Thursday, April 30, 2009

About Me

Thanks for joining me on my quest to eat great food on a budget. I thought I'd take a moment and share a bit about me and my cooking/eating style.

I grew up in a family who loved to eat - a little too much. Health was not high on the list of ideals, and how to accomplish that with food was a foreign concept. My dad had Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It was early on in learning how to treat diabetes, and manage blood sugars. With what I know now, it breaks my heart that we didn't know better/do better than. So I'm trying to apply what I know, but habits are hard to break. Everyday is a new step in the adventure.

I'm a texture eater. If I don't like the feeling in my mouth, the taste doesn't matter. Top problem - slimy textures. Worst offenders - meat. Can't handle meatloaf, cold meats, rare beef, canned meat, and ESPECIALLY hot dogs - pretty much anything processed.

I love a variety of foods, but Mexican and Italian are definitely at the top of the list. Chinese and classic American aren't far behind. Since money is tight, we don't eat out a lot anymore, so I'm learning to make my favorites. Italian and Mexican - not so hard. The last round of egg rolls - disgusting!

I could live on carbs alone (okay, mostly, with they ocassional chicken breast or steak). Pasta, bread, potatoes, rice, bread, fruits, bread, desserts, and did I mention bread?

I started experimenting more in the kitchen when my oldest was diagnosed with food allergies and needed to make most things from scratch. Wish I had the time to have a whole food diet.

I'm excited about my garden this summer and wait to see what I can do with it all. Eating, cooking, baking, freezing, canning, drying, giving...

Enough about me. If you could pick your all-time favorite meal, the one you would request for your last meal, what would it be?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stuffed Hasbrowns

This is my meager attempt to make my own variation of my favorite breakfast at a little cafe I use to live by. After the owner died and it was never the same. No offense to current management.

So I've experimented with the recipe to make it healthier and more family friendly. I've made this for brunches, showers, Christmas morning, etc. It's a nice alternative if you aren't an egg fan. But if you are, you certainly could add it for more protein.

1 bag SHREDDED hash browns (thawed)
2 c Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 lb Ground sausage, browned
1/2 Green pepper, diced
1/2 Red pepper, diced
1 tsp Garlic, minced
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
2 T Olive Oil, divided
2 tsp Dried Oregano

1. Brown the sausage, drain and set aside.
2. Remove most of the grease from the pan and saute the peppers and garlic.
3. Freshly shred cheese for best results and even melting. Bagged, pre-shredded, wax coated cheese doesn't work as well.
4. In a large bowl, combine hash browns, cheese, sausage, peppers/garlic, oregano, salt & pepper. Toss together until evenly mixed together.
5. Pour 1 T of olive oil to the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan. Spoon mixture into pan and press down to compress.
6. Drizzle 1 T of olive oil over the dish. (oil helps crisp it up)
7. Bake at 375 for 25-30 until cheese is melted. Can add a minute under the broiler for crisper hash browns.

Cost: $6.25
Hashbrowns $2.00 (sales at Meijer, Family Fare)
Cheese $1.25 (2 lb block from Costco is $4)
Peppers $2 (Aldi's sells multi-color 3-pack peppers for $3, green 3-pack for $2)
Sausage $1 (Aldi's 1 lb for $2 - my favorite of all ground sausages)

This is the perfect dish to play around with. Whatever you have on hand will work. It's like a pizza that becomes a blank canvas. Just keep cheese in for moisture & texture.

Bacon & Asparagus (my fav)
Mushrooms, Onions, & Peppers
Sausage, Bacon, Ham
Ham & Green Peppers
8 Eggs & Sausage
Mozzerella, Tomato, Peppers, & Onions

Any ideas on combos and variations for this one?
Sorry no final shot on these, baked them at the shower and the party comes first before pictures. Congrats Margie.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mint Chip Dump Cake

Amanda - your dessert wish is my command... This is my most favorite dessert. Incredibly moist and balanced flavors. Very rich, so you don't need a big piece. I only make this for company because I wouldn't want to know what the damage would be if I had lots of leftovers calling my name. Sorry - I don't have a picture of this one. I'm too busy digging in to stop and take a shot of it.

