Friday, December 27, 2013

Lucky New Year's Foods and the Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! I did. I spent it with my family – Mom, three brothers, and some sisters-in-law and nieces. It was great to see everyone.

There’s really not much going on this week in the way of bargains. At least not bargains in the kind of food I eat and that I talk about in this column.

As usual, Aldi’s best buys are on fresh produce. Avocados are 49 cents each, Cucumbers are three for 99 cents. Baby carrots are 69 cents for a one pound package. Two peppers, one red and one yellow, are $1.49 for the two of them. Grape tomatoes are 99 cents for a pint, and celery is 89 cents a head.

The folks at Kroger have apparently heard of lucky foods for the New Year. They have corned beef for $1.97 a pound, and cabbage 4 pounds for a dollar. (That’s a fabulous price on cabbage! Buy some extra if you can. It keeps a long time in the fridge.) Canned black-eyed peas are 79 cents a can.

IGA in Ellettsville and Bedford has ground beef for $1.99 a pound. Cabbage is 39 cents a pound, which is not a great buy, but is cheaper than usual. Premade meatballs are 99 cents for 14 ounces, with a coupon from their flier. Dips and sour cream are 99 cents a pint (16 ounces).

As I said, not much this week in the way of bargains.

We’ll do something a bit different this week. Instead of concentrating on what’s on sale, this week’s recipes will be for lucky foods to eat on New Year’s Day. You’ve probably heard that it’s lucky to eat Hoppin’ John (a black-eyed pea dish) on New Year’s Day. But did you know that there are lucky foods for the New Year in many cultures? And they’re remarkably consistent, too. Greens, because they look like folding money and because they symbolize life. Pork, because pigs root forward, symbolizing progress. Beans, lentils, and other legumes, because they look like coins and because they swell when cooked, symbolizing increasing abundance. Long noodles, to symbolize long life (but be sure not to break them when cooking!). Cornbread, because it looks like gold. Round fruit, especially grapes, because they look like coins. Fish, because the scales look like coins. And lots of others.

A good place to start is with Southern style HOPPIN’ JOHN, GREENS, and CORNBREAD. You’ll get four lucky foods in that way! The HOPPIN’ JOHN recipe originally called for chicken stock, but I changed it to water, because it’s unlucky to eat chicken on New Year’s Day. That’s because chicken’s scratch backwards, symbolizing lack of progress. The ham hock (pork) and the black eyed peas are both lucky foods. The recipe makes ten servings, which is a lot, but you’re supposed to eat the leftovers on the 2nd as Skippin’ Jenny, to symbolize frugality and even more prosperity in the New Year. A whole recipe of Hoppin’ John will cost between $4.00 and $5.00 and will make ten servings. Let’s call it 50 cents a serving, just to make the math easy.

Collards and kale are the traditional Southern greens to serve on New Year’s Day, but cabbage is the traditional lucky green in Germany and Sweden. And cabbage is on sale this week.  Cole slaw would go well with Hoppin’ John, and would be lucky. But I’ll give Paula Deen’s recipe for COLLARD GREENS, just to keep with the Southern theme. Her recipe calls for another tablespoon of seasoned salt, but that’s too salty for me, especially with the salt in the ham hocks. You can add it if you want to, though I’d wait and add it at the end, if you think it still needs it. 

I didn’t check the price on collards, but I’m guessing that this would cost about $3.00, or about 75 cents a serving. And finally, some cornbread. Just make your own favorite recipe, or use Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. Add some canned corn if you like. The nuggets of corn look like nuggets of gold, for even more prosperity in 2014! The whole meal, then, of Hoppin’ John (half the recipe – don’t forget to save some for Skippin’ Jenny the day after New Year’s Day), Collard Greens, and cornbread, will cost right around $6.00, or about $1.50 per person. You can add some extra luck by having fruit for dessert. Something round, like an orange (which looks like gold!) or some grapes.

In Italy, the traditional lucky food for New Year’s Day is lentils and pork, as in this recipe for LENTIL-ESCAROLESOUP WITH SAUSAGE. The idea is the same as with Hoppin’ John – pork is lucky because pigs root forward, symbolizing progress, and the lentils look like coins and swell when cooked, symbolizing abundance and prosperity. This soup includes greens, too, for even more good luck! Again, I’ve substituted water for chicken broth, because it’s unlucky to eat chicken on New Year’s Day. A batch of this costs about $4.50. Cornbread would go well with this, too, and of course some round fruit.

