Sunday, July 27, 2008

july 27, 2008: frugal feasts mussels and green bean salad

Mussels over Fettuccini
To serve 8
This recipe can be adapted to what you have on hand. If you have a bottle of white wine, use a cup of it here, and drain the canned tomatoes before using. If you don’t have a bottle of white wine (or don’t want to waste it on cooking), use the tomatoes with their juice.
For the linguine:
2 pounds dried fettuccini or spaghetti
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
For the mussels:
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 can diced tomatoes, 15 ounce size
1 cup white wine or juice from tomatoes, see note above
2 bags mussels, opened, and inspected. Toss any with broken shells
3/4 cup half and half or light cream
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the salt and the pasta and cook according to package directions until done. Drain, place in a large shallow bowl and add the butter or oil. Toss and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large, lidded pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and push it around until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Dump in the tomatoes and wine (if using) and bring to a simmer. Add the mussels and cover the pot. Let cook for about 6 minutes, just until the shells open and the mussels look firm and opaque.
Scoop the mussels out with a slotted spoon and put them on top of the linguine in the bowl. Raise the heat up to high and boil the cooking liquid for a few minutes to cook off some of the juice. Add the cream and stir well to mix. It should coat the back of a spoon. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed (you shouldn’t need much salt). Pour this sauce over the mussels in the bowl. Top with the chopped parsley and serve in cereal bowls, passing crushed red pepper flakes to the brave ones. Have a large bowl available for the shells.
Cost per serving: $1.42

Fresh Green Bean Salad
For eight servings
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4-5 oil cured sun dried tomatoes, chopped into bits
Large handful fresh basil or other herb, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, sliced into thin slivers
2 pounds fresh green beans, stems removed
5-6 more sun dried tomatoes cut into slivers, or a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
¼ cup pine nuts
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dump in the cut up green beans and cook. For a crunchier texture cook the beans for 5 minutes . For a softer texture, cook for 9-11 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.
Stir together the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add the cooked, drained green beans and toss to coat with the dressing. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Cost per serving: $.45 without optional ingredients, $.73 per serving with grape tomatoes and pine nuts

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

july 16, 2008: frugal feasts freezer favorites

Frozen Chicken Breasts
- one half per person plus a couple extras-left , overs make awesome chicken salad.
2 tablespoons olive oil or a spritz of cooking spray like Pam
Salt and Pepper to taste
½ cup mayonnaise-more or less
½ cup breadcrumbs (made from 3 pieces of fresh bread or from a can-Italian style are nice here)
½ cup grated parmesan (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Smear or spray the pan with the oil and put in the chicken breasts. Don't worry about unclumping them if you have used the minimalist approach.
Season with salt and pepper.
Frost them with mayonnaise, using about a tablespoon per breast.
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parmesan if using.
Cover the pan with foil and roast until the breasts are cooked through.
This will take about 30 minutes for the mashed and separated ones and more like 45 minutes for the clumped ones.
Take the foil off for the last 5 minutes to crisp up the crumbs, and serve hot.

Freezer Steak
There is a cut of meat that is known as the Butcher's Secret. We don't know what part of the cow it comes from, all we know is that it is tender, delicious and about $3.99 per pound. The actual name is First Cut Chuck Steak, Boneless. 3 pounds of steak should feed 8 people, but we need to warn you that it is so delicious and tender that it is hard to stop at one serving.
A half pound per person is a better serving size.
These too can go directly from the freezer to the fire.
Pull out the steaks and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
Throw them onto a medium hot grill.
Close the cover and leave them alone for 10 minutes.
Flip the steaks, reclose the cover and leave them for another ten minutes.
They will be perfectly medium rare.

Freezer Corn Salad
The hardest part of this recipe is finding the can opener. We specify shoe peg corn because it is crunchier and tastes more like fresh corn, but use what you can get.
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp garlic salt or ½ tsp regular salt
one clove garlic minced
Several grindings of fresh ground pepper
1 can black beans rinsed and drained
1 pound bag of frozen "shoepeg" corn, rinsed under warm water to separate
1 red bell pepper, diced
4-5 leaves fresh basil or other fresh herb, chopped, optional
In a medium sized serving bowl stir together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

Stay Fresh Salad
The great thing about this salad is its longevity, it will last 2-3 days before going south. The secret is no wet stuff if you know what I mean.
We love to have a salad most nights and once again time is a big factor here. make it ahead a couple times a week, cukes tomatoes on the side and it is on the menu most nights.
1 bag of romain hearts, usally three to a pkg. chop all three
1/2 bag of soy sprouts (look for the dryest pkg of these) in the produce section the red package ,not the green which is bean sprouts ( the big market basket has these most of the time )
1 medium red onion sliced very thin
3/4 shredded cheddar cheese
toss well and serve, with your favorite dressing, tonite and tommorrow as well

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

july 2, 2008: frugal feasts grilled brats, orzo bake and onion relish

Brats in Beer
Makes 15—enough to generously serve 8 – 10 people
15 bratwurst – the ones we buy come 5 to a package
2 packages “Coney Island” style hot dog rolls
2 bottles dark beer such as IPA
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
Pour the beer into a large covered pan. Add the garlic and the brats and bring to a very low simmer. (The surface of the liquid should be just barely moving).
Simmer for 30 minutes on low heat, until sausages are cooked though.
Grill, turning frequently, until slightly charred and heated through.

Sweet and Sour Onion Relish
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ pound onions, cut in half and then thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Sugar
Salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are soft and lightly colored.
Add remaining ingredients and cook another minute or two, stirring frequently, until sugar is melted and onions are shiny.
Beer Brats with Onions and Rolls serves 8-10 generously and costs $1.02 per brat

Ricotta Orzo Bake
Serves 8-10
1 pound orzo or other small pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch leeks, (approximately 1.5 pounds), trimmed, chopped into ½ inch pieces and rinsed well. To clean leeks, slice in half lengthwise, chop and place in colander.
Put colander under running water and stir around with your hand until all the grit is washed away
2 cups frozen petite peas
2 cups ricotta cheese
4 slices vegetarian bacon, or regular bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cup whole milk
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, or other herb of your choice such as chives, basil or oregano Zest and juice of one lemon
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
Pepper to taste
Bread crumbs made from three slices wheat or white bread, in food processor or blender, or 3/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Fill a large pot with water and a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the chopped leeks.
Cook until the leeks soften and turn bright green, about 3 minutes.
Add the peas, salt and pepper and cook for one > minute. Remove from heat. Add the ricotta, milk, lemon, salt and pepper and mix well. Put the orzo mixture into a 4 quart casserole dish, and smooth surface with a spatula.
Top with the br eadcrumbs and drizzle with the melted butter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, > until hot and bubbly around the edges. Serve hot or at room temp.
Ricotta bake serves 8-10 generously and costs $1.05 per serving.
A note on our costs per serving: All the ingredients were purchased at area grocery stores.
The prices do not include small amounts of household pantry staples like salt, pepper, vinegar and breadcrumbs.