Saturday, December 31, 2011

Today's Frugal Dinner: Baked Potato Soup

Beautiful Bacon.  Sizzling away, 8 slices of bacon comprise the first step of this lovely soup.  Yes, I only have 7 slices in the pan.  I only had 7 slices left in the pack and wasn't willing to thaw the package in the freezer just for one slice.  (Plus I like to think that using 7 slices instead of 8 is somewhat cheapskate-y of me.)

While the bacon sizzles (and 4 or 5 potatoes cook in the microwave for 12 minutes), melt the butter in a large stock pot (I used my big Rachael Ray pot.) then add garlic.  Mix in the flour.  Then SLOWLY add  milk, whisking to help eliminate lumps.  Next, add in some chicken stock and KEEP WHISKING.  You want the soup to be super smooth.  This is the most labor-intensive step of this soup.  Good news, though: once this step is done, your soup is almost done.  When the soup is nicely smooth and thickening, the potatoes should be finished and ready to move on to the next step.

Cut open the potatoes and scoop the insides into the soup.  (I LOVE that I don't have to peel the potatoes for this soup.) Mash the potatoes a bit with a wooden spoon.  Stir in some cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions, and some of that yummy bacon.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with more sour cream, green onions, cheddar, and bacon.  Or, if you are like my kids and have hang-ups about most of those items, just bacon.  (That reminds me, don't tell my Dianna that there is cheese in here.  She won't touch it if she knows, and she currently thinks I make "famous" potato soup.  I'd like to keep up the delusion that I'm a good cook.  And don't tell Jarod either, because he currently has a thing about "cooked" cheese.  If it's melty, he doesn't like it, apparently.  If we could just keep this between us, that would be great.  Thanks a heap.)

This recipe is amazing, and the girls at has certainly helped to make it not-so-bad-for-you.  I love their lower-fat twist to the soup.  I must admit that I used 2% milk not skim and I used full-fat sour cream instead of low-fat, because that's how I roll. (Really, I needed to buy a big container of sour cream to help make several recipes and the only big container was the regular version.)

8 slices of bacon, divided
4 or 5 potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c. flour
4 1/2 c. milk
1 14 oz. can of chicken broth
2 c. grated cheddar (I used sharp.), divided
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 c. sour cream, divided
1/2 c. chopped green onions, divided

Cook 8 slices of bacon.  Crumble and set aside.
Wash the potatoes well, then poke them several times with a fork.  Microwave for 12 minutes, or until cooked through. (12 minutes is perfect in my microwave.)
In a large pot, melt the butter, then add the garlic.  Cook for several minutes, then add the flour, stirring well to combine.
Stir in the milk slowly, whisking constantly to make smooth.  Add the chicken broth and whisk until completely smooth.
Once the soup is smooth and beginning to thicken, turn the heat down.  Cut open the potatoes and use a spoon to scoop out the innards.  Use a wooden spoon to smash the potatoes a good bit. Add 1 1/2 c. cheese, 3/4 c. sour cream, 1/4 c. green onions, and 4 slices of crumbled bacon. 
That's it! The soup is ready to serve! Garnish with more cheese, sour cream, bacon, and green onions.

Let's talk price:
bacon - purchased at Sam's for $13.48 for 3 1/2 lbs. - $2.25
4-5 potatoes - purchased at Sam's for $3.98 for 10 lbs. - $1
2-3 cloves of garlic - purchased at Sam's for $4.72 for 48 oz. - $.10
1/2 c. flour - purchased at Sam's for $7.28 for 25 lbs. - $.05
4 1/2 c. milk - purchased at Sam's for $3.89 for 1 gal. - $1.09
14 oz. chicken broth - purchased at Publix on BOGO sale $2.59 for 2 (32 oz.) boxes - $.65
2 c. grated cheddar - purchased at Sam's for $3.98 for 2 lb. - $1.00
salt - $0.00
pepper - $.02 est.
1 1/2 c. sour cream - purchased at Publix for $2.59 for 24 oz. - $.86
green onions - purchased at Publix for $.60 for a bunch - $.08
Bread from the Publix bakery, because I just couldn't resist - $2.99
Tortilla chips - leftovers from lunch at Red Robin
Total cost for this meal: $10.09
We have enough leftovers to have a little snack tomorrow afternoon.  Or when up at 2:00 am with a hungry baby.  Plus there's enough bread for another 2 or 3 soup meals.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tonight's Frugal Dinner - Talani's Famous Ham

