Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Time for holiday baking!  I start early and freeze items, then prepare goodie boxes, bags, or baskets to share as the holiday gets closer.

My local bank sent out a seasonal card which included this recipe offering a wonderful combination of tastes.
It calls for making two large loaves, but I made four mini-loaves and 12 cup cakes with it.

 I plan to give them as thank you gifts to local service people and neighbors with some other bake goodies.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
Photobucket3 cups of flour
1 Tab. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
1-1/2 cups canola oil
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips, 6 oz.
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
cream cheese frosting, optional

Preheat oven to 350.
PhotobucketIn a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.  In another bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil..

Stir wet ingredients into dry until combined and moistened.  Fold in chips and nuts.  Pour batter 1/2 to 3/4 full into greased pans.  Bake 2 large loaves for 60 to 70 minutes.  For mini loaves, bake 40 to 50 minutes.

For cup cakes or muffins, bake 25-30 minutes.  Insert toothpick incenter to test if done; it should come out clean.  Cool 10 minutes before removing to wire racks.  Serve with cream cheese frosting or frosting of choice.

May be cooled then frozen and stored.
Estimated cost: $5 or less

Lakeside Chicken

A neighbor shared this recipe back in the mid-70s. She called it "Lakeside Chicken."  I assumed she got it from someone in a nearby town named "Lakeside" or it was good dish to serve at a lakeside picnic!  

I continue to make this dish, especially when finding chicken parts on sale, and served it often when raising kids.  It's also good dish for a potluck lunch or dinner.

The way the rice becomes infused with the flavors of the onion and mushroom soup as it cooks in its own sauce is delightful.  It's an easy, one-dish meal that feeds many for little cost per serving.
Lakeside Chicken, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppI've halved the recipe for the two of us.

Lakeside Chicken
1 chicken cut up into parts, or about 6 - 8 pieces
1 - 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
1 envelope of onion soup mix
1 can mushroom soup
3 cups water
salt and pepper

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppGrease a 9x12 casserole dish.  Sprinkle rice on the bottom of dish.  Arrange chicken pieces over rice.  Combine and mix 1/2 of dry onion soup, mushroom soup with water.

Pour mixture over chicken and rice.  Sprinkle remaining soup mix over chicken. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.  Serves 6-8.

I've seen other versions of this dish using, cream of chicken or cream of celery soup and I'm sure they'd work well, too. To make it your own, experiment with canned soup of choice, then topping with cheese of choice near the end of baking.

Estimated cost: $4 - $5;  .70 cents per serving

Cranberry Jelly Walnut Candy

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Cranberries are grown here on the Oregon coast and Cranberry Sweets is a popular local candy factory featuring several kinds of cranberry treats and other delightful confectionery creations.

I've exchanged candy recipes with family and friends for decades. This cranberry jelly walnut candy recipe is popular locally and very close to the one sold at the local candy factory.  I acquired the recipe back in the early 1970s.

Variations can be made with other flavors of gelatin, such as raspberry or cherry, but I like the tart and sweet tastes of the citrus flavors.

These make a nice addition to gift baskets or bags for the holidays, or addition to a dessert tray or table. 
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Cranberry Jelly Walnut Candy
1, 14 oz. can jellied cranberry sauce
1-3/4 cups sugar, divided
2,  3 oz. package lemon gelatin
1,  3 oz. package orange gelatin
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts

2 tsps. of butter or oil for spraying foil
Optional: melted chocolate for dipping

Line an 8 to 9-inch square pan with foil and grease with butter or spray then set aside. In a large saucepan, combine the cranberry sauce, 1 cup sugar and lemon and orange gelatin. 

Smash the jellied sauce with a potato masher, then stir all ingredients until combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly for 4 or 5 minutes. 
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Remove from the heat; stir in walnuts. Pour into prepared pan. 

Chill several hours until set. Lift the chilled mixture out of the pan, place on a cutting board and discard foil; cut into 1-in. squares or desired sizes (1/2-inch cubes or 1/2-inch by 1-inch minibars.) 

Roll in remaining sugar and/or dip in melted chocolate. After cutting, pieces can be tossed and shaken in a bowl with 3/4 cup of sugar to coat.

Store at room temperature between layers of waxed paper or coffee filters in an airtight container. Yield: About 2 to 2 1/2 pounds.

