Frugal Tips

When I made the Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Pork I did not set out to make pulled pork. After it was done cooking I looked at the roast that the original 2 1/2 lb chunk had become and thought “If we eat that in roast form portion control will be a goner”. At 2 1/2 lbs we should be able to get 10 servings (with the 4 oz serving of meat per person rule, technically). But have you ever sat down and carved a piece of succulent, dripping pork and stopped with only a chunk of meat the size of a deck of cards? I mean really? Who does that?

Hence the decision to pull the pork. By pulling it into shreds it filled up more visual space and gave the illusion of a large portion size without sacrificing my budget. I looked upon the mountain of meat I had created and said “It is good”. Apparently the biblical reference was not a good idea because the container in our ‘fridge has turned into a never-ending repository for pulled pork – loaves and fishes have got nothing on us.

Time to get creative, so now I am givingĀ  you a non-recipe – more of an idea than anything else. How to change the flavor of an abundant leftover so that you don’t start eyeing the dog as a scapegoat.

Mmmm, cheesy and porky.

Mmmm, cheesy and porky.

BBQ Pork Pizza

The Hardware:

Actually up to you, I used a pizza pan but some people out there have a fancy pants pizza stone – whatever floats your boat.

The Ingredients:

Leftover Pulled Pork
Bottled BBQ Sauce (what, you thought I was gonna whip up some fancy sauce for lunch, no way. I busted out the bottle of KC Masterpiece lurking in the door of my ‘fridge.)
One small onion
Cheddar and Mozzarella cheeses (or whatever you like/got)
Pizza Dough*

Slice onion thinly andĀ saute in olive oil over low heat until wilted and slightly golden.

Combine the pork with about 1/4 C of the BBQ sauce and set aside. Par-bake your pizza crust for around 5 – 7 minutes at 425 degrees. Apply additional sauce to the par-baked pizza crust to the quantity of your liking. Don’t use too much or it will make your crust soggy.

Attempt to distribute the pork over the sauce with a spoon and then realize that pulled pork just doesn’t cooperate. Get hands dirty and evenly distribute the pork and onions over the surface of the pizza, leaving an edge of about 1/2 inch. Add cheese on top – again to satisfy whatever twisted lactose desires you might have.

Place in oven for about 10 – 12 minutes or until your crust is nice and brown and your cheese is hot and bubblin’. My crust achieved brownness before my cheese achieved bubblin’ness so I turned the broiler on high for a few seconds as I anxiously hovered nearby with the oven door slightly open so that I could monitor the process and prevent the inevitable result of an unattended broiler moment.

Slice and serve. If Wolfgang can put BBQ chicken on his pizza and found an empire, then I can very well put pulled pork on mine and find lunch.

* I would give you a pizza dough recipe but right now my attempts at pizza dough have not been what one would consider to be noteworthy. The crust on this particular attempt was very disappointing in texture, so you really don’t want the details. When I finally manage a consistent and predictable product I will certainly share it with y’all. For now, you are probably best on your own.


Freezing cold that is.

Apparently my thoughts are presently fixated on freezing stuff, so I thought I would share some other oddities that I have lurking in the smaller half of my ‘fridge.

You try to take a better picture of a bag of frozen dumplings, I dare you.

You try to take a better picture of a bag of frozen dumplings, I dare you.

These are dumplings, not those poufy, Bisquick style drop dumplings but the flat kind. I have decided I prefer these to the big fluffy kind that you eat and they sit in your stomach and bully any of the food that you eat later. They make it sit in the nosebleed section of your stomach and crowd your esophagus and then you get the acid reflux. And I don’t like the acid reflux.

But I like chicken and dumplings, and turkey and dumplings, and meatballs and dumplings (what? I had some leftover meatballs!) These little guys are kind of like the noodles in your chicken noodle soup on steroids. So much so that I think the next time I make them I am going to cut them into long, skinny rectangles instead of square-oid shapes.

I try to always have homemade chicken stock on hand, but if I don’t I like “Better Then Bullion” just fine. Bring some stock up to heat, grate in some carrots and chuck in some shredded chicken and you have yummy soup. And if you have these dumplings in the freezer you have Souper Soup.

