The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

May 15, 2013

Budget Friendly Deliciousness

By KAREN FREEMAN
Karen's Kitchen

TARBORO — It's nice to be able to put a good meal on the table without having to spend a fortune. Today's recipes are easy, delicious and inexpensive. But, they won't taste inexpensive.  I hope that you will give them a try.

The first recipe is a crock pot roast. I use chuck roast because it's easy to find on sale most of the time. However, you can use any kind of beef roast that you have in the freezer. This one is so easy that you could throw it together in the morning before heading to work and have a great dinner when you get home.

The second recipe is an "almost" lasagna. It made with elbow macaroni instead of lasagna noodles but otherwise it will taste like lasagna. It's easy and still delicious. The real lasagna takes much longer to make and so we don't make it very often.

The third recipe is an easy pork roast. Adding the apples to it gives it another layer of flavor. I love to add something sweet to my meat dishes. It makes the flavor pop.

The last recipe is a knock off on chicken Lo Mein. Instead of Lo Mein noodles, which are hard to find in the supermarket, you use Ramen noodles. Otherwise, it tastes like a great Lo Mein meal.



Crock Pot Roast



1 (4 -5 lb) beef roast, any kind

1 (1 1/4 ounce) packages brown gravy mix, dry

1 (1 1/4 ounce) packages dried Italian salad

         dressing mix

1 (1 1/4 ounce) packages ranch dressing mix, dry

1/2 cup water



Place beef roast in crock pot. Mix the dried mixes together in a bowl and sprinkle over the roast.

Pour the water around the roast. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.



Almost Lasagna



1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked, (or other similarly shaped pasta-like small shells)

1 lb Ground turkey, (or beef, chicken, sausage or tofu crumbles)

1 jar Pasta Sauce, (26 ounces)

freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1 pound Ricotta cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 cups Veggies, (diced zucchini, matchstick carrots, etc.)

salt and pepper



Brown meat and drain well, if necessary.

While meat is cooking, stir together eggs, ricotta, grated Parmesan and salt and pepper.

Mix cooked meat, macaroni, sauce and veggies. Add ricotta mixture and blend well.

Coat a 9-by-13 baking pan with cooking spray or olive oil and spread half of macaroni mixture evenly over the bottom. Top with a cup of mozzarella and a healthy sprinkle of grated Parmesan. Add the remaining macaroni mixture and top with another cup of mozzarella and another sprinkle of Parmesan. Cover with foil.

Coat a 9-by-13 baking pan with cooking spray or olive oil and spread half of macaroni mixture evenly over the bottom. Top with a cup of mozzarella and a healthy sprinkle of grated Parmesan. Add the remaining macaroni mixture and top with another cup of mozzarella and another sprinkle of Parmesan. Cover with foil.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F and bake the casserole for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes until the cheese on top is lightly browned and bubbly.



Roast Pork with Apples & Onions



1 boneless whole pork loin roast (2 lbs)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 large Golden Delicious apples, cut into wedges

2 large onions, cut into wedges

5 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried

  rosemary, crushed



Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, brown roast in oil on all sides. Place in a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange the apples, onions and garlic around roast; sprinkle with rosemary.

Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 45-60 minutes or until a thermometer reads 145°, turning the apples, onions and garlic once.

Let meat stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Yield: 8 servings.



Chicken Lo Mein



1 tablespoon oil-sesame or peanut oil

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into thin slices

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce or teriyaki sauce

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger or 1 teaspoon powder

1 3-ounce package chicken flavor ramen noodle soup

1 1-lb bag frozen mixed oriental vegetables

1/4 cup water



Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink.

Add vegetables and lid. Cook until vegetables are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the noodles (without the flavoring packet) according to package directions. Drain.

Add soy sauce, garlic, ginger and seasoning packet to water. Mix well. Pour over chicken and vegetables, add noodles and toss to mix.



Did You Know?



Here are five frugal shopping tips to help you join in on this effort.

1. Understand Shipment Cycles

Get the freshest food for your dollar by asking about shipment arrival dates at your favorite grocery stores, then shop on the days when new produce is available. The longer food sits around, the more nutrients it loses and the less appetizing it becomes.

2. Spice Up Your Diet

Did you know some herbs and spices can boost your metabolism without caffeine or sugar? These include cayenne pepper, cumin, cinnamon and others. Buy fresh spices in bulk from ethnic food stores or your local coop for 95-percent off the pre-packaged price, but store them in airtight containers.

3. Use Gift Cards

You might think it strange to use discount gift cards for food, but you can actually purchase gift cards for grocery stores for dollars off the card's face value. These cards will cut the price of buying health foods and allow you to shop your favorite stores.

4. Coupon It Up

Thanks to the health food craze, natural and organic coupons have gone big time. Organic Valley, Silk Milks and Earth's Best are just three major manufacturers offering both print and online coupons. Supermarkets also frequently publish coupons for dairy, bakery and fresh-produce products.

5. Try Organic Store Brands

Think generic and you likely think multi-syllabic ingredients, but many major food chains now offer store brands that are both healthy and up to 30-percent less than name brands.