Thursday, May 20, 2010

Taking Time Off

Postings may be a bit sporadic over the next couple of weeks. We just found out my oldest son has multiple food allergies besides the peanut we knew about (milk, egg, and wheat). So our way of cooking and eating is about to radically change. Sure I'll have plenty of good ole recipes for everyone to eat, but you will likely find a few more specialized dairy-free, gluten-free, and egg-free ones thrown in.

All I know is regardless of what is in them, the recipes better taste good to get my family to eat them.

Also, I'll be traveling for a week and a half with my boys to go see family and friends. We've only seen 2 people from "back home" since we moved 4 months ago. We're excited to reconnect.

Thanks for your patience and we'll have more for you soon. If you have any resources that would help on this food adventure, I'd love to hear from you.

Fruit Smoothies

This is a old picture from my early endeavors making smoothies. Since then I've learned how bad those smoothies were compared to how good they are now. Oh, I'm also on a different blender thanks to the "help" of little hand in the kitchen dropping it all over the kitchen floor. Note to self: Don't let him hold on to the blender top.

We make these a lot because it's a great balanced breakfast on-the-go with both carbs & protein. It travels with you in a hurry. Make what you like and it can be gluten-free, dairy-free, or whatever you want it to be.

Here's a bit of a process to help you make up your mind about what you exactly want to drink.
  1. Decide what texture you want - smooth & creamy or slushy & icy
  2. What fruit and/or veggies do you want to use - yes I said veggies. I was a skeptic too, but fresh spinach is really nice in a smoothie
  3. Liquid, if you are using frozen fruit/veggies than you'll need a liquid to thin it out
  4. Patience, the longer you blend the smoother it gets - if you like bits, cut it a bit short.
  5. How sweet - if the fruit isn't in season, you might want to combine with a sweeter fruit or add a bit of sweetness (honey, jam, juice/nectar
  6. To add protein powder or other additives
Slushy - I like mine with little bits of fruit
  • Fruit/Veggies - berries, peaches, melons, carrot puree, etc
  • Juice/Water/non-dairy liquid

Smoothie - I like mine really smooth
  • Fruit/Veggies - berries, bananas, mango, carrot, spinach, peaches, etc
  • Yogurt or Milk
  • Protein Powder
  • Juice/Milk/Water

My current favorite is strawberry/blueberry smoothies with yogurt, juice, and protein powder.

I'm looking for new ideas. What's your favorite combination?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Glazed Chicken

I adapted this recipe from one I found on line for a bourbon chicken. This doesn't taste anything like our favorite bourbon chicken from the mall, but it was still really good.

2 lbs Boneless chicken breasts, cut into small bite-size pieces
2 T Olive oil
1 Garlic clove, crushed
1/2 t Fresh grated ginger
1/4 t Crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 c Apple juice
1/2 c Brown sugar
2 T Ketchup
1 T White wine vinegar
1/2 c Water
1/2 c Soy sauce
1 t Sesame oil

Add olive oil to a large hot skillet. Cook chicken until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.

Wisk together all remaining ingredients other than sesame oil. Add mixture to hot pan to deglaze it (adding liquids to a pan to pick up any drippings/caramelized good stuff on the bottom of the pan). Use a wooden spoon or a spatula to scrap the bottom of the pan. Bring liquid to a slight bubble. Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with rice.

Total Cost: $6.15*
Chicken : $5.00 (Cashwise)
Apple juice: $.20 (Cashwise)
Brown sugar: $.20 (Sunmart)
Soy sauce: $.75 (Cashwise)
Oil, Ketchup & Spices from pantry stock

* This made a lot, enough for a meal and leftover lunches. Or it could easily be morphed into fried rice with the leftovers from dinner for a whole other meal.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Leftovers Pizza

It happens to all of us. You end up with just bits and pieces of the last couple of dinners in your fridge. Don't dump them (unless they've gone bad), repurpose them and they won't feel like leftovers anymore.

Whatever you've got leftover in the fridge can be served up on a pizza crust. Just use your imagination and a bit over cheese and your good to go. This particular pizza is a concoction of leftover grilled chicken and peppers that weren't used up from salad or beef/broccoli.

1 Pizza Crust (homemade or store bought)
1 c Pizza sauce (optional)
2 c Mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 c Toppings
1 t Oregano, dried
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, shredded (optional)

Total Costs (depending on toppings): $2.80 - 5.00
Cheese $1.25 (Sunmart)
Pizza crust $1.00 (Homemade)
Pizza sauce $.55 (homemade)
Toppings - leftovers so I priced them into a former meal

Topping Options:
Chicken & Broccoli
Chicken & Peppers
Ham, Onion & Peppers
Roasted Pork, Caramelized Onions, BBQ
Spaghetti & Pepperoni or Sausage (It sounds weird, but it's great)
Taco meat, Tomato, Peppers, Onions
Sausage, Eggs, Bacon, etc

Monday, May 17, 2010

Apple Crisp Pie

Here's a combination of two of my favorite apple dishes... You might think "Isn't that the same thing as a Dutch Apple Pie?" Well it's similar, but that usually has a flour based crumb topping and this is oatmeal based.

