Saturday, November 5, 2016

Money Emergencies: Cheap Eats

I am putting this up quickly for a specific person in need, so no pretty pictures (for now) and no real formatting. I hope this helps!

If you have followed my page you know all about the Cheepah Chicken. If not, just click the link. It shows how to create a number of meals from one chicken, and of course broth for your cooking needs. Get them on sale when you can and just do up a lot of stock ahead of time to freeze if possible. I freeze in 2 cup increments for my family size, but use what works for your cooking style and family size. The first recipe tastes better with broth rather than water, so that is why I am starting with this. If you do use water, consider using more seasonings to your liking to make up for the lack of depth. Or a little soy will often help round out the flavor a bit.

Ground Beef Soup

I easily feed four with this recipe with left overs, so it will likely feed six.

1 pound ground beef
1 onion (peeled and chopped)
4 carrots (peeled and chopped)
2 stalks celery (chopped)
6 cups chicken stock, broth or water
1 28 oz can of tomatoes (I used chopped, but honestly any type will do. If you want chunks of tomato the diced are treated to not fall apart, for better or for worse)
2 cups frozen corn
And other frozen vegetable that you like, green beans, cauliflower or nothing at all. Use up leftovers too, it doesn't have to be frozen)
Garlic powder (if you have real garlic, mince and cook with the vegetables)
Seasonings as you wish. You like Italian? Use some oregano or Italian seasonings.. more of a south of the border person? A little cumin and cayenne would be very nice

Cook ground beef in soup pot. If you are using a cheaper ground beef, no worries! Just drain off much (not all) of the fat before continuing the recipe once it is browned.
Add in chopped vegetables (and minced garlic if using). Cook and stir until onions start to go translucent.
Add chicken stock and tomatoes. Salt well. Add seasonings as desired, but no fresh herbs. Those must wait until the very end if using.
Bring to a boil, lower heat and partially cover. Simmer until carrots are soft as you like. 
Add your frozen vegetables and turn off heat.
If you have leftover veg, go ahead and add them (chopped bite sized) at the very end. If you are using a lot of frozen veg, you may need to heat up the soup again.

To stretch this meal, serve with pasta, rice or bread. This will make it serve more than six, or six really hungry people.

I think this next one is in most households recipe box, but I am putting it here because this is another one you can stretch with more tomatoes and pasta. a pound of ground beef can go a long way when necessary. This is also known as American Goulash.

American Chop Suey

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped (if you have onion powder, that can be used instead)
1 bell pepper, chopped (doesn't matter what color, green are often cheaply purchased)
1 rib of celery (I have left this out, still tastes good)
2 garlic cloves, minced (again, if you don't have fresh, just use powdered, I have done it both ways)
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup of mild cheddar will add a creamy touch at the end
Again, with the tomatoes you can use what you have on hand. No diced? Add more sauce, or just throw in a 28 oz can of crushed or chopped up whole tomatoes, this recipe is quite flexible)
1 1/2 cup chicken stock/broth or water 
8 oz elbow macaroni (I have used other types of pasta, just be aware that some take less or more time to cook)

Brown ground beef in a deep, skillet that has a cover of some sort. If using a cheaper type, pour off some of the fat when cooked through
Add in chopped vegetables and garlic. If using the powdered stuff (1 1/2 teaspoons each, or more to taste) add that now too. Cook and stir until onions are translucent and peppers are slightly softened.

Add tomatoes and broth. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes. 

Add pasta, cover and cook 20 minutes more.

When pasta is cooked as you like it, stir in cheese if using.

I have also been known to add some grated carrot with the vegetables for some added nutrition, plus, carrots are cheap!

Here is a Southern type dish that is often served for breakfast but is just as tasty for dinner. Good if there is ground pork on sale.  If you are so inclined, you could grind your own pork from cheap cuts, just remember that you need fat for it to cook properly, either oils or pork fat.

