Why is it almost Taco Salad? Because there's no tostada or chips with it. If you want full-blown Taco Salad, just add some. Pretend they're corn-chip croutons. I didn't use those because of a sudden urge to make roasted potatoes and didn't want a lot more carbohydrates in the meal. Besides, if I opened a bag of chips, the whole thing would disappear, and that's anywhere from $1- 2.50, depending on if we're using cheap tortilla chips or Fritos. The potatoes, as our carb, cost about $ .50 instead. Yum.
½ lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. tomato powder
2 Tbsp. chili powder
Salt to taste
1 head of lettuce (or a half head each Iceburg and red leaf lettuce)
½ green bell pepper
½ red bell pepper
½ c. shredded cheese
1 tomato, cut in wedges
Optional: thin-sliced onion, sliced avocado, jicama cubes, cooked black beans, drained canned corn, canned green chilies....
Cook the beef until browned. Meanwhile, wash and chop lettuce and veggies. Put the lettuce in, then add the vegetables and most of the cheese; mix slightly. When the burger is done, drain off grease, then add tomato powder and chili powder. Stir to coat, taste and add salt if needed. Spread out the meat on a plate to cool more quickly. When it’s cool, top the salad with it and the remaining cheese.
My family thought it was good without salad dressing, but if you want something to drizzle on top, Ranch is a good choice- especially if you mix a little chili powder into it-, OR this:
Creamy Garlic Dressing:
¼ c. plain yogurt or sour cream
1 Tbsp. water or milk
½ tsp. garlic powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. dried parsley, optional, if you want it to look prettier
Whisk until smooth.
Serve with oregano-roasted potato wedges and vegetable sticks.
A tuna burger- filled with savory ingredients and topped with melted cheese... a slice of tomato and a slabs of pickle would be good here, but I didn't add them this time.
The original recipe for this came from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook featuring kids' lunches. They had two versions, the "Mermaid Delights" using shredded carrots and dried basil, and "Buccaneer B
urgers" using canned corn and dried dill. The idea is to stir in 1/3- 1/2 c. of some small bits of vegetable and 1/4 tsp. of an herb. Feel free to come up with your own! Canned salmon can be substituted for the tuna, if you like, as could about 4 ounces of any cooked fish. If you like mayonnaise on burgers, tartar sauce would be a good replacement here.
The patties didn't turn out as large as the book's photos showed, and today it dawned on me why. When the book was written, several years ago, a can of tuna weighed 6 1/2 ounces. They've shrunk since then, down to 5 ounces. I opened and drained two cans and weighed them to see how much actual meat was in there; each can held about 3 1/2 ounces tuna. So there you go. For larger patties, either just make three for each can of tuna you use, or make them thinner.Mermaid Delights
1 (5 oz.) can tuna, drained
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. dried basil
dash of pepper
14 rich round crackers, crushed, OR about 1/3 c. dry bread crumbs
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/3 c. shredded cheese (you choose which kind)
4 slices of cheese (your choice)
4 hamburger buns (the ones above are homemade
4 lettuce leaves
sliced tomato and/or pickles
Put tuna in a bowl and break into chunks. Mix in egg, then basil, pepper, and crumbs. Stir in shredded carrot and shredded cheese. Turn on the oven broiler.
Grease a cookie sheet, then scoop mixture into four (or three!) equal piles on it.
Shape into flat patties, about 3 1/2" across. Broil about 4" from heat, for 4 minutes or until browned. Either flip patties over and broil another 3-4 minutes, OR turn the oven to 375 degrees F and let them bake 10 more minutes.
Top immediately with a slice of cheese, then assemble burgers with the buns, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles.
Yeah, I know that smoked salmon is a little expensive for a website with a name like this one has...
Would it help you feel better to tell you I buy it during the after-Christmas "food gift" clearance sales? It's at least 50% off then.
OK, it's still not real frugal. But it does have an incredible shelf life-- and is one of my absolute-favorite foods!- which is why I had a couple tins of it on hand when the idea for this sandwich struck. I decided, the day of the contest, to enter the "Fleishman’s Yeast Sandwich Bread Contest 2012" at the Utah State Fair. Which bread I wanted to make was no problem, the Autumn Harvest Bread
came right to mind. The contest this year, though, specified for 10% of your overall judging score to be from the filling (or "description of a filling"). This is what I came up with to complement the breads' flavors. It will make your tastebuds "dance and sing"! The judges agreed, this took first place in the contest. Autumn Harvest Smoked Salmon sandwiches
Start with one loaf of Autumn Harvest Bread
, sliced about 1/2" thick.
