Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Spanish Style Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Root Vegetables

This is a great recipe to use an inexpensive cut of pork (a pork butt roast works great and can usually be found for $1.49 lb. or less).  With a few ingredients out of the spice rack and some hearty veggies, you'll have an easy to make meal with only 15 minutes of prep time needed.

The leftover meat for this recipe freezes very well and at the bottom of this recipe, I've included a few ideas to help you make over this leftover.

3-4 dry bay leaves ($.05)
1/4 tsp. each: paprika, oregano, salt, and thyme ($.05)
1 tsp. each: garlic powder and onion powder ($.05)
1/2 tsp. black pepper ($.05)
5.2 lb. pork roast, fat trimmed ($5.15)
3-4 medium onions, sliced thick ($.40)
2-3 carrots, cut into thick slices ($.30)
2-3 medium russet or red potatoes, quartered ($.50)
3 T. worchestshire sauce ($.10)
1/4 C. white wine ($.30)
1/2 C. water (free)

Mix together all seasonings, except bay leaves.  Rub seasoning blend into the pork roast.

In a 4.5 qt. or larger crockpot, place seasoned pork.  Add in onions.  In the bottom of the crockpot, add the water, wine, and worchestersauce sauce.

Cook on the low setting for 5-6 hours.  Add potatoes and carrots and cook for 1 to 2 more hours, or until veggies are fork tender.

Yields: 6-10 servings
Cost: $6.95
Cost per serving: $1.16

Leftover Pork Roast Ideas:
1.  Serve in a sandwich with toasted whole wheat bread, top with brick cheese, tomato, and lettuce.
2.  Serve in a tortilla with refried beans and thin sliced onions
3.  Serve over mashed potatoes with gravy (use liquid from the crockpot, whisked with mixture of 2 T. cornstarch with 1/4 C. water or milk).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ham and Cheddar Frittata

I'm trying to pull together a lighter menu with 10 ingredients or less per recipe.

For me, this is a real challenge, since I love to cook with lots of bold flavors, which really can make an ingredient list add up.  Most of the recipes I'm now working on are done in 30-45 minutes or less and cost $5 or less to make.  These recipes are all tested before I post them and I hope to average 1 new lighter menu meal a week until I have at least 25-30 new recipes posted.

Here is a twist on one of my favorites - the classic frittata.  This classic Italian dish isn't just a go-to breakfast or brunch menu staple, it's great for dinner, and can make an amazing breakfast sandwich.  Paired with sourdough or whole wheat toast or English muffins and a side of fruit or a mixed green salad, this is a fun recipe to whip up any day of the week and is fantastic at room temperature and reheats well.

4 whole eggs, 2 egg whites ($.75)
2 T. water (free)
salt and pepper ($.05)
1/4 C. cubed ham ($.25)
1/4 C. shredded cheddar ($.25)
1/2 tsp. vegetable oil ($.05)

Whisk together eggs, egg whites, water, salt, and pepper.
In a 9" pie plate, add oil and coat well.  Sprinkle ham and cheddar on the bottom of the pan and pour egg mixture over the top.

Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, or until top is lightly golden.
Cool 5 minutes, then cut into 8 wedges and serve with chilled fruit or mixed green salad.
Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Yields: 3-4 servings
Cost: $1.35
Cost per serving: $.45

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Baked Ziti in a White Wine and Tomato Cream Sauce with Italian Sausage

1/2 lb. penne rigate ($.25)
2 T. olive oil ($.15)
1/2 lb. white button mushrooms, chopped ($.69)
salt and pepper ($.05)
pinch of thyme and oregano ($.05)
1 pt. grape tomatoes, quartered ($1.00)
1/2 medium orange bell pepper, minced ($.20)
1/2 C. moscato or your favorite white wine ($.40)
1 1/2 T. basil ($.05)
1/4 tsp. each: paprika, oregano, fennel seed, and roasted garlic powder ($.15)
3 cloves of garlic, minced ($.15)
1/2 lb. cooked Italian sausage ($.65)
8 oz. can tomato sauce ($.29)
3-4 T. heavy cream ($.25)
1/4 C., plus 1 T. parmesan cheese ($.15)
1/2 C. mozzarella cheese ($.50)

Add 1 T. olive oil to a nonstick or cast iron pan (3-4 qt.) over medium high heat.  When oil is hot, add chopped mushrooms, thyme, and a pinch of oregano.  Cook over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When just tender, season with salt and pepper to taste.  When fork tender, remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.

