Monday, June 27, 2011

Aldi peaches

Following up on a conversation with Gianna (in which she mentioned purchasing peaches for TWENTY-NINE CENTS PER POUND), and Therese's post, just previous, on homemade peach ice cream, Nick and I had to check out our local Aldi in the hopes of getting some kind of similar deal.

Alas, we're not close enough to peach country to score that kind of deal, but they were $0.39 cents each, and that sounded pretty good. Just out of curiosity, I weighed them when I got home and discovered my six peaches came out to 2.25 pounds and I paid $2.34 which comes out to $1.04/lb. which is quite a bit less than a comparable product at Cub.*

Granted, the Cub product was bigger and riper (and smelled like a shadowy version of something I hope to encounter in heaven someday), but for close to half price, I'm a fan.

I also got blueberries for $1.29/pint again. And that's just amazing.

I did notice that the coffee creamer I purchased for $1.49 at the Hwy. 65 Aldi was $2.19 at the one by Riverdale. I wonder if that's typical?

*Yes, I did take a photo of a price sign at Cub. Fortunately, it's almost impossible to embarrass my kids. ;-)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Honey-Peach Ice Cream


Also pictured: Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Cookie Thins

Makes about 1 quart

4 Large Ripe Peaches (about 2 pounds)
1/4 c. Honey
1 c. Whole Milk
1 c. Heavy Cream
3 large egg yolks
1/2 c. Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

To peel and pit the peaches: Fill a large pot with enough water to cover your peaches. Bring the water to a boil. Using a paring knife, lightly score the bottom of each peach with an X. Then add the peaches to the boiling water for 45 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to a bowl of ice water for 30 seconds. Remove the skin with your fingers or a paring knife. Cut along the seam of each peach to the pit, running your knife all the way around the fruit. Twist each half in opposite directions to free one half from the pit. Remove the pit with your fingers or the knife.

Coarsely chop half the peaches into 1/2-inch chunks, and toss them into a small saucepan. Add honey, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are soft but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Puree the mixture using a blender, food processor or immersion blender. Set aside.

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together. Still whisking, drizzle in about one third of the hot liquid – this will temper the eggs so they don’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid. Pour the custard back into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring without stopping, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. The custard should reach at least 170 degrees F, but no more than 180 degrees F, on an instant-read thermometer. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and pour the custard into a 2-quart glass measuring cup or clean heatproof bowl. Stir in the vanilla and peach puree.

Refrigerate the custard until chilled before churning it into ice cream.

Scrape the chilled custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker, and churn according to manufacturer’s directions. While the ice cream is churning, finely dice the remaining 2 peaches, then, just before the ice cream is thickened and ready, add the peaches and churn to blend. Pack the ice cream into a container and freeze it for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop.

Notes: Until just now, I didn't notice that you were only supposed to puree half the peaches. Which is just as well, because Brian isn't a fan of peach chunks in his ice cream.

I used 5 peaches, which cam to about 1 lb, 10 oz. It's quite yummy, but I think I'll try it again at some point with the full 2 lbs., to weigh it more towards the peaches than the cream.

Rhu-berry Crisp

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c butter, melted
1 c brown sugar
1 c rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon

Blend flour, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon. Stir in butter until mixture is crumbly. Pat half into a greased 9-inch square pan.

2 c sliced strawberries
3 c sliced rhubarb
1 c sugar
3 tbls cornstarch

Mix fruit, sugar, and cornstarch. Spread over crust. Sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice, if desired. Sprinkle with the remaining crust mixture and bake at 325 for about 1 hour. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

NOTES: I used blueberries instead of strawberries. Very good!

This is in the church cookbook, page 309, but it says to use 1 1/2 cups margarine in the crust. It must be a typo. I used 1/2 c butter and it was good. Update your cookbooks, ladies.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Machine Shed's Baked Potato Soup

How could I never have posted this before? It's Nick's favorite food in the world!

