Dinner Recipe Reviews – $5 Dinner Mom

Maus has the job, and I don’t technically have a job.  So that makes me the housewife.  What do housewives do?  They clean the apartment, do laundry, and cook dinner.  I like to cook, usually more so when I don’t sleep in and have spent more time on other things.  I actually have tons of cookbooks (three large bookshelf shelves full), I’ll take a picture some time. One of the books I’ve been trying out lately is $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook.  It’s very interesting, but there are pros and cons.

The book includes quite a bit on how to eat healthy, and strategically shop and plan for dinner meals for maximum effectiveness.  There are LOTS of recipes, which I always appreciate.  This last week I made two dishes: Sloppy Joe Chicken and Slow-Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs.

I’ve noted about this book in a previous post that it is for a particular audience.  After cooking these last two recipes (I’ve cooked about four or five), it is cementing it more in my mind what it’s like.  It reminds me of a book I have floating around somewhere in my apartment that contains Great Depression recipes.  The book goes really really light on the spices, as I think they’d make the cost more than $5 per meal.  So if you’re going to use the book but want more flavor from the spices you already have, you’ll have to mix them up.

Sloppy Joe Chicken

This dish is supposed to be served on bread, and I was going to make bread (hamburger buns) from the book, but I forgot, as well as having additional things to put the chicken on (in this case linguine).  I’ll make the bread this week I guess, we’ll see.

This sloppy joe recipe has a tomato sauce base, but adds a few extra ingredients including apple cider vinegar and brown sugar.  Of particular note was the inclusion of red pepper flakes.  I didn’t think they’d make that huge of an impact, as when I make Penne L’Arrabiata they aren’t super hot, but holy crap they did!  I cooked up the sauce and then put the chicken in the sauce to cook in it, covered.

It ended up looking something like this:


I think it looks pretty good.  I stirred it around and cooked it for quite a while (the chicken was already semi-cooked by the microwave, I used the left over chicken from the Alfredo I made earlier).

As well, instead of the hamburger buns I was going to make, I had linguine lying around (from the same dish I believe) so I served it on top of that to use it up.  It looked something like this:


The nice thing about these recipes from the book is that they are complete dinners.  What I mean by that is that they incorporate all the ingredients for a whole dinner into the $5 limit.  This particular dish included fruit as it’s side (as well as mixed vegetables, which I didn’t end up preparing).

All in all, I really liked this dish, but it was VERY HOT and SPICY.  It started out more mellow, but the more I ate it, the more spicy it became in my mouth.  I was sweating by the end!  Whew!  In all though, I’d give this recipe the whole thumbs up.  I didn’t feel this one was as missing in flavor as the other ones I’ve made from this book.  I mean they all have good flavor, but the last two dishes I’ve thought about adding other spices.  Not so with this one!

Slow-Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs

I know it was two pasta dishes in one week, but I was intrigued by the meatballs because they use the slow-cooker.  I haven’t used my slow-cooker in a while, so I thought I’d truck it out and give it a whirl.

First, though, I had to make the sauce.  The sauce is pretty basic, with a base of diced tomatoes (I use diced tomatoes when it’s supposed to be mashed whole tomatoes, it’s easier).  This one had some good spices added too this time.  Here’s what I ended up putting in the sauce:


I infused the flavors for about fifteen minutes:


The meatballs were the usual fare.  They had breadcrumbs (I used plain), egg, and ground meat and such (there’s more in there, I just don’t remember exactly what because it was a couple days ago.  I meant to make this post earlier.)  I actually put 2 eggs in because I was using fresh eggs from a local grower and they were a little small.  I formed them up into balls and put them in the bottom of the crockpot:


I always make meatballs super big, not on purpose.  I think they don’t look that big when I roll them up, but then when they come out, they’re huge!  The same thing happened when I made Thanksgiving/Christmas food (and we watched that soft core porn with Captain).  So, I gotta work on that.

The thing about this recipe is that you’re supposed to make the sauce and then put the sauce in the crockpot on top of the meatballs and then let it sit for four hours.  That’s all well and good, but four hours is a long time to have the crockpot on high, and a lot of steam escapes.  This means that the liquid in the sauce evaporates away for four hours.  This leaves things a little dry (and burned my crockpot):


I wouldn’t mind having the sauce evaporate quite a bit, but it reduced the body of the sauce down.  That means when I served it over the spaghetti, there really wasn’t a lot of it.  So, this dish was mostly meatballs with a little bit of tomatoes on top of spaghetti.  It was a little weird eating plain spaghetti, so if you make this dish I recommend that you set a bit of the sauce aside from the crockpot and mix it back in afterwards:


For what it was I thought the dish was good!  Like the last recipe, Sloppy Joe Chicken, this one tasted pretty good.  I liked the spices that were included in the meatballs and the sauce.  I would definitely recommend this one (as long as you set aside a bit of sauce for the end as above).

So… save yourself some money, and experiment with your own spices, buy this book!  Heehee, sorry, shameless plug.

photo credit: Beef Blade Pot Roast via photopin (license)


I'm just a wunk, trying to enjoy life. I am a cofounder of http//originalpursuitssoc.com/ and I like computers, code, creativity, and friends.

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