Estimated cost: $5.50 or less.

Poutine: Fries, Cheese Curds and Gravy

Poutine photo 438CFBB7-FBC9-4B99-B1B2-FBC562444324_zpsn3hqeu8j.jpg
Fries, gravy and cheese! What's not to like! Poutine is a tasty Canadian dish, made with french fries, topped with a brown gravy and cheese curds. 

A local pub began serving them a few months ago, and topped them with fried crumbled Spam. I couldn't wait to try my hand at making the dish at home.  If you don't have curds available, a cheddar or other sharp cheese would work.

I make my own fries, but store bought frozen, then fried ones would work. I haven't tried oven fries, but fries should be very crispy, so I deep fry.  

Pre-frying fresh fries first, as directed below helps with making them crispy and golden brown on the second frying.

Packets of commercial brown gravy mix are handy for making this recipe, as you just add water, mix and heat until ready to serve.  There's a nearby cheese factory selling curds in our area, so I keep them on hand.  Curds can be purchased online or sometimes found at summer farmer's markets.

Poutine: Fries, Curds and Gravy
1-1/3 cups thickened beef gravy, homemade or commercial
salt & pepper
4 medium white potatoes, peeled and cut for fries
1 cup crumbled cheese curds, or other sharp cheese
Optional: Fried strips of Spam or bacon, crumbled over the top for garnish

For the gravy: in a saucepan over medium heat, combine the 3 Tabs. of butter and 3 Tabs. of flour. Stir until blended. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes for a dark roux. Stir in a can of beef stock and blend. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.  Or use commercial beef gravy canned or a dry mix with water:  heat, then set aside, keeping warm.

Peel potatoes and cut for fries, 4 inches by 1/2-inch. Pre-fry at 250 for 2minutes. Remove, drain and cool. They'll be light brown and limp. Then fry again until golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.  Fry in batches and keep warm in a 250 oven.

To serve, mound fries into individual plates or bowls. Spoon gravy over the fries and crumble the cheese curds over the top. Garnish with crumbled fried Spam or bacon.
Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Estimated cost: $5.00 or less.

Beef Stroganoff Sandwich

I first made this recipe back in the late 70s after a friend served it on game night following a local high school football game.

As young mothers with toddlers, we were always looking for frugal, yet attractive recipes to feed several people.  I often made it for our family of five or brought to potlucks.

It's great for game day food, a buffet table, or family meal anytime.

Beef Stroganoff Sandwich
1 unsliced loaf of french bread
1 pound of ground beef
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. Worcestershire
1 Tab. milk
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
2 thinly sliced tomatoes
1 sliced green pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
softened butter

Cut loaf in half  lengthwise, wrap in foil and heat at 375 oven for 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile brown beef with onion; drain fat.  Stir in sour cream, milk, Worcestershire and garlic power. Open foil and butter the surface of each loaf half.

Spread 1/2 of meat mixture on loaf tops. Layer each half loaf with thinly sliced tomatoes, green peppers, then top with cheese.  Bake with top uncovered on baking sheet at 375 for 5 minutes, so vegetables soften slightly and cheese melts.  Slice to serve.  Easily serves 8.

Estimated cost: $5 to $6;  about .70 cents per serving

Horseradish Crusted Fish Fillets

HorseRadish Crusted Fish
Tilapia with Fried Green Tomatoes
We eat fish once or twice a week so I'm always watching for sales on Tilapia or Salmon, but any firm textured fish fillet should work with this recipe.  I was flipping channels on my "rabbit ears" TV and saw a chef making this recipe and wrote down the ingredients.

So far I've made it three times with Tilapia. I've prepared it two ways, one on the stove top, and one by starting on stove top and finishing in the oven as seen on TV.  

Both were delicious.  The horseradish is not over powering, but combined with the crumbs, moistens them enough to make a paste-like mixture to pat and coat the fish on both sides

Horseradish Crusted Fish

HorseRadish Crusted FishHorseradish Crusted Fish Fillets
4,  4 to 5 oz. fillets,  boneless, skinless: tilapia, bass, snapper, salmon
salt and  pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour
1 egg beaten with 1 shell of water
1/4 cup horseradish
1 cup bread crumbs, I keep season Italian crumbs on hand
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tsps. of  lemon zest
1 Tab. butter
1 Tab. vegetable oil

HorseRadish Crusted FishHorseRadish Crusted FishPreheat oven to 375 degrees and cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Season fish with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Place beaten egg in a flat dish and dip fish in egg mixture. In another mixing bowl stir and combine horseradish, bread crumbs, zest, and parsley.  Remove fillets from egg mixture and coat with crumb mixture, patting onto fish so it sticks well.

