Wednesday, February 25, 2009

price chopper budget meals

Price Chopper Circular: February 25 - March 8 2009

Click the link above for everything that's on sale this week. Here are a few highlights and some recipes to coordinate. I was really inspired by all the great deals this week, so I decided to do something fun with the recipes - for branded items that are on sale, I pulled recipes from the brand's website (see links). Note that these deals pertain only to the Price Chopper stores in Kansas and Missouri.

Broccoli Cornbread (Jiffy)
Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix - .29 (price only valid 2/26 - 3/1)
Shedd's Spread Country Crock Margarine - 2/$4
Sweet Yellow Onions - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)
Roberts Cottage Cheese - $1.99

Creamy Corn Muffins (Jiffy)
Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix - .29 (price only valid 2/26 - 3/1)
Best Choice Vegetable Oil - $1.99
Large Lemons - 4/$1

Biscuits and Sloppy Joe Casserole (Pillsbury)
Pillsbury Biscuits - .99
Certified Ground Round - $1.69/lb
Sweet Yellow Onions - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)
Celery - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)

Crunchy Biscuit Chicken Casserole (Pillsbury)
Pillsbury Biscuits - .99
Best Choice Frozen Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast or Tenders (3 lb) - $5.99
Large Lemons - 4/$1
Shedd's Spread Country Crock Margarine - 2/$4

Grands! Biscuit Taco Cups (Pillsbury)
Pillsbury Biscuits - .99
Certified Ground Round - $1.69/lb
Roma Tomatoes - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)

Tuna Melt Biscuits (Pillsbury)
Pillsbury Biscuits - .99 StarKist Chunk Light Tuna - .59 (price only valid 2/26 - 3/1)
Celery - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)
Sweet Yellow Onions - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)

Chicken Enchiladas with Cottage Cheese (Roberts)
Roberts Cottage Cheese - $1.99
Best Choice Vegetable Oil - $1.99
Best Choice Frozen Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast or Tenders (3 lb) - $5.99
Sweet Yellow Onions - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)

Festive Cottage Cheese (Roberts)
Roberts Cottage Cheese - $1.99
Celery - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)
Radishes - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)

Baked Ziti Casserole (Hunts)
Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce - $1.19
Certified Ground Round - $1.69/lb (recipe calls for ground sirloin)

Baked Chicken Fingers (Country Crock)
Shedd's Spread Country Crock Margarine - 2/$4
Best Choice Frozen Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast or Tenders (3 lb) - $5.99

Creamy Lemon Chicken with Pasta and Broccoli (Country Crock)
Shedd's Spread Country Crock Margarine - 2/$4
Best Choice Frozen Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast or Tenders (3 lb) - $5.99
Sweet Yellow Onions - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)
Christopher Ranch Jumbo Garlic - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)
Large Lemons - 4/$1

Little Sizzlers Skillet Breakfast (Hormel)
Hormel Little Sausage Sizzlers - .99

Mac & Cheese Skillet Lasagna (Kraft)
Kraft Mac & Cheese - .49
Certified Ground Round - $1.69/lb
Shedd's Spread Country Crock Margarine - 2/$4
Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce - $1.19

Confetti Mac & Cheese (Kraft)
Kraft Mac & Cheese - .49
Yellow or Zucchini Squash - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)
Green Giant Baby Cut Carrots - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)

Mac-a-Taco (Kraft)
Kraft Mac & Cheese - .49
Certified Ground Round - $1.69/lb
Roma Tomatoes - 5 lb/$5 (Mix & Match)

Other Hot Deals:
Bananas - .39/lb (price only valid 2/26 - 3/1)
The Allens Frozen Vegetables - .49
Wild Pollock Fillets - $2.99/lb
Baguette Breads - .99
Kellogg's Cereals - Buy One Get One FREE
General Mills Cereals - 5/$10
Post Cereals - 2/$5
Betty Crocker Brownie Mix 4/$5
Yoplait Yogurt - 10/$5
Best Choice Cheese Chunks - $4.99
Mix & Match Produce - 5 lb/$5
Fuji Apples
Sweet Yellow Onions
Tropical Mangoes
Green Giant Baby Carrots
Yellow or Zucchini Squash
Dole Cole Slaw Mix
Jalapeno Peppers
Roma Tomatoes
Christopher Ranch Jumbo Garlic
D-Anjou Pears

zesty potato cheese soup

This is one of the few recipes that I have actually made twice (when you have so many cookbooks and so little time... you don't very often get around to remaking a recipe)! It's been about a year and I remember that the soup was a big hit so I couldn't wait to try it again.

