Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Affordable Thanksgiving Recipes

I make the same dishes every year for Thanksgiving, so this year I decided to mix it up a bit and add a few dishes as well as change one of my usual.  My goal was to spend less than $25 on dishes for the family, so here's what I created on my budget:

Sweet Potato Casserole - original recipe here:
4 29 oz cans of canned yams ($3.96 at Aldi)
1 cup sugar (in my pantry)
1/4 cup milk (in my pantry)
1/2 cup butter (in my fridge)
2 large eggs (in my fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract (in my pantry)
1/4 tsp salt (in my pantry)
1 1/4 cups cornflakes cereal ($2.29 at Aldi)
1/4 cup chopped pecans (3.99 at Publix)
1 TBSP brown sugar (in my pantry)
1 TBSP butter, melted (in my pantry)
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows ($1.29 at Aldi)

Beat yams, sugar, milk, butter, eggs, vanilla & salt until smooth.  Pour mixture into a greased rectangular glass baking dish.  Mix cornflakes, pecans, brown sugar & butter in a small bowl.  Spread in diagonal rows over casserole 2 inches apart.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle the empty rows with marshmallows and put back in the oven for 10 more minutes.
Total expenditure: $11.53.  My grandmother even mentioned she normally hates sweet potato casserole but loved mine, and she is a fantastic cook!

Green Bean Casserole - original recipe here:
1/3 stick butter (in my fridge)
1/2 cup diced onions ($1.99 for 3 lbs at Aldi)
1/3 cup sliced onions ($1.29 at Aldi)
2 cups sliced green beans ($0.49 at Aldi, I used canned)
1 can cream of mushroom soup ($0.49 at Aldi)
1 can French-fried onion rings ($1.79 at Aldi)
1 TBSP salt (in my pantry)
2/3 tsp pepper (in my pantry)
2/3 tsp garlic powder (in my pantry)
1 cup grated cheddar ($1.99 at Aldi)

Melt butter in a large skillet and saute onions and mushrooms.  Add green beans, cream of mushroom soup, onion rings (leave some extra), and house seasoning to the onion mixture.  Stir well.  Pour into a greased rectangular glass baking dish and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  Pull out and top the casserole with cheese and onion rings and bake for 10 more minutes.
Total expenditure: $8.04.  I normally make the Campbell's soup recipe but this year multiple family members came up to me and said this was the best green bean casserole they've ever had so I guess I'll be continuing this one from now on!

Roasted Red Pepper Deviled Eggs - original recipe here
8 large eggs ($1.29 for a dozen at Aldi)
1/4 drained roasted red peppers (in my fridge)
3 TBSP mayonnaise (in my fridge)
1 tsp dijon mustard (in my fridge)
1/4 tsp paprika (in my pantry)
salt and pepper (in my pantry)
3 chives, cut into small stems ($1.99 at Publix)
red and yellow food coloring (in my pantry)

Boil a large pot of water on high heat.  Carefully lower eggs into water, return to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer.  Cook for 11 minutes then remove from water and let cool for 30 minutes.  Crack eggs under cold running water, slice in half and scoop out yolks.  Place yolks, mayonnaise, dijon, paprika and peppers in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and mix in red and yellow food coloring until desired orange color is reached.  Using a small spoon (I used a grapefruit spoon), put mixture back inside of eggs.  Take a small fork (I had these on hand) and scrape lines into the ball to make it look like the lines of a pumpkin.  The original recipe says to use a pastry bag with a tip but I had trouble with that method.  Add the chives to the top as stems and sprinkle with paprika (optional - I forgot).
Total expenditure: $3.28.  These were on Pinterest as a Halloween appetizer but I thought they would work great for Thanksgiving too!

Since I was under budget at $22.85 I also offered to make my mom the little food place cards you see in the photos above.  I got the paper at Hobby Lobby ($1.16 for 4 sheets) and already had some purple ribbon on hand.  I printed out the tags using Lucida Handwriting in Word, 1"x2", then cut them out using a paper cutter.  I didn't like the black on orange for the names so I used a gold paint pen I already had to write over the font (works better than trying to hand-write as mine isn't very good).  Using $0.97 clothespins I stood them up around the food.

So overall, Thanksgiving was a success.  I highly recommend assembling all ingredients the nite before to ease prep time and cooking the next morning.  I measured out everything on Wednesday so it was ready to go and sitting in the fridge or out on the counter Thursday morning.  You can also cook both casseroles at the same time since they're about the same cook time and same temp in the oven, simplifying everything if you don't have two ovens!

As a last note, I had to include the adorable setup my mom had for the Thanksgiving table centerpieces.

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