In a large skillet over a medium-high heat, add butter and oil. When the butter begins to brown, add fillets.  After about 1 minute, or when golden, turn and cook the other side for 1 minute; remove fillets to the cookie sheet.

Bake in the oven to finish for about 5 to 8 minutes or until cooked through.

Alternately, fish can be sauteed and finished in the skillet, by sauteing at lower heat and cooking longer on each side before serving.  Leftover crumb mixture can be stored in a freezer bag in the freezer for future use.
Estimate cost $5.00 or less; $1.25 per serving or less.

Fried Red Potatoes

Fried Red Potatoes, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppThese make a great side dish with fish or chicken, but I often enjoy them for breakfast with fried or scrambled eggs.

My Italian mom made them with green peppers and onions, and my German grandmother made them with just onions, and they made them with either white or red potatoes.  They're delicious either way!  

They usually made them from leftover boiled potatoes, then cubed, fried and served for weekend breakfasts.  I like them as an alternative to hashbrowns with eggs.

When potatoes go on sale, I make up a large batch and freeze in pint size bags to have on hand anytime I need a quick side dish for breakfast or dinner.

Red Potatoes Fried, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Fried Red Potatoes
2 Tabs. butter
2 Tabs. of olive oil
1 finely chopped medium onion
1 chopped green pepper
6 medium size 1/2 inch cubed red potatoes, about 4 cups
salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, mix chopped onions, green pepper and cubed potatoes.  Salt and pepper and mix.

Melt butter and oil on medium heat and saute all ingredients slowly, as they brown. Cover as they cook, but turn mixture over every few minutes to brown all sides, about 10 minutes.

If mixture seems to dry, add more oil or butter.
Uncover and continue frying for about another 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender.  Continue turning mixture to evenly brown.

If you make them from leftover boiled, or already cooked potatoes, cooking time will be less for browning. Serves 6-8.

Estimated cost: $2.00 or less; .60 cents a serving or less.

Skillet Corn Bread

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Corn bread is a must when making chili and I either bake it in my trusty black cast iron skillet, or in small mini-loaf pans. Leftovers go in the freezer to have on hand for future meals - soups, or chili again.

This recipe is at least 11-years-old, as I recall making and bring it, with several ready made meals to help my daughter when she had her first child (our first grandchild).

Ever since, when the family gathers for a few days, I make a double batch corn bread and chili to handle a supper and several lunches for 8-10 people.

The taste of warm buttered corn bread drizzled with honey always delights family or guests.

Skillet Corn Bread
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 Tab. Sugar
2 tsps. salt
2 tsps. baking power
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 425 with rack in center.  Place shortening in 8-10 inch cast iron skillet, then place skillet in oven.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppIn a 2 - quart bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder.

Corn Bread, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppIn smaller bowl, whisk milk and eggs until well blended.  Pour into dry ingredients until blended and a little lumpy. Carefully pour batter into hot skillet.  Cook until top is golden and toothpick comes out clean.  About 25 to 30 minutes.

I sometimes add 1/2 cup diced peppers (green, red etc.)  Or canned diced chili peppers. Can also spray or grease pans to make muffins, or mini-loaves, which bake in less time.  Makes 10 -12 servings.

Estimated cost: $1.50 or less; .15 cents a serving or less.

Stuffed Green Peppers

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Whole Stuffed Pepper
My mother often made stuffed peppers, so I grew up loving them and also often made for my family. 

In the days before salsa and sour cream were easily available, we passed the ketchup bottle around topping them off before eating.

Green peppers are inexpensive, even lower priced during summer months or abundant at farmer's markets.  I stock up, half and remove seeds, blanch and freeze for future use.  Large ones halved can be stuffed and served in a "boat-like" style.

Frozen green peppers are handy to have on hand for chile, Italian beef sandwiches, omelets, & stews.

