Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

We just finished eating these for breakfast, and they are to die for! The most amazing cinnamon rolls, EVER! These cost about $0.40 a roll to make, and they are pretty easy (but, take a little time). I mixed the ingredients before making dinner, and let it rise while I was cooking and cleaning up. By then, it was time for the step. The second rising was done in the refrigerator overnight, so they would be ready for breakfast the next day.

1 Tbl yeast (I used rapid rise, but you could use active dry)
1 c milk
1/3 c white sugar
1/2 c melted butter
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 c flour
1/4 c butter, softened
1 c brown sugar
3 Tbl cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
milk or water 
  • Warm milk in microwave for 1 minute. Dissolve yeast and 1 Tbl of the white sugar in warm milk.
  • Mix the rest of the sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour.
  • Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix well.
  • Knead into a ball. Let rise until double in size.
  • Roll out to a big rectangle about 1/4 inch thick
  • Spread with filling: spread butter on dough, sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture
  • Roll up and slice into 1 inch slices-I rolled starting at a short end of the rectangle-so we had 8 fat cinnamon rolls. If you want a lot of smaller cinnamon rolls you could roll from the long end.
  • Place in a greased 9x13 pan. Cover loosely with clear plastic wrap.
  • Let rise overnight in refrigerator (or rise until doubled, if you do it all in one day).

  • The next morning...Bake @ 400 for 10 minutes (or until lightly browned)
  • For icing, mix 1 c powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla in a small bowl. Add milk or water 1 tsp at a time until you get the right consistency for icing. Drizzle on warm rolls.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Simple Mashed Potatoes

We eat mashed potatoes about once a week. Potatoes are so cheap and versitile. They are a starchy vegetable, however, so we usually have another green vegetable to make up for it.
makes enough for 5-6 servings
6 small/medium potatoes
2 Tbl butter
salt and pepper to taste
  • Peel and cube potatoes. Boil in water 30 minutes.
  • Drain and put in mixing bowl.
  • Add butter and start mixing. Gradually add milk until fluffy. It doesn't take much!
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes, I don't mix this in, but rather sit it on the table for diners to add it for themselves

Saucy Meatloaf

This is the best meatloaf we've tried. If my husband eats it, you know it's good. Sometimes, I add a couple slices of turkey bacon for a different flavor. For added nutrition, sometimes I add pureed vegetables (carrots are good). I have to puree them so my husband can't see them! adapted from "Wholesome Sugarfree Cooking" cookbook

1 egg, slightly beaten
2 Tbl ketchup
1 3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp chili powder
dash pepper
a few shakes of dried chopped onion or onion powder
1/2 c milk
1 c oats
1 lb ground turkey (or beef)
1/4 c ketchup
1/2 Tbl honey
1/2 tsp mustard or spicy brown mustard
  • Mix all ingredients.
  • Bake @ 350 for 40 minutes
  • Add topping. 
  • Bake for 15 more minutes.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Deep Dish Spaghetti

This is my all time favorite dish! My aunt used to make it when I would spend the night at her house, so when I was younger it was something special. Now, I get cravings for it, and since I'm an adult I can make it myself. It makes enough for the two of us to have two helpings each for dinner and two helpings each for lunch the next day. One helping is probably enough, but we love it so much, we just keep eating. It costs about $5 to make. The only thing you can't buy at Aldi is the Kraft Spaghetti Mix.

