Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archives for Pasta

[ Currently Eating: Homemade Mac Salad ]

Penne Pasta - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Man. That was a seriously bad heat wave we had here in Southern California over the holiday weekend. Without the benefits of central air, we were forced to hole up in one room with the air conditioner on. It didn’t help much that our internet connection was spotty, so there was nothing to do but watch TV.

I’ve been meaning to get another 3 Dollars or Less recipe up. I’m going to admit that you can subtract ingredients easily to get this under the magic limit. I went over the 3 dollar limit, but I’m sure others are able to make it even cheaper so I’m still going to keep this recipe in that category. This is a recipe for the ubiquitous and easy Penne Pasta Casserole. Basically, add spaghetti sauce to cooked noodles in a baking dish, top with cheese and bake it in the oven.

Penne Pasta Casserole

1 26oz can spaghetti sauce (Hunt’s, etc.) — $1.00
1/2 med. yellow onion — $0.20
1 tbsp e.v. olive oil — $0.05
2-3 cloves minced garlic — $0.07
1/2 box dry penne or other pasta– $0.50
1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped — $0.20
1 cup grated cheddar — $0.40
1/3 lb ground beef or italian sausage – $1.00
salt, pepper, sugar — negligible

Total: $3.42

Get a pot of salted water going. Over low heat in a large skillet, add some olive oil, onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and sweat / simmer that until translucent (you can keep adding some water to prevent it from drying out). Remove to a plate. Add the ground beef and/or italian sausage (casing removed) and brown that. Drain it, return to pan with onion mixture. Add spaghetti sauce, and cook on low stirring occasionally for about 10-15 min. Add chopped basil (and any other herbs or veggies at this point). You may want to alter the flavor with salt, pepper and sugar depending on your spaghetti sauce.

When water boils, add the penne and UNDERCOOK it. How much depends on you and your oven. I just know you don’t need to cook it all the way because it’s going in the oven. When done to your liking, drain pasta and rinse it in cold water, if you like. I know they say not to rinse it, but because it’s a casserole I feel the noodles benefit a bit from a dunk.

Combine spaghetti sauce mixture and noodles together in the pot. In a shallow baking dish (flatter, shallower allows for more cheese browning area – if you like that.) Top with cheese, bake at 350F for about 30-45 minutes. You might want to cover lightly with aluminum foil until the last 10 minutes. You can also blast it in the broiler if you like the top extra crunchy.

Continue reading “Penne Pasta Casserole” …

[ Currently Eating: Leftover Hong Kong Chicken Steak ]

Cheap Eats Clam Spaghetti

It’s been an awful long time since we had a recipe on Cheap Eats. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking – just that it takes awhile to figure out or even remember exactly what I put in dishes.

This one is from a few months ago, but I think it’s semi-accurate. It’s Clam Spaghetti, one of my favorite things to make for a quick lunch if I happen to have the clams on hand. You’ll note that the popular pasta to use for a dish like this is actually linguini – I actually like the thinner noodles and I’ll often use the even thinner spaghettini.

Cheap Eats Clam SpaghettiThe title of this post is “Chicken of the Sea Clams” instead of Clam Spaghetti, and that’s because it was originally meant as a review of the Chicken of the Sea Whole Baby Clams in the foil pouches. You’ve probably seen the tuna, clams and possibly oysters in these foil pouches. They do tend to taste a little better to me than the canned variety, but are definitely more pricey.

The other day I happened to see the clams on sale for a buck each so I picked up a few pouches to make spaghetti. These pouches are pretty small – only 100 grams worth of clams – so you need 2 pouches to actually make enough clam spaghetti for two people.

Before I get into the quality of the clams – here’s the approximate recipe for those who are too impatient:

Clam Spaghetti

2 3.5 oz pouches of baby clams — $2.00
2 tbsp e.v. olive oil — $0.10
3-4 cloves minced garlic — $0.07
1/2 lb dry spaghetti / spaghettini — $0.50
1-2 tbsp chopped parsley — $0.05
1/2 cup chicken stock — $0.15
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese – $0.10
red pepper flakes — optional
salt, pepper, water – negligible

Total: $2.97

Get a pot of water for the spaghetti going on high. Mince up the parsley and set aside. Mince the garlic and set that aside. Open the pouches and drain the clams, reserving the liquids.

Wait until water boils, then add the dry spaghetti. Start melting the butter in the olive oil in a skillet on medium. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the reserved clam liquid and chicken stock and simmer for 3-5 minutes. (Keep and eye on the spaghetti so it doesn’t get overcooked!) Some people also put in a few tablespoons of Chardonnay or other white wine as well. If you do so, add that first and make sure to cook it out before adding the chicken stock and clam juice.

