Posts Tagged ‘What we're eating’

The other night I made some yummy corn chowder mostly following this recipe from Paula Deen of the Food Network.  I’ve used this recipe in the past and the chowder was delicious, but I balked at the amount of butter the recipe calls for (1 cup–that’s two sticks!).  So, I modified it this time around.  I used 1/4 cup of butter and 2 Tbsp flour (instead of 1/2 cup).  Also, I added 2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces.  I simmered the potatoes with the corn and chicken stock for about 10 minutes.  Finally, I cut up about 1 cup of cooked chicken and added it to the soup just before adding the half-and-half. I used chicken in this recipe simply because I had some in the fridge that needed eating (it represented the final bits of the rotisserie garlic roasted chicken that I bought a few nights ago and wrote about here, and here, and here.  Other than these changes, I followed the recipe closely.  The soup was delicious, easy, and inexpensive.

We paired it with spinach salad and big chunks of sourdough bread for dipping.  It was the perfect meal for a cold winter’s night.  The only drawback: Charlie wouldn’t touch it, but that was to be expected.  He ate a grilled cheese sandwich instead.

The tally:

1/4 cup butter: $.50
vegetables (carrot, celery, onion, garlic, potatoes, white corn): $3.00
flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper: negligible–let’s call it $.10
3 cups chicken stock: I used the broth I made the other night and calculated 3 cups to be $.59
2 cups half-and-half: $2.49

Total: $6.68
This makes 8 servings of soup, so the total per serving comes to just $.84.

And, doesn’t it look yummy?


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Ok.  I may be cheap, but contrary to how it appears I am not really having chicken broth for dinner.  Instead, I’m making chicken broth to use in other recipes.  So, I told you how two days ago I bought a roasted garlic chicken from our local grocery store.  I’ve used it in different recipes for the past two nights.  Tonight, I took the remaining meat off the chicken and put it aside (I’ll be using it in one final recipe tomorrow).  When all the meat is off the chicken, it’s ready to be put into a big pot for chicken broth.  Though I’ve been making chicken broth for years, I don’t follow any real recipe.  Instead, I just use what I have on hand and go from there.  But, here’s what I did tonight:

Chicken Broth

1 cooked chicken, all the meat removed

1-2 carrots (with green tops, if you have them) or a handful of baby carrots

1-2 stalks of celery (if you have the inner pieces of celery with the leaves they’re the best ones to use)

1 yellow onion, cut in half with the skin left on (wash it to remove any dirt)

1 bay leaf

5-6 fresh sage leaves

1 6-8″ rosemary branch

salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients into a medium to large pan.  Cover with cold water.  Bring just to a boil, reduce heat, cover (allowing for a little steam to escape), and simmer about an hour.  Let cool slightly and pour broth into a large bowl, using a colander to catch the veggies and chicken.  Add salt and pepper to the broth, to taste (although I usually skip this step because I figure that I’ll be using salt and pepper in whatever recipe I add the chicken broth to).  Cool in the refrigerator and skim off any fat that accumulates at the surface.

I grow rosemary and sage in our yard, so that’s why I always use those herbs in the broth.  However, depending on the season, I also often have thyme and Italian parsley.  If I have those on hand, they go into the pot too.  I always use onion, carrot and celery, but I have also used the tough ends from asparagus too.

If I’m not planning on using the chicken broth in a recipe for the next few days then I pour it into containers and put it in the freezer.   Ice cube trays work great for this.  Our trays make about 1 oz ice cubes, so I know that if a recipe calls for 1 cup of chicken broth then I just need to use 8 ice cubes.

The tally:

I can’t really figure this one out accurately, but I’ll do my best.

The chicken was $4.99, but since I used (or will use) all the meat in other recipes, I’m not sure I really have to tally the chicken carcass.  But, I will nonetheless.  Let’s call it $.50.

Veggies (onion, carrot, celery): How about $1.00?  I think that’s being generous though.

1 bay leaf: $.05, again this is a total guess but the point is that it’s not much.

rosemary and thyme: FREE since I grow them in the garden.

salt and pepper: $.01, if that.

Grand total: $1.56

That’s pretty good considering this made about 64 oz of chicken broth.  At the grocery store the cost of a 32 oz box of chicken broth is $2.99.  And, the best thing about this is that chicken broth is an ingredient in so many inexpensive recipes (such as soups, pastas, and flavoring for rice) that it’s great to know I always have some ready and waiting in the freezer.