1 box Kraft Tangy Italian Spaghetti Mix
 1 lb ground turkey (or beef)
2-8 oz cans tomato sauce
2 cups shredded cheese (mozzarella or co-jack)
  • Cook spaghetti from Kraft box as directed on box.
  • Brown meat
  • Drain meat and add tomato sauce, seasoning and parmesan cheese packets (from Kraft box), simmer
  • Drain spaghetti and add to meat mixture.
  • Layer half of the spaghetti mixture, pepperoni, and half of the cheese in a baking dish.
  • Repeat layers.
  • Bake at 350 until the cheese is melted.
Spaghetti on FoodistaSpaghetti

    Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

    This is one of our favorite breakfast meals! We eat it at least once a week. It is so easy, delicious, and costs only about a dollar for two servings! If we don't have bagels on hand, we use english muffins or toast.

    for 2 sandwiches
    3 eggs
    seasoned salt
    2 slices of cheese or shredded cheese
    2 slices turkey bacon, bacon, or sausage
    2 bagels, english muffins, or bread
    • Grease (we  have a spray bottle with canola oil in it, but you could use cooking spray) a medium sized skillet  and place over medium heat.
    • In a bowl, whisk the eggs with a little bit of milk and seasoned salt
    • Pour eggs into the skillet and cook until set. Don't scramble the eggs.
    • Meanwhile, toast bagels and cook bacon.
    • When eggs are set, use a spatula to make a line down the middle of the skillet. Fold each egg section in half (like an omelet) and slide onto the bagels. 
    • Top with cheese, bacon, and the other part of the bagel.

    Egg on FoodistaEgg

      Baked Mac N' Cheese (with Ham)

      I was trying to think of a way to use that 7lb ham that we bought last week, and who doesn't like Mac N' Cheese? This recipe adapted from a Taste of Home cookbook turned out to be delicious, but it did make a lot of food. We ended up saving half of it in the freezer for a time when I don't feel like cooking. I'm sure you could make a half recipe in a smaller pan.
      I think this cost about $5 for all the ingredients (at Aldi), but it made 4 meals (dinner and leftovers for lunch, twice) so it would be $1.25 for each meal. Two people definitely couldn't eat out for that little!

      4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
      dried chopped onion (to taste)
      3/4 c butter, divided
      6 Tbl flour
      4 1/2 c milk
      4 c shredded sharp cheddar (or white cheddar)
      1 tsp mustard
      1 1/2 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp pepper
      3/4 c cracker crumbs
      optional: chopped ham
      • Cook macaroni
      • Meanwhile, saute onion in 1/2 c butter. Add flour, whisk until blended. Add milk. Bring to boil; cook and stir 2 minutes  or until thickened. Stir in cheese, mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth.
      • Drain macaroni and add to sauce. Add ham. Stir until coated. 
      • Transfer to greased 13x9 dish. Melt remaining 1/4 c butter and toss with bread crumbs. Sprinkle over macaroni mixture.
      • Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through

      Monday, December 28, 2009

      Shopping List/2 weeks

      I went grocery shopping today and bought food for the next two weeks. I thought it might be easier than trying to go on January 2! I like to avoid crowds when possible so I can take my time. My goal each week is to spend $50 or less on groceries. I spent $88 for the two weeks' supplies and that includes a couple of things for our New Year's party later this week.
      Here is a list of foods I plan on making over the next couple of weeks. Check back in on the blog to see recipes and how they turn out.

      Homemade Mac N Cheese with Ham (from our frozen stash) and salad
      Deep Dish Spaghetti and salad
      Meatloaf and salad
      Homemade Noodles with Beef and salad
      Chicken Casserole and salad
      Chili and Cornbread
      Fried Rice
      Burgers with boxed Mac N Cheese and green beans
      Homemade Pepperoni Pizza
      Black Bean Tamale Pie and corn
      Ham (from our frozen stash), Broccoli, and frozen homemade rolls
      Baked chicken and broccoli
      Hashbrown Casserole
      Peanut Butter Fudge

      Sunday, December 27, 2009

      Caramel Bars...or Caramel Pecan Bars

      Tonight we really wanted a sweet snack, but we hadn't been to the store because of all the Christmas festivities. I found this recipe that used ingredients that we had on hand. I also got a new brownie pan that I wanted to try out (it works!). They turned out to be amazing. My husband kept eating them each time he walked by the plate....I think he kept walking by so he could eat them!
      The original recipe was for Caramel Pecan Bars, but my husband doesn't like nuts. I figured you can't go wrong with caramel, so I just left them out!

