Simplicity – Small & Cheap

Living simply & cheaply…wherever you are!


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.


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.


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!!


June 17, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | | 1 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


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

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).


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:


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:


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:


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


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.


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.


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

Leftover Makeover – Twice-Baked Potato Casserole


Last week, I made a bunch of baked potatoes and had about 12 more to bake before they went bad.   We aren’t baked potato people (meaning DH).   But I had to do SOMETHING with them or they’d go to waste.   Some friends who were over for dinner suggested twice baked potatoes and this weeks LOMO was born!   I went online to find a recipe and didn’t find any I liked.    So I made it up 🙂

2-1/2 to 3 lbs cooked russet potatoes

1-1/2 – 2 c cheddar cheese, shredded (leftover from hashbrown casserole)

1/2 to 3/4 c sour cream (leftover from mashed potatoes a few weeks ago)

1/4 c butter (pantry)

1/4 to 1/2 c milk (expires tomorrow)

1/4 c bacon pieces (leftover from breakfast & pizza making)

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out meat and put into a LARGE bowl.    If cold (like I did) chop into bits and put in microwave.    If not, just proceed to :   add milk, butter and sour cream and mash them up to your liking.   We like smoother, some people like chunky–whatever floats your boat.

Add cheddar cheese and bacon pieces and stir until evenly combined(ish).    Put in 2 quart casserole dish (or 8×8 brownie pan).

The consensus seemed to be to cover loosely with foil bake for 30-60 minutes from 325 to 400 degrees.   Yeesh.   We cooked ours at 350 for 60 minutes.   We had prepared ours the day before so it was cold from being in the fridge.   If everything was warmish when you threw it in, it might be more like 30 minutes.

DH declared this to be the best twice-baked potatoes he’s ever had (!).    He suggested the addition of a little salt.   I thought some sauted onions might be good, too.   This is another great recipe to adapt to the tastes of your family and the stuff in your pantry.   You could add leftover ham, onions, taco meat, chives…the possibilities are endless!!!

March 30, 2009 Posted by | Leftover Makeover, Recipes | , , | 1 Comment

Quick N Crunchy Potato Chip Chicken

Like the Fiesta Taco Casserole, this one came from the same Betty Crocker magazine cookbook jobby.   I changed a bit on this one too.   The original can be found here.

6 c sour cream and onion-flavored potato chips, crushed (1-1/2  c)   – ($2.00)

1 Tblsp. parsley flakes (negligible)

2 eggs ($0.24)

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce ($0.10)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~$5.00)

In a shallow bowl, mix crushed potato chips & parsley– I used a pie plate.   In another shallow bowl, beat eggs and Worcestershire sauce.

Dip chicken into egg mixture and then coat with potato chip mixture.

Place chicken breast in a 9×12 baking dish uncovered at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until the thickest part registers 170 on a meat thermometer*.

As usual, I modified this to what I had on hand.   My 4 bs chicken breasts were HUGE!!!   Instead of 1-1/4 lbs, they were more like 2-1/2 lbs and pan-frying would NEVER work unless I pounded them down.    Because they were so big, I doubled the amount of eggs and needed more chips to get a good coating.   This would be fantabulous with BBQ or Cheddar and Sour Cream chips.  YUM!     Also, because the chicken breasts were so large, this feeds 6, not 4.    Cost per serving approximately $1.22.    We had some smallish baked potatoes (5lbs for $2.99) and some carrots ($0.99/lb on sale) as a side dish so add $.40/pp for sides.

* I never cook chicken to 170.   I find it takes to long to get those last 10 degrees and ends up dry.    But you should unless you want to get sick and die of some horrible disease.   Don’t say I didn’t warn you :).

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | , | Leave a comment

Fiesta Taco Casserole

I was flipping through recipe books as I was purging and found this in one of those checkout cookbook magazines from Betty Crocker.   I modified it quite a bit and it lends itself well to it (HERE is the original for those interested).  It’s one of those recipes that you can customize to your family’s taste and what you have in the cupboard (say adding black olives or peppers or rotel, you get the idea).  I was able to do this without buying anything new at the store, which was a great bonus.   I spent a lot stocking up when we got home and didn’t really want to buy more.

In our opinion, this serves 6 if you serve something else with it.

  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey, browned ($2.99)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped and cooked until soft with ground meat ($0.50)
  • 1 can spicy chili beans in sauce, undrained ($1.20)
  • about 1/2 a jar of salsa (you choose the heat–we used hot) ($0.75)
  • 2 c coarsely broken tortilla chips ($1.50)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 leftover corn ($0.25)
  • 4 oz velveeta cheese cut into 6 slices ($1.25)
  • sour cream ($0.25)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.   Brown your meat with the chopped onions.    Stir in beans, corn and salsa.  Heat to boiling stirring occassionally.

In a 2 qt baking dish (we used a square brownie pan),  place broken tortilla chips.   Top with beef mixture.    Add small dollups of sour cream all over top.    Place velveeta cheese slices to cover.

Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

While eating we determined that this is absolutely a keeper and maybe even added to the party standby list.   I was even thinking that adding a box of cooked spanish rice between the beef and sour cream/cheese would make it a full-fledged 6 serving meal and be tasty.   You could even replace the tortilla chip bottom with refried beans and make it a layered dip with tortilla chips.   YUM!

$1.48/serving (assuming 6 servings, not 4)   If you got all the ingredients on sale, you could make it even cheaper (I estimated prices based on memory so they might be a little high).

March 23, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | | 1 Comment