Saturday, February 6, 2010

How to Series: Making Vegetable Stock

Welcome to our first How To Series. We decided to introduce this series as a weekly feature mostly because as amateur cooks we often say to ourselves, "How the heck do we....."

Thus as we learn we will share our knowledge.

This week's How To Series is on making vegetable stock.

You don't have to buy it at the store, in fact making it at home can save you money!
Plus, it makes your house smell like you labored away all day in the kitchen when in fact you hardly spent any time in their at all.

What you will need:
A big pot
Bay Leaves
Other herbs and spices can be used as well (I used Cumin and Peppercorns)

What to do:

1. Chop your onions. Not too small now, keep them pretty darn big!

2. Chop your carrots! Again, don't worry about making them too small. They will get mushy and break up if you do. Chop your celery. Remove the big outer leaves as they are bitter. But, for a nice celery taste you can keep in the tender inner leaves.

3. Put everything into a big pot and COVER with water. Now, add a full garlic clove. No need to chop it up! (I did not have one today, so I used pre-chopped garlic).

4. Add some spices. I used bay leaves, peppercorns, and cumin.

5. Boil for two minutes rapidly and then turn your stove to simmer. Let this simmer for one hour! When this is complete drain the stock into a dish and set your veggies aside.

You have just made vegetable stock! You may salt to taste. You can either use the stock immediately or freeze it.

What can you do with the leftover veggies? Many things.
Here is one idea:
Flavor them, cut them up some, and add them to cous-cous for a lovely side dish!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday: Fresh Fish. Rice and Steamed Veggies

Fresh fish is a huge favorite in our family. We don't have it too often, but when we do it's a treat!
Many people are turned away from fresh fish because they don't know how to cook it properly.
It is so easy and quick to make!

Here is what you need:

Fresh Fish (1 piece per person, we used Tilapia), Rice Pilaf (or your choice), frozen sweet peas, lemon pepper (or your choice of seasoning)

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then sprinkle seasoning on your pan for your fish.

Step 2: Place fish on pan (we use a cookie sheet), then sprinkle with an adequate amount of seasoning (lemon pepper or Italian seasoning works great!) Then put in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes.
Step 3: Start cooking your rice and veggies.

Step 4: After 15 minutes, check your fish. It should all be white and you can flake it with a fork.

Step 5: Dinner is served! (Notice: I totally forgot to cook my veggies! I had mommy brain, we sat down to eat and then I noticed it! My husband added some garlic biscuits as well.)

Meal serves: 2
Cost of meal: $4.00 (rice a roni was FREE and biscuits were 30 cents by using coupons)
Cost per person: $2.00

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wednesday: Sweet and Sour Chicken with Steamed Broccoli

This is one recipe that I have made when entertaining guests, and it is always a hit... so make extra!

Sweet n Sour Chicken

Here is what you need for the chicken marinade:

1/2 C. brown sugar
1 clove garlic
3/4 C. vinegar
1/4 C. Soy sauce
1/2 C. water
2 tbl. cornstarch

(Not pictured)

1 lb Chicken breasts ( I use boneless)
Broccoli (fresh is best)
Rice to serve 4

Step 1: Mix all ingredients and pour over chicken in 9 x 13 baking dish

Step 2: Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, turning halfway through.

Step 3: While chicken is cooking, steam broccoli and rice.

Step 4: Serve chicken and broccoli over rice. We like to pour extra sauce over the rice and broccoli too.

This is a great, filling meal that is very simple and frugal!

Meal Serves: 4
Cost of Meal: $6
Cost Per Person: $1.50

Monday, February 1, 2010

Friday: Taco Pie

This is one of those recipes I have had tacked to my fridge for months, wanting to try it- but always forgetting! This week... I finally pulled it out and created Taco Pie! Overall, it was a good recipe, although a little rich! I would definitely add some fresh veggies on top (pico de gallo, avocado, lettuce, etc.)!

Here is what you need:

1 tube crescent rolls
1 pound hamburger
1 package taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
2 cups sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese
2 cups crushed taco chips

Step 1: Brown hamburger, drain fat and then add taco seasoning and 1/2 cup of water. Cook until most of the water has evaporated.

Step 2: Put crescent rolls along the bottom and up the sides of a 9x9 dish. Sealing around the edges. (Instead of buying crescent rolls I bought "crescent creations", it is basically the crescent dough in a sheet instead of triangles)

Step 3: Place 1 cup taco chips on crescent rolls (I used generic Fritos from Aldi)

Step 4: Put meat on top of crushed chips

Step 5: Put 2 cups of sour cream on top of meat and spread around.

Step 6: Place 2 cups cheddar cheese on top of sour cream


Step 8: Take out and add 1 cup of crushed taco chips, then bake for 5 more minutes.

Step 9: Enjoy!

Meal Serves: 6
Cost of Meal: $6.00 (without any extra veggies)
Cost per person: $1.00

I LOVE mexican casserole dishes.

What is your family's favorite mexican dish?

Please leave a comment and Share!

Tuesday: Upside Down Pizza and Spring Salad

This is one of those recipes that had been haunting me in magazines month after month and finally I said, "Fine... I will make you!" It looks very tasty in the picture promoting it above.. don't you agree? I thought so too... until it TOTALLY FLOPPED!

If you notice in the ingredient list below, it calls for broccoli. I thought to myself, "spinach- yes I have heard of that in pizza... but broccoli?? and with traditional spaghetti sauce?" But unfortunately, I didn't listen to the little chef sitting on my shoulder, and I tried it anyway.

I am still sharing this recipe with you, because as Meal Planning Mommies, we are here to share our JOYS and FLOPS with you all! So... get ready for my big flop-o!

Here is what you need:

1 lb. ground beef
1 jar (1 lb. 10 oz.) Ragu® Old World Style® Sweet Tomato Basil Smooth Pasta Sauce
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and squeezed dry (optional)*very optional!
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can (11 oz.) refrigerated pizza dough (or make your own!)


Step 1: Make your pizza dough... or just pull the can out of the fridge! (P.S.- can I get a shout out to my husband for buying me this AMAZING Kitchen Aid Mixer for Christmas! I am LOVING it!)

Step 2: Brown the ground beef

Step 3: After draining the ground beef, put it back in the pan and add your pasta sauce, stir and bring to a boil.

Step 4: Put hamburger, pasta mixture into a 2 qt. baking dish and then put broccoli on top. (I used fresh broccoli... maybe that was part of my problem... or maybe it's just the broccoli period!)

Step 5: Top with Cheese

Step 6: Top with pizza dough,pinching edges to seal. Bake at 375 for 20 min. or until browned. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Step 7: Slice into your pizza and serve it up! (Doesn't mine look soupy compared to what it is supposed to look like.... compare the two)


Step 8: Serve with a Spring Salad (At least I had that much that was good!)

Meal Serves: 6
Cost of Meal: $6.00
Cost Per Person: $1.00

I really think this recipe has potential. I know I slammed it pretty hard in my post, but I was truly disappointed (and REALLY glad I didn't invite guests over that night to eat with us!). I may try and make it again.

The next time I would:
1. Use NORMAL pizza toppings instead of broccoli... like mushrooms, peppers and onions.
2. Use Sausage instead of hamburger
3. Let it sit longer before serving (maybe that would take care of the soup like texture?)

I would love to hear from you!

Leave a comment and let us know...

Have you tried this recipe before? Would you try it?

What do you think would make it better?