This ham that Talani makes with leftovers is so ridiculously delicious that we gobbled it up before we could take a picture of it.  It may not be "famous" to the world, but we like it so much that it's definitely famous around our house. It's NOT a healthy meal, necessarily, but we like it anyway. 

Talani combines chopped up leftover spiral sliced ham (from Christmas dinner this time) with spicy brown mustard, brown sugar, and butter.  It just cooks until it's heated through and the sugar isn't grainy anymore.  Sometimes it's really saucy; tonight it was not.  Sometimes it's really sticky; tonight it was not.  It was wonderful.  We ate it with rice.  I had seconds.  And I don't regret it.  At all.

Talani's Famous Ham and Rice

about 2 c. leftover spiral-sliced glazed ham, chopped $3 (We bought our ham at $1.99/lb., and I'm estimating that we ate 1 1/2 lb.)
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar $.05
3 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard $.23
2 Tbsp. butter $.16
2 c. rice $.25

Combine rice and 4 c. water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Rice will be done in approximately 18 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine ham, sugar, mustard, and butter.  Simmer and sizzle until heated through and the sugar isn't grainy anymore.

Total cost: $3.69

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Today's Cheapskate DESSERT: Lime Meltaways

Oh my, I LOVE baking.  I can't believe it's taken me 34 years to figure out what a great hobby it is.  I always dreaded the clean up, I guess, and that kept me from trying too many things.  I have grasped the fact that clean up is part of the process, and that the process is captivating.  I get more relaxation from baking, I think, than even a nap.  (And I've always loved naps.) 
I've followed on twitter for quite some time, enjoying the recipes, but feeling like they were out of my league.  I recently read the recipe for dark chocolate shortbread with fleur de sel, and I was intrigued.  I browsed his Kevin's blog a little bit and came across the recipe for lime meltaways.  WELL, if there's anything I'd like to snack on more than chocolate chunk cookies, it's lime cookies.  I have a special affinity for just about anything citrus.

I did make a couple of tweaks, but nothing major.  At least I hope it doesn't turn out to be major.  I'm only about half way done with the recipe as I type this portion of this post.

Lime Meltaways

1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature ($.94)
1/3 c. powdered sugar ($.12)
zest of 2 limes ($.67)
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (I used almond just because, and I was just shy of a tablespoon.) ($.21)
1 3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. flour ($.30)
2 Tbsp. corn starch ($.05)
1/4 tsp. salt ($.00)
3/4 c. powdered sugar ($.27)

Total for the batch: $2.56
My batch made 3 dozen cookies.

Cream together butter and sugar.
Add lime zest and juice, vanilla (or almond) extract and beat well.
In a large bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, and salt.
Combine wet and dry ingredients.
Roll out the dough into a 1 1/4 inch log.
Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (I used the freezer for 30 minutes.)
Slice the dough into 1/4 inch pieces and place on a baking sheet 1 inch apart.
Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.
Let cook on a wire rack for 4 minutes.
Dredge in powdered sugar to coat.

Lime Meltaways in the cut-into-slices phase.

**UPDATE: The cookies are done, and they are different than I expected.  They are drier than I thought.  I was expecting really buttery meltiness, not crumbly meltiness.  They taste good - tart and sweet at the same time.  I'm somewhat disappointed to be honest.  I wonder if the lack of vanilla extract was my mistake?  I had thought I'd also try making the dark chocolate shortbread cookies linked above, but now I'm not sure I want to.   Oh, well.  Really, I like them.  I do.  But I'm afraid no one else will.  And I think they might be messy with their crumbli-ness.

