Super Saturday budget friendly tips!

Well well well, here I am back again. For the 3rd time this week I think? I feel very impressed with myself. So why another post you might ask? Well I am sitting outside enjoying the weather and a lovely iced coffee. My wife is on her computer blogging away, and has been for well over an hour, almost completely in her own little world, I have begun to feel lonely. So I’m turning to you blogsphere in the hopes that by the time I am done writing this Blog Beth will be done with her’s and we can hang out :).

Todays post is all about homemade products vs. Store Bought “Premade” products.

While I am a fan of some store bought premade products, like mayonnaise or the occasional box of mac and cheese. By and large I believe it is almost as easy and much cheaper to make many common items at home.

for example: Pizza Dough

Store bought fresh or frozen RAW pizza dough from Safeway is usually $3.99 for enough dough to make 1 medium sized pizza. More than enough for 2 people. While this method is still cheaper than buying a pizza from a restaurant or a frozen pizza from store. Pizza Dough is ridiculously easy to make and cost less than a dollar per medium pizza. Heres how I make a yeastless dough (which is basically just flat bread dough…but still really delicious)

Milk or water

thats it. Basically I put about 2 cups of flour in a bowl a few good pinches of salt and I add enough milk to make it a sticky dough. then I add a good glug (i know real technical with my measurements.) of olive oil to make the dough less sticky. then let it rest for about 10 to 15 mins in a warm environment. then roll it out, dock the dough with a fork *docking means to poke a few holes in the dough to allow the steam to escape* then top with whatever delicious toppings you like. Bake at 350 to 400 degrees

Pretty much easy peasy right? and since ALL of those Items are staples in my kitchen anyway (If you would like a full list of my pantry staples check out Whats in my Pantry?) our weekly pizza nights are pretty much free. This also has the benefit of health control, making your own pizza allows you to use whole wheat flour, low fat cheeses, and healthy toppings. 🙂

The last benefit to making your own pizza dough and all is it gives you complete creative control. This allows your adventurous cook to come alive, Pizza is one of the best mediums for discovering new flavor combinations. Because lets face it, almost anything tastes better with some cheese. For example just last week, I made a plain pizza dough with Caramelized Onions, Bacon, Sage, Tomato and Havarti Cheese. Not the healthiest thats for sure but my God was it delicious.

Another great example of making your own verses buying it made is Tomato Sauce. (while I do buy the stuff in the jar for emergency last minute meals) It is SOOOO much cheaper to make homemade Tomato Sauce, and SOOO easy. Heres the thing you can make it one of 2 ways.

First way is to take a bunch of Roma or Beefsteak tomatoes, and stew them for up to 6 hours in some water or stock until they become ridiculously soft and delicious. Puree them up and then cook the tomato puree with some garlic, white wine and basil for about 2 hours.

ORRRR…my personal favorite way…is buy those cheap cans of Tomato Sauce (plain) for about $0.85 a can.

I usually use at least 2 when making tomato sauce. With about 1/2 cup of white or red wine. 3 or 4 crushed garlic cloves and a heap of basil. I simmer that for as long as possible adding only about 1/2 of the basil in the beginning. then mix the rest of the basil in right before topping the pasta or whatever I’m making.

Again one of the major benefits to this is customization. You can add cheeses, veggies, meats, and flavoring liquids in endless combinations to create YOUR perfect sauce.

In the end I usually end up with an extra jar of sauce (which keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.) suitable for pizza, pasta and other delicious dishes. and it ends up being just about $2.00 for a the sauce for the initial meal, and at least 4 more.

Now if you want to get really crazy, Invest in a canning kit. Then you can make your own sauce, and store it for months! Saving you in the end a buttload of money (there again with those technical terms)

I have yet to dive into the canning world, but I really want to, especially pickling. Oh man do I love me some pickled green beans, but thats a whole different post.

Some excellent books on the subject of “Homemade ingredients” are:

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects

by Karen Solomon

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects

The Complete Book of Butchering, Smoking, Curing, and Sausage Making: How to Harvest Your Livestock & Wild Game

By Philip Hasheider

The Complete Book of Butchering, Smoking, Curing, and Sausage Making: How to Harvest Your Livestock & Wild Game

Artisan Cheese Making at Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World-Class Cheeses

by Mary Karlin

Artisan Cheese Making at Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World-Class Cheeses



So that is all for this post today, but I am interested to know What products you make at home?

Let your adventurous cook thrive

~ Chef S.

Well this is a little late…

Happy 4th everybody lol

So with this week having a major national holiday smack dab in the middle of the week it has thrown off my schedule. I did not make it to the store on wednesday obviously…So now I am making a last minute run to stock up on fresh veggies and necessities to make it through to next wednesday. This weeks menu is going to obviously be a little short. But here it is none the less

Friday: BLT’s with Egg (If you’ve never tried a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich with a fried egg in the middle DO IT NOW! it will change your life)

Saturday: Asian Chicken Salad

Sunday: Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza and Movie date night

Monday: Penne Carbonara with Peas and Salad

Tuesday: Leftovers 🙂

Heres my grocery list:

Parmesan Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese

Lettuce (x3)
Green Onion
Red Onion
Sugar Snap Peas

Manderine Oranges

Chicken and Turkey if they are on sale.

