Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Asian Grilled Steak

Fresh off a week of cooking budget friendly meals I sought a change of pace, nothing say's change of pace like a grilled steak. But I sought a more robust flavor and something lively to excite my taste buds. So I thought about a petite sirloin marinated in Hoisin and soy sauce. Grilled to perfection and covered in a simple sauce with ginger and garlic.

4 (8oz) petite sirloin
1/3 cup Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup sliced green onions
3 Tbsp dry sherry
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
1 cup beef broth
1 garlic clove minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 tbsp hot sauce
green onions for garnish
steamed white rice

Place sirloin in a large zip lock bag, add Hoisin through crushed red pepper. Seal bag and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 4 to 24 hours. Remove the steak from the fridge, take it out of the bag and discard the marinade. Place on the counter to come to room temperature. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, cover a sheet pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Pre-heat a grill pan until smoking add the steaks to the pan on a 45 degree angle cook the steak for two minutes then turn them 90 degrees for two minutes. Flip the steaks over and do the same thing again. When all the steak are done place them on the sheet pan and put them in the oven for 5 minutes, remove from the oven and tent with foil for 5 minutes. In a small saucepan combine beef broth through hot sauce over medium heat until reduced by a 1/3. It should thicker but not syrupy, it will be loose. Mound rice on the plate, cut the steak on the basis and fan over the rice drizzle with the sauce and serve. This was a little bit of a splurge meal but worth every penny 4 serving at $2.31 per plate great meal at great savings.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Part 5 of 5 of my $13.00 a day dinner plan, Shrimp and Grits with a Pepperjack Bechamel Sauce

What a finale to a week of surprises the low country classic dishes Shrimp and Grits. I have thought about making this dish for a long time and just never got around to doing it but it fit perfectly for my $13.00. The shrimp on there own was 8.00 and I had enough to round out the meal. My wife who claims she doesn't eat shrimp or grits voted this her favorite dish of the week. This has now become one of those special occasion type meals for "company", I might just cook this again for breakfast and I don't usually get impressed by a meal I have made. But this was pretty darn good if I must say so myself. I am really starting to like being a Budget Cooking Chef, these meal have really showed me that.

8 slices of bacon
1 1/2 cups quick grits
4 cup of warm chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
2 1/2 cup 2% milk
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
2 cup grated pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup Cheddar
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup diced green peppers
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsp minced garlic
3 1/2 lbs of peeled and deveined shrimp
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup Hot sauce
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup parsley

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a sheet pan with foil add the bacon and place in the oven to cook for 15-17 minutes, no need to flip just set the timer for 15 minutes and check it. When complete remove form the oven and drain off the drippings and reserve, drain bacon on paper towels when cool enough to handle chop it up and reserve. Place a medium size pot on the oven and turn it up to medium high. In a sauce pan combine grits and warm stock stir with a whisk for approx 10 minutes until the mixture is smooth remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and butter until combined. Add the cream to finish off the grits cover and set aside, it should be very creamy not thick and soupy. The grits may become thick upon sitting just add more stock or water and stir.
Heat milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat until bubbles start to form around the edges, remove from the heat and strain set aside. Rinse out the pot and add butter and flour, whisk until combined and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk and keep whisking constantly for 5 minutes over low heat. Add black pepper and nutmeg, remove from the heat and add the cheese while whisking slowly continue to stir until all the milk is blended.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings add the green peppers and mushroom sauté for 3-5 minutes until slightly browned on the edges add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. When done remove from the skillet and reserve on the side. Heat 2 tbsp of bacon drippings in a large skillet add just enough shrimp to cover the bottom of the pan add 2 tablespoons of the mushroom mixture to the pan sauté until shrimp just starting to turn pink. Cook in small batches, add a tablespoon of hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce sauté for an additional minute. Place a cup of grits in the center of the plate add a cup of shrimp in the center of the grits. Spoon sauce around plate, garnish with bacon, green onion and parsley and serve. This meal like all the others in this blog will be featured on a regular basis now in my household. What you can come up with when pressed has changed my opinion on presenting a blog that is directed a budget friendly family. This meal was $13.90(I was under the day before) that came to about 1.98 per plate. Look for the entire shopping list to come out with other suggestions, Budget Cooking Chef out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Part 4 of 5 of my $13.00 a day dinner plan, Chicken Fried Rice with Vegetable Egg Rolls

I think this meal had the least amount of drama to complete. My original thought was to do an Asian big bowl, but the noodles cost too much. So I had to go to the tradition route and do the rice. But if there was one ingredient that you have, its fish sauce, it gives that deep savory flavor that you taste with all fried rice dishes. Soy sauce would make the meal to salty. And the egg roll came out pretty good and with sheets to spare, can you say dessert.

1 head of cabbage thinly sliced(about 3-4 cups)
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup of shredded carrots
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup green onion
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
pinch of sugar
8-10 egg roll sheets
1 egg scrambled
Oil for frying
2 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 Tbsp minced garlic
4 cups of cooked rice
1 cup of chicken broth or water
1 cup sliced green onions
1 cup of frozen pea
1 cup of diced carrots
2 cups bean sprouts
3 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
2 eggs scrambled

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the cabbage to the skillet and sauté for 2-3 minutes add the broth and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Add shredded carrots, bean sprouts and green onions to the pan. Continue to sauté for an additional 2-3 minute. Add black pepper through oyster sauce and continue to cook for 2 minutes longer. Remove from the pan and put it on a plate to cool off completely. This is an important step in the building of the egg roll. After the mixture has cooled completely place the egg roll sheet on your cutting board with the one of the corners pointing toward you. Add 1 tablespoon of the cabbage mixture diagonally across the middle of the egg roll, fold the corner over the filling. Roll half-way to cover the filling, fold the both ends against the filling. It should resemble an envelope; moisten the edge of the last flap. Roll over one more tine and seal on the flap. You can sprinkle them with corn starch and put them in the refrigerator until you need them.

