Simplicity – Small & Cheap

Living simply & cheaply…wherever you are!

Pizza

Every Saturday, we make pizza from scratch.    I even make my own dough, but even if you aren’t that gung-ho, making your own pizza is definitely more fun than ordering in.

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1 pizza dough, made or bought ($1.00 for homemade)

jar pizza sauce – 15 oz for 11×18 cookie sheet pizza ($2.29 purchased)

mozzarella cheese – about 2 c (one bag) for 11×18 sheet pizza ($1.67 on sale)

toppings – whatever you like!    This is where you can break the budget–or not.   We consider pizza a treat and therefore ALWAYS have pepperoni and green olives on it, making our minimum topping cost about $2.00.    If you choose to use leftover meat and veggies, this can be uber-cheap!   We had some leftover bacon this week and added that, too.

Grease the cookie sheet and drizzle cornmeal to keep pizza from sticking.   Spread dough to cover.    Pour sauce and spread with back of large spoon.   Cover sauce with mozzarella cheese.     Add toppings as desired.

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Put in oven and cook according to directions for crust.   My homemade crust makes 10 fairly big/filling pieces.   We ate 2 each but also skipped lunch.   If we eat lunch that day, we eat one piece each.

Cost per slice – $0.70 (assuming base + pepperoni & green olives)   Your results may vary based on crust & toppings used.

What are your favorite pizza recipes?   Leave us a comment and let us know!!

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June 17, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | | 1 Comment

AFM – What do I do with 2 POUNDS of key limes?

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What does one do when they get a two pound bag of key limes (which, if you’ve never seen one, are the size of a bouncy ball that you get in vending machines outside of grocery stores)?   You make limeade!   Sounds like a pun, but seriously!    Most recipes that call for limes use 1 Tablespoon to 1/8 c.     That’s like 2-7 limes.  Two pounds of limes is like 30 of them (that’s a guess–I have not counted the lime carcasses covering my counter.    I don’t have room on my butt for 10 batches of lime bars and white chocolate lime cupcakes.

First, my tips for juicing key limes.   Roll them on the counter to break up the membranes inside (got that tip from AB).   Cut them in half between the “tips”.   If you cut the other way, you will hit major membranes.    Try it, you’ll see what I mean — I didn’t take pics of that part, sorry.  Squeeze them and then flip them inside out to ensure you break all the membranes and get the most possible juice out of them.   Do this over a tray that can catch ALL the juice because even if you do this over a measuring cup you will lose precious drops of juice.   When you do this All. Morning. Long. and see a puddle of juice on the counter…well that’s a little annoying.

So anyway, on to the recipes…

Limeade (from Cooking For Engineers)

  • 1 c lime juice
  • 1-1/2 c sugar
  • 1-1/2 c water

I will summarize for you since I screwed it up because, as a non-engineer, I didn’t understand her notation at the bottom.

Make a simple syrup from the water and sugar by heating the two until the sugar is dissolved.   Remove from heat and add lime juice (that’s where I screwed up–I added the lime juice while heating).

Makes 3 cups of concentrate.

To make the limeade, add 1 c concentrate to 3 c water.   Drink.  Repeat.

I also made Lime Bars (from About.com)

Bottom Layer:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine

Top Layer:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (approximately 1 large lime)
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest (optional)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 to 5 drops green food coloring (optional, but they look like lemon bars without it 🙂 )

Directions:

Bottom –

Mix together flour & powdered sugar.   Cut in butter until well combined.   Press mixture into a 8×8 pan and bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.   While the crust is cooking, prepare the topping.

Top –

Break the eggs and beat slightly.   Add the lime juice, zest, sugar, flour and food coloring if you are using it.   Mix well and pour over hot crust and put back in the oven for approximately 20-25 more minutes.   Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Makes 9 bars.

And finally, the coup de grace, White Chocolate Key Lime Muffins, also from About.com.

For the cupcakes (super sweet!):

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated key lime zest
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh key lime juice
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

For the glaze (nice and tart!):

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 cup fresh key lime juice

Directions:

Fill muffin cups with foil liners.   Don’t skip this, trust me.   The white chocolate chips kind of settle to the bottom and don’t come out very well.   You end up with lots of lopsided muffins and yummies to eat out of the pan.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

In a seperate mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.   Add the eggs, juice and zest, mixing well.

Into the butter-cream mixture in the large bowl, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, stirring until combined.   Add one-third of the buttermilk, stirring until combined.   Continue alternating one-third of each until all is mixed well.   Fold in white chocolate chips.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and put in a 350 oven for 18 – 20 minutes until the toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 -18 cupcakes.

While the cupcakes are baking, wisk together powdered sugar and lime juice.    After the cupcakes are done baking, poke pencil-sized holes (or smaller) in the top of each muffin and pour the glaze over the top and into the hole.    Cool completely.

Eat.  Repeat!

