The criteria for recipes here are simple: the meal must be healthy, real
(no packaged mixes, though canned goods are OK), cheap
(ingredients which are either inexpensive or regularly go on sale)
good-tasting, and homemade (can be prepared by anyone with basic cooking
We welcome your answer to:
What's for Dinner at
submit your cheap, good recipes
(story, ingredients, instructions, cost-saving tips).
bulk pizza dough, Pasta Salad, Ceasar Salad, Beef and Barley Vegetable Soup, Simple Chicken Tajine (Morocco), Kofta from Curried Favors (cookbook)
Handmade Pizza Dough (for 18 crusts) submitted by Bill Murath
Bill’s most excellent thin crust pizza
An illustrated step-by-step manual to making the very best thin crust pizza in your own kitchen (3.5 MB PDF file, 25 photos, copyright 2006 Bill Murath)
Quite sometime ago I was a young surfer working in pizza resturants at night so I could surf during the day. This one pizza joint I was working at had the greatest thin crust pizza I had ever had. The "Shore" had plenty of great pizza places but where I was working we would do 300 pizzas on a friday night in 5 hours, just 3 of us! At 4 bucks an hour it really sucked and I did not work there too long but I always remembered the basics of the dough recipe.CHS note: The dough can be refrigerated for later use; Bill estimated the cost of ingredients (1 5-lb. bag of flour, yeast and salt) at 33 cents a crust in 2006 but if you buy yeast in bulk the cost is more like 25 cents a crust. Even with flour at $2.50/5-lb bag and yeast at $3, the cost is 30 cents per crust.
Cost-saving tip: Buy the yeast in bulk at a health food store; the 2-pound
boxes at Sams Club or Costco are hard to use up unless you bake bread regularly.
I've read a few of your articles about healthy food, getting your BMI down, exercise, etc. and you make a lot of sense. I don't live in the US (I'm in England) but we have a skyrocketing problem of obesity here caused by junk food and lack of exercise.
I don't eat junk food, and to avoid things that contain vast amounts of salt, fat and added sugars I have one secret: MAKE YOUR OWN!
In a biggish bowl combine these ingredients:
12 cherry tomatoes, halved.
Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (olive oil is good for you, as I'm sure you know)
Mix up the dressing together in a jug and pour over the salad. Turn the whole lot over a few times and ENJOY! Pat yourself on the back and have a glass of red wine.
CHS note: I indicated 2 to 4 servings, as this could be either a dinner salad for 4 or a main course for 2-3, by my rough estimate.
Cost-saving tip: use seasonal, home-grown or "bargain-bin" veggies wherever possible:
options include red peppers, green beans, snap peas or broccoli (steamed or raw). The
"Garofalo" brand pasta at Costco is excellent.
Here is my recipe for my Caesar salad. Try it out and adjust any of the ingredients to your taste, i.e less oil if you like an acidic dressing or more oil if you don't.
The key to an amazing Caesar salad, in my opinion, is through building the salad with layers of similar tastes. The first layer is the dressing which is the powerhouse of the salad. The flavours built up after the dressing (freshly grated parmesan, bacon bits, croutons and of course fresh romaine hearts) compliment the dressing and finalizes the salad.
The Big Picture:
Dress the romaine fully. Add the bacon bits and the croutons. Grate the parmesan on top of the salad plate if you are plating the salad individually or mix it in the bowl if it is served buffet style.
Place in a blender or food processor:
Use between a 1/4 cup and a 1/3 cup (to your preference) of olive oil (I
prefer extra light olive oil but you can use whatever oil you like) Turn
your machine onto its lowest setting and slowly add olive oil to the
blades. This will emulsify the oil and lemon juice and create the creamy
Here’s my idea of fast food…homemade Beef and Barley Vegetable soup. Make a big pot of soup, say six quarts, and freeze it in pint or quart containers. Take it out of the freezer in the morning before work or microwave it on defrost for a couple of minutes a half hour before time to serve. Put it in a pot, both the thawed part and the partially thawed part, put the lid on and reheat it on low heat, stirring occasionally. Serve with a nice crusty French bread role or crackers, or all by itself.
1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
1 large Onion, coarsely chopped
1 16 0z. can of Corn, drained and rinsed
Heat the Canola Oil and add beef, stirring continuously until browned.
Put beef and the next seven ingredients in six quart slow cooker, or pot. Cover with water and heat on low to a boil. Simmer gently at least one hour or until carrots are tender.
Add remaining ingredients and water to equal six quarts. Heat and serve or freeze.
My scheme for healthy and affordable eating is: If it didn't exist before 1950 (I live in Switzerland, so that had better be 1940 for the US), don't buy it, and cook all your own food. There are some extra rules, all of which can be broken, but on to a typical recipe..
