Pita Bread

PhotobucketThis Mediterranean style round pocket bread is handy  for sandwiches and easy for beginning bread makers.  They're also fun for kids to make.

Stuff or fill with just about any combination of sandwich ingredients you like.  I like to  spread the inside with cream cheese or mayo, then stuff with sprouts or shredded lettuce, diced onion and finally with lunch meat of choice.

This link has good ideas for warm or cold pita bread fillings:
Pita Bread
3 cups flour
1 -1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tab. sugar or honey
1 packet yeast (or, if using active instant bulk, 2 tsps.)
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups water, at room temperature
2 Tabs. olive oil
baking sheet or stone

Pita Bread, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppDissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar or honey stirring until dissolved. Let sit until frothy.  Combine flour and salt in large bowl. (If using active instant yeast  just mix all ingredients together and knead by hand or with mixer)

Make a small depression in flour and pour in yeast mixture. Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, stirring with spatula until elastic. Form into a ball on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes.  Oil a bowl and place dough in and cover with plastic wrap to rise until double in size, about 90 minutes. If using an electric mixer knead about 8-10 minutes before setting aside to rise.

Turn out dough gently and divide into 8-10 pieces rolling into balls. Let set covered for 20 minutes. Preheat oven with baking sheet or stone to 500 degrees with rack at bottom of oven. 

With a rolling pin, roll out balls of dough into circles about 6 - 8 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick.  Place circles of dough on hot baking sheet or stone in batches of three or four at a time, for 3 - 4 minutes until bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2 minutes more. 

Pita Bread, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Allow to cool, then place in storage bags for use, or freeze between wax paper sheets.  I cut in half which allows for 16 to 20 "half" stuffed sandwiches. Occasionally some won't puff up, but they can be used for wraps, small pizzas, or cut up and used for dipping in humus, dipping oils or other veggie dips.

Estimated cost $1.60 or less; .10 cents or less per half sandwich.

Homemade French Fries

Fries and Hot DogsHomemade french fries or potato chips always bring raves in my house, and their so inexpensive.  I like frying with the skins on, just because I think they're tastier and healthier that way.

The last bag of potatoes I bought was .24 cents a pound and four potatoes, enough fries for four people weighed about a pound and a half -- that's cheap eats!

I use canola oil for frying and reuse the several times, straining and cooling, then storing it in a quart jar in the refrigerator.  I use a 3 qt. pan for frying, but if you have a fryer follow directions for your fryer regarding heat and oil.
Fry Cutter, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Never to miss out on a handy gadget, my fry cutter cuts potatoes into two sizes, regular 1/2 inch fries, and larger steak fry size.  It's cuts them so evenly, and is a time saver.

French Fries, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Homemade French Fries
4 Russet or Idaho potatoes, cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
oil, peanut oil or canola oil for frying
salt and pepper

Cut potatoes into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick fries and soak in cold water to keep from turning brown and to remove starch.  Drain and pat dry on paper towels, then fry in batches at 250 degrees for 2 minutes. Fries will be light colored and limp.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Remove with slotted spoon or wire ladle and drain on paper towels. Set aside for up to two hours. When ready to serve, turn heat to 350 and fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove to paper towel lined platter, then salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.  Can be kept warm in a 250 oven.

Preparing in batches for the freezer: after first fry at 250, remove to paper towel line baking sheet, let cool, then freeze.  Store in freezer bags.  Remove frozen fries and fry at 350 until golden brown, 3-4 minutes, or season and bake in oven at 425, about 15 minutes, turn and baked 10 more minutes,until golden and crispy.

Estimated cost: .36 cents;  .09 cents a serving.

Apple Sauce

We grow a small (miniature) apple tree my son bought for his Dad when he was 10 -- and now he's 32!  So for 20 years it's produced about a 5-gallon bucket full of apples each year. 

Then I make apple sauce and also prep and freeze apples for various desserts during the year.

I've had a nifty gadget for decades which peels, cores and slices apples very quickly compared to doing it by hand with a peeler and paring knife. (see picture below).

Annually, I prepare a big batch of cored and sliced apples, soak them in lemon juice and water so they don't turn brown, then make several pints of apple sauce, and also freeze them  for cobblers, crisps, tarts or pies.

Apple Sauce
8 apples, cored, peeled, sliced
1 1/2 cups water
Photobucket1 Tab. lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Apple Sauce
After peeling and slicing, soak apples pieces in water mixed with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

In a 3 quart saucepan, combine apples, 1-1/2 cups of lemon juice water, sugar, and cinnamon. 

Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher. For extra smooth sauce use an immersion blender.

Ladle applesauce into clean freezer or canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch of head space in pint jars and 1-inch of head space in quart jars. Either seal jars by canning method, or allow to cool before freezing jars.
8 medium apples will make about 1 quart of apple sauce.
Estimated cost with your own apples or those from a neighbor: less than .25 cents a quart.

Green Tomato Salsa Verde

Green Tomato Salsa VerdeWith fall harvest there's always green tomatoes to use up that didn't ripen.  Green Salsa or Salsa Verde is a great way to use them, making a batch for immediate use or to freeze and have on hand for dips, Mexican sauces or served with breakfast eggs.  

I posted my fried green tomato recipe earlier this year, and this is another way to "waste not want not" with a supply of green tomatoes.