The first pan of Lime Meltaways as a finished product. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Today's Cheapskate Meal: Tortellini Sausage Soup

Okay, so a food photographer I am not.  This is 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage cooking up as the first step to creating this amazing soup.  (Can I just say that, as I type this, the soup is about halfway finished, and my house already smells amazing.  I can't wait for lunch.)

Some other ingredients I needed: parsley, basil, tomato puree, minced garlic, oregano, apple cider vinegar, beef broth, carrots (mine are matchsticks), zucchini (I bought several on sale, grated them up, and froze them in individual sized bags just for this purpose.), diced onion.  On the left side, you can see a tiny corner of a cookie sheet.  That cookie sheet is filled with breadsticks from an recipe, and they go great with this soup.  On the right hand side, you can see my laptop with this recipe.  I wonder how many times I'll make this soup before I'll have it memorized.  I've made it at least a dozen times and I'd still be lost after the brown-the-sausage-and-add-onions-and-garlic phase.

Before I go any further, I need to give props to Kate and Sara at  Seriously, I don't know what my family did for food before I stumbled upon this blog in the spring.  About half of what I make comes from this blog!  I wait anxiously for each new post, and I'm constantly adding their recipes to my "try these tasty eats" folder on my favorites.

I rarely vary from a recipes ingredients or steps, because I'm terrified of messing things up.  I can say, though, that I make several tweeks to this soup and haven't had disastrous results.

Tortellini Sausage Soup

3 links Italian sausage (I use 1/2 lb. bulk sausage) $1.50
4 cloves minced garlic ($.12)
1 onion, diced (I use 1/2 an onion because I don't care for a lot of onion, and I get to make the call since I'm the one cooking!) $.25
1/2 c. water (I usually use double this, since I like to make the soup really stretch.) $0
2 cans chicken broth (I use beef.) $1.29 (BOGO)
1/2 c. apple cider (I use 1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar.) $.10
1 16 oz. can diced tomato
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce (I use a 29 oz. can of tomato puree.  I don't like chunks of tomato.  Again, I get to make that kind of substitution cuz I'm the one cooking, and usually no one is the wiser.)  $1.89
1 c. sliced carrots ($.30)
1 tsp. dried basil ($.03)
1 tsp. dried oregano ($.03)
2 medium zucchini, grated (I use only about 1/2 of a zucchini.) $.50
8-10 oz. package frozen tortellini ($3.59)
2 Tbsp. dried parsley ($.18)

Total: $9.78.  That seems like a lot of money for one soup meal!  But it's oh-so-filling; I usually have leftovers for another meal or late night snack.  Plus, it's still MUCH cheaper than going out for a soup lunch at Olive Garden or Panera Bread.  I serve this with sprinkles of parmesan cheese and fresh breadsticks, which brings the total closer to $12 for the meal.  I'm okay with that, really.

Brown the sausage.  Drain fat if necessary. (I've never had enough to worry about draining.)
Add the onions and garlic, and cook just for a few minutes.
Add water, broth, cider or vinegar, tomatoes, carrots, basil, and oregano.  Simmer for 30 minutes.
Add zucchini and parsley.  Simmer for 15 minutes.
Add tortellini.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.
(I usually divide my soup into two parts before adding the pasta.  The grownups like tortellini, but the kids don't care for the cheese.  I take a portion of the soup, put it in another pot, and add some kind of fun little pasta shape (today it's wheels), and cook for 7 minutes. That way, they get what they like, and it's more tortellini for me!)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today's Cheapskate Meal: Chipotle Pork Tacos

The sliced pork loin marinates briefly in a mixture of lime zest, lime juice, oregano, chipotle in adobo (sauce only), salt, and garlic.

