WWE: Company is Coming

With company coming, how do you save on your grocery bill? As I prepare a large dinner for at least 6 adult guests plus our family, I have three goals: inexpensive, high quality, and make ahead dishes (majorly important since we will be skiing all day before company comes!)

Here’s the Menu:
Chili: A double batch from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (a favorite).  With ground beef purchased in bulk, this is a hearty and low cost meal.

Cornbread: Dry mix prepared ahead of time, simple and low cost ingredients

Baked Potatoes: Fantastic with chili and inexpensive.  I will be using a recipe that shortens cooking time to 30 minutes (Microwave 4 fork-stabbed potatoes at a time for 6-12 minutes then bake in oven at 450 degrees for another 20.  Wrap in foil to keep warm until served.)

Fruit tray: Sunflower has cantalopes for $1 each and grapes for $0.88/lb. Sliced melon and grapes snipped with scissors into smaller clumps can be prepared the day before and the color contrast will be beautiful.

Veggie tray: Cherry tomatoes, mini-peppers, english cucmbers and carrots are on sale at sunflower as well. (Planning around the sales saves tons!)

Chips, Guacamole and Salsa:  I bought a huge bag of tortilla chips from Costco for under $4 dollars. And you can’t go wrong with tub of fresh salsa there either. Guac will be homemade with some cumin, salsa and lime juice.

Toppings: Cilantro, sour cream and cheddar (a two lb. block from Costco for under $4), salsa and avocado

Apple Cobbler: Easy! Apple Pie Filling is in the freezer from last years preservation festivities. All I need to do is a simple cobbler topping, also from the test kitchen cookbook.
Fruit Cobbler:
1 c. flour
1/4 c. plus 2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. buttermilk
4 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Fruit Filling Premade

In advance, mix all dry ingredients, with cinnamon and extra 2 tsp. sugar mixed separately. Put fruit in 400 degree oven in 9 inch deep dish pie plate. Bake until fruit begins to release liquid, 20-30 minutes.

Mix wet ingredients together. Add dry mix and stir gently until dough is just combined. Pinch dough into 8 equal pieces and place ontop of fruit filling, spaced 1/2 inch apart. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mix. Return to oven and cook until filling is bubbling and bisquits are golden brown on top and cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Berry Patch Ice Cream Dessert

1 pkg. Brownie Mix (boxed or homemade)
1 Quart Vanilla Ice Cream
2 1/2 c. berries (like rasp, blue, or straw)
chocolate fudge or berry topping– or both!

Bake brownie mix halved in two greased and wax paper lined 8×1 1/2 in. round baking pans.  Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes.  Peel out of wax paper and cool completely.  Wrap in plastic and store, one in freezer for later (up to 2 months) and one at room temperature.

Line 8×1 1/2 in. round pan with plastic wrap, allowing excess to extend over edges.    In a large mixing bowl  stir ice cream to soften.  Carefully fold in 1 c. of berries.  Spread mixture evenly in pan, cover and freeze for 4 – 24 hours.

To serve, place brownie round on serving plate.  Lift ice cream and plastic wrap from pan.  Invert ice cream layer onto brownie; peel off plastic wrap.  Top with remaining 1 1/2 c. berries.  Serve with chocolate or berry topping.  Let dessert stand for 15 minutes before serving to soften slightly.  Serves 10.

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