Heat 4 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the thighs to the skillet and sauté for 4-6 minutes per side until done. Turn the heat down to medium-low add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute then add the rice. Pre-heat some oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Cook the rice for 2 minutes constantly stirring the mixture to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the broth through oyster sauce and continue to sauté for 4-5 minutes. Check the seasonings, add the black pepper and fold in the eggs. Take off the heat and cover, get the egg rolls out of the refrigerator start adding them to the frying pan in small batches. They should take about 1 to 2 minutes total; continue to turn them in the oil to ensure even browning. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels, continue until all the egg rolls are done. Place rice in the center of the plate and one egg roll and serve. This is a easy fix everybody should be doing, any leftover chicken can be chopped up and used to make this rice. Total price tag for this meal $12.89 that is $1.84 per plate, can you say deal.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Part 3 of 5 of my $13.00 a day dinner plan, Blackened Tilapia with Sweet Potato and Corn Hash with Smoked Beurre Blanc Sauce

This meal was only able to be put together because I already had sweet potatoes in the fridge. The other items where fresh chives and my all time favorite butter. Everything else was purchased as a part of the meal with a total price tag of $12.10. This by far was biggest surprise of them all, but I must say the challenges are getting harder and harder, but who doesn't like a little challenge in there life.

5 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 lbs of tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of melted butter
oil for sautéing
3 cups of diced sweet potatoes
1 cup of diced onion
1 cup of diced bell pepper
2 cups frozen sweet corn
1 Tbsp butter
pinch of sugar
2 Tbsp chives
2 Tbsp chicken broth
2 tsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp heavy cream
4 Tbsp butter
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, cover two sheet pans with parchment or aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Combine dry spices in a small bowl and mix well set aside. Season one side of the fish with salt and pepper, flip it and place on a plate and brush it with melted butter, then season the fish with the blackening mix. It is a good ideal to hold on to spice containers (shakers) to mix your own personal spice mix. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat adds about 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet. Start sautéing the fish in the hot pan for about 1-2 minutes to allow a crust to form, do not move the fish in the pan allow it to develop a crust. Remove the fish from the skillet and place on the sheet pan. Continue until all the fish is done, set aside.
Place the chopped sweet potatoes in the microwave for 4-5 minutes, heat another skillet over medium heat add 2 tablespoon of oil you may need to add oil as you go. Place a small amount of potatoes in the pan roughly a 1 1/2 cups per batch sauté until slightly charred keep the potatoes moving in the pan to prevent burning. Remove from the pan and place on the sheet pan, when they are all on the place in the oven on the top rack for 12-15 minutes. At the half way point stir the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
At the 3 or 4 minute mark add the fish to finish cooking in the oven. In the same sauce pan that you cooked the fish in add the broth, lemon juice, heavy cream over medium low heat whisking constantly. Scrape any bit stuck to the bottom to add flavor to the sauce. Add a pinch flour and keep whisking add a little water to thin out if it gets to thick, add the butter a tablespoon at a time and whisk until incorporated. Finish off the sauce with the smoked paprika and salt and pepper to taste. By this time the potatoes and the fish should be done, remove from the oven. To serve mound the potatoes in the center of the plate, top with the fish and ladle the sauce around the plate. End the plating off with a little bit of chives over the fish. This meal was really put together with the addition of some kitchen staples that is essential how this meal got put together. This was a meal that came out to a grand total of $12.10 which is about $1.73 per plate. Don't skimp on the sauce it brings the whole meal together, the smokiness of the sauce ties in with the blackened fish and sweet potatoes. For a Budget Cooking Chef that means everything.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Part 2 of 5 of my $13.00 a day dinner plan, Spaghetti and Meatballs

Nothing says cooking on a budget like Spaghetti and Meatballs. Big semi round hunks of pure joy, with a store bought red sauce. That's right I didn't make the red sauce (tomato sauce) from scratch. No simmering over a low heat for 1 hour stirring the sauce with love and coaxing all the goodness from oven charred pork bones. Nope, two cans plus one can of diced tomatoes from yesterday that I didn't use. But I was able to use fresh basil from my garden, and the three meat combination to provide a luxurious and velvety texture. Oh well continuing to uphold my blogs creed to helping out the budget cooking chef in all of us I will solider on and put forth my best effort.

2 (26.5 oz) cans of Hunts tomato sauce(I used regular and garlic herb)
1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup broth
1 Tablespoon butter
1 medium onion
4 clove of garlic minced
1/4 cup of parsley
1/4 cup of basil
I Tbsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp bread crumbs
2 eggs
3 slice of bread
1/4 cup milk
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground turkey sausage
1 lb ground beef(80/20)
2 lb cooked spaghetti(according to manufacturers instructions)
I loaf of French bread
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Heat a large skillet or casserole over medium heat, add the two cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Allow the sauce to come up to temperature and then turn the heat to low to produce a gentle simmer. Add Worcestershire, broth and butter and continue to simmer on low. In a food processor combine onion through sea salt in a food processor and process until smooth. If it is still too thick add water to get it moving, taste and adjust the seasoning. It will be salty but you are mixing this into three pounds meat, add more garlic or basil if necessary. Crack the eggs in a bowl and then add to the processor along with the bread and milk. The mixture should be thick not to soupy or loose. Add all the meat into a large mixing bowl, add half the herb and egg mixture to the meat and combine slowly and gently. Over mixing can make dense and heavy meatballs. Add more of the herb egg mixture as needed it should wet but firm mix, if it is too loose(wet) add more bread crumb if it is too dry add more oil or broth. I used an ice cream scoop to make my meatballs, but you can just wet your hands and form meatballs to the size of a golf ball. Heat oil in another large saucepan about over medium heat, start adding the meatballs to the pan and begin sautéing for about six minutes per side turning to fry evenly. Cook the meatballs in small batches; adjust the heat to prevent over browning. Reserve the meatballs to a sheet pan. When done browning place all the meatballs in the tomato sauce and cook for 30 minutes on a low simmer. To serve add some sauce the bottom of the bowl, top with spaghetti more sauce and 2-3 meatballs. Sprinkle with cheese and serve with bread. Another budget cooking chef moment, pasta is always a winner when you are cooking on a budget and most of the time you can freeze some of the sauce and serve it at a later time. This entire meal was put together for $12.86 for seven people that is $1.84 per plate.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Part 1 of 5 of my $13.00 a day dinner plan, Arroz con Pollo