This is SUCH a simple recipe. It's just a few cans and a little sprinkle of cheese. Actually the little princess did half the work for me (she loves to pour opened cans into the pot and then stir everything around). I also love that the level of heat is adjustable bowl by bowl. My husband LOVES his food hot, I prefer just a little zip. And for the little princess - no zip at all. Since you sprinkle the cheese on each bowl, every person's meal is customizable for their tastes!

I am admittedly not a fan of creamy textures - in soups, pasta sauces, or just in general. However, with a bite of crescent roll for every spoon (yes, that means I ate four crescent rolls with my one little bowl of soup!) I am able to fully enjoy this meal! And my cream-loving husband slurped up all the extras!

The recipe didn't say to cook the fully cooked bacon... but when I took it out of the package it was a little limp for my tastes. So I microwaved it for about 20 seconds (according to the package direction) then snipped it into strips over each bowl. Bacon and cheese - what more could a girl ask for?

Zesty Potato Soup

3 cans (10 3/4 oz each) condensed cream of potato soup, undiluted
2 cans (12 oz each) evaporated milk
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (we didn't measure, just scooped what we wanted into our bowls)
3/4 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese (ditto)
6 slices ready-to-serve fully cooked bacon, crumbled

In a large saucepan, combine the potato soup and milk. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until heated through. Ladle into serving bowls. Sprinkle with cheeses and bacon.

Yield: 6 servings

Source: Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious Cookbook

Sunday, February 22, 2009

leavin' on a jet plane...

Photo Courtesy of Kossy

I am traveling on business later this week, so I haven't planned any meals or any cookbook reviews. I am still plowing through the piles of cookbooks that I checked out from the library - most are flops, though there are a handful of winners that I can't wait to share!

Life got in the way of my menu plans last week and I never cooked the potato soup recipe that I planned for, so I hope to make it before I leave town. Other than that, it's packaged and convenience foods for us! I still plan to post a Price Chopper Budget Meals listing for the week though.

Wish me luck! I'll post as possible this week and look forward to another cookbook review (and new cooking experiences) next week!

Friday, February 20, 2009

garlic chicken 'n' gravy

Unfortunately I can't tell any quirky stories about this recipe. Why? Because my dear husband decided to cook this meal for me! It was so nice after a long day at work to have someone else do the work. He even plated it up and took a picture for me - what a sweetheart! I asked him afterwards how the cooking went and if he had any interesting stories to tell - he just said it's a good recipe.

Well, from what I ate, I would have to agree with him! The garlic flavor seemed really strong (but we love garlic) on first bite. I am not sure if he spooned in more than the recipe called for (we always use bottled minced garlic rather than the 'real' stuff, so who knows how much he added!) or if the recipe might need to be scaled back for a non-garlic-lover. Other than that, all comments are positive!

Garlic Chicken 'n' Gravy

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz each)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup white wine OR additional broth
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp all-purpose flour

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, cook chicken and garlic in butter over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until browned. Add 1/2 cup broth, wine or additional broth, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 7-9 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and keep warm. In a small bowl, combine flour and remaining broth until smooth; stir into pan juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over chicken.

Yield: 4 servings

Source: Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious Cookbook

Thursday, February 19, 2009

price chopper budget meals

Price Chopper Circular: February 18 - February 24 2009

Click the link above for everything that's on sale this week. Here are a few hilights and some recipes to coordinate. This week's recipes came from (see links). Note that these deals pertain only to the Price Chopper stores in Kansas and Missouri.

