Saturday, January 1, 2011

Spicy Cabbage Soup

Can you tell I cooked this morning?

One thing that can help you stretch your budget is starting a pot of soup while cooking something else. Especially anything which:

  • takes a while to cook
  • uses veggies
  • required chopping with your food processor

So, while making cabbage rolls I decided to throw on a pot. I used the left over cabbage pieces (raw) put through the food processor. I also threw in carrots, a can of spicy tomatoes, green pepper, mushrooms and 1 envelope of Asian spicy soup mix, a chicken bouillion cube and 6 cups of water.

Simmer until veggies are cooked.

Porcupine Meatballs

This recipe uses the left over meat mixture from the cabbage rolls (following post):

roll meat into 1 " balls and place in casserole dish sprayed with PAM.

I cooked mine in the convection oven , at 350 for about 40 minutes. A little longer if in the big oven. Go ahead and pack 'em in, they shrink up a little while cooking.

Need to stretch them a bit further? Add italian bread crumbs, oatmeal, or other dry cracker type product. My kiddos loved them and asked for seconds. Not too spicy. Add them to spaghetti sauce or serve them in subs for another meal option.

New Years Day Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage Rolls

I should probably preface this post by letting you know (in case you wandered here by search engine accident...) that this is not one of my tried and true recipes.
Cabbage is supposed to bring money in the new year, and couldn't we all use a little more? Buying cabbage is a a good way to save money, too. It's very stretchy budget wise.

Cabbage on sale this week was .33 cents a pound, so I couldn't resist. My big head of cabbage cost about .80 cents and was enough for three large dishes. This is the first of those three.

random side note: it struck me while making this, that truly this is like making enchiladas, but using cabbage leaves instead of tortillas... it's amazing how many of the steps are similar. They are also very similar to stuffed peppers.

Sweet and Sour Tomato Gravy/Sauce:

1 large can of tomatoes (crushed/diced)
1 large can of tomato sauce
1 can of tomato paste
1 egg
bell pepper
white vinegar
1 pound ground beef
1 cabbage
1 roll sausage (as spicy as your family likes)
1 1/2 cups cooked rice (okay to use brown and partial wild-- but not all wild.)

This took a lot of pots. I usually like to limit that.... maybe you could help?
Big stock pot: Boil salted water. While waiting on water to boil, core cabbage, but try to keep leaves intact. Carefully peel leave into separate leaves. Do not over "Martha" yourself here-- it's okay if they have a split or two, but mainly try to keep them in one piece.

Place the leaves in the boiling water for about 5 minutes. (You are just trying to make them soft.) Remove pot, drain off hot water and replace with cold to stop cooking process. Remove leave from pot as you are using them, and pat dry with paper towels. Don't use the whole head. WHen you get to the smaller harder to remove part, save it for another dish (coming!).

In big pot (see? gotta be a better way) brown onions, garlic, bell pepper. Add 2-3 tablespoons of your Tomato paste. Remove from heat and place in large bowl. Add to bowl the meats and the rice, and 1 egg. Mix together.


In same big pot (see! Saved you a pot...) put the rest of the tomato sauce, and other tomatoes. You could use seasoned tomatoes (onion/pepper) if you like to spicy up the sauce a bit... Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Heat to low boil and reduce to simmer.

Take first leaf and using a small knife, remove the vein on one side only. (Try not to cut all the way through the leaf.) If you want to make smaller rolls, divide bigger leaves into two.

Using hands, make a small roll of filling, place in leaf and roll up burrito or egg roll style, starting with the thicker vein end. (Fold in sides as you are rolling.)

Prepare your dish -I used a big 9 x 13.. coated the bottom with sauce. Then put in the rolls, seam down.
This does not use all the meat filling mixture. Save about 1/2 for prcupine meatballs!
Cover with remaining sauce and cook at 350 for about 1 hour 15 minutes. (Until meat is cooked..)

Hoppin' John stretches Luck, and buck!

One of my favorite people (and also a fabulous blogger over at Mommy Doesn't Cook on Fridays) posts photos of her food.
I attempted this for this post, and want you to know it's tougher than it looks! Honest, the food wasn't all grey....

Here in the southern part of the US, NY Day calls for 2 requred dishes: Black eyed peas (for luck) and cabbage / greens (for money). Now, even if the good luck part is superstition, black eyed peas are low in fat, have no cholesterol, are naturally low in sodium (before adding the salt pork of course...),and are high in iron, potassium and fiber. PLUS they are cheap!

