Cooking on a Dime

Creating delicious meals in South Jersey on a budget just got easier with these simple how-to's of the kitchen.

Corey Sumner and Taylor Hufner Weigh In On How The Internet Has Influenced Their Cooking/Baking March 31, 2012

Filed under: Interviews — alderm03 @ 3:49 pm
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Courtesy of Corey Sumer

Corey Sumner

Age 21

Senior English Major at Rowan University


After Corey transferred to Rowan University from Camden County College, she decided to begin another journey: finding an apartment and gaining independence by living on her own. It hasn’t always been easy and one of the biggest changes was learning how to cook nutritious meals for herself. The internet is filled with cooking websites and recipes which comes in handy for this vegetarian.



Courtesy of Corey Sumner

Courtesy of Taylor Hufner

Taylor Hufner

Age 22

Senior English Major at Rowan University


In her efforts to save money, Taylor decided to continue to live at home with her parents and sister while attending college. And while cooking may not be her strong suit, she finds that baking is something she really enjoys.



Courtesy of Taylor Hufner


Chicken Piccata Recipe March 24, 2012

If you couldn’t tell by now, I really like the Dinner Spinner! It makes finding recipes and cooking so easy!

I went to Acme to do some grocery shopping and found buy one, get one free chicken breasts at $6.99. So I looked up chicken recipes on the Dinner Spinner and found Chicken Piccata.


  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Flatten chicken to 1/2-inch thickness; place in bag, one piece at a time, and shake to coat.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown chicken in butter. Stir in whine or broth. Bring to  boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Drizzle with lemon juice.

I also bought a bag of steam vegetables for $3.99 which brings the meal to a total of only $11.00!


White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Recipe

Filed under: Uncategorized — alderm03 @ 6:05 pm
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  • 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 cub butter, melted
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

2. In a saucepan, combine raspberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to boil. Continue boiling 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt white chocolate chips with half-and-half, stirring occasionally until smooth.

4. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer to remove seeds.

5. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla and melted white chocolate.

6. Pour half of batter over crust.

7. Spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over batter.

8. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan, and again spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.

9. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours before removing from pan. Serve with remaining raspberry sauce.



This recipe was discovered on the Dinner Spinner App I mentioned last week!


Beef Taco Bake Recipe March 10, 2012

Beef Taco Bake Dinner Spinner Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell’s Condenscened Tomato Soup
  • 1 cup Pace Chunky Salsa or Pace Picante sauce
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 6 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese


1. Cook beef in medium skillet oer medium-high heat until beef is browned, stirring to separate meat. Pour off fat.

2. Add soup, salsa, milk, tortillas, and half the cheese.

3. Spoon into 2-quart shallow baking dish. Cover.

4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.


As you can see from my pictures, I used a different brand of salsa and soup than what’s specified in the recipe. I did this simply because of price.



For those that want a fresher dish, here is the Cooks Illustrated version:

Cooks Illustrated Ingredients:

  • 1 (16-ounce) can refried beans
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained with 1/2 cup juice reserved
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 8 ounces Colby Jack (Co-Jack) cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, mined or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 pounds 90 percent lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar
  • 12 taco shells, broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin


  1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Mix the refried beans, half of the drained tomatoes, cilantro, and hot sauce together, then smooth the mixture evenly into a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese over the top.
  2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the remaining tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, vinegar, and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture is thickened and nearly dry, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spread the beef mixture in the baking dish and sprinkle with 1/2 cup more cheese. Scatter the taco shell pieces over the top, then sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
  5. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the top is spotty brown, about 15 minutes. Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with the scallions and serve.

The Dinner Spinner

In my quest to find the next amazing dish to create for my family, I searched the internet for recipes that my family and I have never tried. I found an extremely interesting recipe called Beef Taco Bake on Cooks Illustrated. The recipe called for an enormous amount of fresh ingredients that would definitely break the bank to my budget friendly blog.


Courtesy of my friend Taylor, I found this awesome app for my I-pod Touch! It’s called Dinner Spinner. Taylor wanted to look up the recipe and that’s when she showed me this awesome app! It had the same dish but less ingredients and way cheaper to make, which would stay on the topic of making delicious budget friendly meals!


The Dinner Spinner allows you to pick the dish you want to make by:

Dish Type:

  • Main Dish
  • Salad
  • Side Dish
  • Soup
  • Appetizer
  • Bread
  • Breakfast
  • Cookies
  • Dessert
  • Beverage


  • Pasta
  • Pork
  • Shellfish
  • Vegetables
  • Beef
  • Cheese
  • Chicken
  • Chocolate
  • Fish
  • Fruit
  • Grain
  • Lamb
  • Legume

Ready In:

  • 45 minutes or less
  • Slow Cooker
  • Over and hour
  • 20 minutes or less
  • Any

You can also just let the Dinner Spinner do the work for you and present you with a surprising new dish!

I have found this app to be fantastic. While I have only actually made two recipes from here, including the Beef Taco Bake, they have both turned out great! Many of the recipes are submitted by homecooks and have tons a reviews that offer suggestions on how to make the recipe better or any other ideas other homecooks might have.


One lazy Sunday morning, I decided to test this app out by making myself breakfast. I found a recipe for Chunky Monkey Pancakes and I was instantly intrigued. They turned out fantastic and I love the idea of making food from scratch when the budget and time allows for it.


Stay tuned to see how the Beef Taco Bake turned out!