Friday, March 6, 2015

12 for $40: Herbs to the rescue!

February 22, 2011 |

The lovely weather of the weekend might have turned your thoughts to spring. Sadly, it’s not spring in the world of food yet. Instead, we’re in the February doldrums where nothing much new is in season. The solution? Lots of flavor from herbs and spices, salsas and even corn..

Where possible, buy seasonings in small quantities. Herbs and spices lose a significant amount of flavor as they age, and would ideally be used within 6 months of purchase.  The Davis Food Co-op (where, full disclosure, I work) sells herbs and spices in bulk, so you can buy just enough for the next month. Store spices in a tightly closed container, and keep them in a cupboard or drawer if the container is clear.

Davis has a great climate for growing most herbs, and they’ll thrive in even a very small amount of space. If this weather holds, it might just be time to put in a few little plants!

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 cook book.

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.


 Little Corn Cakes

 Pinto Beans

In the fridge for future meals:

Pinto Beans

Sour Cream


Tip: Making your own pinto beans is much less expensive than canned – every good cookbook (or the internet) will have a recipe.


 Stuffed Shells

 Carrot sticks

In the fridge for future meals:

Tomato Sauce

carrot sticks

Tip: Make a double batch of simple tomato sauce (cooked with onion, garlic & dried oregano) and save half for Tuesday


Tamale Casserole


In the fridge for future meals:



 Meatball subs

 carrot sticks

Tip: Vegetarian options: Nate’s Frozen Meatless Meatballs, or mixed peppers and mushrooms


 Burritos

Tip: Fill whole wheat tortillas with pinto beans, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa. Fast, simple and delicious


 Falafel

 Spinach & Citrus Salad

Tip: This salad becomes a main dish if you add tuna or other fish.

Shopping & Recipes

Our shopping & 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 February 13, 2011.  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: $39.92

In the pantry:

olive oil

dried tarragon




salt and pepper to taste

hot sauce

baking powder

bread crumbs, 1/2 cup


onion, ~1 lb. OG

bell pepper, 1 large OG

1 cucumber , OG

1 grapefruit OG

1 orange OG

limes, 2 OG

lettuce, 1 head OG

carrot, 4OG

Dairy & cheese:


butter, 1 stick

egg, 1

sour cream


cottage cheese, 8 oz.

jack, 4 oz.

parmesan, 4 oz

mozzarella, 8 oz.


pasta shells, 16 large

tomato sauce, 1 28 oz. & 1 15 oz can

frozen corn, 1 16 oz bag



8 oz ground beef


falafel, 3/4 cup/ 4 oz.

masa flour, 2 cups/8 oz.

vegetable broth powder

pinto beans, 1 lb.

Little Corn Cakes

1 cup masa flour

1/2 tsp. salt

5 Tbsp. butter, softened

1 1/2  cups vegetable broth

1/2  tsp. hot sauce

1/2  cup bell pepper, minced

1/2  cup onion, minced

1/2  cup frozen corn

1/2  cup finely grated cheese

1 tsp. baking powder

1 egg

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Cream masa and salt with 4 Tbsp. butter.  Mix hot sauce & broth & add half to masa.  Beat vigorously.  Add more broth until you have a thick but pourable batter.  You may not need all the broth, or you may need additional water.  Sauté pepper and onion until soft.  Add sautéed veg, corn, cheese, baking powder and egg to masa.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat & add butter & oil.  Drop batter by the spoonful into hot skillet. Cook until brown on one side, about 5 minutes.  Turn and cook until other side is brown.  Serve with sour cream.