1 jar Apple Pie Filling
1 pie crust
1 c Oats
1/4 c Flour
2 T Brown Sugar
4 T Butter, cold
1-2 t Cinnamon, your preference
whipping cream

Add a bit of flour to the pie pan and place crusts in pan, forming edges by pinching together with your fingers. Pour in apple pie filling.

For crisp topping, mix oats, flour, sugar, and cinnamon together. Cut in cold butter with pastry cutter or with a fork. Sprinkle over the pie and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until bubbly and topping is crisp.

Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream. Eaten plain, I can almost consider this breakfast.

Total Costs $3.65
Apple Pie Filling: $.65 (Homemade)
Crust $1.25 (Meijer)
Whipped Cream $1.00 (Aldi)
Oatmeal $.25 (Aldi)
Butter $.25 (Aldi)
Flour $.10 (Aldi)
Brown Sugar $.15 (Aldi)
Spices from pantry stock

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cheesy Tortilla Soup

This will warm up the coldest day and put a little kick in your step. This is my variation on my friend Elissa's soup. I managed to get a picture of my third bowl at MNF at her house. Missed the first two bowls because I ate them too fast.

3 chicken breasts cooked and shredded
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (blended if desired)
1 can (10 oz) tomatoes with green chilies (blended if desired)
1 sm can green chilies
2 can cream of chicken
2 handful of tortilla chips, crushed
5 c water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1 1/2 t cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1 1/2 T dried onion
1 c apple juice
1 c corn (optional)
1 lime – juice
2 T Fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine the ingredients and let simmer for at least an hour. Garnish with sour cream, tortilla chips, cilantro, cheese, etc.

Total Costs: $6.45
Chicken - $2.50 (Cashwise)
Canned Tomatoes - $1.10 (Cheep Foods)
Green chilies - $.45 (Cheep Foods)
Cream of chicken - $1.00 (Cashwise)
Chips - $.10 (Cashwise)
Apple juice - $.10 (Walmart)
Corn - $.50 (Sunmart)
Lime - $.50 (Cashwise)
Cilantro - $.20 (Cashwise)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Favorite Chai

I love chai tea and wish that I could get one from the coffee shop anytime I wish, but that's not financially a wise decision. However, I've found the best possible alternative. In my pursuits to eat healthier, I've found Almond milk. I'm not fond of the flavor for drinking plain, but let me tell you, combined with the chai mix, it's divine. The hint of almond flavor and the spice in the chai is a wonderful combination. It would only be made better with steamed milk rather than just regular warm milk.

Right now there are tons of coupons and specials being run on almond milk (from several different brands). Makes an inexpensive time to try it out.

Total Cost: (per serving) $.30
Chai Mix $.10 (Cheep Foods)
Almond Milk $.20 (Target)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Kitchen Disappointments

Okay, a little piece of honesty here. This blog is about my attempts to feed my family well on a budget. Notice the ATTEMPTS.

Keeping it real, not all my attempts are successes, and this past week has been one of those learning curve times and try again experiences.

* Hospitality OOPS
We had a family come over Friday night for homemade pizza and let our kids play. I used the bread maker to make pizza dough for me while I was at the chiropractor. Thanks to traffic I was running late. I threw a bit of cornmeal on the cookie sheets, spread the dough and off we go... late of course. WELL, in my haste, I didn't grease the cookie sheet and didn't put enough corn meal down. SO time to serve and the pizza is STUCK to the pans. It was chiseling with the spatula to get some off to serve.
Welcome to our world. Our new friends were very gracious and we had lots of good laughs over it.

* Cinco de Mayo
Wanted something with a bit of spice other than taco (I love them but my husband is not so much a fan). So I put 1 1/2 lbs of cubed pork loin into a dutch oven with 2 T of taco seasoning, 1 can of tomato sauce and enough water to cover the meat. I cooked it for about 3 hours at 325.

While the meat was tender, it was REALLY bland. I think I'll try it again with the following alterations. Coat meat lightly with flour and brown in oil before adding liquid. Add pepper and onions to the saute mix. Up seasoning to 3-4 T of taco mix. Served over rice.

So if you are saying to yourself, the things I make don't turn out, please know that you are not alone. It happens to ALL of us.

Savory Monkey Bread

Who said that monkey bread had to be sweet? Here's a little diddy that I made with my favorite monkeys. Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there. You are amazing women. Praying for those whose heart aches - missing a mother or long to live that dream...

1 can Refrigerator Biscuits (or homemade dough)
5-8 T Butter (depending on how butter you like it - I recommend 6-7 T)
1/2 t Garlic powder, dried
1 t Parsley, dried
1 t Sea Salt
1/8 t Course ground pepper

Have your favorite monkeys start tearing apart the biscuits (or cut them each into 4-6 pieces) into a greased baking disk.
Melt the butter and add seasonings to the butter. Carefully pour all over the broken biscuits.

Bake according to biscuit package directions (may take 2-3 additional minutes but watch carefully.) You want lightly browned so they stay soft. Flip out onto a plate and serve.