Another meal with multiple lucky foods is FISH AND BOK CHOY NOODLE STIR FRY. It includes fish (lucky because the scales look like money and because fish swim around in schools, symbolizing abundance), greens (symbolizing money because they look like folded bills), and noodles (long noodles symbolizing long life). This one dish meal will cost about $5.00, leaving a dollar for some round fruit to finish off the meal.

Of course, you don’t have to eat meat to be lucky in 2014! SPAGHETTI WITH CREAMY SPINACH AND TARRAGON is vegetarian and includes long noodles (spaghetti) for long life and greens (spinach) for prosperity. This is one time when fresh spinach would be better than frozen. A batch of this costs about $4.00. You could add to your luck by also serving a lentil, black-eyed pea or bean salad, some corn bread, and some round fruit and keep the cost under $1.50 per person.

So there you have it. Lucky foods for a lucky start to a healthy and prosperous New Year. And even if you don’t believe that certain foods are lucky, these foods are also good for you and inexpensive, and a great and healthy way to start your New Year’s resolutions to eat healthy and save money in the New Year! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

You Mean There's Still More Ham Left?!

This week’s ads look an awful lot like last week’s. Ham is still king. I’ll give a run down on ham at the various stores first, and then move on to other things. It looks like a lot of the price differences are based on whether you’re getting a “name brand” or a “store brand,” as well as on how much water is added in the processing. I’ll let you know what I find about the type of ham (how much water is added), but be sure to check the packaging, too. I’m just relying on the little bit of information given in the ads.

Kroger has Kroger Spiral Sliced Ham for $1.27 a pound, limit of two with $25 in additional purchases. Cook’s Shank Portion Ham is 97 cents a pound, limit of 2 with $10 in additional purchases. Cumberland Gap Semi-Boneless Whole Ham is $1.99 a pound, and Hickory Hills Boneless Ham is $2.49 a pound. John Morrell Spiral Sliced Ham is $2.69 a pound and Private Selection Spiral Sliced Ham is $2.99. Whew! That’s anywhere from 97 cents to $2.99 per pound!

It’s a similar story at Marsh. Hormel Cure 81 Spiral Hams are $1.37 per pound, limit of one, with $25 of additional purchases. Sugardale Prestige Fully Cooked Shank Portion Hardwood Ham (water added) is 97 cents a pound, limit of one with $25 in additional purchases. Indiana Kitchen Heritage House Spiral Sliced Ham with Glaze Packet is $2.49 a pound. Alexander Hornung boneless hams and semi-boneless hams are $1.99 a pound. Marsh Honey Gold Spiral Sliced Glazed Ham is $10 off a half ham or $20 off a whole ham, but they don’t say how much the ham costs to begin with, so there’s no way to tell how much it ends up costing per pound. You’ll have to do the math when you get there.

Aldi has Appleton Farms hams on sale, $1.49 per pound for a spiral sliced half ham, 99 cents for a shank portion, or $1.19 for a butt portion.

IGA in Ellettsville has Best Choice Spiral Sliced Half Ham for $1.89 per pound, limit of one, with $15 in additional purchases, Field Kentucky Legend Boneless Whole Ham for $2.69 a pound, also with a limit of one and with $15 in additional purchases. Emge E-Z Carve Boneless Half Ham is $3.19 a pound and Boneless Whole Ham is $2.99 a pound. Carolina Pride Super Trim Half Ham is $1.39 per pound. Cumberland Gap Semi-Boneless Half Ham is $2.19 a pound, and Semi-Boneless Whole Ham is $1.89 a pound. Kretschmar Boneless Half Ham is $2.69 a pound, and Whole Boneless Ham is $2.49 a pound. Baking hens, roasters and whole fryers are all 99 cents a pound.

