Friday, March 26, 2010

Philly Cheesesteak Pasta

Miss me? Sorry, life around here has been so unbelievably busy! Homeschooling 3 kids, trying to maintain (and failing miserably) a 4 bedroom house, working to get my grandmother into assisted living facility, playing taxi to my kids many activities, and climbing Mount Washmore on what seems to be a daily basis, well...I just have been slacking off in the cooking department.

The other day, I spent the day in the kitchen, cooking and creating a recipe that had been in my mind for weeks. I LOVE Philly Cheesesteaks. And if you live in Philly, the fight is Pat's vs. Geno's - usually. Of course, out here in the suburbs, we have plenty of GREAT places to choose from. Personally, I prefer one on an Amoroso's steak roll, using FRESH meat and REAL Provalone or American cheese - no Cheese Whiz for me (sorry Pat's). Lots of green peppers, mushrooms and onions.

I've been having a tooth issue which makes it very hard to chew. And as delicious as a cheesesteak sounds, the pain of chewing it is a huge deterrent (I know, I'm going to the dentist...I promise). So...pasta's soft! So here goes!!!

I do warn you, this is not any healthier than eating a true Philly Cheesesteak. I never claimed that ALL the food I made would be healthy. :) I hope you try it, and enjoy it.

Philly Cheesesteak Pasta

12 oz Reggiano Penne Pasta (.99)
1 Tbs. Country Creamery Butter (.05)
1 Tbs. Olive Oil (.11)
1 Box Philly Gourmet Sandwich Steaks (1.99)
10 oz box of White Mushrooms, sliced thinly (.89)
1 green pepper, diced (.80)
1/2 large onion, diced (.30)
2 cloves garlic, minced (.10)

2 Tbs Country Creamery Butter (.10)
2 Tbs. Grandma's Best Flour (.10)
1 8oz package of Happy Farms Provalone Slices, julienned (1.99)
8 oz. Great American Slices, julienned (3.49/lb - so 1.75 for half)
2 Cups Milk (.45)

Prepare Pasta as directed on package. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large saute pan, melt butter and oil together over medium heat. Saute diced onions, diced peppers and sliced mushrooms together until tender/crisp. Add minced garlic and continue to cook until mushrooms are soft. Cut sandwich steaks in strips (I cut them in half, THEN in strips). Add to veggie mixture and cook until beef is cooked through. Drain as much fat as possible. Set aside.

In a large sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour and whisk for 2 minutes to cook out the "raw" taste of the flour. Add milk slowly. Bring milk just to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Continually stir over low heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in cheeses until melted.

In a large bowl mix together vegetables/beef, pasta and cheese sauce. Pour into a 13 X 9 Inch baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes @ 350 degrees until cheese sauce is bubbly.

Makes 12 servings @ $.80 each! Please enjoy responsibly (like add a salad or something to make it redeeming!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sausage Meatball & Gnocci Soup

The start of this soup was a knock off of an Olive Garden soup. Of course, it didn't have sausage in it. What actually happened is that I wanted to make the Olive Garden Soup knock off, but didn't read the recipe before I went to Aldi, so I didn't get all the ingredients right! Oh well. Sometimes accidents happen for a reason. And this, I think, was much better than any Olive Garden soup I could have had (sorry,'s true).

Priano Potato Gnocci
1/2 of 1 lb package Roseland bulk sausage
1/2 of package of Ground Turkey
2 Golden Hen eggs
2 slices of L'Oven Fresh wheat bread
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbs Spice Club onion powder
1 Tbs Spice Club garlic powder
1 Tbs Spice Club Italian Seasoning
2 Tbs Carlini Olive Oil
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 large stalks of celery, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 Tsp Oregano
1 quart Friendly Farms Half & Half
1 quarter Fit & Active Chicken Broth

In a large stockpot, add olive oil. Place heat to medium. Once the oil is warmed up, add carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Saute until onions are starting to get translucent. Add bay leaves, and oregano. Mix well.

Add Chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

Prepare the meatballs as follows: In a small bowl add bread, cover with milk and let sit and soak up the milk. In another large bowl, add ground turkey and sausage, two eggs, onion powder, garlic powder and italian seasoning. Once the bread is soaked with the milk, add bread and any leftover milk in the bowl with ground meats and spices. Mix well. Form into 1/2" - 3/4" meatballs.

Drop the meatballs into the simmering broth. Cover and cook another 15 minutes. Add the half & half and mix in well. Uncover. Add in Gnocci and cook until they are soft and cooked through - about 5 minutes.

Serve. And enjoy.

I'll add calculations later! gotta go find my receipts!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Okay, I can see you're all holding out for....



I'll try to bake you something special over the weekend. Okay????

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Biscuit-topped Chicken Pot Pie

I know that I recently did a Chicken Pot Pie Stoup. Well, this one is ACTUAL Chicken Pot Pie. Made a little differently, so, I don't feel TOO repetitive! :)

I had some leftover grilled boneless/skinless chicken breast in the fridge from a grilled chicken pizza dinner I made the other night. The chicken was not from Aldi, but you could easily use their IQF Chicken. I'm basing my price per serving on using their chicken.

