Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spaghetti Carbonara

I had a lot of leftover spaghetti noodles and not much else for lunch. I searched some recipes and modified to up with this my own version with the ingredients we had on hand. I'm sure it would be much more delicious with the cream and white whine. It was a little drier than the kid's preferred so I think next time I'll add a little chicken broth to the noodles.

Prep Time: less than 5 minutes
Cook time: less than 10 minutes
Serves: 8
Costs: approx. $2.00

1 pound of cooked spaghetti ($.75)
4-6 slices of turkey bacon ($.50)
1/4 cup of onion diced
1 tsp minced garlic
olive oil
3 eggs ($.25)
1/4-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese ($.50)

Reheat spaghetti in the microwave. Mix eggs and cheese together and set aside. In olive oil saute garlic and onions until translucent. Add bacon that has been cut into pieces and cook. Add warm noodles and toss well. Slowly add cheese mixture and continue tossing until eggs are cooked.

You can find this along with lots of other budget friendly recipes at The Grocery Cart Challenge's Friday Recipe Swap.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spaghetti Herb Mix

I'm interested in making more mixes from the spices I already have in the cabinet. I came across the book, "Miserly Moms", on our bookshelf. After dusting it off, I found a chapter on mix recipes. I'll be trying them out in smaller portions just to make sure they pass the test. If they work out well, I plan on making jars of mixes to use regularly.

Spaghetti Herb Mix

1/2 cup Garlic Powder
1/2 cup Onion Powder
1/2 Cup Dried Oregano
3 T. Dried Basil
3 T. Dried Thyme
3 T. Salt
2 T. Sugar

Place 16 oz of tomatoes in a blender with 4 T. of the mix. Liquify. Add additional ingredients such as mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, green peppers as desired. Warm and serve.

Cost Comparison:

Jar of generic spaghetti sauce: $1.25
Package of store bought mix with 16 oz of tomatoes: $2.00
Homemade spaghetti mix with bulk canned tomatoes and spices on hand: $.36

Okay, this one's a keeper. Sean said it is the best sauce we've ever had at home. I think I'll need to take into account the amount of salt in the mix if I'm using canned tomatoes. Maybe I'll leave the salt out altogether and add it to taste when the sauce is heating. I can't imagine how this would taste with fresh vegetables from our garden this summer!

You can find this recipe along with many others at The Grocery Cart Challenge's Friday Recipe Swap and at Life As a Mom's Frugal Friday.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chocolate Crackles (the easy way)

I love these cookies but have never made them from scratch because it seemed like a whole lot of work to melt the chocolate over a dutch oven..... Recently, I found an easy version and tested them out at a family gathering. No one noticed the difference. In fact, there wasn't one left on the plate.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 8-10 minutes
Yields: 4 1/2 dozen
Cost: Approx. $1.00

1 box of Brownie mix ($.89)
1 cup flour
1 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup oil
powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients well. If dough is sticky add extra flour and chill dough for 5 minutes. Roll dough into balls and cover with powdered sugar. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes. Do not over bake.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bulk Shopping: Comparing Aldi, Sam's Club and GFS

Here in Indiana we don't have bulk or consignment groceries, but we do have other options. I looked everywhere on the internet for a comparison of bulk prices vs. Aldi prices. Being that I've stopped using coupons for now, I really need to find the best prices out there. Cooking for a month at a time requires a lot of ingredients and upfront cash. The chain supermarkets just are not an option for this amount of shopping. Normally, I can buy all that I need for around $180.00, but if I could somehow even save 15% a month, this could translate to about $450 a year!

Item/ Sam's /Aldi /GFS

Whole Wheat Pasta $.94/lb ... $1.45/lb...n/a

Cheddar Cheese $.49/cup... $.82/cup... $.55/cup

Mozarella Cheese $.48/cup... $.82/cup... $.49/cup

Oats $.05/oz... $.04/oz... $.07/oz

Green Beans $.03/oz... $.03/oz ...$.04/oz

Corn $.03/...$.03/oz ... $.02/oz

Flour $.46/lb... $.33/lb... $.35/lb

Peaches $.05/oz... $.06/oz...n/a

Applesauce n/a... $.04/oz... $.05/oz

Diced Tomato $.02/oz... $.03/oz... $.02/oz

Peanut Butter $1.20/lb... $1.24/lb... $1.39/lb

Sugar $.50/lb... $.40/lb... $.58/lg

eggs $.12/egg... $.08/egg... n/a

honey $.12/oz... $.07/oz...n/a

turkey bacon $1.67/pkg... $1.89/pkg... n/a

butter $1.67/lb... $1.99/lb... n/a

It may seem as though this is just a saving of pennies, but difference really shows up when you consider the size of each item. For example, a can of vegetables at Sam's is actually 104 ounces and a jar of peanut butter is 6 pounds! This translates into dollars saved, not pennies.