* * * * * * * * * * * *Cream Cheese Filling
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. very finely chopped (or pureed) red onion
2 Tbsp. minced crystallized ginger
2 Tbsp. finely chopped toasted pecans
¼ c. finely chopped celery
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/16 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Stir together, chill at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. To assemble sandwiches
, spread about 2 Tbsp Filling on each of four slices of bread. Top with 2 ounces smoked salmon, and any of the following you like (I used all of them): thinly sliced red onion, sliced tomato, roasted red pepper, alfalfa sprouts
, and arugula
. Drizzle with red wine vinegar
and sprinkle with salt and pepper
. Makes 4 sandwiches.
Who couldn't use another recipe for zucchini right about now?
This year I really HAVE seen cardboard boxes with a "FREE ZUCCHINI" sign written in permanent marker, along the side of the road.
As you can see, this we're not talking about zucchini CAKE... these are tender, flavorful pan-fried morsels, related to crab cakes. Without the crab. There's an endless variety of ways to make these, this particular batch has a Southwestern flair, served with a creamy cilantro-scented Lime Chipotle sauce. We had them for dinner last night and had leftovers. They would make a nice accompaniment to grilled chicken or beef, but I served them as a meatless main dish.
This afternoon about 4:00 I suddenly remembered them again- and promptly finished off the last couple of them for a snack. YUM! (Actually, I took a couple over to a neighbor, who immediately asked for the recipe.)
This is a pretty big batch, I think it made about eighteen 3-inch cakes. Feel free to cut the recipe in half. You can always make the full batch, though, and freeze extras. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes to reheat and recrisp, or toast in a toaster oven. See below for the recipe.
I got a plainer version originally from JustPutzing.com
, though her version was tweaked from one on TheLife'sAmbrosia.com
Neither one of those used corn. I like it for the sweet flavor it adds, along with some non-squishy texture, but you can certainly leave it out. If you do, you'll only need 2 eggs.
Feel free to add in different spices, use different kinds of cheese (the original used Parmesan, in half the amount), or serve with different sauces. Ranch dip would be delicious. So would honey mustard. I intend the next batch to resemble crab cakes even more- I'll add Old Bay to them, a little finely-grated onion, add maybe a teaspoon of honey for a hint of sweetness, and serve with tartar sauce.
Southwestern Zucchini Cakes
1 lb. zucchini (3 small)
1 cup corn kernels (I used canned, then drained them well)
1 c. shredded mild white cheese (I used Havarti 'cause I found it for $2/lb)
2 Tbsp. salsa if you have it around (OK without but good for color)
1 cup panko bread crumbs (or other crumbs- bread, cracker, gluten-free, etc)
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 tsp. chili powder (to taste)
3 medium to large eggs, beaten
3-4 Tbsp. cooking oil
Shred the zucchini on fine or medium holes. Grab a handful, hold it over a plate or bowl, and squeeze hard to remove excess liquid. Put the squeezed zucchini in a mixing bowl, and repeat with all the zucchini.
Stir in the corn, cheese, salsa, bread crumbs, salt, and chili powder. Taste and add more of whatever you think it needs. Stir in the eggs, cover, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. (You can skip this step, but this gives the mixture time to bind together, as the egg soaks into the crumbs. This makes them much easier to form and flip. While it chills, make the sauce below.)
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp. oil to it. When oil is nearly smoking, scoop 3-4 Tbsp of the zucchini mixture into the pan, then flatten to about three inches across. Repeat with as many as will fit in the pan with about 1" between them. Cook for 4-5 minutes, then flip over. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until golden.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan before starting the next panful.
Makes about 18. Serve warm or room temperature.
Creamy Chipotle Sauce (adapted from America's Test Kitchen)
Note: Chipotle is smoked jalapeno pepper. I don't have any on hand, so I came up with a similar flavor with what I DID have, though it wasn't nearly as hot. If you like more heat, add a little cayenne or red pepper flakes. If you happen to have canned chipotle around, use 1-2 tsp., minced, in place of chili powder and Liquid Smoke)
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. sour cream (I didn't have this, either- use plain yogurt, or like I did, thick kefir)
1-2 tsp. chili powder (to taste- my kids were happy with just 1 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder, or one minced clove fresh garlic
2 drops Liquid Smoke
2 tsp. minced fresh cilantro
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 drops lime essential oil if you have it
Stir together. Cover and refrigerate about 30 minutes to blend the flavors.
Makes about 1/4 cup.
If you double the recipe, you can have leftovers to change into a fabulous salad dressing: Thin down with a little water or lime juice. Salt and pepper to taste.
What is marinara sauce, you ask?
Call it spaghetti sauce. Or a dip for fried mozzarella cheese sticks, breadsticks, or calzones. It's a sauce for pan-fried cutlets. Or pizza sauce. It's just a spiced, meatless red sauce. Stir in some cooked hamburger to make a meaty spaghetti sauce, or simmer meatballs in it until they're tender. Try it instead of mayonnaise and mustard on a sandwich, on seafood, or over some grilled slabs of zucchini. It's very versatile, and very easy!
