Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits.....Revealed. Nailed it!!!!

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits are heavenly.   People have been looking for the recipe for a long time and as the Red Lobster web site says......the recipe is a secret.

Sure....they tantalize with some tips  "we will share a couple of well-kept secrets for making our much-loved biscuit: do not over knead the dough and make sure you use baking soda as one of the ingredients."  

There are a lot of recipes out there that try to emulate the product.  Most use Bisquick or some version of that type of biscuit.  But.....they are wrong.

Reverse engineering the product, I realized that one of the main ingredients was missing from all of these recipes and that Red Lobster has been lying to us for years.  I don't blame them.....the biscuits are to die for.   What is the missing ingredient?   YEAST.  The texture of the rolls shows that they are clearly yeast raised, yet they do have the properties of baking soda and baking powder raised rolls.  

What type of rolls have these characteristics......Angel Biscuits....So I went back to one of my old cookbooks and brought out a recipe and tweaked.  Messing around in the kitchen, doing what I like to do.....cook.  I have nailed it.  

Here is now revealed the super secret recipe for Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Dust Bunny Queen


Cheddar Bay Biscuits

1 package of yeast or about 2 1/4 tsp
1/2 cup warm water   
4 1/2 cups of flour (I use unbleached all purpose)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups buttermilk (bring to room temperature)
1/2 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 to 1/3 cup melted butter
garlic powder
parsley flakes
kosher salt.

Mix the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup and set aside in a medium warm place while preparing the rest of the recipe.   I use yeast from a jar that I keep in the fridge and not packets, so I am guessing that the 2 1/4 tsp is the amount of a package.

Spoon the flour into a measuring cup.  Don't just dip or scoop it out because then you will have compacted flour.  You want it to be light and fluffy.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mix with a whisk to combine.

Cut in the shortening until the mixture is crumbly. I just use my fingers to combine and lightly rub the mixture together between my palms.   Toss in the cheddar cheese and mix into the dry flour mixture with a spoon.  You might want more cheese, but be careful.  Too much cheese will make the biscuits heavy in texture.

Stir in the buttermilk and yeast water mixture with a wooden spoon until mixed. The buttermilk is better warm or room temperature than cold from the fridge.  You don't want to kill the yeast. Don't beat or over-mix otherwise it will be tough.  This must be what they mean by don't over knead.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Melt the butter and mix with about 1/4 tsp garlic powder or garlic granules and some parsley flakes and set aside.

Pre heat oven to 450.  Grease a cookie sheet or use cooking spray.  Drop by 1/3 cup measures onto the greased pan.  I just eyeballed it, so I'm guessing that it is about 1/3 cup.  I imagine that the cooks at Red Lobster use something like an ice cream scoop so that the biscuits are all the same size.

Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt if you like. ....or not if you don't want the extra salt.   Bake for 12 minutes or until nicely golden on top.  Brush with more butter while still warm if desired......I do!


You may need to experiment with the amount of flour since brands of flour differ in the amount of moisture that they have and you may end up with different textures of dough depending on the brand you are using and the time of year you are cooking.   No problems......just eat the mistakes and try again.

Next time I cook this I might use butter instead of shortening or even try lard.

Also I may use fresh garlic sauteed in the butter instead of dried garlic.

Fresh chives may be nice instead of dried parsley flakes.

My husband gets so irritated with me when I insist on tweaking the recipes.  I say...
Hey, if I wasn't tweaking the recipes you would have THIS ONE!!....Have another biscuit."

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Clam Chowder for a Snowy Day

As the weather has dramatically changed from a balmy Indian Summer, where the days are still in the mid 70 degrees and the nights dip to a crisp mid 30 degrees, to the normal October/November weather of sub freezing at night, snow and wind during the day......the mind drifts to soups, casseroles and stews.   Long slow cooking that keeps the house warm.  Long slow cooking that is also frugal and filling.

So today...

