Cut-Rate Cooking

    • Non-box Mac and Cheese

      6 years ago

      Cut-Rate Cooking

      Sorry I've been away again. Between my usual adventures, I just dropped a stupid amount of money on a custom build bike, but trust me, it will be worth every penny.

      This frame, but in JV-size, which is apparently the smallest size ever that few frame-makers make because apparently not a lot of girls with short legs ride bikes or something. (image courtesy of Superb Bicycle's tumblr:

      So yeah, after that build is done with some shiny components that I don't even remember the names/brands of, I'm going to train. Once I train, I might be able to catch up with some hot lad who rides fast on his bicycle.

      A girl can dream, can't she? (image via google search)

      At any rate, this means I can't afford the rock and roll librarian lifestyle of getting takeout as often as I'd like, so looks like I've gotta raid the pantry for a bit. However, this doesn't mean I have to ramen or blue box it.

      Non-box Mac and Cheese

      Supposedly this 8x8 pan serves four. I think I polished this off over two nights of dinner. Serving size: FOREVER ALONE You’ll also have leftover pasta, milk, butter, panko crumbs and spices. Just buy more cheese to keep making this until you die of a coronary.

      Grocery List

      $1.69 - 16 oz box of pasta (I like the larger shapes like penne or conchiglie for this)
      $2.59 - 1 quart milk
      $2.50 - 8 oz bar of cheese (I go for a sharp cheddar if I’m not using the Edam Dad sent. Also, for pete’s sake, don’t buy pre-shredded cheese.)
      $2.39 - 1 lb box of butter divided into 4 bars
      $1.79 - 1 lb bag frozen broccoli (You could also go for fresh, which is better.)
      $1.00 - 8 oz can of panko flakes (this was super on sale when I picked it up)
      $5.79 - 0.95 oz bottle Turmeric (protip: go to the “ethnic” aisle and see if there are any Goya/Badia brand spices, which are usually much cheaper.)
      $2.99 - 2.1 oz bottle Paprika (This was the store brand price.)

      $19.74 - Total


      8 oz pasta - Since neither of us have a scale, I’m just going to say half the box.
      1 cup milk - I guess you could use skim, but you’re already dumping like a million pounds of cheese in this so that would be like ordering an extra-large cheese pizza with a large diet soda.
      1 cup of shredded cheese - I ended up making 2 cups of shredded cheese because why not? Go for full cheese if you want.
      1/4 cup flour
      1 tablespoon butter
      1 bunch broccoli or cauliflower - Or you could just use a bag of frozen like I did. Either way, this is a futile ploy to trick yourself into thinking that you did your due diligence in making sure you were eating something healthy tonight.
      1/2 tsp turmeric
      1/2 tsp paprika - Spices not only make things delicious, but also help achieve that yellow/orangey color that you lot seem to be fond of.
      1 cup panko - Or just shake out the crumbs from that bag of bread you bought last week.



      -Preheat your oven to 350F. Boil water, add pasta. You should know how to do this from making the boxed stuff, ramen, etc. If you can’t boil water and add pasta, I might have to send you to the remedial class. Wait a minute, what do you mean I’m already teaching the remedial class? I HAVE TENURE DAMNIT. Simmer for 6-8 minutes (longer if you’re a hippie like me who uses whole grain pasta).

      -Melt butter in a pan and slowly whisk in flour. This is what we call a “roux,” which is fancy French talk for “stuff to thicken sauces with, but if you do it wrong it will taste like elementary school paste.” Microwave a mug of milk for a minute while you’re doing this.

      -Slowly whisk in heated milk. If there are clumps, you done fucked up. That’s ok, keep whisking. If the clumps just got bigger and smell bad, your milk has gone off and you should probably go back to the store.

      -Add shredded cheese, turmeric and paprika. and stir. Keep stirring. Don’t even lie. I know your arm isn’t tired because we both know you’re used to repetitive wrist motion (from all that Wii you’ve been playing).