      1/2 cup butter (could use imitation)
      1 cup plus 2 Tbl brown sugar
      1 egg
      1 tsp vanilla (I used imitation)
      3/4 cup flour
      1 tsp baking powder
      Optional: 1 cup chopped pecans, powdered sugar
      • Over medium heat, heat butter and brown sugar until sugar dissolves
      • In bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, and butter mixture.
      • Combine flour and baking powder, add gradually to butter mixture.
      • Stir in pecans if desired---I didn't use these
      • Spread into 8x8 pan (or special brownie pan, if you have one)
      • Bake @350 for 20-25 minutes or until tooth pick in center comes out with moist crumbs and edges are crisp. 
      • Cool on wire rack.
      • Dust with powdered sugar if desired---I didn't do this

        Tuesday, December 22, 2009

        Chicken Burritos

        This is a recipe I have been meaning to make for a while now, and I am so glad I finally did. I saw the recipe in a Biggest Loser cookbook, but adapted it a little to suit my needs. 
        You can buy most of these spices at Aldi...all except maybe cumin. I also bought a 3.5lb bag of frozen chicken thighs for $5.99. I used 4 thighs to make this recipe. The tortilllas were $0.99 at Aldi, too!

        1-lb boneless chicken (thighs or breasts), cubed
        2 tsp canola oil
        2 tsp paprika
        1/2 tsp onion powder
        1/2 tsp garlic powder
        1/4 tsp ground cumin
        1/4 tsp salt
        1/4 tsp pepper
        flour tortillas
        optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese, lettuce, chopped tomato, taco sauce, salsa, guacamole
        • In large bowl, combine chicken and the next 7 ingredients
        • Toss to coat chicken. 
        • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 10 minutes.
        • Heat medium skillet over medium-high heat.
        • Cook chicken until lightly browned and no longer pink.
        • Keep warm
        • Warm tortilla in skillet (30 seconds each side) or microwave (30 seconds total)
        • Place tortilla on plate. Add chicken and toppings of your choice.
        • Fold tortilla sides over filling and then fold up the bottom.

        Monday, December 21, 2009

        Tacos...well, they were made at home

        So for dinner this time, I made store tacos. Homemade of course...well, I made them at home anyway, just not from scratch.  Sometimes, I just want something fast, cheap, and easy. This fit the bill. I bought all the supplies at Aldi, of course. Here is the breakdown...
        1-lb ground turkey ($1.19) or beef
        taco seasoning ($0.33)
        taco shells ($0.98)
        refried beans ($0.69)
        shredded cheese
        $3.19 (this doesn't include the cost of shredded cheese or salsa, which I consider to be staples around the house all the time....shredded cheese at Aldi is $2.29 which is about $0.20/ounce and salsa is $1.99-I think)

        Wednesday, December 16, 2009

        The Ham...Dinner Bagels and Oven Fries

        Sometimes we buy ham steaks for dinner. I like them because they are so simple. Cook and eat. No need to season.
        Last weekend when I went to Aldi, I looked at the ham steaks and noticed they were $3-5 depending on weight. I hate to spend that much on meat that I will just use for one meal! So, I had an the special purchase freezer, they had spiral hams (half a ham) for $1.29/lb,so I bought a seven pound ham! I knew we couldn't possibly eat this in once sitting, so I baked it according to package directions, and froze portions in meal size freezer bags. We ended up with eight bags! Not bad for $9.95 ($1.24/meal)! I've never cooked ham before, but it tastes amazing and it was really easy.
        For dinner tonight we had some of this ham, oatmeal dinner rolls, and oven fries. The oatmeal dinner rolls did not turn out as expected. I think I could have thrown they through the cold winter window, they were so dense.The taste was great, but the texture... I like my dinner rolls to be light and fluffy. These things were more like bagels disguised as dinner rolls! We ate them anyway, because I'm that cheap.
        The great thing about the oven fries, besides the taste, is the cost! I got a 10 pound bag of potatoes for $1.39.  So, if you imagine these potatoes will last for about 10 meals, that's only $0.14 a meal!
        Here's the recipe for the oven fries:

        4 potatoes
        3 Tbl canola oil
        1 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
        Optional seasonings: garlic/paremsan
        • Wash the potatoes and cut into fat french fries
        • Toss with oil and seasonings
        • Place in single layer on baking sheet
        • Bake @ 350 until tender (40 minutes?)