I cooked up some sliced white onion then removed them from the pan.  The sliced pork loin cooks super quickly, then the onions rejoin it in the pan. 
I'm serving it on rice instead of in tortillas.  Rice is soooo much cheaper than a pack of tortillas.  I gave a thought to trying to make tortillas myself today, but I didn't think seriously enough about it to actually work up the effort it would take.  Maybe next time.  These tacos are on the menu again next week, so maybe I'll give it a shot then.  This stay-at-home vacation is the perfect time to try making tortillas.  Maybe you'll see a "cheapskate meal" post in the next week or so all about homemade tortillas.  If you don't, you can assume that either I didn't try to make them or that I did and they totally flopped!

See the original recipe for this delicious meal from ourbestbites here.

Here's the breakdown of what we had tonight:

Chipotle Pork Tacos

1 lb. pork loin or chops, sliced thin ($2.00)
zest and juice of one lime ($.33)
1/2 tsp. dry oregano ($.03)
1 tsp. brown sugar ($.03)
chipotle in adobo ($.18)**
2 tsp. minced garlic ($.15)
1/4 tsp. salt ($.00)
3 tsp. olive oil ($.08)
1 c. chopped onion ($.21)
2 c. rice ($.17)***
sour cream ($.50)
Shredded cheese ($1)

Total cost: $4.18, plus the cost of tomatoes and ranch served alongside.  So, maybe around $6?

**I used just about 1 Tbsp. of sauce from the can of chipotle in adobo.  Our family doesn't want much heat at all, so I go easy on it.  The original recipe calls for 2 tsp - 1 1/2 Tbsp, depending on the amount of heat desired.  The peppers themselves contain more heat than the sauce.
***The original recipe calls for corn tortillas.  I saved at least $2 by substituting rice.

In a bowl, combine the pork, lime juice and zest, oregano, garlic, salt, and chipotle in adobo.  Set aside. 
Saute chopped onions in a bit of olive oil, about 4 minutes.  Set aside.
Add a little more oil to the pan, then saute the pork until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. (See, the recipe goes together QUICKLY!)
Add onions to the pork and allow to cook together and get all happy.
Serve on tortillas (or rice) with sour cream and chopped cilantro. 
I like to add shredded cheese to mine.  Salsa isn't necessary and would be insulting to the spicy pork, I think. 
Shredded lettuce, diced tomato, diced avocado, etc., wouldn't be amiss, either but would add to the price bottom line.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Today's Cheapskate Meal: Dinner Rolls

Dinner rolls during the first rise.

Uniform dinner rolls during the second rise.  The recipe made 80 rolls weighing an average of 25 grams each.

Dinner rolls just after they came out of the oven.  They're beautiful.

This recipe comes from the website  It is designed to be frozen part of the way through the procedure then thawed at some later date.  The batch makes so many that you could totally do that. I could easily see making sets of 20 of these little beauties.  However, I don't have the number of smaller baking dishes needed to freeze these.  Plus, now I have plenty of excuse to eat delicious carbs over the next couple of days.
These rolls have a slightly pretzel-y flavor that I can't explain.  If I were more like Alton Brown I might know why they have that distinct taste.  Since I'm not more like Alton Brown, I'll just remain ignorant and enjoy the pretzel-y-ness. 
These rolls have very normal rise times.  Being slow in the kitchen, though, I - of course - have to find a way to make them take longer than necessary.  I'm obsessive about uniform rolls so I weigh them out on my digital scale to get them to weigh the same.  I weighed in grams and made rolls that were 24-27 grams each.  I ended up with one roll that was 36 grams.  I made two 18 gram rolls out of it and didn't notice a bit of difference when we ate them tonight.
  I made this recipe at Thanksgiving and it was the one failure of the day.  I think I made them too large, and that caused them to not cook through in the middle.  These smaller rolls, though, were perfectly done.
I am planning to make potato soup for lunch tomorrow, and these will go great alongside.