Flavorful Flounder
Wild Flounder Fillets - $2.49/lb

Orange Island Chicken
Roberts Orange Juice (1 gal) - $2.99
OR Best Choice Premium Orange Juice (64 oz) - 2/$5
California Naval Oranges - 3/.99
Pilgram's Pride Chicken Breast or Tenders - $1.99/lb
Crisco Cooking Oil (48 oz) - $3.29

Egg Chicken Casserole
Pilgrim's Pride Whole Chicken Fryers - .99/lb
Sara Lee Whole Grain Bread - $1.99 (sub for white bread)
Best Choice Large Eggs - .79
Best Choice Saltines Crackers - .99
OR Sunshine Krispy Saltine Crackers - 2/$3

BBQ Country Syle Ribs
Pork Loin Chops or Country Style Ribs for BBQ - $1.99/lb

Turkey Red Grape Salad
Best Choice Pasta - 3/$2
Roberts Sour Cream or Dips - $1.29
Red Seedless Grapes - .99/lb

Other Hot Deals:
Best Choice Tomato Sauce - 2/$1
Best Choice Chunk Cheese - 2/$3
Best Choice Shredded Cheese - 2/$6
Washington, Fuji or Gala Apples (3 lb Bag) - 2/$5
Green Giant Baby Cut Carrots (2 lb Pkg.) - 2/$5
Large Russet Baking Potatoes - 2 lb/$1
Eggplant - .89/lb

pecan-coated roughy

Yum-O! (umm... did I just say that?)

I have to admit that I have never really been a fan of fish. I LOVE fish sticks. And (thanks to my husband), I love sushi (tuna and salmon only, and only the kind without seaweed... none of those ucky rolls for me!). But otherwise I don't eat much fish, and I can honestly say I've never cooked it before. The hubby has grilled tuna steaks and made tilapia once, but that's it.

So this was a fishy experiment for me! I bought the orange roughy fillets frozen because they were cheaper that way (and living in the Midwest, the fish in my grocer's "fresh" case is all previously frozen anyway). I grabbed a small bag of pecans because I didn't want to have a lot of excess left over. That was my biggest mistake - after I chopped them up in my food processor (score!) I started breading the fish without measuring. I didn't even have a quarter of the pecans needed to coat those puppies! Thankfully I had a can of cashews in the pantry, so I improvised and we had Pecan/Cashew-Coated Roughy!

I am horrible at timing multiple recipes to be done at the same time. So unfortunately the sauce was finished shortly after I put the fish in the oven, and thickened a bit more than I would have liked. But it was still yummy! My other big mistake was failing to realize that fish isn't that filling. My husband and I are big eaters, and need a plate full of food to fill us up. Even eating two fillets each, we still needed more substance. So at the last minute we threw a bag of beer battered french fries in the oven to round the meal out (such a great compliment to fish, lol!).

Again, a learning experience! Next time I will buy a BIG bag of pecans and plan to cook up some broccoli on the side. Otherwise, I have to say that I will try this one again! The taste was great - not a super-fishy fish (which is good for me). The sauce was also really good. The orange flavor was reminiscent of orange marmalade without the weird texture, and not so sweet. I will say that the sauce is great spread over the top, but the fish is too flaky to pick it up and dip. Another lesson learned! Finally, after my harrowing experience with honey Dijon mustard with Pretzel-Crusted Chicken, I opted for honey mustard instead.

Pecan-Coated Roughy

1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
4 orange roughy fillets (6 oz each)
1 tbsp chopped shallot
2 tsp butter
1/2 cup white wine
2 tsp cornstarch
1 cup orange juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard

Place egg and pecans in separate bowls. Dip fillets into egg, then coat with pecans. Place in greased 15-inch x 10 inch baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, saute shallot in butter until tender. Add wine. Bring to a boil; cook for 1-2 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, orange juice and mustard until smooth; stir into wine mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with orange roughy.

Yield: 4 servings

Source: Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious Cookbook

Sunday, February 15, 2009

simple and delicious cookbook

Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious is one of my favorite food magazinies, so I just had to buy the coordinating cookbook! Unfortunately I don't utilize the magazine (or book) to its fullest. For those of you who cook a meal every night of the week, Simple & Delicious is perfect! They offer week-by-week menu plans including five recipes and a shopping list (with both staples you should already have on hand and products you'll need to purchase for the week).

But alas, I am not a menu planner. My husband and I work opposite schedules so we only eat together a few nights a week (the others I serve leftovers or quick meals like soup or mac & cheese).

However, I still like the quick, simple recipes enough to make this a winner in my book! This week I plan to prepare Zesty Potato Soup (I've made this before, but it's been awhile), Pecan Coated Roughy (I don't often cook fish so I am looking forward to this one), Chicken with Mustard Gravy, and Mushroom Rice. I can't wait to get cooking!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

leftover chicken tortilla soup

I have been redeemed! I found this recipe to reuse the chicken from last week's Cola Chicken disaster experiment. This soup was super-simple, quick and tasted amazing. My daughter and my husband both lapped it up, which doesn't happen very often!

