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Archive for 'Budget Recipes'

Ham Pot Pie

Need a recipe to use up that leftover Easter or Christmas Ham? Here is a family favorite. I got it from my mom’s friend Judy. Her family loves it too.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons shortening
1 egg

1 large chopped Onion
2-3 carrots, chopped
Left over ham. Cubed
Ham Bone
5 Russet potatoes, cut into 1 inch slices


Put ham bone in large Dutch Oven pot and fill 3/4 full with water. Bring to a boil, uncovered, cook for 2 1/2 hours, turning bone and pulling off meat as it softens at least every half hour.

After 2 1/2 hours remove bone, gristle and fat, cut up any remaining meat. Add chopped vegetables and ham from the bone as well as extra cubed ham. Cook for 10 minutes.

Mix together flour, salt, baking powder and shortening until crumbly.

Put egg in cup; fill cup to 1/2 cup with milk. Add to dry ingredients. Mix as for pie dough and roll out thin. Cut dough into small squares and add to ham broth/vegetables. Bring broth to boil; reduce heat and cook over low heat until done (about 10 minutes).

Ranch Roasted Potatoes

I buy the big container of Hidden Valley Ranch Season mix at Sam’s Club. It lasts us a while, but I can always find something to spice up with this versatile seasoning mix. Obviously Ranch dressing is it’s main use, but here is a recipe I got off the container that we like.

Ranch Roasted Potatoes

2 pounds diced potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tb Hidden Valley® Seasoning & Salad Dressing Mix

Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 35 min.

Place potatoes in a gallon size food storage bag or large bowl and add oil; seal bag. Toss to coat. Add seasoning & salad dressing mix and toss again until coated. Bake in ungreased baking pan at 450°F. for 30 to 35 minutes or until potatoes are brown and crisp.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ham, Cabbage and Potatoes

Looking for a low calorie way to use ham leftovers? Inexpensive and easy to make, Ham, Cabbage and Potatoes is a favorite of mine. I don’t pay attention to the exact measurements.

1 to 2 cups of Ham (I normally make this with leftovers)
2 or 3 bay leaves
fresh ground pepper
1 head of cabbage
6-8 potatoes
chopped onions (1/2 cup) or dehydrated onions (1/4 cup)

Chop the ham into bite sized pieces. Add to a stock pot with about 4-6 cups of water. Add the bay leaves. Cook on medium heat for about an hour. I normally keep the pot covered at this point.

Chop up the cabbage (remove the hard inside core) into large chunks. Larger pieces take longer to cook so pick your own size depending on how much time or how large your like your cabbabge. Add to stockpot with the onions and cook till tender (about an hour). I usually uncover about half way through this process. You want enough water left over to cook the potatoes, but not too much to be soupy.

Peel and chop the potatoes into bite sized pieces and add to the stockpot along with the pepper. Cook about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender but not mushy.

Hamburger Corn Bake

Who needs those boxes of Hamburger Helper when you can make a better casserole from scratch. Hamburger corn bake is a recipe that my mom used to make and I continued serving to my own family. The original recipe came from the Better Homes and Gardens Casserole Cookbook dated 1973. It was actually a “Casserole for a crowd recipe”, but we have adapted it for single family use. The original recipe called for the addition of pimiento and MSG but we eliminated that.

Hamburger Corn Bake

1 1/2 pound ground beef. (I like to use a 90/10 ground round instead)
1 cup onion
1 can of whole kernel corn
1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream (I use fat free)
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked egg noodles
Optional: 1 c soft bread crumbs and 3 Tablespoon of melted butter.

Lightly brown ground beef (I usually drain and rinse my cooked beef to remove any extra fat). Add onions and cook till tender. Add the corn (drained), the soups and sour cream to the meat. Stir in the cooked noodles.

Easy Italian Roast Beef Sandwiches

My oldest offspring is on her own in college. She is now broke towards the end of the semester and needs some food advice. While not the cheapest, I thought of Italian Roast Beef sandwiches as something she can cook. She doesn’t really know how to cook, has very little time between study breaks and doesn’t have a large supply of staples like spices and extra canned goods so I figured Roast Beef was a good place to start. I have included my comments to her to help any other new cooks or broke college students out there.

Italian Roast Beef

  • 2lb to 3lb Chuck or Bottom Round Roast. Find whichever one is the cheapest per lb. Watch for pieces that don’t have a lot of fat. Chuck is more fatty and cooks faster, Bottom round will give you a firmer textured roast beef and takes a bit longer to cook. I like both.
  • 1 packet Good Seasons Italian Dressing. It is a dry packet of spices and you will find this in the salad dressing isle.
  • Hard Rolls. This probably makes 4-8 sandwiches depending on how large the buns are.