Day one meal one, a one pot Latin classic dish Arroz con Pollo. An easy meal that was put together for an impressive cost of $12.12, that is for everything in the dish. The only items I used from my pantry were salt, pepper, garlic, bay leaves and olives. But for me those are all staples, things that should be in your pantry already. I did have to substitute some items like bouillon cubes for stock, I was embarrassed to even come to the counter with it but I digress. And to be honest for bouillon cubes they weren't that bad, I mean for $.54 cents I can make 16 cups of stock. I am a budget cooking chef so you know I like a good deal. And it is one of those one pot dishes where you sauté the chicken add the other ingredients turn it on a low simmer. Clean up the kitchen and get ready for day two.

2 whole chickens washed and cut into eight pieces
salt and pepper
2 tbsp onion powder
3 Tbsp oil
3 Tbsp butter
1 medium green pepper cut diced
1 medium onion diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 package of Goya Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
1 (16 oz) bag Mahatma Saffron rice
2 Maggi chicken flavor bouillon Cubes
3 cup of hot water
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup sliced green olives with pimento's
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Heat oil and butter in a large casserole or cast iron pot on medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt, pepper and onion powder, add the chicken to the pot and sauté over medium heat for about 4-6 minutes per side until golden brown turn once or twice to ensure even browning. Cook in small batches being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Remove from the pot and reserve on a serving platter. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of oil in a metal bowl; do not discard in case you need more for the vegetables. Add the bell peppers and onions and sauté them until the onions are translucent about 2-3 minutes add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the bay leaves, oregano, diced tomatoes and Goya Sazón and stir to incorporate with the vegetables. Put the rice in the pot and stir to coat, combine bouillon and hot water to dissolve once dissolved add to the pot and stir to mix evenly bring to a simmer. Return the chicken back to the pot along with any juices that accumulated on the platter. Cover and turn the heat down to low and simmer for 30 minutes check the seasoning; it shouldn't need any due to everything else being seasoned. After 30 minutes garnish with frozen peas, olives, parsley and serve. This was a meal of unexpected surprises, I never thought bouillon would taste that good. I never thought that saffron rice in a bag would be that good either, but I guess that's the challenge when you stick to a budget. Let just figure 7 people total grocery bill $12.12 that 1.74 per plate, Budget Cooking Chef.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A 5 day dinner plan for $13.00 per day...............What!

That's right 5 dinners for $13.00 per day. Now many of you may say that's easy $13.00 for a family of three is nothing, and I would say yeah you are correct. But it is a family of seven, yeah that's right a family of seven. We are talking about 5 adults 2 kids and sometimes a dog. On $13.00 a day not a penny more, now I can go under that price but not over. I have to get the whole meal from the store, staples and dry ingredient included. If I have a ingredient in my pantry I can use it, so the menu is created around some of my staples but not all of them. I deliberately started this challenge on the day I was to suppose to grocery shopping, just tomake interested. So to say that we will be eating lavishly is probably a understatement but I will not sacrifice taste and flavor to justify only spending $13.00 dollars per day. This is still Budget Cooking Chef and I plan on really focusing my energy on performing at a very high level.
I have planned a very eccentric meal plan for the week while maintaining my own personal standards. To me this is simply another way to express my philosophy and my personal creed of budget cooking, it just not that hard. You can knock your weeknight meals out of the park, and become the budget cooking chef in your family.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Braidsed Cabbage with Bacon and Milk

This is a budget cooking blog where I try to find the best possible deal going to make a flavor packed meal. So while I was in the store I saw the guy from produce unloading some great looking heads of cabbage. They were dense, heavy for there size and firm. The first thought that crossed my mine was to do maybe cabbage rolls, stuffed with Picadillo and topped with a spicy red sauce. Then I thought about just braising them in stock seasoned with bacon and garlic topped with a little butter and milk. Thankfully I choose the later. And at .68 per head I say I got a deal.

8 slices of bacon
2 Tbsp oil
3 carrots cut on the bias
2 med onions halved and sliced
4 cloves of garlic rough chopped
1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
1 sprig of fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
1 head of cabbage
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

Place bacon in a large skillet on low-medium heat. The bacon should cook slowly to render the entire flavor (fat) from it. Cooking on high temperature would cause it to burn and render it useless. This should take anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes, continue to monitor the progress of the bacon flipping over to insure even cooking. When the bacon is done remove and drain on paper towels and reserve for later. Add the oil, carrots and the onions to the pot and sauté over medium-low heat to sweat. This should take about 7-9 minutes; continue to stir the pot to ensure that nothing burns and to promote even cooking. Peel any discolored leaves from the cabbage cut it in half. Remove the tough and bitter core by cutting it on angle to form a triangle going toward the bottom of the stem. Lay it on the cut side and cut it into five to six even strips lengthwise and three even strips across the width repeat for the other half. Add the garlic and herbs into vegetables then add the cabbage. Stir to mixture to prevent any food from burning on the bottom. Sauté for about 3-4 on medium-high heat in the pan so the cabbage can release its water, when the mixture appears dry add the broth and milk. Chop the cooked bacon into pieces and add it and the butter back to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook for an addition 2-3 minutes on low serve. As I said before this side dish cost nothing to buy and less to prepare, with the addition of a huge meatloaf I made (another blog) and steamed seasoned white rice this meal served 5 adults and 2 kids with everybody getting seconds. For a total cost of............drum roll please $10.68 plus tax. That is it and I still had enough to make a sandwich the next day. This ideal of writing a Budget Cooking Chef blog was just an idea that I had, now it is a way I live my life. And last time checked, I hear we are still in a recession.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Turkey Sliders with Cheddar

