Category Archives: Food

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

If you like chocolate and peanut butter – this recipe is for you!

First, make peanut butter rice crispy treats, recipe can be found at:  http://www.ricekrispies.com/recipes/peanut-butter-treats.aspx#/recipes/peanut-butter-treats

To make it easy, I’ve brought the key parts of the recipe over:

3 Tbsp margarine or butter

4 cups mini marshmallows

1/2 cup peanut butter

6 cups rice crispies

Melt the margarine or butter in a very large sauce pan and add the marshmallows.  Stir until melted and creamy, stir in the rice crispies and then fold in the peanut butter.  Spread the treats into a large pan lined with parchment or wax paper.  This is seriously sticky stuff, so spray a little non-stick cooking spray on a rubber spatula and use it to press the rice crispy treats into the pan.

Admittedly, these are pretty good but imagine adding chocolate and more peanut butter!

So, once you have squished those rice crispy treats into your pan make this peanut butter chocolate frosting:

6 oz chocolate chips

1 cup peanut butter

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for about 30 seconds and then add the peanut butter.  Microwave a little more until it is smooth and creamy when stirred and no chunks of chocolate remain.  Pour the frosting over the rice crispy treats and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, if you can wait that long.

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Squares

Cut into bars and serve.  I always cut the edges off to make beautiful bars of uniform shape and then I eat the edges before anyone sees them!

Finished Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Squares

This recipe can be allergy friendly:

Dairy-free by using dairy-free margarine and chocolate chips

Peanut free by using almond or other nut-style butter

Gluten free by using gluten free Rice Krispies

** for allergy modifications, always be sure to check the rice crispy box, peanut butter, margarine and chocolate chips – just to be sure!

Bake Sale

If you ever find yourself needing to contribute to a bake sale for a school with a cat/dog mascot, probably bobcats, wolves, tigers, etc… would work too:

Marshmallow Truffles:

40 large marshmallows (the old kind of large, not the new huge – large)

1 package chocolate melts

1 large jar of chocolate sprinkles

Dip the marsmallows in melted chocolate and then roll in sprinkles.  The result will look, um…

After these are done, package them in unfancy, clear baggies and make a cute label for them claiming they were made by the mascot animal.

Husky Snacks (made by real huskies!)

They don’t look edible but that’s the whole idea.

There will be some people who don’t think this is funny, but even that is kind of funny!

Cheap Eats! New Mexico Hatch Chile Stew

Chile peppers are the biggest export crop from New Mexico and NMSU even has a Chile Pepper Institute dedicated to chile peppers.  Also, in New Mexico, they are called chile peppers, as opposed to chili.   The stew at the pub had some potatoes in it and the special New Mexico chile.  I’ve been trying several different recipes to approximate this stew and at last, I’ve arrived at one that seems to be like the one at the pub.  When working with Hatch chile peppers, be sure to wear gloves!  They aren’t super hot but they definitely have some bite.
One of the problems I’ve run into was finding tomatillos that are green this time of year at the local farmer’s market.  Many of the tomatillos are turning yellow and this makes them a little sweet, that sweetness will change the character of the stew.  I was thinking about adding lime juice in the future to adjust for ripe tomatillos when I can’t find super green ones.  I’ve also seen chicken broth used instead of water and I may try that in the future.
One nice thing about pork shoulder is the different ways it is sold at the grocery store.  I found country-style spare ribs for $1.99/lb but if there is pork shoulder roast or pork shoulder cut as steaks on sale, any of these would work.
This is the recipe so far:
New Mexico Hatch Chile Stew
1 cup chopped onion (I use Walla Walla or Vidalia)
1 cup chopped celery
3 tbsp chopped garlic
1.5 lb pork shoulder, cubed with visible fat removed
1 lb tomatillos, quartered
4 Anaheim peppers, chopped with skins and most seeds removed
3 Hatch peppers, chopped with skins and most seeds removed
2-3 Yukon gold, red or white potato, cut into about 1″ pieces
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp canola oil
water
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Pour oil into a large pot* over medium heat and add onion and celery.  Allow the onion and celery to cook for about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute and then add the cubed pork and stir to coat with oil and onion.  Brown the pork and then add tomatillos, Anaheim peppers and Hatch peppers (I broil these ahead to char the outside and make the skin easy to remove).   Cover with water and add spices.  Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for at least 2 hours.  Add the potatoes and more water if needed to cover the potatoes.  Simmer until the potatoes are soft when poked with a fork.  If you like a thick stew, this recipe will serve around 5-6 nice bowls but I believe it could be stretched using more broth or water.
Serve with a garnish of cilantro and grated cheddar cheese.
Next year, I’m going to try growing my own tomatillos, the plants are interesting and they seem to be pretty easy to grow.
* If you don’t have a large pot like a dutch oven, use a large frying pan to brown the pork, onion, garlic and celery and then transfer into a crock pot to add the remaining ingredients.