This was also a great way to get the little princess involved in the kitchen. She helped me get each can out of the pantry and the stock pot out of the cabinet. She arranged each on the kitchen floor and could barely contain herself as she sat waiting for me to arrive with the can opener. I opened each can and then she poured its contents into the pot. Her favorite was the refried beans - I opened both ends of the can and let her push the bottom lid down as the contents squeezed into the pot. Such fun for an almost-three-year-old! After I squished the beans down a bit she stirred the whole concoction with fervor, then ran off to play while I finished the cooking.

I will definitely use this recipe again, and honestly I don't think I would make any changes. I used a can of "diced tomatoes with green chilies" rather than Rotel because the latter is just too hot for my tastes. If you like your food on the hot side you might try it that way. We crushed up some stale tortilla chips that I would have otherwise thrown away - this recipe was chock full of recycled foods! I actually found it on a blog called Making Do with the Not So New... what a perfect fit! MJ also suggests that you can freeze the leftovers, but after lunch today there won't be any! Next time I think I'll make a double batch, though, because this seems like a recipe that would freeze very well.

Leftover Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 can diced tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can refried beans
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 to 1 cup corn (I used frozen)
1 lb leftover cooked chicken, shredded
Shredded cheese
Crushed tortilla chips

Stir tomatoes, beans, broth and corn in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add meat until heated through. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese and crushed tortilla chips.

Yield: 6-8 servings (this is my guestimate - the original recipe didn't state a yield)

Source: MJ at Making Do with the Not So New

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

price chopper budget meals

Price Chopper Circular: February 11 - February 17 2009

Click the link above for everything that's on sale this week. Here are a few hilights and some recipes to coordinate. This week's recipes came from (see links). Note that these deals pertain only to the Price Chopper stores in Kansas and Missouri.

Chicken Cheddar Casserole:
Chicken Leg Quarters - .79/lb
Red Onions - .99/lb
Best Choice Butter Quarters - $1.29 (price only valid 2/16)
OR Parkay Margarine Quarters - 2/$3
Best Choice Shredded Cheese - 2/$3

Grilled Cheese Sandwich:
Home Pride Wheat Bread - $1.99
Best Choice American Cheese Singles - $1.79
Best Choice Butter Quarters - $1.29 (price only valid 2/16)
OR Parkay Margarine Quarters - 2/$3

Cheesy Mac and Vegetables:
Westpac Classic Frozen Vegetables - 4/$5
Best Choice Deluxe Mac & Cheese - $1.29
OR Kraft Velveeta Shells & Cheese/Deluxe Dinner - 2/$3
Red Onions - .99/lb
Best Choice Butter Quarters - $1.29 (price only valid 2/16)
OR Parkay Margarine Quarters - 2/$3

Potatoes with Sage and Parmesan Cheese:
Large Russet Baking Potatoes - 2 lbs/$1
Best Choice Butter Quarters - $1.29 (price only valid 2/16)
OR Parkay Margarine Quarters - 2/$3
Best Choice Grated Parmesan - $2.49 (recipe calls for fresh)

Frozen Fruit Salad:
Best Choice Frozen Fruit - 2/$4
Red Delicious Apples - $1.29/lb

Baked Ziti:
Best Choice Shredded Cheese - 2/$3
Ragu Pasta Sauce - 2/$3
Best Choice Grated Parmesan - $2.49
Personal note: I prefer the texture of cottage cheese in my ziti; I sub it whenever a recipe calls for Ricotta.

Tuna Cakes:
Best Choice Canned Tuna - .75
Best Choice Saltines - .99
Best Choice Butter Quarters - $1.29 (price only valid 2/16)
OR Parkay Margarine Quarters - 2/$3

Other Hot Deals:
Split Chicken Breasts - .99/lb
Kellogg's Cereals - 50% off
Kraft Salad Dressings - 2/$4
Kraft Miracle Whip - $2.99
Hunt's Tomato Sauce - 2/$1
Best Choice Canned Mushrooms - .79
Best Choice Cornflakes - 2/$3
Farmland Bacon - $1.88 (price only valid 2/16)
Fritos/Cheetos - .98 (price only valid 2/16)
Dannon Yogurt - .28 (price only valid 2/16)
Imperial Margerine - .38 (price only valid 2/16)

beech-nut baby food coupons

I just had an awesome experience with Beech-Nut and wanted to share it with you!

