My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!


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A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned… Or, In My Case, $270 Saved Is $270 Earned

I just saved $270 in about one hour. Not too shabby, huh?

 

How did I accomplish this amazing feat? I fixed some holes in 3 pairs of my hubby’s jeans.

 

Basic sewing is an incredibly valuable skill. Being able to sew on a button or to fix a broken seam can save quite a bit of money over the years. Not to mention that replacing simple buttons in a basic blouse with unique ones will give you a one of a kind, expensive looking piece to wear.

 

Yes, there are less expensive jeans out there, but my husband has a 28 inch inseam. Did you know that almost no retailers carry jeans for adult men with a 28 inch inseam? It’s true! The Gap sells them online, and occasionally in their stores, but that’s it. And Gap charges $90/pair. (Yes, I know you can hem jeans, but that’s another issue in and of itself, so I’m not going into it here.)

 

Back to my saving money coup, after letting the jeans sit in my closet for a couple of years, I finally bought the thread I needed to fix them. It was quite simple, and I think they turned out well. See?

 

 

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Have you ever tried your hand at sewing?

If so, what was your most successful project?

If not, what would you like to learn to sew?

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Saving Money Never Tasted So Good: Chicken Tikka Masala

Who here doesn’t like saving money?  Let me see a show of hands.  No one?  That’s what I thought.  I like saving money, and I have been called cheap, but even I have my limits.  I want to save money and have a rich, full life including eating delicious international cuisine.  If you find the right recipes, you can enjoy delicious food at home at a fraction of the cost of eating out.  Today, I’m going to show you my tried and true Chicken Tikka Masala recipe.

 

Before you say, “Whoa!  I can’t make that!”, let me assure you: this recipe is doable and delectably delicious!  You can find the spices at most grocery stores, but I HIGHLY recommend visiting an Indian market if you have one in your area (British markets often have them as well).  The Indian market near my home has the best prices on spices and blows Costco out of the water.   Enough of the preamble, let’s get to the good stuff!

 

Chicken Tikka Masala, Gobi Aloo, and Rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala, Gobi Aloo, and Rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Adapted from a recipe on food.com found here

 

Marinade

1 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt

4 tablespoons lemon juice

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground red pepper (or more if you like it spicy up to 4 teaspoons)

4 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoon salt

1 piece ginger root 1 inch in length, minced or grated (you can use jarred fresh ginger or use 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch cubes (You can use chicken breast tenders and skip cutting the chicken)

 

Sauce

4 tablespoons butter (unsalted is best)

4 garlic cloves, minced or put through garlic press

1 jalapeno chile minced, optional (or more if you like it spicy)

4 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoon garam masala (McCormick makes garam masala, but it is much less expensive at an Indian market.)

1 teaspoon salt

24 ounces of tomato sauce (3 8-oz cans)

2 cup heavy whipping cream (You can use half and half, whole milk, fat free cream, or evaporated milk, but cream tastes the best!)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

 

Prepare marinade by combining all ingredients except chicken in a medium bowl.  Thread chicken on bamboo skewers, place skewers in a 9×13 casserole dish, and top with marinade.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (overnight is best).  After marinading meat, remove chicken from the fridge and discard marinade.  Grill or broil chicken until cooked through, about 8 minutes.

 

Prepare sauce by melting butter in a large, deep skillet or pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and jalapeno, optional.  Cook for one minute.  Stir in coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, and salt.  Cook for 30 seconds.  Add tomato sauce and stir to combine.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in cream and simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Add cooked chicken to the sauce.  simmer 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, optional, and serve with rice, naan, or pita bread.

 

Here’s my photo step-by-step.  It’s not as detailed as it normally is, because I wasn’t planning to post this recipe.  However, my friend, Kristina (who wrote a guest post you can find here) said I should post it.  So, here it is.

 

Why in the world am I starting with this picture?  It's the first picture I took after deciding to post this recipe.  It's not very attractive.  It's the leftover marinade after removing the chicken on bamboo skewers.  Prior to taking this picture, I mixed all the spices into the yogurt, cut up the chicken, threaded it on skewers, poured the marinade over the chicken, and let the meat marinade for a few hours.  Then I removed the chicken from the marinade and put it under the broiler to cook.

Why in the world am I starting with this unattractive picture? It’s the first picture I took after I decided to post this recipe. It’s the leftover marinade after removing the chicken on bamboo skewers. Prior to taking this picture, I mixed all the spices into the yogurt, cut up the chicken, threaded it on skewers, poured the marinade over the chicken, and let the meat marinade for a few hours. Then, I removed the chicken from the marinade and put it under the broiler to cook.

