Food, Nifty Thrifty, Super Deals, Thrifty Dishes

Ridiculously Easy Alfredo Pizza

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I love spending time in the kitchen, but realistically, I don’t have the time to spend hours on a given meal unless it is for a special occasion.  In addition, I’m not great at long-term meal planning and prep– I always forget to leave the meat out to thaw, and I don’t always feel like eating what I planned to make for dinner anyway.  I also like to make dishes that are versatile– this generally allows me to save money by putting a meal together using whatever ingredients I have on hand or whatever I find on sale at the grocery store for the week.

This week I made a trip out to Dollar Tree where I found a few great grocery finds that I was able to turn into a yummy, quick, easy, and thrifty pizza:

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These items cost me a total of $2.50– the Alfredo Sauce and Pizza Crust were $1.00 each, and the can of Organic Tomatoes was $0.50.  At home, I had a few other ingredients on hand from Kroger such as shredded cheese (I buy in bulk when on sale for about a $1.00 /cup) and pesto sauce (on sale for about $3.79 for 10 Oz).

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*Just a quick side note– I love pesto sauce and always keep a few jars in my pantry to add 1-2 tbs to certain dishes for an extra kick of flavor and color!

With about 5 minutes of prep time, this was the final product– it was so good and ridiculously easy to make:

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Ingredients (Yields about 2 Servings):

  • 1 ready-made 12-inch thin-crust Pizza Crust;
  • 1/2 cup of Alfredo Sauce (feel free to be more generous with your sauce if you prefer, or if using a thicker crust, but I would suggest no more than 1/4 cup more);
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of Shredded Cheese, per your preference (I would suggest mozzarella or mixed cheddar);
  • 1/4 cup of canned diced tomatoes, gently strained;
  • 2 tbs of Pesto Sauce;
  • Optional Toppings:
    • dried/crushed basil leaves for garnish
    • Mushrooms (fresh, sauteed, or canned)
    • Spinach (fresh, sauteed, or canned)
    • Sliced Salami
    • Bacon (pre-made)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit;
  2. While the oven is preheating, place the pizza crust directly onto an ungreased baking sheet;
  3. Take the Alfredo Sauce and spoon it generously onto the surface of the Pizza Crust (i like to spoon my sauce all the way to the ends, but feel free to leave a half-inch circumference without sauce if you prefer);
  4. Top generously with shredded cheese;
  5. Further top the pizza with the diced tomatoes, and finish off with tiny dollops of pesto sauce.
  6. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

Out of the Optional Toppings as listed above, I used only dried/crushed basil that I sprinkled over top of the pizza; however, I do make other variations of this pizza using one or more of the items in the Optional Toppings list and they are delicious!

This pizza took me less than 20 minutes total to put together, and it was a hit!  I actually served this pizza with a salad on the side that I was able to toss together while the pizza was in the oven.  My bug liked this pizza so much that he has even requested it again for dinner!

I hope this recipe has shown you that with a little creativity, even dollar store groceries can be turned into something tasty and indulgent!

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Food, Thrifty Dishes

Easy Burrito Bowls

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I live in good ol’ south Texas where food portions are large and in charge, and Tex-Mex is the food of our people.  That said, I will be the first to admit that many of my recipes are not for the faint of heart– I use butter, shortening, cheese, etc. and all of those kinds of things that are yummy but also generous in calories. 🙂  I think that is just common, dare I say necessary, in Southern food.

That said, this is one of those Tex-Mex meals that can easily be modified to trim down said calories.  Best of all, it is one of those quick and thrifty meals that I can easily whip up within 20 minutes or less…and yes, my bug loves it so I’m going to say that it is kid-approved!

Ingredients:

(Yields 2 Servings)

  • 1 cup of cooked Rice (feel free to substitute with Brown Rice or Quinoa)
  • 1/2 pound of Ground Turkey (feel free to substitute with Ground Chicken or Beef if preferred, or omit altogether and substitute with veggie crumbles for a vegetarian/vegan alternative)
  • 1 cup of canned Black Beans (feel free to substitute with Pinto or Re-fried if preferred)
  • 1 cup of canned Corn
  • 1/2 cup of Salsa (Red or Green is fine, but I typically use Green Salsa because it is my favorite)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Optional Toppings:
    • Sliced Avocado or Guacamole
    • Shredded Cheese
    • Sour Cream
    • Tortilla Chips
    • Pickled Jalapenos

Instructions:

  1. Begin cooking Rice according to package instructions.
  2. On a separate burner, saute Ground Turkey in a skillet over medium-high heat until fully cooked.  Season with Salt & Pepper and set aside.
  3. Heat Beans and Corn in separate containers according to package instructions (I normally just toss them into the microwave to heat them up).
  4. When all ingredients are fully cooked/heated, begin assembly of bowls– beginning with 1/2 cup of rice for the bottom layer, followed by a layer of 1/2 cup of Beans, 1/2 cup of Corn, and 1/4 pound (1/2 cup) of Ground Turkey on top.
  5. Top with 1/4 cup of Salsa.
  6. Stop here and enjoy, OR join the Dark Side and top with additional ingredients as desired 😀

As pictured above, I’ve topped my bowl with Tortilla Chips, Avocado, Shredded Cheese, and a dollop of Sour Cream.  I also may or may not have added some extra Green Salsa after the picture was taken.  😀  What can I say?  I love spicy food!