One chicken. Buy and use whole chickens, a lot can be got out of them. And this cutting up of chicken parts, breasts eaten in London and wings in Nigeria, not to mention US chicken exported to China, tranfromed into nuggets and sold back to the US, is lunatic from every POV.
4 small handfuls of dried fruit. Traditionally, prunes (dried plums) and dried apricots and some raisins. Any mixture, including dried apples and pears or even some bananas will work fine.
2 lemons. Moroccan dishes often include preserved lemons but one needn't bother with the preservation part here.
Spices. This dish is spicy without being 'hot.' It is impossible to give exact measures for the spices as they vary in strength (provenance, age, price, brand, etc.)
One plentiful dash of: cinnamon, ginger, paprika. One double dash of cumin. A good dose of black pepper. One chicken bouillon cube. Extra salt if wanted (the cube contains a lot of salt.) Garlic, whole or pressed, can be added as well.
Olive oil (best), but any tasteless vegetable oil will do.
Cut chicken into pieces. Fry them in a skillet or frying pan using the oil until they are lightly browned. Imperfect doesn't matter.
Put chicken pieces, spices, and lemons (washed and cut into 4 to 8 pieces, with the peel) and the fruit into a pot. Add water to about half the level - this isn't a soup. Put a lid on and let cook on lowish heat for 45 mins or more until the chicken is 'done' but not falling apart.
Serve with rice / pasta and a green vegetable / salad.
Second day. Keep all the leftovers. Get rid of all the bones, cut the remaining chicken into small pieces, put all into the original pot (not too much rice or pasta), add some spring onion/scallion, pepper, spice it up again, a best soup.
Third day. The left-over soup can be strained and used as stock.
Curried Favors: Family Recipes from South India
Growing up in Hawaii exposed me to living in a multi-ethnic community and eating ethnic foods, so I felt right at home moving to Berkeley (San Francisco East Bay). Middle Eastern, Indian, Pakistani, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, and Chinese (non-Cantonese) cuisines were new to me and I loved having access to these ethnic grocery stores.Kofta:
In this North Indian meat curry, ground beef or lamb is formed into balls that are braised in a fragrant sauce. Preparing the meatballs is an extra step, but worth the effort.
* 1 pound (450 grams) very lean ground beef of lamb
* 1 cup (180 grams) finely shopped onion
In a large bowl combine meat, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 tablespoon onion, ½ teaspoon ground coriander, ½ teaspoon salt, egg and bread crumbs. Mix well. Make into 1-inch (2 ½ cm) balls. Brown in a very small about of oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat, shaking pan frequently so meatballs brown on all sides. When they are nicely browned, remove from pan to paper towels to drain.
My notes: I make the meatballs little bigger as I am not so patient – results in about 28 balls. Perhaps, because I don’t use much oil or it may be just our frying pan, the meatballs I make at home do not roll around and brown themselves by shaking the pan. They won’t move at all, so once I see the bottom is nicely brown, I gently flip them over with a normal eating spoon and brown the other side. I do not take them out of the pan and lay them on paper towels, as I think this is unnecessary – more work and loss of flavor in pan juices and brown bits.
In a Dutch oven or flameproof casserole, over medium-high heat, fry onions in oil until the edges are nicely browned. Add garlic, ginger and green chili and stir for 2 minutes until onion turns medium brown.
Add tomatoes, spice mixture and salt and stir constantly until tomato pieces become very soft and break up (this describes fresh chopped tomatoes). Add ¾ cup water (180 ml) and bring to a boil. Add the meatballs (scraping the frying pan with a rubber spatula), turn down to low, and simmer covered for 45 minutes, adding more water as necessary to keep sauce from drying out. Sauce should be moderately thick at the end.
Add garam masala and simmer for another minute before removing from heat. Taste for salt. (I never add more salt and think the recipe taste is perfect.)
If your family doesn't like spicy food, then reduce both the cayenne (red pepper) and black pepper to 1/4 teaspoon each.
Preparation time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves 6. This serving size sounds right as it serves Chuck and I and our 3 neighbor friends = 3 adults + 2 meatball loving female teenagers who count who had how many meatballs = 0 leftovers. For Chuck and I, we usually enjoy 3 meals from this dish = dinner + leftovers for next day’s lunch + dinner.
What to serve with Kofta? Great with rice, pasta (Indian spaghetti sauce!), mashed potatoes or Indian masala potatoes (a forthcoming recipe), a fresh green salad or any quick stir-fry vegetable dish.
Trash: meat packaging – styrofoam container and plasic
1. When the ground meat is on sale, buy extras and freeze for future use.
About 2 weeks ago when ground turkey was on sale at a conventional supermarket
for half the normal $4.49 price for a 20-ounce package, I bought 8 packages for $2.25 each.
Costco also sells well-priced ground turkey for their every day price of about $2.50
"A healthy homecooked family meal is a revolutionary act." (CHS, May 2008)
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