Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce, Low-Fat Blue Cheese Dressing & Other Salad-Like Things

Creamy Cucumbers

Great summer recipe. If using as a side dish, cut recipe in half. 

1 cup mayo

1/4 each of cup of sugar and vinegar

1/t tsp of salt

4 cucumbers

  1. Slice cucumbers
  2. Combine mayo, sugar, vinegar, and salt in a bowl. Add cucumbers. Stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for two hours.

I wouldn’t let this salad sit for more than 4 days in the fridge. As a single person, I make all the dressing on Sunday, but only slice two of the cucumbers. Then I mix the cucumbers with half the dressing in a large container and pour the remaining half of the dressing in a small container. Wednesday evening I slice the second pair of cucumbers and mix with the rest of the dressing. This recipe makes enough for me to have 6 good-sized portions for lunches and 4 smaller portions to accompany dinner.

 

Stuffed Apple

A great thing to bring to work for lunch or with you on a hike.

2 Tbsp of peanut butter

1 Tbsp of honey

1 tsp of raisins

Apple

  1. Core the apple. I don’t have an apple corer so I just use a paring knife. The tunnel needs to be a decent size.
  2. Combine peanut butter, honey, and raisins in bowl. Spoon into the center of the tunnel.
  3. Wrap in saran wrap for transport.

 

Low(er)-Fat Blue Cheese Dressing

My salad of choice for this is: assorted baby greens, grated red beets, yellow bell pepper, blueberries, blackberries, halved red grapes, walnuts, dried cherries, assorted seeds, blue cheese

1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese

1 cup of fat-free plain yogurt

2 Tbsp of chopped onion

2 garlic cloves

4 Tbsp of blue cheese

  1. Mince garlic cloves.
  2. Combine cottage cheese, yogurt, onion, garlic, and 2 Tbsp of crumbled blue cheese in blender and process until smooth. Stir in remaining 2 Tbsp of blue cheese (crumbled, obviously).
  3. I also add another couple Tbsp of blue cheese to the entire salad because I love blue cheese, obviously.

 

Sugar-free Cranberry Sauce to Cranberry-Apple Salad

I wanted to make this salad for my friend who can’t have any kind of processed sugar. I originally started making this salad with store-bought canned cranberry sauce, but over the years I have learned how to make cranberry sauce at home that is WAY better (probably because my recipe entails brandy, rum, Grand Marnier, and amaretto), but it still contains sugar. This was an experimental recipe that I deemed successful! 

Bag of frozen cranberries

3/4 cup of pineapple juice (make sure it’s 100% juice and no sugar added)

1/2 cup of applesauce (again, make sure it is UNsweetened with NO sugar added)

Orange

2 apples

2 ribs of celery

1 cup of chopped walnuts

  1. Put cranberries, pineapple juice, applesauce, and 1/2 cup of water in pot and bring to boil.
  2. Keep on medium heat, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce to a simmer. Zest the entire orange. Add zest to sauce. Cut orange in half and squeeze both halves to add juice to sauce as well. You can use a juicer if it is easier, but I don’t have one.
  4. Simmer 10 minutes and then remove from the heat.
  5. Cool completely and then store in fridge for at least 4 hours prior to mixing with remaining ingredients.
  6. Dice apples. Don’t peel them.
  7. Thinly slice celery ribs.
  8. Combine cranberry sauce, apples, and celery. Cover and refrigerate.
  9. Chop walnuts.
  10. When ready to serve, stir in walnuts.

I’m used to things being a little sweeter, so I will probably add 2-3 Tbsp of honey to the cranberry sauce next time, but that is totally optional.

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Olive Pinwheel Bread

Tube of refrigerated pizza crust

Olive oil

Rosemary (fresh or dried)

Olives

Egg

Flour

Provolone cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Chop 1/2 cup worth of olives.
  3. Cut up 1/2 cup of provolone cheese into small chunks.
  4. Unroll pizza dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Brush with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary (1 Tbsp minced fresh or 1 tsp of crushed dried), olives, and cheese. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Pinch seam to seal and tuck ends under.
  5. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet.
  6. Separate egg yolk from egg white.
  7. Brush bread with egg yolk. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool before cutting.

