Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spring Veggie Medley

I've been at my parents' house in Texas for five days, and eventually, I just had to get in that kitchen and do something. Yesterday, my Mom's friend Wanda brought over a bunch of fresh veggies from her neighbour's garden. Score! My mom hates okra, so she insisted that I be the one to cook up the okra. Happily, included in the bag full of yummies (yes, veggies are yummies, you crazy fool) were fresh yellow squash and tomatoes, too! Wooohoooo! Prices today will be based on getting free veggies from someone, as I hope you can do. If you can't, maybe you need to start garden of your very own. No, it is not too late in the season. I promise.

Ingredients & Prices

1 Yellow Squash - free from friend's garden!
1/2 Large White Onion - $0.89
4 whole garlic cloves - $0.12
1 Large Tomato - free from friend's garden!
10 Medium Fresh Okra - free from friend's garden!
6 Tbsp Butter - $0.42
1/2 tsp Oregano - $0.03
1/4 tsp Cumin - $0.02
1/4 tsp Dried Cilantro - $0.04
Salt & Pepper to Taste - $0.04ish

Instructions

Roughly chop up all the veggies except the garlic. Leave those whole. Melt the butter in a decent-sized skillet. Add the onions and garlic.  Cook, stirring and/or flipping often. Add in the squash and okra. Dash in those seasonings as you see fit. Cover and cook for about ten minutes. Uncover. Toss in the tomatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve it up. Yummy.


Total Cost (as a side) for 7 Adults, 3 Kids, no leftovers: $1.56

Road Trip Interesting Foods

Let's not mention the fact that we have eaten at Jack-in-the-Box five times in the past week. That's unnecessary. Let's move on to the cool stuff about Road Trip travel.

Hotels. Hotels! Really, hotels. Whenever we make a big trip, we book our hotel and car rental online at hotwire.com. They are awesome - we always get an amazingly good deal - and we stay in nice hotels. Nice hotel means free hot breakfast every morning. And that is where I'm going with this. Last year, we went down to Texas to see a friend take his final vows as a Cistercian, become a Deacon, and baptize our little girl. We stayed at a Comfort Inn & Suites for less than $40 a night. Every morning, we had waffles. Not just waffles. We had TEXAS-SHAPED waffles. Yeah. That's fabulous. This year, we came down to be God parents and just do lots of visiting. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express on Northwest Highway (ugh! - Thankfully, our son was much too busy with toys and books in the car to notice the Clubs for Gentlemen (harumph) all over the place). Anyhoo, this Fabulous place had a machine called a CakeExpress. Guess what it does. You press the start button, wait a minute, out pops a pancake *plop* right onto your waiting plate, wait a minute, repeat. You get two per button push. They are yummy.



We got some pictures of it for you. I sent my husband in to take them before we left the hotel, and while there, there was a woman on the phone waiting for her pancakes. She was yelling at her travel agent because her flight had been cancelled due to the massive hail storm and tornadoes in Dallas the night before. She wanted her travel agent to tell her what to do next, cause that's what she paid her for. Anyhow, in the midst of her fussing, alas, she did not realize that the button got ya two pancakes...See her plopped pancake on the counter below.



Conclusion: use hotwire and eat great breakfasts. Note also that if a storm with hail the size of small apples cancels your flight, thankfully you can blame your travel agent. (ahem)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bojangles chicken 'n biscuits - Go here. Eat. YUM.

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We ate at this amazingly delicious fast food place on our way down to Georgia. 



imgres.jpegWe ate some YUMMY biscuit sandwiches (steak for the Boy, chicken for me and the Husb. - though I think he got the Cajun) and a ridiculously delicious - yes, I laugh as I tell you this - side of mashed potatoes and gravy devoured mostly by me, with a little for the baby and others. 

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We also got a quart of their simply smashing home made iced tea (as it was much cheaper than each of us getting a drink).

Lunch for 2 Adults, 1 Kiddo, 1 Baby-roo, no leftovers: $13.28.