Add the clams to the skillet (do NOT cook this for too long – ). When the spaghetti is al dente, I like to take it out with tongs and put it directly into the pan. Then whack the parsley in there along with the parm cheese and salt/pepper to taste. If it’s too dry, add a bit of the pasta cooking water. Toss it a bit and serve.

Continue reading “Chicken of the Sea Clams” …

[ Currently Eating: Buckwheat Soba Noodles And Tea ]

Soba Noodles with Egg and Green OnionWe eat a lot of Japanese style noodles at our house. I have been meaning to write up a simple recipe on making soba, ramen, somen, and udon, but I just never got around to because usually I’m too hungry to sit around taking lots of pics.

So anyhow, this is going to be about Buckwheat Soba noodles which I think also have Yam in them. (For reference, the extremely thin vermicelli-like noodles are Somen noodles. Slightly thicker noodles, around size of spaghetti are Ramen noodles. The fatter thick noodles that look like fettucine that is round are called Udon noodles). Soba noodles are one of my favorites to make at home. The first thing you’ll notice is they are this weird greyish brown color which may take some getting used to (well, squid ink noodles are black so this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch). They get that werid color from the buckwheat and mountain yam paste that is in them.

The texture of the buckwheat noodles can also take some getting used to. They have a slightly gritty feel to them, even when cooked through. They most often come packages of pre-measured individual bundles, usually 3-6 in a pack.

All of these noodles can be eaten various ways, hot and cold, which is nice because you can prepare them based on the weather outside. Cold noodles in the summer are really good, as are hot soup based noodles in the winter. They can also be served outside of soup with a saltier soy based dipping sauce on the side, or in Dashi (Japanese soup stock) that is meant to be drunk along with the noodles.

The secret is in the Dashi, and what goes in it. You can make soup stock much easier and cheaper using “Hon-Dashi” dried soup stock, but the flavor of this owes much to MSG and is quite salty. But I often do it that way if I don’t have Kombu or Katsuo and it comes out fine… so if you do omit those items and just use the hon-dashi.

This is an approximation of how to make hot soba noodles w/ soup. I find that each time the recipe is a bit different but this is basically what I do to make a bowl of the above noodles:

Hot Soba Noodles With Soup

2 “bundles” of dried Buckwheat Noodles — $0.75
3-inch square of dried Kombu (kelp seaweed) — $0.25
1 cup of Katsuo (dried bonito flakes) — $0.30
2 green onions – $0.10
2 tbsp Mirin (sweet rice wine) – $0.25
4 tbsp Soy Sauce – $0.05
1 small piece of ginger, smashed – $0.10
salt – negligible
2 eggs (if desired for egg pancake) – $0.30
1/2 tbsp oil – $0.05
4 cups water, plus more for boiling noodles – negligible

Total: $2.10

Start boiling a large pot of water for noodles. In another medium sized pot, put the 4 cups water and the piece of Kombu over low heat. Now make the egg pancake (if you want). Beat eggs in small bowl with 1 pinch of salt. Over low heat in an omlette skillet, heat up oil for 30 seconds. Add eggs and cook for about 1 minute. Using spatula, lift up the edges of the egg cake. Now cover it and cook until the top is just barely solid. Flip it with the spatula, turn off heat and let cool in pan. Cut into slices and set aside.

When the Kombu-water boils REMOVE the Kombu. A little goes a long way, so no need to leave it in. Add Mirin, Soy Sauce, Ginger and the white ends of the two Green Onions, smashed. Cook until it boils, then reduce heat to as low as possible and keep it simmering.

When the water in the large pot boils, throw in the Buckwheat Soba. Keep a cup of cold water on hand. The Soba makes the water boil over sometimes, so if things start to get hairy, throw in some cold water. Cook until al dente, and then RINSE WELL under cold water in colander. This is opposite of what they tell you with Italian noodles, but very important. In fact, some people use ice to cool the noodles down quickly.

Now add the Katsuo (dried bonito flakes) to the dashi soup stock. You absolutely need to add this near the end for full effect. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Strain the bonito, onion bits, and ginger out of the stock into another bowl. Put the stock back in the pot and keep it hot.

Slice up the remaining green onion into slivers. Arrange the noodles in a bowl with the sliced egg and green onion on top. Pour the soup stock on top of the noodles. Sprinkle some Japanese pepper flakes on the top if you like.

Continue reading “Buckwheat Soba Noodles” …

[ Currently Eating: Taco Plate ]

Barilla SpaghettiI haven’t put a recipe up on Cheap Eats in such a long time because I haven’t had much chance to cook lately. Well, the other day at the supermarket we picked up 2 packages of Barilla Thin Spaghetti because they were only 99 cents each (this is fairly cheap for Barilla which is more expensive than Anthony brand spaghetti or super market generic spaghetti). But I didn’t really get to make a “real” recipe, just some fast tomato basil pasta… but I’m going to put up the recipe anyhow. We got basil for free (someone actually grew it) so that was why I decided to make it.