Biscuit-topped Chicken Pot-pie

2 Cups Cooked Chicken Breast meat, cubed ($6.49/2.5 lbs, this was 1 large breast) ($1.00)
1 Cup Season's Choice Frozen Peas, thawed (.49)
1 Cup Season's Choice Frozen Corn, thawed (.49)
1 Carrot, medium dice (.10)
1 Celery Stick, medium dice (.10)
1/4 medium onion, medium dice (.15)
1 garlic clove, crushed (.05)
1 Tbs olive oil (.15)
1 Tbs Country Creamery Butter (.05)
2 Tbs Flour (.10)
2 Cups 2% Milk (.45)
1 Chicken Boullion Cube, crushed and mixed into the milk (.05)
2 1/4 cups Baker's Corner Baking Mix (.43)
2/3 Cup Milk (.14)

Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add Olive oil and butter. Add diced onion, celery and carrots and "sweat" until just about soft. Add peas, corn and chicken meat and stir until warm. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and chicken and mix in well. Pour in milk laced with boullion. Reduce heat to low, bring to a boil and let simmer until sauce thickens.

While chicken & veggies are simmering mix and form biscuits according to package directions (you may use as "drop" biscuits and not form them, just drop on top)

Pour chicken and vegetable mixture into a deep dish pie pan - or another 2 quart baking dish. Place biscuits on top (or if dropping, drop in even amounts around the top of the pan.

Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes (until biscuits are golden brown and cooked through).

Serve immediately, and don't expect many leftovers! :) Made 6 servings @ .63 each!

Turkey Tacos

If you ask my oldest child any time of day or night what she would like to eat, she'll respond with a resounding "tacos". It is her favorite food. I've mentioned many times that we lived in Phoenix for 4 years. I credit Phoenix with my oldest's love of Mexican Food. She likes it all, but tacos are, by far, her favorite. If she could have tacos every day of the week, she would. For both lunch and dinner.

A few years ago, I was disappointed by the ingredients in our favorite taco packet. Not to mention how much sodium was in it, and the MSG. MSG gives me headaches, and I know that it does to many others as well. I searched for a spice mix that I could use and found one at Recipe Zaar. I have adapted it to suit our tastes. I use this for Tacos and Fajitas, as well as any time I want to add a little Mexican twist to any thing. I prepare this large batch and save in an emptied spice container so that I have it on hand anytime I need it.

Last year, at our co-op, I was the cooking teacher and we made fajitas for the "dinner" class. Many students (and their parents) still tell me that they use this recipe exclusively when making Mexican Dishes. That, to me, is the highest compliment.

I'll share the mix recipe first, then how to use it in tacos.

Taco/Fajita Seasoning Mix

5 Tbs. Spice Club Chili Powder
5 Tsp. Spice Club Ground Cumin
2 Tsp. Spice Club Ground Black Pepper*
4 Tsp. Sebree Table Salt
1 Tsp. Spice Club Paprika*
2 Tsp. Spice Club Dried Oregano
2 Tsp. Spice Club Garlic Powder
2 Tsp. Spice Club Onion Powder
1/2 Tsp. Spice Club Red Pepper Flakes*

*add more of these ingredients if you like it even spicier.

Mix all ingredients together well and store in an air-tight container. This entire container costs about $1.25.

Turkey Tacos

1 20 oz package of Fit & Active Ground Turkey ($2.49)
3 Tbs Taco/Fajita Seasoning Mix (above) (.25)
1 8 oz can Happy Harvest Tomato Sauce (.29)
1/2 Cup Water
1 Package La Mas Rica Flour Tortillas (1.49) - you may use the corn or the crunchy corn...whatever YOUR pref
Half of 8oz brick Happy Farms Colby Jack cheese, shredded (.89)
2 Cups finely shredded lettuce (.33 - I use about a half a head of romaine hearts which is $1.99/3 heads)
1 Cup Happy Farms Sour Cream (.49)
La Mas Rica Salsa (choose type and heat - prices will vary - for means of calc, .50 avg of used salsa)
La Mas Rica Guacamole (.82) (this is 3.29 for two internal packages...we use about half of on package in a meal)

Brown ground turkey. Sprinkle spices over and cook for one minute until you can smell the aroma of the spices. Add tomato sauce and water. Bring to boil, then reduce to a slow simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes stiring occasionally.

Warm up tortillas as instructed on packaging.

This makes about 12 tacos @ about .63 per taco.

Serve topped with your favorite ingredients.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Using Aldi Convenience Food for Inexpensive Yumminess

Hi there.

I'm taking it a minute to thank those who have chosen to follow me, and to comment, etc. It means the world to me.