Add in tomatoes and all their juices, minced pepper, and minced garlic to the pan with 1 T. olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium high heat for 8-10 minutes. When tomatoes are tender, stir in wine and simmer until wine reduces by half (roughly 3-5 minutes).  Stir in heavy cream, tomato sauce, seasonings, and 1/4 C. parmesan.  Stir in mushrooms and Italian sausage.

Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente.  Drain and set aside.

Lightly grease a 8x8" baking dish and add sauce and pasta in layers.  Top with mozzarella cheese and 1 T. parmesan cheese and 1/2 tsp. basil if desired.  Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes.

Serve with garlic bread and salad.

Yields: 4-6 servings
Cost: $4.98
Cost per serving: $1.25

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Basil and Tomato Summer Pasta with White Wine

1 T. olive oil ($.10)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes or 4-5 plum tomatoes ($.80)
1 T. minced garlic, about 2-3 large cloves ($.10)
pinch of salt and pepper, to taste
3-4 T. white wine ($.30)
1 T. basil ($.10)
2 T. parmesan ($.15)
1/4 lb. angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti ($.15)

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat a medium sized nonstick skillet over low heat for 2 minutes, then add olive oil.  When oil is warm, add garlic and saute for 2 minutes or until fragrant.

Finely chop plum tomatoes or quarter grape tomatoes, add this to the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in basil and white wine.  Cook over medium heat until the wine has reduced by half.  Stir in parmesan.

When pasta is cooked to al dente, add it to the pan with the sauce, toss to coat well, and cook 1-2 minutes.

Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Yields: 2 servings
Cost: $1.70
Cost per serving: $.85

Want to make this recipe a little heartier?

1.  Stir in thin sliced spinach when you add the parmesan for a pasta florentine.
2.  Start the pasta sauce with 2 slices of cubed bacon and lightly fry.  Omit the olive oil and follow the recipe as directed.
3.  Julienne 1 medium red or orange bell pepper and saute with garlic.  Follow the recipe as directed above.
4.  Stir in roasted, shredded chicken after the white wine has reduced.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken (4-5 lbs.) ($4.05)
1 large lemon ($.30)
1 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper ($.05)
1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary ($.50)
2 T. olive oil ($.10)

Heat oven to 325F.
1.  Lightly grease a baking dish with 1-2" high sides.
2.  Clean and pat dry the chicken.  Remove liver and gizzards and discard.
3.  Zest the lemon, cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of one half of the lemon over the top of the chicken.
4.  Take both halves of the lemon and place those along with the rosemary sprig into the cavity of the chicken.
5.  Rub lemon zest under the skin of the chicken.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
6.  Roast at 325F. for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of chicken reaches 180F.

Yields: 4-6 servings
Cost: $5.00
Cost per serving: $1.25

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lemon Pepper Chicken Cutlets served Sub Sandwich Style

When you have some chicken breasts on hand and not a lot of time to get a meal ready - this is a huge time saver.  I took some chicken breasts and cut them into cutlets (slightly larger than chicken strips, but roughly 1/3" thick).  With a store bought marinade and a few spices, this was actually done in about 30 minutes.  Including marinading time.

One thing to know when marinading chicken: if you use an assertive or acidic marinade (which is anything citrus or acid based), you should never marinade boneless chicken more than 15-30 minutes.  I went with 10-15 minutes on the chicken and got picture perfect results.  If chicken marinades too long, it can become mealy and not brown properly when it's baked or pan-fried.

