Saturday, December 5, 2009

Eggs, Hotdogs, and Homemade Hashbrowns

When we didn't have tortillas in the house for migas, mom would rifle through our freezer for Kowalski brand hot dogs to boil, chop up, and throw into the eggs for something different. I loved hot dogs as a kid, so it definitely made my day better when I could have 'em for breakfast. Only up until recently did we eat those frozen shredded hashbrowns. Now, if we have real potatoes, we make real hashbrowns. And this is what Daren and I did for dinner.

  • 2 hotdogs
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 medium Russet potatoes
  • 2 Tbl. vegetable oil
  • 2 English muffins, optional
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cayenne
  • garlic
  • skillet
  • saucepan
In a saucepan with 3 inches of water, bring the hot dogs to a full boil on high heat. When they are fully cooked, remove from water and slice into thin pieces. Set aside.

Peel potatoes and dice into small chunks. Dump out the water from the hot dogs and add the potatoes to the pot with enough water to cover them by about an inch. Boil on high heat until they're soft, but not falling apart. They need to stick together long enough to fry and make it to your dinner plate. Drain the water from the potatoes.

Add the vegetable oil to the skillet and let heat on a 6 or 7 until it is nearly smoking. Place the cooked potatoes into the skillet and let brown on one side for a few minutes. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the potatoes, to taste. Stir them around, flipping them over, and keeping a watchful eye that they are all turning golden brown uniformly. They will start turning a yellowy-white color first, but don't worry, they will achieve being golden. Continue this until they are the desired crispness. Remove from pan, and if possible, place on a few paper towels/napkins to absorb excess grease.

Throw the hot dog slices into the pan with the residual oil. Let them start to darken, almost blacken. When they start popping, add the eggs with salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic. I tend to use a separate bowl and crack all the eggs and add the spices there, just in case I lose a piece of shell, and to have it all ready beforehand. Others tend to just crack the eggs on the hot skillet and go from there. Either way works. Stir the eggs and hot dogs together, making sure all the wet spots are cooked thoroughly.

Serve with the hashbrowns and side of toast, English muffin, or bagel.

The grand total for this meal with two servings of English muffins is $2.11. There were no leftovers and filled the both of us sufficiently.

  • eggs 63¢
  • hot dogs 25¢
  • potatoes 90¢
  • bread 33¢

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pumpkin Peanut Curry Noodles & Shrimp

The turkey's dead! Or rather, it's long gone and it's time to do something different for dinner. It's time to be creative with the other myriad of meats we have in the freezer. I wanted something with shrimp since we have so much at the moment, so a quick browse for "shrimp" through came up with this Rachael Ray delight. It got half an half reviews; some people who absolutely loved it and others who complained about its bad flavor, its thick sauce, and similar things.

With a couple modifications, this came out quite nice. The original recipe.

  • egg noodles
  • 5 Tbl. vegetable oil
  • garlic, finely chopped
  • ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 can (15oz) pumpkin
  • 2 Tbl. Patak's mild curry sauce
  • 3 Tbl. cayenne
  • black pepper
  • shrimp
  • zucchini, optional
  • lightly salted peanuts, optional
  • 1 cup noodle water, optional
  • 1 cup chicken broth, optional
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, optional
  • sauce pot
  • 2 skillets
As a warning, make sure everything being used for the meal is ready to go. There's no real time to lose because everything cooks very quickly.

The original recipe called for regular spaghetti, but I thought it would be too weird accompanied by the peanut butter, pumpkin, and curry. So I used imitation egg noodles that didn't look much different from Ramen noodles. Ramen noodles could also be used if in a pinch. Cook the noodles according to the package.

Prepare the shrimp by cleaning them up. Shell them, devein, all the good stuff. You can use the full pieces of shrimp or cut them into smaller bits. I cut mine in half just to make it stretch a little. On a plate, sprinkle salt, cayenne, and black pepper. Press both sides of the shrimp into the spice combination and set aside.

In the skillet, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and heat it on 6. Put the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes into the skillet of hot oil and let cook for about a minute and a half. Add the peanut butter to let it melt, spreading it out over the bottom of the skillet, making sure it doesn't burn. Quickly whisk in the soy sauce. The mixture will turn dark brown, almost looking like it's burned. Stir in the curry and pumpkin. It will become very thick. Turn the heat to low and add either two ladles of the water leftover from the boiled noodles or chicken stock. I used chicken stock because I drained my noodles an hour before I started making the base. Plus, it added more flavor.

