Holiday Cooking on a Budget

Holiday Cooking on a Budget

No time of year warrants sticking to a budget quite like the holidays, yet December is probably the most difficult month to be a penny-pincher; especially when it comes to food. First you’ve got the turkey. A good one will set you back at least $60-70. Then you’ve got to figure out what sides to pair with it. Everyone has their favourites so there really aren’t any you can eliminate. You can’t forget dessert either. Christmas chocolates? Yes please. But $15 for a box of Quality Street or Turtles, say what?

Thankfully good food doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are 3 dishes you can prepare to serve up to 6 people, for less than $30. If I did my math correctly, that’s less than $5 per person.

Your friends and family may throw a fit if you don’t have turkey for the holidays, so instead of cooking a whole bird, try opting for legs instead. They are dirt cheap – between $2.50 to $3 per leg – and braising them ensures they stay moist and tender, unlike that dry breast meat that no one likes.

For a side, try making a chickpea salad. Beans and legumes are a great way to add bulk to your meal and are a blank canvas to add a plethora of other flavours. The red and green colours of pomegranate and brussels sprouts scream “holidays” to me!

Finally, dessert is required at all holiday meals, regardless of how full you are. Grandma’s coconut snowballs are the easiest treats you will ever make in your life. You don’t even have to turn the oven on. Still they are a crowd favourite year after year.

I don’t know about you but that’s one tasty sounding budget meal right there. It will have everyone at your table saying “Merry Christmas”, your wallet included!

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BRAISED TURKEY LEGS

Serves 4-6 – costs $14.50

Ingredients

  • 4 turkey legs
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. dried herbs (I used a combination of rosemary, thyme and oregano)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Season the turkey legs with salt and pepper and brown them in a large skillet over medium-high heat. You are just looking to sear them, not cook them through.
  2. Remove the browned turkey from the skillet and place it in a large, oven-proof dish.
  3. Add the vegetables and dried herbs to the same skillet you browned the turkey in. Deglaze with chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  4. Pour the vegetables and stock over the turkey legs. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 3-3.5h, or until tender. You can then use the braising liquid to make a gravy if you like, or you can serve the turkey as is. The turkey can also be braised a day ahead of time and just warmed up when you are ready to serve.

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CHICKPEA SALAD WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND POMEGRANATE

Serves 4-6 – costs $5 total

Ingredients

  • 1 14 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups raw brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 2-3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. To make the dressing, whisk together the mustard and honey until smooth. Whisk in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Combine the chickpeas, pomegranate, and brussels sprouts in a bowl. Pour in the dressing and stir to combine.
  3. This salad is best eaten after a couple of hours because it allows the dressing to marinate the chickpeas and brussels sprouts. You can ever make ahead of time to serve the next day.

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COCONUT SNOWBALLS

Makes 20 balls – costs $7.50 total

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6-8 oz. chocolate chips (about 1/2 of a typical 350g package)
  • shredded coconut, as needed (about 1-1 1/2 cups)

Instructions

  1. Stir together all ingredients except the shredded coconut.
  2. Roll the mixture into bite-sized balls and coat each with coconut.
  3. Refrigerate if not eaten immediately.
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Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros

There’s no doubt in my mind that if I were to log my daily eating routine and share it with you, 99% of you would find it boring 99% of the time. What can I say? For someone who loves food, I also tend to opt for simplicity and efficiency of preparation when making meals. It means a lot of salads, smoothies and just raw fruits and vegetables (leaving room for chocolate of course). Not the most exciting, I know, but I’m not proclaiming it to be either.