New England Style Clam Chowder

My soups are almost always in a free form style based on how much I have on hand and how many servings I want to end up with.  Soup, for some reason always ends up making way more than I need.  So instead of describing the recipe in,  about or approximately measures, I'll try to be a bit more precise.

3 small  (6.5 oz)cans of chopped clams (small cans because our store doesn't carry the large restaurant style and you want as many clams as you can in your chowder.  Otherwise, you might as well be making potato soup.)
3 to 4 slices of meaty bacon diced
4 to 6 small potatoes cut into 1/2 inch pieces (enough to make about 3 ro 4 cups  of diced potatoes.  Dang it! I wasn't going to give 'about' instructions)
1 cup of diced onion
1 stalk of diced celery
1 small carrot cut into small diced pieces (less than 1/2 inch.  You can leave off the carrots if you like or are a die hard traditionalist.  I like them)
Garlic or garlic granules  (Oh heck....about 1/2 tsp)
2 cups of milk (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup half and half or better yet whipping cream)
3 tbsp flour 
2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp dried parsley
Salt to taste

In a large stock pot saute the bacon until moderately crisp.  With a slotted spoon remove the bacon and leave the drippings in the stock pot.  Put in the onions and celery, salt, pepper and parsley.  Saute until soft and limp.  Add the flour and butter and stir, creating a roux.

Meanwhile drain the clams reserving the juice.  Add more water to equal 3 cups of juice and water.  Slowly stir into the onion, celery mixture.  Add the potatoes and carrots and let the soup simmer on low for about (darn it, I just can't help myself) 20 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are just beginning to be tender.  You don't want to cook them to mush or else you WILL have cream of potato soup with clams in it.

At this point, you can stop and put the soup in the fridge for later or just plow on.   Add the clams and simmer for a few more minutes.  Slowly add the milk and bring to a slow simmer stirring frequently for 10 minutes or just until warm and thickened.

If you feel the soup is too thin, you can take some of the hot liquid and mix with another tbsp of flour and then return to the pot to simmer.  Be careful, you are making soup. NOT wall paper paste.

Serve with fresh rolls, or garlic bread sticks and a crisp green salad.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

It is the end of the growing season and while the days are still lovely, warm and clear.....the nights are bringing freezing temperatures. 

My tomato plants are now brown with just a few straggling red globes hanging grimly on.   Since we picked an abundance of cherry and roma tomatoes last week and I am sick to death of canning.....I am going to slow roast the tomatoes.

[insert photo here when I get around to it]

Slow roasting tomatoes is so effortless.  Cut the tomatoes in half and lay onto a cookie sheet, cut side up.  Drizzle or brush with olive oil until they are all covered and shiny.   Sprinkle with a little kosher salt, garlic granules, pepper and any herbs you may like.   Bake at 225 for several hours.

You want them to be dried and shriveled but still retaining some moisture.  In other words not shoe leather quality.

Cool and eat.  Or pack in olive oil in the fridge and enjoy.   They should keep for several weeks if completley covered in oil.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Apples and Plums... Oh My. Asian Plum Sauce and Apple Butter.

While still in the throes of dealing with nature's bountiful gifts this year of apples and plums, I decided to finish off the last 3 1/2 pounds of Italian Prune Plums with a batch of Chinese Plum Sauce.

This many apples will make a batch of apple butter

Apples? Oh YEAH we have apples this year. Previously I made and froze apple pie filling for 12 pies. Now neatly wrapped and stacked in the shop freezer. A friend, who is also up to her eyeballs in apples and pears, gave me a super recipe for crockpot apple butter. Fabulous!. Easy peasy!! No standing and stirring and stirring over a hot pot. Just put the peeled cored and chopped apples in the crockpot with the sugar and spices and go about your merry way.  

First: Chinese Plum Sauce. I like the sauce just a bit sweeter and each batch of plums will have its own level of sweetness.....so about half way through the cooking process I stop and taste and add some more sugar if needed. Makes about 6 half pints, plus a little dish extra.  I think we will have to have pot stickers tomorrow.

