Thursday, May 31, 2012

Smoky Pork and Cilantro Flatbread Pizza

1 premade pizza dough ($1.00)
1 T. olive oil ($.05)
1/2 C. cooked pork roast, lightly shredded ($.30)
1/4 large red onion ($.10)
6 T. BBQ sauce (free after coupon)
1-2 T. orange or apple juice ($.05)
2 T. chopped cilantro ($.05)
3/4 C. shredded munster or mozzarella cheese ($.75)
1/2 C. colby jack or mild cheddar cheese ($.50)

Roll out premade pizza crust and brush with olive oil.
Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes, or as directed.

Slice onion very thin.
Whisk BBQ sauce with juice until the sauce is easy to drizzle and spread.

Top pizza evenly with thin onion slices and shredded pork and sprinkle evenly with cheese.
Bake for 10-14 minutes, when cheese is melted and crust is firm and golden, pizza is done. Top with cilantro and cut into small squares to serve.

Yields: 16 pizza aquares
Cost: $2.80
Yields: 8 appetizer portions or 2 dinner sized servings

5 Minute Marinades: White Wine and Herb Marinade

1/3 C. white wine ($.20)
2 T. lemon juice ($.10)
1 T. honey ($.10)
salt and pepper to taste ($.05)
2 tsp. rosemary ($.05)
1 tsp. basil ($.05)
3 cloves garlic, minced ($.05)
1/2 tsp. thyme ($.05)
1/2 tsp. corn starch ($.05)

Whisk together corn starch and herbs, whisk in lemon juice, honey, and white wine.

Yields: enough marinade for 3-4 lbs. of poultry and meat
Cost: $.70 per batch

Is good for use on or with:

Seafood and Fish: marinade 30 minutes
Grilled Fruits marinade 30 minutes
Poultry - marinade for 2-3 hours
Pork - marinade up to 6 hours
Beef - marinade overnight

Works well if you are pan frying, roasting, or grilling - this marinade is very light and versatile.

5 Minute Marinades - Tangy Red Wine Marinade

I love whipping up a quick marinade and this was certainly no exception.
The full body flavors in young red wine pair nicely with citrus juice and the bite of fresh or ground ginger.

1/4 C. red wine ($.25)
2-3 T. orange juice ($.15)
1/2 tsp. salt ($.05)
1 T. olive oil ($.10)
1 tsp. garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic minced ($.05)
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper ($.05)
1/4 tsp. black pepper ($.05)
1/4 tsp. ground ginger ($.05)

Whisk together all ingredients and use this marinade with pork or beef.
Marinate for 1-2 hours for pork, 6 hours to overnight for beef.

Yields: enough marinde for 3-4 lbs. of meat
Cost per batch: $.75

Cinnamon Apples with Red Wine and Peaches

6 apples, peeled and cored, sliced into wedges ($1.35)
2 small peaches, peeled and rough chopped ($.60)
1 1/2 T. butter ($.15)
3 T. red wine ($.30)
1/4 C. brown sugar ($.20)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon ($.05)
pinch of nutmeg, optional ($.05)

Melt butter in a medium sauce pan and add spices. Add in fruit and let cook 5 minutes, or until the peaches get tender, add wine and brown sugar, simmer for 15-20 minutes. Apples will be tender and the sauce will be deep red in color and slightly syrupy. If this sauce is too thick, stir in 1-2 T. water to thin it out.

Yields = 6 servings
Cost: $2.70
Cost per serving: $.45

Serves well with pork dishes, can be serves as a topping for pancakes and French toast, and paires well alongside rich egg dishes like omelets snf frittatas, and can be served over oatmeal or ice cream.

It's a fun alternative to applesauce and goes nicely with roasted chicken, lamb, and you can even use this for apple pie, cobbler, or crisp filling.

Roasted Chicken Po Boy Sandwich

I love the classic Po' Boy sandwich, having lived in Joliet, IL for years, the steak po boy is a classic sandwich, topped with loads of garlic butter and nutty Swiss cheese, I've finally tried a spin on this iconic sandwich and with my love of chicken, this was the perfect marriage of the two. Much easier on my wallet than steak, and a little leaner too, this is going to be a go-to meal for me.