Overnight Caramel French Toast

Here is a yummy inexpensive recipe to use with day old bread. My girls love it. I often bake some apples to go with it.

10 servings (serving size: 1 piece)


* 1 cup packed light brown sugar
* 1/2 cup light-colored corn syrup
* 1/4 cup butter
* Cooking spray
* 10 (1-ounce) slices French bread
* 2 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 large eggs
* 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Combine first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until mixture is bubbly, stirring constantly. Pour mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Arrange bread slices in a single layer over syrup in dish.

Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour egg mixture over bread slices. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over bread.

Black Bean Soup with Lime and Cumin

Here is an inexpensive recipe for those cold fall nights. We love black beans at our house and this soup is really good if you are in the mood for a smooth pureed soup.

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 cup minced onion
1 Tbsp canned chipotle peppers, about 1/2 a canned chili
1/4 cups fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
1 tsp table salt, to taste
1 tsp cilantro, finely chopped, garnish
2 cups dry black beans


Sort through, rinse, soak, and cook the beans by your preferred method.

While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a nonstick or heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin and brown it, taking care not to burn it.

Add the onions and cook slowly until browned. Drain the beans, reserving 5 cups of the stock. Puree the beans with 4 cups of the reserved stock in a blender or food processor. Add the onion mixture chile, lime juice, and salt and process until velvety smooth. If the soup is too thick, thin it with the remaining 1 cup of stock.

T.G.I. Friday’s Knockoff Jack Daniel’s dipping sauce

I love this stuff on chicken and burgers….

1/3 cup diced red onions
1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup white grape juice
1/2 cup Jack Daniel’s Bourbon
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce

Blend all ingredients in order in medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 35 – 45 minutes. Remove from heat.

Makes about 3 cups.

Source. This recipe is readily available on many recipe websites, but I first found it in America’s Most Wanted Recipes: Delicious Recipes from Your Family’s Favorite Restaurants. This is a great book with many great knock off recipes.

Honey Pork Tenderloin Kabobs

Here is a quick and tasty summer meal to serve when peaches are ripe and cheap. I usually purchase the pork tenderloins at Sam’s Club in bulk and always have some on hand in the freezer. My daughters are not fans of most meats, but they love pork tenderloin. Bulk honey is also a great deal at Sam’s Club, but during the summer I like to buy local honey from the farmers markets along with the fresh peaches. I just love summer….

Honey Pork Tenderloin Kabobs

* 1/2 cup bourbon OR 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (lowers the calories)
* 1/2 cup honey
* 1/2 cup mustard
* 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
* 3-4 sweet potatoes cut into 24 one-inch cubes
* 1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 24 one-inch cubes
* 4 medium ripe unpeeled peaches, pitted and quartered
* 4 green peppers, each cut into 8 two-inch pieces
* 8 yellow onions, each cut into 4 two-inch pieces
* Olive oil for grilling

Cooking Directions

Italian Turkey Sausage

I have been experimenting with Italian Sausage for pizza and pasta and have settled on the following version. It is adapted from my Kitchen Aid grinder recipes. You can grind your own turkey or chicken for this but I have been lazy and just buy ground turkey when it is on sale. For now I just cook it loose, but in the summer I will use the Kitchen aid and make my own links.

My family didn’t even notice that I used turkey and made a “healthy” version. It is so good on homemade pizza. I don’t even miss the pepperoni.

1 pound ground pork, chicken or turkey
3/4 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne or chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder or dried minced onion
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp marjoram or savory
1/8 tsp crushed rosemary
1/8 tsp thyme
2 tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar.

Sprinkle the seasonings and vinegar onto the ground meat and mix together by hand.

Make a small patty and cook it thoroughly. Taste it and adjust the seasonings as your prefer. Cover, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

Baked Rigatoni with Spinach and Ricotta.

Here is a recipe I am going to make this weekend. It is quick and easy and very yummy. I buy big bags of pasta from Sam’s Club or stock up when pasta is on sale so I always have Rigatoni on hand. A great alternative to Rigatoni with spaghetti sauce.

Serves 4

1 pound rigatoni
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
2 cups ricotta cheese – I use non fat
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups grated fontina or mozzarella cheese. – I use part skim mozzarella.


Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the rigatoni until almost done, about 12 minutes. Drain. Put the pasta in the prepared baking dish and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil.

Meanwhile, squeeze as much of the water as possible from the spinach. Put the spinach in a food processor and puree with the ricotta, 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir in half the grated cheese.


I am so ready to plant my garden and with today’s heat spike in the 50′s I am looking forward to getting my nails dirty. In the spirit of of the upcoming gardening season I found this canning recipe that I am definitely going to make. I got the recipe from the Whole Foods Website. Is anyone else getting excited about spring and fresh garden vegetables?

