Tag Archives: Cheap Eats

Navajo Fry Bread Recipe: Native American Recipes

Ann Arbor Food

A hunking piece of hot Navajo Fry Bread Love

I am taking a Native American Literature class this semester and the professor handed us a recipe for Navajo Fry Bread. So of course, I made a batch and brought it in to class.

Fry bread is a staple food of modern Native Americans. It is often made and sold at powwows. It can be eaten as a sweet dish topped with honey and powdered sugar or as a tasty bread with a savory meal of say venison chile.

Its fried crunchy outside and soft dough inside makes Fry Bread a great item to serve with hearty stews

Navajo Fry Bread Recipe: Make 6-8 big size pieces

4 Cups of all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 Tablespoons of nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups of water
2-3 cups of high temp fry oil (Safflower, Peanut, lard or shortening)
2 Tablespoons of sugar (optional) if serving a sweet fry bread

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and dried milk and sugar if using in a large mixing bowl or into your food processor. Mix in the water to form the dough into a ball.

Knead the dough for a few minutes then let it rest for 15 minutes covered with a moist towel.

Divide into 6-8 equal portions and roll into balls and flatten them out. Cover with a moist towel until ready to fry.

Ann Arbor Food

flatten Fry Bread 8-10 inches wide

Meanwhile pour 2-3 cups of oil into a large heavy bottom pot or cast iron pan. Heat the oil till hot, 450-500 degrees.

Flatten out the dough ball to a thickness of 1/2 inch. I do this by squeezing the dough with my fingers while spin them in a cycle like making a pizza, but you can use a rolling pin if you prefer.

Poke a small hole in the dough. This prevents the dough from puffing up unevenly. Then carefully place in the fry oil.

Ann Arbor Food

Fry Bread Frying

Cook for a few minutes until the bottom is golden brown, then carefully flip with thongs.

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Golden Brown Fry Bread Frying

Place finished Fry Bread of paper towels.

Serve immediately.

My class found the fry bread to  taste great even at room temp. It can be made in advance and heated in the oven for good results.

The Power of Polenta: Polenta with shrimp and tomato recipe

Ann Arbor Food

Shrimp Polenta with Heirloom tomatoes

Polenta is one of those great go to foods when you need to make something quick. It is a tasty porridge made from course cornmeal. At most basic, polenta is a simple creamy corn mash cooked with water and salt.

But this humble cornmeal does not have to be plan. It can be jazzed up using flavor variations like stocks, butter, cheese and herbs.

It is commonly served Italian style with a tomato sauce and sausage, but it can also be served with fish, shellfish, poultry, beef, pork or in a vegetarian meal.

Once a simple peasant staple, polenta has gained popularity as a gourmet food that can be seen on menus at upscale restaurants to college dorms alike.

There are a few ways to serve polenta beside for a hot mash.

The high starch content of cornmeal makes cooked polenta form into a solid mass when cooled.

Hot polenta porridge is spread onto a sheet pan and allowed to cooled. Once cooled, the firm polenta can then be cut into shapes and saute’, deep fried or grilled to provide a crisp outer texture.

Another way to serve polenta is in a casserole. Hot polenta is spread into a casserole dish then topped with sauce, vegetables, meat and cheese then baked.

Polenta is found in the bulk section in grocery stores, in instant mixes or in the refrigerated section of in precooked tubes. The cost is around $1.50 per pound, which measure about 2 3/4 cups or around $.20 per serving.

Basic Polenta Recipes: Serve Four

1 1/2 cup of Polenta cornmeal
4 1/2 cups of water
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of butter (optional)
*use Olive Oil for vegan option

Bring the water to a boil in a sauce pan. Add the polenta, salt and butter and stir in. Bring the heat down to a medium. Cover the top of the pan loosely with tin foil. Stir frequently to make sure the polenta does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 20 minutes.


Cheese Polenta:
Substitute one cup of milk for water in the basic recipe and include the butter. Include 1-2 cups of a mixture of grated cheese like Cheddar, Jack, Parmesan and Fontina. Follow the instruction for the basic recipe then stir in the cheese during the last three minutes of cooking. Garnish with grated Parmesan.

Polenta with tomato sauce and sausage:
Use the basic or cheese polenta recipe. Cook a pound of your favorite sausage like sweet or hot Italian sausage and serve with about a third of a cup of your favorite heated tomato sauce per serving and top with grated Parmesan.

Mushroom Polenta: (Vegan)
Use the basic recipe and substitute olive oil for butter. Saute one finely chopped onion, two cloves of garlic and one and half pounds of your favorite mushrooms for seven minutes. Add a quarter teaspoon of dried thyme, and a quarter cup of white wine and cook down. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with fresh chopped parsley and divide a half cup of toasted pine nuts or almonds between four servings.