1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh ($1.15)
1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper ($.05)
1/2 tsp. roasted garlic powder ($.05)
1-2 T. lemon juice ($.05)
3 T. butter ($.25)
2 T. olive oil, divided ($.10)
2 cloves garlic, minced ($.10)
4 slices Swiss cheese ($.30)
4 French rolls ($1.35)

Cut the chicken breast in half and then cut the chicken in half through the widest part to give you 4 evenly sized chicken cutlet/filets. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and lemon juice.

Over low heat, melt the butter and add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until garlic is fragrant and tender. Whisk in 1 T. olive oil.

In a 13x9 baking dish, put the chicken cutlets down and drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden on one side - then flip and cook another 3-4 minutes, or until juices run clear and center is no longer pink.

Cut French rolls in half length wise and brush with garlic butter. Grill on a griddle until bread is golden and firm.
Remove from grill and add cheese.

Pour any remaining garlic butter over chicken.
Put chicken on French rolls with cheese, cut in half and serve.

Yields - 8 half sandwiches.
Cost: $3.40
Cost per half sandwich: $.43 or $.85 per sandwich

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Affordable Mother's Day Brunch for Less Than $16

I love hosting get togethers for all occasions, and with being a part of a large family I do find it's easier on those of us watching a budget (like me, definitely me) to have the celebrations at home. I have some favorites go-to tips for entertaining on a budget and my menu for tomorrow looks far more expensive and elaborate than it is. For less than the cost of going to a Mother's Day brunch locally (about $16-$30 a head in my area), I can pull together a delicious meal for 10-12 people. Here's what I'm serving and the cost per dish (and the number of servings it yields).

Sandwich Tray: includes chicken salad, deli ham, deli sliced black forest turkey, and (home roasted) lemon pepper roasted pork tenderloin slices, cheddar cheese, swiss cheese, and colby jack cheese served with a variety of bread options - yields 48-60 finger sandwiches. $3.25
Fresh fruit and veggie platter with baby carrots, organic celery sticks, strawberries, and pineapple chunks: $1.50
Mushroom and Cheese Frittata - yields 16-20 appetizer sized servings. $1.00
Traditional Sour Cream Coffee Cake - yields 12-16 servings. $2.00
Chicken and Gnocchi Soup - yields 24 cups of soup $3.75
Homemade Garlic and Parmesan croutons to top the soup - yields 12 servings. Cost $.25.
One large pitcher of southern style sweet tea - yields 16 glasses. Cost $.40
One large pitcher of lemonade - yields 16 glasses. Cost $.20

Dessert choices are:
Red Velvet Cupcakes - yields 24 cupcakes. $2.00
Cookie Truffles - yields 30. $1.20

Total Cost of a Mother's Day Brunch for 10-12 people: $15.50.
Cost to serve 10-12 people, $1.55 a head or less.

If you are wondering how I got the prices so low on the menu above, here are a few things I did to make this brunch easy on my wallet:

- I roasted the pork tenderloin for the sandwich platter, I actually bought a half pork tenderloin, took the time to cut it into 4 smaller tenderloins like you see in the store that are pre-seasoned and used a free after coupons marinade to bump up the flavor. My pork tenderloin will yield more than 60 slices for less than $2.00. I figure half of that will go in the sandwich tray and I'll reserve a portion for a dinner during the week for my husband and I. Cook once, eat twice - love it!

- I roasted a whole chicken with lemon and rosemary 2 days before the brunch, and cut the chicken into cubes for the soup and for my Italian chicken salad. The chicken salad was made with free after coupon condiments, keep my costs low.

- Bought the bread for the sandwich tray at the bread thrift shop near my home. I can get a loaf of bread for $.50 and picked up some dinner rolls for $.50 a package. You can also eyeball bakery markdown racks for some goodies, it's always been a huge help to me when I'm entertaining.

- I bought organic celery on sale cheaper than the regular celery and cut it into celery sticks, a no brainer, but super healthy on my budget.
- Ditto for the pineapple chunks, I bought a whole pineapple and used the chunks from half of it for the party.