Windy City Wasabeans

Makes 6 pints, Serves 24

Enjoy these spicy pickled green beans with a crispy crunch in a zesty Niçoise salad, as a Bloody Mary garnish, wrapped in salami for an appetizer or chopped and mixed in tuna salad. This recipe is courtesy of professional pickler Rick Field of Rick’s Picks.


2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar (5% acid)
3/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 small cheesecloth bag or 4X4-inch square piece of cheese cloth and kitchen twine
1 1/2 dried chile peppers, broken up
1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns (tellicherry, if available)
6 tablespoons wasabi powder
24 peeled whole garlic cloves
4 pounds fresh green beans
Special equipment: 6 (1-pint) canning jars with lids and screw bands

Whole Wheat, Oatmeal, and Raisin Muffins.

I have a ton of oatmeal from a previous Giant Eagle sale and searched for good, healthy recipes to make some oatmeal muffins. I often need something quick in the morning. I want something filling that is Weight Watcher Friendly.

I found the following recipe from Cooking Light and with a few adaptations I love them. They are 4 WW points, but they include a healthy oil which I am guilty of not getting in most of the time.

Whole Wheat, Oatmeal and Raisin Muffins. – 12 servings (serving size: 1 muffin)

1 cup whole wheat flour (about 4 3/4 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I used 1/8 cup splenda and 1/8 cup sugar)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (I used splenda brown sugar)
2 tablespoons untoasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons wheat bran (I didn’t have any so I used ground flax seeds instead)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup chopped pitted dates (I used dried apricots)
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup low-fat buttermilk (I used skim milk and 1 T vinegar)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup boiling water
Cooking spray

Apple and Spelt Berry Salad

I finally made it to Whole Foods to pick up some grains to experiment with. Here is what I made with Spelt Berries. I found the recipe on Kathleen’s Vegetarian Kitchen Blog.

1 cup cooked spelt berries (cooking instructions below)
2 or 3 apples, cored and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries or raisins
1/3 cup plain yogurt or mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cream cheese, ricotta or small curd cottage cheese (to thicken it a bit)
2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon apple pie spice, to taste (apple pie spice is a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice)

1. To cook the spelt berries: boil 1 1/2 cups water, then add 1/2 cup uncooked spelt berries. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for about an hour and a half, until tender. Drain any remaining liquid and cool before adding to the salad. (A tip: make a larger batch and put some in the freezer for a future salad).

2. Make the dressing by whisking together or blending until smooth the yogurt or mayo, the cream cheese, lime juice, and honey. Add some apple pie spice. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Chicken Fricassee with Chive Dumplings

A favorite comfort food, I have been making this recipe for more than 20 years. It was originally from the Betty’s Crocker’s Chicken Cookbook. I use different spices depending on my mood, sometimes it’s rosemary or basil or a combination of different herbs. The original recipe calls for a 3lbs cut up chicken pieces with the skin, but I find legs/thighs more economical and very tasty. I remove the skin to save on calories. Tastes just as good without it. For the dumplings you can use whatever spice you have on hand. I have a herb garden and it comes in handy for this recipe. In the winter I have lots of frozen herbs from the summer, but dried works well too. During the busy work week I can cook the chicken and sauce during the weekend and just reheat it to boiling, then drop in the dumplings for time savings.

Chicken Fricassee with Chive Dumplings

1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 to 8 chicken thighs (I remove the skin)
1 large onion chopped (optional)
canola oil
1 cup water
3 T all-purpose flour

Tomato Juice

Now that I back to trying to lose weight, I dusted off my old Weight Watcher logs to see what some of my fav low calorie snacks were. I realized that I was able to get in my five fruits and vegetables with the help of tomato or V8 juice. I love tomato juice.

An inexpensive tip to make homemade tomato juice is to the 1 part tomato paste with 4 parts water, add any of the following seasons salt, seasoning salt, celery salt, black pepper or hot sauce and voila you have cheap tomato juice. I often buy the tomato paste at Aldi’s who seems to have the best price.

Chicken in Foil Packets

We don’t have air conditioning, so the summer is always a challenge to cook dinners without heating up the house. I make this chicken dinner once or twice a month and we all like it.

1 to 2 peices of chicken legs/thighs per person (or any chicken parts). I like legs because they go on sale for $.49 to .69 lb.
potatoes (I usually use 1 to 1/2 per person)
bbq sauce (homemade or bottled)

  1. Remove the skin from the chicken.
  2. Peel and slice the potatoes.
  3. Parboil or place the potatoes in the microwave for a few minutes to precook a bit
  4. Peel and slice the onions into rings.
  5. Tear off two pieces of foil per packet if using regular foil and one piece if using heavy duty foil. I usually make them about 12/14 inches long.
  6. Spay the foil with cooking spray or coat with oil
  7. Layer a portion of pototes on the bottom and add some salt and pepper.
  8. Layer a portion of the onions next
  9. Add a piece or two of chick on the top
  10. Add a generous amount of bbq sauce on top of that.