Flat but Tasty Dumplings

1 C AP Flour
1/4 C Milk
1/4 C Water

Salt, Pepper and Granulated Garlic to taste I use 1/4 t each of Salt & Granulated Garlic and a goodly amount of pepper.

1) Combine flour and spices in a bowl and whisk together. Add liquids and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together enough to turn out onto a floured surface. Knead gently, adding flour until you can handle it fairly well. This is a soft dough but you want to get rid of the stickiness.

2) Cover with a towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. On a well floured surface, roll out rested dough until it is the thickness of a knife blade. You will most likely need to add more flour to make it workable. Using a pizza cutter, cut into rough polygonal shapes (the original recipe said 2 inch squares but who the heck am I kidding? And I thought 2 inches was too big anyway).

3) If you are making the soup right now, save enough for the number of servings that you need. Remove the rest (or all if you aren’t making soup) to a flat plate or cookie sheet covered with waxed or parchment paper. Check to make sure the plate/sheet that you are using will fit into your freezer. Don’t ask me why I feel the need to give you that tip, I just do.

4) Make sure that the dumplings do not overlap and freeze them for several hours or overnight. Once frozen, peel off of paper and place in freezer bag – squishing out as much air as you can. These can be thrown directly into simmering soup. Fresh dumplings take about 10 minutes at the boil, frozen a bit longer – just stop when they are done. This recipe can be doubled easily and it makes a ton of dumplings.

I like cheese.

One of my strategies to save some money and eat a bit more consciously is to reduce the amount of meat in our diet. We do this by having many vegetarian meals, but also by reducing the portion sizes of meat in the meat meals we do eat. I have found that one way to alleviate the feeling of “missing meat” in a dish is to add some cheese. Cheese always makes a dish feel special and luxurious (at least to me).

It is also a good source of protein and flavor and you can keep it on hand for a long time. You can also freeze many cheeses with little quality loss. But it can be an expensive item so I have had to work out some work arounds.

My local grocery store regularly runs a special on their store brand cheeses where you can buy three 8 ounce bags for $5, which is a pretty good deal compared to regular price. I would stock up on Quesadilla, Cheddar and Mozzarella cheese when they went on sale and chuck the extra bags in the deep freeze.

By the way, do you have a deep freeze? If not you might want to consider acquiring one. They really are an invaluable tool for food savings because of the very subject of this post, buying in bulk. If you think you do not have the room or the money you might want to do some research on deep freezes. You can find small ones about the size of the ‘fridge you had in college for well under $200 like this one:

Hmm, sidetracked…

Back to cheese. While my grocery store deal is better than buying full retail, we can do better. At the “Membership based wholesale club” that I go to I was able to find 5 lb bags of both shredded Mozzarella and Cheddar for about $9 per bag. And believe it or not, the shredded was cheaper than any of the block cheese prices that they had. So buying and shredding myself would not have saved any money.

I brought my booty home and proceeded to divvy them up into quart sized freezer bags in 8 oz increments. Why would you waste time on doing that you might ask? Well, my reasoning was threefold:

1) I usually buy cheese in 8 oz bags and that fits nicely into my ‘fridge’s deli drawer.

2) If I left it in the large bag then I would be tempted to use way more cheese than I need to because HEY LOOK HOW MUCH I GOT!!

3) Air is what damages frozen food, so repeatedly opening and closing a big bag of frozen cheese would cause faster deterioration.

Each of my 5 lb bags split up into ten 8 oz bags of cheesy goodness (talk about your higher math there). I tossed one of each flavor into my ‘fridge and put the rest into the freezer. It took me about 20 minutes to get it all done and I saved $6.00.

How did I figure that? Now is the time for the actual higher math.

3 – 8 oz bags of cheese for $5 = $1.60 per bag, 10 bags = 5 lb so:

10 x 1.60 = $16.00

$16.00 – $9.00 = $6.00

Yay! $6.00, don’t scoff. Think how many .10 coupons I would have to clip to save $6 bucks. But really, things can add up. Plus I have the convenience of knowing that if I run out of cheese I can saunter down to the freezer and pluck a bag out and be ready to go.

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