Note, that's expensive as my standards go for home-cooked meals, but I don't have a kitchen in the car, sadly. Alas.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cheese Enchiladas, Mexican Rice, and Beans

I have to say, I am pretty impressed. These enchiladas were really good - so were the rice and beans. Do this. You'll love it.

Ingredients & Prices

Enchiladas

4 Tbsp Butter, separated - $0.28
12 Corn Tortillas (the big ones) - $1.62
4 ounces Minced Mushrooms - $0.85
1 Minced Green Pepper - $0.67
1/2 Yellow Onion, sliced - $0.08
4 Cups Mozzarella Cheese - $3.58
1 Can Enchilada Sauce - $2.48
1 Tbsp Veggie Oil - $0.01

Rice


1 1/2 Cups White Rice (uncooked) - $0.75 (cook it before you use it)
1 tsp Cumin - $0.02
1 clove garlic, minced - $0.03
1/4 Yellow Onion, sliced - $0.04
1/2 tsp Chipotle Chili Pepper - $0.03
1 tsp Kosher Salt - $0.02
2 Tbsp Olive Oil - $0.22
1/4 Cup Sliced Jalapeños - $0.11

Beans


1 1/2 Cans Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans - $1.92

Toppings


Sour Cream - $0.45
Olives - $0.64

Instructions


Cook the rice early, since it takes a while. Once you have that on, get out your butter and corn tortillas. I used the big ones, and I highly suggest you do as well. They're fabulous and much easier to roll. Use a small frying pan and melt a little butter in there. Toss on a tortilla, soak thoroughly in the butter, flip, and repeat with all 12. Set aside to cool.

Mince onions, mushrooms, and green peppers. Sautée in 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp Veggie Oil. Set aside.
Mince half of the jalapeños. Fill each tortilla with about 1/2 Tbsp of the sautéed veggies and 2 Tbsp of the Cheese. Evenly distribute the minced jalapeños into half (or more if you so choose) of the enchiladas. Roll the enchiladas and lay seam down into a glass casserole dish. Drench all with the enchilada sauce. Place in oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Less is fine if your oven is hot like mine. Mine went a little long because the police quarantined my street with me standing outside barefoot in my apron with my baby on my hip. They then stormed my next door neighbours' house with assault rifles at the ready. Seriously.

Now on to the rice and beans. Heat the olive oil over low heat in a pan or wok. I prefer a wok for all rice frying. Drop in the onions and cook until just soft. Add the garlic and immediately add the rice and seasonings. Simmer, stirring constantly, for about five minutes. If a policeman with a loaded firearm won't let you back into your house, then hopefully your husband will wander downstairs, hear something sizzling in the kitchen and start stirring. Then you can borrow a cell phone and call him and tell him that you can't come inside and he can't come out, but he should probably turn the oven off, now. Make sure your husband stays out of the cross-hairs as he walks by the living room window on his way back up to your son's room.

Heat the beans in a saucepan over low heat with 2 Tbsp water for about five minutes or until hot.



Serve it up! This meal is rather yummy if you toss on also some sour cream and black olives.

Total Cost of Meal which feeds 4 Adults a hearty dinner and 2 Adults a pretty decent-sized lunch: $13.80.
That's $2.30 a person.


Oh, and no extra charge for the entertainment...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Penne Pasta with Fresh Tomato & Butter Sauce

Today is Thursday, and when I was growing up, Thursday was Pasta day! In truth, today we are having chicken fajitas here at my house, but on Tuesday we had Pasta, so I will share that recipe with you today. Tuesday only my kids and I ate, since my husband was out with his colleagues for an end of the semester dinner.

Ingredients & Prices

1/2 Pound Penne Pasta - $0.59
1 tsp Salt - $0.02

2 Vine Tomatoes (or 4 Roma Tomatoes) - $1.44
1 Stick Butter - Salty style - $0.70
1 tsp Garlic, minced - $0.03
2 Wild Onions, minced - $0.00 - they're wild
1/2 tsp Oregano - $0.03
1/2 tsp Basil - $0.02 (from last year's harvest)
1/4 Cup Red Wine or Red Wine Vinegar - $0.82 
1 tsp Salt - $0.02 (you may want to use more)
Pepper to taste - $0.01

French Bread - $0.79

Instructions

Boil the water and preheat the oven if you want to toast the bread (not me!). 