      -Pasta should be done cooking. Drain and add it with the broccoli/cauliflower to the cheesy mixture. Place in pan and cover with panko flakes.

      -You thought we were done, didn’t you? NOPE. Remember how you preheated the oven to 350? Ok, I’ll wait. Pop that pan in the oven for half an hour. Dick around on Reddit a bit since you’ve earned it. When you get back, you’ll have a nice crispy top to your mac and cheese.

      Suck it, blue box.

      <4 5eva,


    • Community Special - Newbs

      6 years ago

      Cut-Rate Cooking

      Blah, blah, real job sucks, blah. Luckily I can't get fired from doing this fake job I made up and don't get paid for. So yeah, sorry for missing last week.

      I guess it's time I step into the ring. Can't have everyone else doing all the work now can I? I was thinking about it. I mean, there's one ready on the dock. I could just ask JV to put it up and I can put this off for one more week. Eh. Fine. I didn't have to come up with the recipe for this anyway. Here's a lovely little number from @Newbs. When he's not organizing Viking Feasts or talking to cocks, he's apparently destroying digestive tracts.

      Newbs' Jolly Gut Bombs

      Newbs says to put Lawry's seasoning salt and worshtishrisersunshine on them. If you're feeling rich and fancy go ahead and do that. You know how I roll here on Cut-Rate though.

      Grocery List

      $0.31 - 5 jalapeno peppers
      $2.98 - pack of Bacon
      $1.71 - pack of cream cheese

      $5.00 - Total


      As many jalapenos as you want
      1 strip of bacon per jalapeno
      Cream cheese

      That's a Jolly Star.


      -There have been a lot of close ups lately. I feel like this snack is intense enough so we're going to back up a bit and just calmly assemble these explosives. Also, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

      -Slice a hollypeeno in half.

      -Gently scoop out the stems and seeds from the insides with a spoon or other scooping tool.

      -Smooth out some cream queso into the hollow jollies.

      -If you'd like to really make them bombs add the spine (where the heat actually comes from) back to the cream filled pepper.

      -Cut a strip of bacon in half and wrap each half of the jolly with half a strip of bacon.

      -Place in oven safe dish.

      -Bake in oven until the bacon browns. About 20 mins.

      -Have a nice beverage nearby.

      -Please enjoy responsibly

      -Some men just want to watch the world burn.

    • Breakfast Cups

      6 years ago

      Cut-Rate Cooking

      Sometime recipes are passed down in a family from generation to generation. Other times you look at Reddit and are all like, "I'm a gonna make the shit out of that." This is one of the latter cases.

      Breakfast Cups

      These little guys are a great way to precook breakfasts for a while. Just cook up a batch and warm up one or two for a quick and easy meal. Or eat them cold. Whatever. MOTHER FREAKING BREAKFAST CUPS!

      Shopping list

      $3.49 - 1 Dozen Eggs
      $4.89 - Precooked Bacon
      $2.97 - Sausage
      $3.29 - Shredded Cheese

      $14.64 - Total


      10 Eggs
      10 Strips of Precooked Bacon
      1/4 lb Sausage
      1/2 Cup Shredded Cheese



      -Brown Sausage
      You won't need all of the sausage but hey, bonus sausage!

      -While sausage is cooking, spray down muffin tin with a non stick spray.

      -Rim the cups with a strip of bacon each. Sweeter words have never been spoken. You can cook the bacon yourself, but if you do only cook it halfway so that it is still flexible.

      -Crack an egg into each of the baconized cups.

      -Take a small amount of sausage and add to the eggs around the yolk.

      -Top with cheese.

      -Place in a preheated oven set to 400° F and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes.
      Suck it metric.

      -When removing the cups from the tin grab the bacon and support the base of the cup with a spoon.
      Everything needs bacon handles.

      -Enjoy your delicious legion of eggy troops.
      There's our hero shot.

      And in case I don't see you. Good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight.