Being from Chicago when I think of sliders I think of those late night munchies busting burgers that soak up the access alcohol in your stomach. Lord knows I have pulled up to the window after a night of partying and requested my fare share of sliders. But over the years I have outgrown those childish things and become more sophisticated and refined. Now I drink fine wine and spirits, and the best............. OK enough with the crap, I was hungry after a day in 102-105 degree heat at the water park and I wanted to eat and go to bed. After a day in that heat that is all I had left.

1 lb ground turkey
1 lb turkey sausage
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
six slices of bacon
fresh cracked pepper
2 large onions sliced
3 Tbsp oil
1 tsp sugar
12 Hawaiian rolls
1/2 cup softened butter
6 slices of extra sharp Cheddar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine ground turkey and turkey sausage. Add onion powder through Worcestershire and mix thoroughly until well blended. Form 12 balls with the meat mixture, place in a pan and cover with plastic wrap, set the tray in the fridge. Cover a sheet pan with foil, place bacon on the sheet pan and sprinkle pepper over the bacon. Place in the oven and cook for 14-18 minutes until crisp. While the bacon is cooking heat oil in a pan on medium-low, add sliced onions and sugar. Sauté for 5-10 minutes, stir and flip the onions to ensure even cooking. Heat a griddle or a grill pan on high heat. Remove the meat from the fridge and form 12 1/2 inch disks. Brush both sides with oil and cook in batches being careful not to over crowd the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side. When done remove and keep warm on the side in a sheet pan. By this time the bacon should be done, remove and drain on paper towels and cut it in half. Cover a jelly roll pan with foil and place the rolls on top, brush with butter and heat for 4-7 minutes until golden brown. Cover burgers with cheese and pop in the oven to melt the cheese, it should take no longer than about 2-3 minutes. To assemble place bread on the plate (it helps to do 3 to 4 at a time) on the bottom place the onion mixture than top with the burger and a piece of the bacon. You can add extra condiments if necessary, this meal came out to 3 burgers per person at $2.11 per plate. I told you that was all that I had.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pistachio Crusted Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce

What a quick and elegant dinner for the budget minded shopper. I used chicken tenders for this meal but I don't see why you could not use chicken breast in there place. And the addition of the Mustard Cream sauce helps tie the whole meal together. Be sure to use fresh pistachios for this meal to really provide a great taste to the meal.

2 lb chicken tenders
Salt and pepper
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
2 cup whole shelled pistachio's
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp sugar
4 Tbsp butter separated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken between four sheet of plastic wrap and pound chicken tenders to 1/2 thickness. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. In a separate mixing bowl combine eggs, milk, Worcestershire and hot sauce together until well blended set aside. Add whole pistachio's to a food processor and process until finely chopped, be careful not to over process. It should take roughly 15 to 20 seconds. Combine pistachios with the flour and the baking powder. Season mixture with salt, dip chicken in the egg mixture and dredge in the pistachio mixture, making sure to press the chicken in the mixture. Shake off the excess flour and set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; begin sautéing chicken in batches careful not to overcrowd the pan. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes per side, remove and place on a foil lined pan. When the last piece is done place sheet pan in the oven and continue to cook for about 5 to 7 minutes.
Heat a sauce pan over medium heat add, mustard and cream to the sauce pan. Whisk the mixture until slightly thickened and smooth. Add the sugar and start adding the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously to incorporate evenly. You can add water a tablespoon at a time if the mixture becomes too thick, it should be the consistency barbecue sauce. After 3 to 4 minutes of whisking remove from the heat at this point the chicken should be ready. Serve the chicken drizzled with the sauce. A very easy and fun meal to prepare and at $3.17 per plate there was enough money in the budget for dessert, that's another post.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Buffalo Shrimp

My wife really doesn't like shrimp, I mean in all forms just about. So to my surprise my wife thought for Father's day she would go out and by my Father's day meal for me. So of course she bought home shrimp, but in the end the joke was on me. You see my wife had no intention of cooking for me I would be doing the Father's day cooking. I guess if you look at it how many people get a couple pounds of shrimp as a gift to prepare there own dinner, Happy Father's day to me.

1/2 cup hot sauce(I use Red Hot)
1 stick of light butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup cold milk
1 tsp hot sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire
1 lbs med shrimp peeled and deveined
1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 Tbsp onion powder
Oil for frying

Combine hot sauce, butter and garlic powder in a saucier or small sauce pan over low heat until melted, keep warm. Combine milk, hot sauce and Worcestershire in a shallow bowl until well blended. Add shrimp to mixture and set in the refrigerator until ready to use. Combine corn meal through onion powder in another bowl. Heat oil in cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet over med high heat (you can adjust to heat as needed). Remove shrimp from the refrigerator and dredge in the flour mixture. Once the temperature has reached 375 degrees carefully drop the shrimp in the hot oil. Fry the shrimp in small batches making sure not to overcrowd the skillet, fry for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels while the shrimp is still hot, place in a mixing bowl drizzled with a couple of tablespoons of buffalo sauce and tossed light until covered. Serve with French fries, blue cheese dressing and carrot sticks. And don't forget the napkins. This meal came out to roughly $2.00 a plate, and that’s being generous. Maybe my real gift was staying within my budget.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cilantro Lime Brown Rice

I guess I could have included the recipe for the Rice in my most recent post. I sometimes use instant rice because of the time issue. In the end you still get a great budget friendly dish.