Other sales at Kroger include pints of sour cream or dip, 10 for $10, but it doesn’t look like you have to actually buy 10 items. Tennessee Pride breakfast sausage is 2 for $5, with packages ranging from 8 to 16 ounces. Various cheeses are $1.99 per 6 to 8 ounce package. Private Selection or Kroger turkeys are 99 cents a pound, and fresh Honeysuckle turkeys are $1.69 a pound. Cantaloupe are 2 for $3, or $1.50 each. That’s a great price, even for the summer. Fresh green beans are 99 cents a pound.

Marsh has fresh Florida strawberries, two pounds for $5, or $2.50 per pound. Various canned veggies are 49 cents a can. Thursday through Saturday only, whole pineapples are 99 cents each, limit of two with $30 in additional purchases. Indiana Kitchen bacon is $2.99 a pound. Zucchini is $1.29 a pound. Butterball Fresh All Natural turkeys are $1.99 a pound, and Norbest Fresh All Natural Family Tradition turkeys are $1.69 per pound.

Aldi’s vegetables are about the same as they have been. Potatoes are $1.89 for 10 pounds, sweet potatoes are $1.49 for 3 pounds. Oranges are $2.49 for a 4 pounds (but they were actually only $1.99 when I was there on Tuesday!), and mixed fruit (apples and oranges) are $2.49 for a 3 pound bag. Grapefruit are 49 cents each and pineapples are 99 cents each. Butter is $1.69 a pound and cream cheese is 89 cents for 8 ounces. If you’re interested in things like canned sweet potatoes, stuff to make green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc., you might want to take a look at Aldi. They have most of that stuff on sale, too.

IGA has turkeys for $1.19 a pound, while supplies last. Oranges are $3.99 for an 8 pound bag. Canned veggies are three for $1, limit of nine cans. Various Kraft cheeses are buy one, get one free, but it doesn’t say how much they cost. Sour cream and dips are 99 cents for 16 ounces (one pint). Best Choice Fresh Turkeys are $1.49 per pound. Cooked Perfect Meatballs are 99 cents for 14 ounces. Birds Eye frozen vegetables are 10 bags for $10, or $1 each, for 10 to 16 ounce bags, and so are Steamfresh frozen veggies. Red Delicious apples are $5.99 for 8 pounds.

Since ham is still on sale, I’ll do another column working with that. Again, I’ll be mostly talking about the leftover ham. There can be lots of leftovers and it can get pretty old! However, it does freeze well, and then you can use it later when you’re looking for a break from chicken or whatever. I’m figuring on 60 cents a cup again, like last week, when I cost out the recipes and menus.

This first recipe, HAMAND SPINACH CASSEROLE, does have grain in it, both in the white sauce and in the buttered crumbs on top. (As you may know by now, I don’t eat grains in any form.) I left them in the recipe in case you do eat them, which most people do. If you don’t want the wheat, you can substitute one can’s worth of the Campbell’s Soup Casserole Sauce Mix (I gave the recipe last week) for the white sauce, and add the cheese to it. As for the bread crumbs, you could use some slivered almonds if you wanted to, or more cheese, or just leave the topping off altogether, which is what I would do.

If you make this with half and half cream, the total cost will be about $4.50. With the soup mix or with milk it would be a bit less. Some CARROT SALAD would be good with this and would brighten up the plate. With the Carrot Salad, the meal would cost about $5.50, or a bit less than $1.50 per person. Or you could serve fruit and still keep it under $1.50 per person. Fresh fruit is best, of course, but canned without sugar is good, too. You’ll want something with it, anyway, because the servings are a bit smaller than I usually give.

Here’s a really easy way to use up some of that leftover ham. HAM AND BROCCOLI SAUTE is just ham and broccoli and cheese. You can’t get much simpler or quicker than that! Sometimes, especially in the middle of getting ready for the holidays, you just don’t want to spend much time or energy getting a meal on the table. Here’s the answer. This costs under $4.00, leaving a bit over $2.00 for things to go with it. How about some sweet potatoes, either baked or boiled, than whipped with some butter? You’d still be under $5.00 for four servings, or a bit under $1.25 per person.

