Monday, January 25, 2010

Dollar Store Recipe

Inspired by Caleb at Ramen Days and an NPR article, I gave myself a challenge. I would make a dish using only ingredients from the local dollar store. And I would limit the budget to five dollars.

The closest dollar stores to me were Dollar Tree (everything for $1) and Family Dollar (discounted prices, but not everything is $1). I decided to start at Family Dollar. I had never been in that particular store before today. So I was surprised to see (a) it was clearance sale day and (b)they had a big refrigerated case of milk, eggs, hot dogs,cheese, ice cream & appetizers.

I took a cart around the store to get ideas. At first, I thought I would make a casserole. I tossed canned, chopped ham & a packet of broccoli-cheese rice into the cart. Then I decided that would be boring. So back on the shelf those went. My next idea was homemade corn dogs, after spotting cornbread mix, hot dogs & cooking oil. I finally settled on making dessert when I saw cans of strawberries.

Here is what I bought:

Capitol Golden Pound Cake, 10 oz, $1

Family Pantry Strawberries In Light Syrup, 15 oz, $1
Velvet Evaporated Milk, 12 oz, 85 cents

Baron Dark Chocolate, 5.3 oz, $1

With tax, I ended up spending $3.99. I decided on the way home I'd make French toast with my groceries. I would top it with strawberry syrup & grated chocolate. Sounds easy, right ?

I started the recipe by heating a frying pan to medium high. I poured the evaporated milk into a small mixing bowl. Then I cut the pound cake into 8 thick slices. Half of the chocolate bar was put in the blender and chopped. I opened the can of strawberries & realized "crud, this is whole strawberries in light syrup. There goes the strawberry syrup idea."

I dipped four of the pound cake slices into the milk & placed them in the hot pan. That was not a good idea, in hindsight. The pound cake ended up crumbling very quickly when turned over. And it stuck to the pan. What a mess!

So it was time for plan #2. Thank goodness I had four other cake slices left. I heated the oven to 365 degrees. I put the remaining cakes on a baking sheet, sprinkled them with the chocolate gratings & toasted them for five minutes. After removing the tray from the oven, I smeared the chocolate with a knife.I placed the strawberries on the side of the plate. And that was dessert.

My dessert didn't turn out as creative and amazing as I'd hoped. But I've learned from this not to overthink a recipe. And people did like how it tasted. Sometimes you need to cut yourself a break and say "Okay, we're taking the Pillsbury cake mix + frosting from the dollar store and calling it a day."

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