I found a post about their Parent's Pack (coupons!) over at Stretching a Buck. I used Beech-Nut carrots for the wonderful Carrot-Coconut Muffins that I made this weekend, so I had to check this program out!

I called 1-800-523-6633 and spoke to a very nice lady. I told her that my daughter was too old for baby food, but that I use it in cooking. She even offered to come check my blog out! I can't wait to receive the package; I guess it should include a variety of coupons, information about their label program (to earn more coupons!) and a feeding guide (which I'll pass along to my sister who has a baby just starting to eat baby food). When I mentioned my blog she asked if I had any Gluten Free recipes; since I don't I directed her to 5 Dollar Dinners (apparently a lot of parents call in looking for Gluten Free suggestions).

I also explored Beech-Nut's website a bit and found information on the Sneaky Chef. She sneaks extra nutrition into her family's meals in a variety of ways, including adding baby food! Check out her Beech-Nut Sneaky Pizza and Pasta Sauce. Since I am more of a bottled pasta sauce gal, I think I'll take her suggestion and add a bottle of baby food veggies next time (shh... don't tell my family)!

giveaway: my husband rocks

OK, so this has nothing to do with food. But it involves something else that is very near and dear to my heart: Marriage!

Too often we spend our days nagging our spouse or complaining about what they haven't done right. Instead we need to stand up and announce to the world that - faults and all - we love them unconditionally!

From*me Tees aims to do just that. They have AWESOME t-shirts that proclaim how much you love and respect your significant other. I just bought two (shh... don't tell my husband... they are for Valentine's Day)!

After you've checked out the awesome site, hop on over to Bloggy Giveaways and post a comment about what you love the most... that will register you to win a pair of "All Yours" undies!

And by the way, MY HUSBAND ROCKS!

Monday, February 9, 2009

carrot-coconut muffins


I have said before - and will say again - that I am not a baker. I can't reheat frozen pies or cook packaged cookie dough without some sort of disaster. So what on earth possessed me to try this recipe is beyond me!

But am I ever glad that I did! These heavenly little nuggets are so moist and full of flavor. They were great fresh out of the oven and also amazing out of the fridge the next day. Let me again note the changes I'll make next time before I give you the recipe:

  1. The coconut didn't add anything. I don't know if it was a necessary ingredient just in terms of baking and making the recipe turn out right (hope not!) but there was no coconut flavor in the finished product, and the texture was a bit distracting. I'll drop it next time.
  2. There really wasn't a carrot flavor either. You definitely get the orange color, and maybe a tinge of flavor, but (thankfully!) nothing overpowering. I want to try sweet potato baby food next time, and then the sky is the limit on other concoctions.
  3. The apple cinnamon notes from the boxed muffin mix and added spices are the most powerful (and yummy!) flavors in these muffins. I am a spice girl (no pun intended), so I will add more cinnamon and perhaps even some pumpkin pie spice next time. Yum yum!

Carrot-Coconut Muffins
Canola oil cooking spray (I used butter flavored instead)
1 box (19 oz) fat-free apple cinnamon muffin mix
4 jars (4 oz each) carrot baby food (pureed)
1 c shredded coconut
1/4 c apple juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat twelve 2 1/2 inch muffin cups with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together muffin mix, carrot baby food, coconut, apple juice, cinnamon and ginger until combined. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full.
  3. Bake muffins in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Cool muffins in cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups. Serve warm.

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Semi-Homemade Cooking Made Light

Sunday, February 8, 2009

pretzel-crusted chicken with honey mustard sauce

One word: FABULOUS!

This simple little recipe only requires five ingredients, but it is honestly one of the best meals I have ever cooked! I will definitely tweak it a bit the next time around, but it will become a forerunner in our little book of family favorites!