2 cups of warm cooked brown rice(follow the directions)
1 tsp lime zest
2 tbsp lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup of cilantro finely chopped

Combine all the ingredients and check the seasoning. Serve warm.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pork Chile Verde with Cilantro Lime Brown Rice

Wow I have been away for a while, but a last not forgotten I hope. This dish was found totally by accident. While shopping a local grocery I ran across a pork roast that was on sale for an incredible price. My first thought was carnitas, but upon later review Green Chile Verde was what this budget cooking chef needed.
2 lbs of pork butt, cut into cubes
1 tsp salt
1 lb tomatillos, husk removed
6 large cloves of garlic
3 bunches green onions(1 1/2 cups)
2 Serrano chilies
1/2 fresh jalapeno chile stem removed
2 large seeded poblano chile
1 bunch of cilantro chopped(about 1 cup)
2 Tbsp dried oregano
3 1/2 cups of broth or water
1 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
In a large casserole combine pork with just enough water to cover and season with salt and pepper. Turn up the heat to high and boil, careful to leave the lid slightly off. Allow to cook until almost all the water is evaporated about 30 minutes. Remove the cover and reduce the heat to very low and let the pork fry in it own fat until golden brown. Remove from the heat. Cut the tomatillos in half and place on a foil lined baking sheet along with garlic cloves through the pobalno chiles. Place under the broiler for 5-7 minutes until charred lightly, remove from the oven. Place all the ingredients in the blender and pulse until smooth. Return pork to pot; pour chile mixture over the top of pork. Add the oregano and broth just to cover the mixture. Bring the mixture up to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours until the pork is tender. To serve four people this budget meal came to $2.37 per plate.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mushroom Smotherd Chicken with Potato Gnocchi

This is a true pantry recipe, I didn't want to go to the store so I basically raided the pantry and came up with this gem. When I speak about a pantry recipe, these are items that can be put together in a pinch to solve any cooking dilemma. They are the essential odds and ends to a meal. Items like garlic, potatoes, olives, pesto, different type of pasta; these are the co-stars to that complete meal. With a well stocked pantry and fridge a 30 minutes meal is possible. I mean this took me a little longer than 30 minutes but I enjoy the journey. I didn't know what this meal would turn out to be prior to making it. It just happened and I am pretty happy with that.

2 lbs russet potatoes
2 beaten egg yolks
1 1/2 cups flour
pinch of salt
Boil potatoes until they are soft(roughly 45 minutes). While still warm peel and pass through a vegetable mill or a ricer.( if you don't have a ricer you can mash the potatoes by hand and fluff them with a fork) Add eggs, flour and a pinch of salt. Knead gently together until a ball is formed being sure not to overwork the dough. Knead for an additional 4 minutes until dry to the touch. Prepare a work surface dusted lightly with flour, roll out a baseball-sized dough into 3/4 dowels. Cut into 1 inch pieces, use a fork to or your finger tips to form an indentation by rolling the piece. Drop the pieces in boiling salted water a few at a time. When they start to float to the top remove and place in a ice bath to stop cooking process. Toss with olive oil and set aside.

1/4 cup of butter
1/4 olive oil
6 chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
2 cup of diced onions
1 cup of diced carrots
1 cup of diced celery
1 cup of diced green pepper
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp thyme (dried)
1 tsp basil(dried)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups of broth
1 12 oz can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup heavy cream
Parmesan Cheese(optional)

Combine oil and butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and carefully place skin side down in the pan, work in batches and brown for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and drain all but 2 Tbsp of oil. Reduce the heat and add the onion through peppers. Sauté until soft approximately 5 minutes, add garlic and herbs and season with salt and pepper for additional two minutes. Slowly add broth and scrape loose bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn down the heat to low and add soup and cream return chicken to pan and cover for 30 minutes until gravy has thickened. You can add additional water or broth if it becomes too thick. Remove chicken and keep warm add gnocchi to gravy and increase heat to medium. Heat thoroughly sprinkles with Parmesan, serve on a bed of gnocchi, top with chicken and sprinkle with additional cheese and serve. This makes 4-6 servings at a price of 2.15 per plate. Having all the essentials prior to making this meal is truly a budget friendly meal.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Blackened Turkey Roulade stuffed with Dirty Rice

With it being the off season for turkey these days you can pick a whole bird for little of nothing. For this recipe I chose a bone in turkey breast. Since this isn't my first go at this recipe, cutting it off the bone is fairly easy for me. A boning knife and a little patience is all you need.

1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 lb minced chicken gizzards
1/4 lb minced chicken livers
1 lb turkey sausage
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery and carrots
3/4 cups diced green peppers
2 tsp minced garlic
2 bay leaves
2 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp Creole seasoning
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups cooked rice(cooled)
1/4 cup minced parsley
Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat, add minced gizzards, liver and sausage cooking until browned with no pink showing. Add onion thru bay leaves, and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Add stock and loosen caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan,turn heat down and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients cook until heated and stir in parsley. Remove from heat and cool completely

