Monday, January 19, 2009

Gourmet Tastes...on a Poverty Budget!

I like to eat.
You can probably tell by all the recipes and my fixation on food storage, etc.
Yeah, I like to eat and I like to eat WELL.
Tasty foods, gourmet foods. Things that are far beyond my budget.

I can't afford the smoked maple bacon...but I love it.
So, here's what I do:
Once or twice a year I buy a bottle of *Liquid Smoke* and a bottle of REAL Maple Syrup.
Pricey items, to be sure, but worth it.
If you buy a package of cheap bacon, lay it out in a glass baking pan.
Mix (in a bowl) 2 drops Liquid Smoke and 2 teaspoons Maple syrup and 1/2 cup VERY hot water. Mix until it is well blended and the syrup has *melted* into the mixture.
Pour it over the bacon in the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and put it in fridge over night.
Next morning, drain off liquid from bacon and cook as usual.
You can also use Maple Flavor Extract, just a few drops.
To sweeten bacon to make it taste *sugar-cured*, marinate bacon in 1/4 cup ginger ale with a tablespoon of honey mixed in for 2 hours to overnight.
Freak that I am, I have also marinated bacon in Dr goooooood!

Can only afford cheaper cuts of meat?
Tenderize them by marinating in wine, a mix of apple cider vinegar and apple juice (half and half) or Dr. Pepper or ginger ale or beer or red wine vinegar or papaya juice or pineapple juice.

I *doctor* cheap foods all the time to make them more appealing.

Cake mixes were made to be doctored with! Add chopped nuts, diced fruits, layer it with jam or custard, add lemon zest, lime zest, orange zest, different extracts. Experiment!

Mac and can transport this boring mainstay to gourmet heights by adding in all sorts of wonderful things! For example...mix up a box of cheap mac and cheese. Now, in a casserole dish, layer it with Italian Bread Crumbs, then top it with Italian Bread crumbs and some grated cheese. Bake about 15 minutes, until cheese on top melts. Or toss in diced pepperoni or diced ham, top with slivered toasted almonds.

Instant pudding can be rather bland. Layer it in parfait glasses with granola or fresh fruit. Vanilla instant pudding can be *dressed up* by adding some rum extract or almond extract, makes the flavor *pop*!

Hamburger Helper and other *box* meals. I hate these things! But, when forced to, I can eat them by dressing them up...add spices, chopped/diced fresh veggies or bread crumbs (the last just before serving). Instead of making it with hamburger, use leftover pot roast that you have shredded up.

Stove Top Stuffing Mixes can become WONDERFUL with a few add ins! The stuffing I served at Yule came out of a box...but to one I added 1/2 pound ground cooked sausage, chopped tart apples and chopped walnuts. The other stuffing I added chopped celery, water chestnuts, fresh rosemary and fresh chopped parsley.

I used to buy Bisquick and thought I was making a frugal choice...then I found recipes to make my own *Bisquick* type mix from scratch. Terrific and easy to stock your pantry with, but with just a few add-ins you can make pancakes, biscuits, muffins, cakes, cookies...the list goes on...
This recipe makes a big batch...I usually make a bigger batch (twice this size!), but it stores well. It is also great to have it on hand for immediate use.

Fake "Bisquick" Baking Mix
9 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking powder
1 Tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups nonfat powdered milk
2 cups shortening (which does not require refrigeration, I use bargain brand all- vegetable)

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cream of tartar and sugar two times. Mix in dry milk (I just stir it in really well...taking about 2 minutes to make sure it is well-mixed) Cut in shortening until mixture looks like grainy cornmeal. Store in covered container in your pantry. No refrigeration necessary, but still, you don't want it to get over-heated...might give it an *off* taste!

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Combine 1 1/2 cups Fake "Bisquick" Mix and 1/3 cup milk in a bowl. Add milk and stir. Knead lightly on floured board.Try not to over-handle dough as it will make your biscuits *tough*. Roll 1/2-inch thick; cut and place on un-greased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Makes 8.