2 1/2 lb. baby red potatoes (quartered)
1/2 lb. raw bacon, diced
1 jumbo yellow onion, diced
1/4 bunch celery, diced
1 quart water
2 ounces chicken soup base
1 quart milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 sticks margarine (butter is the obvious substitute here)
1 1/2 c flour
1 c whipping cream (or half and half)
1/4 bunch chopped parsley
  1. Boil potatoes in water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large, heavy pot, saute bacon, onions, and celery over medium heat until celery is tender. Drain bacon grease and return stuff to the pot.
  3. Add milk, 1 qt. water, chicken base, salt and pepper. Heat over med. heat until very hot, but do not boil.
  4. In a heavy saucepan, melt butter and add flour, making a roux. Mix well and allow to bubble, stirring for 1 minute. While constantly stiffing the soup, add the roux slowly. Continue to stir until thick and creamy.
  5. Stir in potatoes, parsley and cream.
  6. Serve hot. Garnish with shredded Colby, fried bacon bits, chopped green onions, or all three.
NOTES: I quite often do not have cream and have just substituted another cup of milk instead. It kinda balances all that butter and bacon anyway.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sausage Orzo for Two

1/2 lb orzo
1/2 lb chicken sausage links in your favorite savory flavor
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
1/4 cup caesar vinaigrette dressing(or greek dressing)

Boil and lightly salt a large pot of water; add the orzo and sausage and boil until both are cooked through; drain. Slice sausage links diagonally into bite-sized pieces; stir sausage, orzo, cheese and dressing together.

Makes 2-3 servings

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fresh cookies

It worked! Last time I made cookie dough I immediately put half of it in the freezer and only baked a reasonable number of cookies for three people. I just pulled it out (maybe 4-6 weeks later) and it baked up just like new.

Not only are we not tempted to overeat, but we get fresh cookies twice with only one mess.

(And if anyone knows of a good product to clean aluminum pans, looks like I could use it.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Aldi Classic Blend Tea

Every summer, I buy a big box of inexpensive tea (usually Lipton) for making sun tea. This year, I decided to try Aldi's brand. On the plus side, the tags aren't part of the envelope, so it takes about half as long to unpackage them, as you don't have to mess with those inadequate perforations. I did think the flavor was a bit weaker (or just a tad off somehow), but that wasn't noticeable at all once you added lemon. All in all, a win.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Iced Coffee

Subtitle: Liquid Love

Jen and I have been refrigerating the leftover coffee each morning for later in the day, but just drinking it cold seemed inadequate. Pouring it over ice diluted it too much, so we tried making coffee ice cubes. This works, but it's kind of messy and needed a dedicated ice cube tray and (obviously) freezer space.

Enter Pioneer Woman. Her timely post offered another option that involves making a quantity of concentrate that's ready at our command. Nice.

Iced Coffee Concentrate
1 pound Ground Coffee (good, Rich Roast)
8 quarts Cold Water
Half-and-half (healthy Splash Per Serving)
Sweetened Condensed Milk (2-3 Tablespoons Per Serving)
Note: Can Use Skim Milk, 2% Milk, Whole Milk, Sugar, Artificial Sweeteners, Syrups...adapt To Your Liking!

In a large container, mix ground coffee with water. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature eight hours or overnight.
Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set over a pitcher or other container. Pour coffee/water mixture through the strainer, allowing all liquid to run through. Discard grounds.
Place coffee liquid in the fridge and allow to cool. Use as needed.

To make iced coffee, pack a glass full of ice cubes. Fill glass 2/3 full with coffee liquid. Add healthy splash of half-and-half. Add 2-3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (can use plain sugar instead) and stir to combine. Taste and adjust half-and-half and/or sweetened condensed milk as needed.

NOTES: I made a batch using 1/2 lb coffee and 1 gallon of water. It seems less bitter than our other method using previously heated coffee. Jen gives it two thumbs-up! I let this batch steep overnight and I'd recommend stirring it one or two times during the process. Even though I made sure all the grounds were wet initially, after a few hours I saw there were definite layers forming in my container. When I opened it, I found there were a lot of grounds floating on top. After this stirring, they sank to the bottom and, I assume, gave up more of their coffee goodness.