Total Cost: $.80
Biscuits - $.35 (Aldi)
Butter - $.45 (Aldi)
Spices - from pantry stock

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sauteed Pasta Salad

This is one of those throw together salads with whatever odds and ends you have on hand in the house.

1 lb Pasta*, cooked
4 c fresh veggies*, chopped small
1 T Sesame seeds
3 T Olive oil, divided
2 t Salt
1/2 t Pepper
4 slices bacon, diced and cooked (optional)

Cook pasta and set aside to cool slightly while cooking veggies. Heat 1 T of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add veggies and lightly saute, you want them to be slightly underdone. Add pasta, seasoning, oil, and bacon and cook 1-2 more minutes.

Best served warm. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired

Total Cost: $3.25 - $6.25
Pasta $1.25 (Cashwise)
Veggies $1.00 - $4.00 (Cashwise or garden)
Bacon $1.00 (Sunmart)

*Favorite - asparagus, carrot, red pepper, bacon with cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta
Carrot, celery, and garlic
Peppers, tomato, basil

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Best Banana Bread

This recipe came from my friend Andrea, and yes, this is the best banana bread I've had.

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup milk
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients. Pour into 2 loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Can be made into muffins. Bake 30-35 minutes.

Total Costs: $1.95
Butter $.45 (Sunmart)
Sugar $.25 (Cashwise)
Bananas $.60 (Cashwise)
Milk $.20 (Sunmart)
Flour $.45 (Tochi's)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kansas Beef Brisket

My sister-in-law served this divinely tender and savory beef for a family dinner and my 6-year-old had 3 helpings (I think his mom and dad did as well). You've got to try this one.

4-8 lb. beef brisket
2 t hot pepper sauce
1 T salt
2 t black pepper
2 pkg French onion soup mix
4 c water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
4 c beef stock

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Season the brisket liberally with salt and pepper (measurements are estimates). Add a few dashes of hot pepper sauce. Put the brisket in a large, deep roasting pan. Mix the soup mix with the water and set aside.

Arrange the garlic, onions and mushrooms in the pan around the brisket. Pour the water/soup mix over the brisket. Add enough beef stock to the pan so that the brisket is submerged in liquid. Cover with foil and roast at 275 degrees for six hours. Can be made in slow cooker- medium-low for 8-10 hours or overnight.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Found the canolli shells at the local scratch and dent store and was inspired to create these lovelies for dinner to pair with pasta and loaded tomato sauce.

8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
4 oz Ricotta Cheese
1/2 c Powdered Sugar
1/2 t Cinnamon
5 T Milk chocolate chopped finely, divided

Blend together cheeses, sugar and cinnamon until smooth. Add in 2 T of the chopped chocolate and stir in. Spoon the filling into a ziplock bag and snip the end to make into into pipping bag to squeeze filling into the pastry shell. Sprinkle remaining chocolate on top of filling.

Cream Cheese $1.00 (Sunmart)
Ricotta Cheese $.50 (Cashwise) or left over from lasagna rolls
Powdered Sugar $.10 (Walmart)
Chocolate $.25 (Cashwise) or left over chocolate chips
Pastry Shells $1.10 (Cheep Foods)

Next up is a custard style filling with fruit

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Chicken Chimichangas

I adapted this recipe a bit from one I found at - My husband and I both loved it, and the kids - not so much. Next time I might skip the work of rolling/frying and heat the filling to dip chips in.

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 can diced green chilies
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 T fresh lime juice
2 T sour cream
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1-2 T taco seasoning
2/3 lb shredded cooked chicken meat
4 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1-2 c canola oil
Garnish - chopped green onion, sour cream, lettuce, chopped tomato, Cheddar cheese

In a blender, puree soup, green chilies, jalapeno, sour cream, and lime juice (or use canned enchilada sauce with 2-4 T of sour cream mixed in). Heat over low heat while making recipe.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, Monterrey Jack cheese, and taco seasoning until well blended. Stir in chicken. Scoop 1/4 of mixture into a warm tortilla, fold sides in and roll up.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Test oil with wooden spoon to see if oil bubbles for heat test, or put a piece or broken tortilla in. If oil is too hot, the chimichanga will burn before cooking through. Fry 2-4 chimichangas at a time until golden brown, then drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Serve immediately with warm sauce and garnish as desired.

Soup: $.70 (Cashwise)
Chilies $.60 (Cheep Foods)
Jalapeno $.25 (Cashwise)
Lime $.50 (Cashwise)
Cream Cheese $.50 (Sunmart)
Cheese $.50 (Sunmart)
Meat $1.75 (Cashwise)
Tortillas $.85 (Cashwise)
Seasonings from pantry stock

The filling would work GREAT as a hot dip for chips.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Vanilla Wafer Snackers

This was my sweet treat meets needing some protein one day. A yummy find.

The vanilla wafer is covered with a layer of sunbutter (or peanut butter) and then topped with whatever you have on hand. I had strawberries, bananas, and a few pieces of Ryan's leftover Valentines Day candy from school. I've done similar with Hershey Bars pieces, but the variety was a good.