Recession Proof Picnic

After recently being laid off, the need to be budget savvy has been ever more crucial.  Recently, I decided I wanted to take my son and my niece to the beach along with my mother when I realized we would need some food and hey, why don’t we just make it a picnic.  There was only one problem, I can’t spend any money.  I have also had, since birth, a sophisticated palate and refuse to eat simple food.  I am not joking, my mom told me when I was a child I never wanted to eat off of the kid’s menu.  I always wanted a seafood dish or something extravagant.  The funny part is we did not have a lot of money growing up and I do not have money like that now so I do sometimes find myself eating that “simple” food I try so hard to avoid.  People always ask me, usually at lunch time when I was working, “why do you cook such fancy food” or they would tease me like “what are you eating today” and they would make up crazy dishes, and my reply is always “because I have to compete with restaurants”.  It is just too tempting to get an amazing meal from a fast food joint or a restaurant when you have a plain ham sandwich, but when it’s a pita pocket stuffed with curried chicken salad containing golden raisins and toasted pecans, I’m less inclined to push my lunch aside and let’s be honest I have felt the need to save money.  That attitude is the driving force for this post.  I initially was discouraged because I didn’t want to just take sandwiches and I didn’t know what I had in the house and I couldn’t spend any more money.

Then, like clockwork, recipes just started flowing out of my brain and to the kitchen I went.  Based on what I already had in the house, I was able to make a few of my favorites:  my mommy’s deviled eggs that hit gold a my son’s 2nd birthday party,  Giada’s  Tomato, Watermelon, and Basil Skewers with a balsamic syrup that I can put on everything, and the delicious curry pita pockets  that I mentioned earlier.  I had every last ingredient in my house, well there was some adlibbing for some ingredients which, I now realize, will make me a better cook and is an attribute that will bode well in a household with one less source of income.  The next step was to package everything up and head to the beach.  I was never a beach person until my son’s party when I realized if you bring the right equipment you can be at the beach all day and it will feel like you are in your own backyard theoretically speaking.  I mean, I am sure that’s what the celebs can say.  Now, I did dish out the $8 for parking, but if you are willing to hike equipment, you can park for free some where and just walk.  The day was wonderful and the eats were even better.  Another tip for those who can really eat and need to save, continue to raid your home for other snacks and goodies and just package them separately or together in Ziploc bags or cool containers and it will be delicious.  I may have been laid off, but I can definitely say I plan to make buckets of lemonade with my lemons!!!

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The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

The source of the recipe for these amazing cookies remains to be unknown; it may have been in a magazine at a doctor’s office, a beauty salon, or the dentist.  All I know is that the decision to make the cookies using a recipe handwritten on a crumpled up piece of paper found in the bottomless pit that is my purse, was the best decision I could have made.  I had a brief period of obsession with writing recipes down that I would find in the aforementioned locations.  I would rarely ever make them, but they all sounded so good.  Anyway, once I baked these cookies I have literally refused to make chocolate chip cookies based on any other recipe.  I like to use them for many events where I have to bake.  As a testament to their deliciousness, I added them to a dessert table that contained an assortment of cakes from a popular bakery costing me $250.00 and all I know is I kept trying to figure out why there were no more cookies, but like 2.5 cakes remaining.  It goes to show, one does not need to spend a lot of money to get good food.   Before continuing further to read this recipe I must warn you, addiction will inevitably ensue the first bite of these heavenly treats.

 

Preheat Oven to 375 F

  
3 C All Purpose Flour
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1.5 C Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 C Granulated Sugar
3 Large Eggs (please look at directions before adding eggs)
2-3 tsp Vanilla
16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips 
 
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl.  Beat butter & sugars in a large bowl.  Lightly beat one of the three eggs and at 1.75 T to butter mix.  Add remaining 2 eggs one at a time (do not pre-beat these).  Beat in vanilla.  Reduce speed and add flour.  Stir in chips.  Scoop 1/4 C cookie mix onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Bake 13 to 15 min. 
Tips:  I always add a little extra vanilla.  It’s best to have the butter really softened so let it sit out for a while.  I have recently tried a smaller size and they came out awesome.  Cooking time will be reduced so watch the oven carefully.