Monday, February 28, 2011

Recipe: Cube Steak Cheese Burgers

Today I wanted a burger.  This was made difficult by the fact that I had no ground beef, no grill, and it was raining.  It was made easier by my knack for improvisation.  I had laid out some cube steak in the fridge and some rolls and cheese.  The recipe itself couldn't be easier:

You will need

1 pack cube steak (comes 3 to a pack, I found mine on sale for about $1.60)
Hamburger buns or rolls
Your favorite cheese
Sides (I did frozen green beans (16 cents a serving) and sweet potato fries (52 cents a serving)
Salt and Pepper

To cook the cube steak I coated in some flour, salt, and pepper. Heat a bit of oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Once the pan is extremely hot put in the cube steak (you should hear a loud sizzle). Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side or until the juices run mostly clear.  Top with cheese and put a lid over the pan so the steam will quickly melt the cheese.  Remove from heat and serve on your choice of bun.

I had never tried this recipe before today and from what I found the taste and texture of the cube steak done in this way was really nice.  I also liked that I didn't have to worry about the "burger" falling apart. My one caveat is that there were a few bites where the meat attempted to escape the burger  with the bite I took.  This was few and far between though.

Here is the finished plate:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tips: Don't Skip the Sides!

So if you are a keen shopper you no doubt have a good bit of meat in your freezer that you got at a great price.  Now comes the challenge.  What do you cook with it? Not many people want to simply cook a piece of meat and eat it by itself.  Not only is this boring but it also robs you of many nutrients that the sides  can bring.  Buying them also doesn't have to break the bank.  Here are some ideas of things that every pantry should have that will keep the ideas flowing and the meats being used:

Pasta/Pasta Sauce:  With store brand (think Great Value or Market Pantry) regular and whole grain pastas going for little more than a dollar a pack you should always have a packet or two of pasta in your pantry.  Whole grain pastas cook in the same time as their regular counter parts.  Try and vary the pasta shape when you buy so you don't get stuck in a pasta rut.  As for the pasta sauce, go with what you like: Alfredo, pesto, garlic, tomato, sausage, basil. The possibilities to change up a dish are near endless with the variety ensuring that you will always have variety.

Rice:  Rice is another great pantry item.  Ready fairly quickly it can add a nice side to any meat.  If you are in a time crunch most evenings this is one place that I would recommend against a brown rice unless you can find a quick cooking version.  If not you are looking at a 40ish minute cooking process...not alot  of fun after a long day.

Frozen Veggies:  For the most bang for your buck go with frozen vegetables.  Store brands run around $1 per 16 oz bag.  Buy a few different types of vegetables and cook only what you need then put the rest of the bag back in the freezer.  They will keep until you cycle back to them.  You also have quite a few choices from broccoli to carrots to corn to green beans, all of which bring great nutrition to a meal.

Canned Veggies/Beans:  A few canned vegetables are staples too.  A can of your favorite type of tomato to add to a dish for example.  A few cans of beans are also good to have.  They can be seasoned and served on their own or added to a wide variety of soups and dishes.  Canned beans also do not need to be soaked before using so they are ready when you are.

Boxed Stock:  I always try and keep a box of chicken stock on hand for cooking.  It is great used for soups but also for rice and couscous to add flavor or added to the pan to make a gravy.  What is great about the boxed stocks is that after you use them they can be put in the refrigerator and kept for a good bit of time.

Misc:  There are many other things that can help round out a meal.  Boxed mashed potato mixes often come with two 2-serving packages that taste good and are ready quick.  If you like your vegetables with a sauce Green Giant and Birds Eye both make frozen veggie packs with cheese or butter sauces; however, they are more expensive so you might consider making your own.  If you are a fan of tacos keep some taco/fajita seasoning on hand and pretty much any protein can be turned into a fiesta night.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Alexia All Natural Sweet Potato Julienne Fries

I love sweet potato fries.  At this point in my life I think I love them more than regular fries so I am always looking for a way to have them at home instead of having to go to a restaurant to find them.  Problem is that many stores either don't carry them or they are expensive.  I also don't have the proper kitchen equipment or fortitude of will to buy my own sweet potatoes and cut them into fries.

