Cheap Food – Chicken Scallopini

A quick love story for you. Man meets woman, falls madly in love, tries to impress her with chicken scallopini, he does so, she marries him and lives happily ever after with man and his chicken scallopini.

Here’s how my husband won me over and the latest on how he’s perfected the recipe.

Serves 2 (in love people)

INGREDIENTS

• 2 large chicken breasts
• 2 TBL butter
• 1/8 C. Olive Oil
• 3 TBL Capers
• 4 cloves of minced fresh garlic
• 3/4 C. sliced mushrooms
• 2 TBL finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
• Juice from half a lemon
• 1/2 C. dry white wine
• 1/2 C. chicken stock

DIRECTIONS

1) Heat a sauté pan to med-hi/hi. While its heating pound chicken to a 1/4 inch thick. Salt and pepper the chicken to taste. Once pan is thoroughly heated, add olive oil and butter (this should cover the bottom of the pan).

2) Add the chicken breast. Sauté about 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. (If it takes considerably longer, your pan or your oil/butter mixture isn’t hot enough or maybe both.) Once the chicken has been thoroughly cooked, move to a heated plate and cover with aluminum foil.

3) If everything has gone as planned, there should be some chicken remnants in the bottom of the pan along with some oil/butter mix left in there. Keep the pan hot and add the mushrooms and sauté for 2-3 minutes and then add minced garlic and capers just before the chicken stock and white wine (I frickin’ LOVE capers!). Reduce the sauce by about half and if the sauce doesn’t thicken enough, add a pinch or two of flour and the parsley.

4) Plate your chicken with some garlic mashed potatoes and pour the sauce over both. ENJOY!

chicken-scallopine-2 chicken-scallopine-3

Costa Rica Fish Tacos

Nothing says tropical like fish tacos. With cilantro sauce no doubt. And now my husband touts a great skill of homemade tortillas, so we combined efforts and out came Costa Rican fish tacos. The one thing that we definitely agree on is more more more cilantro. So, in the following recipe, you’ll see that there is no shying away from our favorite herb. You can also check out Frugal Antics, who is also on the cheap food mission with their interpretation of similar homemade corn tortillas.

(Serves 2, but easy to double or triple)

Cilantro Sauce:

1/4 C. Mayonnaise
1/8 C. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp powdered cayenne pepper
a liberal amount of fresh ground black pepper

Mix ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Citrus Slaw:

2 C. finely sliced green cabbage
2 Tbl coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbl honey
1 Tbl olive oil
juice from half a lime

Toss cabbage in a medium-sized bowl with cilantro, honey, olive oil and lime juice just before serving.

Fresh Tortillas:

2 C. Maseca (corn flour)
1 C. Warm water
1 Tsp salt (to taste)

1) Mix all ingredients adding more water or flour as needed until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands. Make a golf-ball sized dough ball and using a tortilla press, flatten into a 7″ corn tortilla and repeat until the dough is all used.

2) Place a dry skillet on medium-low heat and another dry skillet on medium-high heat. Start the tortilla in the medium-low skillet for 1-2 minutes and flip into the medium-high skillet for 1-2 more minutes and briefly flip one more time in the medium-high skillet until fully cooked but not crisp.

Fish:

1 large tilapia filet
1/4 C. soy oil
1/8 C. flour
1 egg
2 Tbl soymilk (or regular)
1/2 breadcrumbs

1) Slice the fresh (thawed) fish filet into 1″ pieces and coat with flour.
2) Break egg and wisk into a wide, shallow bowl. Dip fish pieces into egg and coat with bread crumbs.
3) Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat and fry battered fish pieces for 2-3 minutes turning frequently or until cooked through.

Assembly:

1) Spread a spoonful of cilantro sauce onto a corn tortilla
2) Place 3-4 pieces of fish in the center of the tortilla
3) Cover with citrus slaw and enjoy!