1 4-4 1/2 boneless turkey breast with skin
2 Tbsp Creole seasoning
Worcestershire sauce
1 12 oz jar roasted red peppers cut into strips
4 Tbsp melted butter
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup Blackening seasoning
Butchers twine for trussing the bird
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Lay four pieces of plastic wrap roughly the size of your cutting board, two for the bottom and two for the top. Butterfly and cover the turkey with the two pieces of plastic wrap, pound until 1/2 inch thick. Place breast side down on cutting board, season with Creole seasoning and Worcestershire. Lay roasted red pepper strips evenly over turkey. Spread the cooled rice mixture in the middle of the turkey leaving 1/4 inch border around the edges of the turkey. Roll the turkey up over filling maintaining a tight roll using the plastic to keep it tight, use butcher twine to secure it. You can cut the twine into 6 to 8 pieces and bind it one section at a time.
Brush with butter and olive oil mixture and evenly coat with blackening seasoning. This process will result in quite a bit smoke, so turn on the fan and open some windows. Heat a heavy bottom skillet or grill pan over high heat add turkey and cook for two minutes on each side. Remove place in a roasting shallow pan insert an instant read thermometer in the center of the roll. Cook for 40 minutes or until the thermometer reads 155 degrees. Remove and tent for 10 minutes slice and serve. This meal can be stuffed and served with dirty rice or crawfish stuffing.
I always by the whole turkey when I do this meal because I can after I de-bone the breast I save the other parts and bones for later. And there is always stock in my future.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


One person’s own interpretation of what a sauce is can vary from city to city, from country to country. It can either serve as a component to a dish or a condiment simply passed along the table. Whether your preference is a chunky salsa filed with creamy avocado and tomatoes, or the sweet and warm spiced curried chutney. A sauce can and is another way of imparting flavor and bringing a sort of elegance to a dish.
The simple art of deglazing with a liquid and reducing that by half, and scraping of those brown bits of fond that result in a pan sauce to compliment a dish. The fond are those brown bits left in the bottom of the pan after sautéing a meat or a vegetable. Most people struggle with the thought that those brown bits can be whipped into an incredible sauce. A lot of us think whose going to clean that "stuff", I'm not on dishes this week.
Chefs have always known about the mother sauces and there ability to be transformed into various combinations. These sauces are a hollandaise, an egg and butter sauce; espangnole, which is basically beef broth thickened with a roux; velouté, or a whole broth thickened with roux or flour; béchamel, which is milk thicken with a blond roux or flour, mayonnaise, and tomato sauce. A beurre blanc or a butter sauce should also be considered when talking about the mother sauces.
The techniques used to develop a sauce are pretty standard practice, and can be accomplished with minimal skill. Sauces can be thickened in a variety of ways. A Roux most often is fat (oil) and flour cooked together, brown and white sauces benefit from this application. Also milk or cream and flour can be combined in the same way if appearance is important, cream gravy and a cheese sauce come to mind. In recent years butter and pureed vegetables have been used with the same effectiveness. Paired with the addition of aromatics such as garlic, shallots or even some herbs can play an important role when developing a sauce. A sauce can be combined with a host of ingredients depending on the individual tastes.
Understanding the simple and elegant differences between these sauce and there uses and technique to develop them can take your ordinary cooking to new heights. A sauce should enhance the flavors of the food you use them on.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Let's talk Lasagna

Maybe it is because it can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator until it is ready to be used, whipped out in a flash and popped in the oven and ready to go. Or maybe it is because it is the ultimate crowd pleasing and most perfect embodiment of the one pot dish. It is a very easy recipe to master, because once you get it that is it. You won’t need to refer to a recipe and you can start changing the ingredients to suit your taste. Instead of Parmesan maybe smoked Gouda, instead of Italian sausage maybe a pork ragu. It lends a lot to interpretation and freely adapts to any situation. Lasagna also freezes well so making two at a time and freezing one of them always works. At the core it is a meat sauce, noodles and cheese, who doesn't love that. Lasagna is a great meal for the budget cooking family looking for a real bang for the buck. With the addition of a simple salad and bread you have meal that can become a family favorite.

3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp each dried basil and oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 120z cans of chopped tomatoes
1 cup of stock
1 cup of heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
12 no bake Lasagna sheets
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 cups chopped spinach
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp of stock
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 15oz container of ricotta cheese
2 eggs
4 cups shredded mozzarella(divided)
1 cup of Parmesan cheese(divided)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey and turkey sausage
1/2 cup onion, carrots, celery and bell pepper
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, spray a 13x9 baking pan with cooking spray. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds constantly stirring, add dried herbs through tomatoes and continue to cook for approximately 10 minutes until it becomes thick, the sauce should stick to the back of a spoon. Turn down the heat to low and add remainder of the ingredients and simmer for additional 10 minutes, remove the bay leaf set aside. In another sauté pan heat oil and butter over medium heat, add the 2 cups of mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic through lemon zest and continue to sauté over medium heat until fragrant about 2 minutes. Add stock and reduce slightly about another 2 minutes, remove from the pan and cool. Heat oil in same sauté that you cooked the spinach in when hot adds the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes; add meat and sauté an additional 10 minutes until no longer pink. Remove from heat and set aside. In a bowl beat the eggs, stir in the ricotta and spinach mixture. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan to the mixture and set aside. Spread 1/3 cup sauce on the bottom and layer 4 uncooked sheets, 1/3 cup of spinach mixture 1/3 of the meat mixture, 1 cup of mozzarella and cup of sauce. Repeat two more times. Top with Parmesan cheese and cover with foil cook for 50-55 minutes. Uncover and top with more cheese cook an additional 5 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting. Makes 12 servings at about $1.37 per serving.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blackened Tilapia w/ Meuniere Sauce

Before going to New Orleans I thought for sure that Paris was the food mecca for a foodie-I was wrong. It is New Orleans hands down, without a doubt. This is my small tribute to the crescent city.