    • Potato Leek Soup

      6 years ago

      Cut-Rate Cooking

      Or: why in the name of all that is holy did I decide to live in New England in the winter and continue riding bikes? So, do you have a lot of potatoes and greens leftover from last week? Make some soup and be glad that it finally stopped snowing (unless you're in the Midwest apparently).


      [picture from blizzard ride courtesy of C. McIntosh Photo]

      Potato Leek Soup

      Depending on how much you feel like watering this down, I suppose you could feed a small army with this pot of soup. However, they’d probably all die of malnutrition after awhile.


      Grocery List

      $0.89/each - Russet Potatoes x 4 (protip: you can save by buying the bagged ones, but make sure you use them before they grow into an eldritch horror)
      $1.59/bunch - Kale (or you could also use cabbage or any other green you have in the crisper)
      $1.99/bunch - Leeks
      $1.29/each - Yellow Onion (protip: you can save by buying the bagged ones, but make sure you use them before they go mushy and gross)
      $0.50/head - Garlic
      $5.69/8 oz jar - Bouillon soup base (you should seriously always have some of this in your pantry anyway)
      $14.62 - Total


      4 Large-ish Russet Potatoes (I usually prefer Yukon Gold, but not everyone’s a ballin’ billionaire bike-riding librarian like me.)
      1 bunch of Kale (You can add more if you really want/need to get your greens in to justify all that bacon you ate yesterday.)
      1 bunch of Leeks
      1 Small to Medium Yellow Onion (I swear to glob that the store onions are on steroids lately.)
      5 Cloves of Garlic (You might want to cut this down because I like everything garlicky to the point of warding off all vampires in a 5 mile radius)
      Glug of olive oil (You should ALWAYS have a bottle of this in your pantry. ALWAYS.)
      1 1/2 Tablespoon Vegetarian Bouillon (You could also use meat-based bouillon here. I won’t judge. Ok, maybe a little.)

      Optional: if you are meat-inclined, you can fry up some nice pork sausages to go with this soup. I suppose you could also use that fancy field-roast fake soy crumble sausage as well, but whatever.


      -Chop your leeks, onion and garlic.

      -Sweat the hell out of those leeks, onion and garlic. Try introducing them to your parents, but warn them that your parents are kind of racist first.

      -Cube those potatoes.You might as well get something done while the onions and leeks listen to your parents prattle other than dick around Reddit like you usually do. Actual cooks/chefs might mock me for not having my mise en place (fancy French talk for “shit together”) in advance, but I like multitasking with a shot clock.

      -This is what happens when you try to introduce chopped leeks, onion and garlic to your parents. Now that is a glisten worthy of awkward romantic humiliation. Add diced potatoes and cook them a bit in the oil (reduces starchy flavor).

      -Start boiling the potatoes in enough water to completely cover the potato, leek, onion and garlic. This should simmer for 15-20 minutes or so.

      -In the midst of all this sweating and boiling, chop your kale into ribbons like Wolverine would if he shopped at Whole Foods.

      -After about 15-20 minutes of soup cooking, use an immersion blender. Wait, what do you mean you don’t own an immersion blender? To be fair, I don’t either. Left the damn thing at my ex’s place. In that case, just grab a potato masher and have at it.

      -Add the bouillon and kale ribbons.

      -Enjoy with a dash of hot sauce or sausage or something. Cuddle up close to the space heater or make out with that sexy alien from the radiator planet. Proceed to the nearest burn ward immediately thereafter.

      Alternate variation: Use sweet potatoes, garlic and ginger (without leeks) with collard/mustard greens instead of kale (although I generally just use kale). Add black beans and chorizo/soyrizo.

      <4 5eva

      PS: Happy belated Easter. Sorry I didn't get this to you then... I was, er, preoccupied.* Also, have a very happy National Library Week.