Before we get into the recipe, let me explain what I would change:
  1. So this is more an issue with my inexperience in cooking than with the recipe itself. You need 4 cups of crushed pretzels - so I got out a zip top baggie and a bottle of salad dressing and pounded away! That first sad little baggie was pulverized into bits (sending pretzel dust all over my counters), so for the next batch I used a heavy-duty bag from our FoodSaver vacuum system. After three more batches even this tough cookie had seen its better days! I also managed to dent the bottom of a brand new bottle of salad dressing. The recipe claimed 10 minutes prep time, and this step alone took me closer to a half hour! Then as I breaded the chicken tenders, a light bulb went off in my head! "Hey sweetie! Next time I make this, I can use the food processor to crush the pretzels!" So that's what that thing is for - I just thought it was supposed to collect dust in the farthest depths of my kitchen cabinet!
  2. The recipe calls for unsalted pretzels. I like salt. I used regular salted pretzels and loved every bit of it - heck I would have even been happy with more salt! I would not recommend unsalted pretzels.
  3. The recipe also calls for chicken breasts cut into strips. I used chicken tenders. However, I did learn (the hard way) that you should cut off that little tough white thing that hangs off of one end of the tender - otherwise you'll get a bite of not-so-appetizing-plasticy-hardness at the end of each otherwise-delicious piece.
  4. I scoured the shelves for honey Dijon mustard. Lots of people make honey mustard or Dijon mustard. The only honey Dijon mustard I could find was French's (as the recipe suggests). I've used this product in the past and remember that it was way too spicy for my tastes. Nothing's changed - still much too spicy. Next time around I will just buy a store brand honey mustard. For the dipping sauce, I may even substitute Kraft's fat-free honey Dijon dressing (I LOVE to dip chicken in this stuff).
  5. The recipe says to cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Even with thin chicken tenders it took 20 minutes.
  6. The recipe also says to line your baking sheet with foil. I'll stick with my Pampered Chef stoneware, no foil.
  7. Eat all of these delectable morsels the minute they come out of the oven (or at least during the same meal)! The pretzels become soggy in the fridge, so the leftovers are less-than-appetizing.

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce

4 cups unsalted tiny pretzels, crushed
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz each), cut into 1-inch-thick strips
3/4 c honey Dijon mustard
3 tbsp chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside. Put crushed pretzels in a pie plate; set aside.
  2. Brush both sides of chicken pieces with 1/4 cup of the honey mustard. Press chicken into crushed pretzels to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake chicken in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 c honey mustard, chicken broth, and Italian seasoning. Microwave on high setting (100% power) for 1 minute or until heated through. Serve with chicken.

Yield: 4 servings

Source: Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Cooking Made Light

Saturday, February 7, 2009

semi-homemade cooking made light

This week I dug out one of my Sandra Lee cookbooks. I love her show and love her cookbooks even more. While her concept of 70% packaged, 30% fresh isn't always the best on the budget (or the waistline), she comes up with some fantastic looking recipes that even (I think) I could make!

I have quite a few recipes flagged in this book, though there are quite a few I'd never try (either because they don't suit my tastes, or because they use ingredients I'd never find another use for). My biggest complaints about the book as a whole are:
  1. I am not huge on appetizers. I look for quick and easy recipes to feed my family. Even when we "entertain" friends or family, we don't serve fancy crostinis or bruchettas or anything on a stick. I could have done with fewer appetizers and more main meals.
  2. On that same note, I am not a baker either. I am lucky if I can get a roll of refrigerated cookie dough to somewhat resemble a cookie when I am done with it! There are quite a few desserts in this book that are well above my baking abilities.
  3. This is probably my biggest complaint - since this is a light cookbook, I would have liked to see more chicken recipes. I know that fish and lean beef are also good healthy alternatives, as are meatless, turkey and pork meals. But as a woman on a budget, chicken is my go-to meat, and there were only a few chicken options.

That said, I would still rate this book pretty highly. I like the looks of a lot of the recipes, and the photography is stellar. Almost every single recipe has an awesome picture. I shared the book with my mother-in-law (whose cooking and baking skills far exceed my own) and she loved almost every single recipe!

I can't wait to try the Pretzel-Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce and the Carrot-Coconut Muffins.

Friday, February 6, 2009

i'm so proud of me!

I did it! I resisted temptation! I fought the urge! I headed to Barnes and Noble today with every intention of buying a new cookbook. Weight Watchers has a new Five Ingredients, 15 Minutes book on the newsstands and I just had to have it.

I made the trek with my grandmother and my daughter (henceforth referred to as the little princess). We first had to promise the little princess a new book in order to convince her to leave the playground without a World War III-worthy meltdown. I grabbed two bargain books to keep her entertained and then ordered an Iced Mocha Frappuccino and an asiago pretzel on my way to the magazine racks. I quickly located the book I was looking for, then managed to find about six more that piqued my interest.

