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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Just read the Bobby Flay reviews and unfortunately going out to eat can be an expensive crap shoot. We just did a family get-together in MI going out to a semi-expensive beach resort restaurant......... It was horrible. What a rip-off! Worst $350.00 I've spent in some time. So, gonna throw out some easy to prepare meal ideas in which you can enjoy a semi-upscale restaurant quality meal, for probably what you would expect to pay 20% tip.

Easy Appetizer:

Heirloom Beefsteak Tomatoes with fresh Mozzarella and Basil



Restaurant price: $12.00-$15.00 (each). Your cost to make......... about $2.50- $3.00 each. Much less if you grow your own Basil and Tomatoes.

How: Remove stems from Basil, gather and slice. Slice about a 1lb Heirloom Tomato by first marking the top/bottom center with a quarter through slice. Remove the stem section, remove the ends. Mark each half in half again, and slice 4 semi-equal slices. Salt with Sea Salt, drizzle with Olive Oil, splash of Balsamic Vinegar. Place slices of fresh Mozzarella on top and garnish with sliced fresh Basil. Optional: A little Parma Ham on top.

Easy Main Courses:

Grilled Jumbo Lobster Tails with Cheese Ravioli Florentine and grilled Veggies



Restaurant price: $45.00-$50.00. Your cost to make......... about $20.00. (Less if you buy smaller Lobster Tails)

Go to Sams Club and buy two 14oz (or smaller) Lobster Tails. While you're out, hit Costco for Cream, $4.50 2 1/2 lb bag of Spinach, Four Cheese Ravioli, and if you don't have it..... Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese (Parmesan Cheese). On the way back, buy a couple Zucchini Squash and Yellow Squash at a local Grocery Store.

Thaw the Lobster Tails and remove meat from within shell. Coat with Olive Oil and Season with Montreal Steak Seasoning. Put in fridge for at least an hour so the flavor mingles. Slice the Squash Lengthwise, coat with Olive Oil, season with Sea Salt/fresh ground Pepper and set aside.

Sauté a few handfuls of Spinach to get most of the liquid out, but not overcooked. Drain Spinach, season with Sea Salt to taste and set aside. Get salted water boiling and cook Pasta. While it is cooking (about two minutes), get a large pan out and pour about a cup or so of cream. Add some grated Parmesan Cheese, set heat to medium and bring to boil, turn off heat. By now (or before) the Pasta will be done so drain and add to pan. Add Spinach to pan and set aside.

Turn oven on to 170 degrees, turn grill on to heat. The rest is real simple: Grill the Lobster and set into warm oven. Grill the Veggies and set into warm oven. Heat the pasta with Florentine Cream Sauce to serving temp adjust the amount of cream, cheese and salt. Plate with Drawn Butter.

Wanna save a little money and still have a great meal?

Try Mahi Mahi instead. Same Tomato only with Bacon and fresh Tarragon. Same veggies. Total cost o meal.......under ten bucks. Like Lamb? A Steak? Just do what ya want.






Lobster Spinach Salad with a Bacon Avocado Cup




Restaurant price: $18.00-25.00 (each). Your cost to make......... Pretty damn cheap! In this case, leftover Lobster, some of the unused Spinach, a little cooked Bacon, a large Avocado and a Mango.

Enjoy!



Glass of Champaign

Restaurant price: $8.00-15.00. Your cost: $2.50-$4.00 (or more depending upon your budget.

And hey, just send the tip to me instead.

Denny
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Denny,

try smoked mozzarella cheese on the tomatoes.
Just a touch better to me......

Jim
I will. Always up for a new buzz. Not that I looked for it, but don't believe I've ever seen smoked fresh mozzarella. Also really like the basic dish with a little Prosciutto, Capicola or even a little a hard European style dried Salami.

Denny
 

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Denny,

I just heard about it less than a year ago.

The other thing I do with the tomatoes is I marinate then for 24 hrs in flavor infused champagne vinegar that I make.

I have done dried cranberry's and pear.

Champagne vinegar
25% sweet white wine
Couple of table spoons of sugar
Cinnamon stick
Age it for a while in a dark place

The infused vinegar is also good with chicken and pork.

I give bottles of it away to friends at Christmas time.

Jim

Jim
 

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Glad you are back to posting.

Had this same conversation with a neighbor yesterday. We have several steak houses in San Antonio, but both of us have determined that if we want a good quality steak we go to the butcher and fire up our own grill. I am doing more grilled veggies as sides.

I am still an amateur, but have been working up new recipes and cooking at home instead of going out. (partly a money issue, but also getting tired of paying for something I could make better at home)

I will get up some pics of a few new ones.
 

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Wow, that ALL looks delicious! Thanks for sharing. Not to mention the savings, you also won't have to deal with crappy service that seems to be common anymore:(
 

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The wife and I really enjoy doing bruschetta at the house. We grow our own tomatoes and basil, etc, so it is cheap. The last place we ordered it, for an appetizer, was really bad. The bread was hard as a rock and the cheese was so light, that you did not even know it was there. $15 for that or $2-3 at the house.
 