      [Note: Jon Hamm does not belong to me and neither does that image, but I think we agree that Jon Hamm would like you to show your appreciation for your local librarian.]
      *read as: "blissed out on percocet due to oral surgery"

    • Irish Man's Best Friend

      6 years ago

      Cut-Rate Cooking

      Hey there Cut-Rate cooks. Sorry bout the absence last week; Easter and all. We'll make it up to you we promise (we won't) . It won't happen again (it will) . This week we have our newest Cut-Rate Cook @toomuchghb celebrating Saint Paddy's Day late. It's a little jig about cabbage and potatoes. Aside from containing bacon it also has the word "cannon" in its name so I highly approve!



      Hello Internet. I am Garrett; also known far and wide as TooMuch, TMGHB or toomuchghb. I share initials with a date rape drug . I am here to bring you some no frills, bells or whistles cooking because bells are hard to chew and whistles and frills don't go down well. In the short amount of time I have your attention, (before you stuff some more disgusting grease ball burgers down your pre-lubed gullet) listen and learn how to feed yourself so you don't die clutching your chest and wheezing on an escalator ride. I make no claims about my food, but just so you know I am a professional cook and certified nutritionist. That doesn't mean I cook healthy. I just know how to eat bad and not die. Small plates and copious amounts of alcohol. I'm gonna live forever.


      So, if you're like me, you're poor. Meet some new friends: the potato and the cabbage. They're easy to cook, and easy to add flavor to. You can boil, saute, steam, or stew both of them. Add a bit of meat and you have a great meal.


      2-3 medium potatoes (about the size of your fist)
      5-10 strips of bacon
      1/4 head of cabbage
      1/2 cup of milk
      2 tbsp butter


      -Cube potatoes. Put them in a pot, add salt and boil them (about a tsp or two of salt).

      -Dice bacon and fry nice and crispy

      -Chop cabbage into thin slices. Cut in half, then into quarters. Save the other 3 quarters for another time or throw them at a bad comedian.

      -Saute with the bacon.
      If you can't saute, I am sorry I cannot help you.

      -Check potatoes. They're done when you can easily put a fork all the way through.

      -Drain water and mash potatoes.

      -Add in milk and butter and keep going; you can mash to a country style lumpy or a high dollar creamy fluffy potato.

      -Salt to taste.

      -Once you have mashed your potatoes in to submission, and sauteed your cabbage and bacon, stir them together.

      Here's a handy link to some mashed potatoes that other guy made.
      Alec's Mashed Potatoes

      Eat it.
      It's apple juice. Get your mind out of the gutter.

    • Cue the trumpets

      6 years ago

      Cut-Rate Cooking

      Cut-Rate Cooking is back on the attack! Join us on this epic, gastronomical adventure filled with thrills, spills and probably a minor heart attack or two.



      JV @janevalenz - Our best guide. Always staring at that book of hers. With her leading the way we'll be at that treasure in no time.
      Andrew @agd2i - Weapons expert and translator. Now if only he knew the language of where we're currently exploring.
      Garrett @toomuchghb - Newest member of the team and probably the only one who really knows what he's doing in the kitchen, which would have been useful if we were in a kitchen.
      Scheree @scheree - While she's supposed to be cataloging and sketching the temple ruins she spends most of her time playing with the animals. Put that snake down. No you can't keep it. No don't give him a name. Fine, Mr. Slithersworth can come along.
      Alec @legato2d - What, you think I'm the leader? We're more of a democracy. That way I can blame everyone else when something goes wrong.

      Kicking off our dangerous quest is Andrew. He's about to serenade you with this sultry Spanish style something. Oh, I guess it's Italian. Whatever.

      Cook stuff


      So I hear most people like this breakfast thing. Too bad it takes place so close to sleep that it is often thrown together or overlooked entirely. BUT NO MORE. Now with the spread of home electricity and its companion invention the icebox it is possible to prepare this orphaned meal ahead of time and have deliciousness available when needed.

