Sunday, January 29, 2006

99 Cent Challenge ~ Tuscan Dinner for Two

Here it is! A Tuscan dinner for two, using as many items as I could find at a 99 Cents Only store, and with a spending limit of $40 (per the 99 Cent Challenge rules).

Here is the entire set table

(Items shown not from dollar store: terra cotta pot with rosemary, napkins, silverware, copper wire, and table and chairs)

I used 6 velvet placemats (shown here) to make the table runner. The placemats had beads on each corner, which were used to edge the table runner and for the jar tealight holders

As mentioned previously, the menu came from InStyle Parties. Here are the dishes individually with a note regarding what substitutions had to be made to keep with the original recipe, and where I had to use my own ingredients.

The only appetizer was Marinated Olives

(Subs: None; Used own: Orange, parsley, and red pepper flakes)

First course was Linguini with White Wine Clam Sauce

(Subs: Clams were canned, not fresh, used linguini instead of spaghetti by choice; Used own: Minced garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt)

Main course included Sliced Steak with Radicchio on Romaine

(Subs: Romaine instead of arugula, mozzarella instead of Parmesan, "filet of steak" instead of sirloin; Used own: lemon juice)

Tuscan White Beans

(Subs: Cannellini beans were canned, not dried, which eliminated need for garlic, onions, and bay leaves; used own lemon juice, parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper) Please note that you do not see the beans in the original picture 'cause I had to reuse one of the bowls from the linguini - I was on a budget, after all!

and Zucchini Fritters

(Subs: Mozzarella instead of Parmesan; Used own: scallions, basil, parsley, flour, eggs, lemon, salt and pepper) I did not realize that this recipe used ricotta cheese, so I made a last minute dash to the 99 Cents Only store to buy it, and as a result had to remove one of my jar candles to stay under budget.

Dessert was very simple, as is the custom in Tuscany (I'm just going by what the book says). Just Affogato (vanilla ice cream in hot espresso) and hazelnut cookies

I had a lot of fun making the meal, and BT obviously had a lot of fun taking the pictures (you can prolly tell by now which pictures he takes, versus my everyday crappy ones).

Admittedly, we didn't really eat the meal.
We just weren't feeling too adventurous today, and the food was cold after taking the pics. We tried everything, and nothing tasted bad. Well, maybe the filet of steak. I still can't figure out what that was - it may have been a steak conglomeration, kind of like filet of fish at McDonalds. It looked really gross when it came out of the package, and didn't cook like a regular steak does. The best things were the fritters, and surprisingly, the wine. I can see why some folks buy it by the case - I've definitely had worse.

I'll post more instructions closer to the due date, but just wanted to let you know that I have created a Flickr Group for the 99 Cent Challenge. If you want to add a pic now, please go ahead. Just one pic per entry, though. That will make voting easier. You can provide a link to your own Flickr account for additional pictures, or to your pertinent blog entry/ies. Please include a brief description of your meal and the amount you spent.

(If you don't have - or don't want to have - a Flickr account, please email me your pic and description and I'll post it for ya!)

Looking forward to seeing your "gourmet" meals!


Pink Rocket said...

Wow! That's fantastic!! I was a little worried about you eating the meat though!

my house is cuter than yours said...

This is so lovely! And it really sounds edible! If you could have competed in the challenge you would have won! I so wish I had a 99 cent store that had refrigerated foods! I am planning on making my gourmet dinner Friday night I think. I still have shopping to do for it though.

my house is cuter than yours said...

ps. I forgot to say how lovely the candle holders are and I like that you used that terracotta plate for the olives..very clever!

petulant said...

that looks absolutely lovely, the salad particularly is just gorgeous. My favourite, though, is the hanging candle jars, that looks so nice with the bead decoration - a real find!

(bit of a tragedy about not eating it, though, although I think possibly a wise decision in the case of the 'steak')

elizabeth said...

oh i think everything looks yummy (esp. dessert!!!)

did you make the cookies?

i too would have had a hard time bringing the steak to my mouth :(~

telfair said...

That is a truly amazing feat. YOU MADE A GOURMET DINNER FROM THE DOLLAR STORE! The person who can make a dinner like that from dollar store ingredients is no less than an alchemist, in my awed opinion...I couldn't make a dinner look like that if I had all of the Iron Chefs catering for me, and Martha Stewart on hand as a consultant!

Jennifer said...

Thanks, everyone, for the nice comments!

Elizabeth ~ The cookies were just a box from the dollar store. I bought the ones that looked the nicest. In the taste department, they were pretty bland.

Barb said...

BT? Would that be 'boy toy'?
Loved the cherry stuff you posted too. My computer won't let me leave comments all the time...but I am reading.