Go to the original post for all the nice pictures.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tomato, Provolone, and Fresh Basil Pizza

I adore fresh basil and was thrilled to find this pot full at Trader Joe's for only $3.99! I gave it a couple weeks to acclimate to its new home before I traumatized it by plucking off bunches of leaves, but yesterday was the day! We needed Friday food and the Provolone I just got at Costco (2 lbs. sliced/$6.99) had a yummy looking recipe on the back.

Homemade pizza crust (thanks, KitchenAid!)
3 Tbsp. olive oil (or less)
Provolone cheese
Parmesan cheese
Roma tomatoes, sliced
salt and pepper
Fresh basil leaves

Spray pizza pan and spread dough out evenly. Brush unbaked crust with olive oil; top with freshly ground pepper, sliced provolone, tomatoes, basil and finally, grated Parmesan. Perfect.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes or until done.

Aldi Coffee Creamer

Yuk, yuk, 1000 times yuk! In all fairness, I think something may be wrong with this particular container. The 2nd ingredient listed is sugar and it's not sweet at all. (Just a nasty fake "dairy" flavor.) I'll probably return it and try again. Good news? It was only $1.49/quart.

On the other hand, I also got a sugar-free hazelnut flavored one that was quite good. $1.99/qt.

Cocoa Raisin-Nut Brownies Bars

1/2 c (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c coarsely chopped nuts
1/2 c raisins (or golden raisins)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

In a small mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together other ingredients. Add to butter mixture, stirring until well blended.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until bars just begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool; cut into bars. Sift powdered sugar over the top if desired.

Double for baking in a cake pan.

NOTE: Excellent!

Source: Hershey's Homemade (1991)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Baked Pork Chops and Rice

6 pork chops
1 1/2 c. uncooked rice
1 can cream of celery soup
14 ounces water
1 tsp. Worchestershire Sauce
Brown pork chops in skillet then place pork chops in casserole dish with rice. Whisk soup, water, and Worch. sauce together and pour over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serves 6.

  • The original recipe was for 4 chops and used 1 cup of rice, the can of soup and 1 cup of water.
  • It also called for beef consomme, but I had the cream soup on hand.
  • I covered it with foil to retain the moisture in the rice. Not sure if that was necessary.

Aldi Pizza Rolls

I brought Nick with this time (at lunch time) to pick up a few things for the church anniversary's hospitality and we ended up leaving with Pizza Rolls and $0.99/lb. strawberries. (Hey, one of those items fits into an actual food group!)

We both agreed that these Pizza Snacks are quite a bit better than the Totino's brand we occasionally get. The crust part was crisp and actually contained the filling as it heated. They weren't the oozy, almost-need-a-fork mess that the others are. The filling was pretty much an identical, unidentifiable bit of pizza-ish stuff, but the overall rating was better. At $2.49 for this 40 pack, I think they're a good deal, but I really don't buy the others often enough to know off hand.

Also, Holly, I discovered that they do, indeed, have cool whip but it's by the ice cream and not in the dairy section by the spray whipped cream.

And Nick had a quarter for the cart!

Chicken Chili Calzones

Weird combination, yes. I had a batch of chili that I wasn't particularly fond of, and decided to make it into something else. The result was...awesome. Make-for-guests good.

1 pkg. yeast
1 c. warm (105 to 115 degrees) water
2 1/2 to 3 c. flour
1 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. oil

1 chicken breast, cubed (cooked) (could also use hamburger or something else)
~2 c. chili
~3/4 mozzarella cheese, shredded

Dissolve yeast in water. Let activate in warm place, about 5 minutes.

In large bowl, put 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and oil. Add yeast. Add additional flour until dough is stiff. Pour out onto floured bread board. Knead in additional flour until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in lightly greased bowl, cover, let rise in a place free from draft, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide dough into balls (it makes 4 pretty big calzones; divide into smaller sections if desired), roll into circles. Divide the filling ingredients among calzones, fold in half, and seal edges with fork.

