My easy and tasty recipes on a teeny budget [classic article]

As first seen in Graffiti magazine

All of these are economical and don’t require fancy equipment or experience.

Deviled Eggs

These don’t come off like “starving student,” so put them on a nice tray at your next party and hold your head up high. Good for breakfast on the run, too. Serves six.


1 dozen large, extra large or jumbo eggs (the larger the egg, the easier it will be to make)

2 Tablespoons (or two big spoons) of Hellman’s mayo (any other kind sucks)

1 Tablespoon of spicy mustard (you can even use those packs of mustard from Chinese take-out)

Crystal hot sauce

Salt, pepper


Boil a big pot of water. Take off the stove and add a spoon of salt. Gently spoon eggs in, with shells on. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Take off cover and let cool. When cool, peel eggs.

Split eggs length wise with a knife. With a spoon, gently spoon yolks out into a bowl. Arrange whites on a plate.

In bowl with yolks, add your mustard and mayo, mash. Add as much hot sauce, salt and pepper as tastes good to you. Mash again.

Take little spoonfuls of yolk and refill the whites. Cover with plastic wrap or tinfoil and chill in fridge for an hour. If you want to get fancy, garnish with a bit of chopped, fresh parsley or teeny bits of chopped pickle.

French Toast Grilled Cheese

My mom made this for me when I was a kid. This is good for brunch or a midnight snack. Serves one.


2 slices white bread, raisin bread or fruitcake like Pannetone

1 egg

2 thick slices of cheddar, Colby or mozzarella cheese


a couple spoonfuls of milk



honey or maple syrup


In a large bowl, whip up egg, a sprinkle of salt, a pinch of cinnamon and your milk. Heat up pan on high. Turn down heat to medium-low and add a lump of butter. Let it melt all around the pan. Then, put the cheese in between the bread. Carefully, with both hands, dip each side of the sandwich in egg mixture. Then, add to pan. Let cook a minute or so on each side, flipping with spatula. Put on plate, drizzle with syrup or honey. Cut diagonally. If you are feeling fancy, you can add some apple slices.

Tamar’s Chili Cheese Dip

I once was a law clerk for an oil company. Something close to this recipe was in their cookbook … but I have tweaked it enough where I don’t have to give them any credit. Serves many.


2 cans of chili (whatever kind you like best)

1 large (16 or more ounce) pack shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 large pack shredded mozzarella cheese

2 packs Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese (cream cheese is a proprietary recipe and Kraft makes the best)

Crystal hot sauce


Get out a large microwaveable pan. If you don’t have one, get a tinfoil pan (you will then bake at 300 degrees until bubbly). Also, get out a microwaveable bowl.

Unwrap both cream cheeses and set in bowl. Nuke for 1 minute.

Open chilis, pour in pan. Season with hot sauce. Spread softened cream cheese on top.

Layer on top the shredded mozzarella, then the cheddar. Nuke for 1.5 minutes or bake for 15 minutes

Serve with crusty bread, or chips if you have some that will stand up to this rich dip.

Greek Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Serves two


1 cucumber — peeled, sliced thinly

1 large beefsteak or heirloom tomato, cut in eighths

1 cup whole milk yogurt, sour cream, or 1/2 low fat yogurt mixed with 1/2 sour cream

sweet onion, such as Vidalia, Maui, or Texas Sweets, chopped into a fine dice

the juice from 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh herbs like dill or oregano, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper (freshly cracked, if possible)


In a wooden or glass bowl, mix all ingredients except for the veggies until smooth. Add veggies, chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Fettuccini Alfredo

I definitely made this in school and people still request it. It’s nice with a glass of white wine.

Theoretically, this should serve four. In my pre-carb conscious days, it was more like two.


1 pound fettuccini noodles

4 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (splurge on the good stuff if possible)

1 garlic clove, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped parsley, optional

6 tablespoons half and half or heavy cream

2 or 3 tablespoons butter

black pepper (freshly cracked, if you can)

1 teaspoon salt


Start boiling a big pot of water. When water is boiling, add your pasta and salt. You then have 10 minutes to make the sauce.

Sauce: In a large pan on medium heat, melt the butter. Add garlic, turn down heat to low. Add parsley if you are using it, whisk around. Add pepper, then cheese. Whisk in half and half or cream. Keep pan on very, very low … do not let it boil.

Drain pasta well in colander. Add to pan with sauce, gently toss. Serve immediately. You can garnish with more chopped parsley, more cheese, more pepper.

The BEST Tuna Casserole!

This really is good. You can bring it to a potluck dinner or just have it for lunch/dinner. Plus, it’s ridiculously easy.


1 package Velveeta shells and cheese

8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar

10 drops Crystal hot sauce

1 teaspoon spicy mustard, can come from Chinese take-out

1 foil pack Starkist Albecore tuna (Don’t fight me on this! All others taste like cat food)

1 tablespoon Hellmann’s mayo

1 handful of potato chips

1 teaspoon salt


Boil a big pot of water, add salt. Heat oven to 300. Take cheese sauce out of Velveeta pack, set aside. Make pasta according to package directions. Drain. Put pasta in big baking pan, add shredded cheese while it’s hot, so it will melt well. Add cheese sauce from pack. Mix. Add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT for the potato chips. If you are feeling fancy, you can add some thawed frozen peas.

Take potato chips, crush. Top the pasta with the chips, bake in oven for 15 minutes.

Chicken Pate’

(Or what to do with the parts you don’t like)

I had some dried out, but expensive bird one night and resolved to use it. Serve on nut crackers or bread to impress your next guest or yourself.


2 or 3 chicken or turkey or duck parts, any kind

1/3 block cream cheese

1 Tablespoon Hellmann’s mayo

a few nuts, if you need to stretch out the dish

1 Tablespoon of fresh herbs, optional

1 shallot, peeled

1 teaspoon mustard

5 drops hot sauce

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt


Get rid of poultry skin, take poultry meat off bone, put in Cuisinart/blender/hand-immersion blender/what have you.

Add rest of ingredients, pulse until smooth.

Poached Pears

This is served in the fanciest restaurants, yet it’s not hard and not hideously expensive to make. Serves two.


2 Bartlett pears

2-3 cups cheap port or red wine



1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream




Wash pears. With sharp knife, slice off the stem. Cut in half vertically. Cut out seeds and surrounding pith. On stove, take a big pot and pour in liquor. Turn on heat to very low.


As liquor heats up, add a little sugar and cinnamon to taste. Add pears. Put lid on and simmer on very low for 2 hours. Keep checking on liquid, to make sure it hasn’t evaporated all the way. You can add more liquor or some apple juice in a pinch.


After 2 hours, carefully lift out pears with a spoon and place on plate to cool. Keep syrup, set aside.


In a cup, take yogurt or sour cream, and add a little spoon of sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. Mix.


On the serving plate, slice each pear horizontally in 1/2 inch slices, fan out a little. Top each pear half with a spoon of the yogurt or sour cream mix. Take a spoon of syrup and drizzle it around the plate. Voila!

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