So when I go out of my way to make something a bit more interesting for dinner, it feels like it would be a waste not to share it here. I was craving breakfast for dinner the other day, hence these huevos rancheros were born. Let’s face it, when can you go wrong with topping a dish with a runny egg? Actually that doesn’t sound very good. “Runny” should only be associated with colds and flus. But the alternative “oozy” isn’t much better. Unless you are describing an open wound. Thanks for tuning into “How not to make your food sound appealing” with Mallory Frayn. Eggs are good. We will leave it at that. Eggs and beans – even better.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros
 
Prep time
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Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 1 sweet white onion, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 eggs, cooked either over-easy or sunny side up
  • shredded cheese, if desired
Instructions
  1. Slice up your onion and cook it over medium heat with a pinch of salt until it is softened and caramelized.
  2. Stir in your sliced bell pepper and tomato, adding the spices (chilli powder, cumin, oregano) and stirring so that everything is evenly distributed.
  3. Drain your beans, but don't rinse them - you want some of the starchy liquid to help make the sauce. Add in the beans to the sautéed vegetables and stir to combine.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper and allow to cook for at least 15 minutes to bring all the flavours together. You can make it ahead and cook it longer if you have the time.
  5. Before serving, cook your eggs however you like them, 1 per serving, seasoning them with salt and pepper as well. Then put the bean "stew" of sorts in the bottom of your serving vessel of choice, and top each portion with an egg. Enjoy!

Huevos Rancheros

Watermelon Feta Arugula Salad

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I made this watermelon feta arugula salad ages ago. Like before my Europe trip, so-long-ago-I forgot-about-it ages ago. At the time, it was pretty appropriate to be adding produce like watermelon and radishes to salad. Now it’s almost October and we have already had snow. Ingredients like pumpkin and squash are taking over. But heck, you can still find what you need to make it, and frankly, it’s the type of thing I have been eating a lot of lately.

When you get back from a vacation of eating and come home to a job that largely involves eating, you really don’t want to do any more eating at home. Actual meals tend to go out the window but when they do happen, all I want to eat is salad, salad, salad. Maybe a smoothie or two thrown in there but that’s about it. I need those sorts of things to re-energize me so I can go back to eating whatever else I have to (and love to) eat without feeling like a fat slob. It’s all about balance right? Knock that balance out of whack and your whole body just feels gross. And nobody wants to purposefully make themselves feel gross.

Ok now I am rambling, that’s my cue to go. In fact, I am probably going to go make some salad for lunch. Fancy that.

 

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Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Entree, Salad
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 large handfuls of arugula
  • 5 black olives, chopped
  • 4 tbsp. feta cheese cubes or crumbles
  • 8 tbsp. watermelon, cubed
  • 2 large radishes, sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup Camelina oil
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic scapes, grilled and finely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. First things first, get some garlic scapes on the grill for the vinaigrette. Cook them for a couple minutes on each side, until charred and tender. Finely chop and set aside for the vinaigrette.
  2. To make the rest of the vinaigrette, whisk together the mustard and honey. Whisk in the balsamic vinegar before gradually whisking in both types of oil (if you cannot find Camelina oil feel free to use straight olive oil). Finally add in the chopped grilled garlic scales and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. To assemble the salad, dress the arugula with your vinaigrette and portion it into 4 bowls or plates of your choice. Divide the chopped olives equally amongst the 4 servings. Add to each about 1 tbsp. feta, 2 tbsp. watermelon and 5-7 slices of thinly sliced radish. Enjoy.

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Sweet Pickled Cauliflower for #SundaySupper

Sweet Pickled Cauliflower

How quickly has this summer gone by? The fact that this week’s Sunday Supper theme is all about “Saving Summer” is proof of just how few sunny days and warm temperatures we have left. Next thing you know we are going to be dead in the middle of winter and the only thing that will keep us sane is consuming copious amounts of canned fruits and vegetables preserved from the summer harvest 😉

I’ve never been one to get into the sweet side of canning. No jams and jellies for me, but man do I love my pickles. I will pickle virtually anything. However, I do have my favourites. You know how everyone fights for all of the goodies in a jar of sweet pickles, aside from the cucumbers themselves? Let’s face it, the pearl onions and cauliflower are by far the best parts. So why not make a jar of straight up sweet pickled cauliflower? Simple flavours like garlic and bay leaves are a must, but you can also try adding a pinch of turmeric to liven up the colour. It will be your little dose of sunshine when it’s nowhere to be seen in the sky. Just don’t get any white clothing or dish towels near it – turmeric stains like nothing you have ever encountered. Also, depending on how crunchy you like your cauliflower, feel free to blanch it before hand to soften it up a bit. I could eat raw cauliflower for days so I just chopped it up and tossed it straight into the jars. The hardest part is waiting until it pickles enough to eat it. In the meantime I guess we can test out the offerings from the rest of the Sunday Supper team! From jams and jellies, to salsas and sauces, and everything in between, these recipes can help summer last all year long – at least in spirit!