And finally, BAKEDYAMS, APPLES AND CANADIAN BACON (OR HAM). As you might guess from the name, I took a recipe that calls for Canadian bacon and made it with leftover ham, instead. If you have sliced ham, go ahead and use it but follow the directions for Canadian bacon. This costs right about $4.00 and makes four generous servings. How about serving some coleslaw to go with it? I’ve given my recipe a few times (shredded or chopped cabbage, chopped onion, mayo, lemon juice, sweetener), but you’ve probably got your own favorite way of fixing it. However you do it, a basic coleslaw shouldn’t run more than $2.00 (mine would come out closer to $1.50), keeping the total cost of the meal for four people at less than $6.00, or  less than $1.50 per person.

Okay, so this next one is really the last one. HAM, POTATOES AND GREEN BEANS is a concoction that Mom used to make. And with ham, potatoes and green beans all on sale this week, I just have to include it! At this week’s prices, this would run about $3.60 and makes four generous servings. What would really go best with it would be corn bread (less than $1.00 for Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix and butter), but since I said I wouldn’t be including bread in my menus, let’s have some devilled eggs (eggs were $1.29 a dozen at Aldi on Tuesday) and carrot sticks, and a pineapple or cantaloupe for dessert.

If you have just a dab of ham left, you can add it to lots of other things as an accent. It goes great in potato soup, or in a salad. You can chop it up small and add it to corn bread before you bake it. Throw it in some eggs and either scramble them or make an omelet out of it. Put it in mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes. Make fried rice with it. Fry it up with some cabbage or put it in green beans. Or just eat it!

And whatever you do, don’t throw out the ham bone! Use it to make bean soup. Or make HAM BROTH and freeze it to make soup with later.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hamming It Up


Marsh has some meat on sale. Fresh picnic roasts are $1.29 per pound. As I’ve said (probably several times!) this is absolutely my favorite cut of meat. Unfortunately, there’s a big bone running through it, which ups the effective price considerably. By “effective price” I mean the price per serving. I’ve never actually weighed it out and everything, but I’d guess that on a per serving basis, or on how many ounces of actual cooked meat you get, pork loin at $2.00 a pound would be cheaper than the picnic at $1.29. But oh, the picnic is so much better! I just now looked up how much meat is left after you take out the bone on a ham, and it said to allow three-quarters of a pound per person for a bone-in ham, and just one-quarter of a pound for a boneless ham. Which leads very nicely into the next things they have on sale, which is ham! Hormel Cure 81 Spiral Ham is $1.37 per pound, limit one, with additional $25 purchase. Sugardale Prestige fully cooked hams (water added) is 97 cents a pound for a shank portion, limit one with additional $25 purchase, or $1.29 per pound for the butt portion, with no limit and no additional purchase required.

Aldi also has ham on sale. Appleton Farms shank portion is 99 cents per pound, and the butt portion is $1.19 per pound. Spiral sliced is $1.49 per pound. Sweet potatoes are still $1.49 for a three pound bag, and russet potatoes are $1.89 for a ten pound bag. Navel oranges are $2.49 for a four pound bag, and pineapples are 99 cents each. “Mixed fruit,” which seems to be red and green apples and oranges, is $2.49 for a three pound bag. Eggs are $1.29 a dozen, with a limit of six dozen. 5-ounce cartons of feta or blue cheese crumbles are $1.89 each. Evaporated milk is 65 cents a can and pumpkin is 89 cents a can. Cream cheese is 89 cents for eight ounces and butter is $1.69 per pound.

Kroger has ham on sale, too. Kroger spiral sliced ham is $1.27 a pound. I’m getting the feeling that ham is what’s traditional for Christmas around here! Frozen veggies are 10 for $10, or $1 per bag, and the bags range from 8 to 16 ounces. Cumberland Gap Semi-boneless whole ham is $1.99 a pound. They also have Cook’s shank portion “ham and water product” for 97 cents a pound.

It's hard to figure out how much ham costs per serving, because of the bone and the skin and all. However, MY BEST GUESS is about 60 cents per cup of ham. That's figuring the cost for leftovers, of course, since you don't usually serve it the first time around by the cup. That's about 4.85 ounces of cooked meat, which is probably more helpful if you're serving it sliced. And it takes about 6.5 ounces of ham as you buy it with, with the bone and skin and all to get one cup or 4.85 ounces. At least that's the best I can figure based on information I've found online.

