Friday, February 27, 2009

On Food

I think this has been a good week dinner wise over here. Some frugal highlights: hashbrowns and french fries for .15/serving, as opposed to .50/serving at the supermarket, and a roast chicken that could turn into 3 meals (roasted, pot pied, and souped) for $3.50. I estimated the cost of each, including in my estimate the cost of each portion of the meal. Even though it's not listed, all the meals included a fruit or veggie, which adds about $1. Hopefully once our garden gets going that cost will be gone! We had the following yummy recipes for dinner:

Mini Quiche and Hashbrowns ($7.00)

Quiche ($5)
crescent rolls
1/2 stick cream cheese
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated cheese
cooked and crumbled sausage or bacon
diced onions
diced peppers

Cook bacon or sausage. Press crescent rolls into greased muffin cups. Mix eggs, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese. Add onions, peppers, and meat. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes until knife comes out clean.

Commentary: We love these! The nice thing is they are very customizable. I make mine without the peppers and onions. I fill up 1/3 muffin cups with the batter that doesn't have the veggies, then add the veggies and fill the rest of the cups for Matt and Greg. Greg absolutely loves these, and calls them "muffins". The also taste good reheated. I want to experiment with freezing them as well.

Hashbrowns ($1.00)

Dice potatoes. Cook on med-high in a pan where the butter has melted and mixed with the oil. Cover, and let cook for 5-10 minutes. Turn over, and cook for 5-7 more minutes. Remove from pan, and salt to taste.

Commentary: I'm a hashbrown addict. I made these from scratch for the first time, and Matt said they were the best he'd ever had. Now, I'm not sure if that is the best I ever made, or the best he ever had. They were good, though. I also diced triple the amount of potatoes and froze the extra. I'm hoping they will turn out as well. Oh, and since I made these with the mini quiche, I cooked them in the fat from the sausage. I think that made them extra delicious.

Roast Chicken and Gravy ($6.00)

Roast Chicken ($4.00)
Roasting Chicken

Preheat over to 500. Rub butter all over chicken, getting under the skin if possible. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Cook in the oven, breast side down, for 11 minutes/lb. We ate it with mashed potatoes and broccoli.

Commentary: This is such a yummy way to cook chicken. The meat is really tender and flavorful. I've done this with a pricier turkey breast and a cheap-o (.69/lb) chicken. Delicious every time. Probably the best part is how far this meal can go. We'll use the meat for tomorrow night's chicken pot pie. And, I made a yummy stock from the bones. Well, the stock smelled yummy. We'll never actually know how it tasted, as tonight when I was making dinner Greg (Captain Destructo) pulled it out of the fridge and spilled it all over the floor. Thanks bud!

Gravy ($1.00)
chicken fat
chicken stock
Gravy Master

Combine chicken fat (dripping from pan) and flour in equal parts to form a roux. Slowly add chicken broth, whisking after each addition. Add Gravy Master if, like me, you need to have your chicken gravy be a certain color.

Commentary: So easy and so delicious! I didn't even need to add salt to this.

Slow Cooker Kielbasa ($5.50)

brown sugar
brown mustard

Mix equal parts brown sugar and brown mustard. Slice kielbasa. Combine, cook in slow cooker at Low for 3 hours.

Commentary: YMMV on this one. It was good, but I cooked, per the recipe directions, for 6 hours on Low. Our kielbasa was very done. The thing about kielbasa is it only really needs to be heated, so 3 hours on Low should be plenty. I think it would have been even better if it hadn't been quite do done.

Shrimp Scampi and Homemade French Fries ($7.50)

Shrimp Scampi ($6)
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tsp garlic
salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in oven safe dish. Cook at 350 until shrimp are pink and sauce is bubbly.

Commentary: This would be delicious over pasta, but we promised Greg french fries so I made those instead. I also served this with green beans, which tasted really good with the scampi sauce poured over.

Homemade French Fries ($1.50)
potatoes, peeled and sliced into shoestrings

Heat deep fryer to b/t 300 and 350. Place potatoes, about one cup at a time, in deep fryer for 2 minutes. Remove. Let cool for at least 5 minutes. After all batches have come out (they'll be soggy and pale), heat oil to 365 and then cook in batches (again 1 cup) for 3 minutes. Make sure oil has a chance to heat b/t batches.

Commentary: Joy of Cooking, where I got the recipe, claims that these have less fat per serving than a baked potato with butter. I'm not sure if that's good news for the fries, or bad news for the potato.