Budget Friendly; Shakshuka

I have two new series I’m starting, in addition to the Lessons in the Kitchen series and seasonal meals. One is healthy meals that follow the “Healthy Plate” model, and the other is a Budget Friendly series. Today’s dish I almost couldn’t decide which series to put it in, since it could work in either one. I eventually decided it works best in the budget series, and has the benefit of being very healthy. 

After the holidays, I always have to watch my budget. Between traveling, eating out, and going to holiday events, it makes an impact on my budget. I also have noticed grocery store prices increasing, as I’m sure many of you have noticed, too. I thought since I’m focusing on adding more budget meals in my personal life, ya’ll might like some inexpensive recipe ideas, too.

Shakshuka is a super easy, flexible meal. The most simple way I make it is with onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, eggs, and spices. Usually I add other ingredients (like ground beef or beans) to make it stretch a bit further, and I like to experiment with the spices, too. It’s a great dish to add into your normal rotation of recipes, as it’s simple, inexpensive, and easy to experiment with.

I used canned and frozen ingredients (except the eggs and tortillas), but you could instead use fresh ingredients, of course. I also included beans, but didn’t use dry beans. If I had used dry beans, it would have decreased the price further. You could also not use beans at all, and just have the vegetables and eggs, of course, but it’s a good way to make the meal go further.

I also like to serve this with some kind of toasted bread. This time, instead of toast, I fried a couple of tortillas in a little oil. They were really good, and I’ll definitely serve them with this meal again in the future.

The below recipe makes 8 servings, and it’s a great dish for leftovers. I will poach as many eggs as are needed for the first night, then divide the rest up into containers. Each night I use a small frying pan, heat up the tomato base, then poach the eggs.

The way I made this dish came out to be $10.65 for the entire order. Since I expect this to make eight servings, with one egg and one tortilla per serving, the cost per serving is just $1.11. I didn’t include the oil or seasonings that I used because those are very infrequent purchases. Also, the seasonings and oil are highly customizable. 

Eggs = $1.39 (12 ct) = 0.12/egg

Beans = 2x $1.38 (Dry beans = 1.49/16 oz)

Tomatoes = 2x $1.19

Pepper and Onion = $1.33

Tortillas = $2.29 (20 ct) = $0.12/tortilla

Garlic = $0.50/ head

Basic Shakshuka 

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

28 oz can of diced tomatoes

8 Eggs

1 Bell pepper

1 Onion

Spices

Saute the bell pepper and onion.

Add tomatoes and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer until desired consistency (this is up to personal preference, but I like mine pretty thick).

Use a spoon to make wells in the tomato, and crack eggs into them. Poach eggs in the tomatoes for 4 minutes.

Serve. I like to serve it with some kind of toast.

Shakshuka with Red Kidney Beans

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

28 oz can of diced tomatoes

8 Eggs

12 oz bag frozen diced onion and bell pepper blend

4-5 garlic cloves

2 15 oz cans red kidney beans, drained

1 ½ tsp chili powder

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp roasted garlic

Saute the bell pepper, onion, and garlic.

Add tomatoes, beans, and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer until desired consistency (this is up to personal preference, but I like mine pretty thick).

Use a spoon to make wells in the tomato, and crack eggs into them. Poach eggs in the tomatoes for 4 minutes.

Serve. I like to serve it with some kind of toast.

Shakshuka with Red Kidney Beans

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

28 oz can of diced tomatoes

8 Eggs

12 oz bag frozen diced onion and bell pepper blend (or one fresh bell pepper and one onion)

4-5 garlic cloves

2 15oz cans red kidney beans, drained

1 ½ tsp chili powder

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp Italian blend seasoning

1 tsp roasted garlic

Saute the bell pepper, onion, and garlic.

Add tomatoes, beans, and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer until desired consistency (this is up to personal preference, but I like mine pretty thick).

Use a spoon to make wells in the tomato, and crack eggs into them. Poach eggs in the tomatoes for 4 minutes.

Serve. I like to serve it with some kind of toast.

Basic Shakshuka

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

28 oz can of diced tomatoes

8 Eggs

1 Bell pepper

1 Onion

Spices

Saute the bell pepper and onion.

Add tomatoes and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer until desired consistency (this is up to personal preference, but I like mine pretty thick).

Use a spoon to make wells in the tomato, and crack eggs into them. Poach eggs in the tomatoes for 4 minutes.

