Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Looking for a cheap date night??

Like anyone, I enjoy going out for dinner and enjoying an elegant meal with family and friends. Eating out comes at its costs though. It costs both your wallet and your waistline as food prices are marked up and dishes are generally heavier than you would cook at home. If you are a starving student like me, here is an easy and beautiful entrée you can cook at home and serves two generous portions. I also included the estimated cost breakdown of this meal so you can see how much you can save by cooking at home. Trust me boys, this is an easy, elegant meal that will definitely impress the ladies.

Mussels Marinara
2lb mussels
1tsp olive oil
½ cup diced red onion
1 cup sliced red pepper
2 tsp diced garlic
2 large plum tomatoes, diced
½ cup dry white wine, fish stock, or vegetable stock with 1tbsp white wine vinegar
2tsp each basil and oregano
fresh parsley or basil and lemon wedges to garnish

½ Whole Wheat Baguette
** for Gluten-free (GF) options, substitute oven roasted sweet potato fries for the baguette as a delicious and tasty alternative. Use 1 large sweet potato for two people.

1.     wash and scrub mussels under cold water
2.     heat oil in frying pan, add onion, pepper and garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes
3.     add the tomatoes, white wine and spices, let simmer for 10 minutes
4.     add mussels and cook at least 5 minutes until all mussels are open. Any mussels that don’t open, discard
5.     arrange mussels in two large bowls, with a bowl on the side for empty shells. Serve with toasted pieces of whole wheat baguette

mussels – on sale 3.99 for 2 lb bag
onion and pepper- about $2
garlic and oil- stocked in pantry
2 tomatoes (plum are generally the cheapest)- $1.50
Stock- I used vegetable stock, bought on sale at No Frills for 1.88 for entire box, so probably used 50 cent worth
Dried herbs- in pantry, buy at bulk barn and look online for coupons
Lemon and fresh herbs- $2.50, optional if you are truly scraping pennies
Sweet potato- $1.50, gotta love those cheap tatters
Whole wheat baguette- half price, day old at $1.50. I always shop for bread in the reduced section of the bakery. Buy loaves of bread and freeze immediately to keep and they will taste like new in the toaster. Since this baguette was a day old, I placed it under the broiler for a few minutes and tasted great

Total cost for a gourmet meal for two- about $12, $16 if you added a pre-made garden salad from the grocery store. These savings mean more money to spend on booze at the bar!

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