Aside from the fact that this dish tastes yummy, I love this dish because it is so versatile– I’ve made at least a dozen different variations of this dish using a variety of ingredients (including leftover ingredients) that I’ve had on hand, and each time it comes out just a satisfying as the last.

Until next time– I’d love to hear from you!  What variations would you recommend?

 

Food

Easy Egg Bread

I come from a pretty large family– I have 4 siblings and we each have children/families of our own.  In addition to that, we have several lifelong family friends that are honorary siblings, so as you can imagine, we tend to have a pretty full house during the holidays with plenty of mouths to feed.  In order to make it easy on everyone, we typically have potluck-style meals where each family is in charge of bringing something– this year for Thanksgiving dinner, I volunteered to make bread and a few sides.

I baked several loaves, rings, and even an edible bread cornucopia:

Cornucopia fresh out of the oven!cornucopia

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Braided Loavesbread6*Missing from above are about 6 additional loaves that I failed to get pictures of.

The bread was a hit– it was delicious, it looked amazing, and it was festive!  Best of all, I baked all of this bread using a simple recipe (only 7 ingredients!) and without the use of a bread machine!

I made 4 separate batches of dough– 1 batch to make the cornucopia, 1 batch to make several rings, and 2 batches to make 10 loaves of varying sizes.

What you’ll need:

  • Hand Mixer
  • Large Bowl
  • Small Bowl
  • Damp kitchen towel
  • Baking/Cooking Sheets
  • Parchment Paper (Recommended) or Baking Spray
  • Brush (for egg wash)
  • Oven

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Most importantly, you’ll need ingredients!  Note that the recipe below is for one batch of dough:

  • 1 1/3 cups of water (warm)
  • 1 packet of dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 3 eggs (1 of these eggs will be used for the egg wash)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 cups of flour (have additional flour on hand for dusting when kneading)

Instructions:

  1. In the large bowl, mix the warm water with the yeast and let it sit for a few minutes.  *I typically use this time to prepare the other ingredients into ready-to-add portions.*
  2. Add the honey, 2 eggs, vegetable oil, and salt to the water/yeast mixture, and mix well on the lowest mixer setting.
  3. Begin mixing in 1 cup of flour at a time with your hand mixer.  By the third cup, the dough will begin to form and may begin to “climb” up the beaters; if this happens, mix in the rest of the flour into the mixture using a spatula or your hands.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a floured surface.  Knead and gradually dust with flour as you go until the dough loses most of its stickiness.
  5. Roll the dough into a large ball.  Set the dough aside on the counter and cover with the damp towel.  Leave it to rest/rise for about an hour.  *You can place the dough into a greased bowl to rest if preferred; I prefer the counter-top because it leaves one less dish for me to wash :-)*
  6.  After resting, shape the dough and cover/let it rest for another 30 – 60 minutes.  *If you don’t mind a slightly denser dough and/or are pressed for time, feel free to move onto the next step.*
  7. Place the dough onto a cookie/baking sheet lined with parchment paper. *If no parchment paper is available, greasing the sheet will work just as well.*
  8. In a small bowl, mix 1 egg and 1 tbs of water using a fork to create the egg wash.  Brush generously on the shaped dough.
  9. Place your bread into the preheated oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F.

You will know that your bread is done when it has a rich golden-brown color, and sounds hollow to the touch.  Place the bread on a cooling rack, let cool for about 20 minutes, and enjoy!

My bread tray!bread4

My mom was so impressed that she insisted I take a picture of her and the main tray.  I just love her!mom&tray

The total cost of ingredients for the 4 batches I made was about $15 dollars.  About half of that amount was for the honey alone, but I was still left with a surplus of flour for future batches; hence, the cost could be trimmed down even more depending on the type of honey used, or forgoing the honey altogether and using sugar as a substitute.

This is one of my favorite bread recipes– it is such an easy bread to make and it is very versatile.  It is light and chewy, but sturdy enough to make a fairly large and stable cornucopia.  I can’t wait to make this bread again for our Christmas dinner this year.

I’d love to hear from you– let me know how this recipe works out for you, and any variations you tried!