Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reddit Frugal's Ideas For Cheap Eats

I participate in an on-line group at for Frugal Folks and lately there have been some really great ideas for eating on the cheap!

Some of the best:

Cheap Casserole---Chop 4 ounces of cooked meat(hotdogs, leftovers) into fine cubes and fry them lightly until they are a little crispy. Cut 1 tortilla into quarters and place them into a small square baking pan. Put 1/2 of a can of refried beans in on top of the tortilla. Hotdog pieces on top of that. Add the rest of the refried beans and top with another tortilla and a little shredded cheese. Add hot sauce and spices if you have them. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Serve with rice that is cooked with 1/2 cup of ketchup in place of 1/2 cup of the usual water for cheap "Spanish rice"-VicinSea

Gravy over toast or biscuits is filling and tasty. You can make this into brown gravy by cooking the oil/butter and flour longer, a cream gravy by using milk, you could season it with ketchup or garlic and stretch the butter by using half oil/half butter. -Hamsterdam

Gravy : 2tbsp oil, 2tbsp flour, 1 cup liquid, hot. To make a thinner ingredient cut the butter and flour down to 1 tbsp each and keep the 1 cup of liquid. You can add corn to this and have creamed corn. -Hamsterdam

Chicken Pot Pie. Make a double pie crust, cook one or two chicken breast saving the water to make a few cups of gravy, chop some vegetables add cooked rice (you could cook the rice in the chicken water and use thinned milk for the gravy) to the pot pie as a filler. -Hamsterdam

Double pie crust 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 tsp salt, 3/4 cup shortening (ice cold butter and oil mixed together will work but the crust won't be as tender. 6 to 7 tablespoons ice water.) Mix everything together except the water, cut the fat in, add as much water as needed to bring it together. Press half of dough into a pie pan, add the filling, roll the second piece of dough out with a wine bottle or pin and drape over filling. Cut slits in the vent the pie. Coat with a little melted butter. -Hamsterdam

Candied carrots: 6 to 8 carrots, 1/4 cup water, 1tbsp butter, 2 tbsp honey, 1/4 tsp salt. Slice the carrots, boil in salted water until done, drain add butter and honey. -Hamsterdam

Cooked Greens: If you have some lettuce in the fridge that might be past its prime: don't throw it out! When lettuce gets wilty it takes on a tinge of bitterness that makes it useless for salads or tacos or whatnot, but wilty lettuce can be cooked like any other greens. I prefer kale or collard greens, but sauteed lettuce works well in stir-fries or alongside cornbread and rice and beans.

Heat a little bit of olive oil in a fry pan and add greens. For stir-fries, add soy sauce (cold noodles with soy sauce and lettuce is a nice lunch, and punched up with a sauce made from peanut butter, lime juice, and a little hot sauce, can be a meal tasty and impressive enough to serve to guests). For southern-style greens, add a little vinegar and hot sauce. -Beneventan

Soupy Sunday.: Basically, you have a party where the main meal is soup. Have each guest bring one ingredient to contribute to the soup pot. The more people you have the bigger that soup will get and the better chances you have for leftovers. We utilized facebook to send out invites for the party and coordinate soup ingredients. So far both events worked out great. Plenty of food and drinks for all and we didn't spend a dime on it. -Summerchilde

White Beans with Escarole: (sauteed lettuce can be substituted for the sauteed escarole easily). Cook a few servings of white beans in chicken broth rather than water. I start from dry, and have the beans cooking in the broth all day, adding water as it boils away. Some extra flavor can be had by adding the rind from Parmesan cheese (many stores that grate their own Parmesan will sell the rind for a pittance, or even give it away), but the beans and chicken stock alone will work nicely. When the beans are soft and buttery, saute up some greens in a little olive oil, with salt and garlic (or garlic powder). serve the beans over the wilted greens. It's surprisingly delicious; my husband tends to look askance at all vegetables, but he went back for thirds the first time I made this dish, and it's become a regular meal ever since. -Beneventan

Homemade Granola: You can make some excellent granola with the oatmeal, dried fruit & nuts, and honey-Alton Brown has a great recipe, just mix and match what you have on hand. -Londonzoo

Pantry Must-Haves by Hamsterdam, Powdered eggs, milk and cheese, corn meal, masa harina, baking powder, baking soda, yeast (keep it in the freezer until you need it), crisco or lard (for making biscuits/cornbread/griddle cakes/pie crust), chicken bouillon or even better chicken demi glace (demi glace is basically chicken stock that has been cooked down to a paste, you add water to a teaspoon of demi glace to make chicken stock.), pinto beans, lots of canned dice tomatoes, onions, and potatoes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Falafal For the Masses--ReFried Refried Beans.

Q. Refried beans are available everywhere and show up quite often in food baskets given out by food banks but if you don't have any experience with them what do you do with them besides eat & eat?
A. Think of refried beans as a soggy form of meat and they are a little easier to imagine cooking with.

Falafel is really just ground cooked beans with spices, herbs and vegetables added.

I make a very passable version of falafel using refried beans instead of the traditional chick peas.

Re-Re-Fried Beans

1 can(15 ounces) Refried Beans
1-2 slices of dryish bread, grated into bread crumbs
1/4 cup of finely chopped onion
1/2 flour(or cold left over rice)
powdered garlic, other seasoning to taste.

Mix everything together into a thick batter. Drop by teaspoon into a medium hot frying pan with oil. Fry until lightly browned, turn over, flatten with a spoon or spatula, brown again. Turn over and brown the top side again. This little extra cooking allows the onions to cook.

Serve these silver dollar sized bites with ranch dressing, mustard or ketchup. Or make some homemade tortillias and wrap them around the bean bites with whatever veggies or rice you may have.

Make a batch of Traditional Falafel and divide in half. Mix 1 cup of ground turkey with 1/2 of the falafel and then form into balls, fry and add to spaghetti sauce for spaghetti & meatballs.

Sautee 1 cup of finely chopped mushrooms and add them to a batch of falafel, then fry as usual.

Crumble a batch of falafel into a frying pan and brown well in place of the hamburger in Hamburger Helper.

Form your falafel ball around a cube of cheese and fry as usual.