Serve. I like to serve it with some kind of toast.

Potato Soup

Belated happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a great holiday season. It was great to spend time with some of my family, and now I’m excited to get back into the normal routine. I have a couple of new recipe series planned for the next few months, and I can’t wait to share them with ya’ll. For today, I hope you enjoy this simple comfort meal.

We’re starting off the year with one of my favorite winter meals. I love everything potato, and growing up my favorite soup was always potato soup. It’s a warm, hearty meal, and I love it on chilly January nights. Not that we’ve had many chilly nights so far this year, but it’s still a good meal.

Potato Soup Recipe

8 servings

10 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 onion, diced

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 lb bacon

⅓ C. bacon grease or butter

⅓ C. flour

3 C. chicken or vegetable stock

2 C. Milk

1 can cream of chicken soup

Salt pork (optional)

Basil

Cilantro

Paprika

Salt

Pepper

Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

  1. In a dutch oven, cook bacon. When almost done, add a few pieces of salt pork. Remove bacon to cool and crumble, and reserve ⅓ C. drippings.
  2. Saute onion and garlic with salt pork, salt and pepper. Remove pork and toss potatoes in the vegetables. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Heat ⅓ C. bacon fat or butter, stir in flour and seasonings and cook until golden, stirring frequently. Add broth and one cup milk and bring to a boil.
  4. Add potatoes and vegetables, cream chicken soup, and last cup of milk. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Top with bacon and cheese.

Have fun, be safe, and eat good food!

Potato Soup Recipe

8 servings

10 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 onion, diced

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 lb bacon

⅓ C. bacon grease or butter

⅓ C. flour

3 C. chicken or vegetable stock

2 C. Milk

1 can cream of chicken soup

Salt pork (optional)

Basil

Cilantro

Paprika

Salt

Pepper

Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

  1. In a dutch oven, cook bacon. When almost done, add a few pieces of salt pork. Remove bacon to cool and crumble, and reserve ⅓ C. drippings.
  2. Saute onion and garlic with salt pork, salt and pepper. Remove pork and toss potatoes in the vegetables. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Heat ⅓ C. bacon fat or butter, stir in flour and seasonings and cook until golden, stirring frequently. Add broth and one cup milk and bring to a boil.
  4. Add potatoes and vegetables, cream chicken soup, and last cup of milk. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Top with bacon and cheese.

Sugar Ham

Picnic shoulder, or spiral sliced ham (My 3.5 lb ham made six servings)

Brown sugar

One can sliced pineapple

Maraschino cherries

8 – 12 oz. Coca-cola or Dr. Pepper

Place the ham in a crockpot. If it is a really big ham, you may have to slice part of the top off for it to fit. Just work with it until you can fit the whole thing in the crock pot. Sometimes if the lid just won’t seal, I’ll use aluminum foil, then layer a towel over the top for added insulation. Be careful if you do this, as the aluminum foil will get hot.

Pack brown sugar onto the top of the ham, and as far down the sides as you can reach.

Lay pineapple slices around the outside of the ham, using toothpicks to keep them on the sides.

Dot cherries in the middle of each pineapple slice, and in any other gaps you may have, using toothpicks to keep them in place.

Pour 8 – 12 ounces of Coca-cola or Dr. Pepper over the ham. 

Cook on low for eight hours, or as long as needed, or on high for 4 – 6 hours. Periodically baste the juices over the ham.

Lessons in the Kitchen; Lemon Onion Tilapia

It’s always a good idea to have a few easy, quick recipes on hand, and especially so with the upcoming holiday season. I like having recipes that mostly use things I generally have on hand, and ones that don’t take much effort are even better. This recipe definitely checks all those boxes, and I keep it on my menu rotation pretty frequently. It has the added benefit to me of the memory of the afternoon when my grandma taught me this recipe.

I use Tilapia, typically, but you can use any kind of fish. I like keeping individually wrapped tilapia filets in my freezer, and eat them a lot for lunch and occasionally for supper. A basic white fish like Tilapia, Whiting, or Cod are good to keep on hand because they are so versatile. There are tons of sauces and toppings you can put on them, and multiple ways they can be cooked, too. It’s also one of the recipes you can buy in bulk at your regular grocery store.

