Cut the cheese, save the $ (Go Bears!)

Cut the cheese, save the $ (Go Bears!)

In the spirit of Chicago Redeye’s “CUT THE CHEESE” pledge to boycott all things from north of our state line to show your love for the Bears, I thought it prudent to show you all the frugal recipes you can make this week that will also save you money by cutting the CHEESE!  

Cheese is delicious, but it is also one of the most expensive ingredients in most recipes!  These recipes hold true to CHICAGO, are delicious and can all be made for under $7 to serve at least 4 people!  How’s that for frugal???    


Pledge to Cut the Cheese! Go Bears!

1) Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Dumplings.jpg

Mmmm…what a delicious cheese-free meal!! Go Bears!!!

Whole Chicken, Cut Into Pieces (cut Up Fryer) (on sale for 99 cents/lb at Village Marketplace in Skokie)
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ cups All-purpose Flour
Salt And Pepper
½ cups Finely Diced Carrots
½ cups Finely Diced Celery
1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
½ teaspoons Ground Thyme
6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
½ cup Apple Cider (or Juice)
½ cup Heavy Cream
1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
½ cups Yellow Cornmeal
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1-½ cup Half-and-half
2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley (optional)
Salt As Needed
Preparation Instructions:
Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then dredge both sides in flour.
Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat. In two batches, brown chicken on both sides and remove to a clean plate.
In the same pot, add diced onion, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in ground thyme and turmeric, then pour in chicken broth and apple cider. Stir to combine, then add browned chicken. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
While chicken is simmering, make the dough for the dumplings: sift together all dry ingredients, then add half-and-half, stirring gently to combine. Set aside.
Remove chicken from pot and set aside on a plate. Use two forks to remove chicken from the bone. Shred, then add chicken to the pot. Pour heavy cream into the pot and stir to combine.
Drop tablespoons of dumpling dough into the simmering pot. Add minced parsley if using. Cover pot halfway and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Check seasonings; add salt if needed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.  *Adapted from Gourmet Magazine from Pioneer Woman’s Blog
2) Irish Beef Stew + Soda Bread

Notes:  This is a recipe that requires NO CHEESE and Irish Stew is impossible to mess up.  Here’s the basic outline of a typical Irish Stew recipe; add beer for extra flavor (Goose Island, or maybe some 312 or Stout to make it more Chicago-y)


Easy Irish Stew

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 large garlic cloves, minced
8 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
2 bay leaves
2-3 pounds russet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Beer (optional) I recommend adding 1 beer bottle of Stout 
Brown the stew beef and then throw everything into a pot to simmer until veggies are tender.  You can also throw everything into a slow cooker in the morning and turn on “low” for 5-7 hours and have a delicious stew for dinner!  
Make a side of Irish Soda Bread and serve with Kerrygold Butter (from Ireland – not Wisconsin!)  Kerrygold Butter is delicious and is my favorite butter!!!  Yummmmm!  
IRISH SODA Bread – Ingredients
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an ‘X’ into the top of the loaf.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 30 to 50 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes. (from Epicurious)
3) Slow Cooker Texas Chili….
Much like the Bears this recipe has all the ingredients for greatness and takes awhile in a slow cooker for all the elements to come together…just like the Bears season!  But once it’s done….you’ll have a “Super Bowl” of Chili….I couldn’t resist!  🙂  
2 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes (2.49/lb at Village Marketplace)
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, smashed
2 4.5-ounce cans chopped green chiles, drained
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3/4 cup chili powder
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles
1 to 2 tablespoons green hot sauce
Sliced scallions, fresh cilantro and/or sour cream, for topping
Toss the beef with 1 tablespoon each brown sugar and salt in a large bowl. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the beef in batches until browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes (do not crowd the pan). Transfer to a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion to the skillet and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chiles, cumin and chili powder and cook 3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups water and the tomatoes and simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker, cover and cook on low, 7 hours.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar and the hot sauce to the chili. Serve with scallions, cilantro and/or sour cream for topping.  NO CHEESE!  

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