- Made my own croutons from some leftover Italian bread I needed to use up, tons of flavor and it took less than 10 minutes to make a double batch on the stove top. Toss bread with a little olive oil and garlic, pan sear until golden and while hot, top with parmesan cheese and a touch or parsley for color. Done!

- Skip the soda and serve only water, lemonade, and sweet tea. Keep it simple and keep it fun.

- Made some homemade veggie stock to keep the cost of the soup down and to give the soup more robust flavor. I had the celery and carrots on hand and onions are usually cheap (about $.25 a pound or less around here), so I sauteed the veggies and made a simple stock during the week. I also used the stock with the chicken when I roasted it to give it more flavor and to keep it moist and tender while I roasted it.

- Made my own coffee cake. It's easy to make, uses basic pantry and fridge ingredients so I always have what it takes to make it and it yields double the amount of servings of a store-bought coffee cake at less than half the price. Same for the red velvet cupcakes, we spend less than half the store cost for quadruple the yield. My husband loves these and we use Paula Deen's recipe. Sometimes you have to go Southern's just the way it has to be.

That's a whole lot of entertaining for a very small price tag, best of all - I get to through a killer Mother's Day Brunch at home and honor some of the powerful and amazing women I'm lucky to have in my life. Entertaining is always fun and easy, all you have to do is set a budget, write a menu, and do a little extra chopping and stirring. It's incredible how much you can save when you spend a little time in the kitchen.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Smoky Pork Tacos

I love grilled ribs, but have been looking for a good way to use them leftover. I've been having a lot of luck finding ribs marked down to under $1.50 a pound lately so there have been ribs on the menu every week for the past 3-4 weeks. Last night, I finally came up with a great way to use the leftover grilled ribs that kept them moist and flavorful, and we made incredible tacos. The entire dinner came together in 15 minutes and was amazingly good. Definitely worth giving a try when you have a leftover ribs hanging around in your refrigerator.

Smoky Pork Filling:
5-6 leftover grilled pork ribs, bone in ($3.25)
2/3 C. water (free)
1/3 C. red wine ($.25)
1 1/2 tsp. rib rub ($.05)
1/2 tsp. black pepper ($.05)

Taco Ingredients:
10-12 corn tortillas ($.35)
1 C. refried beans ($.40)
1 small minced onion ($.05)
1/3 C. sour cream ($.15)
3 T. minced cilantro ($.05)
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped ($.10)

Cut meat off the bone into small, bite sized pieces. Add 1/3 C. water and half of the red wine to a medium sized pan, heat over medium heat and add meat with seasonings - braise uncovered over medium low heat for 5-10 minutes, add more water and red wine as the meat absorbs the liquid and gets tender.

Yields = 10-12 tacos
Cost: $4.70

Smoky Rib Rub and Marinade

1 tsp. smoked sweet paprika ($.05)
1 tsp. black pepper ($.05)
1 tsp. cumin ($.05)
1 tsp. dry minced onion ($.05)
1/2 tsp. smoky salt ($.05)
1/2 tsp. oregano ($.05)
1/2 tsp. roasted garlic powder ($.05)
1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder ($.05)
1/4 tsp. cocoa powder ($.05)
1 T. brown sugar, optional ($.05)

Mix all ingredients well and rub into pork steaks, pork ribs, pork chops, or even use on your favorite cut of chicken. I love this rub for pork ribs, works great when grilled. Rub mixture into meat and let set for 4 hours to overnight.

Yields - 1 batch of rub, enough for 3-4 pounds of meat.

Cost: $.50

Make this into a marinade by combining the following ingredients with the spices:
1/4 C. worchestshire sauce ($.15)
2-3 T. olive oil ($.05)
2 T. red wine or apple cider vinegar ($.05)
2-3 T. lemon juice ($.05)
3-4 T. maple syrup, optional ($.05)

Whisk all together, including the spices - add crushed red pepper flake for heat or additional brown sugar for sweetness.
Marinade cost: $.85