This picture isn't too hot either, but it's the chicken cooking in the oven.  No, that's not smoke.  I promise I didn't set the chicken or my oven on fire.

This picture isn’t too hot either, but it’s the chicken cooking in the oven. No, that’s not smoke.  Well, maybe it is, but I promise I didn’t set the chicken or my oven on fire.

While the chicken was broiling, I started the sauce.  First, I assembled the ingredients.

While the chicken was broiling, I started the sauce. First, I assembled the ingredients.

Then, I melted butter in a large saucepan and added my garlic.  I don't use both red pepper in the marinade and the jalapeno, because I don't love *HOT* spicy foods.  I like spicy flavorful foods, and using both puts it over the top for me.

Then, I melted butter in a large saucepan and added my garlic. I don’t use both red pepper in the marinade and the jalapeno, because I don’t love *HOT* spicy foods. I like spicy flavorful foods, and using both puts it over the top for me.

After cooking the garlic for about 1 minute, I added the spices.

After cooking the garlic for about 1 minute, I added the spices.

I let the spices cook for 30 seconds or so until they are aromatic.

I let the spices cook for 30 seconds or so until they are aromatic.

Next, I added the tomato sauce and stirred to combine.

Next, I added the tomato sauce and stirred to combine.  Then I let the tomato-spice mixture simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, my chicken finished cooking, and I removed it from the oven.  When I want this to taste extra good, I put it on the grill, but I usually do not.

Meanwhile, my chicken finished cooking, and I removed it from the oven. When I want this to taste extra good, I put it on the grill, but I usually do not.

After simmering for 15 minutes, the tomato sauce mixture thickens.  I slowly added the cream, stirring to combine.

After simmering for 15 minutes, the tomato sauce mixture thickens. I slowly added the cream, stirring to combine.  If you don’t do dairy, I’m sure you can use coconut milk or another dairy substitute of your choice.

See?  The sauce is coming together!

See? The sauce is coming together!

Rather than let the sauce simmer and thicken, I added the chicken immediately and let the mixture stew for about an hour on the stove.

Rather than let the sauce simmer and thicken, I added the chicken immediately and let the mixture stew for about an hour on the stove.

Super Yum!

Super Yum!

Dinner is served!  In addition to the chicken, I served Gobi Aloo and homemade Naan.  I'll post those recipes soon.

Dinner is served! In addition to the chicken, I served Gobi Aloo and homemade Naan. I’ll post those recipes soon.

Remember that I said this dish saves me money?  It’s a pricy dish, but it still loads less than buying it at a restaurant.  I doubled it, because we had guests over for dinner, so keep that in mind.  Here’s a breakdown of my costs:

 

Chicken – $13.14

Cream – $3.89

Greek Yogurt – $3.98

Butter – $0.63

Spices, lemon juice, ginger, and garlic – $3.00 (This is a generous estimate, because I don’t remember what I paid for some of the spices.  I think it’s actually a little under $2, but I didn’t want to underestimate.)

Tomato sauce – $1.50

 

Total cost for doubled recipe = $26.14

 

That’s a bit pricy for a home cooked main dish for dinner, so let’s look at the cost of the same dish at the local Indian restaurants.

 

Tandoori Grill – $12.95 per entree (need at least 6 to equal the amount of food I cooked) x 6 = $77.70

Karma – $14.95 per entree (need at least 6 to equal the amount of food I cooked) x 6 = $89.70

 

My cost ($26.14) versus the cost of a restaurant ($77.70-89.70).  I save $51.56 – $63.56! 

That’s a significant savings!  Granted, this is a time consuming dish, but saving 66% – 71% is totally worth it to me!

How about you? 

Do you have a favorite dish you make at home saving you tons of money? 

I’d love it if you would share it with my readers.


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I Have A Super Power: Speed Cooking

Who wouldn’t want that super power?  It is a necessary one in my house, because I tend to procrastinate.  Speed cooking helps me prepare delicious, healthy food at bargain basement prices and fast food speed.

 

How do I accomplish this feat, speed cooking, when I am a mere mortal?  My handy, dandy pressure cooker.  I *LOVE* my 8 quart stainless steel non-stick pressure cooker.  It was a bit pricy when I bought it several years ago, but Amazon carries several for very reasonable prices.  (Here’s an affiliate link to an 8-qt stainless cooker and another one for an 8-qt aluminum cooker.) I know I’ve mentioned it before, when I showed you how I used it to make my Cafe Rio inspired beef (see that post here), but the truth is, that post doesn’t show you the full potential of a pressure cooker.  Using a pressure cooker will cut your cooking time to about 5-30% of the time it takes to stew the same dish.  So, instead of cooking beans for 8-12 hours, you cook them for 25 minutes max!