Stuffed Green Peppers
  • 4 - 6 green bell peppers
  • 2 Tabs. oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 Tab. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or  1 Tab. dry
  • 3/4 tsp.salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tab. Worcestershire sauce
  • *1-1/2 cups cooked white rice or Mexican rice
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce, or salsa
  • 1-1/2 cups of shredded cheese, I use Cheddar
  • Stuffed Green Peppers
    Halved Stuffed Peppers
  • Water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut off tops and remove seeds. If they're uneven on bottom, take a thin slice off the bottom so they stand flat. If large, cut in half and serve in a "boat-like style. Parboil peppers 2 to 3 minutes in boiling water to soften. Remove, drain and cool. 
Heat oil, add onions, beef, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and Worcestershire. Cook until the meat is browned, stirring to break up lumps. Add rice and tomato sauce, mixing well. Remove from heat, let cool, then mix in 1 cup of cheese.
Pour water into a baking dish to just cover the bottom, about 1/4-inch deep. Stuff peppers with mixture, packing tightly down, and place in the baking dish. Bake until the peppers are soft and filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Leftovers can be wrapped in foil and frozen. Sometimes I make extra and freeze.
Remove from oven, top with remaining cheese and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Toppings: ketchup, salsa, sour cream, Tabasco sauce.

*When cooking rice I make a double batch and freeze to have on hand when recipes call for cooked rice. It's a time saver for many recipes calling for a small amount.

Estimated cost: $1.25 per serving or less, for whole stuffed pepper; .63 cents for a half.

Bacon Wrapped Fried Hot Dogs

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppWe're Food Network Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives fans, so I always ask my husband to jot down a dish, or meal he sees that he'd like me to make ......... and bacon wrapped fried hot dogs was his latest request.  

As Rachael Ray would say: YUMO!  It's not just the bacon, but the flavors of the toppings combined with the crispiness of the "dog" that make this a new family favorite.

Growing up in Chicago, Vienna hot dogs were readily available at vendors all around the city. That taste spoiled me, so I'm picky when it come to hot dogs.  All beef please, with skins that pop!  

Nathan's brand is sold here in Oregon, so that's the closest I've found to Viennas.  When Mom was alive and flew out to visit from Chicago, she always brought several package of Viennas - what a treat!  Of course the cost of this dish can be easily be lowered by buying less expensive brands, (lower than $3 - $4 a package) especially if feeding a crowd, or large family.

This is basically what I saw on the show, except I added celery salt (a Chicago style ingredient), and substituted salsa for diced tomato.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppBacon Wrapped Fried Hot Dogs
Vegetable oil, for frying
4 all beef hot dogs 
4 to 6 slices bacon, as needed to cover
4 hot dog buns
1 green pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 diced tomato, or salsa
celery salt
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppSaute green peppers and onions until soft, Season if desired.  Meanwhile while they're cooking, wrap bacon around each hot dog to cover it, and secure with tooth picks.

Heat oil to 350 and fry wrapped hot dogs about two minutes or until bacon is crisp. Remove toothpicks.

Put on steamed or warmed bun.  Add mayo, ketchup and mustard; top with pepper onion mixture, Sprinkle celery salt and top with diced tomatoes or salsa.
Serves 4.

Estimated cost: $3.60 or less, .90 cents or less per serving.

Taco Soup

Taco Soup photo 784E7500-D920-47A1-A29D-0983AD3C2387_zpshznkmavb.jpgThis is an easy, flavorful soup with many of the ingredients used for making tacos.  It could be made in a crock pot or on the stove top. On the stove it takes about a half hour to make.

There's hundreds of similar recipes on the Internet using different combinations of beans, but the norm is to have two or three different kinds of beans and corn kernels.  

If you buy dried beans in bulk, it's even more economical to make. When using dried beans, I use my pressure cooker to prepare beans for this soup. They cook and soften in about 15 minutes.

Add a salad and/or corn bread for a hearty feast.

Taco Soup
1 lb. cooked ground beef, shredded chicken or ground turkey
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green peppers
1, 16 oz. can diced tomatoes with liquid
1, 16 oz. can kidney or pinto beans with liquid
1, 16 oz. can of black beans with liquid
1,  15 oz. can beef or chicken broth
1, 17 oz. can of whole kernel corn with liquid
1, 8 oz. can tomato sauce
One package taco seasoning
black pepper
cayenne pepper
Suggested toppings: sour cream, green onions, shredded cheese, guacamole, tortilla chips

Taco Soup photo B1979ACC-C6D6-4B63-99EC-BC7B1A2DBF3F_zpsvpevsv53.jpg

Cook meat and drain.  For the chicken, shred after cooking or use store roasted chicken and shred. Add ingredients to a 3 quart or larger, soup pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Or add ingredients to a crock pot set on low and cook about 4-6 hours, or on high 3-4 hours. Serve in bowls with optional toppings such as grated cheese, sour cream, guacamole and crushed tortilla chips.