The other day I was walking through the store and I saw the Alexia brand Sweet Potato fries for $2.09.  The bag isn't huge but I got 4 servings out of my bag, which is not a bad deal on sweet potato deliciousness.  The fries couldn't be easier to make either.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cook, flipping once or twice.  For the first serving of them I cooked it the recommended amount of time- around 22 minutes.  The fries had a great flavor but weren't as crispy as I tend to like them, a problem that oven cooked fries will often have.  For the second cooking I let them cook closer to 30-35 minutes.  The fries were a little crispier but I don't think they would ever get the crunch of an oil fried fry.

That being said the fries themselves have a great flavor and taste like sweet potato.  The insides even manage to retain a bit of the "stickiness" that sweet potatoes have which gives a great mouth feel to them.  If you are watching your sodium these fries come with either very little or no salt on them so they are a great alternative to heavily salted potato fries.  Whats more is you probably won't even be wanting to put that much salt on them.

All in all I would definitely recommend everyone to try these if you can find them.  The ease of preparation, cost, healthiness, and flavor outweigh the lack of total crispiness.

4 out of 5 sweet potatoes

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Under $10 Recipe: Pesto Alfredo Spaghetti with Chicken and Broccoli

I made the following 8 serving recipe for $7.35 (before taxes).  The recipe itself is not necessarily groundbreaking but it shows what a keen eye can find you and how a few additions can bulk up the base meal.  This turned out to be a meal that would be great to serve to friends or for filling and energy providing lunches.  All of these items were bought at Target (the ones in the north have grocery sections as well as dry food).

You will need:

1 6-pack Perdue Chicken Thighs ($1.26)
1 box Market Pantry Whole Wheat Thin Spaghetti ($1.09)
2 16oz bags Market Pantry Broccoli Cuts ($0.99 each)
1 jar Archer Farms Basil Pesto Alfredo Sauce ($2.99)
2 cups spaghetti cooking water reserved

Fill a large pot 3/4 full of water and put over high heat on the stove.  Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized cubes and then season liberally with salt and pepper.  Cook thighs in a skillet with a a small bit of oil then set to the side.  When the large pot begins to boil salt heavily and add the two bags of broccoli (bring back to a boil) and cook for 6-7 minutes.  If the pot is large enough you can also add the spaghetti at this step.  If not, cook the broccoli, use a handheld strainer to remove it then add the spaghetti to the boiling water.  Cook 6-7 for listed spaghetti or follow the box if using a different brand.  Before you drain the spaghetti reserve 2 cups of the cooking water.  Drain spaghetti and add it, the broccoli, and the chicken back into the large pot.  Pour Pesto Alfredo over the top and mix in.  If you need to thin the sauce add the reserved pasta water as needed.
Serves ~8

A few notes about the recipe.  I found the thighs on clearance with a $3 off coupon, look to see what is on sale at your store.  The broccoli cuts add a good bit of bulk and nice texture but have more stems and less florets so if you prefer more florets you might substitute for the Green Giant Brand or buy a head of broccoli and chop it up.  Finally, you can really choose what sauce you wish for this, especially if you don't like pesto.  I would imagine you could cut off another dollar or so with a different stores pesto Alfredo sauce.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tips: Frozen Vegetables vs. Canned Vegetables

Given my last post on frozen foods you may be thinking I don't see a place for them in the kitchen.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  Frozen vegetables can be a time saver and with constant sales a money saver as well.  Whats great about frozen vegetables is even with all of the big name brands and store name brands out there, they are all under the same guidelines about how soon they have to freeze the the vegetables after they are picked.  This can lead to frozen vegetables being "fresher" than the ones in the store, and for many of them a much better pick over the canned alternative.

Great Canned Vegetables: 
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a great canned...fruit.  They don't need to stay firm and can pack a lot of flavor and ease.  You can buy the tomatoes in any size you want (small diced, diced, whole, crushed, sliced) so you can add it to your dish however you desire.

Beans:  Beans are another great option.  They come out perfect from the can as long as you wash off the starchy liquid they are in, and don't need to be soaked over night to be used.  A can of beans can add a great bump in protein to any dish.

Great Frozen Vegetables 
Broccoli:  Broccoli is a great frozen vegetable to add to pastas, curries, or as a side dish.  You can often find the store brand on sale for around a dollar for a large bag of it making it a great deal.  Boil the broccoli in salted water for around 7 minutes and it will come out green and crisp.

