2 C. chopped hazelnuts ($.25)

In a large mixing bowl, combine all but the final two ingredients. Fold in half the hazelnuts.

Heat oven to 375.

Grease a 13x9" baking dish and spread batter in prepared baking dish - batter will be thick. Rinse frozen blueberries, lightly pat dry, and sprinkle them over the batter, lightly pushing them into the batter. Sprinkle with remaining hazelnuts.

Bake at 375 for 25-28 minutes, bars are done when toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Yields = 24 bars
Cost: $1.85
Cost per bar: $.08

Shrimp and Pepper Stirfry in Plum Sauce

3/4 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined ($3.75)
2 T. vegetable oil ($.05)
1 each: red, orange, and yellow bell pepper ($.68)
2 medium yellow onions, sliced thin ($.12)
2 T. minced ginger ($.20)
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced ($1.00)
1/4 tsp. each: cumin and oregano ($.05)
1 tsp. paprika ($.10)
salt and pepper ($.05)
2/3 C. plum sauce ($.75)
3 T. teriyaki sauce (free after coupons)
2 T. soy sauce ($.10)
1/3 C. water (free)

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes and add peppers, onion, ginger, and mushrooms - season with salt and pepper, oregano, paprika, and cumin. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent and mushrooms are almost tender.

Add plum sauce, teriyaki, and soy sauce, and heat through. Add water by tablespoon to adjust the consistency of the sauce. When sauce reaches desired consistency, add shrimp and cook another 3-4 minutes, or until shrimp are no longer transparent but are a white-pink color.

Serve with white rice.

Yields = 4 servings
Cost: $6.95
Cost per serving: $1.65

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Almost Lemon Pepper Rotisserie Chicken

I served this last weekend at a party and it got some definite rave reviews. A few people compared this to a rotisserie chicken from a favorite local restaurant, little did they know how easy it was to put together. Roasting a chicken always looks more impressive than it actually is. Trust me!

For me, roasting a whole chicken is an easy way to pull together a meal and wanting to give an option on the meat (I was serving white wine and herb pork tenderloin and a BBQ marinate pork tenderloin), but wanted to make sure there were plenty of options on the table. This recipe was a definite collaboration of my husband, Adam, and I - grabbing a few things we happened to have on hand: lemon pepper seasoning and homemade vegetable stock, with a little olive oil. Yep, all that plus chicken equals heaven. It really does...

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 45 minutes

4.9 lb. chicken ($3.55)
3 T. lemon pepper seasoning ($.30)
2 T. olive oil ($.10)
1 C. vegetable stock ($.20)

Rinse chicken and discard all the small organs and pat chicken dry.
Pull skin away from the breast on each side and season the chicken before replacing the season. Sprinkle about 1-2 tsp. of seasoning into the cavity of the chicken. Sprinkle season liberally over the rest of the chicken and rub the seasoning lightly into the chicken.

Drizzle the chicken breast with olive oil.

Place the chicken in a 13x9" baking dish, pour stock in the bottom of the pan and add the seasoned chicken - breast side up. Roast uncovered at 375 for 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaaches 170F.

Cool 10 minutes before carving.

Yields = 8-12 servings
Cost: $4.15
Cost per serving: $.52

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hearty Northern Frittata

2 T. olive oil ($.10)
pinch of rosemary ($.05)
1/2 pound boiled redskinned potatoes ($.30)
1 small onion ($.05)
6 slices Canadian bacon, chopped ($.30)
Salt and pepper to taste ($.05)
8 eggs, beaten ($.65)
2 T. milk ($.05)
1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese ($.25)

Heat oven to 450.

Heat the olive oil in medium heat-proof skillet over medium-low heat with the minced garlic. Let the garlic infuse the oil while you thinly slice the potatoes and minced the onion.

Add the potatoes, rosemary, and onion to the skillet and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Raise the heat a little and cook for 6 to 7 minutes. Turn the potato/onion mixture over and cook for 5 minutes more.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together, season with salt and pepper. Add the egg mixture and Canadian bacon to the skillet and move them around and under the potatoes to settle them. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until golden on top, about 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese on top, turn the oven off and let sit for another couple of minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve.
Serve with juice and fresh fruit.

Yields = 4 servings
Cost: $1.80
Cost per serving: $.45

Plum BBQ Sauce

I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to give this a try, maybe it's because plums were on sale last week for $.59-$.69 lb. or maybe I was just feeling like stepping out of my comfort zone again, either way, it was a big step for someone who has always relied upon store-bought (or in my case coupon-bought) BBQ sauce.

Though this homemade version definitely has me thinking...thinking why didn't I give this a try sooner? Not sure of the reasoning there, but one thing is for certain, this will not be my last foray into BBQ sauce making at home, I've been wondering about a few other variations, but that's another project for another day. Today, I humbly present to you: Plum BBQ Sauce.

Think Asian style BBQ sauce meets Southern Sweet. It works, it definitely works.

1 T. olive oil (or canola) ($.05)
1 small onion, minced $.05)
1 T. ginger, minced (or 1 tsp. ground ginger)(($.05)
1 clove garlic, minced ($.05)
salt and pepper to taste ($.05)
1/8 C. molasses ($.20)
5 medium sized plums - roughly 1 lb. peeled and chopped small ($.65)
1/4 C. sugar (brown or white, either will do nicely)($.10)
3 T. sesame marinade (free after coupons)
1-2 T. soy sauce ($.05)
1/4 tsp. each: cumin, chile powder, black pepper, and paprika ($.10)
pinch of cinnamon
1 T. balsamic vinegar (or rice wine vinegar) ($.05)

Add olive oil to small sauce pan and heat over low, add minced onion and ginger - and season lightly with salt and pepper. Saute for 5-6 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add remaining ingredients except vinegar. Simmer over low for 10-12 minutes, taste and adjust any seasoning amounts, add vinegar, simmer another 2-3 minutes. Sauce is done when it is slight chunky but all the fruit has cooked down. Remove from stove and pour BBQ sauce over meat and serve or put in a glass jar and refrigerate.

Will last in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Yields: 3/4 pint
Cost: $1.40

Serving ideas:
Works well as a dipping sauce for chicken or pork, bold enough to stand up to beef.
Use as a finishing sauce for a stirfry.
Drizzle over cooked chicken pieces and top with sesame seeds for a fun take on sesame chicken.
Use in place of store bought plum sauce in your cooking.