Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hot Dog Season!

Well, I did write about Hot Dog Season last week. This week at Kroger, many picnic favorites are on sale, including (at my local Kroger, check http://www.kroger.com for your local ads) Lay’s potato chips for $1.99, ears of corn for $0.17 each, Pepsi, Coke and 7Up all for $2.39/12 pack and 12 ounce Kroger cheese single slices for $1. If you have the extra cash, it’s a good week to stock up on some basics, including bar and shred cheese for only $1.79/8oz package.

Another way to stretch your food dollar is to find simple recipes that take few ingredients yet are delicious, tasty and nutritious. Pasta puttanesca is one of the dishes I made regularly when I began my switch from the daily Helper menu. It takes as little as a 28oz can of diced tomatoes, a can of whole olives, a few extra spices, and a box of spaghetti. As one of the characters in the Series of Unfortunate Events movie says “Puttanesca means ‘made with very few ingredients’ “

I found my original puttanesca recipe in an issue of Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine, and over time put a few of my own tweaks on it. To add it to your menu, you can start with these ingredients:

1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes (I generally go with a store brand, unless Red Gold is on sale)

1 can of whole black olives (sorry, I don’t know the ounces of this, but generally they seem to come in one size can; I go with Medium olives)

1 onion (and Vidalias are in season and on sale for $0.58/lb this week!)

1t dried basil

1t dried oregano

1t garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1 package of pasta of your choice (spaghetti, spirals, little shells; generally we used spaghetti because the kids were smaller and less adventurous)

To make the sauce:

Slice the onion, and saute in a small amount of olive or canola oil (if you live near a Trader Joe’s or an Aldi you can find olive oil for less). When it is translucent, add the tomatoes, dried herbs, and olives (drain the olives first). Continue to heat while you prepare the spaghetti according to the package directions. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

Serve by spooning the sauce over the pasta. You can also stretch this out by serving the pasta and sauce on a bed of lettuce.

This week I am going to try Isa Chandra Moskowitz’ version from her new book Vegan Brunch It seems to be similar to the recipe listed above, with the addition of tofu cubes for extra texture and protein. (Meat substitutes are another great way to stretch the budget). I’ll let you know how it goes on Thursday.

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