Do you want all fresh ingredients, or all pantry ingredients? Take your pick! This is especially delicious if you use fresh garden tomatoes.
If using fresh herbs, you’ll need three times as much, i.e., 3 tsp. (1 Tbsp.) fresh oregano leaves.
14-oz can crushed or diced tomatoes, OR 2 (8 oz.) cans of tomato sauce, OR 1 lb. pureed, or peeled and chopped fresh tomatoes
1 (6-8) oz can sliced mushrooms, or 4-8 oz. fresh (optional but adds depth and ‘umami’)
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp. each thyme and basil, if you have them
1/4-1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or 1-4 minced garlic cloves)
pepper to taste
Stir everything together, simmer for 15 minutes if you want the flavors to blend well.
You can also add a dash of cayenne, or red pepper flakes, Tabasco sauce or whatever else smells good with it. I like to add a few crushed fennel seeds to it because it adds to the aroma. The cafeteria I worked at in college made it that way...
Which one you make depends on the noodles you use. What's pictured is technically neither, but is what I grew up calling 'chow mein'. I think if you add the chow mein noodles, that then it is. "Mein" means 'noodles'
, "lo" means "tossed", and "chow" means "fried. Got it? However you make the veggies & sauce, you can serve it with rice, cooked noodles, or fried noodles. A package or two of Ramen works here, too: cook it for Lo Mein, or crumble the uncooked noodles and serve them as a crunchy topper.
During my senior year in high school, it occurred to me that I'd soon be in charge of feeding myself, and recipes would sure come in handy. I asked my mom if she would compile her recipes for me, as a graduation present.
She did it: a plastic 3x5 card file box filled with recipes for what we'd eaten most often during the past couple decades. She must have typed during the day while I was at school; I don't remember seeing her work on it. She fit it inbetween raising seven children, tending a huge garden, canning, two preschoolers still at home, serving on our town's volunteer fire department, and taking EMT classes. And then she typed them all up again for the next siblings to graduate. Only that time, she bought a computer!
We didn't have a computer that first time around. Mom typed every one of those recipes, inserting each card by hand into just the right spot in the typewriter. Every now and then, a card has a little bit of White-Out on it underneath a letter. You can't buy a cookbook as valuable as that.
Some recipes were more about instruction than quantity. This is one of them. My addition to it are what's in parenthesis.Chow MeinTake any cooked meat that is chopped or ground (1-2 cups, burger, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, crab...). Chop about a cup of celery (2 stalks) and cook in about 2 cups of water (simmer in a skillet). Drain liquid from a (14 oz. or bigger) can of Chinese vegetables and add to celery. Make this thick with about 1/4 c. cornstarch which has been made into a paste then gradually added to celery and water (mix 1/4 c. water with the cornstarch until smooth, then stir into the vegetables). Cook (boil) until clear, stirring often. Add cooked meat, vegetables and heat well. Add soy sauce to taste. Serve over hot rice and sprinkle with chow mein noodles.A little ginger is good in this, as is 1-2 Tbsp. vinegar with 2-3 Tbsp. brownYou can add any other vegetables you like when cooking the celery... the version in the photo used a cup or two of diced & peeled watermelon rind, plus a handful of baby carrots, sliced, that had started to dry out. Chow Mein is like soup that way: see what vegetables are starting to go, or random bits sitting around, and add them right in!
This recipe makes a big batch, about 11-12 cups (5 pounds) of refried beans. The point is to have enough to freeze for later. Since I buy beans in 25-lb bags for about $17, the beans for this cost just $1.40, a big onion was $ .30. Not counting the spices – which are a small amount- this adds up to just under $ .08 for each half-cup serving of refried beans! I used them to make some burritos to freeze for my husband’s lunches.
You can make these fat-free, but I prefer to use at least some fat, for a few reasons. One is that it helps in digestion- fiber is easier on your system when there’s some fat there to help it along. Another is that it helps make certain vitamins available- vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, which means if you don’t eat fat along with those vitamins in your food, your body is not able to absorb them. Besides all that, fat helps you stay full longer, plus helps the beans taste more moist and delicious!
According to CalorieCount
, a half-cup of these -before the cheese- have 3.7g fat, 15g fiber, 21g protein, 27% of your RDA for iron, plus are high in magnesium, potassium, and thiamin. How’s that for cheap, filling nutrition?5 cups dry beans (about 2 lbs) – I used black beans but pinto are also good
1-2 onions, coarsely chopped
9 cups water
Sort through the beans and remove any dirt or rocks. Rinse them, then put the beans, onion, and water in a pressure cooker. Put the lid on and bring up to pressure. Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. Let the pressure drop completely before opening up.
