I decided to go Italian this year (not the seafood feast as that is not really frugal LOL), but more of a nice Italian dinner. We usually do a party with appetizers but I decided to forgoe that and do a regular meal with appetizers, pasta, salad etc as a way of saving some $ this year. Yes there are frugal appetizers but a meal of appetizers can get up there in price chiefly for the multitude of different ingrediants needed. Here is my menu and how I am keeping it frugal-
Shrimp Scampi appetizer
(a bag of shrimp at Aldi's grocery store is only $3 but this appetizer seems luxurious this doesn't contain many more ingrediants than what I will have on hand already for the main course)
Stuffed Mushrooms appetizer(this just has the same ingrediants I would purchase for the lasagna, goes in the microwave, and just need to purchase a package of cheap fresh mushrooms)
Worlds Best Lasagna main course
(this is basically a homemade lasagna with ground beef and some italian sausage - easy ingrediants - nothing exotic and because it is a pasta dish it goes a long way)
Homemade Bread Sticks
(cheap and easy in my breadmaker!)
Caesar Salad with homemade croutons and dressing
(very cheap on veggies only takes romaine lettuce as well as other ingrediants already in the fridge - just an investment of some anchovy paste which isnt really expensive)
Beverages are 7up for the kids and Spumante for the adults served in wineglasses (cheap Spumante tastes just as good!)
Dessert Platter with Boxed Chocolates, Mini Tarts and Gingerbread cookies
(The gingerbread men are inexpensive to make and the only cookie I need to bake as cutting down the amount of baking saves money and calories and waste) (mini tarts I am putting homemade (hence cheap!) pie crust into my mini muffin pan and dolloping pie filling in them (which I got for next to nothing from doublecouponing!), boxes of chocolates are buy one get one free on black friday!) - Voila - fancy Christmas desserts with not much work or cost!
Here's all the recipes I am using:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
30 medium shrimp - peeled and deveined
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).Toss the shrimp in a bowl with the olive oil, melted butter, garlic, salt, and pepper; set aside for 10 minutes. Arrange the shrimp in a circular pattern in a round casserole dish.
Bake in the preheated oven until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 15 minutes.
4 ounces bulk italian sausage, cooked
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese plus two tablespoons
1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
2 green onions
Chop mushroom stems. In microwaveable pie plate using a fork, combine mushroom stems, sausage, Italian seasoning, garlic, Parmesan cheese, ½ cup Mozzarella cheese and green onions. Cover with paper towel.Microwave on HIGH (100% power) for 1 minute. Arrange mushroom caps on paper towel lined microwaveable pie plate. Spoon about 1 tablespoon sausage mixture into each cap. Sprinkle the remaining Mozzarella over the stuffed mushrooms. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) uncovered, until cheese melts, about 30 seconds.
WORLD'S BEST LASAGNA
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
1 1/8 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh basil
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine, melted
In bread machine pan, place the first nine ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed). When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 20 portions. Shape each into a ball; roll each into a 9-in. rope. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Brush warm breadsticks with butter.
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup mayonnaise
5 anchovy fillets, minced
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups day-old bread, cubed
1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Mince 3 cloves of garlic, and combine in a small bowl with mayonnaise, anchovies, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the remaining 3 cloves of garlic into quarters, and add to hot oil. Cook and stir until brown, and then remove garlic from pan. Add bread cubes to the hot oil. Cook, turning frequently, until lightly browned. Remove bread cubes from oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place lettuce in a large bowl. Toss with dressing, remaining Parmesan cheese, and seasoned bread cubes.
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup water
Cream shortening and sugar. Sift flour with salt, soda and spices. Blend flour mixture into creamed mixture alternately with molasses and water. Chill at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with large 6-8 inch gingerbreadmen cookie cutters. Lift onto lightly greased cookie sheet with broad spatula. Bake above oven center for about 12 minutes or until cookies spring back lightly in center. Do not overcook, they won't stay soft. Remove from sheets. Cool on wire racks. Makes 10 men 6-8 inches tall.
BASIC FLAKY PIE CRUST FOR TARTS
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening, chilled
3 tablespoons ice water
Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium size bowl. With a pastry blender, cut in the cold shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water over flour. Toss mixture with a fork to moisten, adding more water a few drops at a time until the dough comes together.Gently gather dough particles together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling.Roll out dough, and put in a pie plate. Fill with desired filling and bake.