(Rich) Cocoa Brownies

These are not really a budget food, but they are so darn good that they are worth every penny. You may be broke, but sometimes you really need something rich tasting. These stay moist when wrapped up for lunches.

This recipe comes from The Food Channel’s – Alton Brown

Soft butter, for greasing the pan
Flour, for dusting the buttered pan
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar, sifted
1 cup brown sugar, sifted
8 ounces melted butter
1 1/4 cups cocoa, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. Add both sugars. Add remaining ingredients, and mix to combine.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. When it’s done, remove to a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it until it’s mostly cool.

Italian Pasta e Fagioli Soup

My grandmother used to make pasta e fagioli when I was a kid. This is not her recipe, but an inexpensive recipe that I use. It costs around $2.30 for the entire recipe.

4 cups broth (I used chicken or beef — whichever I have on hand)
2 cups cooked small pasta such as shells or ditalini
2 15 oz cans white northern or canellini beans
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes.
garlic powder (to your taste) or 2 cloves minced sautéed garlic
onion powder (to your taste) or 1/4 chopped sautéed onions.
1 tsp basil (or to taste)
1 tsp italian seasoning (or to taste)
hot pepper flakes (to your taste)

While noodles are cooking, add the remaining ingredients to a small soup pot. Heat at medium for approximately 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are cooked. Add the noodles and let set for about 10 minutes until it cools off a bit.

Serve with bread and olive oil dipping sauce.

This soup tastes even better the second day. I will also throw leftovers in it such as meat sauce from spaghetti, green beans and sometimes spinach for a variation. You can cook your own beans to save more money. Very filling and nutritious


My daughters love gnocchi and it is so easy and cheap to make. I normally make it when I have left over mashed potatoes, but have also made potatoes specifically to serve gnocchi. I estimate it costs around $.30 per batch to make (without the sauce).

1 cup mashed potatoes
1 egg
2 cups flour

Mix the ingredients together. This works best with your hands. Dump out onto a flour board and kneed until smooth. Break into a few chunks and roll them into 1/2 – 3/4 in ropes. Slice the ropes into 3/4 slices pieces and let set out for at least 20 minutes. You can cover them with a towel while they are resting.

Drop the gnocchi individually into salted boiling water. Cook until the gnocchi floats – about 5-10 minutes.

Serve with spaghetti sauce, marina sauce, garlic and oil sauce or a cheese sauce.

I occasionally add in spices for a variation. Try adding garlic powder, roasted garlic, onion powder, italian seasoning. The next time I make this I am going to try replacing small portions of the flour with whole wheat flour. I will let you know how that works out. My family is picky so I will have to replace only small amounts to start.

Homemade Egg Noodles for Soup

My daughter loves the chicken noodle soup at our local Eat N Park restaurant. It contains a thicker chewy homemade noodle that is really good. I have found a similar tasting noodle that we used to make an inexpensive Chicken soup. It really hits the spot on a cold winter day and costs approximately $.25 for entire the batch (noodles only). I will post my soup recipe soon.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon oil
1/3 cup water

In a bowl, mix the flour and salt together.

In another bowl beat the eggs, oil, and water together. Form a depression in the flour mixture and add the egg mixture. Mix well.

Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop. Knead for eight minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Divide the dough in half with a knife. Roll each dough piece out with a floured rolling pin until it is 1/16 to 1/8-inch thick. Place the pieces on waxpaper and cover the dough and let rest for 20 minutes.

Using a knife or a pizza cutter, slice the dough into strips 1/4-inches wide. Drop the noodles one at time into simmering soup. Cook until tender. Approximately 10-15 minutes.

Sandwich Buns – Bread Machine

Baking your own bread is a great way to save money and have a fresher product. Below is the recipe I use for sandwich buns. I use my bread machine for this recipe. It makes the recipe easy and less time consuming. I estimate these cost approximately $.40 a batch which is much less than the 2.98 in the grocery store and bakery. We use them for sandwiches and for burgers. There is nothing better than fresh bread.

1-1/2 cups of warm water
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
4 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Add the items in order or in the order recommended by your bread machine maker. Set using the Dough setting and start it. My machine takes an hour and a half to mix, knead and proof the dough.

Once the dough is done, separate into 12 to 16 equal pieces of dough. Roll the pieces into balls and place on a greased baking sheet approximately 1/2 inch apart.

Cover the rolls and let them rise until they are double in size. About 30-40 minutes. Sometimes I will proof them in the oven with a pan of hot water placed on the bottom rack.