        Basil Pesto Spaghetti

        This is one of my favorites! A lot of flavor, not a lot of cash...

        12 oz spaghetti ($1.59/32oz box Aldi)
        3 Tbl dried basil
        3-4 cloves garlic, minced
        salt to taste
        pepper to taste
        1/3 cup canola oil
        parmesan cheese
        optional: cooked cubed chicken, mushrooms, pine nuts

        • Boil spaghetti, drain, place in serving bowl
        • Blend basil, garlic, salt, pepper, and oil
        • Toss the pasta with pesto. Add chicken or mushrooms if desired. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese

          Mock Red Lobster biscuits

          Mock Red-Lobster Biscuits 

          As close as you can get to the real thing without paying $40!

          1 3/4 cup flour
          3 tsp baking powder
          1 tsp salt
          1/3 cup vegetable shortening
          2/3 cup milk
          1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
          1/4 cup butter, melted
          1/4 tsp garlic powder
          Parsley (optional)
          • Combine the first four ingredients until it looks like fine crumbs
          • Add milk and cheese
          • Beat 30 seconds
          • Spoon onto cookie sheet
          • Bake @ 450 for 8-10 minutes until just golden
          • Combine melted butter and garlic
          • Brush onto hot biscuits
          • Sprinkle with parsley

          Now serving...Chili

          Chili - $2.28

          This chili is so easy and super cheap!
          Adapted from Bush's bean can recipe

          1-lb ground turkey (or beef) ($1.19 Aldi)
          1 can chili beans ($0.59 Aldi)
          2-8oz cans tomato sauce (or 1-15oz can) ($0.50 Aldi)
          chili powder
          optional: onion, cheese, black beans, seasoned salt, cinnamon, etc
          • Brown meat (with chopped onion if desired)
          • Drain, Add beans and tomato sauce
          • Add chili powder to taste
          • Cover and simmer until the rest of dinner is ready

          Tuesday, December 15, 2009

          What is this?

          I am new to blogging, but I'm not new to Internet searching. I have been searching for a while now for blogs or articles about saving money, particularly in regards to cooking, and I just haven't found exactly what I am looking for. I want to save money on groceries, but eat well. I don't have time to search for sales, clip coupons, combine sales and coupons, or shop at three or more stores a week just to get the best deal.
          So, here I am. I'm writing about the budget-friendly menus my family enjoys throughout the week. I'm writing to share the recipes that are family favorites. I'm writing about my experiences with trying new recipes...and ordering pizza when they don't work out the way I had planned. And, mostly I'm writing to keep myself accountable to staying on a budget while being a "gourmet" cook.
          If you are curious, I try to keep our budget to $200 or less for our family of 3. Most of the recipes/meals I make include leftovers, so we don't have to buy extras to make lunches. Most meals would feed 4-5 people, so if your family is a little bigger than ours, you could still have enough food.
          I do most of our shopping at Aldi, but there are few things that cannot be purchased there, or that are cheaper at other stores. Primarly, my second choice is Meijer, but I realize there is not a store in every city. Wal-Mart has similar prices to Meijer, but I try to avoid that place like the plague...Just a personal preference.

          Special Note

          For the present, anonymous comments are not allowed at Robin, Restored due to the large number of spam comments that make it through Blogger's spam filter. I'm sorry about those of you who comment as Anonymous and sign your names. I'll try later to enable the function again.
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