For sides, you can make whatever you like. I try to have some sort of vegetable, but I also like having some kind of carb, too. Tilapia is a light fish, so I like having something filling, like rice, as a side. This time I made fried rice with peas and egg. The rice isn’t so much a recipe as it is a method, but I’ve included instructions below anyway. It should get you started. Of course you could always do a more simple white rice, steamed veggies, and/or salad. This one is really up to you. If I made it this week, I would probably make sides of white rice and blanched spinach with sesame oil and garlic. Next week, I might just stick a simple salad and toast with it.

Lemon Onion Tilapia

One Tilapia filet per person 

Half a lemon per person

Quarter onion per person

One tbsp butter per person

One clove garlic per person

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Slice the lemon and onion, then layer half on the bottom of your dish.

Add the tilapia, then cover with the remaining lemon and onion. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Add crushed garlic clove and butter to the pan, then bake at 375 for 20 – 30 minutes, until done.

I like to cover the pan with aluminum foil for the first 15 – 20 minutes, then remove it for the final baking time. The fish should flake easily and be opaque when it’s done cooking. Periodically spoon the butter and juices back over the fish during bake time.

Fried Rice

Cooked rice (white or brown, however much you want)

Some kind of frozen or canned vegetable (I normally use frozen sweet peas, but corn or carrots would work really well, too)

Sesame oil

Canola oil

One egg

Soy sauce

I try to cook the rice ahead of time. Heat a little oil in your pan, then add your rice.

Stir for a moment as the rice cooks, then make a hole in the middle. Add your egg and scramble to cook. Once cooked, add frozen peas and mix everything together.

Add sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Literally, taste the rice and adjust seasonings as needed. 

Lemon Onion Tilapia Recipe Card

One Tilapia filet per person 

Half a lemon per person

Quarter onion per person

One tbsp butter per person

One clove garlic per person

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Slice the lemon and onion, then layer half on the bottom of your dish.

Add the tilapia, then cover with the remaining lemon and onion. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Add crushed garlic clove and butter to the pan, then bake at 375 for 20 – 30 minutes, until done.

I like to cover the pan with aluminum foil for the first 15 – 20 minutes, then remove it for the final baking time. The fish should flake easily and be opaque when it’s done cooking. Periodically spoon the butter and juices back over the fish during bake time.

Mustard Pork Chops; or, a Cure for Homesickness

For the simple recipe cards of all the below recipes, click the buttons below.

I won’t lie, as the weather has turned cool and the autumn has arrived, I’ve been a bit homesick. I’ve spent three of the last four autumns in the mountains of North Georgia, and you can’t beat a North Georgia Autumn. Watching the mountains turn from green, to seeing the first tree turn bright yellow, then slowly the rest of the forest changes to a beautiful mix of red, orange, and yellow. And when I get homesick, I make familiar food. I can’t tell ya’ll how much I enjoyed this recipe. It was delicious, and so much fun to make. It’s a variation on a meal that I had countless times as a kid, and it was the perfect cure for the little bit of homesickness that was creeping in. 

I used thick cut, bone in pork chops, but you can use whatever you want/can afford. I would normally use a boneless thin cut, but I wanted a little treat for myself and my husband. Just get what will work best for you, but remember that the thinner the cut, the quicker it will cook. My suggestion in that case is to increase the heat when you sear them so they will color more quickly. You want them to be undercooked when they go into the oven, so they won’t dry out.

For the greens, I used a half mix of turnip greens and collard greens. I like using a mix of different greens, and would have included mustard greens but I couldn’t find any in the store. I was ok with that though, as I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to find collards. Feel free to use just one type of green, or to use frozen if that’s all you can find. 

Black-eyed peas are the best with greens and cornbread, in my opinion. I suppose you could substitute them with pinto beans, if you really want to, but I would recommend at least trying black-eyed peas. Dry, canned, or frozen will work with this recipe, and just like the greens, they can stay simmering on the stove for however long you need. 

The cornbread is the most difficult thing for me to tell you how to make, as I don’t typically use any measuring cups. I’ve estimated measurements for the recipe, but feel free to use less or more depending on how many people you’re feeding. I really recommend using a cast iron skillet for this, as I don’t know that any other type of pan would give the same result. Don’t let any cast iron snobs dissuade you, Lodge or any off-brand of cast iron is just as good as a high-end brand. The quality of cast iron really depends on how well you care for it.