Polenta and Shrimp:
Use the basic or cheese polenta recipe and add the juice of one lemon, fresh cracked pepper and one teaspoon of smoked paprika when cooking the polenta . Peel and clean three quarters of a pound of shrimp and saute in butter or olive oil with two cloves of garlic till the shrimp is pink on booth sides.

Serve the polenta in a bowl. Divide the shrimp between four bowls and top with fresh chopped scallion.

Sliders: Mini Cheese burgers for dinner

Slider (Mini burgers) are becoming a restaurant trend. On my trip down south, I noticed that Ruby Tuesday’s featured a slider menu of various mini burgers/sandwiches. They offered salmon burgers, a shrimp burger, chicken breast, along with the traditional hamburger slider. When I was growing up in New Jersey, my idea of sliders were the mini burgers sold at white castle.

So there I was at Plum Market at the meat case thinking about dinner. I was going to get a steak, but saw they had grass fed burger paddies. I bought one padded which a reformed to make three mini burgers. For the buns I use the zingerman’s mini challah bread rolls, and top it off with some good cheddar cheese. Onion rings and steak fries from the hot bar topped off the meal. Slider can make for a fun and easy quick meal. Don’t feel that you only have to have burgers. Most meat cases feature all sort of “burger paddies” from salmon, turkey, and sausage. And for the vegetarian, most grocers carry a variety of veggie burgers in the freezer section.

Serve your sliders with cole slaw, and a potato dish like potato salad, or oven roasted potatoes.



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The New York Pizza Depot, Ann Arbor, michigan

Just wanted to get a quick post, and review out to NYPD, of Ann Arbor. As the NYC pizza at home guy, I figure it was about time I ventured out to NYPD. The verdict. It was great. The sauce was thin and sweet. The crust was thin and both had some tooth to it while at the same time a little crisp. In other words, the crust was perfect, not an easy feat. And the cheese and pizza was slightly greasy, which is what I think of for NYC pizza. They offer a number of other slices, and even dare I say Chicago style, which threw me because of the obvious NYC theme. I cannot speak to the other slice varieties. One was buffalo chicken. Two slices and a drink came to $6.10.

Happy B-Day to Me: 41 Years Old

Ann Arbor Food

Today is my 41st B-day, and to celebrate I am having cupcakes from the Cupcake Station this year for my cake. The love the idea of cupcakes because you can have a variety, they are cute little cakes, everyone can have their favorite, and you only need one candle.

Cupcakes are all the rage these days. It make sense. Along with coffee shops, cupcakes places offer a place to hang out and have both coffee/hot coco and cake. Most cupcake places sell mini’s, which lets people to have a small taste instead of eating a whole big sized cupcake, or other full serving size desserts. I figure that 3-4 minis make one ful sized cupcake, so if you want a cupcake, but do not want to over do it, you can get a mini sampler which I prefer.

So how are the cupcakes at the Cupcake Station? They were voted the best of Ann Arbor this year, and I have to excitingly agree. They are the best in the city, and in my opinion the best I have ever had. I am a big fan of what I call hearty frosting. The chocolate frosting is rich, thick and fudge like, and the cream cream frosting was also what I call on the hearty side. Some cupcakes I have had in the past were all show. The cake and the frosting are a pretty cloud, but there is not much there, there.

The Cupcake Station offers some 24 varieties of cupcakes. I have tried four (mini’s) so far (red velvet, pb & c, vanilla petal, and the original vanilla cake and chocolate frosting) and have been please with all of them.

Deep B-day thoughts?: 41 is not a freak out B-day like the ones that end in a zero. But 41 is no small event either. In the not so far past 41 was a ripe old age, and most were considered lucky to hit 41 in good shape.

I am planning for a very productive 41st year on the planet.I am in process of writing a few books (comic book/graphic novels), will be launching my microgreens biz this spring and summer, and relocating to Lansing to attend MSU in the fall to study documentary film. Also, along with writing this blog, I hopefully will be taking up the ukulele, which I got for last years B-day but have not touched.


Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food

$2.50:Turkey and Barley Stew

Ann Arbor FoodMy usual go to grain is short grain brown rice. This is a leftover from my days when I ate a macrobiotic diet. Now that I am eating more locally, I am thinking about other grains. Barley is a grain that is grown here in Michigan, along with oats, corn and wheat. I have yet to find whole grain corn available for making pasole, but I figure it is out there.

Here is a hearty stew made from whole barley. Most barley recipes call for pearled barley which is a more refine product like brown compared to white rice. The upshot is that whole barley comes out chewy and takes much longer to cook, about an hour or more, but it has more nutrition.