Summer Citrus-Cilantro Cabbage Salad

cabbage salad

cabbage salad

In Costa Rica, the salads are mostly made with a base of cabbage as opposed to lettuce. My best guess at the reason why is because cabbage is heartier and a head will stretch farther than a head of lettuce. Another notable difference with salads here is that they rarely use much of a dressing. Mostly just a little oil, lime juice and sometimes a splash of vinegar. This weekend I tried my hand at a Costa Rican typical salad, but with a twist (of course!).

(Serves 4)

SALAD INGREDIENTS:

• ½ head of green cabbage, sliced in very thin strips (much like coleslaw)
• 2 Tbl fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
• 10-12 snow peas, stems removed, chopped in 1” pieces
• 1-2 green onions, sliced into thin rings (use white and green part)
• 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced at a sharp angle to make oval rings
• 2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced into rings

DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

• ½ C. olive oil
• ¼ C. white vinegar
• 2 Tbl. Honey
• 2 Tbl cilantro
• juice from 1 lime
• ½ fresh jalapeño pepper (seeded)
• garlic salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Simply toss all the salad ingredients into a large salad bowl and blend dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over salad mixture.

Cheap Food – Sweet Plantains

plantanos-dulces

First, let’s talk about the difference between plantains and bananas. Plantains are part of the banana family but aren’t eaten raw. The plantain averages about 65% moisture content and the banana averages about 83% moisture content which affects the flavor as well. Plantains are typically longer and have a thicker skin than bananas.

Plantains vary from the green, starchy fruit to the ripe, sweeter version and are used very differently in recipes. The plantain recipe highlighted in this post is using the ripe fruit in a sweet side dish called ‘Plátanos Maduros en Gloria’. It is a typical sweet side dish as part of the Costa Rican casados (typical food).

This is a typical cheap food found in Costa Rica. Total amount spent on the dish: $2. Serves 6.

INGREDIENTS:

4-6 ripe plantains, cut into 1″ slices
1/2 Cup of margarine or butter
1 1/2 Cup of sugar
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 lime
2 Cups of water
1 tsp pure Vanilla

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large pan, melt the butter and saute the plantains on medium heat until golden. Add 1 cup of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, lime juice and vanilla. Stir for 1 min.

2. Add water and sprinkle on the remaining sugar.

3. Reduce heat to low and cook until the liquid is reduced and caramelized. Serve hot, or let cool.

Cheap dinner party menu – Under $50

I wanted to share a great post made by a fellow FoodBuzz.com foodie. It’s a great Mexican menu for a dinner party and on the cheap! Here’s a glimpse:

Frozen Lime Cup Tequila Shooters

Home made chips and store bought salsa

Shredded Mojito Chicken Soft Taco Bar

Black Beans with Tomatoes and Peppers

Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Crisps

Cheap Food – Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe

tuna-pasta-salad11

I was given a Costa Rica cookbook for my birthday this year and this was the first recipe I’ve tried, with some personal tweaks of course. It is a tuna pasta salad and uses my favorite shaped pasta, shells. I was surprised to see that the recipe didn’t call for much in the way of sauce except the mustard, so that’s where the improvising began. This is the Cheap Food Here version of the recipe:

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

1 8.8oz (250 grams) bag of mini shell pasta
1 standard sized can of premium chunk white tuna fish
1 cup baby peas
2 Tbl cilantro, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
Juice from 1/2 a lime
1 Tbl mustard
2 Tbl red wine vinegar
2 Tbl Olive Oil
Garlic salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

1) Cook the pasta to al dente, according to package. Then rinse with cold water.
2) In a large bowl combine all remaining ingredients with the pasta and stir.
3) Serve on a bed of lettuce.

Easy Soy Milk Alfredo Pasta

We were down to the end of our groceries and didn’t want to dip into the tomato sauce we made and ate too much of last week, so I explored an Alfredo sauce. But, since I’ve switched to soy milk and have reduced the intake of lactose products, I was curious what my options were for a ‘cream’ sauce using soy milk. So, I went to work and here is what I ended up with. A pleasant cheap food concoction.