Asparagus:  Asparagus is something that I generally would suggest buying fresh however frozen can work nicely for pasta and side dishes, especially the asparagus cuts.  Cook it in some salted, boiling water for 5-7 minutes and then drain.  Asparagus should never ever ever ever be bought in a can.  When you open the can you will be hit by a very strong asparagus smell and droopy, soggy, mushy asparagus.

Spinach:  Occasionally you can find store selling fresh spinach for 99 cents to 2 for $5 in the stores.  However, if you are trying to make creamed spinach or add it to a sauce or soup, frozen spinach can be a great substitute.  Cost wise it is usually more effective to buy one block for frozen than it is to buy the same amount fresh and then wilt it down.  Make sure you salt and pepper the spinach before you add it to the final dish so that the natural flavors get kicked back up to life.

Most Anything Else:  Corn, carrots, peppers, and on and on can now all be bought frozen.  If the store selection doesn't look great check out the freezers and see what is on sale.  It can be your best friend in trying to add some fresh veggies to your diet on the cheap without sacrificing any of the flavor or nutrition.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tips: How to Capitalize on Clearance/Food Reaching Exp Date

When living on a budget, clearance shopping can be very smart, but if you are not careful it can also cost you money.  Many times clearance comes when a product is either overstocked or getting close to its expiration date.  This can lead to the store putting clearance stickers, specials sales, or other promotions on it leading to great deals.  Getting some things on clearance can be luck, but it can also come from a keen eye.

Buy it on Markdown/Clearance:

As you look at this you are probably thinking ewww, but you shouldn't be.  The "expiration date" on meat is really a freeze-by date.  If the meat looks to be in good condition, i.e. ground meats pink with no grey and no strange spots or dull color on whole meats, then you are good to go.  Working in the grocery section of a retail store I no longer spend more than $3 on packs of meat.  This is the good stuff too: Chicken Breasts, Chicken Thighs, London Broils, Ground Beefs, and so on.

Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Let's say you are in the store and you see a pack of Chicken Breasts expiring that day.  They look really good but they are at full price.  Don't be afraid to find someone working in the meat or grocery department and ask if you can get a price cut.  Many places already have a system in place for it but it is possible that they missed it during their daily routines.  Spotting it and asking, at least where I work, could net you up to $3 off the product.

Things You Usually Buy
If there is a food product you usually buy and you see it on markdown and clearance, stock up.  This is especially true if it can be frozen.  Always look at the dates on the items you are buying, sometimes it can be from overstock and not expiration that leads to clearance so you can know how long you have to enjoy it.

What Not to Buy

This is more of a general tip, but occasionally milk does get a clearance sticker.  This is when date is key.    If the date is a couple of days away and you have a gallon you need to realistically assess whether you can drink it all before it goes bad.  If not, it is money down the drain no matter what you saved on clearance.

Another set of items very similar to milk.  Just because you see the bread on the $1 cart doesn't mean it is a good deal.  Look to see when it expires.  If you aren't going to use it that night, I would say pass...or you might wake up to a science project (mold) happening in your kitchen.  Leading to more money down the drain.

Things you Don't Like/Don't Need/Not Sure You'd Like
This is a tricky one because clearance can be a great time to try something out.  However, if it is something outside of the realm of things you think you would like, or a brand you usually don't prefer, skip it.  If you don't wind up eating the food you buy it is money down the drain.  So if you don't like soy milk, but see it on sale....don't buy it.  Same goes with something you don't need (obviously excluding to some extent things that you can freeze).  This is a judgement call on your part about how low the price is versus how much you want it/can use it.

So there you go, a couple of thoughts on clearance items.  They can be a great way to save money as long as you don't simply buy because you see a sale.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Recipe: Salsa Chicken

Today I decided that I needed to start using up the rest of the tortillas I had from the last time I made taco meat (most of which I wound up freezing).  However, I didn't really feel like having run of the mill tacos.  So on the fly I whipped this up and I have to say it turned out really well.  The flour on the chicken helps the sauce thicken and stick and the salsa gives it a great flavor.  The best part is that no taco seasoning packet is required so you can make this pretty much any time.  You could even do it without the tortillas and serve it alongside spanish rice and beans.  The dish can easily be doubles or tripled but the recipe will feed 2 people no problem and 3-4 if you portion the meat out smaller.