3 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp onion powder
3 Tbsp melted butter
4-5 oz tilapia fillets
3 tbsp canola oil
1 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of stock
2 cup chilled butter chopped in small pieces
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
fresh ground black pepper

Combine first seven ingredients in a small bowl, Dip fillets in melted butter and sprinkle with the blackening seasoning. Heat a heavy bottom pan over medium high heat, add oil. Gently place fish in the pan and saute for 4 minutes per side or when the fish begins to flake easily with a fork. Add more oil if necessary. If there is large amount of oil left in the pan discard most of it. Return pan to stove on medium heat add lemon juice and scrap brown bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add Worcestershire and stock and reduce to low. Start adding butter one piece at time whisking to incorporate with sauce. Remove from heat add parsley and pepper and serve with fish

Orange Hoisin Braised Thighs

Chicken thighs have always been a favorite of mine. They can tolerate high heat and being braised and still hold up. I use them all the time and they are always priced in my range. The chicken thigh has long been getting a bad rap; hopefully this recipe will do its image some good.

3 Lbs of chicken thighs w/ skin
salt & pepper
3 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp of minced garlic
1 cup of orange juice
3 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 tsp sriracha
1/3 soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 med orange thinly sliced and quartered
1 Tbsp cilantro chopped
1 Tbsp green onion sliced

Pre- heat the oven to 375 degrees, heat a large skillet over medium high heat add oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, sauté thighs in hot oil until lightly browned on all sides about 10 minutes. Remove chicken, drain off all but 3 tablespoons of drippings. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant but not browned. Combine orange juice thru ginger bring up to boil add chicken thighs. Baste with sauce and put in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Baste every ten minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with cilantro and scallions. Serves three at about $1.76 per plate.

Garlic Lemon Pork Chops

You already know my love affair with butter; sometimes I think Paula Deen is some kin to me. But if I had to choose a runner up it would be garlic and lemon running a pretty tight race for second. Without saying garlic should be listed as a supper food. Its pungent aroma is only secondary to its ability to neutralize free radicals in the body. And lowering cholesterol, you see that balances out the butter. And the lemon from brightening up flavors to deglazing a pan, it also should be held in high regard. Now I don't know if it will help with the butter but they sure do taste well together.

3-1 inch thick pork chops
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
6 cloves of garlic-split
10 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup stock
black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Season chops with salt and pepper, heat sauté pan over medium-high heat, add oil. Sauté chops for two minutes per side, remove from pan. Turn down heat to medium add garlic and thyme. Sauté for until the garlic is brown but not burned. Add remaining ingredients including chops baste with sauce and place in the oven 7-9 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 4 minutes. Serve with garlic lemon pan sauce.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti

Let's talk budget friendly and ease of preparation. Pasta and sauce, but for my fellow foodies who probe the internet recognition of there undying and justifiable search for their foodie badge 1st class, Spaghetti alla Bolognese. Traditionally a rich meat sauce or ragu, slow simmered to bring out the rich flavor of the vegetables and the meats. Adding cream and my favorite butter to provide a silky finish to an already divine sauce, while there are many versions floating around from the traditional to modern I have found this one to be my favorite. To stay true myself and my blog I use turkey, for affordability. Also these days I am trying to watch my girlish figure. But enough about me, to give more flavor in the way of fat I used one pound of turkey sausage which has fennel, sage and of course my favorite fat. Ground turkey is traditionally very dry so the extra fat will bring in moisture. So to my foodie nation I present Spaghetti Ala Bolognese or in the words of my daughter "Daddy, more spaghetti with sauce please". Kids, they will never understand my struggle.

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion diced
1 med carrot diced
1 rib celery diced
1 med bell pepper diced
1 bay leaf/1 sprig of thyme
2 cloves of garlic minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 lb ground turkey
1 lb ground turkey sausage
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup of stock(warm)
3 Tbsp of heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
pinch of nutmeg
flat-leaf parsley chopped
Cooked spaghetti

Heat butter and olive oil in large pot. Add onion thru thyme and heat over medium-heat constantly stirring until translucent but not browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Then add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper then add the turkey. Stir and break pieces up while you sauté until no pink is remaining. Add tomato paste and cooked for 2-3 minutes, followed with crushed tomatoes. Add wine and bring up to a boil, cook until almost evaporated about 3-4 minutes. Add warmed stock thru nutmeg reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half until reduced and thick. If it becomes too thick add more stock a quarter of cup at a time. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve over cooked spaghetti sprinkled with parsley and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and French bread with you guessed it butter! This was $2.69 per plate what a deal, and I have leftovers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What is the deal with Stock?

And I am not talking about the stock associated with futures or bears and that stuff. I am talking about simmering bones, herbs and some vegetables to make the base for sauces and soups. Who makes their own stock these days? I do, I save bones and kitchen scraps. I mean if I had a compost pile I would toss them in. But my wife has a problem with animals that scurry about. But later for that, a good stock can be the difference between an average meal and great one. Great food starts out with the right ingredients and a good stock. That is what I think.

A stock, broth, fumet, and a consommé all start with bones. Bones can be roasted or just added to the water. When boiled the connective tissue breaks down to gelatin, which thickens the stock. If meat is used it is generally referred to as a broth.

There is also the addition of vegetables mostly carrot, celery, and onions. These are the classic combination but one could add leeks, ginger and mushrooms. Whatever combination serves your purpose. I always have a Ziploc bag of scraps in my freezer. When the bag is full I make stock, it is just that simple. I mean who is going to eat the carrot shavings and celery ends.

Herbs to me are glue that binds everything together. A classic ” bouquet garni” which is a bundle of herbs. I use parsley stems (kitchen scraps), bay leaves and some thyme sprigs, and a couple of black peppercorns. I put mine in cheesecloth and tie it up with butcher twine like a tea bag.

Stock is not and should not be Intimidating to the novice or expert. To me it is part of the growth of a foodie or a passionate home chef who loves to cook. You toss all the ingredients in a pot cover with water and bring up to a boil and then slowly drop to a simmer. You simmer after the first boil to keep it clear. Skimming occasionally also help keep the stock it clears. Cool it on the stove and then the fridge to skim the fat layer on the top. Store it 1 cup containers and label. Or store them in ice tray and freeze them individually. So I say in these harsh economic times spend wisely, take your lunch to work and make stock.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lemon and Herb Roasted Chicken

This is a recipe I have been doing for some time now. It is a family favorite not only for its ease of preparation but it is a true budget friendly meal.