Cheap Eats! Baking Powder Biscuits

Baking Powder Biscuits

My great grandmother grew up on a farm in the late 1800’s.  When she was around 9 years old, it was her job to get up before dawn and make over 100 buscuits every day.  She was so small that she stood on a big wooden box to roll out the dough and cut all the biscuits that would be served to the farm hands before they started work.  She grew to about 4’10” as an adult and had something like 11 kids (might have been 13, I can’t remember for sure).  She was lovingly called a “ball of fire”.

We had biscuits with breakfast every weekend and sometimes during the week with dinner when I was growing up.  It is a Southern thing, even though I was raised on the West Coast, both of my parents are from the South.  My mom makes biscuits without measuring.  She just scoops the shortening and flour with a spoon and they always come out perfect.  I have to follow the measurements from the side of the “Clabber Girl” baking powder can because I don’t make biscuits very often.

Baking Powder Biscuits

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Lightly grease a cake pan or cast iron skillet.

1/3 cup shortening

2 cups flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup milk

This is how my mom made biscuits:

Cut the dry ingredients with the shortening until it resembles corn meal, then slowly add the milk and continue to cut in the milk a little at a time until all the milk has been added and the dough forms a ball.  Put about a handfull of flour on top of the ball and knead the dough for a few seconds to combine any flour from the bottom of the bowl.  The flour on top helps keep the dough from sticking to your hands.

Next, take out a small ball of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll it SLIGHTLY to make it round.  It’s ok if the dough isn’t perfectly smooth because it is better if you don’t handle the dough very much.   Place each ball in the pan about 1″ apart, or just as evenly spaced as you can get them.  Next, press all the balls down to about 3/4 of an inch thick and let the sides of the biscuits barely touch.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the top of the biscuits are slightly golden.

Serve hot.

Cheap Eats! Pita Bread

I recently made Gyros.  Well not really, but more like chicken with tzatziki and feta and some veggies served in a pita.

For the most part, the main ingredients for making gyros can be found for pretty low prices.  For a meal that covers all the food groups  meat, veggies, dairy, grain and has just all around good taste, gyros are nearly perfect.  Nearly.  So here’s the problem, pita bread costs over $3 for a small package.

Pita Bread that I actually made!

Many people have tomatoes, cucumber and greens in their gardens this time of year. The fresh veggies are also available at farmer’s markets or the grocery stores for reasonable prices. Chicken can be found for $3.00 per pound for boneless, skinless breast meat and other cuts are even less. You only need a pound of chicken to feed 4-6 people (depending how generous the serving is). But those pitas again…

So I got this idea that I would try making them. Guess what? They are super easy! I rarely make bread and I did some things wrong, but even with my mistakes, the pitas came out great.

The recipe I used can be found here: about.com

I missed the instruction to knead the bread for 15 minutes, so I just kneaded it for about 5 minutes and tossed it into the greased bowl.  The dough didn’t rise the full 3 hours because I started making the bread late – so after two hours it looked close enough to double for me.  I reduced the time in the oven to about 3 minutes on one side and just over 1 minute on the other.  But even these short-cuts and oversights didn’t ruin the pitas.

The touch time is about 15 minutes to make the dough, unless you knead it for 15 minutes and then it would be around 25 minutes.  The elasped time is the issue for this recipe, around four hours!  With my mistakes, the total elasped time was probably closer to three hours.

The warm water, sugar and yeast mixture has to rest for 15 minutes and then it just takes a couple minutes to combine with the flour, salt and extra water.  After the dough had risen I think it took about 1/2 hour to finish making 10 pitas.

These pitas opened into pockets just like the bread I bought at the store but they tasted better, they were yeasty and chewy around the edges.  They would be excellent with just a little butter, garlic and salt baked on the side of them or served with hummus.

One of the dough rounds was used to make a mini cheese pizza for my picky eater and that was a hit.

Cheap Eats! Pho

I’ve decided to try my hand at Pho (pronouced Fuh – in case you wondered) because I found lemon grass at the H-Mart, the local Asian market, for a great price. They had great prices on all sorts of produce. Made me sorry I’d payed for organic cilantro at Kroger!

Anyway, I can be inspired by the silliest things. I was already planning to make a ginger chicken soup for dinner but couldn’t find the noodles so, of course, a trip to H-Mart was required… then I spotted the lemon grass.

I read a bunch of recipes to figure this out, but I don’t have all the right ingredients. Here is my “American kitchen” version (with lemon grass!).

I am using 2 lbs of chicken, mostly thighs and a skinless breast and I’ve chopped through the middle of each thigh bone because I read that you want to open the marrow to make better broth. It’s worth a try. You should choose the noodles you like and prepare them ahead by soaking or boiling according to the package instructions.