You will need:

3 Chicken Breasts or 4-5 Chicken Thighs cut into chunky cubes
Garlic Powder
~3 tablespoons flour
Vegetable Oil
Optional Spices:
Red Pepper Flakes
1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4-1/2 cup salsa (your favorite brand; not pico de gallo)

Other Taco fixings if desired (lettuce, tomato, guac or sliced avocado)

First cube the chicken into sizable chunks.  Season with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and red pepper flakes.  Mix to evenly coat chicken.   Begin heating vegetable oil in a large saute pan, just enough to cover the bottom, you will not need a huge amount. In a paper bag, large plastic container with top, or large bowl add around 3 tablespoons of flour, a little salt, and a little pepper.  Add the chicken and toss to coat the chicken in a light dusting of flour.  Test the oil with one chicken cube.  If the pan is hot enough you should hear a sizzle.  Add the chicken and cook on medium high to high until golden on all sides and the chicken is cooked through.  This should take around 6-8 minutes.  When cooked add the chicken broth and salsa to the pan and stir to combine.  You will see it turn into a golden sauce that coats the chicken.  Reduce heat to medium and allow the sauce to thicken (around 3 minutes).  Serve immediately.

Makes 4-6 tacos

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recipe: Stew Tacos

Stew Meat is not something you use see used much outside of well...stews.  However, when it goes on sale  you can get meat with great flavor for only a few dollars.  Whats more is that it tends to be pretty filling.  This recipe came about after I had made a batch of my lentil stew but had some carrot and onion left over and some stew meat in the freezer.  I had a craving for tacos but didn't want to buy the ground beef that was currently ~$4 a pound.  The end result was something a little different but incredibly delicious.  The meat is quickly seared so that it is tender and the carrots add a sweetness and interesting twist to a common classic.

You will need:
1 pack taco seasoning (per pound of meat)
1 lbs Stew Meat trimmed of any excessively fatty or gristly pieces
1/2 onion (yellow preferred) diced or cut into half moons
1-2 carrots diced
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained (mild-hot depending on preference)
tortillas (I used 8'' soft flour ones)
cheese of choice

Start by searing the meat in a large skillet set over medium high heat.  Once meat is browned on all sides and no pink is showing on the outside remove from the pan and let drain on a paper towel covered plate.  Make sure to not overcook as meat will continue to cook later.  Using a paper towel or by pouring remove some of the drippings from the pan, leaving enough to cook the onions and carrots.  Add the onions, salt, and pepper to the hot pan. Saute until tender (or about 5-8 minutes).  Once the onions are just soft add the carrots and continue cooking another 5 minutes until tender.  Add tomatoes. Return meat to pan and add the taco seasoning and required water (follow packet directions).  Salsa can be added at this time if desired for flavoring.  Simmer for 3-5 minutes until thickened.

Serves ~4-8 depending on size of serving

If you have a gas stove you can toast the tortillas directly over the burners.  First, find a set of kitchen tongs.  Second, turn the burner onto high and place tortilla over it.  Third, and with emphasis, DO NOT WALK AWAY.  Every 15-20 seconds flip the tortilla until warm and just a bit charred.  This will add a lot of flavor.

Note:  As you may have noticed, I have not included a picture with this post.  Try as I might I could not make these look pretty.  They are rustic and delicious though, and that more than makes up for it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Recipe: Lentil Stew

Lentils are the best friend for people on a budget, both vegetarians and carnivores alike. They are a great meatless protein option and only cost around 0.82 cents a bag.  Chains like Walmart usually carry the split red lentils.  These do not have to be soaked overnight like lots of dried "bean" products simply washed and picked through to avoid any rocks/dirt.  They can be used as a rice type side, or added to soups and stews for body, flavor, and mass.  This is a great stew that offers a lot of customization options depending on whats on sale and what you have in your pantry.

What you will need:

1 cup split red lentils, washed and checked
1/2 cup split peas, washed and checked (another great cheap product)
1 large onion (yellow preferred but white works well too), chopped
2-3 medium carrots, chopped
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 bag spinach leaves (optional, great if you find it on sale to add vitamins and volume)
Oil or meat drippings
Paprika (optional)
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

4+ cups liquid:
I like 3 cups chicken stock, one cup red wine (Yellowtail Cabernet Sauvignon), then thin with stock or water as necessary.  You can use all water or all stock if you'd like.

