Recipes on a Budget

If you’re a budget-conscious cooker (like me!), you have probably noticed that your snack and supper options are often limited. Here are a few inexpensive alternatives to the usual sad meal of dry spaghetti and yogurt:

Puppy Chow:
Don’t get grossed out. The recipe is not “go to store/buy puppy chow/sit alone in the dark and eat puppy chow with a spoon while crying and questioning your Bachelor’s degree.”
No, Puppy Chow is a Midwest favorite that keeps the kids full, happy, hyper, and ultimately sleepy (it works on an imprecise bell curve, where full is on the far-left hand side of the X-Axis, and sleepy on the far right). I did not get to indulge in this savory treat much until I was an adult, because my mother had the good sense to keep it far, far away from my grubby little hands. Anyway, now that we’re all adults, we can prepare and eat whatever we want—free from parents’ meddling and the judgmental stares of passersby on the street! Here’s the recipe:
You’ll need:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
9 cups Crispix cereal (any flavor)
3 cups powdered sugar
You’ll do:

  1. Combine peanut butter, butter and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Microwave for one minute then stir to blend all ingredients thoroughly. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir well.
  3. Place the 9 cups of Crispix cereal in a very large bowl.
  4. Pour the peanut butter-chocolate mixture over the cereal and toss evenly, making sure all the cereal gets a good covering.
  5. Place the powdered sugar in a large zip-lock type plastic bag.
  6. Add the peanut butter-chocolate cereal mixture to the bag, leaving enough room for the puppy chow to be shaken (you may have to divide the mixture into smaller batches, coating one batch at a time).
  7. Shake the bag vigorously to evenly coat each piece of the puppy chow with powdered sugar.
  8. Once the mixture is fully coated, place in a large serving bowl.
  9. Coat any additional pieces by shaking the mixture in the powdered sugar filled bag.  Add powdered sugar to the bag as needed until all the mixture is coated.
  10. Give generous handfuls to kids you work with, and watch the sparks fly!
World Famous Spicy Cincinnati Chili:
Have it a three-way….have it a five-way! But most importantly, have it your way! Except if your way deviates from the recipe—I doubt that would taste as good. I discovered this recipe when I had a massive craving for chili, but none was to be found. Unable to locate a can of chili, and unwilling to wait for anything to simmer for hours (like a chump), I threw a bunch of ingredients in a frying pan and hoped for the best. Surprisingly, it tasted pretty good.
You’ll Need:
Spaghetti Noodles
½ lb ground beef
2-3 bell peppers
2 cups tomato paste
Chili powder
Cloves (whole or ground)
Cumin powder
½ large chocolate bar (75%+ cocoa), or bakers’ chocolate
You’ll do:
  1. Brown the ground beef on the stovetop on high heat in a nonstick frying pan
  2. Generously sprinkle spices (Chili powder, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and cumin) over beef so that the meat is fully coated
  3. Melt the chocolate in the pan with the meat, and mix the two together
  4. Add tomato paste and enough milk so that the chili sauce is smooth in consistency, and brown.
  5. Chop the bell-peppers into manageable bites, and add to frying pan
  6. Add a second round of spices (to taste), mix well, turn stove down to medium heat and allow to simmer for a few minutes.
  7. While the chili sauce simmers, boil water and cook spaghetti noodles.
  8.  Ladle chili sauce over spaghetti noodles on your favorite plate and enjoy!

Kale Chips:
I’m not a big kale fan, per se. But I do like things that are crispy, and that I can eat with gluttony and not feel bad about myself for afterwards. These kale chips are a favorite of mine that the neighbors upstairs at my old place used to make for potlucks and scary movie nights. Also a
great idea  for baby showers, wedding showers, or any old time!
You’ll need:
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
You’ll Do:

  1.  Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and seasoning salt.
  3. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10-15 minutes.
  4. Drop in your favorite party bowl and throw yourself a shower!

Mandarin Orange Salad
So, my aunt is on a health-kick. Like, a thirty-year-long health kick. Within the past ten years, she has bought a farm and begun raising her own chickens. She brings this salad to family events, and I think it’s pretty good. And that means something: as most of you could surmise from my bad skin and downright bat-like poor eyesight, I have an aversion to Mandarin Oranges. In fact, all oranges. I don’t make a big spiel out of it, mind you—I’ve just had a petty vendetta against oranges ever since I had one as a youngster and decided that the texture was, well….just not right. The Ramen noodles, though? That’s the perfect crunchy complement to the gooeyness of Mandarin oranges!
You’ll need:
3 ounces Ramen noodles (any flavor)
½ cup sliced almonds
5 tablespoons sugar (divided)
½ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ head iceberg lettuce
½ head romaine lettuce
5 celery ribs (chopped)
2 green onions (chopped)
11 ounces mandarin oranges (slices drained)
You’ll do:

  1. Remove flavoring from bag, and set aside. Crumble noodles.
  2. Bake noodles in a shallow pan for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until toasted, stirring after 5 minutes. Remove from stovetop and let cool.
  3. Cook almonds and 3 tablespoons sugar in a small non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for 5-6 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and almonds are coated. Remove from stovetop.
  4. Whisk together flavoring packet, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, oil, vinegar, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  5. Toss together lettuces, onions, and celery in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with dressing, tossing gently to coat. Add noodles, almond mixture, and orange slices, continuing to toss salad so that it is coated with dressing.
  6. Serve immediately or refrigerate until you’re ready to enjoy!

Thus ends our foray into the world of inexpensive, wholesome, and hearty cooking. I hope you all have enjoyed these recipes as much as I enjoyed writing them! Please send other recipe ideas to the marketing committee, and keep your eyes peeled for more cost-effective deliciousness.

-Steve Schriver


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