If you don't have a pressure cooker, put the beans and onion in a big pot, cover with about 3 quarts of water (12 cups), bring to a boil, and simmer for about 4 hours. Check occasionally to make sure there's still enough water to barely cover the beans, adding more if needed.
You’ll have about 12 cups of cooked beans. Drain them but keep the liquid. Stir in:2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. liquid smoke
¼ c. coconut oil – OR use bacon drippings and omit the liquid smoke
Puree or mash them - I put 3 cups at a time in my blender. Add a little cooking liquid if they’re too thick. They WILL thicken some as they cool. Taste them and add more of any seasoning you think they still need. This version is lightly flavored.
To make bean and cheese burritos, stir in 4-8 oz. mild or medium cheese
, shredded on the biggest shredding holes.
If you’re making 6-oz burritos, you’ll need about 24 flour tortillas
(size about 8” across). If you want 4-oz burritos, you’ll need about 40-48 tortillas.
Do you need a quick pizza crust? This one doesn't require any rising time, which means you could have a fresh-baked pizza in less time than it takes to order out!
You may like this even if you don't have to avoid wheat or gluten. If you don't these flours and gluten's OK for you, the recipe can be modified back to a wheat-based crust; just use a total of 2 cups flour.
Gluten-free pizza crust
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch (or adjust these 3 ingredients to total 2 cups)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 to 1 cup water or milk, just off boiling (very hot!)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, grease a pizza pan or baking sheet.
Stir together flours/starches, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir in the hot water or milk and stir until it forms a dough. Pat about 1/4" thick onto the pan you're using. Bake until just set, about 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness. Add your sauce and toppings and return the pizza to the oven until cheese is melted. (I like to put it under the broiler for 2 minutes instead, to get browned & bubbling bits on the cheese.)
Years ago a college friend gave me a cookbook her family had put together. Though I haven't tried all the recipes in it, I'm inclined to say there's not a bad one in the bunch- everything I've tried has been fabulous. Even the strange-sounding recipe for "Vinegar Dumplings" was amazing. I may need to post that one later for you!
This recipe is from that cookbook. Apparently 'Chalupa' is a misnomer, to be authentic you'd use thin, small, fried corn tortilla 'boats'. But this tastes really similar and is simpler.
This batch is big; feel free to cut it in half. The bean/meat mixture freezes well, though, so maybe make the whole batch and have some on hand in the freezer for a quick meal!
2 lb. boneless pork roast *
1 lb. pinto beans, sorted and rinsed *
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 small can green chilies
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. salt
* I used beef roast and black beans
(Start making this about 6-7 hours before you want to eat. Or see 'Faster Chalupas' below.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put all ingredients in a Dutch oven or roaster; add enough water to cover. Bake, covered, for one hour, then reduce to 275 degrees. Cook another 4-5 hours. Add more water if the beans aren't all the way covered by it.
Remove pork, cool and shred. Meanwhile, cook the bean mixture with the lid off for 30-60 minutes or until thick. Put shredded meat back into bean mixture and heat.
Serve on a bed of crisp corn chips and top with shredded cheese, lettuce, onion, tomatoes, avocadoes, and salsa.
#1: use a pressure cooker. Mine took about 30 minutes under high pressure in a Kuhn Rikon. Plan on 1 hour instead if you have a regular pressure cooker.
OR #2: use leftover roast and 3 (15 oz.) cans of beans, undrained. Add all seasonings except for the salt, combine and simmer for at least 15 minutes to blend the flavors.
Did you add a little too much chili? or maybe the lid fell off the salt shaker and now it's salty enough to kill a cat?
When we're cooking from scratch, sometimes we get carried away with spices. Are you stuck eating the whole batch because now your children refuse to touch it? Or are you tempted to throw it out?
My sister-in-law asked my sisters and I what we would do. Apparently her favorite way is to rinse the meat in a colander under running water, then return the meat to the skillet and add spices more cautiously. Someone on Facebook said that was disgusting and would result in soggy meat.
I'd be cautious about how much grease could go down the drain that way, potentially clogging it, but that's actually a good solution. The meat won't be soggy if you reheat it to drive off an excess water.
Another solution is to mix something else in with it to dilute the spice:
-plain cooked oatmeal or cooked cracked wheat (a really cheap meat extender!)
-plain refried beans
-a can of drained beans (black, kidney, or pinto)
-a half can of tomato sauce (cook more if this is too soupy)
The whole point is- if the food didn't turn out the way you intended, instead of chucking it, come up with a way to fix it or repurpose it. If that doesn't work, you're no worse off than before!