I don’t know if it’s because Barilla comes in a box so it seems more “upscale” or something, but I always preferred their quality over generic. Their mostaccioli, penne, and bowtie pasta is actually pretty decent too. We dig “Thin Spaghetti” over Angel Hair pasta… angel hair doesn’t seem to soak up enough sauce and also seems too much like Japanese Somen which we eat a lot of already. It also seems easier to cook thin spaghetti exactly “al dente” than normal spaghetti. Somehow more forgiving.

Anyhow, here’s one take on fast garlic, basil and tomatoes pasta. Note this isn’t conventional thick “spaghetti ragu sauce” … I just make it to barely coat the noodles. I’m sure you have your own variations:

Quick Basil and Tomato Pasta

1/2 box Barilla pasta — $0.50
Basil, cut in a chiffonade — Free, hopefully
6 cloves garlic, slivered or minced — $0.10
Olive oil (1-2 tbsp) — $0.10
1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes — $0.45
Parmesan cheese (1/4 oz of $3.50 8oz can) — $0.11
1 tsp of dried oregano — $0.05
pinch of red pepper flakes — $0.02
1 tbsp sugar — $0.02
salt, pepper — negligible

Total: $1.35

Start boiling a lot of water in a big pot for the pasta. Wash the basil, remove stems so there are only the leaves. Set aside. Peel and mince (or sliver if desired) all 6 garlic cloves. In a skillet, heat up 1 tbsp of the olive oil (extra virgin olive oil tastes best) over medium heat for a minute or so. Add the oregano (if dried, roll between fingers to release more flavor), garlic, red pepper flakes and a few grinds of black pepper to the oil and cook for about 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Don’t let the garlic and oregano burn, turn the heat down if needed.

Open up the can of tomatoes and add it to the pan, along with the liquid from the tomatoes. Add the sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-20 minutes. Depends on how blended you like your sauce. Meanwhile, add thin spaghetti to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain pasta in collander, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking water.

Now cut up your basil. Add pasta, cooking water, and remaining olive oil to sauce in pan and toss to coat. Add salt, pepper to taste. Serve in plate topped with parmesan cheese and basil.

Continue reading “Barilla Thin Spaghetti” …

[ Currently Eating: Coffee ]

Sausage Pepper Pasta CloseupI’ve gotta admit that this particular pasta I made didn’t turn out exactly as I thought it would be. Oh, it was edible all right. It just wasn’t as delicious as I pictured it in my head. I was sort of picturing a sausage ‘n peppers sandwich, but with pasta. Oh well… I had made up the recipe on the spot so that was predictable. But I guess that’s how we learn to cook stuff …

I use a lot of italian sausage in cooking; I’m not talking about the pre-cooked smoked sausage or kielbasa that you eat for breakfast or put in gumbo. This is the connected links style of uncooked sausage. I buy it in bulk and freeze it in portions of 2-3 sausages wrapped in plastic wrap so that I can take down just what I need. This recipe uses only 2 sausages:

Sausage Pepper Pasta

2 Italian Sausages from CostCo 30-pack — $0.50
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped — $0.25
Parmesan cheese (1/4 oz of $3.50 8oz can) — $0.11
Any Dry Pasta like Macaroni(4 oz of $0.99 8 oz bag) — $0.50
Leftover corn (1/8 of 1 can) — $0.06
Olive oil (1 tbsp of $4.00 12 fl. oz bottle) — $0.17
Butter (1 tbsp of $1.00 4 oz stick) — $0.13
Chicken Stock (1/4 a $.50 can) — $0.12
Parsley (1/4 cup chopped from $0.69 bunch) — $0.06
Salt / pepper — negligible

Total: $2.43

Start boiling a large pot of water. Meanwhile, defrost the sausages a bit if necessary. Take off the outer skins of sausages (that’s right, squeeze out the sausage meat). Get a pan going on medium high and add sausage meat, breaking up with wooden spoon. Cook until well browned. If you have caraway seeds in the meat, you’ll have fun little pop explosions every so often!

Remove the sausage meat to a plate and set aside. Add 1/2 tbsp olive oil to hot skillet and add bell pepper and corn. Saute for about 3 minutes. Turn up heat to high and deglaze the pan with the chicken stock and about 1/4 cup water, scraping well. You can also use white wine here to deglaze. Just make sure to cook it out so the alcohol evaporates. Cook that for about 5 minutes or so, you want it to thicken.

When water boils, salt it and add macaroni. Cook till al dente then drain (don’t rinse or sauce won’t stick to pasta). Add pasta to skillet and toss well. Add sausage, parsley, parm cheese, butter and 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Cook for about 1-2 minutes more. Off heat add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Continue reading “Sausage and Pepper Pasta” …

[ Currently Eating: Tea ]

Bacon Pasta Closeup
I nearly always have some bacon around, because it tends to last a little longer in the fridge (several months?) than some other lunch meats and because it is usable for flavoring many things. (I’m not going to get into any fights with you health nuts out there – yeah I know that bacon ain’t the best for your plumbing).