      Spinach, Mushroom & Sausage Frittata

      Makes 12 servings

      Grocery List

      $3.29 1/2 Lb. Sausage
      $3.19 1 Dozen Eggs
      $2.64 8 oz. Mushrooms - Your preference. I use white mushrooms because they're cheap and tasty.
      $4.56 6 oz. Baby Spinach - You can use adult spinach though you'll need to cut it down before hand.
      $0.48 1 Bulb Garlic - Though you'll only need one clove.
      $2.43 Dried Red Pepper
      $1.89 Mozzarella Cheese - Again your choice just make sure it can melt.


      12 eggs
      Salt & Pepper
      Olive Oil
      1 Clove Garlic
      1 Dried Chili Pepper - You may omit this if you want to limit the spicy.
      8 oz. Sliced Mushrooms
      6 oz. Baby spinach
      1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese



      -Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

      -Beat eggs in a large bowl, season with salt & pepper and set aside.
      Beat the devil out of them.

      -Brown sausage in a skillet over medium heat and set aside.

      Quick Lesson

      This is a bulb of garlic.

      This is a clove. Know the difference.
      We now return you to your regularly scheduled recipe.

      -Dice up one clove of garlic and a few of the dried chilies.
      I like the spicy

      -Heat large pan over medium and add olive oil, garlic, and red pepper. Sauté until garlic begins to cook through.

      -Add mushrooms and sauté until almost done.

      -Add spinach & cook until spinach has wilted down.

      -Remove from heat, and add with the sausage to the eggs with cheese and stir well to coat all ingredients with egg.

      -Spray casserole dish with cooking spray. You can butter the dish if you hate the ease with which blood moves through your arteries.

      -Pour into a glass casserole dish, top with a little more cheese and bake until set, 20-25 minutes.

      -When the dish is almost done take out and slice and place back into oven for an additional 2 minutes to eliminate any residual liquid.

      Enjoy! @agd2i


      Take a serving and place into an oven at 250 degrees for 5 minutes. You may reheat in a microwave but the oven yields the best results.

    • CRC: Season 2 - Still Hungry

      6 years ago

      Cut-Rate Cooking

      Hello ladies, people the opposite gender of ladies and everything in between,

      Cut-Rate Cooking is on its way back. Hopefully still entertaining, definitely agitating, sometimes procreating (see: JV), and constantly salivating.

      Here's the deal yo: we're poor. That's kind of the point of this group. Our time is limited, and while we wish we could be pumping posts out weekly year round, we've got to put in our time working for the man or learning how to work for the man. That being said we're going to do our best to give you non-stop kitchen terror from the beginning of the New Year (that means January..ish) until Red vs. Blue starts airing (that was May last year. Possibly April this year. Then again who really knows for this year? I sure don't).

      So season those skillets and call the gas company to start your stoves again; Cut-Rate Cooking: Seaon 2 - Still Hungry will be melting your eyeballs before you know it. Happy Holidays! Drive recklessly!

      Cook stuff, look tough,

    • Not necessarily a break, but kinda yeah

      7 years ago

      Cut-Rate Cooking

      Hey there Cut-Rate Cooks,

      Alec here. I didn't want to have to break the weekly streak, but I've got a project I'm putting every ounce of spare time I have into. Whenever JV and Andrew can put together a post I'll put it up, but for the time being I'm gonna have to hang up my uh... spatula. It's going to be a few weeks, probably around a month. Mark my words though, I'll be back with something that resembles a vengeance.

      I don't have any food pics so here's Master Chief crossing the Delaware

      Not the hero you deserve or need,

    • CRC Episode VI: Return of the Onigiri

      7 years ago

      Cut-Rate Cooking

      Earlier I made a post about onigiri in which I alluded to the fact that onigiri can contain a filling. This time around I show you how to do so with salted salmon. Though the time needed to prepare the salmon can takes some time effort is minimal so don't fret. I shall guide you out of the forest and onto the fields of tasty wonder. The previous onigiri recipe can be found here.

      Salted Salmon Onigiri

      Makes 3 to 4 rice balls depending on your hand size.

