Potatoes Anna With Sausage

Our latest cheap dinner recipe comes on a Friday night with the bare bones left from the last grocery shop. We had andouille sausage, a bag of potatoes and a yellow onion. I contemplated mashed potatoes, which is always a solid go-to side dish. We use a potato ricer to mash and it makes some of the smoothest mashed taters I’ve known. But, this post isn’t about mashed potatoes.

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Cheap Chicken Marinade – Balsamic Habañero

One of our latest outings to the St Pete Saturday Morning Market resulted in a purchase of habañero jelly, something I never thought I would like, let alone, love. We were plucked from the passers-by after being enticed by free samples (duh, who doesn’t love free samples of food!) and tried almost all the gourmet jellies this guy had to offer. We jumped from pineapple to berry to jalapeño before finally landing on the habañero flavor. The salesmen called the sample we had an adult PBJ since it was on a pretzel square with peanut butter and the spicy habañero jelly to top it off. We loved it. There was a great kick to my favorite classic peanut butter pretzel and did taste like a PBJ. We were sold.

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Acorn Squash with Pear and Quinoa Salad

Acorn Squash, Pear & Quinoa make a perfect fall meal. Let me just start out by saying this is a breakthrough recipe. It stands far and away from most recipes I’ve discovered or created. Bravo to Sprouted Kitchen and thanks for sharing this with the world initially. Continue reading

World’s Best Black Bean Veggie Burger

The Search for the Best Black Bean Burger Concludes

Cheap Food Here has been on the hunt for the perfect black bean burger recipe ever since eating at the Original Penguin restaurant in Charlotte, NC (I say ‘Original’ because there was an issue with the original owners of the brand who were leasing it to the ones running the restaurant and to make a long story short, management changed, the charm and delicious food was downgraded to less than mediocre and thus, I wouldn’t guarantee the new Penguin black bean burger is the same as it was. See newer reviews here.) who could tout the most fabulous bean burger on the planet. Having eaten it a few times and trying to dissect it before inhaling it, I decided it probably had black beans (duh!), mushrooms, beets (this was an educated guess because of the color) and some kind of chili pepper in it because they packed some heat. Plus, I have a suspicion that the patties were deep fried because they were crispy on the outside and no matter what I’ve tried in the past, they just never get crispy in the pan, on the grill or in the broiler.

I’ve tried plenty of recipes, some with eggs, some with bread crumbs some with Portobello mushrooms; the list goes on and on. They’ve all been edible, but nothing was even coming close to the coveted Penguin black bean burger. The black bean burgers that I was making were mostly mushy and couldn’t be flipped without them falling completely apart, which I tried to remedy in every way I knew how. Nothing seemed to work and now I’m convinced it was two things: the lack of a filler like rice and leaving the black beans course rather than completely mashed. This speculation was confirmed after finding BrownEyedBaker’s black bean veggie burger recipe.

I do believe the best part about a meal is having leftovers that taste as good, if not better, than the original meal and these black bean burgers have that exact promise (hello freezer meal!). After I pattied them all out, we only cooked two for each of us so that left us with four more leftover (this recipe makes a total of 8 black bean burgers). With the extra patties, before cooking them, I placed them on a plate with parchment paper and froze them. Once they were frozen (2-3 hours) I transferred them to a freezer storage bag and we just thawed them out and cooked them the next time we were ready for them (only a few days later because we just absolutely loved them).

These hearty, full, nutritious black bean veggie burgers are one-of-a-kind and this recipe has me thinking about a ton of other bean burgers we can create off of this base. I’m thinking lentil patties and garbanzo burgers just off the top of my head. I think it’s time for a bean burger series. Okay, so here is our rendition of the famed recipe:

Black Bean Burger Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 tsp grapeseed oil (or other saute oil)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped yellow onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup coarsely grated carrots
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 C. cooked black beans, rinse and drained (we used dried bean to cut down on cost, but canned works also)
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1½ cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper (adjust to desired heat level)
  • 1 Tbsp additional grapeseed oil

Black Bean Burger Recipe Directions

  1. In a large skillet heated to medium-high heat, add the grapeseed oil and allow to heat up for 1-2 minutes.
  2. sauteed onions and garlic for black bean burgers

  3. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes until translucent, but not brown. Turn the burner off.
  4. carrots and onions for black bean burgers