Stuffed Pasta Shells

16 large pasta shells

8 oz. cottage cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 cups tomato sauce

1/4 cup grated mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook pasta shells for half of time recommended on package.  While pasta cooks, mix ricotta, parmesan, garlic, oregano, and onion.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Drain shells and rinse with cold water.  Put 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in a casserole dish.  Place cheese mixture in plastic zipper bag. Cut corner of bag and pipe into shells. Place shells cheese side up in casserole dish.  Cover with remaining pasta sauce and sprinkle with grated mozzarella.  Bake, uncovered, 20-25 minutes until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

Tamale Casserole

2 cups plain pinto beans

1 onion, sliced thin

1 bell pepper, sliced thin

1/2 cup grated cheese

1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn

1/3 cup salsa

2/3 cup masa*

3 Tbsp. softened butter

1 cup vegetable broth, mixed with

1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce

Cream 1/3 of the masa with the butter.  Add enough vegetable broth to masa  to make a thick batter and beat vigorously.  Alternate masa and broth until you have a thick but pourable batter.  You may not need all the broth, or you may need additional hot water.  Spread beans in greased casserole dish & layer other ingredients on top in the order given, ending with salsa.  Pour/spoon batter over top of casserole.  Bake, covered, for 30 minutes at 350°.  Uncover and bake another 20 minutes until browned.

Meatball Subs

1/2 cup minced onion

1/2 cup bread crumbs

8 oz ground beef

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 tsp. oregano

2 Tbsp. oil

bread or rolls

cheese, if desired

Mix onion, meat & bread crumbs. Form into meatballs about the size of a marble. Heat the oil in a pan and fry meatballs gently until brown all over. Drain off excess grease and add tomato sauce. Spoon into toasted rolls and top with cheese if desired.

Cucumber and Citrus Salad

1 cucumber

1 grapefruit

1 orange

2 Tbsp. lime juice

1/4 cup good olive oil

1/2 tsp. dried tarragon

salt to taste

Peel and slice cucumber. Peel & section citrus. Whisk lime juice, olive oil and tarragon together and add salt to taste.  Toss dressing with cucumber and citrus.

Pan-fried Falafel

3/4 cup falafel mix

1/3 cup finely grated cheese

oil for frying

Mix falafel well with 1/2 cup water.  Let stand 15 minutes.  If it doesn’t hold together after standing, add water 1 tsp. at a time until it does. Stir in grated cheese.  Heat a large skillet & add oil to coat bottom.  Drop small spoonfuls of falafel into pan, then flatten—the thinner the cake, the crisper.  Cook over medium heat until golden brown, 3-4 minutes.  Turn and cook second side. Serve with lemon wedges.



  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    ‘Topping out': Sign a building beam at the Shrem Museum

    By Jeffrey Day | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Life after lawn: Fifty greens for shade

    By Katie F. Hetrick | From Page: A1

    Got sun? Indoor herbs can thrive on windowsills

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    Quick home improvements that raise your resale value

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    How can we know that the products we buy for our homes are safe?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Spring-clean your kitchen in five easy steps

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Dryers: Homes’ energy guzzlers just got greener

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

    UCD improving farming, food production with fewer pesticides

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: B6 | Gallery

    PSAs highlight area nonprofits

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

    Peripheral neuropathy support offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6

    Workshop eyes creating peace through creative play

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6

    Museum brick sales to end this month

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6

    Cabrillo Club plans membership dinner

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6

    Pig out at Pig Day Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Porkers on display at Hattie Weber Museum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    St. John’s shows off cuisine at brunch

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

    Seniors serious about fitness

    By Savannah Holmes | From Page: A11 | Gallery



    Here’s how to make college cheaper

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

    Obama’s world is a dangerous place

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

    Some convicts don’t deserve parole hearings

    By Tom Elias | From Page: B4



    Marsh provides radio images of a ‘magical’ Aggie hoops season

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Blue Devil volleyballers cruise in home opener

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS girls track and field team reloads for 2015

    By Dylan Lee | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD women fall at UCR

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Aggie men clinch Big West crown

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Sports briefs: Bella Vista slips past DHS softballers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12



    Rec Report: Looking ahead to spring break

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

    Wineaux: A local diamond in the rough, revisited

    By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A9



    Steve Kiser’s work on display at Gallery 1855

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Tables available at Vinyl and Music Fair

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel': Second-rate

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Learn from experts at ‘Art of Painting’ conference

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    Tom Brousseau to visit ‘Live in the Loam’ on KDRT

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

    ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ auditions set

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

    Hugh Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela celebrate Mandela’s legacy

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A12 | Gallery



    Honey, we shrank the SUV — and Europe loves it

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery





    Comics: Friday, March 6, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B10