Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Potato Chip Curls

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It's time for "game time" food for football and basketball eats.

Homemade Potato Chips are always a family favorite and so economical with about 3 or 4 potatoes weighing a pound and costing $1.49 a pound or less, you can make a huge batch for 14 cents compared to several dollars for store bought bag. 

They're a fresh, tasty side dish for burgers, hot dogs or to have with a sandwich;  serve with your favorite dips.

While I've made them many times over the years, a few years ago a local restaurant served a pile of "huge" curled chips, sliced paper thin and cut length-wise. I had always sliced width-wise like the familiar normal size of bagged chips, and sliced an 1/8-inch thin. These are even thinner.

A mandoline slicer does this well.  Just two medium to large potatoes, sliced evenly and paper thin, makes a huge batch, enough to feed 4-6 people. 
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Potato Chip Curls

Potatoes at least 4 - 6 inches long.
Slice lengthwise paper thin with skins on, 1/16 of an inch.  Soak in cold water to remove starch for 15 minutes. Rinse, drain and pat very dry on paper towels.

Heat deep fryer or use a large pot with high sides with at least 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, test oil heat by inserting the end of a wooden spoon into oil and small bubbles will form around 350 degrees.

Fry several at a time in batches so they don't touch, for about a minute or two, or until golden brown and crisp. Turn once as they fry. They fry quickly, so watch closely.

 Remove with tongs or slotted spoon and place on cookie sheet lined with paper toweling or place on a rack and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Serve warm and fresh. They'll melt in your mouth, so you better make extra, as they're gobbled up fast!

Estimated cost: .20 cents or less to serve 4 to 6.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mini Pumpkin Pies


mini pumpkin pie photo A886C0FA-D14C-406B-9700-0AB7EDE7B57C_zpsx06bpetb.jpg
I make several "mini-size" recipes because most often I cook for just the two of us.  I enjoy making whole recipes that can be made into individual servings and easily frozen for future servings.

We don't eat dessert every day, but it's nice to have a sweet treat on hand without having to make a whole pie, or cake. Muffin tins come in handy for these individual pumpkin pies. I think a muffin size portion of many desserts and entrees, helps with portion control and eliminates waste.

I make mini meat loaves, cakes, breakfast quiches, and pot pies, too.  That way we can enjoy a variety of meals and desserts in our diet, and there's always something in the freezer to reheat and serve.

A batch of these made during the holidays, still offers us a nice dessert a month or two later.  Of course when raising three children I'd make a full pie, and it would be gone in a flash, but for the two of us, making a whole pie seems impractical, so I've learned to adjust my baking and cooking method, yet still be able to enjoy good economical eats.

Mini Pumpkin Pies (Makes12 muffin size )
2, 9-inch pie crust doughs – pre-made, from a mix or from scratch 
mini pumpkin pies photo 14538D05-0D49-4C97-BC7D-94F2271B3DC9_zpsqaesziqy.jpg3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 large eggs
1, 15 oz.can pure pumpkin
1, 12 oz. can evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 425.

mini pumpkin pies photo A3309781-27AB-41AF-A8D4-E4C412F8211A_zpsrj5bu73r.jpgPrepare and roll out dough. Using a 3-1/2 to 4-inch round cutter, cut 12 rounds from pie doughs. Place each round into a greased muffin tin. Press in, letting sides come up. Pierce bottom of dough with a fork to keep crusts flat while baking.

mini pumpkin pies photo 62789487-3B96-442D-862D-CED5098C34FA_zpst4s88r8z.jpgPour filling to the top for each muffin cup. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 350 and bake for 25-30 minutes more.

Cool on a wire rack to let the filling set, at least an hour. At serving time, add a dollop of whipped cream to each muffin pie.  These freeze well to have on hand for a quick dessert.

Estimated cost: $4.00 or less; .33 cents a serving or less.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mini Meat Loaves

mini meatloaves photo BDE504ED-A9BF-4B34-87B7-1B6A9ED273DC_zpsuhgcebdh.jpgI've always made meat loaf once or twice a month, but recently decided to make four mini-loaves, as one mini loaf feeds the two of us. Then I freeze and foodsaver others to have on hand for sandwiches or another quick meal.

Many cooks remark that it's more difficult to cook for just one or two people in later years when no longer cooking for a family or a spouse. I still cook as if still cooking for 5 or 6, then freeze leftovers for future meals or to save time.
mini meatloaves photo 3E840D47-C12E-418B-84FE-40560F20C7BA_zpsjcby1tqk.jpg
Depending on ingredients used when combined with a pound of ground beef you can easily get 6-8 servings for a very economical and satisfying meal. These could also be made by making in muffin tins for individual serving.

I make three kinds of meat loaf: recipes posted here:
http://gooddealmeals.blogspot.com/2011/12/three-meat-loaf-recipes.html

mini meatloaves photo FBFDF3F8-8A71-4415-BCBB-A56C70335A16_zpsbu0agbu5.jpgThe one pictured here is the Cheeseburger Meat Loaf recipe topped with store bought French Fried Onions.
mini meatloaves photo 61DA188E-1F50-4283-B8FC-C845B07A7C36_zpswufu7uiy.jpgFrench fried onions have become one of my new favorite ingredients, as they're great sprinkled on a salad, meat, fish, soups or mixed in with cook vegetables.

Simply mix all ingredients, and divide into 4 equal portions and bake at 350 about 15 to 20 minutes, less time than if making a large loaf.