Cooking On A Budget

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Blueberry Muffins


 Blueberry Muffins are a wonderful snack, a great breakfast item with coffee - and these are so easy to make and ever so delicious!

One of the things that I like about going through family recipes is the fond remembrance that speaks to you. I was working full time when my children were small and wanted to make something special for the kids. So I decided I would make some homemade muffins. My mother had always made hers using a Bisquick recipe. Instead, my husband pulled out a recipe he had from his first wife who was deceased. He said that this blueberry muffin recipe was the best he ever had and I have to agree.
  • 1/2 cup butter - softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • sugar for sprinkling on top
  1. In one bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a large bowl with mixer at medium speed cream the softened butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the eggs one at a time beating after each addition. Add the flour mixture and the milk and vanilla - alternating after each addition.
  4. Crush 1/2 cup of blueberries and fold into the batter. Fold in the remaining whole blueberries.
  5. Place paper muffin cups in the muffin pan. Fill about 2/3 of the muffin mix in each cup. Bake in a preheated 375° oven for about 30 minutes.
  6. Test with a toothpick and if the toothpick comes out clean they are done.
  7. For an added touch sprinkle the tops with a little sugar while still warm.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Summer Saute


 Summer Saute is the easy and perfect side dish to any grilled or roasted summer meal. 

This dish I credit my wonderful sister-in-law. She made summer sauté for a gathering many years ago and I have made it a number of times through the years since I first got her recipe. It's incredibly easy and takes about 20-25 minutes to cook. I use yellow squash, however, zucchini or a combination of yellow and zucchini would work as well.

  • 2-3 summer squash (or zucchini, or combo of)
  • 1 lrg. green bell pepper
  • 1 lrg. onion
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes 
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil or canola or vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. Start by prepping all of your vegetables: I peel my yellow squash but you don't have to. Then I cut it in rounds.
  2. Peel your onion. Slice it in half then make half moon slices for the whole onion.
  3. De-seed and devein your bell pepper and cut into strips.
  4. Cut the tomato in wedges. (See cooks note.)
  5. In a large, deep skillet melt the butter and oil over medium low heat.
  6. Add in the onions first and sauté for a few minutes before adding in the bell pepper.
  7. Season those veggies with salt and black pepper to taste and let them cook for 3 more minutes.
  8. Add in your squash and tomatoes and again season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Add 1/4 cup water and simmer over medium low heat until soft and tender and all the flavors meld together - about 25 minutes.

That's all there is to this recipe. Easy, delicious, very affordable.

COOKS NOTE: If you don't want the skin of the tomato, cut an X at the bottom and place tomatoes in boiling water until you see some skin break away. Remove them from the water and peel the skin before cutting in wedges.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20-25 minutes

Feeds: 4-6

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Tuscan Pork Roast

Tuscan Pork Roast is so flavorful and incredibly delicious that you'll want to make it again and again.

The Tuscan pork roast comes out juicy and succulent and has the best flavor! It's so easy to do as well. Here are some keys to having the roast come out perfect.
  1. Use a rotisserie oven if you have one. (Although this will roast in a regular oven too.)
  2. Be sure to use all fresh herbs as the recipe calls for.
  3. Roast to a temperature of 140-142 degrees. Most roasts have a pop up timer set for 145 degrees, however I like to take my pork out earlier and let it rest well.
  4. Be sure and let it rest for at least 10 minutes so the juices circulate and don't run out when you slice it.
  • 2 3/4 lb. pork loin with a good fat cap.
To start the recipe you need to make an herb paste for the roast.
  • 6 cloves garlic (good sized bulbs)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves (not curly parsley)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp. fresh sage
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil (regular or use extra virgin if that is what you prefer)
  1. Take all of the above ingredients and add them to a food processor and process into a paste for the roast.
  2. Score the top of the roast in several places.
  3. Schmear the roast all over with the herb paste.

Roasting instructions:
  1. Roast the loin to an internal temperature of 140-142°, approximately 1 hour. Use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature.
  2. Take your Tuscan pork roast out of the oven or rotisserie oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes.

I hope you and your family enjoy this beautiful Tuscan pork roast. Tender, juicy and flavorful. A great idea if you are having guests for dinner and you want to wow them.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Italian Casserole

Using fresh garden tomatoes, zucchini and ricotta with fresh mozzarella makes this Italian casserole dish an excellent family meal!

