Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

One of my favorite weeknight meals is the Chilaquiles Casserole from EatingWell.com.  It’s fabulous and the whole family loves it.  My only issue was that this potentiall frugal meal calls for 19 oz of canned enchilada sauce, which cost around $6.    Then I found this Ten Minute Enchilada Sauce on Allrecipes.com.  Bingo!  The flavor is great and it came together in a snap.  Just thought I’d share!


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My mother is from Sandersville, GA, a quiet southern town tucked neatly between Macon and Augusta.  As a child, I spent at least a week a year there, and I have vague but fond memories of cooking with my Mama Bertha (read: my great grandmother).  We’d cut and bake biscuits and mix apple cake batter, but my all-time favorite was preparing the dumplings for her divine chicken and dumplings.

Years (okay, decades) later, I found a recipe that calls to mind those lazy southern evenings…sweet tea, collard greens, biscuits and honey and, yes, Mama Bertha’s chicken and dumplings.  And, to my delight, I found that not only is it a frugal meal, but every member of my family loves it.  I actually caught hubby licking his bowl. 

I used split chicken breasts, which I picked up for $.89/pound, and the other ingredients I nabbed from Aldi (if you’re at all budget-conscious and you haven’t visited an Aldi, you must check it out here).  Altogether, the meal cost about $3.25. 

Cracker Barrel ain’t got nothin’ on this.

Cook’s Note:  Add a dash of Nature’s Seasoning and white pepper for scrumptious, layered flavor.  The white pepper adds a touch of spicy heat that warms the back of the throat.  Oh, and throw in a few handfuls of sliced carrots and celery.  Even some green peas if you’re feeling crazy.

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In my early efforts to keep up this blog (at least until I figure out what the heck I’m doing), I’m going to loosely theme my days.  Each Mondays I’ll review a recipe that I’ve found to meet the following criteria (criterii?): 

–  Uses mostly raw ingredients;
–  Is frugal;
–  Must not include prep work and/or cleanup that will make me want to set my hair on fire.

The blurred child is my son, who evidently moves faster than the speed of light.

We’ll start with the kneadless (as opposed to needless) bread, which I found in a Mother Earth News that was adapted from a New York Times article.  The gist with the bread is that you mix the ingredients the day prior, and then do absolutely nothing except let it do it’s yeasty thing for up to 18 hours.  I’m not kidding.  I’d estimate the hands-on time to be six minutes, and when it comes out of the oven you’d swear it came straight from a rustic oven in the French countryside.  I’ve made the bread several times, and while the loaf’s appearance has improved each time (you can see today’s lopsided loaf at left), the flavor and crunch are incredible.  My four year-old always lurks around the island, lying in wait for the bread to cool.  You can find the recipe here .

Main course tonight is a Summer Harvest Beef Stew, which I stole borrowed from a lovely blog called A Sonoma Garden.  There’s a bit of chopping and ingredient gathering involved, resulting in a total prep time of about about 15 minutes.  Not much mess, which I L.O.V.E.  It simmered stove-top for 1.5 hours and filled my house with a not-too-hearty-for-summer tomato, garlic, thyme aroma.  Served over rice.  You can find the recipe here.

The bottom line:  

The bread is fantastic.  Seriously.  The family swarmed around the island tonight while my husband cut the loaf into slices, and I actually had to shoo them.  If you appreciate home-baked bread even a little you MUST try this recipe. 

The stew was light and flavorful (I added salt; the recipe does not call for any) and reasonably priced.  I had all the ingredients in my pantry except, obviously, the stewing beef and bell peppers.  My husband loved it and even the kids ate it without holding their respective noses.  The best part?  The recipe calls for a “surprise ending” that includes a bit of sugar, cocoa and balsamic vinegar – the combination within the stew just sort of makes you blink, then smile. 

Criteria met.  Four out of five stars.

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