As far as the order of operations for this meal, it isn’t too difficult as the greens and beans can stay on the stovetop for as long as you need them to. I’ve known my mom to leave greens simmering on the stove for entire afternoons. But the very first step should be to make the sweet tea, if you’re going to include that, as it is best when it has time to cool down. Then get the greens and beans going. I recommend making the cornbread next, even though it will have cooled down by the time the pork chops are ready. The chops and cornbread both need the oven, but at different temperatures. So either make the cornbread first, or allow it extra time to finish cooking.

The recipes below are for six servings.

Sweet Tea (½ gallon)

Two large tea bags (I prefer Tetley, but I couldn’t find that brand so I used Luzianne instead)

About ¾ cup of white sugar

Fill a small saucepan with water, and boil. When the water begins to boil, add the two tea bags and turn off the heat. Allow to steep for at least 10-15 minutes, then pour over the sugar in a half-gallon pitcher. Stir to dissolve sugar, then fill the pan (with tea bags still) with water again and add to pitcher. Continue until pitcher is cool and put in fridge to cool.

Greens

Two bundles greens (I used one turnip greens and one collard greens)

One and a half yellow onions, diced

Four or five garlic cloves, smashed

Few dashes of hot sauce of your choice

One cup chicken broth, bouillon, or bouillon paste

A few pieces of ham, salt pork, or bacon

Two or three tablespoons butter

Rinse the greens very, very well. This is really important as if there’s any dirt or sand left on the greens it can cause an unpleasant texture.

Rip each leaf into several pieces, removing the tough center stem. Add all ingredients, plus a cup of water, to a large pot and set on high.

Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium to continue simmering. Simmer for at least twenty minutes, or as long as you want. You can eat them as soon as the greens wilt and become tender, but they’re better the longer they cook. Salt and pepper before serving, and strain before dipping onto a plate or bowl.

Black Eyed Peas

Half a yellow onion, diced

Two cans black eye peas, or a bag of frozen or dried beans

Two or three cloves of garlic, smashed

A few pieces ham, salt pork, or bacon

One or two tablespoons butter

Add everything to a saucepan and simmer for at least fifteen minutes, or as long as you want. You can eat it as soon as the beans are warmed through and tender, but they’re better the longer they cook.

Cornbread

Two cups cornmeal

⅓ cup vegetable oil

Two eggs

About two cups of whole milk or buttermilk

About two tablespoons of Crisco

Turn the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, put the Crisco in your cast iron skillet and place in the oven.

Mix the other ingredients in your mixing bowl, saving half the milk to the side for now. When the oven has preheated, or after five to ten minutes if your oven, like mine, doesn’t have a preheat notification, mix the rest of the milk into the batter. It should be the consistency of cake batter, and when it rested it will have absorbed some of the milk, which will make the end result more soft and tender.

Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, the oil should be very hot. Add the batter to the pan, carefully as the oil should bubble and fry the outside of the cornbread.

Return to oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to rest for a few minutes, then run a butter knife around the edge and flip onto a plate. Be careful as the pan will still be hot.

Pork Chops

One cup mustard bbq sauce (the recipe is linked in a button above)

A few tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

Six pork chops

Sear the pork chops in a hot skillet and vegetable oil. You want the pan to be on pretty high heat so the pork chops will sear well but quickly, as you want them to be raw when they go into the oven. Work in batches if needed, as they will sear best if they are not touching when in the pan.

Place on a rack on a baking sheet, brush with mustard sauce, then place in the oven. Bake for twenty to thirty minutes, brushing on more mustard sauce every eight to ten minutes.

They are done when a thermometer, inserted into the thickest area, reads at least 165 degrees.

Greens

This is the recipe card from my post about Mustard BBQ Pork Chops. For the entire post, click the button below.

Two bundles greens (I used one turnip greens and one collard greens)

One and a half yellow onions, diced

Four or five garlic cloves, smashed

Few dashes of hot sauce of your choice

One cup chicken broth, bouillon, or bouillon paste

A few pieces of ham, salt pork, or bacon

Two or three tablespoons butter

Rinse the greens very, very well. This is really important as if there’s any dirt or sand left on the greens it can cause an unpleasant texture. Rip each leaf into several pieces, removing the tough center stem.

Add all ingredients, plus a cup of water, to a large pot and set on high.

Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium to continue simmering. Simmer for at least twenty minutes, or as long as you want.

You can eat them as soon as the greens wilt and become tender, but they’re better the longer they cook. Salt and pepper before serving, and strain before dipping onto a plate or bowl.