1 pound ground pork
4 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk
scraping of nutmeg (optional, just the tiniest pinch, my Swedish heritage is popping up here)
Salt and LOTS of pepper!

Simply brown the pork in a deep skillet. Use oil or pork fat if the sausage seems dry. We need some fat for the rue we make in the pan.

Stir in flour. Cook and stir a few minutes to cook out the "raw" flavor of the flour. (this is the rue, doing it with the meat is perfect in the case)

Make sure the heat is on medium and slowly stir in the milk. Stir until combined and begins to thicken. It will thicken further as it cools a bit. Allow to simmer a few minutes.

Serve on biscuits with vegetable(s) of your choice. On bad weeks we have eaten this as the whole dinner, but if you have some vegetables it is a good idea to have that to round out the meal. Biscuit recipe below.


This is not my own recipe as I cannot find the darned card, but this is very close to what I use. I have substituted the buttermilk for 1tsp of vinegar with milk poured up to the 1 cup mark and also, I have mixed milk with yogurt or sourcream and both also work well. 

Southern Biscuits

Recipe By     :
Serving Size  : 0     Preparation Time :0:00
Categories    : Bread

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  2               cups  flour
  4          teaspoons  baking powder
     1/4      teaspoon  baking soda
     3/4      teaspoon  salt
  2        tablespoons  butter
  2        tablespoons  shortening
  1                cup  buttermilk -- chilled

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don't want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that's life.)

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

Another note, if you don't have a cutter and don't want to use a glass, you can always just pat it out into a square or rectangle and cut out square pieces. Just keep them around the same size to ensure even cooking.

Leftover Popover

I usually get breakfast sausage when they are on sale for a buck or less a box and use that, but any leftover will do and will determine if this is a savory or sweet dish.

8 oz cooked meat (or cooked sausage links) You can also mix in vegetables, but be careful with the ratio, too much won't allow the popover to "pop"

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon oil
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

Grease an 8 inch pan (I use a square). Heat oven to 400 F
Beat together all ingredients except the meat/vegetables, until smooth.
Pour into pan and sprinkle the meat/vegetables over the top.
Bake 35 minutes. The top should be puffy.

Serve with condiments as suits the fillings. Ketchup for savory is one idea and syrup if going for sweet, as I usually do with the sausage. Sides of fruit or vegetable would also be appropriate. This only serves four with a side. If doubling, use two 8 inch pans if possible, otherwise the puff might not happen and the center may not cook thoroughly.

If you have some foods from a pantry and some chicken, you might be able to make this chicken dish. Breast meat is best for this one, but if you are taking apart chickens you should have some. 1/2 of a large breast half will easily feed one person, so the four should feed 8 with regular appetites.

Tropical Chicken with Fruit Sauce

4 tablespoons butter (margarine will work. a mild oil may also work)
4 skinless, boneless breast halves, sliced in strips
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup applesauce (chunky, regular, even cinnamon will work use what you have)
1 can pineapple chunks, halved and undrained
1 large banana, sliced
3/4 cups seedless grapes, any color, halved. Now, this is how the recipe goes, but lets face it, grapes are often pricey, so use some canned mixed fruit! Believe me, it will work.
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (you may want to cut back if your applesauce is prespiced)

In a deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter. Add chicken and sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook until done and lightly browned.
Remove chicken to a plate. Do not clean the pan.
Melt last of butter and add flour. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
Add all other ingredients and heat until bubbly and slightly thickened.
Add chicken, heat through and serve on nice plate of rice.