      Grocery List

      In addition to those items called for in the original recipe this one calls for the following:
      $7.13 - Fillet of Salmon - I prefer wild-caught, never frozen salmon but you can use a cheaper option if you wish.
      $2.69 - Toasted Sesame Seeds - Though these are not necessary they add a little extra flavor and presentation to the dish.

      $9.82- Total


      Salmon Fillet
      3 Cups cooked Rice
      1/4 Cup Toasted Sesame Seeds
      1 Sheet Nori Seaweed
      1/4 Cup of Large Grain Salt



      -Take the fillet and cover it with salt on every surface. You don't by any means have to use all the salt but it is a good idea to be liberal with it as it will be absorbing the moisture in the fish as it dries.

      -Wrap the salmon in several layers of paper towels making sure the ends are closed.

      -Place the wrapped fish in the refrigerator in a place where it won't be disturbed for 1 to 3 days. The longer you leave the fish in the fridge the saltier and the drier is will become. Personally I let mine dry for about 18 hours so it was still fleshy toward the center. No need to worry about fishy smell in the fridge or taste in the rest of your food. The salt sees to that.

      -Remove the wrappings after the fish has dried for the desired time.

      -Cut the fillet into inch long segments. This allow for more even cooking.

      -Cook two of the pieces on medium heat in only enough oil to keep them from sticking to the pan. The remaining pieces can be bagged and stored until ready to be used later. If frozen they remain good for several months.

      -While the fish is cooking prepare the rice in the familiar fashion.

      -Cooked fish!

      -Cut up the salmon into small pieces approximately 1/2 inch long. Don't be bothered if it falls apart it is going to be crushed in rice any way.

      -When the rice is done stir in the sesame seeds until evenly distributed.

      -Begin to form the onigiri making a indentation into the center.

      -Place a bit of salmon into the space.

      -Close the rice around the salmon an wrap with nori.
      I apologize if my salty white balls have a fishy after-taste.


    • Behind the Scenes: Coconut Ice

      7 years ago

      Cut-Rate Cooking

      Now I've never claimed to be a good cook. To be honest, sometimes the process of cooking upsets me because it gets in the way of me actually eating the food; by sometimes I mean pretty much all of the time I end up staring at the food, furious that is not being shoveled into my mouth yet. It makes me all the more angry when I screw things up and delay consumption further. Being untrained, and mostly just throwing things at fire until they work; this happens fairly often. Preparing recipes for this group has me doing things I've never done before. Occasionally recipes come out fine the first time, but more often then not I will stumble my way through and make piles of garbage on my way to a finished post.

      Case in point: Coconut Ice. I was perusing through twitter when I stumbled upon this gem by @scheree


      "Huh," I thought. "A frozen coconut treat that I've never heard of. I bet I could fake my way through that."

      So after some research I found out that Coconut Ice was not a frozen treat, but a little English/Australian candy... thing. I was a bit perplexed why they would put "ice" in the name, but the seemed tasty none the less. More importantly, all the recipes I saw for it seem stupid simple. I did not heed the warnings.


      I went with two recipes: one asked me to boil regular sugar, and the other just asked me to mix powdered sugar without melting it. I'll let the pictures tell the story of the boiled sugar one.


      Looks tasty doesn't it? Now I could have gone back and actually learned how to boil sugar properly, but I gave up and went with the recipe that doesn't involve molten sugar. And of course the first version of the powdered sugar recipe turned into, as Scheree put it, "tasty pink vomit."

      Top: Round 1, Left: Pink Vomit, Right: Ahhhh yeahhhh

      It was only after looking back at the recipes online that even though my coconut flakes were called flakes, they were actually sweetened shreds. I needed to go and get tiny, dry, unsweetened flakes. Ironically they were labeled shreds.


      The final batch after all the sweat and tears is the wonderful ones you see in the Coconut Ice post.

      So when you're starting to cook for the first time, you can take solace in the fact that a lot of the time even though I run a cooking group...

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    Cut-Rate Cooking

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    For those of us who want to learn how to cook for ourselves on a shoestring budget.

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