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.