Carrot recipes are a great friend to the cook’s budget. If you don’t have sweet sherry on hand, Sauterne wine is an excellent substitute.

2 tablespoons butter
4 cups carrots, washed shredded
1 onion, peeled and minced
1/2 cup sweet Sherry
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper, freshly cracked and ground

Melt the better in a lidded saucepan over medium-heat. Add the carrots, onion, sherry, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 15 minutes until tender.

Alternately, you can cook the carrots in the oven. Melt the butter in a casserole dish. Mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Carefully remove the casserole dish from the oven, swirl the butter to coat the bottom. Set the casserole dish on a heat resistant surface and spoon the carrot mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Cover tightly and bake for 25 – 30 minutes at 350°.

Yield: 4 – 6 servings.

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This super easy cucumber salad recipe is very good and seasonally budget friendly. The dressing is made from things most cooks keep on hand.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups cucumbers, sliced

Wash the cucumbers and treat the skin the way you like best. You can remove the peel completely. Or take a decorative approach by removing long lengths of the peel with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler. Or drag the tines of a fork the length of the cucumber. When sliced, these treatments will render different effects.

In a bowl that will accommodate all of the cucumbers, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar and salt. Add the cucumbers and stir to coat.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Alternately, you can create the components of this salad a day ahead. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and seal tightly. Slice the cucumbers and place in a separate lidded container. Cover the top of the cucumbers with a damp paper towel; cover tightly. Store dressing and cucumbers in the refrigerator. Two hours before serving combine dressing and cucumbers; cover and return to the refrigerator and allow to marinate.

Note: this salad should be eaten within 24 hours. If kept longer, the cucumbers become soft and loose the wonderful contrast between the cucumbers and dressing.

Yield: 6 – 8 servings.

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Cabbage is a great food budget extender, making this slaw inexpensive and easy to prepare. The dressing is on the sweet side.

2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup vinegar

1 large head cabbage, finely chopped
1 bunch celery, chopped
1 medium onion, grated
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 small carrot, grated

Use a mortar and pestle to lightly crush (do not grind) the celery seed and mustard seed. Alternately, you can place the celery seed and mustard seed in a heavy plastic bag and lightly crush by rolling over a few times with a heavy can. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together until well incorporated.

Place the prepared vegetables in a large lidded bowl and add dressing. Toss to distribute dressing thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Yield: 3 – 4 quarts.

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Another great food budget stretcher. Carrots, raisins and apples come together to create a naturally sweet slaw that make it easy to get kids to eat their veggies.

6 medium carrots
3/4 cup celery
1/4 cup onion
1/2 cup apple
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Pepper, freshly cracked and ground

Scrub the carrots, wash the apple and celery. Peel the onion. Grate the carrots, chop the onion, slice the celery and dice the apple. Place the carrots, onion, celery, apple and raisins in a large bowl. Add the mayonnaise and stir well to incorporate.

Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly.

Yield: 6 servings

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Take red beans and rice to new heights with this delicious Cuban version. This vegetarian recipe is easy on the budget. Cook the beans in a slow cooker on low the for a fast-fix family meal after a long day.

1 cup dried small red kidney beans
2 quarts water
1/2 small onion
1 side of a large red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cilantro sprigs, fresh
1/2 teaspoon cumin

1-1/2 cups long-grain with rice
3 cups reserved bean cooking liquid

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onions, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Tabasco sauce (Crystal Sauce!)

Pick through the kidney beans and place in a bowl or pot. Cover by 3 – 4 inches of fresh cold water and soak over night. Drain and rinse the beans. Place the beans, 1/2 small onion, 1 side of red bell pepper, 2 garlic cloves, 2 cilantro sprigs, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and water into a Dutch oven over medium heat. Bring the pot right to the boiling point and reduce heat immediately to medium low for a light simmer. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, approximately 1 hour.

When the beans are cooked tender, add salt to taste. Drain the beans. Reserve the cooking liquid. Remove the herbs and vegetables from the beans; discard.

Soak the rice in cold water for approximately 5 minutes and then rinse very well several times.

Bring 3 cups of the bean cooking liquid to a boil in a lidded sauce pan. Add the rice and bring to a boil. Stir well and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, until nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed. Uncover the rice and fluff with a fork.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, cumin and oregano and sauté until onions begin to brown. Stir in beans and rice; cook until heated through, about 5 minutes; season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Place a heaping helping of the hot beans and rice on a warmed plate or bowl and add few dashes of Tabasco (Crystal Sauce!) sauce.

Yield: 6 servings.

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