Many pastas that I end up making involve some sort of bacon. I think the important thing is that because it’s high in the flavor department, you can pretty much get away with using only TWO strips of bacon for a one serving dish of pasta. It stretches the bacon out a bit and will no doubt please people concerned with cholesterol or fat.

Quick Bacon Pasta

Two slices bacon (from $4.00 pkg) — $0.25
Any Dry Pasta like Macaroni(4 oz of $0.99 8 oz bag) — $0.50
Parmesan cheese (1/4 oz of $3.50 8oz can) — $0.11
Olive oil (1 tbsp of $4.00 12 fl. oz bottle) — $0.17
Butter (1 tbsp of $1.00 4 oz stick) — $0.13
Milk (1/2 cup from $4.19 1/2 gallon lactaid) — $0.26
Chicken Stock (1/2 a $.50 can) — $0.25
Brown Onion (1/8 a $.50 onion) — $0.06
Parsley (1/4 cup chopped from $0.69 bunch) — $0.06
Salt / pepper — negligible

Total: $1.79

Get a large pot of water going on the stove. Meanwhile, mince the brown onion and parsley and cut up the bacon into bite sized pieces. Fry the bacon in a skillet at low heat until extra crispy, remove to a paper lined plate and blot the oil. Set that aside for now, in the oven if you want.. I actually learned that taking it out of the pan and then adding it back only at the very end keeps the bacon more crispy. If you don’t care about that, you can leave the bacon in the pan and continue.

Drain off all but 1 tbsp or so of fat. Add 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Add brown onion and cook for about three minutes or so on med heat. Turn up heat to high and deglaze the pan with chicken stock and milk, scraping it well. Sometimes I use a tbsp of vodka or white wine as well, but it’s not necessary. Reduce heat and simmer mixture for 5-10 minutes. You want it to thicken a bit. Watch out for the mixture foaming over though. You might need to add a bit of water and reduce heat.

When water boils, salt it and add macaroni. Cook till al dente then drain (don’t rinse or sauce won’t stick to pasta). Add pasta to skillet and toss well. Add parsley, parm cheese, butter and 1/2 tbsp olive oil if it’s too dry. Cook for about 1-2 minutes more. Off heat add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the reserved bacon on top and serve.

Continue reading “Quick Bacon Pasta” …

4/14/05 | Pasta With Ham

[ Currently Eating: Leftovers ]

Pasta With Ham Closeup
There’s about a billion ways to make Pasta with Ham. Ham is a really resiliant form of Cheap Eats because it lasts so long in the fridge. This goes for both packaged ham steaks and for larger whole hams. My absolute favorite thing to do is to make this near the holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. Why? Because someone ALWAYS makes a whole ham and I’ve never been to a family gathering that didn’t have leftovers from it. Usually, the relatives have to cajole someone to take home some of the ham. I’m the first to signup, however. Leftover ham also makes great fried rice, sandwiches, etc. The below recipe assumes storebought ham, but subtract 75 cents from the final price if you can get it for free!

Pasta with Ham and Parmesan

Cubed Ham (1/4 of $3.00 hamsteak) — $0.75
Any Dry Pasta like Rotini (4 oz of $0.99 8 oz bag) — $0.50
Parmesan cheese (1/4 oz of $3.50 8oz can) — $0.11
Olive oil (1 tbsp of $4.00 12 fl. oz bottle) — $0.17
Butter (1 tbsp of $1.00 4 oz stick) — $0.13
Milk (1/2 cup from $4.19 1/2 gallon lactaid) — $0.26
Chicken Stock (1/2 a $.50 can) — $0.25
Brown Onion (1/8 a $.50 onion) — $0.06
Parsley (1/4 cup chopped from $0.69 bunch) — $0.06
Salt / pepper — negligible

Total: $2.29

Get a large pot of water going on the stove. Meanwhile, mince the brown onion and parsely and cube the ham. In a large skillet heat olive oil and add ham. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until browned, then add brown onion. Cook for another 2 minutes. Turn up heat to high and deglaze the pan with chicken stock and milk. Reduce heat and simmer mixture for 5-10 minutes. Watch out for the mixture foaming up too muich. If that happens, reduce the heat. When water boils, salt it and add macaroni. Cook till al dente then drain (don’t rinse or sauce won’t stick to pasta). Add pasta to skillet and toss well. Add parsley and parm cheese and cook for about 1 minute more. Off heat add butter, salt and pepper to taste. Mix and serve.

Continue reading “Pasta With Ham” …



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