Over the past few months, my grocery spending has been drifting upward and I wanted to check that by getting back to basics. One trick I’m implementing is shaking up some of my favorite recipes, like spinach lasagna, to utilize ingredients I already had on hand instead of buying exactly what the recipe card required. I guess I did a good job. By actually menu planning instead of buying staples for meal ideas, and changing a recipe or two, our grocery bill was 33% lower than on our last shopping trip.
After nearly three years as a food blogger, I still don’t always remember to take a photo before I eat half of it.
In this case, my bi-weekly menu consisted of three pasta dishes including lasagna. We had enough spaghetti sauce in the refrigerator for two of those. Now I could have just bought more of the store-brand spaghetti sauce that I use for my semi-homemade sauce. It costs me less than a dollar; it wouldn’t have had a huge impact on the grocery budget. But instead, my wife had the idea of making up some of the Wildtree alfredo sauce that we have. And instead of having alfredo with a regular spaghetti dish, we thought we would experiment a little and use it for the lasagna instead.
Cook noodles according to directions on package. Drain.
Place 3 noodles side by side in glass baking dish. Evenly spoon ½ cup spinach, half cup alfredo, and one cup mozzarella over noodles.
Cover with 3 more lasagna noodles. Add remaining spinach, alfredo, and cheese. Top with remaining noodles.
Bake in oven for 30 minutes until cheese begins to brown.
Once you get comfortable with a dish, you can experiment with different variations to create brand new recipes. By combining two flavors or cooking styles into one dish, you can create some incredible fusion dishes that will get people’s mouth watering from just the name. The Philly cheesesteak burger, Italian stir-fry, and flat-bread tuna melt are just a few of examples of this that I have shared on this blog.
After reading my Food of the Week post on pitas, my mother reminded me of another frequent visitor of out dinner table: pita pizzas.
Pita pizzas are basically pizza fillings stuffed inside a pita. They are part of a line of mini-pizzas using common breadstuffs, such as English Muffin pizzas or the mini-bagel pizzas famously mentioned in Men in Black II.
This recipe is for basic cheese pita pizzas. But there is absolutely nothing stopping you from adding your favorite pizza toppings such as pepperoni, sausage, dice tomatoes, peppers, or even *ugh* mushrooms.
Stuffed peppers were what I was going to make a couple weeks ago, had the beef thawed out and the peppers purchased. Instead, I had my gallbladder removed and was put on a low fat diet for the following week. Ground beef isn’t exactly low-fat, so the ground beef was cooked and refrozen. And I had slices of bell pepper without dip that weekend.
But now, I’m ready to make stuffed peppers again. Got some new peppers and thawed the beef back out. Actually, I went ahead and cooked the rice and mixed the beef and tomato sauce in, so all I have to do it blanche the peppers and cook them. That’s dinner tonight.
Have a recipe you'd like to share? Go to my guest post policy for more details and a form. All you need is your recipe and a photo of it. If I pick it for my upcoming cookbook, you will receive a free copy.