Chop up the onions and mince the garlic and onions.



Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. 



Add onions and cook for about a minute, moving around a lot. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook for another minute, moving around a lot again. 



Add the seasonings and the wine, and turn the heat to low.


Cover and let simmer 10-15 minutes or as long as it takes for the pasta to finish cooking.


Toss the sauce with the penne and serve it up with bread. 




It's amazing for dipping the bread in. Oh yes. Better than yummy olive oil, and that's saying something.


See. Yum.

Total Cost to feed 1 Adult, 1 kid, 1 baby & have 1 lunch worth of leftovers: $4.57.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday Things That I Love... Take 2

I love a productive day. Yesterday, I had a productive day. I cleaned house, did the laundry, had a great school day with my son, washed the dishes (twice, or maybe 3 times?), swept the floors, watched 2 episodes of Bones, went to the grocery store, made breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and was in a good mood...all...day. Rock star. Though I must give credit to my husband and his friend, as they spent the afternoon playing Axis & Allies in the basement - with my four year old helping out. Anyhow, the Tuesday thing that I love today is a fabulous grocery trip.



 I spent $38.72. Here's what I bought:

Apple Jacks (off brand)
Baby Snacks - blueberry puffs
Apple Juice (64 ounces)
A Pound of Penne (for tonight's dinner)
a 6 pack of 1.6 ounce chocolate bars (for $0.98!)
2 cans vienna sausage (snack food yum)
1 bag of Tostitos
1 loaf bread - white by accident
Chicken Breast Tenders (for Thursday's dinner)
1 pound strawberries (snack/breakfast)
4 Tomatoes on the Vine ($2.87) - for tonight's dinner
5 yellow bananas (snack/breakfast) 
3 Roma Tomatoes ($1.00) - for Thursday's dinner
TGIFriday's Buffalo Wings 9 pieces (for last night's dinner - $2.98)
DiGiorno Pizza 1/2 pep., 1/2 cheese (for last night's dinner - $4.97)
16 ounce French Bread (for last night and tonight's dinner - $1.58)
spatula
woodcraft kit of firetruck for Stan
2 rolls Bounty Paper towels
40 photo pages for printer (on crazy sale for $1.00)
non-stick cheap-o frying pan for pancakes

The end. Awesome, yes?

Last night's dinner total: $8.72 - fed 2 adults, 1 kid, 1/4 of the pizza left


Monday, May 9, 2011

Sausage Lasagna & Spinach Salad

Ingredients & Prices

Lasagna
about 8 ounces worth of Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles - $1.12 (I got a 12oz pack for $1.68)
15 ounces Ricotta Cheese - $1.89
1 Egg - $0.16
1 tsp dried basil/oregano mix - $0.05
4 Links Sweet Italian Sausage, peeled and browned - $1.80
1 Yellow Onion - $0.15
3/4 Cup Water
15 1/2 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes - not drained - $2.29
15 ounce Can Hunt's Tomato Sauce - $1.59
4 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese - $1.98

Spinach Salad
About 4 ounces Fresh Spinach (from garden - the seeds were $1.00 - I'll get this much again - twice)
About 1 ounce Fresh Dandelion Greens - from Garden, not planted, just there - happiness.
3  Carrots - $0.30
2  Celery Sticks - $0.13
4 Tbsp Caesar Dressing - $0.29 



Instructions

Pick and clean your greens, refrigerate, covered.


Preheat Oven to 375 degrees. Cook and break up sausage. Add onions and cook another 2 minutes.


Mix together ricotta cheese, salt & pepper, oregano/basil mix, and egg.
Pour tomatoes and sauce into pan with meat. 