***This recipe is especially good with stuffed olives. My favorites to use are ones stuffed with blue cheese, garlic, and jalapenos.***

 

Baked Tomatoes

4 Tomatoesphoto (15)

Salt

Pepper

Brown sugar

Ritz Butter Garlic Crackers

Butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cut 4 tomatoes into 1/2″ slices. Arrange in a greased baking dish.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
  5. Crush 3/4 cup worth of cracker crumbs and crumble over top of tomatoes.
  6. Dot with 4 Tbsp of butter.
  7. Bake for 25-35 minutes.

Apple Turnovers – $1.33 each

Tube of refrigerated crescent rolls

Can of apple pie filling

Icing sugar

Milk

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Unroll dough and separate into four squares. Press the seams of the triangles together. Place on a greased baking sheet.
  3. Spoon 1/4 can of apple pie filling in one corner of each square. Fold in half corner to corner (diagonally) to make triangles. Pinch to seal. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Mix 1/2 cup of icing sugar and 1 Tbsp of milk. Drizzle over turnovers. Best served warm.

Fried Tomatoes – 77¢/serving

4 tomatoesphoto (14)

Salt

Lemon-pepper seasoning

Cornmeal

Vegetable oil

  1. Slice tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp of lemon-pepper seasoning. Let stand for 20-25 minutes.
  2. Coat with 3/4 cup of cornmeal.
  3. Heat 1/2 cup of vegetable oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Fry tomatoes for 3-4 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Best served immediately.

90s Nostalgia Party

My birthday party. Budget $100

 

Salad: Mixed greens, Mandarin orange slices, Grapefruit, Pistachios, Sunflower seeds, Almonds, Pecans, Creamy Peach/Mango Dressing

BBQ Lima Beans:

Preheat oven to 350°. Open, rinse, and drain 4 cans of lima beans. Combine beans in a bowl with 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar, 1 cup of ketchup, and 1 chopped onion. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Dice 3 uncooked bacon dish and sprinkle on top of beans. Bake, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours.

Cherry Turnovers:

Preheat oven to 375°. Unroll 3 tubes of refrigerated crescent rolls and separate (or cut) into 24 triangles. Make 12 squares by pressing the seams of 2 triangles together and rolling into shape. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Spoon 1/4 cup of cherry pie filling in one corner of each square. Fold to make triangles. Pinch to seal. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Mix 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar with 3-6 Tbsp of milk. Use 3 Tbsp if you want a thick icing to make designs or squiggly lines with. Use 6 Tbsp if you want to use as more of a glaze to brush over pastries. Serve warm.

Bison burgers with cheese and bacon

Cheese smokies

Grape KoolAid spiked with vodka

Tang spiked with tequila

Shasta punch spiked with rum

Cake

Chips

Potato smiley faces

Cooking for Large Groups

Craft services for a film set cast and crew.

Total budget: $300

I bought most things in bulk at Costco. There are a TON of leftovers, but if I wouldn’t have bought in such large portions then I would have paid the same amount if not more for half the ingredients so it seemed worth it.

 

Salad: (Lunch Day 1&2)

I’ve posted this recipe before so here is the link: https://theshortchef.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/orange-pecan-salad/

I bought a box of mandarin orange cups – like the kind you put in kids’ lunches. I put 12 aside for salads and then put the rest out for the crew to eat. Instead of pecans, I tossed in toasted whole almonds, pistachios, and a mix of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. The mix is called Salad Topper, which I got from Costco. I also bought a box of individual yogurt cups, put aside the peach/mango flavors for salad dressings, and put the rest out for eating.

Creamy Italian Noodles: (Lunch Day 1)

Cook 2 pkgs of wide egg noodles according to pkg directions. Drain and place in a bowl. Toss with 1/2 cup of butter. Add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, and 4 1/2 tsp of Italian seasonings. I used a mix of Italian salad dressing mix, Country Herb salad dressing mix, and Italian spice blend. Mix well. Serve immediately. Doesn’t make great leftovers.