4 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 oz of fresh ginger minced
1 onion minced
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar (or more to taste)
2 cups of water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil (no substitutes)
1/2 tsp crushed dried chilies
3 or 4 pounds of ripe plums pitted and chopped
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water

Put all of the ingredients, except the cornstarch and water, into a stock pot and bring to a boil.  (If you don't have fresh ginger....I used a heaping tsp of ground ginger. ) Reduce to a low simmer and uncovered let gently cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning on the bottom.  Taste to see if sweet enough if not, add about another 1/8 cup of sugar and cook some more.  Remember......Chinese Plum Sauce is not supposed to be sweet like a sweet and sour sauce.

Blend the mixture, either in a blender or using an immersion blender (my preferrence) until smooth.   Mix the cornstarch and water together and while stirring constantly add to the sauce.  Simmer and stir for several minutes until smooth and thickened.
Ladle into 1/2 pint jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Next: Apple Butter

Oh man, is this an easy way to make apple butter.  Next year I may try it for pear butter.

5 to 6 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped.
4 cups white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt.

Put the apples into a large crock pot.  Toss well with the sugar and spices and salt.   Cover and cook on high for one hour.
Just starting to cook down.

 Reduce to low and cook for 9 to 11 hours.  Stir once in a while.  The mixture will start reducing and become browner.
Halfway done.  Starting to get mooshey and thicker.

At this point it was getting late so I just shut the cooker off and went to bed and started it up again in the morning.  Cook until the apples are almost mush. 3 more hours  Break out the trusty immersion blender again and being careful not to splatter yourself with the scalding mush, YIKES  HOT!!.....blend until desired texture.  I like mine with a bit of chunks still in the apple butter.

Done! Thick and tasty.

Ladle into 1/2 pint jars and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  This recipe made 7 1/2 pint jars.

TIPS:   To make your life easier if you plan to preserve, can or make jams.  Have on hand, a canning funnel, a jar lifter, some good metal ladles for scooping out the product into the funnel and several small tongs for lifting jars and lids from boiling water.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Forest Gump of Plums

I am the Forest Gump of plums.

This year all of our plum trees have gone into overdrive producing.  So many plums.  So many types.  I feel like Forest Gump

Wild plums, Italian plums, Santa Rosa plums.

Plum jam, plum jelly, plum pulp frozen to make more plum jam and jelly, plum bread, plum cookies, plum crisp, plum tortes, plum pies, plum sauce, dried plums, frozen plums, canned plums, fresh plums.  

FREE plums.  Please take some of these plums.  Begging people to come an pick them before our deck is totally spotted with rotten plums dropping off of the tree.

I can't stand to see the fruit go to waste so I spend my time preserving, cooking, freezing and drying.

Here is a recipe that freezes well.  The bread is better after sitting and 'aging' for several days, otherwise, it is cakelike, crumbly and doesn't cut well.  The Italian plums are a pleasing blend of sweet and tart that doesn't make the bread gooey.

Italian Prune Nut Bread
Yield: 2 loaves
1 cup butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4  large  eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp  cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp lemon peel, finely grated
3 to 4  cups Italian prune plums - diced 1" pieces
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Pre heat oven to 350.  Grease and flour two loaf pans

2. Cream the butter sugar and vanilla until fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition

3. Sift together the flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda.  If you don't have cream of tartar use baking powder ( 2 tsp)

4. Blend together the sour cream and lemon peel.  Add the the creamed butter mixture alternately with the dry ingredients.

5. Stir until well blending then fold in the plums and nuts.

6. Pour into the two baking loaf pans and bake at 350 for 55 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Pork Roast and the Plan - Part ONE

What do I have on hand?
What use of leftovers can I make?

