Tag Archives: Weeknight

Thai-Style Shrimp and Rice

A quick meal that is so amazingly light and delicious. Perfect for a simple weeknight yet elegant enough for guests!

The coconut milk makes it creamy but very light.  I prefer this with jasmine rice and some crusty bread to soak up any remaining broth.  So good!

You’re going to want to plan on making two batches of this… one to try out the recipe and the other to show it off!

shrimp-in-coconut-milk

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 green onions, diced
    • separated between white & green
    • reserve half of the green for garnish
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, diced (1/2 cup)
    • Reserve a couple of tbsp for garnish
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/8-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (to taste)
  • kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 14-1/2 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips (Julienne)
  • 1/2 lime, fresh squeezed or 2 tbsp of lime juice
  • 3 cups steamed rice

Directions:

  • Put on rice to cook
  • In a medium-sized saucepan, heat oil and add garlic, all of the red pepper and the white onions and only half of the green onion and cilantro.  Saute for about 1 minute.
  • Add tomatoes, coconut milk, and salt.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add shrimp and red peppers; continue to cook 5 minutes.
  • Add lime juice and remove from heat.
  • Put rice in bowls, ladle shrimp and broth over half of the rice and off to the side; garnish with remaining green onions and cilantro.

Makes 6-8 servings

Enjoy!
Maggie

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Easy Italian Beef

Italian beef is the stuff of Chicago legend.  Crusty bread filled with seasoned meat and a flavorful broth to dip the bread in.

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Unlike its cousin, the French Dip (which is dipped into au jus as it is eaten), the Italian beef sandwich is constructed then traditionally immersed whole into the broth for a quick dip to add extra flavor.  A good crusty Italian bread is the key.

The Veggies:

Traditionally Italian beef is made with Italian giardiniera (jar-din-air-ah) which is a mixture of hot pickled veggies; usually carrots, celery, onion, hot peppers and cauliflower. You can purchase this at most grocery stores in the section where they keep the pickles.

There are many recipes online for Italian giardiniera but they all vary so much that I recommend trying some before attempting to make it so you know what you like and don’t like.  It’s simple to make and very easy to adjust to your own taste.  Also, if you only use it for this recipe you probably only want a smaller amount of it.

Because I can’t handle spicy food and to make this a bit more family friendly, I’m making it with a mirepoix (meer-pwah).  You’ll hear that term a lot on cooking shows.  All a mirepoix consists of is diced celery, carrots &  onion.  It sounds much fancier than it really is.  Personally it drives me a little nuts when they use terms like this on cooking shows without explaining them.  I think many novice cooks are scared away by things like that.

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The Ingredients:

  • Rump roast (size is up to you, depending on how many people you’re feeding)
  • 2 envelopes of dry Italian dressing seasoning mix
  • 1/2 bottle or Dr Pepper
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1-1/2 cups of mirepoix or a 12 oz jar of giardiniera

Put it all in the crockpot, set it and forget it!  Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-12 hours (preferred).   You may find that call for soda is a little unusual.  It’s a great way to tenderize meat and add a little different flavor.  If you find that you like the flavor but it’s a little on the sweet side, just add a splash of vinegar and it will take care of that for you.

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Assembling the Work of Art:

When the meat is ready pull it out of the crockpot, remove any excess fat then shred the meat.  Strain the veggies and mix them in with the meat and mix together.  Load it on your favorite crusty bread.  You can serve the broth on the side to dip in, or (realizing that there’s not a lot of room in the crockpot to move) grab the sandwich with tongs and give a quick ladle of broth over the sandwich.

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Eat and enjoy!

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie
 

Easy Cheesy Chowder & More

Need dinner in a flash?  Have I got the answer for you!

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Soup is not only a great way to get the most bang for your grocery buck but it is the ultimate in comfort food.