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 Pound of spaghetti pasta
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 Cloves of garlic whole
2 C. plain soy milk (do NOT use vanilla soy milk)
1/4 C. grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp capers
1 Tsp powdered cayenne pepper
1 Tsp paprika
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
1 Bay leaf
2 Tbl flour (I used wheat)

DIRECTIONS:

1) Cook spaghetti al dente
2) Meanwhile, in a large fry pan with high sides, heat olive oil to medium-high heat and place in peeled garlic cloves. Roast until brown in color (approx 5 min) and smash with a fork. Cook for an additional minute. Remove garlic from pan, chop on a cutting board and set aside.

roasted garlic in olive oil

2) In the fry pan with seasoned olive oil, add soy milk, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika and bay leaf and heat for 2 minutes until almost boiling. Let simmer for 10 minutes stirring/whisking constantly. Begin to add flour and allow to thicken (about 4 minutes) while continuing to stir.

simmering soy milk

3) Remove the bay leaf, add the pasta, Parmesan cheese, parsley and capers and cook for 2 minutes more.

spaghetti in alfredo sauce

4) Serve immediately.

soy-milk-alfredo-pasta

Recommended by:

Soymilk on FoodistaSoymilk

Curry Chickpea Pasta Recipe

curry-chickpea-pasta

Again…another night with nothing to be found in the pantry and a hungry husband. I remembered seeing a recent post made by a fellow foodie for some curried chickpea dip and saw that i had a can in the pantry, so i decided to take the inspiration of the dip and make a pasta dish. I wanted to stuff cannelloni noodles with a curried chickpea filling, but I ended up just layering the baking dish with the flattened noodles instead.

Here’s the cheap food here, on-the-fly recipe:

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb of Cannelloni pasta
1- 20oz Can of Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans
5- fresh mushrooms diced
1- medium sweet onion diced
4- cloves of minced or finely chopped garlic (more or less to taste)
1/4 C. crushed walnuts
3- Tbl of olive oil
1- Tbl of yellow curry powder
1- Tsp garlic salt
1- Tsp white pepper
1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon
2- ripe tomatoes diced
1 1/2 C. shredded cheese (I used peppered Gouda)

DIRECTIONS

1) Cook the pasta to al dente, drain and rinse.
2) Saute the garlic, onions and mushrooms in olive oil for 2-3 minutes on med-high heat. Add the garbanzos, curry powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper and mix well. Saute for 2 more minutes.
3) Reduce heat to medium and add the diced tomatoes. Let cook for 3-4 minutes and remove from heat.
4) Spoon out half of the chickpea mixture into a 9 x 9″ baking dish and layer cannelloni noodles on top. Spoon out the remaining mixture on the noodles and top with walnuts and cheese.
5) Bake on 350 for 15-20 minutes uncovered

Grilled Potatoes with Onion and Jalapeños

The best way to eat potatoes.

The best way to eat potatoes.

In my opinion, baked potatoes take way too long, and unless you have an hour or more to cook them, your best bet is to microwave them. But, these days we have been surviving without certain modern amenities such as the microwave, so we are left to get creative with the grill. More often than not, I prefer to eat potatoes on the grill, so it’s definitely easy to overcome the lack of a microwave.

There is probably a great tutorial full of beautiful photos on the subject of how to grill potatoes at www.grillingcompanion.com, but I am going to share with you my version to serve 2-3 people. What you’ll need is approximately 2 large potatoes (diced), half an onion (diced), a jalapeño pepper, 1 TBL olive oil, 1 TBL butter and a generous portion of your favorite seasoning salt.  Depending on how spicy you like it, you should remove the seeds before dicing. Mix all the ingredients together and spoon onto a generous portion of double-ply (or made-for-grilling) aluminum foil. Place another sheet of double-ply aluminum foil over the potatoes and roll up the edges to seal. Cook on both sides for about 10-12 minutes per side. Check the potatoes for tenderness and don’t cook on a high flame. The top rack works best.