Day 1 – Dinner

The easiest way to go gourmet on a budget that I have found is to go to the meat counter, see what’s on sale, and plan around that. Hence –

Sirloin Steak with Baby Spinach Salad with Balsamic Grilled Vegetables and Rustic Apple Tart and Red Wine

Header picture. Yes, you can actually make it.

Baby Spinach Salad with Balsamic Grilled Vegetables

1 Portabella mushroom cap – $0.55 (I happened to find portabellas on sale, 2 oz button mushrooms could work just as easily if halved so they can stand up to the grill)
1 organic baby yellow squash – $.86
.5 oz balsamic vinegar aged 3 years $.33
.5 oz olive oil $.29
dash of dijon mustard $0.03
1/4 – 1/2 clove garlic $0.02
Salt and pepper $0.02
1.25 oz spinach – $0.55 (You could easily use iceberg, or whatever is on sale. I’m iron deficient, so I choose spinach whenever I can. Always with vitamin C so that I can access the iron in the spinach without cooking it. Plus, I hear it makes you strong to the finish.)
1/2 roma tomato – $0.22
1/2 organic carrot – $0.04

Total for recipe – $2.91 per serving
Calories: 179  Fat: 14  Protein: 5 

Rinse off the portabella and clean out the gills with a spoon.
Wait 5 minutes until it’s dry to cut.
Meanwhile slice zuchinni in 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch slices.
Whisk vinegar, dijon, garlic, salt and pepper in a clean bowl. Add the oil, drop by drop, whisking continuously until all the oil in incorporated. Cut the portabella into 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch slices.
Marinate in the basalmic vinaigrette for 1/2 hour.
Heat grill pan.*
While the grill pan is heating, cut tomato into slices.
Peel half the carrot.
Put spinach in a large bowl, add tomato, and peel in the half carrot in long thin strips with the vegetable peeler.
Put vegetables on the grill, reserving the marinade.
Salt vegetables liberally. Garlic salt can be used for more flavor, but isn’t necessary.
After a minute or two, turn the vegetables, and salt the other side.
After another couple of minutes, when the vegetables are soft but still have a bit of texture, move them off the grill onto a plate.
Allow to cool.
Add to salad.
Pour in vinaigrette.
Toss and serve.

*If you don’t have a grill pan, sauteeing them in a pan works too. But grill pan = grill marks. Which for some reason just look tempting. I’ll admit, I’m sure that’s largely conditioning. I hate to think I’m a slave to media, but in this case, oh yes, I am. Those marks trick my brain into thinking veggies taste better. Who knew mass media could be helpful?

Sirloin Steak with Pan Sauce

– on sale for 5.99 lb
adapted from Cook’s Country
serving – 1   4-ounce steak with sauce

4 oz steak – $1.64
1 tsp olive oil – $0.10
Salt and pepper to taste – $0.05

Total for recipe – $1.79 per serving
Calories: 326 Fat: 21.4 Protein: 32  

Bring steak to room temp. This ensures more even cooking.
Heat pan to moderate heat.
Season steak on both sides.
Add oil to pan.
Sear steak 4 minutes each side or until medium rare.
Rest the steaks. Very important. A word about Resting.

2 tsp onion – $0.03
1/2 tsp brown sugar – $0.01
1 oz red wine $0.21
1 oz chicken stock $0.11*
3/4 tsp balsamic vinegar $0.08
1/4 tsp dijon mustard $0.02
3/4 tbsp butter $.08

Total for recipe – $0.54 per serving
Calories: 128 Fat: 9.3 Protein: 2  

Off heat, add shallot and sugar to the empty skillet.
Stir frequently until the sugar is melted @ 30 seconds.
Return skillet to heat and add wine and broth.
bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits on the pan bottom with a wooden spoon.
Boil until liquid is reduced to 1 1/2 tbsp.
Stir in vinegar and mustard.
Cook 1 minute longer.
Take off heat and mount with butter.
Add any juices that drained off steak.
Spoon over steak.

*I make chicken stock, but you can buy it and keep it in the freezer indefinitely. Just carve off as much as you need for each recipe. Price reflects storebought. If you don’t have it and don’t have use for it,  just add another ounce of wine, or some water.  It’ll be fine.

By the way, I realize that the salad is more expensive than the steak. I too think that this is ridiculous. But veggies are essential for health, so I’ll pony up. I use the same strategy generally for veggies that I do for meat. I go see what’s on sale, and then I plan around that.


Rustic Apple Tart

adapted from Elie Krieger, Food Network
Servings – 6 wedges

1 cup flour – $0.25
2 tbsp granulated sugar $0.05
1/8 teaspoon salt $0.01
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces $0.40
2 tablespoons lowfat buttermilk $0.03
3 tablespoons ice water

3 medium apples $1.26 – 2.75 (depending on if you get the 3lb bag versus organic apples)*
1 tablespoon lemon juice $.14
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch $0.09
3 tablespoons light brown sugar $0.13
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon $0.02

1 teaspoon honey $.07
1/4 teaspoon boiling water

Total for recipe – $0.25 – $0.65 (depending on apples) per serving
Calories: 220 Fat: 8 Protein: 3

Measuring by Weight

To prepare the crust, in a medium bowl whisk together the flour, granulated sugar and salt.
Add the butter and with your hands crumble the butter into the flour mixture until you get a pebbly, course texture.
In a small bowl combine the buttermilk and ice water.
Using a fork, gradually mix the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture. Pat the dough into a 4-inch round and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and prepare the filling.
Peel the apples, core them and cut into 1/4-inch slices. In a large bowl toss the slices with the lemon juice. Sprinkle in the cornstarch, brown sugar and cinnamon and toss until the apples are evenly coated. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough into a large circle about 9 inches in diameter.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and draping the dough over the rolling pin, transfer to the prepared baking sheet. If the dough breaks at all patch it up with your fingers.
Arrange the slices in a mound in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch boarder. Fold the border over the filling. It will only cover the apples partially and does not need to be even.
Bake the tart for 15 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, keeping the tart in the oven all the while, and bake for another 40 minutes, until the apples are tender and the crust is golden brown.
In a small bowl stir together the honey and boiling water to make a glaze.
When the tart is done remove it from the oven and brush the honey glaze all over the top of the fruit and crust.
Transfer to a plate to cool slightly. Cut into 6 wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.
To save: Let cool to room temperature and freeze in tupperware or plastic wrap, either whole, or cut into wedges and separated with wax paper.

* When buying apples for straight eating, I generally choose organic. For baking, especially when I’m peeling them, I use cheapy apples. Since apples are the star of this recipe, you may want to use organic. My prices will reflect the 3lb bag price.


Totals for dinner

Total for dinner – $5.49 (not including glass of red wine)
Fat: 52.7 (56%)
Protein: 42 (20%)


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