Budget: $30


Update: Well I’m back from the store and guess what the trip came in at :$30.73 🙂 AND I got a few extra things that were on sale. So here is the breakdown of what I purchased

1 PINT Organic Milk $2.59 (I got really excited and had to buy it because there on the front was Beth’s Cousin Zeb and Wife Meridith. 🙂 In case you didn’t know Beth’s family owns and operates a large Organic Dairy Ranch in Central California.)
Half and Half $1.19
Parmesan $2.34
Shredded Mozzarella $3.05
Darigold Butter $2.99
Medium Eggs $1.59

Bananas (On sale at $0.59 lb) – $1.36
Pineapple (On Sale) $2.99
1 lb Carrots (On Sale) $0.69
Green Onions $0.59
Iceberg Lettuce (On Sale 4 for $5) $1.25
Romane Lettuce (On Sale) $0.88
Red Onion (On Sale $0.77 lb) $0.50
Ginger $0.20
Roma Tomatoes $0.74
1 Cherry Fruit Leather (I was hungry) $0.50
Raisins $3.29
Honey $3.99

So there you have it. Total: $30.73

Alright, Well its time for this chef, to get into the kitchen!

Be on the look out this week for a few new recipes I am planning on posting at least 1 for my version of Pasta Carbonara. A Lighter healthier version, hopefully.

Keep up the Good Cooking and I’ll be back with recipes in a few days!

A brief overview of How to make a Menu & ~Recipe! Bruschetta Chicken

I’m going to start this post off with menu making because if I put the recipe first, most of you will probably skip the menu making and go straight to making dinner, because it was that darn good.

Why make a menu, you ask?

whats that? you didn’t ask? well thats ok I’m going to tell you anyway.

1. it keeps cost’s down…that is if you choose the right recipes and stick to your list! Menu’s provide you with an easy way to make a shopping list, just write the ingredients you will need for your dinners, add your staple items (refer to my post yesterday if you don’t know what your staples are) and bam you are done! If you choose dinners that are relatively simple you should have a short (or shortish) list and minimal extra costs!

2. It saves you from the dreaded “Ugh there is nothing to cook in this stupid fridge” feeling. I get this feeling frequently when I haven’t preplanned my week of meals. I look at my fully stocked fridge, and see a mish-moshed pile of ingredients all of which had the best intentions but none of which could be put together to make a meal. Saving you from this feeling is also saving you from the inevitable “Oh lets just eat out” Feeling that comes next, which saves you money.

Now you understand the importance of menu’s now I shall tell you how to make one, my young grasshoppers…

The First step to making a menu is Knowing Your Options:
To do this you need to make a list of things you already know how to make, whether its a handwritten list in a notebook, a box full of recipes, or a computer database, it is important to have your standby’s close at hand.

Next you need to Explore your Interests:
To do this you will need Recipes/styles of cooking/Flavors that Interest you. The interent is chocked full of great resources for budding “chefs” and adventurous cooks. Once you know what your looking for you can visit any number of sites and let your sense of cooking adventure come to life. Some websites you might want to check out are:
the Pioneer Woman Cooks – Hands down the best food blogger on the internet! She is so funny, and her recipes are so delicious!
Tastespotting – This is basically food porn
Food Gawker – This too…
Epicurious – some great recipes on here but also some questionable ones so be careful!
Jamie Oliver – LOVE jamie oliver! Great recipes and healthy as well!
All Recipe – The good the bad and the ugly seach with care!
Use these to find new recipes or new ideas for dinners.

Next you need to Find/make a chart that works for you:
I use a piece of notebook paper with the week date at the top and days of the week listed. but you can use a calendar or dry erase board…MINE usually looks like this:

Menu – 6/6 – 6/12








Last you need to let your creative juice flow and fill that sucker in!

I try to alternate between standby’s and new recipes, I usually make 1-2 “New” or newish recipes every week. Things I’ve either never made before or only made once or twice. I also always leave at least one day open for leftovers, so that we don’t waste food. As an added bonus it keeps me from having to cook every single night of the week, which after 3 or 4 days of work and then making dinner its nice to have a break.

Alright now that the learning is out of the way time for the fun part! Here is a delicious recipe for you all to try

Bruschetta Chicken


Servings 2                 Prep time: 30 mins             Cook Time: 15 mins

2 Chicken Breast (I only used one but that sucker was HUGE!)
1 pint Grape or Baby Heirloom Tomatoes
6 leaves Fresh Basil
Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Slice grape tomatoes into bit sized pieces (I sliced the smallish ones in half and the larger ones in quarters.

2. Chiffanod your basil leaves (refer to pictures for example)Image



Place tomatoes and basil in a small to medium sized bowl. Add EQUAL parts Balsamic Vinegar and Olive oil to coat Tomatoes. Stir and place in the refridgerator


3. Pound chicken breast to about 1/4 inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper and saute in a hot pan with about 1 TBL of olive oil until cooked through. Try to get as much browning as possible in the beginning then turn the heat down to low or medium to cook the chicken through, it should take 10-15 minutes.


4. To serve spoon the Bruschetta over the chicken, I did about 3 spoonfuls of tomatoes and one spoonful of just the juice at the bottom of the bowl.

To make the bread that I served on the side, Slice french bread in 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices at an angle if you like. Slice one clove of garlic very thinly and saute in a large pan with 2 tbl olive oil on medium heat. Remove garlic slices turn the heat up to high. Add the bread and toast both sides with the garlic oil.

I Served mine with a salad and the garlic toasted bread. it was delicious!

Hope you enjoy, and write me back and let me know how yours turned out!