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My family loves Pizza Hut.  Not only is it costly but unhealthy to boot. What really sealed the deal for me, the post oven ‘garlic spray’.  Not sure if I was supposed to see that last step but when I saw it, I totally called them out on it.  “Uh, its garlic spray” said the man as he continued to spray. Ehrm. 😦  Looked more like spray oil if you asked me – which totally explains the grease that drips down your hand as you’re trying to eat it.  Thus born the necessity of learn how to make homemade pizza.

20130523-155442.jpgPizza toppings: two types of cheese, pepperoni and homemade pizza sauce

20130422-103647.jpgMore toppings: leftover cubed chicken breast, onions & peppers

20130422-103709.jpgWhole wheat crust, partially baked. (yes its store bought dough)

20130422-103744.jpgLoaded and ready for the oven!

20130422-103800.jpgWho’s ready for dinner? 🙂

Now, while I didn’t do a full analysis of what it costs to make a homemade pizza vs store bought – I do have a good idea.  When we buy 2 – large pizza’s it’s about $45 taxes in.  What I made here cost about $7-$10 for a 9×13 pan. While the size isn’t the same, it’d still be less if I made two pizzas.  Also, this is a deluxe pizza with cubed chicken breast and an extra cup of cheese – normally I only use one.    End result = every bit just as yummy as Pizza Hut (in its own way) for much less in terms of calories and cost. The ultimate bonus, both men love it!  To me, that’s a win!

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Cheese was on sale!  The logical thing for me to do was to buy some and process it for future use because this family seems to be in an anti-cheese type mood these days.  Only thing left to do was to shred it and freeze it so we can just pull as needed from the big deep freezer.

(BTW: the sale is over now as you can see by the dates on my baggies but it was $2.99/500gr block of cheese. I picked up 3 blocks: old cheddar, marble & pizza mozzarella.  The deal was too good to pass up!)

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Since someone pointed out to me that the pre-shredded cheese you buy at the grocery store has a powdery substance added to it, I have been waiting for a sale on cheese to make my own.   At least I know it’s just cheese.

Tip: to shred your own, chill the blocks for a good hour before shredding, to make it easier on yourself.

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While the cheese was chilling, I started prep by labeling my baggies with the amount, type of cheese and date it was frozen.  I used sandwich sized Ziploc’s.

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I chose to freeze the cheese in 1c portions as most recipes call for that much if not 2c at a time.  Also, I only use about 1c of cheese when I make homemade pizza 😉  Each 500gr block made bout 6 cups loosely packed.  For some reason my pizza mozzarella only made 5c – maybe it wasn’t as chilled as it should’ve been?

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Once all the cheese was bagged with the air squished out (remember, air is the enemy in the freezer), I rolled/folded the excess bag over to make lil logs.  I placed all them sandwich bags into a medium sized freezer Ziploc and tried to squeeze all the air outta that bag.

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Voila! I now have 17 x 1c portions of cheese ready to be pulled at a moment’s notice. The other bonus, the one freezer Ziploc takes up much less space then one of those pre-shredded cheese bags.

Do you process your own cheese to save money as well?

Over the holidays, I decided to try my hand at making a breakfast casserole.   Having never really made one, it sounded simple enough. As usual, I took to the internet and found that a lot of the recipes called for cream cheese or a can of  cream of ___ soup.   I skipped over those recipes as I was hoping for something somewhat healthy.  It was hard to find one recipe that I liked as a whole so I decided to wing it instead.

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This is what I came up with:  started with a layer of hash brown style potatoes, a thin layer of shredded cheese followed by a mixed layer of diced onions, bell peppers & green onions, then a layer of seasoned browned ground pork topped with cheese & remainder of diced veggies to make it look purdy on top. 😉   I poured a mixture of seasoned eggs & milk over top and gave the pan a lil shake and a couple of bangs on the counter to help the egg mixture coat everything with its yummy goodness.

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Looks pretty good if you ask me.

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Baked for about an hour at 350*F.
I used the knife test to ensure that the eggs had cooked through.

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Voila!

As delicious as it was, I’ll admit that I’ll be making a few tweaks for round two. The wonderful hubster said it was tasty and it was but for some reason, I thought it was going to be super spectacular.  I guess this is where the cream cheese/cream of ___ soups come into play?

Going forward, I think I’ll use less potatoes and mix the cooked meat, cheese & veggies into the egg mixture before pouring over the potato layer, ensuring that everything is submerged in the egg mixture.

Since I made the casserole from scratch, I knew every ingredient that went into it and was also able to control the fat and salt content. Bonus if you ask me.   Would I make this again? Oh heck yes! Especially since it made 8 good sized portions.   We had plenty of leftovers and those my friends, made my weekend even easier. 🙂

Have you tried making a breakfast casserole? Do you have a favourite recipe?

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