I broke into the warm, crusty pretzel and slurped up the icy chocolate coffee as I flipped through the Weight Watchers cookbook. At first glance, nothing grabbed my attention enough to compel me to buy it! I am sure that on a second (or third) flip through I would have found something that I liked, but since I had so many other options at the table I set this one aside and moved on.

I flipped through the next magazine, and the next, and the next. Nothing held my attention! I don't know if I've turned over a new leaf and I am truly scouring each new cookbook before buying - or if I was just too distracted to take in what I was looking at as I flipped the pages. I imagine it's the latter; I was more interested in my delectable snack on my table than the snacks printed in the magazines, and the little princess commanded my attention: "Mommy, I dropped my book." "Mommy, I want a bite of your pretzel." "Mommy, it's hot!" "Mommy, I want a sip" - (I gave in; I am sure I'll pay for that little caffeine rush tonight!)

Somehow I felt accomplished as we headed to the register with nothing but a book for the little princess. Moral of the story?

Asiago Pretzel: $3.50
Grande Iced Mocha Frappuccino: $3.99
Finding Nemo Level 1 Reader: $3.99
Leaving the bookstore WITHOUT a new cookbook: PRICELESS!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

price chopper budget meals

For those of you in the Kansas City area, I have an exciting new feature for my blog (not that my entire blog isn't new...)!

Erin over at $5 Dinners sent a call out for bloggers to monitor grocery circulars in their area and suggest recipes based on each week's sales. I love a bargain, and I always read Wednesday's grocery circulars - so I jumped on the opportunity!

Each week I will review Price Chopper's circular and coordinate recipes using some of the best deals. These may or may not be recipes I've tried. If all goes well I'd like to add circulars from HyVee in the future.

Price Chopper Circular - February 4 - February 10 2009
Check out the link above for everything that's on sale this week. Here are a few hilights and some recipes to coordinate. This week's recipes came from my Dinner on a Dime cookbook and are also available on Taste of Home's website (see links):

Zesty Mustard Chicken:
Fresh Whole Fryer Chickens - $.99/lb

Cabbage with Meat Sauce:
Green Cabbage - $0.39
Tennessee Pride Sausage - $2.29

Cream Cheese Potato Soup:
Best Choice 8 oz Cream Cheese - $1.29
Farmland Special Select Ham Steaks, Cubes and Strips - $3.79
Sweet Yellow Onions - $0.99/lb

Other Hot Deals:
Best Choice Canned Vegetables - $0.49
Best Choice Diced Tomatoes - $0.49
Best Choice Condensed Soups - 3/$2
Best Choice 32 oz Pastas - 2/$4
Best Choice Jumbos Canned Biscuits - $1.29
Best Choice Frozen Vegetables - $0.99
Roma Tomatoes - $0.99

cola chicken

This recipe was a disappointment - but I can't really blame it on the recipe.

This star-crossed recipe just wasn't meant to be for me. First, I had to run an errand after work that kept us out past dinner time. As usual, we stopped at a burger joint and filled up on junk (yummy junk; the first I've had since starting my new healthy eating kick late last month... but junk nonetheless).

I was determined to make my Cola Chicken though. So, when we got home I pulled out my camera and the ingredients:

I took a shot of each step as I added the ingredients (after all, this was going to be a masterpiece - I had to document it for posterity and to share with all the world!)... After I put the liquid on to boil my toddler had a meltdown, and by the time I made it back to the kitchen the pan was smoking. Fail one.

I pulled the smoking pan off the burner while I opened the package of chicken - still mid-meltdown. In a horrible mommy moment I shooed my daughter out of the kitchen with what I am sure was a salmonella-ridden hand (probably not, but I am paranoid about chicken - I wash and Germ-X my hands every step of the way). Fail two.

Somewhere along the way I realized that I made an eerily similar recipe during my last stint on Weight Watchers (though I think the last round called for Root Beer rather than Cola). I hated it. When you mix soda with ketchup the result is a strange, tangy-sweet concoction similar to barbecue sauce or sweet and sour sauce. Did I mention I am not a huge fan of barbecue sauce? And that I hate sweet and sour sauce? Epic fail.