Makes 3 quarts - 12 to 14 servings

Estimated cost $7.40 or less; .60 cents a serving or less.

Annie's Hot Chop Relish

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While discussing what to do with an abundance of garden produce at this time of year, my friend Annie gave me her recipe for what she called her "hot chop concoction."  She cooks and cans it, but suggested it could also be frozen.  It's one of those recipes you "eye ball."

Annie said it's a family favorite that they mostly use on fried eggs, hamburgers, and hot dogs. She explained that there's no set recipe, but it's just something she concocted years ago, and that her son has also paid her to make it for him so he could give it out as holiday gifts for friends and neighbors.

So if your garden is abundant or you can't resist the good sales at farmer's markets at this time of year, considering making a batch of Annie's Hot Chop Relish.

I don't have "bushels" of produce like Annie, so adjusted the recipe for a smaller batch. I used 2 cups of combined chopped jalapeno peppers and green bell peppers,  2 cups of chopped tomatoes, 1 large onion and several cloves of diced garlic.  I started with a cup of vinegar and small handfuls of sugar and salt, then taste adjusted as directed. The cooking time on a medium simmer was about 40 minutes.
 photo null_zps01933151.jpgHere's her directions:
"Use half tomatoes and half Hungarian Wax Peppers.  In other words, a half bushel tomatoes *peeled and chopped and a half bushel hot peppers cut in thin rings.  (I don't bother to seed them).  
If you don't like that much heat, add less peppers.  I add a couple chopped green peppers, a couple large chopped onions and about a quarter cup of chopped garlic.   
Add at least 2 cups of vinegar  (I just glug it in), a handful of salt and handful of sugar, and then start cooking it down.  Taste it occasionally and add more vinegar, salt or sugar if you feel it needs more of one of them.  After it cooks down a couple hours, put in hot sterilized pint jars and seal with hot lids." 
* to easily peel tomatoes, blanch in boiling water until skins break, a minute or two, then plunge in ice cold water to easily remove skins.

My small batch cooked down to a pint and a half. I've used it on burgers, and served with scrambled eggs and omelets.  It's very much like a salsa, but cooked into a sweet/sour relish.

Ham Croquettes with Cheese Sauce

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
My mom made ham croquettes whenever she had leftover ham, including scraps and pieces. They're worth the time and effort for taste and an economical attractive meal, as a little ham goes a long way.

They can be made in varied sizes and shapes for a dinner or an appetizer table.  It took me a few tries over the years to achieve the firm consistency needed to hold them together for frying, but discovered chilling the mixture does the trick, or making ahead and freezing until ready to fry.

With more leftover ham coming up after Easter, these will be on my menu plans several times in coming months.  I plan on making a big batch, or doubling the recipe, then freezing croquettes ready for future frying, a real time saver.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Mixture Ready to Shape
Ham Coquettes with Cheese Sauce
2 Tabs. butter
4 Tabs. flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup minced onions
1 tsps. parsley
1/4 tsp. of nutmeg
1-1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups minced ham, cooked
1 beaten egg with 1 shell of water, about a Tab.
oil for cooking

Melt butter and blend in flour and onions, cook for a minute or two to make a roux, then slowly stir in milk.  Cook until very thickened, almost like paste. Stir in finely chopped/minced ham, parsley, nutmeg and 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, cooking a few more minutes until all is blended.  Cool mixture in refrigerator at least an hour.  Shape into small balls (an inch to inch-and-a half ) or small logs ( 3/4-inch thick and 2-3 inches long). If mixture seems too thin to shape, add more bread crumbs.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppUploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppCoating:  Roll shaped croquettes in bread crumbs, dip in beaten eggs, then roll in bread crumbs again.  Refrigerate again for 2 hours or chill more quickly in freezer before frying.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppFry several at a time in hot oil (350 degrees) 2 or 3 minutes turning until golden brown on sides or deep fry at 375 degrees, for 1or 2 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.