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | | Leave a comment

AFM – Cordon Bleu Casserole

I had this on my menu plan to use Chicken leftover from Tuesday but I never cooked that and had a bunch of turkey in the freezer that I wanted to use up.    I’m sure chicken would work just as well.

The original came from Taste Of Home‘s Cookout/Potluck super Magazine, but you can find it on their website.

You will need:

  • 2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
  • 4 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1-3/4 cups milk

Directions:

In a greased 2-qt. baking dish, layer the turkey, cheese and ham; set aside.

In a large saucepan, saute the onion in butter until tender. Stir in the flour, mustard and nutmeg until blended. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Pour over ham.

Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Yield: 6 servings.

COOKS NOTES:  The original recipe includes a bread crumb topping, but everytime I make one, it stinks.   I scraped all mine off–I just can’t seem to get it right.   Also, the ham I had was thin sliced lunchmeat-style and so I just shredded it fine.    If you use chunks, the original has you browning the ham first.

June 11, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | , | Leave a comment

AFM – Caldo de Res (Beef Soup)

I didn’t take a photo because it’s a stew and I’m not a food photographer.   Even after I screwed it up (I boiled all the water out and caught it JUST before it started to burn — such is life with littles who need you!), it tasted phenominal!!

You need:

  • 2 lbs beef shank with bone (my new FAVORITE ingredient!)
  • 2-3 red potatoes, cubed
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 1 calabacita squash, chopped (similar to zucchini)
  • 1 lb frozen corn
  • 1/4 head of cabbage, chopped
  • 1 tomato, quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 6 tsp fresh cilantro
  • salt
  • water

Instructions:

Boil water in medium pot with garlic and salt.   How much water, you ask?   However much you want, I guess.   We used a 4 qt dutch oven and filled it halfway (after I screwed up).    Maybe a little less…the veggies make the water level rise quite a bit.

Cut the meat off the bone, into 1″ chunks and throw the meat and the bone(s) in the boiling water.   Cut all the veggies and set aside.

When the meat is cooked, lower temp to medium and add the corn.  Let cook for 10 minutes.   Ad the potatoes, carrots, squash and tomato and let it cook for another 15 minutes.    Add the cabbage and let cook until potatoes and cabbage are tender.   Turn off heat and serve hot.

Serves approximately 8 when using a normal sized dutch oven.

Well, here is my first review on the food.  The tomatoes didn’t last a day after I brought them home.   By Sunday night (I picked up Sat. PM), they were furry.    So I used a can of diced tomatoes (undrained) and it worked fine.

Also, the produce box proudly proclaims PRODUCE OF USA.  However, the items inside told a different story.   The Key Limes were a product of Mexico and the garlic was a product of China.   It must have come over from China to the US during the Ming Dynasty.    They were so old that most of the cloves were exposed and were very dry and brittle.   I didn’t even attempt to eat them and threw them straight in the compost pile–I bet they are so old, I couldn’t even grow garlic from them!    I used dried garlic instead.

Also to note is how much I LOOOOOOVE beef shank w/bone.    The bone(s) — It required 2 packages to get 2 lbs of meat and so I got 3 bones (1 in one pkg and 2 in the other) — give SUCH a flavorful broth.   They were $2.97 a pound and well worth every penny.   You get fatty, flavorful, tender meat and yummy bone juices.    I will definately keep this cut of meat in my back pocket for beef based soups.

Stay tuned for the key lime bonanza!    What would you do with 2 lbs of key limes?

June 3, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | | Leave a comment

Virtual Great American Bake Sale

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Simplicity — Small & Cheap is participating in The Virtual Edition of the Great American Bake Sale @ Stolen Moments Cooking.com.    The Great American Bake Sale is a national campaign to try to end hunger for American children by Share Our Strength.   This year, over 170 recipes were submitted by bloggers and non-bloggers alike to produce an ebook to help raise money for this cause.

Our submission?   Dessert Squares.   The most boring name in the world, I know, but it’s one of the few desserts that I can make because my lovely husband will actually partake in them with me!

Layer 1
1/2 c corn syrup
1 c peanut butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c corn flakes
1 c rice krispies

Mix & melt together corn syrup, brown sugar, and peanut butter in a 2 qt. saucepan stirring until fully combined. Remove from heat & add rice krispies & corn flakes. Combine until well-coated and press into bottom of a 9x12x1 pan (approximate size–I make fudge in this size pan also…). Put in fridge to cool & set–about 30 minutes should be plenty.

Layer 2
1/4 c softened butter (not melted, just room temp)
2 Tblsp vanilla pudding mix
2 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tblsp milk

Combine softened butter, pudding mix and 2 Tblsp of milk with fork. Add about 1/4 of powdered sugar at a time, mixing thoroughly and adding an additional tablespoon of milk as needed. It needs to be just thin enough to be able to spread on first layer easily. I find that 4 tablespoons is the perfect amount for the pan I use. Put in fridge to set–15 minutes should be fine.