Trying to figure out the differences between "ham," "ham with natural juices," "ham, water added," and "ham and water product"? Or whether it's worth the extra cost to get a spiral sliced ham instead of one that's not sliced? Check HERE for some tips.

So now for some recipes. The problem is that when I think of things to do with leftover ham, it’s mostly things like Ham Fried Rice, Ham and Beans (or lentils or split peas) Soup, or Scalloped Potatoes and Ham. Something that’s mostly a starchy “filler” type dish, and I’m staying away from those. Which is another reason I haven’t given ham recipes before!

The first thing you might think to do with leftover ham (after the ham sandwiches, that is) is to put it in eggs. Just fry some diced ham in some butter to warm it, then add eggs and scramble it as usual, for SCRAMBLED EGGS AND HAM. Or add it to an omelet along with some chopped green onions and chopped bell pepper for a DENVER OMELET. Don’t add any extra salt, since the ham is salty. 

Or you could do a HAM AND WHATEVER ELSE IS HANDY QUICHE. I’ll give a recipe using ham and frozen broccoli, but you could use spinach without changing the price more than a few cents a serving. A whole quiche will cost just under $5.00, assuming you use half and half cream and two cups of ham. That would come to about $1.25 per serving if you make four servings or about 85 cents a serving if you make six servings. A fourth of a quiche this size is plenty for either lunch or supper for me, without anything else. Or you could add an eighth of a head of lettuce plus a tablespoon or two of dressing and still keep it under $1.50. If you use frozen chopped spinach instead of broccoli, it will add about 10 cents per serving.

Here’s an old-fashioned sort of recipe. QUICKCREAMED HAM is basically Ham a la King. It’s traditionally served over something starchy, like toast, muffins, biscuits, waffles, rice, etc., but I serve it over a vegetable, instead. Broccoli is good, or spinach. It would be good over a baked potato, too. The cost of a recipe of this would run about $1.50. Add two pounds of frozen broccoli at 99 cents a pound (Walmart), and you’re up to $3.50 for four servings. How about some fresh pineapple for dessert? That’s 99 cents at Aldi this week. That brings the total for the meal to about $4.50, or about $1.15 per person. If you make your own soup, you’ll save about 30 cents total, bringing the cost per person down to $1.05.

Let’s go to Germany next, for Blumenkohl und Schinkenpudding. That’s CAULIFLOWER AND HAM PUDDING, for us Americans. I was surprised to find it in a German cookbook. Those of us who don’t eat potatoes frequently use cauliflower as a substitute, but apparently it’s not just a faddish, low carb thing. It’s also a traditional German thing, at least as far as this recipe goes. It’s more or less Scalloped Potatoes and Ham, but with cauliflower.

HAM LOAF is another very old-fashioned dish. It’s sort of like meatloaf, except it’s made with leftover cooked ham instead of raw ground beef. MUSTARD SAUCE and HORSERADISH SAUCE would be good with  HAM LOAF or with plain ham or roast beef., or in ham or roast beef sandwiches instead of mayo.

If you like pineapple or other fruit with your ham try PINEAPPLEUPSIDE DOWN HAM LOAF. It starts with the basic HAM LOAF, but is baked like a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, then flipped over so the decorations show when it’s served.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nothing Warms You Up Like Chicken Soup

I’ve got specials from four stores today – Aldi, IGA, Kroger and Marsh. And the sales are for four different periods – Wednesday through Tuesday for Aldi, Monday through Sunday for IGA, Thursday through Wednesday for Kroger, and Thursday through Sunday for Marsh. Not that that’s anything new. I’m sure you’re already aware of it. Just thought I’d mention it.

Marsh has their pork combo packs again for 99 cents a pound. That’s about 10 -15 pounds of chops, roasts and ribs. It’s a great price, but you have to buy at least $25 of other stuff to get that price, and there’s a limit of two combo packs. It’s still a pretty good price, even if you do have to pay a bit more for the other things. But watch how much more you pay for the rest. Perdue boneless skinless chicken breasts are $1.99 a pound in the family pack. 28-ounce to 29-ounce cans of tomatoes are ten for $10, or $1 each. I didn’t see that you have to buy ten items to get the special price, but watch for it when you check out.

