Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Not cheap Spinach salad

This is Snookie's favorite salad. It was her birthday, so it's the once a year I pull funds for this kinda stuff.

1 bag raw spinach
1 bag baby greens salad mix
1 lb bacon
1 jar Capers
Plum Tomatoes
8oz sliced mushrooms
Toasted sesame ginger salad dressing

Cook bacon, drain and cool. Crumble into a small bowl.

Mix salad bags in large bowl. Add sesame dressing and toss leaves gently to coat. This dressing is a very flavorful thing, too much will wreck your salad.

Dice tomatoes. How many? How much do you like tomatoes?

On plate, make a bed of greens. Cover with a layer of mushrooms (go heavy with them if you like raw mushies!), sprinkle a few capers and tomatoes on top. Drizzle gently with more salad dressing. Add bacon.


You can get the salad dressing on bogo sale at different times of the year. Grab one for stock for this salad later. Hit the salads when you can find them for sale and it's not a terribly expensive salad.

Totally not frugal splurge dinner

Tillapia & Shrimp with Artichoke hearts in a wine sauce.
Shown with a baked red potato and spinach ginger salad.

This is, for us, a really expensive treat. It was Snookie's birthday, so I tossed this together and got great family reviews. I cheated and used canned artichokes, they have a distinct flavor - I'd have preferred fresh, but you go with what you can get... 2 of 13 didn't really like it. 11 loved it.

2 lbs Tillapia Fillets
1 lb Med - Large shrimp
2 cans Artichoke hearts
1/2lb Asparagus (or one can)
1/2c chopped tomatoes (I wanted to use sun dried, but forgot to get them)
1 block cream cheese
1/2c butter (not margarine)
2c white wine (I used a white reisling, but whichever you use for cooking)
1 can evaporated milk
6 stalks scallions
Olive Oil -extra virgin
Lemon Pepper

Brush bottom of 9x13 dish with olive oil.

Place fish in bottom of pan and coat with Lemon Pepper. Shove peeled shrimp around the edge of the pan. Make em fit. You want to remember where all this stuff is in your pan, because you won't be able to see it under the veggies & sauce!

Melt butter in a pan, add cubed cream cheese and stir until creamy. Add evaporated milk and stir more. Take off heat and add wine and 1 tbsp olive oil. Stir until blended - no lumps!

Preheat oven to 350

Chop scallions, add to cream sauce.
Dice tomatoes, add to cream sauce.
Chop asparagus, add to cream sauce. If using raw asparagus, steam until almost tender, then chop and add to sauce.
Dice Artichoke hearts and add to cream sauce and stir.

Spoon veggies & cream over each fillet, use all of the mixture - just throw the rest into the pan.

Cook for 25-30 minutes.

Remember how you laid out your fish before you try to remove them from the pan, they will be very tender and you can't see them from the top.

I steal the shrimp from the sides and place them on top of each serving to ensure even distribution of shrimp, so there's no pouting at the table.

Shepherd's Pie

Cheap, easy and lots of variations on stuff.

We have a child who is allergic to wheat. I used to put "cream of something" soup over my meat. I was even known to mix a packet of brown gravy mix in with the cream soup. I can't cook like that anymore. I'll put them in here as variants. So far Wal-Mart (the Evil Empire) has the cheapest gravy mix that I've been able to find. It's less than 50c per packet.

Shepherd's Pie

2# Ground Beef
Mashed Potato Flakes for 12 servings
Milk (or Evaporated Milk)
*Garlic Powder
*Can of Cream of XXXX Soup - Mushroom, Asparagus, Celery... the one you like
4 cans of Vegetables - Choose 1 each of 4 different ones from the list
Peas, Corn, Green beans, lima beans, great northern beans, carrots, squash, tomatoes...
Onion Powder
Seasoning Salt
*Cheese - Sliced american, shredded anything, velveeta...
* 1 or 2 packets of Brown or Mushroom Gravy mix

Cook 12 servings of Mashed potatoes according to the directions. Add garlic powder to the mashies if you'd like. Season to taste.

Brown and drain ground beef. Season to taste with onion powder, garlic powder and seasoning salt.

In 9x13 pan, add ground beef. Add meat wetter: cream soup, gravy mix packet + 1/4c water or cheese. The cream soup and/or the gravy mix get stirred into the meat until well combined and spread across the bottom of the pan. The cheese is placed on top of the meat layer.

Open and drain cans of veggies. If using raw onion, dice and add on top of meat. Layer veggies on top of meat. Sprinkle onion powder and a touch of seasoning salt after every other addition.

Cover with Mashed potatoes. Spread to seal the pan with your mashies.
You can add shredded cheese once it's out of the oven. It will melt as the dish cools enough to eat.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until the edges of the potatoes are starting to brown.

Cake mix cookies

I stole this recipe off the internet, but it's so easy I'm sure dozens of chefs think it's their own. Whatever, yummy and cheap! These are lemon cake mix with semi sweet chocolate chips. Bogo sales rock!
I like this version because the cookies are crisp and easy to handle.

Cake Mix Cookies

1 box cake mix

1/2 c margarine

1 egg
Chips or nuts or whatever you like in your cookies.

Mix all ingredients. This will make a thick batter. I squished mine into a long log and rolled it in wax paper to make one long tube. Put that in the freezer for 20 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 350

Unroll the wax paper log and slice cookies at about 1/2 inch thickness, maybe a little less. Place slices on greased cookie sheet. Press chocolate chips into cookies. I use 6-7 per cookie. You can press nuts into the dough if you're into it.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes. Let cookies rest for 2 minutes, then transfer to foil or rack to cool while you're slicing dough and pressing chips into new batch.

Makes about 2 dozen