 

Cafe Rio Beef!

Cafe Rio Beef cooked in a pressure cooker, served with cilantro lime rice, Cafe Rio Black Beans, and tomato-corn salsa!

 

My most *FAVORITE* way to use my pressure cooker is cooking beans, especially black beans.  It is super fast!  If I didn’t soak my black (turtle) beans over night, I simply pressure cook them for 20-25 minutes after rinsing the beans.  If I am on the ball and soaked the beans, they’re ready in a mere 4-6 minutes!   And the great thing is, you can use your pressure cooker to make any kind of bean at super speed!  I use this chart for cooking times as they vary depending on the kind of bean you use and whether or not you soaked the beans before cooking.

 

Want to possess this super power yourself?  Take a look at my photo step-by-step, and you, too, can be a pressure cooking super hero!

 

I measured out just over one cup of black (turtle) beans.

I measured out just over one cup of black (turtle) beans, which is about 1/2 pound of dry beans.

 

I rinsed the beans and made sure there were no rocks, sticks, or other debris in the beans.  While I don't find things often, I have on occasion found a small rock, which is not something I want to bite into!

I rinsed the beans well and made sure there were no rocks, sticks, or other debris in the beans. While I don’t find things often, I have on occasion found a small rock, which is not something I want to bite into!

 

I put the beans in my pressure cooker and covered them with water.  I used almost 5 cups of water, since I had a little over 1 cup of beans.  Generally, you use 4 cups of water for each cup of dry beans.

I put the beans in my pressure cooker and covered them with water. I used almost 5 cups of water, since I had a little over 1 cup of beans. Generally, you use 4 cups of water for each cup of dry beans.

 

I put the lid on my pressure cooker, making sure it was locked in place, and turned the heat on high.  Once the cooker was pressurized (see the red "button" popped up on the right), I turned the heat to medium-low to maintain the pressure inside the cooker.  * * * Your pressure cooker may have different instructions or safety features.  Please make sure you read and follow the instructions that came with your pressure cooker. * * *

I put the lid on my pressure cooker, making sure it was locked in place, and turned the heat on high. Once the cooker was pressurized (see the red “button” popped up on the right), I turned the heat to medium-low to maintain the pressure inside the cooker.
* * * Your pressure cooker may have different instructions or safety features. Please make sure you read and follow the instructions that came with your pressure cooker. * * *

 

After 25 minutes, I turned the heat off and let the cooker depressurize on its own.  There is a safety release valve, which I've used before, but I wasn't in a hurry today, so I let it depressurize on its own.  Then I removed the lid.  Here are the cooked black beans in the cooking liquid.

After 25 minutes, I turned the heat off and let the cooker depressurize on its own. There is a safety release valve, which I’ve used before, but I wasn’t in a hurry today, so I let it depressurize on its own. Then I removed the lid. Here are the cooked black beans in the cooking liquid.

 

I drained the beans, and now they're ready to be used in any recipe I desire.  Or I can eat them as is.  They have no seasoning, so I will need to add a little salt, but they are ready to go!

I drained the beans, and now they’re ready to be used in any recipe I desire. Or I can eat them as is. They have no seasoning, so I will need to add a little salt, but they are ready to go!

 

One of my favorite things to do is make a big batch of beans and then freeze the excess in one cup portions, above what I plan to use that day.  Then I can pull them out when I need them and have perfectly cooked beans ready to use in all sorts of recipes!

 

Remember, I started with just over 1 cup of dry beans, and I ended up with just under 4 cups of cooked beans.

Remember, I started with just over 1 cup of dry beans, and I ended up with just under 4 cups of cooked beans.

 

Here in southern California, it’s about $1 for a 15 ounce can of beans, which contains 2 cups.  I bought my beans in bulk (25 pounds for $15).  One cup of dry beans is about 1/2 pound, so they cost me about 30 cents, and I ended up with the equivalent of 2 cans of beans.  So I saved about $1.70, plus or minus a few cents when you consider the cost of water and gas (for my stove).  Plus, I can control exactly what is in my beans, including the amount of salt.

 

So, there you have it!  You can be a super hero, too, and save money to boot!

Have you ever used a pressure cooker?  If so, what’s your favorite thing to cook in your pressure cooker?

If you haven’t, does this make you want to try one?

 

 

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