Posts

How to Roast a Cheap Cut of Beef

No matter how relatively inexpensive a chuck or round roast may appear, if it turns out so tough and flavorless it’s passed to the dog, that purchase was no bargain.  That’s why everyone on a food budget needs to know how to roast cheaper cuts of beef.  

And, finally, thanks to very extensive research and experimentation by Christopher Kimball, as reported in Cooks Illustrated magazine*, we can confidently purchase those cheaper cuts and expect perfect results every time.

A piece of meat on a wooden cutting board

These days, with beef prices hitting all-time highs, buying the cheaper cuts of beef is one way to make our food dollars stretch as far as possible. Just know that what follows is for those of us with more time than money.

When looking for inexpensive cuts keep these three words in mind: chuck, sirloin and round.  The chuck is fattier and more tender, the round is lean and relatively tough.  The sirloin falls somewhere between the two. Read more

Orange Chicken, Three Ways—Kitchen Friendly and Easy on the Wallet

For years, I’d been searching for the perfect recipe for one of my family’s favorite dishes, Orange Chicken. And then wouldn’t you know it, within a very short period of time, I found not one, but three recipes that are quite different from one another, but all of them simply too yummy for words! All of them kitchen friendly and easy on the wallet.

 

A box filled with different types of food on a plate

The first of these recipes is for an elegant country French entree prepared in the oven. If you need to impress, this one’s for you! Just don’t blow your cover by telling your guests just how easy it is.

The second and third recipes both have an Asian bent—one prepared in a slow cooker, the other on the stove top or grill.  Read more

Worst and Best Ways to Grill Chicken

In a previous post, I asked readers to share their worst barbecue and grilling experiences that could have been spared if they’d had a decent instant-read thermometer.

 

I loved reading your comments, some of which are so funny you had me laughing out loud. But more than that, I learned that most of our grilling disasters involve chicken.

A close up of food cooking on a grill, with Chicken and Grilling

Grilled chicken should be delicious, moist, tender, and full of flavor. But all too often it turns out bloody raw in the middle, or bone-dry and tough as shoe leather.

Read more

Ground Beef Entrees Cheap, Fast … Good!

As food prices continue to soar, I am more convinced now than ever that given the right recipes, we can cook a wonderful meal from scratch at home and have it on the table in the time it would take to decide on a restaurant or take-out, drive there, place the order, wait for it, pay for it and drive back home. The operative words here are “the right recipes.”

Today, I want to share with you my family’s favorite “right recipes,” each one built on one pound of ground beef (or ground turkey) using very few, if any, processed ingredients—plus my recipe for Master Mix! That will make sense as soon as you check out the first recipe below, Upside-Down Hamburger Pie.

A plate of food on a table, with Pie and Ground beef

If you can get the meat on sale, fabulous. But if not—and even if you opt for a $6 pound of lean organic ground beef—each of these entrees will still come in at less than $10 total, and feed six hungry people. That’s less than $1.75 per serving.

See what I mean? Cheap, fast … good!

Read more

A Dozen Ways to Make Dump Chicken

The meal prep method is called “Dump Chicken” and it’s genius. Here’s why: You dump chicken pieces and your choice of sauce ingredients into a 1-gallon freezer bag, seal it and stick it in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat it, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, dump it into a pan (or slow cooker) and bake it. That’s it!

 

A plate of food

 

The following recipes can be made with any four to eight pieces of chicken; bone-in or boneless, skin-on or skinless, even whole. Experiment to see what you prefer. Simply mix the sauce ingredients and toss that into the ziplock freezer bag along with the chicken; seal and freeze.

Note: If you are adding a lot more or a lot less chicken, you may need to adjust the recipes accordingly.

To cook the chicken, thaw the bag overnight in the refrigerator. Pour the contents of the bag into a 9 x 12-inch pan and bake at 350 F until internal temperature reaches 165F. Or prepare these meals in a slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours. In the oven, chicken breasts take about 25 to 45 minutes depending on their thickness. Dark meat pieces may take a bit longer.

Basic BBQ Chicken

  • chicken
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dry onion soup mix

 

Caribbean Chicken

  • chicken
  • 1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks with juice
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup raisins

 

Read more

Outdoor Grilling on a Budget

Getting our outdoor grill cleaned, polished, and ready for summer got me thinking about how much fun it would be to celebrate. After all, the first day of summer comes but once a year, so why not do things up right with an amazing menu and a few good friends to kick off the season even if that means grilling on a budget.

A bowl of green grass

 

What happened next I can only attribute to a momentary lapse of good judgment.

I visited the website of Lobel’s of New York, “the best source for the finest and freshest USDA prime dry-aged steaks, roasts, specialty meats, and gourmet products that money can buy.”

Unveiling the mother of all outdoor grills seemed like an event worthy of a few high-quality American Wagyu steaks delivered overnight on a bed of dry ice. I checked the price. Gulp! One 20-oz Porterhouse steak: $159.95—plus overnight shipping.

Read more

How to Make Taco Seasoning Mix and What to Do With It

Seasoning packets from the supermarket may be convenient, but they have drawbacks—not the least of which is they’re relatively expensive! I just checked Lawry’s Taco Spices and Seasonings Mix—! I just hate to pay that much for so little. And I don’t have to because I’ve got a great recipe to make taco seasoning mix myself, using ordinary spices I have already. As a bonus know exactly what’s in it, and how old the ingredients are.

 

A plate of food on a table, with Taco and Beef

 

The recipes that follow call for the amount of seasoning you would find in the typical supermarket seasoning packet—about 4 1/2 tablespoons of mix.

While you could make the amount you need as you need it, a better idea is to make a bunch while you’re at it, then keep it tightly sealed in your spice rack. It’ll come in handy more times than you can imagine. The recipe multiplies well.

Enjoy this simple mix and the two family-friendly recipes that follow for both beef and chicken tacos. Yum!  Read more