The other night for dinner we had something that is not technically a recipe, more using the Aldi convenience items for yumminess. If you have not tried the Bremer Cheese Ravioli ($2.99/60 - I used half), Reggiano Traditional Pasta Sauce ($.99) or the Mama Cozzi Meatballs ($1.99/30 meatballs), give them a whirl! I cooked the meatballs in the crock-pot with the sauce on low for about 5 or so hours. I prepped the Ravioli as directed on the package. I served the meatball sauce over the ravioli. It was very yummy. Very easy. And a great, inexpensive meal (six servings @ $0.75/serving!!!) for a rushed and busy night. You might question the logic that pasta sauce is a vegetable, but, on busy nights it is to me!

Before I start the next statements, I want to assure everyone (and those that know me in real life know this), I DO NOT WORK for Aldi, nor do I get paid to sing their praises.

While at the store the other day, I grabbed the circular that starts March 7th, I'm happy to annouce that the Priano Italian specialty items will start appearing in Aldi's . These are wonderful to stock up on while they last. Unique sauces and frozen pastas that make for a quick dinner prep. There are great snacks and appetizers, too. I believe it is the season of Lent that brings it on, folks having meatless Fridays and all.

Just be on the look out and stock up while it's here. I'll hope to post some recipes using these fun products in the coming month.


Chinese Pork & Peppers

Well, Aldi does not normally carry a lot of chinese food items. They do have things in their freezer case. Once a year, around the Chinese New Year (Lunar Festival), they bring in items under the label "Asian Specialties". During this time of year they carry soy sauce, simmering sauces, rice noodles, etc. This is a great time to stock up. Seeing these in my local Aldi this week gave me the desire for a dish we haven't had in a very long time.

Three summers ago, we hosted our first Chinese Exchange Student for three weeks. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Julia (her Americanized name) loved to cook, and showed us how to make a few authentic dishes while she was here. This was one of them.

You need to know ahead of time that there are two ingredients that are not available at Aldi (at least at mine, if they're available in yours...more power to ya!). Corn Starch and Scallions. The prices I included were from a local grocery store, Acme.

Chinese Pork & Peppers

1.5 lb. Roseland Boneless Pork Loin Chops, julienned very thinly, in about 1" lengths ($4.49)
1 large green pepper, julienned (.99/2) (I quarter it and then slice in thin 1" long strips)
1 scallion, thinly sliced on the bias (.99/8 stalks)
2 tbs corn starch ($1.19/1 lb)
2 tbs Asian Specialties light soy sauce (.99/btl)
3 tbs oil

1 Cup White Rice (.99/1 lb)
1 Tbs Butter ($1.99/lb)
2 Cups Hot Water

Prepare the rice as follows: in a 2 quart pot with tight fitting lid, melt butter. Add 1 cup dry rice and saute in butter until coated in butter and "nutty" smelling. Be careful not to burn rice. Add 2 cups water, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Let sit, covered, until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the thinly slice pork strips, corn starch and soy sauce together. Mix well to coat ALL of the pork. Set aside for 5 or so minutes.

Using a LARGE wok or LARGE skillet, heat the 3 tbs. of oil on HIGH heat. When the oil is hot, add the pork, reduce heat to medium high. Stir fry meat in the oil. When the meat is ALMOST done, add the peppers. Stir around in the pan just to quickly cook the peppers. They need to be tender crisp. Sprinkle on sliced scallions just before serving, stir in.

Serve over rice.

This makes 6 servings @ $.92/serving. :)

***I know we Americans would very easily lose the oil in the hopes of good health, BUT don't miss the awesome opportunity to taste the food the way it was meant to be.***

Monday, March 1, 2010

Aldi Party Mix

I know, I know, it's not holiday time. It's not time for party mixes and finger snacks. Well, sorry, I live in a house where the party mix is a particular favorite. It's an easy grab, easy pack snack that is super cheap, and very easy to make. You can pretty much use the Chex mix recipe using Aldi ingredients and it turns out fine. I've created a mix that works well for our family. I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoy it.

Aldi Party Mix

9 Cups Millville Rice or Corn Squares ( or a combination) ($1.89/box)
2 Cups Corn Chips (the curly kind like Fritos) (.99/bag)
1 Cup Savoritz Sharks (1.09/box)
1 Cup Savoritz Oyster Crackers (.89/bag)
1 Cup Southern Grove Deluxe Natural Almonds (3.89/1 lb. bag)
1 stick Country Creamery unsalted Butter, melted (1.99/lb)
1 Tbs. Spice Club Seasoned Salt (.99/jar)
1 Tbs. Worchestershire Sauce (our brand right now is Tate's @ 1.29/btl)
1 Tsp. Spice Club Garlic Powder (.99/jar)
1 Tsp. Spice Club Onion Powder (.99/jar)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a LARGE bowl, combine rice or corn squares, corn chips, Sharks, oyster crackers and almonds. Melt butter and add in seasoned salt, Worchestershire sauce, garlic powder and onion powder. Mix well. Pour over cereal mixture and stir well to coat evenly.

Pour mix into large roasting pan and place in the oven. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Once out of the oven, pour out on to paper towels to cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes 14 1 Cup servings @ $.30 each! :)