Add-Ins: Grated sharp cheddar cheese or minced herbs (I like rosemary!)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Beat together in a bowl 1 egg, 1 cup milk and 2 tablespoons sugar. Add 3 cups Fake "Bisquick" Mix. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. DO NOT OVER MIX! Spoon into greased muffin pans or into paper muffin cups and bake 20 minutes.

Add-Ins:Chopped nuts or dried fruit. Replace 1/3 cup of Fake "Bisquick" Mix called for with quick-cooking oatmeal or dry cereal such as Raisin Bran, Fiber One or Kashi Go Lean Crunch. Add extra dried fruit--minced or chopped nuts and bake as a fruit bread in a greased 8 x 5-inch loaf pan. Change baking time and temp. to 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Pancakes or Waffles
Whip with wire whisk 1 cup milk and 1 egg until well mixed and *frothy*. Stir in 1 1/2 cups Fake Bisquick Mix. Cook on griddle or bake on waffle iron. I have found that it helps if you brush a waffle iron with a bit of oil before you put the batter in!

Add-Ins: Dried blueberries, cranberries or fresh strawberries (sliced). If adding dried fruit, let set 10 minutes before cooking.

Mix 1/3 cup water to 1 cup Fake Bisquick Mix. Drop into hot broth and cook 10-15 minutes, uncovered, and 10 minutes, covered.

Add Ins: Minced herbs to compliment the stock/soup.

Yellow Cake
Sift together in a large bowl 3 cups Fake Bisquick Mix and 1 1/4 cups sugar. Mix together in a small bowl 2 beaten eggs, 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Add this gradually to dry ingredients while beating with mixer on *Low*. Beat at high speed for 3 to 5 minutes after all dry ingredients are mixed in. Grease a 9-inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Ice cake or leave bare or spread jam on top!

Add Ins: For chocolate cake increase the sugar to 1 1/2 and add 1/2 cup of cocoa powder. Or add 1 teaspoon rum extract (instead of almond extract) and 1/2 cup chopped nuts. YUM!

Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Beat together in a bowl 1/3 cup milk and 1 egg. Add 1/4 cup sugar and 2 1/4 cups Fake Bisquick Mix. Stir together well , about two minutes. Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 3 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup chopped nuts and 1/2 teaspoon Rum, almond or lemon extract and sprinkle over the top. Bake 25 minutes.

Add Ins: For a sunny orange coffee cake,cut milk to 1/4 cup, add 4 tablespoons orange juice and stir. Change topping to 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 3 tablespoons butter, toss with 1/2 teaspoon orange extract or thawed frozen orange juice concentrate and bake as directed.

Oatmeal Cookies
Place 2 1/4 cups Fake Bisquick Mix in a bowl. Stir in 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Combine 1/3 cup milk, 2 beaten eggs and 1/2 cup melted shortening. Stir into mix and blend well. Add 3 cups (uncooked) oatmeal and mix. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 12 minutes.

Add Ins: 1/2 cup raisins, chopped nuts, chocolate chips (use the semi-sweet!) For a different twist, add 2 tablespoons orange juice to mix plus 1/2 teaspoon orange zest.

Banana Walnut Bread
Beat 2 eggs and 1/4 cup sugar together in a bowl until well blended. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 1/4 cups (2 to 3, depending on size) mashed bananas and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts. Stir in 2 1/2 cups Fake Bisquick Mix. If mix seems too dry, add water, one teaspoon at a time until batter is very thick, yet still pourable. Pour into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 to 50 minutes or until brown.

Pizza Crust
Add 1/2 cup warm water to 2 cups Fake Bisquick Mix and form into a ball. Knead and roll out 1/2-inch thick. Place in a 10-inch pan, leaving a rim around the edge. Brush the dough with oil, then spread with favorite toppings.
Add Ins: Add 1/2 teaspoon minced oregano, 1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary or other herbs to mix when you add water.

1 comment:

  1. I see you've been in my cupboards as well, LOL :D....I did not have that Bisquick clone recipe, though. I'll have to try it!!!


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