One of my main strategies in planning for a week is to cook one 'large' item that I can use for several leftover meals during the week. Not only does this save TIME it also can save money. Here is an example from last week.

First: what do I already have on hand? So....delving into the freezer, I see that I still have several pork roasts that I bought about 6 months ago when they were on sale. Pork Blade Shoulder Roasts or also known as Boston Butt. Looking at the label on the packaging it is an 8 pound roast and I see that I paid .97 cents per pound. Woo Hoo!!! SCORE!! The same roasts now are $1.90 to $2.10 per pound now. (Tell me all about how we don't have inflation again?).

How do I know the price and poundage? Whenever I buy meat in bulk to freeze, I write this information on the label, along with the date so that we can use the older stock first. LIFO in accounting terms.

OK. Pork it is. However, an 8 pound pork roast is a lot of meat for two people. We don't want to eat pork ALL week long.......... I know. Let's have company!!

( 4 people..links to other recipes in this blog)



8 pound pork roast (because I already owned it)
8 or more large cloves of garlic
8 tablespoons of Kosher Salt (1 tbsp for each pound of meat)
2 tablespoons coarse ground pepper
6 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1 tsp each dried oregano, marjoram, thyme

Place the pork, fat-side up, in a roasting pan fitted with a rack insert, and using a sharp knife, score the surface of the meat with small slits Mash the garlic and some of the salt (about 1/3) until it is a paste. I used a mortar and pestle, but you can also use the flat side of a cleaver on your cutting board. Mash in the spices and pepper to make a coarse paste. Place the paste in a bowl and stir in the rest of the salt and the oil and vinegar. You don't want to completely dissolve the salt grains. Rub the garlic paste all over the pork, being sure to get into the incisions so the salt can penetrate the meat and pull out the moisture - this will help form a crust on the outside when cooked. Cover the pork with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roast the pork 45 minutes to the pound, uncovered, until the skin is crispy-brown. Using an instant read meat thermometer the internal temperature should be at least 145 to 160 degrees. Don't let the thermometer touch the bone when testing or you will get a false read.

Let the meat rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before slicing. If longer, just tent loosely with foil and let it sit.

This is the most juicy and tender pork that you will ever eat.

Ricotta Cheese: The Potato Gnocchi recipe calls for some Ricotta Cheese. In order to make good use of the rest of the cheese, I chose to make the dessert that also uses the Ricotta.

Caesar Salad: Don't buy those packaged salad mixes. They are expensive!! and often the romaine lettuce is not all that fresh. Instead, invest in a salad spinner and buy romaine by the head and either make your own Caesar salad dressing or buy a jar and keep in the refrigerator. Caesar is our favorite salad and we eat it or a variation at least 2 to 4 times in a week and the head of Romaine will last that long.

How to keep it fresh? Breaking the whole leaves apart first (I don't mean tear the leafs up...leave them whole, I put the entire head of lettuce into a big zip lock bag and insert a just damp paper towel. This keeps them fresh and you can pick an assortment of outer and inner leaves for your salad.

Cost of a pre-packaged salad (single use) $4.00

Head of Romaine $2.00
Salad Dressing $3.50

For a little bit more, you get 4 to 6 salads instead of just one!! That's FRUGAL.

Now that we have had a great meal with friends, what am I doing to do with the rest of this pork???

Stay tuned for part TWO.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Frugal Tips: Make a Meal Plan and Stick to it.

If you want to save money and save yourself a lot of stress make a meal plan for the week and try to stick to it.

I know. Too anal. Too restricting. Too much work. Too Boring!!

But believe me it will work.

This was my routine before making shopping lists and meal plans.

"OMG I'm out of cream and onions for the casserole that I just decided that I want to make tonight." Run to the store and "Oh...look they are having a sale on Cheeze-its, strawberry ice cream and oooooh don't those olives look good. Maybe I should pick up some of these pork chops" So, in addition to spending more money than I needed, I came home with a bunch of stuff that I didn't need and some pork chops for which I have no real plan. This means that I have to go back and get more ingredients later for the surprise pork chop meal. Rinse and repeat.