But I forged on so that I would have something to show you - and so that my husband would have dinner when he returns from work tonight; after all, I've already eaten, so I guess it doesn't matter if I don't like the chicken (until lunch tomorrow, that is)!

For those of you who enjoy strangely-sweet-and-sour-barbecue-sauce-concoctions, I will include the recipe below. Be sure to share any thoughts or suggestions that you might have to improve. I deviated a bit from the recipe instructions, so I'll note the changes too. Please also note that this experience hasn't soured my overall impression of the Dinner on a Dime cookbook - in fact, I am still smitten (just really glad that I tried the Stovetop Beef 'n' Shells recipe first - much love for that one)!

Cola Chicken

1 can (12 oz) diet cola
1/2 c ketchup
2-4 tbsp minced onion (I used chopped dried onion)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
8 chicken pieces, skin removed (I used a package of boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders)

In a large skillet, combine first five ingredients. Bring to a boil; boil for 1 minute. Add chicken; stir to coat. Redce heat to meduim; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 45 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

Yield: 4 servings

Source: Taste of Home Dinner on a Dime

dinner on a dime

Tonight's recipe will come from Taste of Home's Dinner on a Dime booklet. I picked this up at the grocery store last week (and yet I can't even say it is my newest cookbook! I know - it's a sickness).

So far I am impressed. The book is loaded with tips for saving money, which in this day and age is a necessity. Most (though not all) meals include a nice color photo (though I don't know why I always look for cookbooks with photographs - my meals never look like the one in the picture).

There are 25 recipes inside that I actually might try (that's huge for me - many of my more expensive cookbooks only have a handful that match my family's tastes, our budget and my cooking abilities). I made the Stovetop Beef 'n' Shells Monday night and it was a big hit. Think yummy goulash with smaller shells (easier for my toddler to eat)! I salted and peppered the beef before adding the rest of the ingredients (in addition to the seasonings the recipe called for) and my husband also added a generous sprinkling of seasoning salt. I bought a 15 oz can of tomato sauce (the large store brand can was cheaper than the small name brand can) and used almost all of it. I would actually suggest using the whole 15 oz can, since you simmer out much of the liquid anyway. It was just as good left over the next day (another big issue in our family, since none of us particularly like leftovers). This recipe will definitely go into our family favorites list.

After I tackle the Cola Chicken, I will post photos and let you know the results. Since the first meal was such a success I am excited about the potential in this book's other recipes. I would definitely recommend that you grab a copy while they are still available; the date on the cover says "Display until March 10, 2009".

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

my diabolical plan derailed (temporarily)

I was all fired up to kick off the blog and cook a new Cola Chicken recipe tonight. After a rather difficult day, I returned home to find my husband already cooking! What a wonderful surprise!

Unfortunately I can't say that he cooked a recipe for me to share with you, but I will still recommend our meal. The next time you are in a pinch or on a budget, try Betty Crocker Complete Meals. My favorite is the Three Cheese Chicken, which is what we ate tonight. For just a few dollars I can feed my family of three and usually have another small serving left over for lunch the next day. Most packaged meals are either dry or runny, but this meal has the perfect creamy texture (which says a lot coming from me, because I am picky about creamy foods).

Pillsbury's Ready to Bake S'mores cookies are another one of our family favorites. After dinner my hubby surprised me with these fresh, hot cookies too! While we do love the flavors of these cookies, I must say that they are extremely sweet - you'd better have a glass of milk on hand! Also, they are very soft and tend to fall apart when they are warm. As they cool they harden up nicely; I love to eat them out of the fridge the day after they are baked (that is, if there are any left over!).

Now back to the drawing board; tomorrow I will shoot for a great Cola Chicken. Wish me luck, and I'll share the results here!

...admitting you have a problem

I confess. I obsess over cookbooks. I have stacks and stacks - they pour out of my pantry, collect dust on my night stand and supercede bath towels in my linen closet. But I just can't stop! Those little newsstand booklets are the worst - they suck me in every time! The best part is that I own enough cookbooks to feed a third world country, but I currently only cook about once or twice a month (if you exclude boxed macaroni and cheese or frozen stir fry)! So I stand here today and resolve that I WILL STOP THE INSANITY! I can't guarantee that I will quit purchasing cookbooks, but I do resolve to start cooking. Follow me on my cullinary journeys as I attempt to tackle my mountain of cookbooks.