Croquettes may be frozen after shaping and coating for future use as appetizers or quick dinner. Makes 12-24 depending on size made.  Serves 4-8.

Cheese Sauce
1 Tab. butter
2 Tabs flour
1 cup of milk
1 to 2 tsps. prepared mustard, according to taste
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 a cup of shredded cheese of choice: Swiss or Cheddar

Make a roux with butter and flour, adding milk, stirring and cooking for a thick white sauce, then stir in mustard and cheese until melted.  Serve over croquettes or use for dipping sauce.

Variations: Ground chicken, salmon or tuna can be used instead of ham for Chicken Croquettes, or Salmon Croquettes, Tuna Croquettes

Estimated cost: $3.00 or less; .75 cents or less per serving of allowing 3 or 4 per person.

Italian Sausage Sandwich, Chicago-Style

Italian Sausage, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
This similar to the Italian Beef Sandwich recipe I previously posted, but uses large Italian sausage links instead of Italian Beef.  

I grew up liking both, but my mom's favorite was sausage which was more available at the grocer or butcher shop, plus she used it for other Italian dishes.  I like it spicy, even hot, but mild sausage is just as tasty for this sandwich.

It's meal by itself, or serve with a side:  slaw, cottage cheese, fries, or tossed salad.

Italian Sausage Sandwich, Chicago-Style
4 Italian sausage links, about 4 oz. in size
1 green pepper cut in strips
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves of minced garlic
4 slices of Provolone cheese or cheese of choice
4 hoagie buns
Italian Sausage, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone Appsalt and pepper

Italian Sausage, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppSaute onions, peppers and garlic until soft and translucent on one side of the pan; season to taste.  Saute sausage on the other of pan until browned.

Meanwhile open and lightly toast the buns, then spread on mayonnaise on each half. Slice each sausage down the its length to open butterfly style. Place cheese on bun, then sausage, then top with pepper and onion mixture.

Note: I've made these using warmed flour tortillas, and rolling everything up in them, and they're just as tasty.

Estimated Cost: $6.00 or less; $1.50 per serving or less with bun

Tilapia with Salsa

Tilapia with Salsa, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppIn recent years my local grocer began carrying Tilapia, an economical mild tasting white fish, firm enough for several kinds of seafood recipes.  Since I try to serve fish one or twice a week, I watch for sales then stock up.

I've used it in fish chowders, made it blackened like blackened salmon, or baked with a mayo Parmesan topping, but the easiest way is sauteed and topped with warm salsa.  I'm all for attractive, fast, and easy when it comes to cooking, so I probably make it this way more often than any other way.

Tilapia with Salsa
4 Tilapia fillets 3 to 4 oz. in size
flour for dusting
salt and pepper
2 Tabs. each oil & butter for frying
1 to 1-1/2 cups of salsa
parsley for garnish

Tilapia, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppHeat skillet on medium high with mixture of oil and butter.  Salt and pepper fillets and dust or lightly coat with flour.

Frying about 2-3 minutes on each side until cooked and lightly browned.  Place on serving platter. Meanwhile, warm salsa and spread over fillets before serving. Top with sprinkle of parsley or other herb.

With this dinner I served a salad and fried red potatoes.

Estimated Cost: $5.00 or less; $1.25 per serving or less.

Italian Giardiniera Mix, Homemade

Italian GiardinieraSprinkle these treat on salads, or serve on a relish tray.  My husband especially likes pickled cut veggies, and for years bought jars at the grocery store.  

Several years ago a golfing friend shared this recipe, and I tweaked it adding celery, jalapeno peppers with a few red pepper flakes, as fresh chili peppers aren't an ingredient always on hand.

Examining jars in the store I noted they mostly contain cauliflower, carrots, celery and a pepperoncini or two, so I improvised using my melon baller to cut out rounds of onions as a substitute for pearl onions.  All in all it's a very good clone, and of course saves money over buying commercial jars.

You can be creative by combining the kinds and amounts of cut veggies you want in the jar, but cauliflower florettes are the main ingredient.