I have noticed the biggest impact in saving on cheese and butter. A sale on cheese for $.99/cup happens once in a great while. It's half that everyday at Sam's Club. There is a down side of buying in bulk that can not be ignored. What should a person do with 25 pounds of flour or 5 pounds of shredded cheese or a huge can of applesauce once it is opened? Dividing everything up into smaller portions and freezing them until use has been working for me just fine. And not picking up an overpriced jar of peanut butter whenever I'm at the store is well worth the six pound jar that dropped on my foot.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Porcupine Meatballs

I remember my mom making this dish and just loving it as a little girl. It's one of my favorite! I've never met a kid who didn't gobble it down.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 8-10

2 pounds ground beef ($4.50)
1 1/2 cups of white rice uncooked ($.25)
1 onion finely chopped ($.25)
2 cans of tomato soup ($.75)
1/2 cup hot water
Worcestershire sauce

Combine well the raw meat, rice, onion, pepper and 1 can of tomato soup. Form into meatballs and place into muffin tins. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until meatballs begin to firm. (I had the worst time cooking the raw meatballs in the skillet without them burning or falling to pieces. This little trick actually allows me time to step away from the stove.)

Meanwhile, mix a can of tomato soup with hot water and Worcestershire sauce to taste. Place meatballs in a deep skillet, cover with sauce and heat on medium for 15-20 minutes.

Serve over white rice.

**I usually make this meal in bulk portions for the freezer. Simply place completed meal in a baking dish and cover well for freezing. When ready to eat, thaw at room temperature. Baked covered at 350 until warmed through. I often keep some tomato soup on hand to add a little extra sauce if needed.**

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oatmeal Applesauce Cake

I'm always looking for a cake that require icing. It's great for special occasions, but for a mid week desert I'd rather have this cake with a cup of hot tea. It's seems much more like comfort food that way.

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Bake Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 12
Cost: Approx. $1.00

1/2 cup butter softened ($.50)
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup applesauce ($.50)
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup rolled oats ($.25)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cream butter with sugar. Add eggs, applesauce and water and beat well. Add dry ingredients and incorporate well. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until it tests done.

**This recipe along with many others can be found at Grocery Gathering's Friday Recipe Swap**

Friday, March 6, 2009

Depression Era Cooking

Check out this delightful 93 year old cook. She demonstrates how to cook Depression style and throws in a few stories along the way. She is so cute I could squeeze her! I so wish I would have asked my grandmas more about their lives in and out of the kitchen. We all could certainly take a few lessons from those who have gone before us.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Creamy Potato Soup

Thanks to Heather we've been enjoying this soup during these cold winter months. It definitely fits in the category of comfort foods. This has been a great way for me to use up the cauliflower I stockpiled earlier when it was nearly free. The best part? Little do they know this soup contains a whole head of cauliflower! Enjoy.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 8-10
Cost: Approx. $2.50-$5.00

4-6 strips of (turkey)bacon snipped into pieces ($.50)
4 large or 8 small potatoes cut into cubes ($1.00)
1 head of cauliflower cut into bite sized pieces ($1.00-$3.00)
Chicken stock granules
2-3 cups milk
Cheese (optional)

Brown the bacon in the bottom of a stock pot. Removed bacon and add potatoes and cauliflower to the pot. Saute in bacon grease for one minute. Add enough water to cover vegetables and cooresponding amount of granules. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Place vegetables and liquid in a blender and liquify until smooth. Return soup to the stove and add milk until soup reaches desired consistency.

Serve topped with bacon pieces and cheese.

This recipe can also be found at The Grocery Cart Challenge's Recipe Swap. Go there to browse lots of great recipes!