Friday, May 31, 2013

Orange Raspberry Fizz

I was at Trader Joe's last time we were in Chicagoland and noticed that they carry Prosecco.  I've long want to try my hand at some tasty cocktails with the luscious summer fruits and finding this gem really made my day!

When I had a friend over for dinner, I couldn't wait to give this recipe a try and it was an instant hit!

Ready in just a few minutes and the perfect accompaniment to a lovely spring dinner, I'll be trying variations on this throughout the summer as more fruits are in season.

2 C. Prosecco ($3.00)
1 C. crushed ice (free)
2 1/2 C. orange juice ($.65)
1/2 C. raspberry lemonade or 1/4 C. lemon juice ($.15)
1/2 C. fresh raspberries ($.50)

Combine all ingredients except fresh raspberries.
Add raspberries to the bottom of the glass, pour in the orange fizz.

Yields: 4 servings
Cost: $4.30
Cost per serving: $1.08

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pulled Pork Potato Skins

I noticed this on a local menu and thought that this was an idea that had so much potential, and I could happily do this myself.  With a few ingredients that I happen to have on hand and some green onions, I was set to give this quick and inexpensive appetizer a try.  And hubby and I were so glad I did!

Lately I've been working on getting some new recipes together for appetizers and desserts - I'm definitely in the mood for something new and looking for some new inspiration.  This recipe was a keeper on a few different levels - first, it's fairly affordable and helps me use up little bits and pieces of leftovers, which is another huge plus.  I love appetizers for how you can incorporate what you have on hand and this little gem is already a fan favorite at my house.

Another great plus for a recipe, at least for me, is if variations lend themselves well to the mix.  I can see a few varations like swapping in chicken for the pork or using minced red or orange bell peppers when I have them on hand.

4 medium sized russet potatoes, baked and lightly hollowed out ($.40)
1 C. shredded sharp cheddar cheese($.60)
3 T. parmesan cheese ($.10)
2 T. garlic butter ($.15)
1 C. shredded pork ($.75)
1/4 C. thin sliced green onions ($.35)
2 T. minced cilatro ($.10)
1 1/2 C. sour cream ($.75)


Brush the inside of the hollowed out potato skins with garlic butter.
Top the potato skins with pork, cheddar cheese, parmesan, and green onions.
Bake at 425F until cheese is melted - about 7-10 minutes.

Top with cilantro and serve with sour cream.

Yields: 8 servings
Cost: $3.20
Cost per serving: $.40

Monday, May 27, 2013

Italian Turkey Breast - Deli Favorites Made at Home

We recently relocated for my husband's work and the new area we find ourselves in doesn't have all the choices that dear ol' Chicago did.  I never thought I'd enjoy cooking at home as much as I have, but maybe it's being a first time home owner and cooking in my own kitchen, maybe it's a slower pace of life, or I'm just hankering for some of the old favorites that has me spending more time than ever in the kitchen.

I recently picked up a couple of turkey breasts when I found them on sale for $.99/lb. at the local grocery store - the first real deal I've seen on meat since we moved out here.  Setting aside one to make a traditional turkey dinner, I still had a few left to experiment on and one of my favorite deli sandwiches starts with Italian seasoned turkey breast and I always have on hand all the ingredients to make an Italian flavored....well, anything, so I whipped up a favorite that has my mouth watering just from thinking about it.

Super easy to make, all it takes is a handful of classic ingredients and 5-10 minutes of prep time, pop it in the oven, and a delicious meal is ready to go.

1 C. light Italian salad dressing (free after coupons)
3-4 T. Italian seasoning, your favorite blend or homemade ($.10)
2 T. parmesan ($.10)
3 tsp. house seasoning ($.05) (contains salt, black and white pepper, onion powder, and garlic)
2 T. olive oil ($.10)
1 T. balsamic vinegar ($.15)
2-3 T. white wine, optional ($.10)
6.2 lb. turkey breast ($6.10)
1 tsp. cooking oil ($.05)

Heat oven to 325F.

Whisk together salad dressing, vinegar, and white wine.  Set aside.
Combine house seasoning and Italian seasoning blend.  Dry turkey breast completely with paper towel, then season with seasoning blend.

Place turkey breast skin side up in a baking dish or cast iron casserole dish that has been lightly drizzled with cooking oil.  Drizzle with salad dressing mixture that you made earlier, then drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Bake uncovered at 325F for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Cool 15 minutes before carving.
Cool overnight if you plan to slice thin for sandwiches.  (It's easier to thin slice meat that is fully cooled than meat that is warm or even room temperature).

Cost: $6.75
Yields: 16-18 servings
Cost per serving: $.42

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sausage and Mushroom Filled Ravioli

I am absolutely crazily in love with ravioli.  There should be a 12-step program for people like me.

With that being said, I am a bit of a ravioli snob.

Maybe it's the chewy texture of the pasta, maybe it's the mild sweet tang of the fennel in the Italian sausage, or the earthiness of the mushrooms - or a combination of all the above, but the combination of it all together is simply fabulous.  There is no other way to put it.  I love well flavor ravioli and have been looking everywhere to get it.  Until I had an epiphany.  It was time to learn to make it.  Why??