In restaurants, not only does soup make a great appetizer, but it reduces food cost (fancy phrase for grocery budget) by using things that can’t otherwise be served either because there’s not enough to put it on the menu or because of the aesthetics (looks) of it.  Everyone wants those beautiful perfectly carved slices of turkey, but what about all the little pieces? Make soup!  Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas took this to a whole new level when he added chili to the menu creating his recipe using hamburgers that hadn’t been sold quickly.

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The base I used is a simple Broccoli & Cheese soup mix that I bought on sale 2 for $4.  The directions call for water only so that is 8 cups of soup for $2.  A great start to a fast & frugal dinner.  I also substituted some of my homemade chicken stock for additional flavor as well.  Add the dry mix to the water/stock, bring to a boil and it’s done.

I always add a pinch of Coleman’s dry mustard to anything cheesy… mac & cheese, fondue, cheese sauce, cheese soup. It really just makes the flavor pop.

  • Cheese soup from scratch is very, very easy to do….  Just combine 8 cups of stock, a pinch or two of Coleman’s dry mustardand a splash of Worcestershire sauce.  While you’re waiting for that to come to a boil, take 2-1/2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and toss it with 3 tbsp of flour.  When the stock boils, slowly start adding the cheese to the stock while stirring constantly.  You will see it change from shreds, to melted gooey strings to cheese soup before your eyes.  
  •  For a beer cheese soup, just replace 1-1/2 cups broth with a bottle of beer.  (I wouldn’t put more than that in or the flavor will be overwhelming.)
  • For an amazing cheese fondue, combine 4 cups stock, 1 cup white wine, a splash of  Worcestershire, 3 cups of shredded cheddar tossed with 4 tbsp flour, 1/8th tsp of Coleman’s dry mustard and an 1/4 tsp garlic powder.  Serve with crusty bread pieces, chunks of apples and raw broccoli.
  • My daughter’s favorite “Tortilla Soup” – Cheese soup with chicken, a can of green chilies, and chopped fresh cilantro served with white corn tortilla chips.

So why the dry mix?

First it’s frugal.  I can get that soup mix on sale for $2, but I cannot get 2-1/2 cups of sharp cheddar for that price. Second, I like having it in my pantry for throw-togethers like this one.  The only thing it truly requires is water which makes it a great pantry item to have on hand.  Utilizing leftovers I can make it into anything I want it to be.

Also frankly, there’s not much broccoli in it.  If I was making it just as broccoli cheese soup, I would still add some chopped broccoli to it.  So as long as you don’t tell picky eaters, you should be able to play it off as just cheese soup with “herbs”.   (I told Kid that spinach was really Italian parsley for years after my mother’s creamed spinach incident.)

I was going to add leftover chicken from my Herb Roasted Chicken the other night but as it turned out there wasn’t any left.  So I took a boneless, skinless chicken breast from the freezer, cut it up in small pieces and put it in my saute pan with some thyme and tarragon and a little stock and cooked it through.  When it was done, I poured the whole thing into the soup.

Any meat will do… pot roast, steak, chicken, turkey, ham.  Everything is good with cheese soup!  Since these are all leftovers, the cost is really negligible (especially if your family would rather toss them).

Bacon Collage

Bacon, well because… it’s bacon!

A half pound of bacon diced and fried adds a lot of flavor.  I buy this when it goes on sale for $2 and stock up, so the amount I used was only a dollar.  When it’s cooked, be sure to put some of the grease in there too for extra flavor.  If a lot of fat renders off the bacon, just pour it into your bacon fat jar in the fridge to use later. (Great for cooking eggs, frying potatoes and seasoning green beans.)

I had cooked off a couple of potatoes in the microwave and put them in the fridge to chill.  I find that leftover potatoes work best; you don’t have to wait for them to cook and they don’t get mushy.  I actually prefer to keep some on hand in the fridge for fried potatoes & omelettes because they just need to be browned and they don’t absorb all the grease that fresh potatoes do when frying.  They just needed to be diced and added to the soup for a few minutes to heat through.