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I make a full meal out of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, sliced red onion, salami or pepperoni, balsamic vinagrette, kalamata olives and garlic bread. Great on a hot California summer evening.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Glad you are back to posting.

Had this same conversation with a neighbor yesterday. We have several steak houses in San Antonio, but both of us have determined that if we want a good quality steak we go to the butcher and fire up our own grill. I am doing more grilled veggies as sides.

I am still an amateur, but have been working up new recipes and cooking at home instead of going out. (partly a money issue, but also getting tired of paying for something I could make better at home)

I will get up some pics of a few new ones.
First, Thank you. Like you I'm also an amateur but cooking with professionals lately has definitely helped. Just got lucky and ran into the right people. Fun group, but trust me...... It's a hard way of making a living. You're married to it.

We eat at home over 95+% of the time as I either walk away from a good meal regretting what I spent or end up just walking away disappointed. Mostly these days we try and find restaurants that I can steal ideas from. Really looking forward to our trip to Peru this fall as I love good Peruvian food.

Here is another make at home for much less:

Appetizer:

Shishito Peppers (Japanese Sweet Peppers)

This appetizer has been popping up at trendy restaurants lately. The first time I had it was at Iron Chief Nobu Matsuhisa "Nobu's" in Dallas. Think I paid about $13.00 for what you see here. I did it at home for about $.70 cents. Now Brook Shields was eating at the same place as us that night, but I'll just save the $12.00 and miss seeing Brook instead. Hope it doesn't break her heart.




Basically you can deep fry, pan fry or even grill them. Just sprinkle with Sea Salt after they are cooked. WARNING: one out of ten is hot. The rest will be quite mild, but be prepared.


Jumbo Scallops over a bed of Oyster Mushrooms, Baby Squash with Basil and Green Onions, Lemon Butter Potatoes.




Being I'm not smart enough to know how to spell Nobu Matsuhisa, I went to his restaurants website. His Scallop dish is $44.00 and that is just the Scallops, everything else is a la carte. These entire meal including appetizer was under $10.00 to prepare.

Thaw the Scallops, dry, season with Sea Salt n Pepper, place into a bowl and poor some Olive Oil on top. Put in fridge.

Taters are next. Real simple, real good. Peal and medium dice a Jumbo Baking Potato. Boil in heavily salted water. While the Potato is cooking, get a small pan out and melt some butter in it. Take a Lemon and zest it into the pan. Once the Potatoes are done, drain and add to Lemon Butter. Stir, adjust spices and place into a 170 degree oven to keep warm. Had them prepared this way in Italy originally and enjoy it still to this day. Good starch side dish.




Mushrooms next. Any Mushroom will work, but the Oyster Mushrooms seem to work very well with Scallops. Put some Olive Oil into a pan, some butter and sauté the Oyster Mushrooms. Salt to taste and also place into oven.

Veggies. Seems I've been doing a lot of squash this week but when I see something different or special, I'm all over it like stink on poop. Two pounds of Baby Squash was $5.00 at Costco and I went for it. Used about half. The Basil is from my Herb garden and the Green Onions were 3 for a $1.00.

Remove stems from Basil and chop leaves. Set aside. Add some olive oil to a pan, place on burner until the oil shimmers. Add Baby Squash and sauté to color, add Green Onions and sauté more. Again just color the Onions, remove from heat and throw a handful of Basil on top mixing in. You want the Squash slightly undercooked. It will be placed into the warm oven so the slight heat and residual cooking will finish them some. Also, just prior to serving you will sauté then some more to heat them through.



Scallops:

Remove from fridge and either pan sear or grill. I grilled them this time but next time I'll probably pan sear them instead. They are so delicate and wanted to stick to the grill, so it was a bit of a hassle to keep them intact. Once done, remove from grill and put into oven.

Take everything out of the oven except Scallops. Put the Potatoes, Mushrooms, Veggies on a medium heat burner to finish. Once heated through, plate everything, remove the Scallops from the warming oven and plate over the mushrooms.

Time to eat!

Denny
 

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Glad you are back to posting.

Had this same conversation with a neighbor yesterday. We have several steak houses in San Antonio, but both of us have determined that if we want a good quality steak we go to the butcher and fire up our own grill. I am doing more grilled veggies as sides.

I am still an amateur, but have been working up new recipes and cooking at home instead of going out. (partly a money issue, but also getting tired of paying for something I could make better at home)

I will get up some pics of a few new ones.
Big peeve of mine is going out for dinner and being disappointed, sadly it happens a lot cause I enjoy cooking and do a good job.