Italian Giardiniera Mix, Homemade
Fresh chili peppers of choice, or red pepper flakes, or jalapeno slices
2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
2 tsp. salt
cauliflower, cut in florettes or smaller
carrots, cut in thin coins or use baby carrots
pearl onions or largely chopped
garlic cloves, whole, or a  tsp. of minced
pitted green olives
sliced red and/or green pepper pieces
sliced celery pieces
2 quart jars

If using fresh chilies, poke several holes near the stem, or use pepper flakes.
Combine water, vinegar, salt and pepper flakes and boil for one minute.

Fill jars with assortment of veggies and pour hot liquid over and screw on lid.  Cool and refrigerate for two weeks.  This recipe makes enough liquid for two quart jars.  If making more double the water and vinegar.  Store in refrigerator.

Estimated cost: for 2 quarts  $3.00 or less.

Fried Ravioli

Fried Ravioli, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppThough I have a pasta maker and occasionally make fresh pasta, ravioli or lasagna noodles, it's time consuming, but I do it for special family events or dinner guests.

For everyday meals, I keep a bag of prepared frozen ravioli on hand, also frozen meatballs. They're just so handy for the two of us and I can take out as many or as few as needed for a meal.

That's what I used for this recipe.  With a few hours notice, I unexpectedly had to make dinner for six, so decided the frozen ravioli and meat balls would work well. 

I breaded the ravioli ahead of time, then let them set in the refrigerator, until about 20 minutes before serving time. I then fried and kept them warm in the oven.  Guests put on their own amount of warm sauce and cheese. I served with  heated meatballs, crusty bread, and a salad.

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If not using for a dinner, they make great appetizers for a party.

Fried Ravioli

2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp.salt
30 to 36 frozen ravioli, thawed
vegetable oil for frying, enough for 2 inches deep in pan
grated parmesan cheese for topping
Italian tomato sauce for dipping or to serve over ravioli

Fried Ravioli, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppIn a small bowl beat milk with egg,  Place breadcrumbs and salt in a shallow bowl. Dip ravioli in egg mixture, then coat with breadcrumbs and set on plate to set until ready to fry.

In a heavy pan or skillet, pour oil to 2 inches deep.  Heat oil on medium heat (350) until a small amount of breading sizzles when tested.. Fry ravioli, 4 or 5 at a time, 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side, or until golden. Drain on paper towels.
Heat desired amount of Italian sauce for dipping or topping the ravioli.  Sprinkle ravioli with parmesan cheese and serve immediately with the warm sauce.  Serves 6 to 8.

Estimated cost: $8.00 or less; $1.30 or less per serving.

Cheese Enchiladas with Creamy Green Chili Sauce

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A Mexican spice pack purchased several years ago came with a booklet of recipes to try, including "creamy green chili cheese enchiladas."  I made them then experimented with adding chicken, and like them both ways.

Corn tortillas can be used, if first heated quickly on each side in oil to soften.  I've also used flavored flour tortillas such as spinach or tomato; and low-carb wheat tortillas.

Whenever there's leftover roast chicken, I make these and serve with a salad, kidney bean salad in this case.  If making without chicken, I usually serve Mexican Rice and refried beans for a "homemade"combo plate."

Cheese Enchiladas with Creamy Green Chili Sauce
1 package 6-inch flour tortillas - a dozen, or 6 large burrito size
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App3 cups shredded Monterey Jack, or Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour scream
2  4 oz. cans diced green chilies
1 1/2 to 2 cups of shredded chicken can also be added.

Warm tortillas so they don't crack and roll easily when filled, then set aside.  I heat for like 30 seconds or less in the microwave and cover with a towel.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppCombine 1-1/2 cups cheese, onion (and shredded chicken if using) and distribute among tortillas, roll up and place seam side down in sprayed 9x12 baking dish.

Sauce: melt butter; blend in flour until cooked.  Add broth stirring constantly until thick and bubbly.  Stir in sour cream, peppers and 1/2 cup cheese. Cook until heated through, but do not boil.  Pour over tortillas and bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese on top and return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Serve with salsa and/or sour cream.

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Enchilada Combo Plate
When cooking for two, I make the sauce, using enough for the two of us, then freeze the rest in cup size containers, defrost and reheat for the next time I want to make a few enchiladas instead of a dozen.  If making a large batch, leftovers freeze well.

This sauce is also delicious over sauteed chicken breasts or pork chops.
Serves 6 to 8

Estimate cost: $1.25 or less per serving