Monday, February 11, 2013

Quick, Easy and CHEAP Recipes for Those "Who Knows What's for Dinner?" Days

As homemade Pea Soup slowly cooks behind me, I am reminded of some "toss together" recipes from meals last week.

The first is one I LOVE from my childhood - my mother had it in her cookbook as a cutout from a magazine, an article entitled "The Bride Cooks".  It was such a basic recipe, and was always modified for the size of the cut of meat, that now I offer it up as a generalized recipe.

The recipe calls for the following:

- Flank steak or a thin cut brisket
- Dried Parsley leaves
- Lemon juice - fresh or bottled
- Salt
- Vegetable Oil - you could substitute Olive Oil; I've not tried it that way yet.

In a bowl, mix the following - Note, these are all approximations, adjust to suit you.  For example, if you have salt issues, then lessen the amount of salt.

- 1/2 teaspoon of salt - I measure this by pouring the salt into my palm; a pile about the size of a nickel is about right.
- 2- 3 tablespoons full of Parsley - again, I pour it into my hand.  I then rub it between my hands to bring forth the flavor and to crush it into smaller bits.
- 2-3 tablespoons of oil - use a measuring spoon
-2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Mix this all up.  Note, it will separate, so you will have to mix it again before applying it.  Salt will not fully dissolve.

Put your cut of meat in a glass pan and using a fork, poke a lot of holes in it.  Note, these cuts of meat are tougher, so this can take effort.  Now, pour or brush the mixture over the meat.  It should look like this:

This cut is a brisket; it has a thick layer of fat on the back size.  Using a brush can help you get more "green" on top in the empty spaces.  Depending on how tough the meat is, you let it soak/marinate accordingly.  I usually do 15 minutes per side.

Next step is to put it on a broiler pan, and cook each side until a nice brown.  When I flip it, I pour more of the mix left in the pan on top.  I do tend to flip it a couple times.  For variation, I did this last piece out of the grill, with the fat side down longer than the top side.  This is a finished piece of meat:

Looks delicious, doesn't it? Right amount of brown and red. Lots of juice comes from this type of cut; you may wish to cut this on a plate with sides.  In our case, the dogs got a treat as I took  bread and soaked the juice up as I cut.  Cut this using a serrated edged knife, like that in the picture, and cut at an angle, as you can also see in the picture. What the marinade doesn't tenderize, the cut helps, and it cuts against the grain and breaks the fibers.

Serve it with whatever you like - my preference? The next day, cold, eaten right out of the bag the leftovers were put in!

Total cost with sides? Brisket cut - $5, Marinade parts - 25 Cents  Noodles - $1, Canned Peaches - 89 cents - Made four meals!

The second recipe came out of things about and no one having a clue what they wanted to eat.  I'd gotten a package of beef Polska Kilbasa - a lovely type of sausage - out of the freezer, planning to do fried potatoes and fried sausage, knowing that is heavy on the fats.  Bleh.  But then, on the far counter, I saw a couple of sweet peppers - a red and a yellow - that daughter had brought home.  It was clear these were use soon or they would be wasted. And a meal was born.

Here's the recipe:

- 2 Sweet peppers/Bell Peppers - any color, up to you.
- One package Beef Polska Kilbasa
- Yellow Onion
- Clove of Garlic
- Olive oil

I sliced the peppers into strips, added a couple of slices of onion, cut in half, to leave the onion is strips as well.  Peeled and chopped the clove of garlic fine, added it to the pan.  Sliced the sausage into rounds, into the pan, and then added a couple tablespoons of olive oil.  In my opinion, the olive oil made this meal. I've made similar with vegetable oil in the past, but the olive oil just lent a flavor not normally found. Even better is Grapeseed Oil - if you can get some, try it.  Amazing.

Saute all of this over a medium heat, stirring frequently like a stir fry, until the onions get translucent, the sausage looks cooked, and the peppers look cooked but not mush.  This will depend on your personal tastes; if you like your veggies to have a snap, throw the sausage in first and let it get cooked, then add the veggies toward the end.

Here it is in the pan, ready to serve:

My husband, who is not a large fan or veggies, has requested we have this again!

Cost?  Peppers - depends, but if you buy them on sale, $2.  Sausage - $2.50 a package.  Onion -79 cents, Garlic - 2-3 cents for the clove, Olive Oil - 3 cents.  A little more expensive than the last meal, but still makes 3-4 servings, depending on how hungry your herd is.

Today, we will eat Pea Soup made form scratch, and some lovely cornbread daughter got for her birthday from a friend who runs his own bakery.  I can't wait!  Enjoy these recipes!

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