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?

 

Thrifty Dishes

Easy Atole De Arroz (Mexican Rice Pudding)

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I am a first generation Mexican American– my parents emigrated from Mexico several decades ago, and my siblings and I were born here in Houston, Texas.  My mom embraced the American culture passionately– we only spoke English in the household, celebrated American holidays, and grew up on traditional American cuisine.  My mom rarely made Mexican dishes, but the ones she did make were family favorites.  One of those dishes was Atole de Arroz.

My first trip to Mexico to visit my grandmother (I’m the one in the pink, yellow, and black dress.  My grandmother, mom, and little brother are also pictured.)Screenshot_20171130-103739.jpg

My mom is the kind of cook that doesn’t need measuring cups– she’s very intuitive in the kitchen like that…she is also far more patient than I in the kitchen.  🙂  That said, I’ve not been able to replicate the flavors and texture of her Atole; however, through experimentation, I’ve managed to come up with a recipe that comes pretty close.

This is an easy recipe that takes me about half the time to make relative to my mom’s more traditional recipe.  That said, I like to prepare the rice and liquid ingredients separately but simultaneously, and mix together only after both are done.  The recipe below yields about 4-6 servings which is perfect for my bug and I and will last us a couple of days; however, since I plan to make this dish for my family’s Christmas dinner this year, I am going to quadruple the recipe.

What you’ll need

  • A medium-sized saucepan (for rice)
  • A small saucepan (for liquid ingredients)
  • Measuring Cups
  • Small whisk

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (cooked) white rice
  • 1 – 2 sticks of cinnamon (1 tsp of ground cinnamon will substitute just fine)
  • 1 tbs of vanilla (or vanilla substitute) (this ingredient is optional)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup of evaporated milk
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of regular milk (depending on your desired consistency)

Instructions:

  1. In the medium saucepan, prepare the white rice according to packaging instructions and set aside.  (When I’m running low on time, I just begin Step 2 on a different burner while I’m waiting for my rice to reach a boil). 
  2. In the small saucepan, add water and cinnamon (sticks or ground cinnamon) and set to medium/medium-high heat until the water begins to boil.
  3. When the water/cinnamon reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low/low-medium, and add condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla.  Whisk well, cover, and simmer for at least 10 minutes, continuing to whisk every few minutes to ensure consistency of the mixture.  The mixture will thicken slightly and will turn a light caramel color ready for the next step.
  4. Pour the water/cinnamon/milk mixture into the medium saucepan with the cooked rice and stir well.  Place on low heat for another 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  5. Add 1/2 – 1 cup of regular milk to mixture to reach desired consistency.  (I like a thicker Atole, so I usually add about 1/2 cup.)
  6. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve warm.  Alternatively, place the Atole into the fridge and serve chilled.  Enjoy!

The total cost for the ingredients is about $7; this is assuming that you have none of the ingredients on hand, and that you would purchase the smallest standard-sized packages typically sold in stores.  This is pretty good considering that you would still have enough ingredients left over for at least another batch– after that you would likely have to purchase another can of condensed milk to make additional batches with the remaining ingredients.

Atole de Arroz was one of my favorite treats as a child; I love that it is now one of my bug’s favorites.  I’d love to hear from you– let me know if you liked it as much as we do!