The result is wasted food. Wasted time. Wasted MONEY. The result of haphazard planning is meals that are boring, meals that are not creative and which are repetitive. It is too easy to go with the good old standards, until you and your family are sick of spaghetti, tacos or whatever your go-to standard is.

For me, part of the joy of cooking, to steal a phrase, is to make new meals. Different dishes. Experiment. Sometimes it works and you have what we call "a keeper". Other times it is a total failure....we won't do that again.

Over many years I have come up with a system that works for me. I ask myself these questions in no particular order.

What do I have on hand?
What is on sale in the store now?
What seasonal foods are available?
How long will these items last in the refrigerator or before they begin to 'turn'?
What does my family really like to eat?
When was the last time we had these particular meals?
What would I like to try to experiment on?
How can I make the best use of my time and money by using leftovers?
Can I combine ingredients to make different and exciting meals and save money by buying in bulk or using things I already own?

Then: I make a rough list of meals for the next week or for at least several days. Thinking of the main dish and side dishes that would go nicely. Also trying to create a variety of meals. After all.....even if chicken IS on sale, we don't want it every freaking night!! While Chinese or Mexican food is great....I don't want it all the time. Mix it up and create variety or your family might rise up in revolt against the same food all the time.

Consider the nutritional value of your meal plan as well. You need, throughout the week, a good mix of protein, fats, vegetables and grains. So, while I love Fettuccini Alfredo, every meal can't be carb loaded pasta. Indulge yourself: make a dessert or some sweet treat for the week.

I also leave myself some flexibility so that if we decide to go out for the evening or we just decide that we are really really not in the mood for Pastisto or Arroz con Pollo or Clam Chowder we can move that meal to another night or just do something else with the ingredients. A meal plan doesn't mean you are stuck, like in a straight jacket, and must adhere to the plan. Be flexible within your plan and realize that YES, you will have to go back to the store for some things, especially those items that you can't buy in bulk or that have short shelf lives......lettuce anyone?

So in this and in the next few posts I will cover a few of my questions at a time and give some examples of meal planning.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Frugal Cooking Tips: Buy in Bulk or On Sale

There are many ways to cut down on the cost of cooking. Over the course of these next posts I'll try to highlight some of the frugal cooking techniques that I used.

You might find by following a few of these your costs will go down AND the quality of your meals will go up.

BUY IN BULK and WHEN ON SALE: Whenever possible, buy in larger quantities. Of course you have to be able to store the extras. It does you no good to buy mass quantities that then go stale, spoil or have to be thrown out.

My husband is always reminding me that the freezer or the pantry isn't a savings account!!

Our local market had these beef chuck roasts on sale. Buy one get one free!! How can I resist? . I purchased two 3 pound roasts. So...... priced at 5.19 a pound my actual cost per pound is 2.59 per pound. Now THAT'S more like it. Freezing one today and cooking the other as an oven pot roast with separately roasted, carrots, potatoes, onions and home made rolls.

This is an easy peasy recipe and when you are done there will be ample left over meat for another meal, like a beef enchilada casserole, minestrone soup or pot roast sandwiches.

(I need to note here that I am cooking for two adults. If you have more in your family, then you should adjust accordingly. We two adults will be able to get 2 to 3 meals from this recipe.)


  • 3 lb beef chuck roast
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 tbsp or so of oil
  • one small onion chopped
  • 2 bay leaves (if you have some otherwise...no big deal)
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped in 2 inch pieces leaves included

Pre Heat the oven to 325.

Salt and pepper the roast on all sides. Roll the roast in the flour In a dutch oven heat some of the oil and sear the roast on all sides, about 3 minutes to a side. Remove the roast and make a bed of the onion, celery and bay leaf. Put the roast back onto the pan, cover and roast for about 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to 300 and roast for another hour or hour and half.