  5. Add the grated carrots, chili powder and cumin and cook for 5 minutes on risidual heat, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool.
  6. combine beans, mustard, parsley for black bean burgers

  7. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the black beans, mustard, soy sauce, and parsley.
  8. Mash together with a potato masher or your hands, making sure not to over work the mixture. Lumpy is good.
  9. Stir in the cooled onion and carrot mixture. Add the cooked brown rice and chopped mushrooms, stirring to combine. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.
  10. Form 8 patties and make sure to press the edges to make a clean edge so the form holds during cooking.
  11. Heat the remaining grapeseed oil in a large, nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook for 5 to 8 minutes per side turning only once, very carefully (reshaping them after the flip if needed).
  12. Remove from heat and enjoy on a bun or simply by itself with a fork!
  13. final black bean veggie burger photo

Cheap Dinner Recipe – Homemade Shepherd’s Pie

Homemade Shepherd’s Pie: An English Tradition

Shepherd’s pie is often the topic of debate by those who argue whether it was originally made using lamb (mutton) or beef. It would make sense that it started as a lamb dish since that’s the basis of the name, but I don’t believe I trust any web source to know the absolute truth. Certainly not Wikipedia, however, according to them, the name ‘shepherd’ didn’t come into the mix until about 80 years after the name ‘Cottage Pie’ was used. Whatever origin or name you want to give it, you can put ‘delicious’ in front of it and be safe, because that’s what it is.

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GUEST POST – Chicken Florentine Pizza

Cheap Dinner – Chicken Florentine Pizza

This is a guest post for a cheap dinner of chicken florentine pizza with a great cheap recipe! Thanks so much Cheree for sending the recipe in, I can’t wait to try it once we’re off the 4 Hour Body diet or it’s my cheat day 😉 . All readers: make sure you check out her interesting adventures in food, mechanics, remodeling, outdoor travel, and all the things that make up her life here on her blog: Mohaus: Life is a beautiful adventure.

Cheap Recipe from Cheree

I used to live in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is where I met Ashley {before her days as an expat}. Now I live in rural Alabama and I find that there are plenty of restaurants that I miss from the Queen city. Since it is impossible to run to Charlotte for the weekend, I have started to improvise dishes from some of my favorite eateries.

This has been a fun endeavor since I love to cook new things. It also allows me to have a healthier lifestyle and save money.

One of the first dishes I attempted to create was the Chicken Florentine pizza from Brixx Wood Fired Pizza. While this dish doesn’t have the same wood-fired taste as the restaurant, it is big on flavor and small on price, so I would say it is a win as far as recipes go.

Chicken Florentine Pizza Ingredients

  • 1 pizza crust {homemade or store bought}
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced/crushed
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1 fistful of fresh spinach
  • 2 tbsp red onions, chopped
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 slices of bacon, crumbled

Chicken Florentine Pizza Directions

  1. The MOST IMPORTANT thing I have discovered when making pizza is to preheat your oven as hot as you can for a minimum of 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter if your crust is homemade or store bought. Turn your oven up to 500ºF and let it get hot. I use a baking stone and it is important for the stone to be hot as well.
  2. While the oven is preheating, cook your bacon until it is crisp. Set aside.
  3. Chop up the chicken breast and sauté in the bacon grease that is still in the pan. Once the chicken has browned, set it aside.
  4. Roll out your dough on a sheet of parchment paper {I cheat and use store bought and it always tastes great}. You will transfer the whole pizza to the stone once your oven is hot.
  5. Meanwhile pour the olive oil into a small bowl and add the crushed garlic. Brush the garlic-infused oil over dough.
  6. Top first with Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses, then add the chicken, tomato, spinach, and onion, crumbled bacon and finally sprinkle with Feta.
  7. Turn your oven down to 425ºF and transfer the pizza to the stone.
  8. Cook 6-10 minutes or until done. If you have problems with the spinach cooking too much, you can add it at the end.

  9. Cheree

Cheap Dinner – Eggplant Parmesan

This recipe below for Eggplant Parmesan (I love how certain delicious food words need to be capitalized like Parmesan) is a great example of how reducing the amount of meat or removing it altogether from a dish can save you a lot of money. For this dish, the total cost was about $3 since we only used one eggplant and made homemade marinara sauce. However, it’s even better to make enough to have leftovers the next day for lunch. I do love the chicken Parmesan variety but this is a great change and is healthy to boot.