Ok, so I can’t claim that this is a Charlie-approved-recipe (I can’t think of a single thing he’ll eat that I make with chicken broth), but it turns out that Jake and Lucy, our beloved dogs, LOVE chicken broth ice cubes. They’re fantastic–and cheap–doggy treats!  And who could resist these two faces?

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So, it turns out that Charlie won’t eat the macaroni and cheese as leftovers.  Ho hum.  And, truth be told, the mac and cheese was much better on the first night than the second.  Lesson learned: If I’m going to make this recipe in the future I need to cut it in half or invite friends over to share it with us.

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Tonight I tested a recipe for from-scratch (that is, not out of a box) macaroni and cheese.  Now, in case you’re thinking that I’m the kind of mother who refuses to give her kid mac and cheese from a box, you couldn’t be more wrong.  For the past two years I was THRILLED when Charlie ate mac and cheese from the box.  Charlie is a picky eater, and by picky I basically mean I can count on one hand the different meals he’ll consent to eat.  Up until recently, mac and cheese from the box was one of those five meals.  Imagine my distress when, for seemingly no reason at all, he just stopped agreeing to eat mac and cheese.  So, I decided to try auditioning recipes to see if I could convince Charlie to give macaroni and cheese another try.   I made one recipe a couple of weeks ago but Charlie refused it.  Tonight I tried my friend William’s recipe.  Here it is:

Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups cooked elbow macaroni

2 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

2 cups milk

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 bay leaf

2 tsp paprika

salt and pepper

Boil macaroni until just tender (about 7 minutes) then drain.  In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Gradually whisk in flour and let cook for a couple of minutes.  Slowly mix in milk a little at a time.  Stir in bay leaf, paprika and onion.  Bring to boil and then let simmer 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, take out the bay leaf, and stir in 2/3 of the cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in cooked macaroni.  Pour half of the mixture into a greased 2 quart casserole dish, put a layer of cheese on top, add the second half of the macaroni mixture, and finish with a layer of cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The result is above–I know, it looks just like you’d expect, big surprise.  I actually modified the recipe just slightly.  I used 1 tsp of paprika instead of 2, added slightly more than 2 cups macaroni because that’s how much I ended up having left in the box, and I added about 3/4 cups of very finely diced chicken (leftover from the previous night’s roasted garlic chicken).  Charlie won’t eat meat.  Given he’s 3, I’m fairly sure his refusal to eat meat is not based on ethical principles so I don’t feel guilty trying to disguise it.  I worry that he doesn’t get enough protein so I try to be imaginative, hence the finely chopped chicken.

The result?  Charlie ate it!  He ate his entire portion.  The chicken was impossible to detect.

Overall, I give this recipe a thumbs up and I’ll definitely make it again.

And now for the tally:

1/4 box elbow macaroni: $.50

cheddar cheese: $1.97 (for an 8 oz block, although technically I only used about 7 oz of it)

chicken: $1.66 (1/3 of the $4.99 chicken I bought yesterday)

butter, flour, milk, onion, bay leaf, paprika, salt and pepper: hmm, it’s hard to calculate but the amount is pretty negligible.  Let’s call it $1.00, but I think that’s overestimating.

Total: $5.13

But wait, it gets better.  The three of us only ate 1/2 of the mac and cheese, so we’ll have the leftovers tomorrow night.  So basically $5.13 represents 6 servings, or about $.85 a serving.  Wow.  That’s some cheap eats!  And the best part about it–CHARLIE ATE IT!!  It doesn’t get any better than that.

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I have no recipe for the garlic roast chicken. Our local grocery store cooks and sells the chickens in the deli section. On Sundays they run a special: one roast chicken for $4.99. They offer both “plain” and “garlic” rotisserie roasted chickens.  The great thing about the pre-cooked chicken is it will take us several days to eat the entire chicken, so I’ll use it in recipes tomorrow night and Tuesday night. For tonight, we are just eating the chicken plain alongside the acorn squash (which I picked up for $2.29). So, if you figure that we’re eating 1/3 of the chicken tonight and all of the acorn squash, our total for tonight’s meal comes to about $3.95–call it $4.00 if you count the cost of the small amount of butter and maple syrup too. Charlie won’t eat any of this so the per person total comes to about $2.00.  Not too bad!

Maple Acorn Squash

1 Acorn squash

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp maple syrup

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To make it easier to cut the squash in half, pierce the skin several times with a fork and microwave on high for 1 minute.  Cut in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place each half of the acorn squash on a baking pan, cut side up.  Rub the flesh with the butter and maple syrup.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 45-60 minutes, until tender.

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