By Mackenzie Fauque
After many years of entering countless baked goods and entrees into the Tri-County Fair, I have dubbed myself a princess (not quite a queen) of the kitchen. Since moving off campus I have really started to enjoy cooking and baking; I even often look forward to coming home and allowing dinner preparation to be a treat not a chore.
That being said I also HATE spending money, so making the weekly trip to the store makes me cringe. My mother once said that I could never spend less than thirty dollars a week and I am sure that today she is shocked when I tell her I usually spend just over $20. Speaking of my mama, she is such a great cook and has really helped me whenever I have questions about what I can substitute and what I can eliminate. I want to share with you some of my favorite recipes that are fairly easy and pretty affordable. Remember that a good cook always cleans up after themselves! Enjoy!
1. Dolled-Up Oatmeal
The perfect breakfast dish for anyone who is in need of a quick but really delicious and filling breakfast. I eat some variation of this almost everyday. The oatmeal comes in a big 8 pound bucket and lasts me a long while, so my cost per serving is really low.
1/2 cup Wheat Montana 7-Grain Cereal
1 cup of water
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
1 tablespoon of heavy cream or half and half
A pinch of cinnamon
Fruit of any kind (I prefer apples, bananas, or peaches)
Make oatmeal as directed and assemble your cute little bowl of yumminess. This meal is the best when accompanied with a cup of hot coffee.
2. Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti
Now I might have scooped part of this idea from fellow Trendsetter Aline, but I put my own twist on it. This recipe is great for leftovers and I usually try to make this on days that I know I need to pack a lunch the next day. This is quick and filling and hands-down the best school night meal.
1 Spaghetti Squash
Salt & Pepper
Marinara Sauce (personal favorite is tomato basil)
Parmesan for topping
Pre-heat oven to 400. Cut spaghetti squash in half and remove all seeds. Feel free not to wash the squash because you will not be eating the outside! After removing all the gunk, place in a glass baking dish drizzle with olive oil and add a generous amount of salt and pepper. Flip over so that the guts of the squash are face down. Cook for thirty to forty minutes or until squash is tender and resemble noodles. The best way to remove the squash is with two forks like you would shredding chicken.
This is when I would save one half of the squash for the next day. After removing squash top with warm marinara sauce and a little parm and enjoy your spaghetti minus all the carbs.
3. Dill Lemon Garlic Salmon With Asparagus
This is one of my new favorites! It is a little bit of a splurge because of the salmon, but it is SOOO good and a fantastic option if you aren’t into chicken. You can totally adjust it to make as many serving as you would like, but I will give you the serving size of 2 salmon filets.
2 salmon filets
3 medium sized cloves of garlic
1/3 cup of butter ( about 2/3 of a stick); softened
5 sprigs of dill
1 pound of asparagus
Salt & Pepper
Place salmon filets face up and skin down on a glass baking dish. Cut off ends of the pre-washed asparagus and surround filets. Cover asparagus with a little bit of salt and pepper and olive oil. Combine butter, garlic, half the juice of a lemon, and finely chopped 3 sprigs of dill. Smother 3/4 of the mixture onto the tops of the filets. Microwave the remainder butter spread in the microwave to completely melt. Pour the liquid over the asparagus. Cut other half of lemon and place over filets along with remainder dill. Place in oven at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes or until salmon easily falls apart with the prick of a fork. Cleanup is easy!
4. Lighthouse’s Coconut Cream Pie
I cannot take credit for this AH-MAZE-ING pie recipe, but I do have to share with you. I grew up going to this little restaurant in Northern Montana called The Lighthouse. It has been years since I have ate there, but I always remember the desserts. My parents never really allowed my sister or I to get desserts at restaurants, but The Lighthouse was one of the only exceptions. They have a killer chocolate and vanilla mud pie, but I start drooling when I even begin to talk about their Coconut Cream Pie. It is the best. My mom (queen of the kitchen) snagged the recipe a few years back so here I am giving you the secrets of a greatest dessert ever. P.S. This can only cost you about six bucks!
1 cup of milk
2 packages of coconut pudding mix
1 1/2 cups of toasted coconut (save 1/4 cup for top)
1/2 tub cool whip
How easy is this? 5 ingredients! I am not really big into making my own pie crusts, so I always buy my own for a couple of bucks. Bake the crust as instructed. Combine milk, coconut pudding mix, and 1 1/4 cups of toasted coconut into a large bowl until fluffy. Place in the pie crust. Next top with cool whip and sprinkle the top with the rest of the toasted coconut. So easy and so good!
BONUS: Whipped Cream
If you do not want to buy cool whip and are everything against the artificial whipped cream I love to make my own homemade whipped cream! It’s really quick and it goes great with waffles, oatmeal, pie, or even just to eat!
Half pint of whipping cream
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Pour all ingredients into a mixing bowl and use either your mixer of anykind (hand or not hand I do not discriminate) to whip it really good! Put mixer on the fastest setting and let it do the magic. Continue mixing until you see in the whipped cream. You want to ensure thickness of the whipped cream. Feel free to adjust this recipe to your liking. I don’t like my whipped cream very sweet, but if you do add more sugar!
I hope you all have a great holiday season and try out some of my favorite recipes that make me feel superior in the kitchen!
Photography by Mackenzie Fauque and Pinterest