Dinner Rolls

2 cups warm milk  $.47
1/2 c. melted butter $.63
1/2 c. sugar $.17
2 1/4 tsp. yeast $.12
4 1/2 c. flour $.16
1/2 tsp. baking powder $.03
1 tsp. baking soda $.03
1/2 tsp. salt $.00

Combine warm milk, melted butter, and sugar.  Stir until the sugar is dissolve, then add the yeast.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  The yeast should be bubbly.  (I assemble my bread doughs a little differently.  I add the yeast to the milk and butter and let stand for 10 minutes.  Then I add the sugar and stir until dissoved.) 
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Pour the milk/butter/sugar/yeast mixture over the dry ingredients.  Mix very well.
Place bowl in a warm place, cover, and let rise for about an hour.
After the rise is complete, punch down, and divide into two sections.  Roll dough into golf-ball sized rolls and place in a greased 9x13 pan. (I used a 9x13 and a 9x9. I also didn't divide the dough into two sections; I just weighed it out.)  Cover and allow to rise until double. 
About half way through the rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the rolls for 12-15 minutes. (I started at 12, then reset the timer for another 3 minutes when they were still very raw looking.  After that 3 minutes, they still didn't look quite done, so I let them go another 3 minutes.  That gives me a total of 18 minutes.)
Upon removing rolls from the oven, rub with cold butter.  (I also like to sprinkle them with a tiny bit of salt.)
Enjoy as soon as you can touch them without blistering your fingers.

The total cost of these rolls is $1.61.  These will last several meals.

Today's Frugal Meal: Caldereta with Pork

Either my camera is on a weird setting or my kitchen lighting is funky.  I promise this dish is not so completely orange. 
Last Christmas, one of my students and her parents prepared a Filipino meal for us as a Christmas gift.  It was incredible.  They made us lumpia; we love lumpia.  And they made us caldereta.  I'd never had caldereta before.  I'd never HEARD of caldereta before.  We loved it! So much so, as a matter of fact, that I asked the mom of that student to share the recipe.  Today is the second time I have made this dish.  The first time I tried it, it was a hit, which is a good thing since I was being very daring and cooking it when we were having company. 
The recipe calls for mixed vegetables to be added in, but I just didn't want to. 
Tonight I made linguine noodles to serve under the stew.  I also made some rolls which will show up in another post, probably later this evening.

Pork Caldereta

2 lb. pork loin, diced ( I used just 1 pound for our family.) $2.00
1 Tbsp. olive oil $.10
4 cups of water, divided $.00
1 pkg. Mama Sita's caldereta mix, available at Asian food stores (I used only half the packet for our little family.  I didn't want the stew to be too spicy, and I wanted to minimize the amount of MSG I used.) $.60
3-4 medium potatoes $.99
2 c. frozen vegetables (peas, mixed veggies, etc.) $.99
1 Tbsp. cornstarch $.10

In a large skillet, brown diced pork in olive oil.  When browned, add 2 cups of water and caldereta mix.  Bring to light boil, then allow to simmer for several minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and dice potatoes.  Add potatoes and vegetables to the pork. (I added an extra cup of water at this point.  I didn't feel like I had enough to cook the potatoes through.)  Allow to cook until the potatoes are tender.  (I let it go 10 minutes.) 
Mix cornstarch with 2 cups of cold water.  Pour into pork and potato mixture.  Bring back to a boil for a minute, then reduce heat and let simmer.  (The whole cornstarch and extra water step is optional but is very appropriate to dilute the spicyness of the dish.  Even with using only half the caldereta mix, I still did this step.)
Serve with rice or noodles.
The total cost for this meal is $5.18, including the cost of half a box of linguine.  I only spent $4.19 since I left the veggies out tonight.  Add to that the cost of the dinner rolls I made ($1.61 for the whole batch; we used 1/3 of that batch, or $.54 worth.), and tonight's dinner cost us $4.73.

Today's Cheapskate Meal: Black Bean Tomato Soup

That's right, just two measly slices of bacon.  You'll be able to taste it in every bite.

Hmm.  Kinda doesn't look so good at this point.  I'm telling you, though, less than 15 minutes after this moment: bliss in the form of creamy black beany soup.