4 1/2 lb Chicken
2 tbsp butter (at room temperature)
1/2 tsp fresh parsley, chives, thyme
2 tbsp red wine vinegar, olive oil
1 tsp salt and pepper
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 large carrot halved
1 onion quartered
2 stalk of celery halved
4 cloves of garlic smashed
1/4 cup water and stock
1 tbsp of butter
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Starting at the neck, insert two fingers to gently loosen the skin from the breast to the drumstick. Combine the butter through the lemon zest in a food processor until finely ground. Rub the mixture under the skin of the chicken. Season the cavity of the bird with salt and pepper, stuff the vegetables inside. Truss (bind ) the bird, tie the ends of the legs together with twine, lift the wingtips over the back an tuck the tips under the string. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Insert an instant read thermometer in the center of the thigh muscle not touching the bone. Roast uncovered for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the thermometer is somewhere between 165-170 degrees. Remove from the oven and tent with foil for about 10 minutes. Pour off pan juices in a Ziploc bag in a measuring cup. Add the water and broth let stand for two minutes. Snip off a corner of the bag into a pan stopping before you get to the fat that has risen to the top. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat add butter to fortify and lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Stir in the thyme right before you serve. Remove vegetables from chicken and carve it. Serve with the sauce. Goes great oven roasted potatoes and a simple chopped salad with French bread.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blackened Tilapia with Dirty Rice

OK I am sure one can look at a meal like this and assume it took me forever to make. That would be wrong, and the price per person was pretty budget minded (hence the name of the blog). Tilapia is a relatively cheap fish that absorbs flavors very well. I am sure it will make many appearances throughout my blogging career. The sauce is a quick à la minute Meuniére sauce that was fortified with the blackened bits from the blackening seasoning. With the addition of stock, butter and little lemon juice and some parsley and you have a quick pan sauce to go along the dish. And the dirty rice you could always start chopping all of your vegetables (trinity) with garlic and well you know the rest. Or you can cheat and buy a box of dirty rice mix and add some sauté livers and gizzards with a little sausage. The fennel and sage in the sausage is an excellent combo with rice. And there you have it from start to finish it took me about 30 minutes from pan to plate. Budget cooking doesn't have to come out of microwave, with careful planning you can make a meal sing with flavor. Oh I forgot $11.48 divided by 4, that's $2.87 per plate. A person could get use to this kind budget cooking.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chicken ,Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo

1/2 cup of cooking oil
6 Chicken Thighs,skin removed
1 lb Sausage(pref. Andouille)chopped
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2 cups of chopped onions
1 1/2 cups of chopped bell pepper
and celery
1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 1/2 quarts of chicken stock
Creole seasoning to taste
1 lb of shrimp(deveined and peeled)
Hot cooked rice(white or brown)
file powder(optional)
sliced scallions(optional)

Season chicken with salt and pepper and let stand for 30 minutes. Heat the oil in a pot over high heat. Carefully add chicken to the pot and sauté until browned on both sides about 6 minutes per side. When browned remove from pot. Add sausage and quickly sauté for about 5 minute’s total, remove. Add flour to the oil adjust the heat to medium high in order not to overcook the roux. Stir constantly for twenty minutes to achieve a peanut butter color or longer for a chocolate colored roux (my personal favorite). This step is important because a roux will absorb the flavor so be careful not to burn it. Remove from heat to stop the cooking process and add the onions thru the cayenne pepper. Adjust the heat to low, cook over low heat until vegetables are soft about 15 minutes. Add the stock slowly and season with Creole seasoning. Taste and continue to adjust seasoning you may also want to add some Louisiana hot sauce. Add the chicken and the sausage to the pot and simmer on low for 40-45 minutes. Remove chicken and take the meat off the bone and return to the pot with shrimp and simmer for ten minutes. Recheck seasonings serve with rice. Garnish with scallions and filé powder, enjoy.


Friday, April 17, 2009

If I could live anywhere forever it would be..........

New Orleans without a doubt, with my hometown of Chicago coming in a close second. The Big Easy is a mecca for a foodie. Especially a foodie with a passion for all things southern. Even as I type this blog New Orleans still suffers the indignity of not getting a better response from the government and its citizens during Hurricane Katrina. With that being said residents of the Big Easy have found some sort of confidence and hope that further solidifies the fact that it is my new love affair. If it's not a Hurricane(The Famous Drink), the salty brine from a fresh oyster or a catfish po-boy, it is still a wonderful place to go and eat and relax. Thinking about New Orleans got me to make a steaming pot of Gumbo(I promise to post pictures and a recipe). I love the simple nature of a chocolate roux flavored with the trinity of celery, onions, and bell peppers. Some stock homemade of course, but in a pinch store bought is just as good. Some poultry,sausage a few herbs and you got it. Something so simple could change your outlook on the day. It is a wonder how people whose cuisine was influenced by Acadians,Spanish,African,French and Indian cultures remain so resilient. But I guess if you take all the struggles from all those cultures, the short comings they had to overcome, you may then understand and know New Orleans will rise again.

The Virgin Blog

Welcome to my blog about all things cooking. My goal with this blog is to inform you about my passion for cooking and trying new ingredients on my friends and family. I worked in a couple of restaurants during my time so I have picked a few tricks of the trade. I have also done catering work for both professional and private gathering. I am interested in your take on what a good food experience should be. As I said in the title I am a virgin to the blog scene but hope to pop my cherry on some good information on how you can develop your culinary skill. We all have some creativity hidden inside of us I just hoping to bring it out. Good luck and I hope to have a spirited conversation about my favorite time of the day,Breakfast , Lunch and Dinner.