I got a flier from IGA this week, so I’ll include their sale prices, too. They have stores in Ellettsville and Bedford. Probably not worth a special trip out there, but if you happen to be out there anyway, you might want to check them out. First, they have some special deals that are only good on Friday, December 6. Large eggs are 99 cents a dozen, with a limit of four dozen eggs. Idaho potatoes are $1.99 for a ten pound bag, and I didn’t see anything about a limit on them. Bacon is $3.99 for a 24 ounce package. And finally, whole boneless center cut pork loin is $1.49 a pound, limit of two roasts. Again, the sale on the eggs, potatoes, bacon and pork loin is only on Friday, December 6. The rest of their sales are from Monday, December 2 through Sunday, December 8. Boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken breast tenders are $1.99 a pound. Onions are 99 cents for a three pound bag. Some canned vegetables are 39 cents a can, with a limit of ten cans. Peas, corn and green beans were pictured. Shredded cheese is $1.47 for an 8 ounce bag.

Aldi has four pounds of oranges for $2.49, which is by far the best price I’ve seen so far this season. Eggs are $1.29 a dozen, limit of 6 dozen. Ham is still anywhere from 99 cents a pound to $1.49 a pound.

Kroger has boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs for $1.97 a pound and various cheeses – shredded, bars or singles – for $2.99 for 12 to 16 ounces. It’s a good price for 16 ounces, not so good for 12 ounces. Boneless pork loin is $1.99 a pound. Cream cheese is 10 for $10, or $1 each for 8 ounces. I checked to see if they still have the Swai nuggets I wrote about a few weeks ago, and they do. The regular price has come down, too, to $1.29 a pound.

As you know, I usually only talk about meats, eggs, veggies and dairy. In part that’s because that’s the way I eat, but mostly it’s because I have no idea what the regular price on most other things is, and what’s a good deal. I’m making a couple of exceptions this week on things that seem to be a better than usual price, but please use your own judgment on them. Don’t take my word that the prices are good. Marsh has four pound bags of sugar for 99 cents a bag, if you spend at least $30 on other stuff. There’s a limit of two bags. Sugar is $1.47 for a four pound bag at IGA, and flour is $1.59 for a four and a quarter to five pound bag. Flour at Aldi is $1.39 for a five pound bag and sugar is $1.49 for a four pound bag.

There really aren’t any great meat specials, but since Kroger, IGA and Marsh all have boneless skinless chicken breasts (and thighs, at Kroger) for $1.97 or $1.99 a pound, I was going to go with that. But then I was sitting here watching the rain turn to freezing rain, and listening to the forecast of 6 to 10 inches of snow, and thought soup sounded awfully good. I started changing recipes to use the boneless, skinless breasts, but the bony pieces are really lots better for soup making, because you can make the broth as you go. So I’m going to use the ten pound bags of chicken leg quarters from Walmart again. I didn’t check when I was in there on Thursday (it was a mad-house with everyone stocking up before the storm), but I’m assuming that they’re still $5.90, or 59 cents a pound. At least, that’s the price I’m going to use in costing out the recipes.

Half a bag of the leg quarters, roughly five pounds, should give you enough chicken and broth for at least two big batches of soup, maybe more. I'm going to assume that you're only cooking half the bag to use in these recipes, though you can always cook them all. The other half can be roasted or fried or cooked however you like, or you can make a double batch of chicken and broth, or you can freeze the other half to cook later. Whatever. A ten pound bag of chicken can be a bit intimidating, and I want you to be aware that it doesn't have to be.

Start by making STEWED CHICKEN WITH CHICKEN BROTH.  You'll want to take the skin off the chicken first and make GRIBENES, or CHICKEN CHIPS, with it. That's scrumptious bits of crispy baked chicken skin. Save the bones after you've cooked the chicken and taken the meat off of the bones for the soup, and use them to make BONE BROTH. You should end up with about five cups of meat that you've taken off of the bones, about two quarts of the Chicken Broth you made while cooking the chicken, and another quart or more of Bone Broth. Not bad for a $2.95 investment!