1 (18.25 oz) package yellow cake mix

1 (5.9 oz) package instant chocolate pudding mix

4 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup water

1 (8 oz) container sour cream

1 cup Andes mint chips (or Andes mints chopped up)

1 cup fudge topping

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a Bundt pan.
  2. In a bowl, mix the yellow cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, vegetable oil, sugar, and water. Gently fold in the sour cream and mint chips. Pour batter into the prepared Bundt pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling racks. When partially cooled, transfer to cake plate, pour fudge sauce over the top and garnish with a few more Andes chips on top.
COSTS: $6.86
(depending on stock of general pantry items)

Cake Mix - $.99 (Aldi's, Meijer sales)
Sour Cream - $.99 (Aldi's)
Eggs - $.40 (Meijer or Aldi's)
Ande's Mint Chips - $2.49 (FamilyFare, Meijer... sometimes find Ande's Mints for $1 at Dollar Stores)
Fudge Topping $1.99 (Aldi's)


* You can use mini chocolate chips in replacement.
* If you use regular chocolate or mint chips, chop them up or they tend to settle down from gravity.
* If you like LOTS of chocolate, you can use a chocolate/devil food cake mix.

Strawberry Sesame Salad

I posted this one on my life blog last week, but here's a picture to go with it and a few other suggestions. Great for entertaining.

3/4 c Almonds, chopped
1 T Sugar
1 lb Romaine, rinsed and torn
1 c Strawberries, sliced or chunked
1 c Chow Mein noodles
1/2 c Celery, finely chopped

(makes enough for 2 salads)
1 T Toasted sesame seeds
1 T Poppy seeds
1/2 c White Sugar
2 t Minced onion
1/4 t Paprika
1 c White wine vinegar
1 t Cinnamon
2/3 c Canola oil
1 t Sesame oil

In a medium saucepan,cook and stir almonds until lightly toasted, add sugar and still constantly until candied. Spread on a plate to cool. Break up nuts when cooled.

In a large bowl, combine lettuce, almonds, berries, noodles, & celery.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, onion, paprika, vinegars, and oils. (makes enough for two salads - extra can be stored for another salad). Toss with salad just before serving.

Approx $6-10 (depending on what you have on hand)

Substitute Bibb/Boston/Butter lettuce for romaine
Add sunflower seeds
Add provolone cheese
Use poppy seed dressing (often do if no time to make the vingrette)
Mandarin Oranges instead of Strawberries
Grilled Chicken

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Breakfast Burritos

So breakfast always seems to be an issue - that which is quick to grab is often unhealthy, not long lasting, and can quickly add up financially. So this is a one of the options I make in bulk and freeze ahead to grab and go. Lots of variations possible to keep from getting bored.

In this version, I used scrambled eggs, fresh shredded cheddar cheese and ground sausage.

No specific technique, warm up the tortilla, throw in your desired fillings, and wrap that baby up.

After folding the burrito up, I wrap it in plastic wrap and then package them in gallon freezer bags. Can thaw a few at a time, or the whole bag. Since they are individually wrapped, I re-use the freezer bags. Pop them in the microwave or in a skillet and you are good to go.

COST: $5.02
for 10 burritos ($.50/each)

1 lb Ground Sausage $2 (Aldi's)
10 Tortillas $.89 (Aldi's)
1 doz Eggs $.88 (Meijer - Easter special)
2 c Cheddar Cheese $1.25 (Costco - 2 lb block $4)
(I usually have enough filling left over for another breakfast)

Ham, Egg & Cheese
Grilled Peppers, Egg, & Cheese
Bacon, Egg, & Cheese
Egg, Cheese, & Green Chilis
Whole wheat tortilla, Egg Beaters, Turkey Sausage
Hash browns, egg, cheese, meat of choice
Whatever you can fit in a tortilla

Any suggestions to cut cost or for other variations?

Monday, April 20, 2009

I've Been Thinking

For some time now I've been enjoying other foodie blogs, where everyday people share their favorite recipes, tips, and ideas for making the most of what they have. Some of my favorites include:
Party in the Pantry
Pioneer Woman
Yummy Fun

I had once collaborated on group recipe website and invested a lot of time adding my best there - to have the site erased without notice. So, I'm starting from scratch on my own food adventures and inviting you to come along for the ride.

As I share my own recipes, tips, and saving ideas - I hope that you will add your suggestions, tips, and ideas on how tweak and make a recipe your own. After all, some of my favorite dishes are ones that I've personalized from other recipes...

Welcome to Frugal Feasts.