For the bottom layer, pour about 1/3 of the sauce/meat mixture into 9 x 13 glass casserole.
Top with 4 sheets of Lasagna.
Top lasagna with 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, followed by 1/3 of the sauce, and then 1/2 of the cheese. Top with 4 sheets of lasagna. Repeat ricotta, sauce, cheese. 


Cover with foil (or if you're out, you can use a cookie sheet - I did!) and bake for about 45 minutes.
While it's baking, peel and chop up your carrots and chop up that celery, and set your table. Don't forget to drink a glass of wine, too. 

Sorry, no more pictures. We had guests over.

Total Cost for 4 Adults, 1 Child - no leftovers - too yummy: (child ate no salad) $12.25

Friday, May 6, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday - Things Worth Buying in Bulk


Go see Jen for more!

We recently joined Sam's Club. It's hard to decide whether we are actually going to save money on said item. When you're buying a 20 pound bag of something, it seems kinda crazy. And yet...unless you have an amazingly cheap grocery store, it's gonna work out.

1

DIAPERS

Okay, I know this isn't food, but lots of y'all that read have kids, so if you don't know it, yet, the $45/year at Sam's club is saved on diapers alone in just a few months. 

2

FLOUR

Growing up, my mom always had a big popcorn canister full of sugar and a big plastic bin full of flour. These things stacked together made my chair at the table when we had guests over. Lovely happy memories.

3

SUGAR

Big huge scoop ready to go. My family doesn't drink kool-aid like my family did growing up, but it's great to have the sugar for the baked goods and for people (other than my husband and myself) to put in their coffee.

4

RICE

It's crazy how much cheaper it is to buy rice in bulk. Rice is mostly pretty cheap when you buy it in the store, so you wouldn't expect to be able to save quite so much. You do. You save a lot. The rice at Sam's is less than $1 a pound.

5

FROZEN QUICK FOODS

These are great for lunches. They are pretty cheap and you can grab 'em out of the freezer for lunch at the last minute. We currently have a monster box of Chimichangas and Pork Egg Rolls.

6

OLIVE OIL

You save a ton of money, and you really should always have a ton of olive oil. What are you doing if you don't have a bunch of olive oil, you crazy soul!?

7

LAUNDRY DETERGENT

Also not food, but so true. I hate buying laundry detergent, so it's always a relief to buy one big monster container of Tide and have it there for months. Yes, months, and I do lots of laundry. 


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rosemary Chicken, Baked Potatoes, and Steamed Carrots

We're still in the octave of Easter, so we feast. I should have done the other night's pizza, too. Ah, well.

Ingredients & Prices

Chicken - 2 Large Breasts: $4.73
2 tsp Fresh Rosemary: Buy a plant and plant it in your garden. My plant was $1.89.
So this was maybe $0.07, but hopefully my plant will keep growing and lower that price.


1 tsp Garlic - $0.03
4 Tbsp Butter - $0.28
1 Tbsp Olive Oil - $0.11
Salt & Pepper to taste - $0.02
Aluminum Foil - $0.05

3 Medium Russet Potatoes - $0.35
3 tsp Sour Cream - $0.09
5 Tbsp Country Crock Spread *yuuuuum.... - $0.38

5 Carrots, peeled and cut - $0.50
                                         2 Tbsp Butter - $0.14


Instructions

The first thing you want to do is get those potatoes in the oven at 350.


While you prepare the chicken and mince up the rosemary, melt the butter in the pan by putting it in the oven for a few minutes.


Add some garlic...


And lay the chicken in the butter.


Cover with rosemary bits.


Cover with aluminum foil and set in the oven with the potatoes. 


Peel and cut your potatoes and set in the steaming section of a rice cooker. If you don't have one, put them in a covered saucepan with 1/2 cup water over medium heat.


About 20 minutes after putting the chicken in, take it out and flip it, filling crevices in with garlic and topping with a bit more rosemary.



Let cook for another 20-30 minutes. 


Do not be shy with butter or cheese.


yea!

Look at all that sour cream!

Total Price of Meal for 2 Adults, 1 Child, 1 baby - 1/3 piece of chicken leftover - $6.75