Sunday, October 31, 2010

Galette Gazette

Earlier this year, after round 2 of the veggie chip making, I was left with two and a half squash. It came to me that I could experiment by making a galette like I had seen over on Smitten Kitchen. Now, a galette is really not as fancy as it sounds, wikipedia describes it as "a general term used in French to designate various types of flat, round or freeform crusty cakes." So, I used a quick pizza dough recipe and rolled it out (almost round too!)


Then, I mixed approximately equal amounts sour cream and shredded Italian cheese together. Added some garlic, basil, salt and pepper for good measure, and spread it out on the dough.


Then, I laid out concentric circles of alternating zucchini and summer squash over the top. The trick to calling something a galette and not just a pizza is that you fold in the sides about a sixth at a time. This gives the whole thing a rustic french look like you tried really hard when, in fact, the whole thing really took about 10 minutes.


I brushed it with olive oil and baked it at 375 for about 20 minutes. It came out creamy and golden and I would have to call this "off the cuff" baking a success! And for only about $1, (the price of three squash,) it is surely repeatable any time of the week.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Couponing

As you may or may not recall, in our first post here, I stated that we do not really use coupons to achieve our super-low weekly grocery budget. And that was true. Up until a few weeks ago.

Everything is different now.

Somehow, we 'purchased' $80 worth of groceries for just under $24. Somehow, I also walked out of Meijer with an armload of olive oil for free. Nothing. Nada. Hungry Man dinners for 27 cents each. Two big boxes of oatmeal for a dollar.

How?

The basic strategy of couponing is to combine two or three okay or good deals into one really super awesome deal. For example: Normally, a particular brand of olive oil sells for about $5-6 per pint. Average for name brands. Two weeks ago, Meijer put out a coupon for $2 off of this brand of oil. A good deal, to say the least. Next week, however, Meijer put olive oil on sale for 50% off face value, which brought even the best types of the target under $3 apiece. That's a good deal too. But the kicker is that the manufacturer also put out a coupon a few weeks ago for $1 off any of their line of oils. A fair deal by itself, but putting all these deals together yields you: $6 - 50% - $2 - $1 = ZERO DOLLARS. Free!

Of course, this does not happen every day. Which is why we procured an armload. It should last us through the winter, or at least until olive oil goes on sale again.

'Well how the heck can I get in on this?' you might ask. The answer lies within the vast Internet. There are people out there who take up their spare time by looking for deals like this one. Databases of coupons exist, easily searchable by brand or food type, telling you where to get coupons, what they are worth, and when you can use them. It is not difficult at all to locate what is called a 'store matchup' for your region, which picks out weekly deals at local stores and matches up coupons, often providing a link to where you can print them online, and even tells you if the deal is a very good one or not.

The only thing left to do with these deals is for you to use them. Edit your menu for the week to include items which are on sale with coupons, print off as many as you need, and go save more money!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Granola Bars

On our quest to cut down on the ol' food budget and have a good supply of wholesome snacks with limited packaging we checked one more off our list this weekend. That would be granola bars.

We modified a recipe from allrecipes.com:
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

Place all ingredients in a powerful mixer (we love our Kitchen Aid!!) and mix on a medium speed for about 3 minutes. Scrape sides and beaters and mix again. The mixture should be course and sticky.


Spray a 9x13 pan and spread the mixture into in. Tamp down with a jar or other flat object to really press the mixture together. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, remove from oven and press again, bake an additional 10 minutes. We let these sit overnight before slicing them up and they came out beautifully. They are denser than a chewy bar you might buy in the store, but they hold their shape well and taste amazing. The hint of banana is great, and it makes them a little healthier and cheaper cutting out some butter and honey.


The best thing about this recipe is that you can heavily modify it to suit your tastes or needs. If you like chocolate chips, throw in 2/3 cup or so. if you want it a little richer, add brown sugar or more butter. Add some raisins, or craisins, or nuts, or your favorite dry cereal (rice puffs work well we hear.)


Quick oats are quickly becoming a pantry staple, what with all the cookies we are making. But certainly not as breakfast fare. Preposterous.

Update 11/14: Pictures!