Seems like folks everywhere make chicken soup. As I look at the three recipes I have for you today, they seem sort of similar. The big difference is the seasonings. MEXICAN CHICKEN SOUP has Mexican-ish seasonings, with cumin, coriander and jalapenos. TURKEY CREOLE SOUP is Creole-ish, from around Louisiana, with green pepper and tomatoes, and parsley, thyme, bay leaf and basil. I know, it's turkey soup, but chicken will work just as well. The third recipe, MULLIGATAWNY SOUP is based an Indian-ish recipe, or at least a recipe that the British brought back from India after Anglicizing it.

This first recipe, MEXICAN CHICKEN SOUP, is really a chicken tortilla soup, without the tortillas. You could add them, if you wanted to. Cut a small package of small tortillas in half, then cut each half in thin strips. Add the tortilla strips with the broth and chicken. Or a generic chicken soup can be made by leaving out the jalapenos, cumin, and coriander, and using parsley instead of cilantro. I don’t know how much jalapenos run, but assuming they cost 25 cents and you’re using homemade CHICKEN BROTH, then a batch of this will cost about $3.75 and will make four servings of over 2 cups each at about 95 cents each. Add a wedge of lettuce with two tablespoons of dressing to each serving, and top each bowl of soup with 2 tablespoons of sour cream and a fourth of a cup (1 ounce) of shredded cheese and it comes to just a tad under $1.50 per serving. Avocados are 49 cents each at Aldi this week, so you could split one among the four servings for just twelve and a half cents per serving.

TURKEY CREOLE SOUP, or Chicken Creole Soup for our purposes, has the classic Creole seasonings of green pepper and tomatoes, and parsley, thyme, bay leaf and basil. A batch of this soup, which will make over eight cups and serve four generously, will cost about $4.50, depending mostly on how much you have to pay for the pepper. I figured a dollar, which may be high. That leaves $1.50 for something to go with the soup to round out the meal. You could do a salad and salad dressing, starting with half a head of lettuce (about 55 cents) and adding other ingredients like carrots and celery and onion until you reach the $1.50 limit. Not that you have to spend all of the $1.50 per person, of course! You could probably pick up a cucumber, and serve it either in ranch dressing, or sour cream, or vinegar. Some devilled eggs would be good with this, too, and would increase the protein considerably. There’s only two cups of meat for four people, which is a bit skimpy, though I increased it from the single cup that the original recipe called for. Eggs are $1.29 a dozen at Aldi, so you could have up to 3 whole eggs each if you wanted to. Or you could use a few eggs for garnish on the salad. Or you could serve some fruit for dessert. A two pound bag of pears is $1.49 at Aldi this week, oranges are $2.49 for four pounds, and apples are $1.99 for two pounds. You should be able to give each person a whole piece of fruit for dessert and still keep it under $1.50 per person, or if you bought a couple of different kinds, you could make a fruit salad for this meal and serve the rest of the fruit later.

The final soup today, MULLIGATAWNY SOUP, is an Anglicized (or Westernized) curry soup from India. The British brought it home with them when they returned from serving in India, back in the days when India was a British colony. It’s one of those basic recipes, like chili here in the States, that has lots and lots of variations. The main things seem to be chicken, apple, and curry powder. It’s traditionally served over rice, but I increased the chicken and vegetables instead. You could certainly serve it over rice if you wanted to. Like the Turkey Creole Soup, this should cost about $4.50, but it will make about twelve cups of soup. I’m still going to call it four servings, though you could get six out of it if you wanted to. A salad would go well with it, or fruit. See the Turkey Creole Soup recipe for suggestions. A dollop of yogurt would be good on it, too.

All of these recipes could be served over or with rice, but, as you know, I don’t eat the stuff and I don’t include it in my recipes. Instead, I’m going to give a recipe for CAULI-RICE, which is a rice substitute that is used a lot by folks who don’t eat grains. Now, don’t turn up your nose at it until you’ve tried it! Yes, it’s made out of cauliflower, but because it’s not overcooked it doesn’t taste like cauliflower. And because all of these soups are spicy (not necessarily hot, but with strong seasonings), even if it did taste a bit like cauliflower you wouldn’t know because the spices would cover the taste. Try it, and see for yourself. Don’t let the rest of the family know that it’s not really rice and, after they’ve eaten it and enjoyed it, ask them what it was. You know as well as I do that if you tell them ahead of time that it’s cauliflower they probably won’t eat it!