We absolutely loved this Italian Casserole and it reheats in the microwave and somehow gets better! I used my canned garden tomato pieces in this recipe but some whole canned tomatoes would work just as well. I prefer whole tomatoes in this to plum, but that is your choice. The dish was inspired by a Williams-Sonoma pasta recipe and here it is.

  • 1/2 box penne pasta
  • 1 medium length zucchini
  • 1 - 28 oz. can whole tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 - 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese + some for the top
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • cooking spray
I used an 11 x 7 inch casserole dish for this recipe.

Preheat oven to 425°

  1. Lightly spray your casserole dish.
  2. Get a pot of water boiling for the pasta. (Remember to generously salt the water.)
  3. Slice your zucchini into rounds.
  4. In a large bowl combine the ricotta with the parsley, egg, parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Heat up your tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, add in the zucchini after 5 minutes.
  6. While the tomatoes are cooking drop your pasta and cook to el dente stage.
  7. Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the ricotta mixture. Toss well.
  8. Add in the cooked tomatoes and juices, the zucchini and toss to combine.
  9. Put the mixture in your casserole dish and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese.
  10. Bake in a preheated 425° oven for about 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
Feeds: 4-6 people
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 20-25 minutes

The zucchini was el dente and added a nice texture element as well as taste to the dish. I love the fresh tomatoes and mozzarella - it all worked beautifully together.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Lighter Fish and Chips


Lighter Fish and Chips is easy and delicious.

Many of us can't afford the prices at a fish market and we often opt to seek out the seafood department in our local grocery stores. I'd like to give you some tips on choosing fish and what to look for. I'll save that for the end of the post.


  • 6-8 filets of fish
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 1/3 cups Wondra flour
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. oil (vegetable, canola)
  • lemon or tartar sauce for serving
  1. Make sure your filets are blotted with a paper towel to absorb any moisture.
  2. Season both sides liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. To a deep dish mix together the Wondra Flour, salt, pepper and cayenne. The seasoning is all to taste.
  4. In a large skillet heat up the butter and oil over medium low heat.
  5. Begin to dredge your fish and place them on a large platter.
  6. Crank your heat up to medium, medium high. Wait a minute then start pan frying your fish. You will have to do this in batches and lower or raise the heat as necessary.
  7. Fry to a golden brown. Depending on the thickness of the filets, it can take 2-4 minutes per side.
  8. When the fish is done, transfer to a platter lined with paper towels and keep warm under a heat lamp or in a very low oven or toaster oven.

Serve with some kind of "chip" - any kind of French fry you like along with a vegetable or salad for a complete meal.

You can use any kind of flaky white fish: sea bass, flounder, sole, haddock and cod to name a few. For our dinner we used the black sea bass that my husband caught on Long Island Sound.

When choosing fish at the grocery store do not be timid about asking to smell the fish, where the fish came from (farm raised, wild caught and where if that information is not already available). What should it smell like you ask? It's fresh when what you smell is the ocean. If it smells other than that, pass it up.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

A hearty, satisfyingly delicious Salisbury Steak meal the family will love!

My first time making Salisbury steak ended up being a huge hit with my husband and I have since made it over and over. It's a glorified burger let's face it, but it is economical and really tasty.
  •  1 lb. ground beef (80/20)
  •  1/2 large onion - finely ground
  •  3 stalks celery - finely ground
  •  1/8 cup or so of fine bread crumbs
  •  1 extra large egg
  •  salt and black pepper to taste
  •  1/4 heaping tsp. granulated garlic
  •  1 tbsp. dried parsley flakes
  •  1 package cremini mushrooms - sliced
  •  3 tbsp. butter
  •  2 jars Heinz Savory Beef Gravy
  1. Use a food processor to grind the onion and celery.
  2. In a large bowl combine the beef, the onion, celery and all the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Mix well and add some extra bread crumb as necessary. You want the mixture slightly to the less firm side.
  4. Form into four steak patties approximately 1/2 inch thick. Refrigerate wrapped in plastic while you work on the mushrooms and the sides to the dish.
  5. In a large skillet add two tablespoons of butter and sauté the mushrooms over medium high heat, turning them as they cook. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, add a touch of salt and pepper, stir then transfer to a waiting bowl.
  6. Add the last tablespoon of butter to the skillet and turn the heat up to high and let the butter get to the browning stage. Add in your patties and sear on medium high heat until a nice crust forms. Flip them over and sear for two minutes more.
  7. Add the mushrooms and the jar gravy and simmer over low heat for about 20-25 minutes.
Serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes and vegetable of your choice.

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