Our ingredients for the eggplant Parmesan were found at the Pavas Farmer’s Market which is always such a great experience. You get to know the people who represent the farmers and understand a little bit more about where your food comes from. This is a huge way to find cheap food because there are so many farmers represented that they have to keep their prices reasonable. Unlike the grocery stores who know once you’re in the store, you’re more likely to buy what you came for no matter what the price. At the farmer’s market you can just go two stands down and find the price you want. It really keeps everyone honest and in turn saves the consumer a lot of money.

My husband and I can go to the farmer’s market and get three reusable bags full of produce and spend less than $20. However, you can’t find all ingredients so you have to go to the grocery store for things like pasta and Parmesan cheese. We omitted mozzarella cheese because we are trying to reduce our dairy consumption and it’s cheaper to do without it in this case. Feel free to add it because I know how delicious it is for this recipe. So, let me get to the recipe so you can see just how easy and cheap it was to make eggplant Parmesan.

Long Asian Variety Eggplant

Eggplant Parmesan Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized fresh eggplant
  • 2 Cups marinara sauce
  • 1/2 Cup of flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups Fine bread Crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 pound of dried spaghetti noodles
  • 3 Tbsp and 1 tsp Olive Oil

Eggplant Parmesan Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized pot, fill 1/2 to 2/3 with water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Break spaghetti noodles in half and toss into the water. Season water with 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of olive oil. Let boil for 7-8 minutes or until tender.
  3. Remove, strain and place in back into the pot with 1/2 Cup of reserved starch water. Mix in 1 Cup of marinara sauce and stir until completely covered.
  4. Meanwhile, set up two large plates. In one, place breadcrumbs, oregano, garlic powder and salt and blend together with a fork or your hands.
  5. In the other plate, crack the egg and scramble with a fork.
  6. Slice the ends off the eggplant and then into thin vertical slices about 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick.
  7. Drag each piece of eggplant into the egg, covering both sides and then pressing it into the breadcrumbs also covering both sides.
  8. Preheat a large fry pan on medium heat with 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil.
  9. Place breaded eggplant into the pan and fry for 3-4 minutes per side being careful not to burn the breadcrumbs.
  10. To plate the dish, scoop out a portion of coated spaghetti noodles beside two pieces of eggplant. Cover eggplant with 1/2 cup of marinara sauce on each plate, top with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Cheap Southwest Chicken Stew

The rainy season finally showed up here in Costa Rica, which is the only chance of simulating any type of winter. And with winter, comes soups, stews and chili. This is when I started thinking about cheap food that I could make last a couple of days, and out came the southwest chicken stew. I’ve had some chipotle sauce in the fridge I’ve been eyeing the past few days and my husband made some blackbeans for gallo pinto, so I coupled that with some fresh sweet corn from the organic market on Wednesday in Escazú, added a little ‘this and that’ for an ultra successful TexMex dinner.

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Calling all cheap foodies

In an effort to mingle with my fellow foodies and generate a collective set of blog posts, I am requesting all cheap food hints, tricks, recipes, gadgets, etc that help reduce your cooking budget from all corners of the world. Please send info to me at “ashley(at)cheapfoodhere(dot)com”. With the info, I will create a series of blog posts that link back to the source blog (your info doesn’t have to be a formal blog post, but just make sure to include your food blog URL). The series of posts will be named Cheap Food Blogosphere and will include everyone’s content and credits. I’m excited to see the variety of information and insight I’ll receive from my fellow foodies.

As a backstory, I have been actively involved with the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover to plan my budget and pay off all my debt. I finally conquered Baby Step 2 this month and am consumer debt free! No more student loans, no more credit cards, no more car payments; just the mortgages are left. It was painful, but one of the most helpful parts was creating a food budget and planning out my meals.

I got anal with it and started shopping lists, spread sheets, figured out costs per portion, where to find the cheapest groceries, etc. I’m documenting everything for my first book to be published. It’s a huge help just to be conscious of the money being spent each month, especially on food. As I explained in my recent post about shopping at farmer’s markets, pricing items can be tricky and vary significantly from place to place. It pays to be diligent.

So, what I’m asking for are submissions of all the unique ways to cut corners on price but not on flavor. We’re not talking just spaghetti dinners and boring potato casseroles here. I am truly passionate about designing meals on a creative budget, and I’m sure there are others out there. Thanks for everyone’s feedback, small or large.