  • 5 or 6 medium sized red potatoes cut into eights
  • 3 large carrots peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 red onion peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • any other root type vegetable or winter squash that you may have hand cut into similar size pieces
  • garlic salt
  • cracked pepper
  • spices that you may have like parsley, basil, tarragon..whatever
  • olive oil, about 1/4 cup or less

During the last half hour, on a separate sheet pan or shallow roasting pan, drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with garlic salt, pepper and the spices that you desire. Roast along side the pot roast, stirring the vegetables a couple of times with a spatula.

Remove the pot roast and let set for 10 to 15 minutes. In the meantime if the vegetables are not done or you would like them a bit crisper, crank up the heat and stir them again to ensure even cooking.

If you would like, make some gravy with the drippings in the pot roast pan.

Pot roast can be as simple as you want it to be, like this recipe, or you can jazz it up. The trick is long slow cooking of an inexpensive cut of meat to create a tender and juicy roast.

Hard Times and Cheap Eats: Red Beans and Rice

Times are hard and get ready people.....it may just get worse.

Food prices are climbing. Our government is encouraging the use of food (corn) as fuel for vehicles. We are burning up our food instead of using it to feed ourselves and the livestock that provides us with meat, eggs, cheese, butter. Everything is going to cost more and more. If the cost isn't going up, the size of the package is getting smaller. We are paying more and getting less.

Energy is getting more expensive due to regulations that make it harder to produce oil and gas. Regulations that put burdens on our ability to use even renewable sources of energy such as hydro, wind or solar. We are being taxed to the nth degree all along the chain for energy.

More people are now unemployed than were out of work during the Great Depression. You know the BIG ONE that your Grandparents or even your Parents may have experienced or remember.

We haven't had real hard times in our fortunate and blessed country since World War II. Sure, we had somewhat of a major self inflicted recession during the Carter years, but all in all, we have been living in a land of plenty. Actually, we STILL are living in a land of plenty, when even our poorest can sport cell phones, flat screen televisions, computers at home and have ample access to food through charity and government food stamp programs.

So while we are going to be experiencing hard times, it is nothing in comparison to the experiences of our ancestors. Our problem now, is that we have forgotten how to cope, how to save, how to make do and we need to relearn all the lessons that our parents taught us or that we just refused to learn.

I'm not going to enumerate the ways that people suffered or the ways that they coped here on this blog. There are many blogs out there that give tips and examples. This blog is about cooking and household tips, so this is what I will focus on when I write about Frugal Food or Cheap Eats.

Many young people have never learned to cook or to master even the most basic of household economics. Why should they, they think, when you can just buy a pre packaged frozen dinner, order a pizza, run to McDonald's. Who needs to learn to cook? Well... guess what. YOU DO!

It is just too much bother to cook and even if you do, leftovers are not left...over.... but often just thrown away. You probably just rolled your eyes at the "There are children starving in India" lecture we all received when we didn't want to eat the spinach or Brussels sprouts. However, everyday throughout this country, we are wasting food. Waste of food that people in other countries would be grateful for, food that might mean the difference between life and death.

SO.....lecture over. Let's move on to how can we eat well, eat cheaply and use recipes that even those who have rudimentary cooking skills can prepare and can be proud to serve.


Red Beans and Rice are a cheap, tasty meal and are a complete protein even without any meat added to the pot.
  • One cup of dried Red Beans or Red Kidney Beans
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of chopped onion, approximately one small onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery, 2 stalks
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Optional: 3 sausages
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Wash the beans and sort to remove bad ones. Put all of the ingredients except the sausages in a small/medium crockpot and cook on medium for 5 to 6 hours or until the beans are getting tender. Stir occasionally to make sure the beans are getting evenly done.

Slice or cut up the sausages. Stir into the beans and continue to cook for about another half hour or longer.

Serve over white rice.