Layer 3
4 squares of unsweetened bakers chocolate
1/4 c butter

Melt chocolate & butter in a small saucepan. Pour over second layer. Refridgerate for about 30 minutes or until firm to the touch. Cut into small squares and return to fridge–if you don’t cut them soon enough you will need a jackhammer to cut them!

Makes 24 squares.

To purchase the entire ebook, click here.   You will be able to donate an amount of your choosing.     If you go to the main VGABS post here, you can purchase specific sections of the book.  Again, you can donate an amount of your choosing.    The book is divided into 4 parts — Muffins & Breads; Cookies, Candy, Cakes, Bars & Brownies; Desserts; and Beyond Baked Goods (Appetizers, Breakfast, Main Dishes, etc.).

Enjoy!!

April 13, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | Leave a comment

Homemade Pizza Dough

I did such an AWESOME job on my pizza dough a few weeks ago that I thought I would blog my next attempt.  It’s waaay easier than I thought and I’m getting better at it.    This the recipe my husband’s family used when they were kids (now they order in :D).

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You need:

  • 3 3/4 cups flour, divided. ($0.52)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt (negligible)
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar (negligible)
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (negligible)
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast ($0.34)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil plus more for brushing the crust before baking (sorry, i forgot to put this in the pic) – (negligible)

In a bowl or glass measuring cup mix 1 and 1/3 cups warm (but not hot) water, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/4 cup of flour, and 1packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast and stir.   It will look like this:

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Let stand for 5 or 10 minutes.   This gets the yeast all ready to do its job, it will look foamy or frothy, like this:

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Mmmmm….yeasty :).     In a large bowl, mix 3 1/2 cups of flour and 1 tablespoon of salt.  Add the yeast mixture and 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Depending on how aerated (or not) your flour is, you may need to add water to get the correct consistency.    Mine was pretty well packed and looked like this:

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I add water by the tablespoon until it forms into a ball, like this:

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At this point you can use the same bowl or get a new one.  I usually just use the same bowl but coat it with a little olive oil so the dough doesn’t stick.  Place the ball of dough in the bowl and cover.  I use a dish towel or cloth spritzed lightly with water to help keep the dough from getting dry.  Let rest until the dough is doubled in size, it generally takes about an hour or so.    If you choose to use whole-wheat flour it will take longer.

Preheat oven to 475, grease and flour or sprinkle with cornmeal your pizza pan(s).    Punch the dough down  let rest again for about 15 min covered with the same cloth.  Get toppings ready.

Stretch and flatten each ball then place onto your baking pan.   This recipe makes enough to fill an 11×18 cookie sheet with a thicker, pan-style crust.   You could probably stretch it thinner and do two round pizza pans.  We (meaning DH) hold it up and let gravity help stretch it but if you are feeling lucky and talented you can try that whole toss the pizza in the air thing.   DH declined to be photographed so no pics, sorry.

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Add sauce and toppings, brush crust with olive oil if desired and bake for 12 to 20 min or until crust and bottom are golden brown.

Voila.   Homemade pizza dough for less than a buck.    Yum!!

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | , | Leave a comment

Beef N Noodles

This was one of my husband’s favorite things that his mom made when he was growing up.   She gave me the recipe and I could never get it as good as hers.    Turns out that she uses a PRESSURE COOKER!    That’s how she got the meat so tender!!    If you use leftover meat, it turns out just as good, but if you are making it from fresh, the pressure cooker is the way to go.

1-1/2 lbs beef stew meat (or leftover pot roast)

2 T. oil.

1 c. finely chopped onion

Brown meat in oil with onions.

Add:

1 c. chopped carrots (I use my food mandolin to make even slices)

1 can tomato soup

1/4 c brown sugar

1/4 c vinegar (red wine vinegar works too if that’s all you have…I found that out last night)

1 T worchestshire sauce

Cook and cover on how heat until meat is tender — approximately 1-2 hours   (less if in pressure cooker)

Combine 4 tsp cornstarch with 1/4 c ice water to thicken, if needed–keep in mind you will be adding several cups of egg noodles that you’d like to coat with the sauce.   Stir well & add to beef mixture.   Keep cooking and stir until thick and bubbly.

Add 2-4 servings of cooked egg noodles.

COOKS NOTES:    Like I said, pressure cooker is the best way to get tender meat if you are using fresh — put the carrots, onions and meat in the pressure cooker.   Look in the directions for time & liquid necessary.    When the meat & carrots are done, then add liquid, simmer and add noodles.

If using leftovers or pre-cooked, it works fine to use a regular soup pot.   If using leftover meat, make sure the carrots are pre-cooked also.   Having everything pre-cooked before combining would make this a quick and easy meal–you’d probably only need to cook it for 20 minutes before serving.

Serves…lots. 8-10 maybe?     Add rolls and a side salad if desired.

April 1, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | | Leave a comment