Thursday, January 31, 2008

Winter Salsa

This salsa is Sean's favorite. In the winter it's made with canned tomatoes and other things that are easily found in the pantry. I buy a bulk size can of diced tomatoes and make a large batch to store in the fridge. The longer it sits, the better it tastes.

It's also great as a topping for salads, tacos, or in quesadillas with cheese.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Serves: 20+
Cost: $4.25

Mix together the following:

1 enormous can of diced tomatoes drained($2.25)
1 large onion diced ($.50)
1 bunch of cilantro chopped ($.50)
1 can black beans rinsed and drained ($.50)
1 can sweet corn drained ($.50) or 1 cup frozen corn
salt to taste
Add hot sauce to taste to spice it up.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Grandma's Homemade Egg Noodles

This has been a family favorite for generations. It is the ultimate comfort food and usually reserved for special occasions. It is also inexpensive and can easily feed a full table.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: approx 20-30 minutes
Serves: 10-12 (3 batches of noodles)
Cost: approx. $3.00

1 cup flour x 3($.75)
1 tsp salt x 3
1 egg x 3 ($.25)
chicken or beef broth ($2.00)
Pepper to taste

Make each batch of noodles for this recipe individually. Mix together 1 cup flour and 1 tsp salt in a medium bowl. Make a "well" in the middle of the flour and crack 1 egg. Pour in 1/2 egg shell of milk and mix with a fork slowly working in the flour from the sides or the bowl.

Continue adding flour or small amounts of milk as needed until the dough is well formed and no longer sticky. Lightly knead the dough on a floured surface and form into a disk.

Roll out the disk until very thin and let the dough dry until air bubbles are noticeable on the surface.

Lightly flour top of dough and roll into a jelly roll. Slice noodles thinly and separate to dry. Allow to dry at least 1 hour.

Add noodles to rapidly boiling broth stirring constantly. When noodles become plump turn down heat to continue cooking. Add pepper to taste.

Being that we are from Indiana, we must have our noodles over mashed potatoes. Everyone should try it at least once.

Cooking tips:
*Don't overuse the flour or the noodles will be bland. Use just enough to get rid of the sticky texture.
*Noodles can be completely dried before cooking.
*Chicken broth/beef broth left after roasting added to canned broth is optimal.
*It's better to use more broth rather than too little. The noodles will absorb quite a bit of liquid in cooking.
* Noodles can be stored in a bag and frozen. Just add frozen noodles to boiling broth.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thai Noodles in Peanut Sauce

When I'm having a craving for some Thai food this meal usually does the trick. This one dish supper is easy and fast and it can be made mild or hot according to your personal taste.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time:10 minutes
Ready in: 15 minutes
Serves: 8-10
Cost: approx. $4.75 (without meat)

1 package Thai/Rice Noodles ($2.99)

1 small bag frozen stir fry veggies ($1.25)

1/3 milk (coconut milk would be better)

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust for flavor)

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/4 cup cilantro (optional)

A pound of lean ground beef or chicken could easily be added to this dish.

1. Prepare noodles per package directions while steaming vegetables.

2. Mix all ingredients for peanut sauce well and toss with hot Thai noodles. Top with steamed stir fry vegetables.

The results are in....

This recipe always gets 9 thumbs up in our house!

Why all the beans?

A very good question. I do realize that almost all of the recipes here have some sort of bean in them so far, but I have my reasons. First, it's what I have a lot of right now and I've challenged myself to a $400 grocery budget for the month. Second, beans are a great source of protein and fiber. I'm trying to fill these children up so that they aren't asking for a snack 2 hours after a meal. I figure even if I'm able to add beans as a small component of the dish it's better than nothing. Third, for the most part we like them.

You should try them, too. You know they are the musical fruit:)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Red Lentil Curry

This dish is classic Indian. Served over rice it is filling and delicious!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time : 30 minutes
Ready in : 40 Minutes
Yields: 12 servings
Cost: approx. $4.25

3 cups red lentils ($1.50)
1 large onion diced ($.50)
3 tablespoons curry paste ($1.00)
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 small cans of tomato puree ($1.25)

1. Rinse lentils until water runs clear, cover with water and simmer covered until tender. Add more water as needed.

2. Meanwhile in large skillet, caramelize onions in vegetable oil.

3. Combine all other ingredients and then add to cooked onions. cook over high heat 1-2 minutes and then simmer until lentils are ready.

4. When lentils are tender, drain and mix into curry base. Serve.

This dish could be easily frozen, thawed and reheated.

The verdict is in...

3 Thumbs up. 6 Thumbs down.

Sean and I thought that it was right on- as good as an Indian restaraunt. John ate it, too. But the others thought that the curry taste was too strong. We'll try again when they are older.

Lentil Quiche

I found this recipe here, but adapted a few things to make it serve more and to use what we already had available in our pantry.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 8 -10
Cost: approx. $3.25

1 cup chopped onion ($.50)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup dried lentils ($.50)
2 cups water
2 cups broccoli florets (fresh or frozen) ($.75)
1/2 can stewed tomatoes drained and chopped ($.25)
5 eggs, beaten ($.50)
1 cup milk ($.25)
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (optional) ($.50)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Saute onions in butter until soft.