Bake on greased cookie sheet for 15 minutes.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Coleslaw with Ramen Noodles

1 lb. bag shredded cabbage
1 bag Oriental Flavor Ramen Noodles
1/2 c sunflower seeds

3 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
Salt and pepper
1/2 c. oil
Ramen seasoning packet

4 tbsp. sesame seeds

Toss together 1/2 hour before serving with 4 chopped green onions.

NOTES: An oldie, but a goodie. The toasted sesame seeds are a major flavor, so don't skip it. I toasted them in a non-stick pan, medium/high heat, no oil.

The original recipe had 1 cup of almonds toasted with the sesame seeds. I didn't have any so I substituted the sunflower seeds.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Apple Pancakes

2 cups flour
5 tsp. baking powder (yes, five)
2 tsp. salt
3 tbls. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups milk
6 tbls. oil (1/3 cup)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped, unpeeled apples

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Fold in apples.
Makes 2 1/2 dozen 4-5" pancakes.

NOTE: I used to make this recipe all the time when the kids were younger. It was good to remember it. :-)

Source: Farm Journal Cookbook

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Aldi Triscuits

Yum! These Triscuit wannabees have about the same texture with less salt and a fairly pronounced rosemary flavor. (The first flavor to hit my tongue is also a slight sweetness.)

Very good and half the price. Two thumbs up! I wonder if they have other flavors?

Aldi Cheetos

So it looks like we only bought junk food from Aldi, but really there was fruit too!

This time, I'm reviewing Cheese Curls, which, as you can see, are already gone. It's a good thing Nick mentioned it before eating the last one, or he would've had to write for me here.

These were cheap and crunchy and had that orangy fake cheese flavor that I would expect. Real Cheetos are better, but these were fine (and less salty).

We'd buy them again.

Price Comparison: Aldi vs. Meijer

I had some spare time yesterday, so I did a direct comparison of a few items to see how Aldi compares to Meijer.

Whole Chicken
Meijer: $0.89/lb
Aldi: $0.85/lb

Chicken Breast, frozen
Meijer: $2.50/lb
Aldi: $1.83/lb

Ground Beef (90/10)
Meijer: $4.89/lb
Aldi: $3.39/lb

Ground Turkey
Meijer: $4.99/lb
Aldi: $2.49/19 oz

Meijer: $2.29/3 lb
Aldi: $1.49/ 3 lb

Meijer: $3.29/lb (I got it on sale for $2.50)
Aldi: $2.69/lb

Monday, June 6, 2011

Aldi Cornbread Crackers

Emily recommended these with chili (if I recall correctly), so when we saw them Holly grabbed a box. Fortunately, it was at the beginning of the first aisle or it wouldn't have made the can-we-carry-it cut on the no quarter/no cart day when we bought 2 watermelon and 16 pints of blueberries, among other things.

They're light and slightly sweet and have just a bit of corn meal texture. I don't think they'd stand up to dips because of the tender texture, but they would certainly support a piece of sharp cheddar and they're good on their own. We give them two thumbs up.

Aldi Reviews

This post inaugurates a new category, Aldi Reviews. Thanks to lots of tips from Molly, encouragement from Emily, and interest from Holly (not to mention the fact that I don't need to carry cash anymore to pay there), I actually shopped at Aldi twice last week.

I didn't have a quarter and forgot bags, but we found some great bargains including fresh blueberries for $1.29/pint! When I think of it from time to time, I hope to post opinions on various Aldi-specific purchases and encourage you other Bear Country Kitchen writers to do the same. I'd love to do the same with Trader Joe's, but it's too far away from me to be on my regular shopping beat and I'm way closer than you others are.

Anyway, chips. I got these at the same time as regular Sun Chips thinking we'd do a side-by-side comparison. That didn't happen, but these chips can stand up on their own merits. They're lighter than Sun Chips and, in my opinion, taste exactly like Bugles. These have a multi-grain texture, but in a nice way. I'd definitely buy them again.