Green Tomato Salsa Verde
1 pound  green tomatoes, quartered or rough chopped
1 cup of water
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tabs. Jalapeno chilies, minced, or less to taste

1 Tab. olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. sugar or honey
1 Tab. cilantro, finely chopped, or 4 frozen cubes sold at grocer
salt and pepper to taste

Green Tomato Salsa Verde
Simmer tomatoes, garlic, onions, oil and chilies in water in a saucepan, 5 to 8 minutes until tender. Add sweetener, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper and simmer 3 or 4 more minutes, stirring to blend flavors.  Taste to adjust seasoning.  Let mixture cool.

Mash down to desired smoothness, or in a processor, pulse to desired smoothness, adding extra water if needed to make desired consistency. Spoon into containers or jars and refrigerate or freeze. Makes approximately 2 pints.  Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. 

Estimated cost with homegrown tomatoes: .25 cents or less a pint.

Cake Mix Mini Bundt Cakes

Mini Bundt Cakes
With a recent birthday gift certificate I purchased a fancy Nordic mini bundt cake pan. It makes 6 mini bundt cakes with 3 different intricate mold designs.

I don't often makes cake for the two us as a full size cake or a 9x11 pan cake is too large, so I make cup cakes and freeze them for an occasional dessert,  but these mini cakes are really extra special.  

I think they'd be great for potlucks, or bake sales.  They're larger than a cup cake  

Mini Bundt Cakes
Mini Bundt Cakes

I watch for boxed cake mixes when they go on sale for around a dollar and stock up on several flavors, as I also use them for making cookies.  I googled for various bundt cake recipes, then decided to use a simple boxed yellow cake mix to launch my pans.  With such intricate molds I followed directions and sprayed and flour-dusted the molds before pouring in the batter.

Mini Bundt Cakes
I was delighted with the results.  One regular boxed mix made 12 mini cakes.  I filled molds with slightly less than a half cup of batter and followed directions on the box, baking at 350 about 30 minutes, and let let them cool a few minutes when done.  They popped right out.

PhotobucketFor my first time, I doctored the cake mix by adding a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract, and also about a tablespoon of poppy seeds.  Then I made a simple lemon juice and powdered sugar glaze to drizzle over the first two I served.

I froze the extras.  Jazzing the others up in the future offers endless possibilities. I'm now looking forward to trying other flavors and being creative with extracts like peppermint in a chocolate mix, or rum extract in another.  And frostings can vary, too:  chocolate or caramel drizzle and sprinkled with nuts or coconut; or served with fruit and syrup, or just a good old-fashioned scoop of ice cream.

Estimated cost of 12 mini-cakes: $2.00 or less or about .17 cents each or less.

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes

PhotobucketHere's an easy, attractive, tried and true side dish using tomatoes, cheese and fresh herbs.  It's one way to enjoy fresh garden tomatoes, and I sure had a bumper crop this year. 

I've prepared them with cheddar cheese, but like the flavor Parmesan the best.

Served them with chicken, pork or fish, or they could be served as a side with a grilled sandwich as well.

They could also be served as an appetizer, and if smaller tomatoes were used they could be baked then put on artisan bread or crackers.

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes
2 medium tomatoes
1/3 cup or more of grated Parmesan
fresh oregano and/or basil, or blend of dry Italian herbs
Parmesan Tomatoesfreshly ground pepper
olive oil
Parmesan Tomatoes Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut tomatoes into 1/3-inch slices. Place on a baking sheet then top with freshly grated Parmesan,  basil and/or oregano, or dry herb mix, salt and pepper. 

Drizzle with olive oil and bake about 10-15 minutes, until tomatoes are tender and cheese melts.  Add extra Parmesan when serving if desired.

Serves 2 to 4.  Estimated cost: $.80 or less with purchased tomatoes; next to nothing with garden tomatoes.

Tuna Steaks and Sauce

TunaMy son-in-law, an avid fisherman, makes an annual tuna trip and shares with family.  This summer he also shared this recipe obtained from a fishing buddy.

He brought us a tuna loin. The recipe calls for wrapping the loin in slices of Serrano or prosciutto ham, then wrapping tightly in plastic wrap, twisting the ends of the wrap to seal, (resembling a bomb) and letting it set in the refrigerator before removing wrap, cooking and finishing with the tasty sauce.

I adapted the recipe by cutting the loin into medallion steaks, wrapping edges with precooked bacon held on with toothpicks, then sauteing the steaks.

The (to-die-for) sauce is drizzled over the fish near the end of cooking, just be fore serving. This sauce is also a great marinade or can be used to baste any fish, seafood, chicken or pork.

TunaMarinadeTuna Sauce
3 Tabs. unseasoned rice vinegar
Tabs. finely grated fresh ginger, or tsp. of powder
Tabs. sesame oil, or olive oil
 Tabs. soy sauce
Tabs. honey
Tab. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Serrano pepper, seeded, minced, (or Jalapeno)
Freshly ground white pepper

Whisk first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend; season to taste with ground white pepper. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Makes about a cup.
Tuna Steaks
4, 4 to 5 oz. tuna steaks
4 strips of precooked bacon, extra if needed
toothpicks to hold bacon wrapped around steak edges
2 Tab. olive oil
Tuna sauce (recipe above) to baste tuna near end of cooking

Cook or microwave 4-6 strips of bacon until done but still pliable enough to wrap around tuna steaks, not overly crisp. Salt and pepper tuna and wrap edges with bacon and hold with toothpicks.

Over medium high heat, sear tuna in oil about 3 minutes on each side, then turn heat down to finish about 4 - 5 more minutes.  Drizzle sauce over tuna and turn to coat each side.

Estimated cost of sauce: .75 cents or less; with tuna, around $4.00 - $5.00 a pound, each serving would be about $1.25 or less.