Super Easy Bean and Rice Burrito

                          Bean and Rice Burritos

Serving Size  : 8     Preparation Time :0:00
Categories    : Basic Recipe                    Vegan Friendly

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  2               cups  rice -- cooked
  1              small  onion -- chopped
  2               cups  red beans
  2 1/2    tablespoons  taco seasoning mix
  8              whole  flour tortilla
     1/2           cup  salsa (see note at bottom)
     1/2           cup  shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees

Peel the onion and chop it into small pieces

Drain the liquid from the cooked or canned beans

Mix the rice, chopped onions and beans in a bowl with the taco seasoning

Put each tortilla on a flat surface

Put 1/2 cup of the rice and bean mix in the middle of each tortilla

fold the sides of the tortilla to hold the rice and beans

Put each filled tortilla into a baking pan

Bake for 15 minutes

While burritos are baking, grate cheese

Pour salsa over the baked burritos, add cheese

Don't have salsa? I know it can be ridiculously expensive for what it is. I have made my own mixed some chopped canned tomatoes with some onion and garlic powder and a handful of chopped parsley if I have it on hand. It will do the trick.

Back to the chicken! Since I tend to cut up whole chickens, I also have legs and thighs left over to use. One way I use them is to bake them sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper in a 350 degree oven until done and the fat on the skin has rendered. (alternately, I sometimes take the skin off entirely). When cooked, throw on some BBQ sauce (which I likely bought on a good sale over the summer) and cook 15 minutes more. Served with rice, or potato salad and some vegetables. Very tasty, and can be very cheap.
Another recipe I use with the thighs and legs is Oven "Fried" Chicken. Delicious with a crunchy outer layer.

                            Oven Fried Chicken

Serving Size  : 4     Preparation Time :0:00
Categories    : Basic Recipe                    Poultry

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  1              whole  egg -- beaten
  3        tablespoons  milk
  1                cup  dry bread crumbs
  1           teaspoon  dried thyme -- crushed
     1/2      teaspoon  paprika
     1/8      teaspoon  black pepper
  2             pounds  chicken pieces (skinned)
  2        tablespoons  butter -- melted (can use any oil you have on hand, just be aware of the flavor. I have also used margarine in a pinch)

Grease baking dish

Combine egg, milk thyme, salt (to taste) in a shallow dish

combine breadcrumbs, paprika, salt, and black better in another shallow dish or gallon sized storage bag.

Skin chicken and pat dry.

dip chicken in egg mixture, then breadcrumbs

Place in baking dish and drizzle with butter

Bake at 375 degrees 45-55 minutes until done. Do not turn

This is a typical main dish and can be served with whatever starches and vegetables you have on hand.

You want to make vegetables a little special? Drain cooked vegetables and put in a pan on medium high heat. Toss a bit to dry them out, ESPECIALLY if you are using frozen. Do not used canned vegetables for this. Add some oil and dry breadcrumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Toss until bread crumbs stick to the vegetables.

You have canned vegetables? Try a seasoning mix sprinkled over them. We have used all kinds and it really makes the vegetables something a little more special. You can do the seasoning trick with any cooked vegetable.

Here is one more recipe. While the basic ingredients are in the recipe, you can make this any way you want. We often use dairy instead of meat because, although it is more per pound, we don't use nearly as much per person. (usually)

                           Twice Baked Potatoes

Serving Size  : 4     Preparation Time :0:00
Categories    : Basic Recipe                    Main Dish
                One Pot Meal                    Vegtables

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  4             medium  russet potato
  1                cup  sour cream
  3        tablespoons  butter
  2             cloves  garlic -- minced
     1/4      teaspoon  salt
     1/2           cup  shredded cheddar cheese
                        bacon -- if desired

Scrub potatoes, prick all over with a fork and bake in a 425 degree oven 40-60 minutes.

When cooked, remove from oven and slice a thin stripe off the top of the potato. Carefully dig out potato meat, leaving a nice thick shell.

Mash the potato with garlic, sour cream, 1/4 cup cheese, butter and salt.

Spoon or pipe mixture back into shells

Put in baking dish and bake for 20 minutes more. Sprinkle on remaining cheese and bake until melted.

Sprinkle with cooked bacon if desired

With or without bacon, this will fill you right up and is especially nice on a cold day.

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