Monday, September 29, 2008

Mexican Chicken

I found this recipe in with a Menu Plan Monday posting on The Fatback Chronicles. She called it Autumn Supper Chicken, I call it Mexican chicken...the family just calls it TASTY! Great as a stand-alone main dish, or in nachos, quesadillas, stews, or casseroles!

Autumn Supper Chicken (aka Mexican chicken!)

Adapted from Gooseberry Patch's Fall Family & Friends.

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 package taco seasoning
1-2 cups salsa
1/4 - 1/2 cup sour cream

Grease your slow cooker, and place chicken breasts in it. Sprinkle taco seasoning over the chicken breasts. Smother the chicken in salsa of your choice. Cover the cooker and cook on low for about 8 hours.
Remove chicken breasts from cooker and shred. Add sour cream to the salsa mixture in the cooker. Stir to combine. Add shredded chicken and stir again. Now you're ready to serve it!

Total cost:
Chicken - $2.25
Taco seasoning - $0.25
Salsa - $1.99
Sour Cream - $0.50

Grand Total: $4.99

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin

This is a Paula Deen recipe so I knew right away it would be great. Even though this is for a full pork tenderloin, it can also be used as a seasoning rub for chops - just reduce the heat to 425 from the start and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the chops are cooked through. Make sure you score the edges in 2-3 places so that they don't curl up!

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin

1 (4-pound) boneless pork loin, with fat left on
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
Place the pork loin on a rack in a roasting pan. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. With your fingers, massage the mixture onto the pork loin, covering all of the meat and fat.
Roast the pork for 30 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 425 degrees F and roast for an additional hour. Test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer. When the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F, remove the roast from the oven. Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes before carving. It will continue to cook while it rests.

Total Cost (using boneless chops):
Pork tenderloin chops - $1.88
Oil - $0.04
Garlic- $0.12
Salt, seasonings - negligible

Grand total: $2.04

Pizza Crust

My family is from northern New Jersey, where (in my humble opinion) pizza is as close to perfect as you can get. I have yet to find a recipe that comes out as good as the pizza joint we frequent in Teaneck, but this crust recipe from Biblical Womanhood is quick and comes out perfectly every time!

Pizza Crust

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups flour


Dissolve the yeast in the water.
Add the oil, salt and sugar. Let yeast mix sit for about 5 minutes.
Add the flour and mix well
Dump onto a floured surface.
Knead into a smooth dough (about 5 minutes)
Roll out and press down on a greased pizza pan (if you have it, dust with cornmeal after greasing the pan)
Add toppings
Bake at 425 degrees for around 12-15 minutes, until the crust looks crispy and lightly browned.

Total Cost:
Yeast - $0.67
Oil - $0.04
Flour - $0.23
Sugar, salt - negligible

Grand Total (dough only) - $0.94

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Autumn Chicken

This recipe is courtesy of The $5 Dinner Mom - a frugalicious favorite! I love anything that can be done in the crockpot anyway, and it's a perfect addition to the menu during apple picking season. She actually did this dish with sides of rice and broccoli for under five bucks!

Autumn Chicken

4 Chicken Thighs (Thighs, drumsticks, or split breasts..whatever's on hand)
2 Apples, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cup apple juice
Salt and Pepper
Dash Cinnamon
3 T lemon juice, to prevent browning of apples

1. Pour Apple Juice into the crock pot. Place chicken into the juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add sliced onion around chicken.
2. Slice apples and mix with lemon juice and cinnamon. Place on top of chicken in crockpot. Set on low and cook for 8 hours.