Eyeball the amount of liquid you put into the base. The more you put, the thinner it will become. I used almost an entire can of chicken stock and it was still rather thick. Upon tasting it, it wasn't bad by any means, but it was salty due to the stock and the soy sauce. I started throwing in little handfuls of brown sugar until it was slightly sweet. I used about 1/4 cup overall, but it's entirely up to your tastebuds.

In a separate skillet, add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to heat on medium-high. Once hot, add the spice-caked shrimp to the pan to cook/heat up (depending on the type of shrimp you bought). If the shrimp is not yet cooked, wait until they are nice and pink and the spices are starting to look a little dark. If the shrimp is pre-cooked, wait until the spices are browned. Remove the shrimp from the remainder oil.

I cleaned out the shrimp skillet and added a little water to cook the zucchini chunks up. Didn't take more than a minute to get them moderately soft.

There's several ways for serving. You can take the route I did and clean out the shrimp skillet and put a little bit of oil to crisp up our egg noodles. I added the sauce and shrimp with a bit of chicken stock and let it melt together, coming out more like a pad thai. Or you can just serve the noodles with the sauce and shrimp on top with no extra bother. Either way, it should be a nice meld of spice, lightly sweet, and creamy. Top with peanuts for an added crunch.

The grand total of this decadent, delicious meal was $5.96 with enough sauce for additional noodles and sauce (no meat or zucchini) for a leftover lunch.

  • noodles 99¢
  • ginger 10¢
  • peanut butter 37¢
  • soy sauce 15¢
  • pumpkin 1.00$
  • curry sauce 35¢
  • shrimp 3.00$

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Turkey Chili

Ah, turkey. How versatile you are.

This was the last night for turkey leftovers. I told Daren we had to get rid of what was left after today because it's going on a week old now and a fridge cannot preserve things for
that long. I'd hate for either of us to get sick due to old foodstuffs. Plus, I don't think I can handle anymore turkey. I long for beef or chicken, maybe even some pork. Perhaps some shrimp. Regardless, turkey chili. Hot, spicy, filling. Great for those cold late Fall and mid Winter nights.

  • 1 can Great Northern Beans
  • 1 can Dark Kidney Beans
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes
  • shredded turkey
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chipotle sauce, optional
  • squirt of spicy brown mustard
  • garlic
  • pepper
  • cayenne
  • soup pot
  • lid
  • ladle
In the vein of Daren's type of cooking, throw everything into the pot. No need for layers or specific orders. Everything in. We started cooking this much earlier than the projected dinner time, so he put the heat on 3 and let it stew with the lid on for about an hour and a half, occasionally stirring it. He then turned it up to 7 and removed the lid. This way, what extra soupyness is there will evaporate out and become a thicker base. If you plan on cooking it in a timely manner (i.e. within an hour time frame), have it on a high heat with the lid on for a short while until it's really bubbling, then lower the heat and let it cook without the lid.

I enjoyed this meal with some crackers, but it's not a must.

The grand total for this meal with enough for small second and third servings is $2.41. There were barely any leftovers and that went to the wayside because it was minimal.

  • beans 1.33$
  • tomatoes 1.00$
  • turkey has no cash value
  • onions 8¢

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Turkey Nachos

I'll be the first to admit, this does not look as good as it sounds. When most of your ingredients are the same color, you tend to lose the vividness that makes food look even better. Plus it doesn't help that this is covered in a thick white, possibly unappealing substance.

Yet another night of Thanksgiving leftovers, however, it's just down to the turkey now. No more of the other tasty treats you get but once a year.

  • 5oz taco chips
  • 1 cup cheddar/jack cheese
  • 5-7 jalapeno rounds, diced
  • shredded turkey
  • sour cream, optional
  • baking sheet
  • spatula
This one's pretty simple. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay out the taco chips so that most of them are side by side, not overlapping. Spread the shredded turkey, or meat of choice, across the top so it's pretty evenly dispersed. Add the jalapenos and any other topping you might want; beans, onions, garlic, etc. Cover in cheese.