Sweet Pickled Cauliflower Sweet Pickled Cauliflower

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sweet Pickled Cauliflower
 
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Serves: 2 jars
Ingredients
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup salt (Kosher or pickling)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • pinch red chili flakes
  • ¼ tsp. tumeric powder
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
Instructions
  1. Begin by sterilizing 2 1l jars and their lids.
  2. Divide the cauliflower between the 2 sterilized jars, adding 2 garlic cloves and 1 bay leaf to each. You want the jars to be relatively full so there isn't room for additional air. If one head of cauliflower doesn't do the trick, either add part of a second head or supplement it with sliced carrots or pearl onions.
  3. To make the pickling liquid, bring the vinegar, water, salt, sugar, chili flakes and turmeric to a boil. Pour it over the cauliflower, ensuring that it is entirely submerged. This may mean the liquid reaches between ½ to 1 inch from the top.
  4. Put the lids on the jars and place them in a pot of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, if you don't want to go to the effort to be able to store the jars at room temperature, you don't have to worry about this and just stick them right in the fridge.
  5. Allow the jars to cool to room temperature. Ensure that the seals have actually seated (they should not make a clicking sound when you press the tops of the lids) before storing in a cool, dry place. Wait a few weeks for the cauliflower to pickle, then you are ready to crack open a jar to taste your efforts!

Sweet Pickled Cauliflower

Learn how to …

Sip sunny cocktails and smoothies

Scoop up special salsas and sauces

Jump into jellies, jams and preserves

Pucker up for pickles

Slurp and spoon soup and a side dish

Dive into divine desserts

Sunday Supper Movement

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.


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It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Sweet Pickled Cauliflower Sweet Pickled Cauliflower Sweet Pickled Cauliflower

Farro and Grilled Vegetable Salad

Farro and Grilled Vegetable Salad

Farro is up there as one of my favourite grains. For those of you who have never tried it, it’s similar to barley with its roasty toasty flavour and pleasantly chewy texture. I don’t know, I can just eat the stuff up. The only downside is that it takes a long time to cook, so if you want it, you better plan in advance. In this recipe I tossed it with a myriad of grilled broccoli, squash and radishes (same as I used in my miso grilled veg), to make a farro and grilled vegetable salad of sorts. The dressing is a combination of almond butter, coconut cream and vinegar to thin everything out. It makes for an awesomely creamy vegan salad dressing. Everything about this salad is awesome actually. How can you go wrong with hearty grains and veg on dinner on a summer evening? Exactly, you can’t.

Farro and Grilled Vegetable Salad Farro and Grilled Vegetable Salad

Farro and Grilled Vegetable Salad
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: vegan, entree, salad
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. coconut cream (the solid stuff skimmed off of the top of a can of coconut milk)
  • 2 tbsp. almond butter
  • 2-3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic scapes, grilled and finely diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup uncooked farro
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2-3 cups grilled vegetables, chopped (I used broccoli, radishes and yellow zucchini)
Instructions
  1. Combine the farro and vegetable stock in a medium pot over high heat. Bring it to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the farro is as tender as you want it to be. Drain off any excess liquid if it is not absorbed by the farro.
  2. To make the dressing, blend together the coconut cream and almond butter until smooth. Whisk in the white wine vinegar to taste, add the chopped garlic scapes and season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a medium to large bowl, mix together the cooked farro, dressing and chopped grilled vegetables of your choice. Taste again for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary and serve. The salad is great made ahead of time and makes for an excellent lunch throughout the week!

Farro and Grilled Vegetable Salad