When it was all said and done, 15 minutes later, I ladled it into bowls, topped it off with some diced green onions (50¢ a bunch if it’s not in your garden already) and served it with a loaf of crusty French bread ($1.29).

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So there it is… dinner for 6-8 people for about $5 in less than 15 minutes!  Bestie took a bowl of it with her to work and made the whole place jealous, they had no idea I used a packaged mix!  Simple little additions can take it from out of a box to out of this world in short order!

You can freeze this in large muffin tins and then put them in a Ziploc in your freezer for individual portions later on.  So much less expensive than canned soups in the store!  For other freezing and portioning ideas, check out Work Smart, Save Money, Eat Great! for more great ideas.

Tell me what great combinations you come up with!  Enjoy!

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

Super Simple Stuffing

So quick and easy and it makes boxed stuffing into your own special recipe!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 box of stuffing mix (pick your favorite.. Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Herb & Mushroom)
  • 1/2 roll of breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, diced in 1/4″ pieces (It’s up to you whether you want to peel the apple or not.)
  • 2-3 tbsp diced onion (to taste)
  • 1 rib of celery, diced small
  • water
  • butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten (optional, I’ll explain in a sec)

 (Double if cooking ahead)

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Directions:

Follow the measurements on the package of stuffing for water & butter but reduce the butter by half.

In a medium frying pan over medium-low heat, cook the sausage.  You don’t want it to brown, you just want it cooked through and separated into small pieces.

When the sausage is about halfway cooked, add the celery and onion.  When the sausage is completely cooked through, add the diced apple and cook for another 2 minutes.

When the water/butter comes to a boil, add the sausage mixture, grease and all to the pot and stir.  Add the croutons and mix well.

If you like your stuffing fluffy: It’s ready to serve.

If you like your stuffing crunchy:  Spread it into a pan and put under the broiler until browned and crunchy.

If you like your stuffing crunchy and you’re serving a crowd or you’re cooking ahead:  Mix the beaten eggs into the stuffing mixture.  Use an ice cream scoop to portion into greased muffin pans and bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes (depending on the size of your muffin pans).

Muffin-Tin-Stuffing2

Cooked in muffin tins makes it easy to grab on the buffet table at holiday dinners or pot lucks.  It’s also great for freezing and perfect for packing lunches.  For a quick weeknight dinner, just take what you need out of the freezer and heat them up.

For other muffin tin ideas, check out Work Smart, Save Money, Eat Great!  Remember, as always these ingredients are my suggestions.  Feel free to choose your own favorite flavors and make it your own.  Enjoy!

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

Thai-Style Shrimp and Rice

A quick meal that is so amazingly light and delicious. Perfect for a simple weeknight yet elegant enough for guests!

The coconut milk makes it creamy but very light.  I prefer this with jasmine rice and some crusty bread to soak up any remaining broth.  So good!

You’re going to want to plan on making two batches of this… one to try out the recipe and the other to show it off!

shrimp-in-coconut-milk

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 green onions, diced
    • separated between white & green
    • reserve half of the green for garnish
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, diced (1/2 cup)
    • Reserve a couple of tbsps for garnish
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/8-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (to taste)
  • kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 14-1/2 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips (julienne)
  • 1/2 lime, fresh squeezed or 2 tbs of lime juice
  • 3 cups steamed rice

Directions:

  • Put on rice to cook
  • In a medium-sized sauce pan, heat oil and add garlic, cilantro, all of the white onions and half of the green, and red pepper.  Saute for about 1 minute.
  • Add tomatoes, coconut milk and salt.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add shrimp and red peppers; continue to cook 5 minutes.
  • Add lime juice and remove from heat.
  • Put rice in bowls, ladle shrimp and broth over half of rice and off to side ; garnish with remaining green onions and cilantro.

Makes 6-8 servings

Enjoy!
Maggie