I've stumbled upon a new-to-me cooking blog - - and have saved about half of her recipes to my favorites.  I've got a long list of new recipes to try.  It will easily take me into the spring to try all of the dishes that appeal to me.  I've tried two recipes already: mongolian beef, which was a HUGE hit at our house, and this black bean tomato soup.  The kids weren't a big fan of the soup, but they don't seem to care for black beans much. (crazy kids)  My husband is very easy to please, but he did make some happy sounds as he ate the soup.  (maybe he tasted the bacon)
I'm pathetically slow in the kitchen - although I really do think I'm getting faster the more I cook - but this recipe didn't take too long at all.  In fact, I made this soup, pao de queijo, rice, and moroccan beef (in case the soup didn't go over well) all at the same time.  I wish I had one of those fancy blenders, like a vitamix or a ninja.  Oh, well, my old food processor did the job well enough, even though I did wonder if the soup could be even smoother. 

Black Bean Tomato Soup

2 center-cut bacon slices (I used the thick slices I like so much.)
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. chopped celery (I left this out since I didn't have any celery.  I didn't miss it.)
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) organic no-salt-added diced tomatoes (I used the non-organic, salty, whole stewed tomatoes because that's what I had on hand.  Since everything was pureed in the food processor, I don't figure it made a whole lot of difference.)
1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth

Cook up the two slices of bacon then remove it from the pan.  Allow it to cool, then crumble it and set aside.  Drain some fat, if necessary, so that there is just a trace left.  (I didn't have to drain at all.)  Add in the chopped onion and celery.  Cook for 5 minutes or until the celery is cooked through.  Stir in cumin, chili powder, garlic, and pepper; cook for 1 minute.  Add in beans, tomatoes, broth, and crumbled bacon.  Bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Ladle half the soup into the bowl of your food processor or the carafe of your fancy blender.  Process or blend until smooth, leaving the lid open but covered with a cloth to let steam escape.  Remove blended soup to a bowl and repeat process with the rest of the soup. 
Serve soup with sour cream.  (The recipe on deliciousmeliscious gives guidelines for making a lime-cilantro cream.  My hubby doesn't care at all for cilantro, so I didn't bother with this.)
I served it over rice, with the sour cream and a tiny sprinkle of cheddar cheese.  It was really good, fairly healthy (would be more so without the bacon, but I couldn't do without the bacon!), and filling. 
I'll definitely make it again.  Two successful meals from this blog make it a winner in my book, and I can't wait to try another recipe!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Today's Cheapskate Meal: Pao de Queijo

Oh, these rolls!  They're AmAzInG!  They really aren't cheapskate-y, except for the fact that they are part of a meal that is oh-so-much-cheaper than eating at a restaurant.  I made these rolls to go alongside creamy black bean tomato soup.  The un-cheapskate-y part of them is the tapioca flour.  I paid $5.50 for a bag that will only make about 4 batches. 
Once again, I called upon a recipe from my favorite cooking blog,  I have wanted to make these rolls for, like, infinity, but couldn't because I couldn't find the tapioca flour that is a must-have.  I finally stumbled upon it this morning, so I couldn't let the day go by without giving them a try.  Sara of ourbestbites suggests sprinkling rosemary on top.  I put a pinch of dried rosemary into the batter instead.  Other than that, I pretty much did exactly what the recipe said to do.  Oh, with one more exception: I used mild cheddar instead of sharp because that's what I have.
For Sara's great backstory and lots more fabulous recipes, be sure to check out

Pao de Queijo

1 large egg $.16
1/2 c. milk $.12
1/4 c. oil $.06
1 c. tapioca flour  $1.38
1/2 tsp. salt $0
1/4 c. cheddar cheese  $.22
1/4 c. parmesan cheese $.12

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Put egg, milk, oil, flour, and salt into your blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth.
Add cheeses and pulse a couple of times until combined.  (This is when I added the rosemary, too.)
Pour into greased muffin tins, filling 3/4 full or a little less. (Sara says this gets her 16-20 muffins.  I only got 9.  Maybe she uses mini muffin tins?)  Sprinkle with a little extra parmesan and/or salt.  Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. (15 was perfect for me.) Try one as soon as it's cool enough to handle, and serve the rest while they're still warm.  (They don't reheat well, according to Sara, so don't waste time with this!)
Total cost for this side dish: $2.06, or $.23 per roll.