Put all ingredients into a large pot:
2 lbs chicken pieces
about 3 1/2 quarts of water
about 3″ of ginger root, sliced unpeeled
a large clove of garlic coursly chopped into chunks
the tops of a couple stalks of celery
the ends from a bunch of cilantro
2 stalks of lemon grass coursely choped

Boil the broth and add:
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp clove (or 4 whole ones – I couldn’t find them)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt (may need more)

Reduce to a simmer for about 2 hours. Now, either strain the soup or use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetable and chicken. The broth is supposed to be very clear and very flavorful. Pick out the chicken and tear it into small pieces. The torn up chicken can be added back to the broth or served on the side to be added with the fresh vegetables. I put the chicken back in and I added three thinly sliced carrots.

Prepare vegetables:
Coarsely chop cilantro leaves
Thinly sliced red onions
Mung bean sprouts
Thinly sliced red or green pepper
sliced green onion

Probably even zuchinni or snow peas would be good.

Pour the hot broth over the noodles and serve with vegetables. Asian hot pepper sauces and soy sauce are good on the soup too.

I know, this probably isn’t *exactly* a proper pho, but it turns out pretty good and even my picky eaters enjoyed it.

Baked Salmon with Red Peppers and Basalmic Vinaigrette

This isn’t really cheap-cheap, but the local stores have started selling fresh wild caught salmon for reasonable prices.

I was in the mood for red pepper too, so I made up this recipe… it doesn’t have a nam

1-1.5 lbs salmon filet (I usually ask for filets near the tail, there are fewer bones)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 small sweet onion (vidalia or walla walla)
1 red pepper

Drizzle a little olive oil in an 9×11 baking dish and place the salmon filet, skin side down on the oil. Combine the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, pepper and basil in a separate small dish and then drizzle over the salmon. Cut the onion and red pepper into thin strips and lay the onion on the fish and then the red pepper on the onion.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the fish is done. The peppers and onions will still be crisp-tender.

Crossposted at Corrente.

Cheap Eats! Donna’s Chili Bean Dip

This is a very easy hot dip.  The ingredients keep well, so you can buy them on sale and have them around for last minute social gatherings where you should bring something.  I bring this to poker and football parties because it goes well with beer.

Donna’s Bean Dip

Layer in a 8×8 glass baking dish:
1 8oz package of softened cream cheese
1 can of chili con carne with beans (probably meatless chili beans would be good)
1 small can of roasted green chiles
1 small can sliced black olives (optional)
1 small seeded, diced tomato (optional)
2-3 green onions thinly sliced (optional)
top with shredded cheddar cheese

This dip can be made ahead and put in the refrigerator over night or bring the cans and toss it together when you arrive at the party.  If I have olives, tomatoes or green onions, I add them but most of the time I skip them because they take more time.

I microwave the dip for about 5 minutes or until the middle of the dish feels warm on the bottom.  Serve with tortilla chips and be sure to scoop all the way to the bottom!  This dip can also be served cold, although I’ve never tried it that way.

It is good served with tortillas and eaten as burritos with lettuce too.

I used to work with Donna some years ago.  She also provided the Sex in a Pan recipe.

Cheap Eats! Boxed Brownies Made Fancy

Here’s a cheap, almost homemade, solution to needing to bring “something” to a gathering:

1 family size box of brownie mix and requisite eggs, oil and water. Around here, I can find one brand or another family size boxes for $.99 on sale. I buy several and keep them handy for those “Oh crap! I forgot I needed to bring…” moments.

I also buy chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch, etc… when they are on sale too. Store brands work great.

Make the brownies according to the package for the “cake like” version. Then fold in two kinds of chips, about a generous 1/2 cup of each. If you have walnuts or pecan pieces around, put a handful of those in too.

Line a 11×9 banking pan with a piece of parchment and spray the non-stick stuff around the sides. Pour in the brownie mix and bake according to the package instructions.

When they are done, turn the brownies out on a cutting board and remove the parchment. Cut them into squares and go!

That’s it. Leave some at home if you want any left because you will bring home an empty plate. When I take these anywhere people always ask for the recipe and I never have any left. I don’t even frost them!

Crossposted at Corrente.

Cheap Eats! Sex in a Pan

Years ago I was given this recipe at work with the name covered with white-out tape. Really! I’m not sure how many people it was passed through or where it even came from. The friend who gave me the recipe would only tell me what it was called in person rather than risk somebody finding it laying on her desk.

Sex in a Pan

Layer 1:

1 cup flour
1 stick soft butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Mix like pie crust. Spray a 9 x 11 glass pan with non-stick spray and press the crust into the bottom. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Let it cool.

Layer 2:

1 – 8 oz pkg cream cheese (softened)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 of 12 oz container of whipped topping

mix together and spread over layer 1.

Layer 3:

2 small packages instant chocolate pudding (any kind is ok)
2 cups milk

mix together and spread over layer 2.

Layer 4:
spread remaining whipped topping over layer 3.

Finally:
Drizzle chocolate syrup around the top and sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Crossposted at Corrente.