Longhorn is the only chain I visit on a semi regular basis...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I had it for dinner last night. I'd take pictures if I could present as good as you. LOL!
My neighbor grows basil, cilantro and parsley. I just go snip a sprig or two. She has the strongest basil I have ever had.
Don't do a full garden but I do grow herbs and tomatoes. If your into Basil, (which I am) you might want to consider Tarragon. It's stronger than Basil with a slightly different taste. I also do at least a couple types of Basil. One is the traditional Sweet Basil while the other is an Asian Purple Basil. When I do Spring Rolls (another favorite) I'll do some using Purple Basil and some using Cilantro. Basil is Thai, Cilantro is Vietnamese.

Denny
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Being I had mentioned Spring Rolls. It's another typically exclusive restaurant food that really is quite easy to make at home. I've posted exactly how to make them before, but the hardest part is knowing how much dipping/soaking to use for the spring roll wrapper to come out moist and flexible, but not soggy and unusable. Basically you just dip them in warm water making sure all surfaces got covered. Then immediately put the on a cutting board. They will absorb the remaining moisture on their own. Never soak, just dip.






A meal I did for 4 friends and my wife and I a couple of weekends ago. Crab Cakes, Spring Rolls, Grilled Arugula, Grilled Asparagus. Guess the cost to make is in the $6.00-7.00 range.

Denny
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Pretty much self-explanatory. I always have fresh Crabmeat in our fridge on a just in case basis. Problem is Crabmeat has gotten really expensive. I paid $20.00 for the last 1lb container vs the usual $14.00-16.00. A local Kroger had two kinds of Crab Cakes both priced @ $2.00 each. One look real good, one looked like your typical cheap supermarket Crab Cake. I bought 4 of the better looking ones just to try. They were so close to homemade that I went back and bought 10 more. Figured I could go big for two bucks. The same ones across the street at Market Street were 2 for $10.00. Sorry, that deal is done. I went yesterday to buy more and now they are 2 for $8.00 at Kroger. Hey, it was good while it lasted and probably the same ones certain restaurants buy from food services.




Denny
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Penne Pasta with Lobster



This one is so easy that a deaf, dumb, blind, caveman could make it. It's also a dish that I would not be ashamed to have the Pope over to serve to.

Real easy:

Buy Jumbo Lobster Claws at good ol Costco. There were 3 Lobster Claws in a 2 lb bag. Always on the lookout for good deals or something that looks good and 11oz Lobster Claws make that list. Thaw and remove the meat from the shell and set in fridge. (easier said than done)

Get out two pans. One large for boiling and one large Wok. Add salted water to the pan and place on high heat to boil. Chop some Garlic, add Olive Oil to the Wok and place on high heat while the water is comming up to temp. Sautee the garlic for about a minute and remove pan from heat. Once the water boils, throw some Asparagus into the water to 90% cook. Take it out using thongs and place into Wok. Then add Penne Pasta to the same boiling water and cook till done, drain. Add to Wok along with some butter and stir to mingle ingredients.




Cut some Jumbo Black Olives in half or large slices. Course dice 3-4 medium sided tomatoes and throw on top of Pasta/Asparagus. Season with Sea Salt and fresh Ground Pepper.




Chop some fresh Basil and throw on top.



Add some Prosciutto Ham on top the Basil and place Lobster Claws into a warm pan with melted butter. You're not trying to cook the Lobster, just warm it in some butter.

While the Lobster is in the warm pan, put the Wok back on the heat using medium high heat, DO NOT STIR! Let the Pasta and Asparagus on the bottom absorb most of the heat for about a minute. You only want to warm the Tomatoes, Basil, and Prosciutto Ham. Stir everything together and remove from heat. Let sit for about a minute.




Plate the Pasta and add shaved Parmesan cheese.



This is a great dish w/o the Lobster and costs next to nothing to make if you leave out the Lobster. Enjoy!

Denny
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Denny,

I am guessing the lobster claws are pre cooked???

Jim
Jim

The claws are already cooked. That's why I tried to emphasis that you only warm them. Too much heat and you just ruined a genuine delicacy. Gotta to be up front: Cracking those boogers is a bear. I normally use a rolling pen. The shells are so thick I had to go to the garage and get a hammer. And, it's messy to the point that you got to do it outside or it splatters all over. Had the shit all over a fresh shirt I had put on.

Still have one claw left and being they are so good, in case friends stop by decided to see if I could find more before they do the same thing the crab cake deal did and disappear. After sorting through the last 10 remaining packages, there was only one left with the 3 per 2lbs. When you see something special, better jump on it as probably you are not the only one whom notices.

Denny
 

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Denny,

from about 3 years old to 12 year's old we lived in Maine.

I still have 4 set's of lobster *******'s that must be 50 year's old now from my parent's.

They are V shaped and you put the lobster part into the V and wrap your hand around the lever's ( think the opposite of plier's) and they are spring loaded to the open position.
Very easy to use and no pounding/messy cracking.

Jim
 
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