Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Twelve for $40: Super-easy and fast meals

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From page A5 | April 17, 2013 | Leave Comment

Spring is in the air, the whole town is jumpin’ and everyone seems to have three different places to be every night. With all that, who has time to cook? We do, if we play our cards right. Here’s a week of super-easy dinner menus, all of them on the table in 30 minutes or less.

As usual, this menu uses up all the food — Americans waste up to 40 percent of what they buy at the grocery, which is another thing we just don’t have time for!

The last two dinners of the week are designed to use up anything that’s in danger of going to waste — soup is almost infinitely adjustable, and gorgeous potatoes topped with an egg can absorb all the vegetables you throw at them.
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Planning is everything in sticking to a food budget, and we aim to help you with six days’ worth of menus, which should feed two adults dinner six nights a week* for around $40.

These menus assume you already have some cooking skills, and own a basic reference cookbook.

Below the menus are tips for cooking, or for cooking ahead. If you see “in the fridge for future meals” then save those items from this meal for later in the week. That’s been included in the shopping list.
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Saturday
Pasta with tomato Alfredo
asparagus
In the fridge for future meals:
half & half
tomato liquid
asparagus
parmesan
Tip: When you drain the tomatoes, save the liquid for the soup on Wednesdays. Why toss flavor?

Sunday
Fish Tacos
Corn salad
In the fridge for future meals:
frozen fish
sour cream
tortillas
cilantro
corn
green onions
Tip: To make corn salad, mix 6 ounces thawed corn, 1/2 a sautéed bell pepper, 3 chopped green onions, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, & salad dressing to taste

Monday
Spring Salad
Quick Parmesan dill scones
In the fridge for future meals:
Tip: These scones are very quick to mix up, and any leftovers are delicious for lunch.

Tuesday
Baked Fish Filets
little potatoes
creamed spinach
In the fridge for future meals:
cooked potatoes
frozen spinach
Tip: To “cream” spinach, boil 3/4 cup half & half in a non-stick skillet until reduced and thickened. Toss in a little grated parmesan, and half a bag of thawed frozen spinach. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday
Chicken Tortilla Soup
In the fridge for future meals:
Tip: Use up the rest of the frozen corn in this soup.

Thursday
Potatoes with everything
Poached egg
Tip: Fried eggs also would be nice here.

Shopping and recipes
Our shopping and recipes are scaled for two adults. Increase or decrease as needed to allow for your household.
We shopped this list at the Co-op on April 12. We chose organic wherever affordable (marked “OG” on our list), and picked what we’d use at home — the best value rather than the absolute cheapest. We also assumed you had a few things in the pantry, which were not included in the shopping total. Our total: $40.23.

In the pantry:
olive oil
vinegar
salad dressing
garlic
dill, dried
cumin
adobo chili powder
dried mustard
oregano, dried
sugar
baking powder
salt

Produce:
onions, OG 2
bell pepper, OG 1 large
green onions, OG 1 bunch
fresh cilantro, OG
lettuce, OG 1 head
asparagus, OG 1 pound
red potatoes, OG 1 pound
avocado OG

Dairy and cheese:
half and half
grated Parmesan cheese, 5 ounces
corn tortillas
sour cream
butter
2 eggs

Grocery:
frozen corn
diced tomatoes, 1 can
frozen fish fillets
frozen spinach
12 ounces fettuccine or other noodles

Meat:
1/4 pound chicken stir fry mix (cut up chicken pieces)

Bulk:
walnuts, 1/4 cup (1 ounce)
chicken broth powder
flour, 3/4 cup (4 ounces)

Tomato Alfredo
The ingredients:
12 ounces fettuccine or other noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup half and half
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Putting it together:
Cook pasta. In large pan, heat olive oil. Cook onions until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and oregano and cook until tomatoes start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Push tomatoes to the sides of pan and add half and half. Sprinkle parmesan over top. Simmer without stirring until sauce thickens, 2-3 minutes. If sauce seems too dry, add a bit of water Toss with pasta and serve.

Fish Tacos
The ingredients:
2 fish fillets
1/2 an onion
1/4 cup vinegar
6 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded lettuce
sour cream
hot sauce

Putting it together:
Heat vinegar. Slice onion as thinly as possible. Drop in hot vinegar and let stand 20 minutes. Bake fish fillet according to package. Warm tortillas. Cut fish fillet into strips. Divide ingredients evenly between tortillas and top with sour cream.

Spring Salad
The ingredients:
romaine lettuce
cooked asparagus
1/4 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon sugar
dressing to taste

Putting it together:
Wash and dry lettuce. Chop into piece about the size of a postage stamp. Toss walnuts with sugar in a non-stick skillet and cook carefully, stirring frequently, until sugar caramelizes. Cut asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Toss everything with dressing and serve.

Cheese Scones
The ingredients:
2 tablespoons cold butter
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/3 – 1/2 cup milk or half & half

Putting it together:
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut the butter into the flour until it has the consistency of cornmeal. Stir in cheese. Add the smaller amount of milk and stir; add more milk if needed to get a firm but slightly wet dough. Knead a bit, then shape into a circle a little bigger than a CD. Cut into six wedges. Separate and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
The ingredients:
1/4 pound chicken stir fry mix
oil
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoons adobo chili powder
2 teaspoons vinegar
4 cups chicken broth
vegetables, including frozen corn
tortillas
oil
avocado
sour cream

Putting it together:
Cook chicken in oil until done. Reserve. In same pan, cook onion until tender. Add garlic and spices. Add vinegar and broth. Add vegetables and cook until tender. Shred tortillas and fry in a little oil until crisp. Spoon soup into bowls and add tortilla strips. Top with diced avocado and sour cream.

Potatoes with Everything
The ingredients:
1/2 a bell pepper, sliced
oil
4-8 small cooked potatoes
4 green onions, white and light green part thinly sliced
salt
handful of cooked greens (frozen is fine)
grated cheese
sour cream
cilantro
(hot sauce or peppers)

Putting it together:
Toss pepper in a hot pan with just a bit of oil. Slice potatoes into bite-sized chunks and add to pan. Salt to taste. Let cook, stirring infrequently, until peppers are tender and potatoes nicely browned, adding green onions for last few minutes of cooking. Add greens and let heat through. Divide between two plates and sprinkle with cheese. Top each serving with a nicely cooked egg, sour cream, cilantro and hot stuff if you like it.

— A new menu is available free of charge every Friday afternoon at the Davis Food Co-op, 620 G St. Back issues also are available. Email Julie Cross at jcross@davisfood.coop

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