Tough Times?

"The economy is hitting Americans right in the stomach" reads a headline in a recent Wall Street Journal. We're all cutting back sharply on what goes into the shopping basket. Store brands are being chosen over brand names, coupons are being clipped, and folks are on the lookout for deals of all kinds.

The bottom line is this: Eat out, and you'll spend big bucks. Eat at home, and you'll save a great deal — and probably eat healthier as well. At home, you choose what goes into your recipes and onto your plate.

Here are two menus, along with some money-saving tips, that are sure to carry over to better times.

Menu 1

Tuscan Vegetable Soup
Garlic-Pickle Toast
Stir-Fried Apples and Pears

Tuscan Vegetable Soup


A one-dish meal that can be made ahead of time. Pack any leftovers into a microwave container for a brown-bag lunch.

2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 lb. ground turkey
111/2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz.) kidney beans, drained
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 cups water or vegetarian broth
2 cups shredded lettuce or spinach
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the onion and turkey.

Sauté 2 to 3 minutes, or until the turkey is beginning to lose its pinkness.

Add all the remaining ingredients, except the lettuce or spinach. Stir, cover and reduce heat to simmer.

Cook for 15 minutes longer.

Add a little more water or broth if too thick, then return to simmer over high heat, stirring often.

Stir in the lettuce or spinach.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with Garlic-Pickle Toast.

Serves 6.

Money-Saving Tips:

· Use wilted vegetables, such as lettuce, celery, cabbage and green beans, in any cooked dish. Don't toss away.

· Save any broth from cooked vegetables. Even frozen veggies will have some liquids. Pour into a small container, label, freeze, and use when making soups or gravies.

· Use powdered white or black pepper instead of peppercorns to grind. A container will go a long way; use sparingly.

· For a timesaver, buy packages of shredded cabbage, often on sale. You can freeze it to use in cooked dishes such as soups.

Garlic-Pickle Toast


6 slices bread or 3 rolls, sliced in half
2 Tbsps. pareve margarine, at room temperature
2 tsps. finely chopped dill pickle
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch pepper
garlic powder to sprinkle

In a cup, blend the margarine with the chopped pickle, mustard, salt and pepper.

Spread over the bread or cut sides of rolls. Sprinkle lightly with garlic powder.

Place under preheated broiler. Toast just until bubbly and edges are beginning to brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6 pieces.

Money-Saving Tips:

· Use day-old or stale bread. If rolls are thick, like Kaiser rolls, slice them crosswise to make three slices.

· You can substitute chopped olives or fresh herbs, such as parsley, for pickles.

· Make a batch of Crisp Breads. If you have half a sliced loaf or any bread you don't want to serve, follow the recipe above, toast and leave at room temperature overnight to crispen. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.

· No margarine on hand? Use any vegetable oil.

Stir-Fried Apples and Pears


2 Tbsps. pareve margarine
3 Tbsps. brown sugar
pinch nutmeg
3 apples, unpeeled and cored
2 firm pears, unpeeled and cored
2 tsps. balsamic vinegar
slivered almonds to garnish (optional)

Cut each apple and pear into 10 wedges. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the margarine. Stir in the brown sugar and nutmeg.

Cook for 2 minutes, or until mixture is blended and bubbly.

Add the apple and pear wedges, stirring to coat them with the brown-sugar mixture.

Cook 5 minutes, or until the apples and pears have lost their raw look.

Stir in the balsamic vinegar, and heat through.

Garnish with a few slivered almonds (optional).

Serve warm with cookies or pareve frozen yogurt.

Serves 4 to 6.

Money-Saving Tips:

· Granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder may be substituted for brown sugar.

· Other fruits may be substituted for apples and pears. Soft fruits like plums and berries only need to be heated through.

· For a dairy dessert, caramel ice-cream topping may be used instead of the brown-sugar mixture. Just toss the fruits in 2 to 3 tablespoons caramel topping and sauté.

· Use leftover fruit salad, sautéing in 1 tablespoon margarine and 11/2 tablespoons brown sugar. This is a delicious topping for sliced pound cake or frozen desserts.

· Weekend dessert: Wrap 3 apple or pear wedges in prepared puff pastry. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° and bake until pastry is golden-brown, about 10 to 15 minutes longer.


Menu 2

Chunky Vegetable and Salmon Pizza
Crisp Green Salad with Dressing
Pineapple-Banana Pudding

Chunky Vegetable and Salmon Pizza


1 whole-wheat pizza crust (10 oz.)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano or basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package (16-ounce) frozen, thawed mixed vegetables (i.e., broccoli, peppers, shredded carrots, mushrooms)
3/4 lb. salmon fillet, diced

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place the pizza crust on a large cookie sheet. Spread tomato sauce evenly over it.

Sprinkle with oregano or basil, and garlic powder. Scatter half of the cheese over top.

Top with the thawed mixed vegetables, and then with the salmon.

Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked and opaque.

Cut in wedges and serve.

Serves 6.

Money-Saving Tips

· Salad dressing: To use up what's left in a mustard or mayonnaise jar, add equal parts olive or vegetable oil and orange juice, salt and fresh pepper to taste. Cover and shake well. Use at room temperature.

· Substitute any hard cheese or a mixture of cheeses, like Parmesan or cheddar, for the mozzarella.

· Canned salmon may be substituted for fresh salmon, using two (6- to 8-oz.) cans, well-drained.

· Leftover veggies? Use alone or combined with thawed frozen.


Pineapple-Banana Pudding


6 thick slices challah
6 Tbsps. pareve margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsps. white vinegar
1/4 tsp. orange extract
can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, undrained
1 banana, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spray a 2-quart casserole with nonstick vegetable spray.

Tear the challah into bite-size pieces. You should have about 4 cups. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the margarine and sugar until pale.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly mixed.

Beat in the vinegar and orange extract. Stir in the pineapple and banana.

Fold in the challah.

Spoon into the prepared casserole. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes at room temp, or cover and refrigerate overnight for challah to soak up some of the liquids.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until puffy and golden-brown.

Serves 6.

Money-Saving Tips:

· Any thickly sliced white bread may be used. This is a good way to use up leftover bread or rolls (do not use onion, rye or any flavored herb bread).

· If you have oranges in the fridge, grate 1 to 2 teaspoons orange rind and use instead of orange extract, which may not be in your pantry.

· Leftovers freeze well. For a dairy dessert, defrost and serve warm with vanilla ice-cream.

Ethel G. Hofman is a past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Contact her at: [email protected]


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