Cheesy Squash: (Lunch Day 2)

Cut 7 small zucchinis and 2 eggplants into 1/4 inch slices. I usually use yellow summer squash instead of eggplant, but they must be out of season because I couldn’t find any. Place in two greased shallow baking dishes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with 4 cups of mozzarella cheese and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 7-10 minutes. Serve immediately. Doesn’t make great leftovers.

Nutty Chocolate Marshmallow Puffs: (Lunch Day 1&2)

Coarsely chop 1 lb or 4 cups of pecans. In a heavy saucepan, heat 2 cups of milk chocolate chips, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and a 7 oz jar of marshmallow creme just until melted. Stir until smooth. Be prepared for the mixture to be quite thick.

You’ll have to act relatively quickly and stir often to prevent mixture from burning, so immediately dip marshmallows, one at a time, in chocolate mixture. I used a fork because i don’t have tongs, but those would probably be easier. Shake off excess chocolate. Quickly roll in pecans. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. I didn’t actually have wax paper so I used aluminum foil and sprayed it generously with vegetable spray and it worked fine. I kept the pot on the stove with it on low heat to keep it warm and easier to work with, but if it’s too hot to handle this way, you may have to throw it in bowl and then reheat it every once in a while. When all the puffs are on the tray, refrigerate until chocolate is firm. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Banana Dessert: (Lunch Day 1)

Slice up 8 bananas. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and a handful of pecans. Garnish with Cool Whip.

Bacon Cheese Biscuit Wreath: (Breakfast Day 1)

In a small saucepan, melt 5 oz of Cheez Whiz and 3 Tbsp Golden Crisco. Stir until blended. Pour into a well-greased bundt pan. Cut each biscuit into quarters and place over cheese mixture.

Bake at 400° for 12-14 minutes. Immediately invert pan onto a serving platter and remove. Normally I sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of minced fresh parsley but I went to 2 stores and neither had any so I settle for the fresh parsley paste they sell in the produce section. So I brushed the hot bread with 2 Tbsp of parsley paste and then with 4 strips of cooked and crumbled bacon. Serve bread warm.

Cheese Biscuits: (Breakfast Day 2)

Stir 2 cups of Bisquik, 2/3 cup of milk, and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese in a bowl just until moistened. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Mix 2 Tbsp melted butter and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Brush over biscuits. Bake at 475° for 8-10 minutes. Serve warm.

Cordon Bleu Stromboli – $2.58/serving

Loaf of frozen French or white bread, thawedphoto 2 (8)

Butter

8 oz deli ham

5 oz deli chicken

Swiss cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Shred 1/2 cup of Swiss cheese
  3. Knead on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle
  4. Layer ham, cheese, and chicken
  5. Roll into a long log. Pinch the seams and tuck the ends. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Refrigerate leftovers.

Chunky Cinnamon Applesauce – $3.06/cup

photo (13)8 Granny Smith apples

Sugar

Red-hot candies (I usually use hot tamales)

  1. Peel and core/slice apples.
  2. Put in a pot with 1 cup of water. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Mash with a potato masher.
  3. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of red-hot candies. Stir and cook until candies are dissolved.
  4. Cool. Refrigerate until serving.

Go Bananas – $3.22/loaf

2 pkgs of banana muffin mix

Bananas

Walnuts

Milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop 1 1/2 cups of walnuts.
  3. Peel and mash 3 bananas in a large bowl with a fork.
  4. Add walnuts, 3 cups of milk and the 2 pkgs of muffin mix to mashed bananas. Combine until just blended. Spoon into three or four greased loaf pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 3-4 loaves.

It seems like a lot. We’re 2 people and we easily eat 2 loaves in a week. You can freeze one or two loaves or give them away to neighbors or as gifts or bring to the next function you go to. Everyone loves banana bread! Just make sure to warn people that it contains nuts!