Monday, May 25, 2009

Pizza Braid

I came across this recipe thanks to Laura over at I'm an Organizing Junkie, awesome host of Menu Plan Monday! She gave this recipe a try and since we make pizza just about every week I was prompted to add it to my arsenal too.

The original recipe comes from Amy at The Finer Things in Life, and like many great recipes the filling can be adjusted to your own family's preferences! I love one of her reader's suggestions to make a Tex-Mex style braid and have included my ingredients list for that option as well. Don't be afraid to experiment! My adjustments are below, the original can be found at the title link.

Pizza Braid


Filling (pizza option):
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 chopped green bell pepper
1 small can mushrooms
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Filling (Taco-style option):
1/2 lb ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can drained diced tomatoes, or 1 cup salsa
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 chopped green pepper
1/2 chopped red or yellow pepper
Can diced chiles (optional)
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Pizza dough (or use your favorite recipe!)


{repare dough according to recipe. Place in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. While dough is rising, brown ground beef in skillet; add veggies and other meats, then add seasonings and tomato sauce. Mix well. Set aside. Punch down risen dough. Roll dough into a rectangle on a greased cookie sheet. Spoon meat filling down the center of the dough. Top with cheese.

Cut 8 even slits from the filling out to the edge of the dough. (I use my pizza cutter to do this. Hint: for even strips, slice your middle strip first. Then slice the middle of the halves, then the middle of the quarters.)

Start at one end and criss cross the dough strips. Tuck the last strip under. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Total cost, Pizza option:
Pizza Dough - $0.94
Beef - $1.00
Onion - $0.15
Pepper - $0.30
Mushrooms: $0.40
Sauce: $0.25
Cheese - $1.50
Seasonings - $0.10

Total Cost, Mexican option:
Pizza Dough - $0.94
Beef - $1.00
Taco Seasoning - $0.25
Diced Tomatoes - $0.75
Corn - $0.25
Peppers - $0.60
Cheese - $1.50

Grand Total: Pizza, $4.64 Mexican: $5.29 for 6-8 servings!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Crockpot Beef Stew

Beef stew is one of those great, versatile recipes that you can make almost completely on the fly - as long as you have beef, broth and veggies on hand you can make it with whatever's already in the pantry! I like the subtle flavor that coffee adds to the broth but feel free to experiment with whatever tempts your tastebuds!

This stew tends to have a slightly thinner broth to it - if you prefer something a little thicker just add some cornstarch dissolved in water at the end of the cooking process!


2-3 lbs cubed beef
1/4 cup flour
1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1/2 Tbsp ground pepper
1-2 cloves chopped garlic
1 Tbsp paprika
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
3-4 good sized carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 to 1 cup chopped onion
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup brewed coffee (old coffee if possible)
1.5 cups beef broth

- Combine flour, salt and pepper with beef in a bowl, coat beef thoroughly and transfer everything to the crockpot.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the crockpot
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 4-6 hours

Total Cost:
Beef: $4.00
Potatoes: $2.00
Carrots: $0.30
Onion - $0.30
Celery - $0.10
Beef broth - Free! (homemade!)
Coffee - Free!
Seasonings - $0.50

Grand total: $7.20 for 8-10 servings!

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Orange-Apricot Pork Chops

This was another great find on Once a Month Mom - the original recipe hails from one of my personal favorites, A Year of Crockpotting and it translates well as either a fresh cooked meal or OAMC freezer stash.

You can find the pumped-up OAMC version (4 meals worth) in the April Printable Menu from Once a Month Mom...the individual recipes are in a scrollbar at the bottom of the document.

Orange-Apricot Pork Chops

6 pork chops
1 cup apricot jam
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges (and juice!)


In a small bowl, combine jam, sugar, salt and spices.

For fresh cooking:
Place pork chops in the crockpot, spoon jam mixture over the chops. Pour entire contents of mandarin oranges can (juice and all) over the top. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.

For OAMC/Freezer prep:
Place pork chops and contents of mandarin oranges can together in a gallon freezer bag. Pour jam mixture into the bag. Seal and Freeze. To cook: thaw, then follow regular cooking directions as for fresh cooked.

Total Cost:
Pork Chops - $4.50
Jam - $1.00
Oranges - $0.50
Sugar - $0.20
Spices - $0.20

Grand Total - $6.40 for 6 servings - or $1.07 per serving!

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Monday, May 4, 2009

No Fuss Chicken Cordon Bleu

This recipe is originally from Freezer Friendly Cooking, but I came across it on Once a Month Mom when I started delving into OAMC! I love Cordon Bleu but had never seen it in casserole form! This recipe makes one 9X13 or two 8X8 pans, but can easily be multiplied to feed a big crowd or stock up your freezer!

**a note - when I made this and cooked it right away, the carrots were pretty underdone - if you cook this fresh you may want to try using frozen sliced carrots instead. That, or my oven is just possessed!

6-8 chicken breasts, cut into tenders
2 cup sliced carrots
2 cans Cream of Chicken
1 cup Sour Cream
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsps Paprika
1 1/4 cup of Swiss cheese, grated (or 3-4 slices deli cheese, cut into strips)
1/3 cup of Ham slices cut into strips (about 3 ham slices)
1 Egg
1 cup of bread crumbs

1. Put sliced carrots in bottom of 9x13 pan (or two 8 inch pans).
2. Combine Cream of Chicken soup, sour cream, paprika and lemon juice in bowl. Mix well and pour over the carrots.
3. Crack an egg on a plate and beat well. Place bread crumbs on additional plate and coat chicken tenders with egg and coat with bread crumbs.
4. Arrange coated chicken breasts over the top of sauce in the pan. Place ham strips over the top of the chicken. Top with swiss cheese.

Freeze: Use Saran wrap or press and seal over the top of the pan and then Foil it all the way around to ensure air tight. Store in the freezer up to 2 months (or more depending on your druthers).

Baking: Defrost and use within 2 days. Preheat oven on 375 and bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes until cheese is bubbly and chicken juices run clear. Serve over egg noodles.

Total Cost:
Chicken - $6.00
Carrots - $0.10
Cream soup - $1.20
Sour Cream - $1.00
Swiss cheese - $2.50
Ham - $1.25
Egg - $0.14
Bread Crumbs - $0.30

Grand Total - $12.49 for 12 servings, or 2 pans that serve 6 each!

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Black Bean Quesadillas

I am always looking for good vegetarian options and this fits the bill nicely! Found at Taste of Home, it is easy, healthy, delicious AND straight from the pantry, so it's perfect for fast meals or snacks. Add extra veggies to your tastes and serve with fresh avocado for a really healthy meal.

Black Bean Quesadillas

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 2/3 cup salsa, divided
10 8" flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese
2/3 cup sour cream

1. In a bowl, mash the beans; add 1 cup salsa and mix.
2. Place 5 tortillas on ungreased baking sheets; spread with bean mixture. Sprinkle with cheese, top with remaining tortillas
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until crisp and heated through.
4. Cut each quesadilla into six wedges - serve with sour cream and remaining salsa.

Total Cost:
Beans - $1.32
Salsa - $1.00
Tortillas - $2.30
Cheese - $1.50
Sour Cream - $0.50

Grand Total: $6.62 for 4-6 servings ($1.10-1.65 per serving!)

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