I'm sure this would have been great on its own, but I love using it as a substitute for deli meat.  It works well in hot or cold sammies.  When I served this hot, I topped the chicken with provolone and cheddar cheese, carmelized onions, and a brush of SBR BBQ sauce.  For the classic sub, I used good mayo, shredded lettuce, thin sliced onion, and seasoned the chicken with a few grinds of white pepper and a dash of basil.

If you make a double batch - this recipe freezes beautifully for about 6-8 weeks and comes in very handy on those days when you forget to pull something out of the freezer for dinner.  All you have to do is put the chicken (while in a freezer or vacuum sealed bag) in a bowl of lukewarm water for about 30-45 minutes, turning over every 15 minutes to fully thaw.  Grab some buns or french rolls, I like to stop at Jimmy Johns for their day old bread, and dinner is served.

2 chicken breasts ($1.98)
2 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning ($.10)
1/2 tsp. black or white pepper ($.05)
1/2 tsp. flour ($.05)
1/2 C. lemon pepper marinde (free after coupons)
2 T. olive oil ($.05)
2-16" loaves French bread ($1.00)

Cut chicken breasts into cutlets.

Combine lemon pepper seasoning, pepper, and flour and season the chicken well.
Whisk together olive oil and lemon pepper marinade.
Marinade chicken for 10-15 minutes.

Add 2 T. vegetable oil to a preheated skillet and sear the chicken breast over a medium-high heat.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, when chicken is browned, flip over and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.
Slice into thin pieces and serve in a sandwich.

Serves well hot or cold.

Yields: 6 servings (as a sandwich ingredient)
Cost: $3.23
Cost per serving: $.54

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

French Fusion Marinade with Red Wine Vinegar and Sweet Smoked Paprika

I discovered a forgotten beef boneless pot roast in my freezer today and was struck by inspiration...the kind of inspiration that marries elements of Julia Child, Mario Batali, and my personal favorite - Emeril Lagasse.  I was originally looking for some chicken breast to make more lemon pepper chicken for sandwiches.  The last batch disappeared today and it tastes so much better than sodium-laden deli meat that I figured on making a second batch.  But, the beef totally had my attention.  It tends to do that since I cook with it only once a month or so.

Though I don't cook with beef very often (my frugal side is partly to blame for that, I suppose), I get very excited when I can.  Beef is strong enough to stand up to flavors that would overwhelm a classic chicken dish so I went bold.  Very, very bold.

One of the things that is inspirational about having a fully stocked kitchen - I can whip up a marinade in 5 minutes that I could never find in the stores.  This marinade might've started out being inspired by Julia Child, but BAM!  Emeril's cooking style snuck in there too.

I used roughly 3/4 C. of marinade for about 2 pounds of beef.  You can adjust that according to your tastes, but I probably could've used 1/2 C. and still gotten the same flavor.

3-4 T. garlic red wine vinegar (free after coupons)
3-4 T. worchestershire sauce ($.10)
3-4 T. olive oil ($.10)
2 T. Italian salad dressing (free after coupons)
1-2 T. water (free)
2 tsp. oregano ($.05)
1/2 tsp. each: garlic powder, black pepper, steakhouse seasoning, and onion powder ($.10)
1/4 tsp. each: salt, white pepper, sweet paprika, and ancho chile powder ($.10)
1 T. minced garlic (I used 4-5 small cloves of garlic) ($.05)
2 T. minced shallot ($.10)

Combine all ingredients except olive oil and water.  Whisk together.  Drizzle in olive oil while whisking to combine.  Whisk in water to thin out if mixture is too thick.

Spread or pour evenly over beef.  Marinade at room temperature 2 hours or overnight in the fridge.
Meat can be slow roasted (roast covered at 250F for 3-6 hours), grilled over indirect heat (at 350 for 1 hour 30 minutes), or can even be seared in a pan then braised (in the marinade) in a crockpot for 6 hours over low.

When beef is cooked to desired doneness, slice thin and serve on a classic French roll with provolone cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and carmelized onions.  Top with sundried tomato aioli or your favorite mayo and you are ready for sandwich nirvana.

Yields: 2 batches of marinade.
Cost: $.60
Cost per batch: $.30