Today's Frugal Meal: Homemade Barbeque Pizza

This picture does not do this pizza justice.  It's HUGE.  It's delicious.  It's saucy and cheesy.  I'm getting hungry all over again just looking at the picture!
I used a wonderful dough recipe, one I regularly use for pizza dough as well as for breadsticks.  I topped the beautiful pizza with a tub of barbeque pork in sauce and a couple of handsful of shredded mozzarella cheese.  I baked the crust for about 10 minutes, added the toppings, then baked again for 10 or so minutes.  I turned on the broiler for about half a minute to try to get the cheese a bit crispy, but it didn't work like I had hoped.  I must have just not let it go long enough in my fear that it would burn. 
The key to this amazing pizza is the crust.  I use the recipe and method I learned on  I rarely ever deviate from this recipe at all, with one exception that I'll mention in the recipe directions below.

Pizza Crust (Or Breadsticks)

1 1/2 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 1/2 c. flour

In a large bowl, combine the water, sugar, and yeast. Allow to bloom for about 10 minutes.  (Here's what I do differently: I only combine the water and yeast.  After the 10 minutes, I stir the sugar in.) 
Stir in the salt.
Add in 2 cups of flour and stir until well combined.  Then add flour little by little (up to a total of 4 1/2 c.) until the dough is soft and elastic. 
Spray a bowl with non-stick cooking spray, put dough in the bowl, and cover with a damp towel.  Allow to rise for about 45 minutes. 
Punch down and roll into a circle.  (For last night's pizza, I put the whole dough into the cast iron skillet and pressed it out.  Next time, I will only use half the dough because it got realllllllly big.) Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and salt.  Use a pastry brush to spread seasoned oil all the way to the edge.  Prick with a fork several times.  Allow to rise for a few minutes, while the oven preheats to 425.
Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and top.  Return to oven for another 10-12 minutes.
Enjoy the giantness that is your pizza.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekly Menu, Week of 12/5

Ah, December!  What a busy month!  I've tried to plan out a few weeks in advance, even though I know full well that plans will change, and I'll end up doing something out of the plan somewhere along the way.  Oh, well, it's important to me to at least start the month feeling organized!

Here's what I'm planning for us to eat this week.

Monday: Chili and frozen garlic bread
Tuesday: Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf and noodles
Wednesday: Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Thursday: Hamburger Helper
Friday: Not-sagna pasta toss
Saturday: (Lunch) birthday party
               (Dinner) Sausage-Tortellini soup and breadsticks
Sunday:  (Lunch) Pot roast and rice
              (Dinner) Barbecue Pork Pizza using this crust

A couple of weeks ago I had a menu that I realized was really Asian inspired, though I didn't realize it until I typed out my meal plan here.  This week, I realize that our menu is really heavy on red meat.  But that's what we have, so that's what we're eatin'.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Look What I Made!: Stretchy Flower Headbands

I am so excited about the success of this little project.  I am so NOT crafty it's scary, so the fact that I was able to assemble anything at ALL is a minor miracle.  Not only was I able to get through this project, but I also completed the project in just a few minutes.
Almost everything I bought was 50% off at Hobby Lobby.  I bought 2 single-stemmed flowers for $1.67 total.  The stretchy headbands were $.99 each, and the pearls in the center cost $1.49 for 105.  I bought a package of alligator clips for $1.99 for 25.  The only things that weren't 50% off were the glue gun and glue sticks I bought, at a total cost of $12.98.  The cost for each headband was $1.96, plus the cost of the glue gun and glue sticks.  And really, I probably completed both in just 15 minutes.  I prepped myself thoroughly by reading through this blog post and assembling all my materials before beginning.  I cannot get over how easy it was!  I hope I remember to post pictures of my little girls wearing Mommy's handiwork tomorrow!