Meat Options:
Kielbasa (one loop)
Ground Beef (one pound)
Stew Meat
Chicken Breast or Thigh (cut into bite sized pieces)

In a large pot begin by cooking meat (if using) and then removing from pot.  For any beef product reserve some of the drippings in the pan to cook the veggies.  If no meat is being used heat olive or vegetable oil in the pot instead.  Add the onion to the pot and let it sweat on medium heat for 10 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper.  When soft, add the carrots and celery and cook an additional 7 minutes. Add the garlic 4 minutes after the carrots and celery.  Season all with salt and pepper.  After all the vegetables have finished cooking season with paprika and red pepper flakes if desired and stir to coat.  I use a small palm full of paprika and a large pinch of the red pepper flakes.

Add liquid.  Follow the liquid with the lentils and the split peas.  Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover the pot, and let cook ~30-40 minutes.  Hold off on adding more salt until later as it could cause the lentils to cook more slowly.  Stir occasionally. While the soup is cooking, prepare the spinach and parsley if you are using it.  The spinach can go in as the whole leaf or can be torn or chopped.  The same goes with the parsley.  At 25 minutes into the cooking process begin adding the spinach into the stew, stirring to wilt the leaves.  Taste for any salt/pepper needs.  Add in any meat.  Stir in parsley.  Serve hot.

Feeds ~8(+) Depending on how much of the ingredients you add this makes A LOT of stew.  For 1 person it made dinner, 1-2 large plastic containers to freeze, plus about 4 lunch sized plastic containers.  The stew is wonderful left over and it freezes great if you have extra and will keep in the freezer for a long time.

Lentil Stew with Chicken Thighs (a reheated portion from freezer, you will need a much bigger pan for the whole batch)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tips: Salt

Salt is one of the most important ingredients in all of cooking. From sweet to savory salt can be used to enhance and intensify flavors.  But how should one salt? I believe in salting at every step of the cooking process so you taste the enhanced flavor of the ingredients but not the salt itself.  If you wait to add the salt when the dish is finished most often that is all you taste.

For example, when you salt meat before you sear it, the meat flavor itself becomes enhanced as the salt crystals "melt" during the cooking process.  If you wait to salt the meat until it is cooked the salt crystals don't have time to break down the meat proteins (tenderizing it) and bumping up the flavor, so all you get are bits of salt with your meat.  (This of course is not taking into account finishing salts...but thats another post.)

HOWEVER there are a few ingredients that you should wait to salt.  With mushrooms, for example, you should wait to salt them until after you cook them so they don't become mushy.  Lentils also should be salted after they have cooked so that they cook more quickly.  (However, when used in soups I still salt my veggies as they are caramelizing before I add the liquid and lentils.)

Recipe: Grilled Asparagus

I did not always like asparagus.  I often had it served either over or under steamed leaving it woody or soggy, respectively.  Then I met the grill and learned that food+fire=delicious.  Asparagus is one of many foods that when cooked over a flame turns into something wonderful.  The best news is you need little else to make it great, though there are several optional garnishes.  Serve grilled asparagus as a side to any protein, my personal favorites with it are salmon and beef products such as london broil or flank steak.

Grilled Asparagus:
1 bunch asparagus (or more depending on how many you are feeding)
Olive Oil

Cut off woody ends of the asparagus (take one and bend it, where it snaps is generally where you can cut, otherwise ~1-2 inches up the stalk)
Coat Asparagus in oil, salt, and pepper.
Grill for 10 minutes over medium heat, turning once halfway through.
Serves ~4 per bunch of asparagus.

Optional Garnishes after cooked:
Squeeze of lemon juice/lemon zest, sprinkle of parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts

Note:  If you do not have a grill handy you can also cook the asparagus under the broiler.  The same rules apply.  Set the broiler to high and let cook for about 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  Cooking times will vary depending on your oven, so keep an eye on them.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Recipe: The Miracle Marinade

Whenever you are cooking it is nice to have a marinade that you can practically always have on hand and that can go on pretty much anything.  For me, this is that marinade.  It has 5 common ingredients, tastes great on any protein, and is even delicious in some pasta dishes I do.  I'll put a few of my favorite uses of it on the blog over the next couple of weeks but lets start with the marinade itself:

Miracle Marinade

6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3-4 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
3-5 Cloves of Garlic finely minced
1/2 bunch parsley or medium palm full of dried parsley, chopped or crumbled

Whisk first three ingredients in a bow until combined into a yellowish brown sauce.  Add the garlic and parsley and stir together until incorporated.  Pour over protein of choice.

