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Jul 23, 2014 08:31 PM

Best bang for the (time/energy/cost) buck recipes

I'm generally a peasant cook who uses great ingredients and enjoys the whole process. I love making bread that takes days, or corn tortillas from kernel to flat toasty goodness, but those kinds of projects are not what I'm after here.

I'm looking for recipes that create things unlikely to be found elsewhere, or recipes that make you wonder why you ever bought it in the first place. I have three: enchilada sauce, homemade tonic, and pickled jalepeno peppers.

The enchilada sauce is heavy on the pepper (I use a variety) and light on the tomato (even lighter for me, since I use half the suggested amount), but the flavor, OH the flavor!! And so little effort. I haven't figured out how to safely can this, but it's simple to freeze, so delicious enchiladas are never far away. Here's the base recipe I use:

As for the tonic, YUM!! And super easy (see the theme?) after you get the ingredients. With this tonic, gin&tonic is not just taken to a different level, but to a different playing field.

And finally, I have these pickled jalepeno peppers. Ohhh so delicious and nuanced. Not all about spice, or sweet, or soy, but a delightful mix of it all. Super simple to make (they're designed as a refrigerator pickle) but I've also canned some to extend the season. They mellow as they age, but that doesn't mean they still can't make me sweat when I get a real seedy circle.

So, what do you make that is so easy you can't believe you ever bought it?

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  1. Do you use that contraption for the tonic of store bought seltzer?

    1 Reply
    1. re: carrytheone

      I have used a contraption and also store-bought seltzer water.

    2. Those pickled peppers are VERY good. I enjoyed some with my lunch today.

      1. I make escabeche based on recipe that had in mexico - Tulum.

        I just add Cinnamon stick and allspice berries to the standard recipes (pick one:-)

        I love it much more than what I get in most Mexican places.

        I have made this Kimchee' a few times - pretty easy and surprisingly authentic tasting....(needs longer than a day though).

        1. Kombucha. I have been making it for a year now, my family drinks about a bottle of day. It requires about ten minutes of "work" (pour ready kombucha into bottles and cap, make tea for new batch, stir in sugar, stir in a cup of kombucha from previous batch, stir in SCOBY) a week. At $3 per bottle in the store, we save loads of cash PLUS I like my homebrew better than any I've gotten in the store.

          2 Replies
          1. re: powella

            I make kombucha too and store the ready one in a pitcher in the fridge. Great summer drink!

            1. re: powella

              Same here and we get to experiment with new flavors. I keep a 5-gallan glass jar with a spigot on the kitchen counter and we just tap off that. I add more tea when it gets low.

            2. "What do you make that is so easy you can't believe you ever bought it?"

              Salad dressing.
              I walk down any grocery store aisle and just scratch my head.

              How difficult is it to smush garlic, grind salt and shake with oil and vinegar? The flavor profiles are ~endless~. Make what ever goes with the main!

              1 Reply
              1. re: pedalfaster

                oh yes, I totally forgot the big bang for buck from salad dressing! In every way.