I provided a vegan option for this meal. If going vegan, the addition of dried mushroom which including the mushroom tea and perhaps some miso could be use to boast flavor. The addition of chopped nuts or seeds can also be added as a garnish for a hearty vegan option.

I forgot to garb an itemized receipt so there is not a 100% official local food cost breakdown for this meal, but I am sure it fits into a $3-5 range per person.

Turkey and Barley Stew

Makes 8-10 servings


1 pound of whole barley, (Hampshire Farms) $1.50

1 pound of ground turkey (can substitute you favor ground meat or sausage), Plum Market $7.00 (Meat is optional, this meal can be vegan)

3 medium size leeks, cleaned and dice, with some green parts (AA Coop) $??$3.00

2 cup of sliced mushrooms (AA Coop) $??$2.50

2 cup of medium diced carrots(Garden works) $1.00

1 quart jar of canned tomatoes with liquid (Home Garden) $1.00

1 cup of frozen peas (not local) $1.00 ???

1/4 cup of organic soy sauce (No Local) $?? 1.50

3 bay leafs

3-4 tablespoons butter (AA Coop) $.50 (Substitute olive or vegetable oil for a vegan option)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Estimated Cost:

Eight servings $2.38

Ten servings $1.90

Vegan Option: $2.50-$1.20 (depending on how fancy you get with the dried mushrooms, nuts and other additions)


In a large heavy bottomed, brown the turkey with the butter. Remove the turkey and add the leeks and mushrooms with a little salt. Stir and cooked them down for around ten minutes. If they start to stick, add a little water. Add the carrots, some bay leaf, the can of tomatoes, the soy sauce, the barley, and turkey. Add about 2-6 cups of water, enough to cover. Barley absorbs a ton of water, so you might need to add more depending if you want this to be more of a soup than a grain dish. Stock can me use to substitute some of the water. Stir in the smoked paprika and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about an hour, or until the barley is cooked. Thaw the peas in put into the stew during the last ten minutes.

Garnish with parsley or scallion.

Pinto Bean and Chicken Casserole w/corn biscuit topping: $2.13 per serving

Ann Arbor FoodThis is a great recipe for cheap eats. It uses a bunch of tricks to make an economical meal. My money saver tips are adding beans when using meat, left over stock and chicken fat to add flavor and richness, and using corn meal and/or a baked element.

This meal can also be a base for many variation. You can switch the type of beans, the kind of meat, use sausage, fish/seafood, go vegetarian, and/or add cream for richness. I use a buttermilk corn drop biscuit topping, but you can substitute an biscuit recipe you like.

Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food

Pinto Beans, Chicken and Vegetables

Pinto Beans (Hampshire Farm) 1 LB $1.50
(Can use an beans you like. Substitute two 16 oz cans of bean for 1 pound of cooked beans)

Chicken Leg, (Sparrow Kerry Town) $3. per pound 21 oz, $3.93
(Can substitute another meat, sausage, seafood, or go vegetarian)

2 1/4 cups left over stock from the other night and some chicken fat.
1/2 cup AP Flour, 5 oz (Westmill) $.62
1 onion (Eastern Market) $.50
3/4 LB carrots (Ann Arbor Farmers Market) $1
broccoli (Eastern Market) $.50
1/2, 8 oz jar of roasted red pepper, jarred at home from FM pepper $1.00
1 small jalapeno pepper (FM) $.25
Garlic (FM) $.25
1/4 stick of butter (Coop) $.25
Dry Thyme, basil and oregano from garden
Smoke Paprika(not local, but could be)


Soak and cook the beans. Set aside. Brown the meat and set aside. Add the butter to a large pan and saute the onions for a few minutes. Add the carrots and broccoli and cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper, and red pepper. Add the stock and the flour and combine. Stir in the beans and meat, and add to a large casserole pan.

Corn Biscuit Topping

Corn Meal (Hampshire Farm) 5 oz $.31
Ap Flour (Westmill) 5 oz $.62
1/2 stick of cold unsalted butter $.50
3/4 cup Buttermilk (Calder Dairy) $1.50
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (not local)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (Not Local)
pinch of salt


In a food processor, combine the corn and AP Flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and diced cold butter. Pulse until the mixture is combined to a crumble. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the buttermilk.

Spoon out the corn biscuit dough in blobs on top of the meat, bean, veggie casserole. In a pre-heated 350 degree oven, cook for 30-35 minutes until the mixture is bubbling and the biscuit are golden brown.

season with salt and pepper to taste and hot sauce (optional)

Total: 12.81

4 Really Large servings: $3.20

6 Big servings: $2.13