When my husband and I were first dating, I’ll be honest, I put a whole lot of pressure on Valentine’s Day. I wanted it all: the candy, the fancy flowers, the expensive dinner and sparkling jewelry. Now, I’m more realistic about our budget and realize we can still have a fancy night without spending our first month’s rent.
That’s why we’re going to spend our evening in (probably wearing sweatpants or jeans if we’re lucky), eating this deliciously elegant, budget-friendly meal. The whole menu (all three recipes) costs less than $25 to prepare, which is about the cost of one entree at a restaurant on Feb. 14. Save your pennies for something far more fun, like a vacation or really sexy heels.
Steamed green beans with lemon butter sauce recipe
Serves about 4. About $8 total cost.
For the green beans
- About 1 pound fresh green beans
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To make the sauce, heat the onion, lemon juice and wine over medium heat until liquid is reduced by half. Whisk in the heavy cream and heat until reduced by half. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time, whisking after each addition. When you have about 4-5 cubes left, remove the mixture from heat and whisk in the remaining butter.
- To make the beans, place the beans in a steamer and season with salt and pepper. Steam for about 7 minutes or until warm and slightly soft.
- Serve the sauce over the beans and enjoy!
Cottage cheese enchiladas recipe
Serves about 4. About $8 total cost.
- 8 medium flour tortillas
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1-1/2 cups Friendship Dairy low-fat cottage cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 ounce package taco seasoning
- 3/4-1 cup red enchilada sauce
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the ground beef and taco seasoning; cook until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Drain the grease.
- In a small bowl, mix the sour cream and cottage cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- To assemble the enchiladas, place a large spoonful of meat mixture, a spoonful of cheese mixture and a bit of shredded cheese into the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place, seam side down, into the greased baking dish. Repeat until all enchiladas have been filled.
- Pour the enchilada sauce over the tortillas and cover with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Super fluffy red velvet cupcakes recipe
Yields about 12 cupcakes. About $6 -$7 total cost.
For the cupcakes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Dash salt
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons Egg Beaters
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons light cream
- About 1 ounce red food coloring
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting
- 8 ounce bar cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon white vanilla extract
- Sprinkles for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with liners and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together. In another bowl, beat the softened butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and Egg Beaters and beat until combined. Mix in the Greek yogurt, light cream, food coloring and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the flour mixture until well combined.
- Fill each liner about 2/3 to 3/4 full with batter. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until thick and creamy. Add additional sugar if too thick or not white enough.
- To fill the cupcakes, cut out a small cone in the center of each. Add about a teaspoon or so of frosting. Then cover the top of the cupcakes with remaining frosting and sprinkle with sprinkles!
More budget-friendly recipes
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In a pickle: How to cook a gourmet meal on the budget
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