*Kitchen Note:  If you want to double or triple the marinade I start by adding more dijon and soy before increasing the amount of olive oil.  The oil can also be reduced in desired in the recipe above. After you have made it a time or two it becomes easy to eyeball for the amount of food you are making.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Random Thoughts: The Two Types of Frozen Dinners

I'll admit it, I have frozen dinners in my freezer. Some of them are leftovers I have frozen into individual servings and some come from "name brands." Sometimes you get home and you just don't want to cook. If you have been at work or school all day it can be a daunting task to get back to your house just to start on a recipe.

So what are the pros and cons of each? Lets start with a frozen meal you buy at the store.  Most likely you are overpaying for the actual food that you are getting because of the packaging, the preparation, and the transport cost.  Second you have to deal with any chemicals that the company puts in for preservation.  Third...many of them are just not healthy.  All that being said, I would recommend picking some up if there is a brand you like and they go on sale (the 10 for $10 is one of the best deals I've seen).  It may not be perfect but it is something that will get you through the day.

Now what about making your own frozen dinners.  First, you need to buy plastic containers for your food. I like a few tub type containers for soups and stews and then some with individual compartments for meats and veggies.  Second, you do have to take the time to cook the food.  This is great to do on a slow weekend, especially with soups.  Make a big batch and then freeze yourself as many servings as you want. That way you are not eating leftovers of the same thing for days on end but you can pull it out and thaw it whenever you need.  Third, and this is my favorite, you know exactly what you are eating.  You can control the sodium, the seasonings, and the ingredients you put in.

There you go, both have their merits, but between the two I would always go with the latter when you can.  You may have to put in a little extra time but it will save you money in the long run and you can always have a serving of comfort food on hand whenever you need it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Recipe: (Mostly) Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

The other day I really wanted cream of mushroom soup but I didn't want to make the base myself, especially after work. The next best step is to cheat, which I have done in this recipe.  I then added some fresh ingredients to fill it out and make it delicious.
You will need:

One 26 oz can cream of mushroom soup
Around one pound of fresh mushrooms (either boxed or wholesale) cut into strips
One medium yellow onion or three-fourths of a large yellow onion; medium dice
One medium-large carrot finely chopped*
Two sticks celery finely chopped*
3 Cloves Garlic, fine chop
3 Cups Chicken Stock (low sodium preferably)
Red Pepper Flakes (if desired)
Olive or Vegetable oil

First add a tablespoon of oil to any deep pot that you have and allow it to get hot over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and add the onion and a good pinch of salt.  Allow to soften (around 5 minutes) and then add the carrots and celery.  Continue to let vegetables soften (5 more minutes) and then add the mushrooms and garlic.  Cook until mushrooms have darkened in color and grown soft.  Add a generous pinch of salt and red pepper flakes to taste.  Add the cream of mushroom soup and stir as it warms and becomes soupy.  Add the chicken broth a little at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes (or until you are ready to eat).

Serves 6-8
*If you are not a big carrot or celery eater look for a store that sells the carrots and celery stalks individually, such as Safeway.  This is a huge money savor as you can buy only what you need.

Cheap & Easy: Single? Poor? Hungry?

We have all been there:  Its the end of the day, you are hungry, you don't have a lot of money to spend, and you don't want another fast food burger...or worse, a "taco". What are you to do? The answer is cook.  With a bit of forethought, a few tools, and no shame when it comes to sales and coupons you can eat well and not break the bank.

In this blog I intend to share my recipes, revelations, kitchen tips, and reviews from restaurants to ingredients and everything in-between.

A word of warning, I cook by taste and often don't use precise measures for your seasonings but I will try and give them when I can.  In the end cooking is about adaption, so if there is a spice you like or don't, add more or less to your liking.  Be BOLD!

I hope you enjoy coming on the journey that I am embarking on and enjoy the food as much as I do.