How easy is this?!?

Note: I used Italian Sausages, because I had them handy. You can use any other kind of sausage like a smoked linguica. You can also use left over pork roast. Anything will do. The recipe also calls for Green Peppers diced and tossed in in the begining. I don't like them and didn't have one.....so....I didn't use it.


Onion at .89 a pound. One onion = .25
Red Beans 1.69 for 2 lb. One cup is 1/4 of the package. = .45
Garlic .50 a head. 5 cloves = .15
Sausage 4.99 lb. 3 sausages = 2.50
Water free! (sort of)
Spices. Hard to say, since I already own them and grow my own Thyme, but let's guess at 1.50.
Rice. 1 1/2 cup of dried long grain rice will yield about 3 cups cooked. = .75

Total Cost approx 6.10. Serves 4. Cost per serving about $1.52

How cheap is that!. Come on now. No excuses. Get cooking.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Caraway Leek Potato Latkes

Leeks and caraway give a really tasty spin to this version of the simple and easy potato latke.

This basic recipe was torn from a Cooking Light magazine and has been stored in a file for several years and resurected when I was looking for something different to accompany some BBQ steaks and use up some ingredients left over from making Potato Leek soup a few days ago.

Naturally, I altered the original recipe to suit what ingredients I have on hand and just because.....that's the way I am.

Had 3 extra large baking potatoes...check
2 leeks.....check
sour cream.....check

OK...let's go.....


  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups shredded peeled baking potatoes
  • 2 cups chopped leeks
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp coarse ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 or two large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley

Mix together the sour cream, garlic powder and herbs and let set aside. (When I do this again, I will probably substitute fresh minced garlic for the garlic powder). My sour cream was rather thick so I thinned it with some whipping cream that I had on hand

Grate the potatoes. If you don't have a food processor......get one. It will save you time, protect your knuckles and save your guests from eating parts of your fingers. Toss the potatoes into a medium bowl.

Press some of the potato liquid out of the grated potatoes to keep them from being too wet. I just smoosh the grated potato mass against the side the bowl that I'm using and pour off the liquid. Toss the grated potatoes with the lemon juice. This will keep them from turning orange or rusty brown. Add the chopped leeks.....green tops and all and mix together.

Note: If you have never used leeks before: they are grown in loose sandy soil and will have sand and grit in their layers as they grow. Just a fact of life. Our food is dirty. Be sure to split them in half lengthwise and under running cold water fan out the layers to remove the sandy soil: otherwise you will have grit in your latkes. Cut off the root end. Start slicing thinly crossways from the bottom to the top Coarsly chop. Be sure to use as much of the green tops of the leeks as you can for color and taste. They get tougher at the top end of the leek so I usually discard the top 3 to 5 inches depending on how large the leek is.

Mix in the flour and spices and toss with a fork or fingers. Beat one egg and mix into the potatoes to create a batter. If it seems too dry you can beat the other eggs and add some a little bit at a time. You just want the potatoes to cling together and be bound by the flour but not a wet sloppy mess.

Pre heat oven to 350. Lightly grease or spray with cooking oil a baking sheet and set aside.

Heat up a skillet or griddle with a few tablespoons of oil until it is quite hot. Drop the batter by 1/4 cup amounts or several mounded tablespoons onto the griddle. Level the pancakes/lates out with the back of a spoon if necessary. Cook until golden on one side. Flip and do the same on the other side. Add more oil as necessary.

As the latkes are browned on each side, arrange on the baking sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes until crisp and cooked through.

The normal way to cook latkes is to just fry them in oil until done. By using this recipe method, quick browning and baking, you have a lot less grease because the potatoes will absorb the oil like little sponges. Because this is a Cooking Light recipe, they are always trying to cut down on the fat. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. I actually prefer the latkes done this way.

Serve warm with the sour cream.

Leftover latkes are good sauteed in butter and served as a side for eggs over easy for breakfast.