3. Place the lentils and water into a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Drain most of the water off, then place the broccoli florets on top of the lentils. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.

4. Transfer the lentils, broccoli and tomatoes to the pie plate with the onions, and stir. Stir cheese in at this time if using.

5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Pour over the ingredients in a 10 inch pie plate.

6. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the center is firm. Cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

The verdict is in...

9 Thumbs up, 0 Thumbs down.

Everyone ate it without complaints. According to Hannah, "The beans weren't so bad this time since there were only a few."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Microwave Caramel Popcorn

To redeem myself from my utter disaster I fixed the family caramel popcorn. This recipe is great because it's no mess and fast!! There's never enough.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Ready in: 15 minutes
Serves: 8-10
Cost: approx. $3.00

6 quarts of popped popcorn ($2.00)
1 cup brown sugar ($.25)
1/2 cup butter ($.75)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Place popcorn in large paper sack and set aside.

2. In microwave safe dish place brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, salt and vanilla. Heat 3 minutes. Stir. Heat 1 1/2 minutes. Add baking soda and stir.

3. Pour syrup over the popcorn, seal top of bag by folding over and shake.

4. Place bag in the microwave on its side for 45 seconds. Then turn the bag over and heat and additonal 45 seconds.

5. Spread out to cool or eat it while it's still warm.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Utter Disaster #1

So I have this strange grain called Quinoa which I was intent on using. "What is Quinoa?" you may ask. I did as well and found out that it is the mother of all grains. So I found a recipe for Quinoa Mushroom chowder. We love mushroom so I was certain that it was a sure thing.

Well, not so much. In the words of my family:

Joseph: "I don't think I like baby food." (This was before he had taken a bite.)

Miriam: "Um... it tastes like coffee."

Sean: "I only ate it to prove that it was humanly possible."

Me: Well I actually had a few bites and then poured mine in Lydia's bowl when I thought no one was looking:)

They were troopers and each took their required bites per age, though I think some of those bites were minute. Of course, baby John ate all his. Maybe that's because he likes baby food:)

I'll spare you the recipe.


We found this recipe in an American Girl book. We had all the ingredients and I let the girls try. Now it is their favorite desert to make. I like it because it doesn't have a lot of sugar.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Ready in: 3 hours 30 minutes
Yields: 36 Kiflis
Cost: approx. $3.75

1 cup butter softened ($1.50)
1 cup cream cheese ($1.00)
1 Tablespoon sour cream
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
Jam ($1.25)

Cream together butter, cream cheese, sour cream and salt. Stir in flour. On floured surface knead dough until smooth. Chill for 3 hours.

Place chilled dough on floured surface and roll to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut dough in to 3 inch squares. Spread the corner with jam. Roll each square starting in the jam corner to make crescent shape.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until edges are beginning to turn golden brown.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lentil and Sausage Soup

I had this soup recently at an Italian restaurant and loved it! I was thrilled to find this recipe and to be able to adapt it for our taste.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Ready in: 3 hours 15 minutes
Yields: 10 servings
Cost: approx. $4.75 (without pasta)

1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage ($1.75)
1 large onion, chopped ($.50)
1 stalk celery, chopped finely ($.10)
1 Tablespoon garlic chopped
16 ounces red lentils rinsed ($1.50)
1 carrot shredded ($.10)
14 cups water
4 Tablespoon chicken soup stock base ($.25)
1 small can diced tomatoes ($.50)
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
2 Bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1. Brown sausage in large pot. Add onion, celery and garlic. Saute. Stir in lentils, carrot, water, soup base, and tomatoes. Add all other seasonings. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Cover and summer for 2 /12 to 3 hours.
2. Add 1/2 pound of pasta if desired and cook 15-20 minutes longer.

This could be cooled and frozen in a zip lock. Unthaw at room temperature and reheat.

The results are in...

5 thumbs up. 3 neither up or down. 1 thumb down.

I really should work on presentation, I know.

Sausage Polenta Bake

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Ready in: 40 minutes
Yields: 12-16 servings
Cost: approx. $7.00

2 cups yellow cornmeal or polenta ($1.25)
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese ($.50)
1 pound Italian sausage ($2.25)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce ($1.00)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese ($2.00)

1. In large saucepan, combine cornmeal and salt. Gradually add boiling water while whisking. Cook and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes or until mixture boils. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.

2. Spread polenta into greased 9x13 pan.. (We use a 1 1/2 sheet cake pan.) Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook sausage and add spaghetti sauce. Cook until heated through.

3. Spread mixture over polenta; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

This recipe was adapted from the original found here.

The results are in....

7 thumbs up. 2 thumbs down (mainly due to an aversion to red sauce).

"It was a little spicy." -Hannah

"I liked the creamy bottom layer." -Lydia

"It was easy to fix. It reminded me of lasagna, but not runny and hard to cut." -Mom