Once oven is heated, place the baking sheet inside until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and serve with sour cream, guacamole, refried beans, your choice!

The grand total for this lovely little dinner is $1.39. This made enough for two people to eat until full with no leftovers (thank goodness).

  • taco chips 30¢
  • cheese 89¢
  • jalapenos 10¢
  • turkey has no cash value
  • sour cream 10¢

Monday, November 30, 2009

Grilled Cheese & Turkey

I love a good grilled cheese sandwich. I'm a sucker for Kraft American cheese, however, so some may argue "that's not good" but it's home. It's a creamy cheesy sandwich that hits the spot. And now we're facing yet another day of leftover turkey. It's tough trying to be creative. But this went in a very simple, yummy way. Grilled cheese and a bit of turkey with some tasty leftover veggies from the mini platter I threw together.

  • 2 slices of bread
  • cheese of choice
  • spreadable butter (not melted butter)
  • turkey
  • carrots, optional
  • celery, optional
  • dip, optional
  • skillet
  • spatula
Spread the butter on the outside portions of the bread. It doesn't need to be saturated in butter, but spread enough that most of it is covered lightly. Only do this on one side of each piece of bread. Flip one buttered side down on a plate (or the spatula) and add the cheese. I use a mix of the shredded Kirkland Cheddar/Jack and chunks of sharp cheddar and spread it out evenly on the bread. Add small chunks of shredded turkey. There shouldn't be too much, as the thicker the sandwich is, the less likely it will stay together. Place the other piece of buttered bread butter side up.

Heat the skillet on medium-high, about 6 or 7. Wait a few minutes before placing the sandwich in the pan. You want the butter to sizzle the moment they touch surfaces. Lower the sandwich carefully into the skillet, careful not to spill its contents. Let sit to cook for about 2-3 minutes, checking it occasionally to make sure the bread is browning, not burning. Flip the sandwich with the spatula slowly -- contents may shift because it won't be completely melted yet, especially if shredded cheese is being used. In the event shredded is being used, if you have to, pull the skillet from the burner with your offhand, pick up the sandwich with the spatula with your dominant hand, turn the skillet sideways, and gently flip the sandwich into the skillet. Less mess this way. Let the other side start to brown and flip it back and forth until it's the desired color. Daren likes his burnt so his sandwich stays down a little longer.

Serve with veggies. I always find a ranch type dip and carrots compliments grilled cheese sandwiches very nicely.

The grand total of this childhood memory meal is $1.37. This made three sandwiches and one serving of veggies.

  • bread 30¢
  • cheeses 57¢
  • veggies 50¢
  • turkey had no cash value

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shepherd's Pie, Thanksgiving style

If you're anything like us, you'll have lots of leftovers from Thanksgiving. We were expecting more company and therefore, less food to have in the fridge, however, that didn't happen. So we've got goodies bursting from the seams. We have to be creative with the food now, as the idea of straight turkey for the next week is not appealing to me one bit. Daren's been wanting to make a Shepherd's pie for some time now and this was his opportunity to shine. And get rid of Turkey Day leftovers.

  • 2 Italian sausages, casing removed
  • shredded turkey
  • mashed potatoes
  • stuffing
  • 1 cup turkey gravy or broth
  • corn
  • pepper
  • garlic
  • cayenne
  • salt, optional
  • casserole dish
  • skillet
The Italian sausage is absolutely optional, but in the event it will be used, remove the casing and brown it in a skillet first. Make sure it's cooked before adding it to the pie.

Preheat the oven to 400.

The ingredients can be added to the casserole dish as you see fit, save for the mashed potatoes which must go on last. The meats, corn, and stuffing should go in first. Cover them with the cup of turkey gravy or whatever broth you'd like to use if the gravy isn't available. If sausage is not being used, put in a pinch of salt. Add the potatoes so that it makes a thick layer. Sprinkle cayenne on the top for color and flavor. Put in the oven for about 20 minutes; looking for a golden-brown color of crust. It won't completely brown, but it won't be Mashed Potato White either.


The total of this meal is hard to calculate as we received a 20lb. turkey, a 10lb. bag of potatoes, and the corn for free. The ingredients we added on our own totaled $1.98 with leftovers for two small servings.

  • sausage 1.08$
  • turkey gravy 40¢
  • homemade stuffing 50¢