Now, chances are if you are reading rubber dollar already-- you probably appreciate and extra buck. So today's post will tell you how to stretch that cabbage / black eyed peas a little further!

Grocery stores here all put the two on sale (bonus!) during this time of year. Save even more by buying dried black eyed peas and soaking them overnight yourself. With the exception of Texas Caviar, I can't think of a black eyed pea dish that can't be made just as well with dried peas.

Hoppin' John

1 bag dried black eyed peas (.88 cents)
1 1/2 cups cooked rice (about .07)
1 salt pork (splurge and get the kind with a little meat on it... trim the fat.) $2.30
2 ribs celery (.30)
1/4 green pepper (.25)
garlic (I have a giant vat of this at all time, so it's hard for me to calculate cost..)
1/4 onion (.25)
2 cans of chicken broth (1.64) or make a stock using bouillon for about .20

Total cost: $5.69 makes enough for several meals.

Soak the beans overnight in a big bowl with twice as much water as beans. Use cold water. I dump the water and replace it several times. (I've heard mixed reviews on this. I've heard dumping the water helps lessen the "gassy" property of beans.) Drain off liquid.

Place in large stockpot with chicken broth, set on low to medium-low. (Let them come to a low simmer.)

Use a little butter and brown the chopped onion, garlic (minced), green pepper and celery. (Go ahead and throw the whole veggies through your food processor and store the left-overs in tupperware in the fridge. (Separately or together.) You'll thank yourself later in the week when you are cooking. Add the veggies to the pot. Add the rice after the peas are tender.

For color, you can add red bell pepper or carrot pieces if you like. Serve with corn bread.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Can I really make it two weeks without stepping into a grocery store?

I've been reading a lot about extreme ways to shave an even closer grocery bill a little more.
There's quite few, some more extreme than others-- but one we tries is my experience with 2 weeks of NOT STEPPING INTO A GROCERY STORE.
(Now in interest of self-disclosure, I did go in a Wal-mart, but not for anything found in the grocery store/no food/ no drugstore stuff.
The theory here is pretty simple-- each time you go into a grocery store, you're likely to pick up
" a few extra things" which add up. So for two weeks, you do not go to the store. Before going, you menu plan and shop for the two weeks. Then if you run out of something (bread? milk?) too bad! Make do with something else. Before you start whining, I too have kids in school. During these two weeks things happen-- snack mom for soccer, for example-- which were unexpected and unplanned. Still, with a little scrambling you can cover. And all without being granola mom.
Did it work? Yep. It did. I'm totally on the band wagon. One downside might be coupon deals that require multiple trips. However our monthly grocery bill (already low by many standards at about $80/wk for a family of 4) did drop. After the second two weeks, I'm pretty sure we could do three except for milk. (I do not have a freezer big enough to freeze milk.) Maybe we'll try to be milkless every third week, or at least go 2 1/2. Anyone doing this without a freezer??? Let me know your plan!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Weeks worth of menus- Columbus Day

Monday - Pot Roast with green beans, crescent rolls and tea
Tuesday - Chicken Oriental with peas, carrots/ranch
Wednesday - Chicken Spaghetti
Thursday - Crock pot Lasagna
Friday - Hamburgers on the Grill
Saturday - chili dogs (One missing!)

Incredibly Easy pot roast:

Take one pot roast an in a cooking bag, shake with flour. Brown in skillet with a few tablespoons of oil.
Put Roast back in cooking bag and add:
1 envelope onion soup mix, 1 envelope pot roast seasoning (these can be substituted for other things I sometimes use homemade adobo mix)
1 can golden mushroom soup (Beefy mushroom is also good, but avoid plain cream of mushroom as the color is bad for this recipe.)
Add carrots and diced potatoes to fill bag.
Place entire bag & contents in crock pot twist top closed and close lid.
Don't have a crock pot? You can make a few slits in the bag, and cook it in the oven on a cookie sheet for 4-6 hours on 300*

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Free $10 at Lettering Delights

I love new fonts-- for newsletters, for cards... and here's a chance to pick up $10 in free ones from Lettering Delights.

Go to their facebook page here:

and become a fan. They will reward you with a coupon code for $10 free!

Better hurry, won't last.