Recipes on a Budget

Back again with more cost-saving, lip-smacking delicious recipes that are sure to spice up your sad, sad dinners-for-one. And for those of you who suffer from heartburn, acid reflux, etc., don’t worry: they’re really not that spicy.

World Famous Fried Chicken:
Well, maybe ‘regionally famous,’ if that. This is a utilitarian recipe: it uses ingredients that are probably laying around your kitchen anyway. The fanciest thing you’ll need is nutmeg. You also have to be careful with this one to avoid oil fires.
You’ll need:
About four slices of wheat bread. It might as well be stale.
Salt
Pepper
3 Chicken breasts (thawed)
Two-Three eggs
Vegetable oil
A blender
A deep frying pan

You’ll do:
Break the bread slices up by hand. Then, put them in the blender and blend them into crumbs. Add a generous amount of nutmeg, salt, and pepper as you do so. Dump the mixture onto a large cutting board or cookie sheet, and set aside for later use. Break the eggs over a large bowl and whisk them together. Coat the thawed chicken breasts in the eggs. Roll the chicken breasts in the breadcrumbs. Pour a generous amount of vegetable oil in the frying pan, and cook over medium-high heat. Using tongs, lower the chicken breasts into the oil, and WATCH carefully in case it spits. Continue to watch the pan until the chicken breasts are golden brown (usually only a few minutes). Serve on a plate and enjoy!

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Great for pastas, pizzas, or any old time! This is a recipe that you can do for cheap and in bulk. Leftovers can be refrigerated for later use, and it stores well. Plus, it saves you money, and you don’t end up a slave to the Marinara-Industrial Complex (I’m looking at you, Ragu). Anyway, here’s how you do it (and this one can be somewhat time consuming, so read carefully):

You’ll Need:
2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced (about 2 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp dried herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc) mixed, total
1/2 cup red wine
12 cups peeled fresh ripe tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

You’ll do:
First of all, you need to peel your tomatoes, and this is the (moderately) complicated part. I’ve found that Roma tomatoes work pretty well, but you can use whatever kind you want…it’s a free country. Straight from the garden is probably best—the difference between a RIPE tomato and a not so ripe tomato is staggering.
Anyway, bring a large pot of water to a boil (enough water so that all of your tomatoes will be submerged). Fill another large pot with cold/ice cold water. Using a spoon, add 7-10 tomatoes at a time to the boiling water. Allow them boil for about 30 seconds, or until the skin pulls off from the tomatoes, and immediately remove them with tongs or a spoon, drop them in the cold water pot, and allow them to sit for another 30 seconds. Remove them one-by-one, blanch, and peel them by hand. Repeat this process until all of your tomatoes are boiled and peeled.
You can also seed the tomatoes. I personally don’t mind a few seeds here or there in my sauce (builds character, don’tchaknow..), so you’re on your own for how to go about doing that, pal.
Now, the sauce itself:
In a large soup pot, heat up the olive oil. Add the onions and cook slowly, on medium heat until they start to caramelize. They should be evenly brown and soft. Cooking them this way brings out the natural sweetness in the onions. Add the garlic and dried herbs and cook for 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the 1/2 cup of red wine and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and their juice and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook on low, stirring occasionally for about 2 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste.
$4 Trader Joe’s red wine works PERFECTLY fine for this. I’ve even found a brand called Cheap Red Wine that I think was invented exclusively for cooking, seeing as it is unfit for human consumption in any other capacity.
Tater Tot Hotdish
I like to give you folks an exotic taste of the Upper Midwest once in a while, and there is nothing more quintessentially Upper Midwestern than hotdish: bland and inoffensive to the palate, not too showy or big for its britches. Just wholesome and filling, and cheaper than a supper club in Superior! (sorry, that probably crossed the line between “charmingly Upper-Midwestern” and “obscure”).
Anyway, if any of you tried the Puppy Chow from the last article, you know that I’m on to something. So here’s another treat for ya:
You’ll Need:
1/2 bag tater tots
1 lb. hamburger
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cream of mushroom soup
1 cream of celery soup
You’ll Do:
Brown hamburger in pan. Drain off fat. Mix hamburger, cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery soup, salt, and pepper in a casserole dish. Place tater tots on top of mixture. You should have the entire top covered. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve hot. Makes a serving of 6.
That’s it! No, I’m not kidding. It’s really that simple. And it’s crazy delicious, and this is coming from somebody who despises mushrooms and mushroom bi-products, so that’s saying something.
And so concludes this week’s Recipes on a Budget!
Tastefully yours,
Steve Schriver

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