Because I stopped buying frozen ravioli a few years ago since it never tasted half as good as the description sounded on the package.  I know that packaging is supposed to draw you in, but it always left me unsatisfied.  For Christmas, I asked for a ravioli press, the plates that help form ravioli to keep them a uniform size and shape.  I already had the pasta roller and a killer recipe for the pasta dough from the Food Network...which I've already added my unique twist to so making a ravioli with my favorite pizza toppings was a natural progression, I suppose.

I found that I had all the ingredients on hand to make this little treasure so I promptly headed to the kitchen....even though we were leaving the next day to visit family and from there we were off on a much needed mini-vacation to Florida, a little business coupled with some sightseeing and R&R.  Good thing that ravioli freezes well, otherwise we'd have been giving some much desired treasures away to those that might not have appreciated them as much as we have!

Pasta Dough recipe: ($1.25)
I do add in 1 tsp. garlic powder and 1/4 tsp. white pepper to the flour before I begin mixing the dough, but that is entirely optional.

1 1/2 tsp. fennel seed ($.05)
3 cloves of garlic, minced ($.05)
1 T. olive oil ($.05)
2 tsp. basil ($.05)
1.1 lb. mild Italian sausage ($1.90)
1 lb. mushrooms, finely chopped ($2.00)
3 T. garlic butter ($.10)
salt and pepper ($.05)
2/3 C. ricotta cheese ($.40)
3 T. parmesan ($.10)

Egg Wash:
1 egg white ($.10)
1 tsp water (free)
Blend these together well.

Fillng directions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, fennel seed, and garlic.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, until garlic is fragrant.  Add in sausage and cook over medium heat just until sausage is cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside to drain on paper towel.

Add garlic butter to the same pan over medium heat.  Once fragrant, add in finely chopped mushrooms and cook until tender.  Remove from heat and fold into Italian sausage.  Once fully cooled, stir in parmesan and ricotta.

Ravioli directions:

Roll out pasta until the dough is thin, usually to the second to last setting on your pasta roller.
Cut pasta dough to the length of your ravioli press and press 1 sheet into shape.

Brush edges of dough with egg wash and add 2-3 tsp. of filling to each ravioli.  Cover with another sheet of pasta dough, then use a rolling pin to smooth out edges and to help seal all edges and press pasta into shape.  Gently shake ravioli out of the press and separate, if needed.

Repeat process until you have used all remaining ingredients.

Set aside on a well floured baking sheet.  If you intend to free ravioli, let ravioli set for up to an hour to dry before sealing in a freezer bag.  Ravioli can be frozen up to 6 weeks.

Cost: $6.00
Yield: 64 mini ravioli or 8 servings
Cost per serving: $.75

Sweet Mesquite Turkey Breast

I found a deal this past week on Jennie-O frozen turkey breast for $.99 a pound and since I have long want to experiment on a smaller portion of turkey, I was excited to pick up a deal on this.  I have want to try my hand at creating turkey with so me of the deli flavors I love especially since I have been on a sandwich kick ever sense I found out Jimmy John's sells their sandwich bread for $.50 a loaf.
I know...I know...It's a fantastic price for tasty bread!  It's made sandwich time so much happier....and cheaper in my home.

From my favorite deli, there is a mesquite turkey that I adore and thought it would be great to make a slightly sweeter version of this classic that has graced many a sandwich of mine.  Since I've moved to an area that doesn't have much of a selection for deli offerings, it's high time I learn to make my deli style favorites.  I guess moving a little ways away from my beloved city will challenge (my challenge, I mean force) me to learn how to make even more dishes than I ever imagined.  Though, every time we head back towards the Windy City, we stock up on tons of our favorites, but that's another topic for another time.

Having lived near a specialty spice shop, I picked up some mesquite flavoring a month ago and I have been drying to give it a try.  Pairing that with some pantry staples, I think I've come up with a winner, and with some great, inexpensive sandwich bread - I'll be lunching my way to heaven!

1 tsp. mesquite flavoring ($.15)
1/2 tsp. cumin ($.05)
1 1/2 T. brown sugar ($.05)
1/2 tsp. chile powder (I used ancho chile, but regular will work fine too) ($.05)
1 tsp. black pepper ($.05)
2 tsp. salt ($.05)
3/4 tsp. each onion and garlic powder ($.10)

2 T. olive oil ($.10)
1 T. honey ($.10)
1 T. maple syrup ($.05)
6.1 lb. frozen turkey breast, thawed completely ($5.95)

Heat oven to 325F.
Combine all dry spices and brown sugar.
Pat dry turkey breast with paper towel and season under the skin and the skin evenly with the spice mixture.
Place seasoned turkey breast into baking dish or cast iron casserole.

Drizzle with honey and maple syrup, then drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

*Bake at 325F for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until internal temperature reaches 170F.  Let rest 15 minutes before carving.

*(Bake for 20-30 minutes per pound)*

I plan to serve this with some classic potato salad and a hearty salad of mixed greens topped with some clementine wedges.

Cost: $6.70
Servings: 16
Cost per serving: $.44