Total Cost:
Split Chicken breasts - $2.00
Apples (3 gingergold) - $0.75
Onion - $0.16
Apple Juice - $0.20
Lemon juice (one squeezed fresh) - $0.20
Cinnamon and seasoning - negligible

Grand total: $3.31

Cheesy Zucchini Crisps

This recipe comes from Amy's Finer Things - I was looking for an alternative to potatoes as a side dish/starch and these are perfect! The boy wonder appreciates them too, he's not a big potato fan but zukes are his favorite :)

Cheesy Zucchini Strips

1/3 cup cornflake crumbs
2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
dash of garlic powder
4 small zucchini or squash (I use both) cut in sticks
1/4 c. melted butter

Combine corn flake crumbs, cheese, and seasonings in a plastic bag. Dip zucchini in butter and shake in bag to coat. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes

Total Cost:
Zucchini - appx $0.80
Cornflakes - appx $0.10
Butter - appx $0.25
seasoning - negligible

Grand total: $1.15

Homemade Vegetable Soup

I have been making this for started as a Weight Watchers suggestion and grew into a staple of my menus, especially when we need to empty the crisper in the fridge! This recipe includes what I usually have on hand, but it can easily be adapted to whatever (and whatever quantities) are readily available to you.

I will generally make a large pot of this and freeze it into 2-cup portions, easy to pull out for quick lunch or a side dish to dinner. Once you have it on hand you can add shredded chicken or beef, or pasta to make an even heartier dish!

Homemade vegetable soup

2-3 cloves minced garlic (adjust to taste)
1 large can chicken broth (or appx 40 oz homemade if you have it)
1-2 cups of each of the following vegetables -

  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Frozen corn
1 large can of diced tomatoes (do not drain)
Mrs Dash seasoning to taste

In a large nonstick pot or dutch oven, lightly brown the minced garlic (about 1-2 minutes).
Add chicken broth plus 1 cup water, and Mrs Dash seasoning, bring to a boil.
Add all vegetables, including can of diced tomatoes (with juice). Return to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Serve hot, or allow to cool on the stove and then portion and freeze. Makes about 8-10 servings, depending on the amounts of veggies you add.

Total Cost:
Chicken Broth - Appx $3.00
Carrots - Appx $0.60
Cabbage - Appx $0.25
Celery - Appx $0.30
Potato - Appx $0.50
Corn - Appx $0.30
Tomato - Appx $1.00

Grand Total: $5.95 - only $0.60 per serving!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blog award and an adoption

I am lucky enough to have been included in Adopt-a-Blogger through Dine and Dish! As a new blogger, I can use all the help I can get, and so I have been graciously "adopted" by Ivy at kopiaste... - she's been blogging a good while, and has a lot of fantastic recipes. Be sure to pay her a visit!

She was also kind enough to give me an award!


Here are the rules to follow:
When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back.
Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’.
Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).

I decided to pass this along to some of the folks who have actually taken the time to read what I write, which motivates me to keep blogging! Thanks for the fire under my backside :)

Petra at The Wise Young Mommy

Tina at The Adventures of a Working Mom

Mandi at Just Another Stay at Home Mom

The $5 Dinner Mom at $5 Dinners

Mrs Bear at Outnumbered Two to One

Rachel at Rachel's Cooking

Mindi at Moms Need to Know

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Spinach Lasagna has rescued me again! They are such a great resource for inexpensive and easy recipes. I am working hard to get more vegetarian-type dishes in our diet, and recipes like this one make it simple. I add some additional seasoning to the ricotta cheese before putting it in the lasagne, it adds a nice layer of flavor. I also parboil the lasagna noodles (boil them for about half time, just until they get pliable)...I find that the noodles don't quite cook fully in my oven if I don't soften them first.

Spinach Lasagna

16 oz ricotta or cottage cheese
16 oz bag shredded Mozzarella
1 jar tomato sauce (any kind)
1 package lasagna noodles
10 oz frozen chopped spinach
1 tsp. dry minced garlic
1 tsp. dry minced onion

Preheat Oven to 350.
Thaw spinach under warm water and strain thoroughly. In mixing bowl, combine ricotta or cottage cheese, half of the shredded Mozzarella, garlic, onion and spinach.

Spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan; put a layer of dry (or parboiled) lasagna noodles, then a layer of half of the cheese mixture, another layer of sauce, noodles, and mixture; end with a layer of noodles, layer of sauce and rest of shredded cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, removing foil at the last 5 to 10 minutes.

Total Cost:
Ricotta: $1.00
Mozzarella: $3.50
Tomato sauce - $0.89
Lasagna noodles - $1.29
Spinach - $1.19
Spices - negligible

GRAND TOTAL - $7.87 for appx 8-10 servings, or $0.79-$0.98 per serving.

40 Minute Hamburger Buns

Homemade hamburger rolls from What I like is that it is very easy to use the same dough for breadsticks, dinner rolls, or full sized buns. Hubby had the idea of brushing them with olive oil and garlic powder for italian-style, you can also add herbs and spices to mix up the flavors! I prefer heartier rolls and replace 1 cup of the regular flour with whole wheat.

40 Minute Hamburger Buns

2 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, plus
2 Tbsp warm water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour

1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.
2. Add oil and sugar and let stand for 5 minutes.
3. Add the egg, salt and enough flour to form a soft dough.
4. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Do not let rise.
6. Divide into 12 pieces and shape each into a ball.
7. Place 3" apart on greased baking sheets.
8. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
9. Bake at 425° for 8 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
10. Remove from pans to wire rack to cool.

Total Cost:
Oil - $0.10
Sugar - $0.04
Egg - $0.14
Flour - $0.31
yeast, salt - negligible

Grand Total: $0.59 for the whole batch, however you bake them up!

Veggie Lo Mein

I got this recipe from Living on Love - I was looking for a way to use up some cabbage I had bought for a different recipe, and this fit the bill nicely. It appeals to me the way most stir frys do - it's versatile, quick and easy! Use it as an outlet for any veggies you haven't found a home for :)

Mary Ellen's Veggie Lo Mein

First a disclamer - I'm sure there is a proper, more authentic way to make Veggie Lo Mein, but this isn't it! This recipe was created as a way to quell a pregnancy craving for Chinese food and has since become a family favorite. It's also pretty easy to throw together and very flexible as far as ingredients.

Veggies on hand - (use leftovers, or bagged frozen - If I have no leftovers I grab a bag of California mix, broccoli carrots and cauliflower!)
1 small onion, diced
1 cup coarsely chopped cabbage (optional)
1 can water chestnuts (optional)
Whole Wheat spaghetti
2-4 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1-2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
Red Pepper flakes to taste
1 - 2 tbsp of oil

1. Cook whole wheat spaghetti until just overdone, should be less than al dente.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add minced garlic and sliced onions. Cook until onions become tender (about 3 mins).
3. Add shredded cabbage and water chestnuts (if using) to skillet along with red pepper flakes to taste (I usually add 1/8 to 1/4 tsp, that's powerful stuff!).
4. Add in veggies, soy sauce (about 2-3 tbsp) and ground ginger with a tablespoon of water. Cover and cook until broccoli and carrots become tender. If using frozen, cook until veggies are cooked through.
5. Drain pasta and add to the skillet. Stir fry with veggie mixture for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the pasta has a firmer texture. Add more soy sauce to taste.

Total Cost:
Veggies - will vary, but not more than $2.00
Pasta - $1.20
Water Chestnuts - $0.60
Spices - $0.05
Oil - $0.04

Grand Total: $3.89 (or less, depending on your veggies!)

Apple, Cheddar and Turkey Meatballs

This recipe is courtesy of one of my personal heroes - The Crockpot Lady - as part of her personal mission to use that oft-dust-collecting appliance every day for a whole year. My crockpot has already gotten more use in the last few months than it had in years, thanks to her fantastic ideas.

The flavors in this recipe evoke fall for me - apples in the trees, the promise of Thanksgiving turkey, warm comfort food on a cold day. I plan to make a double batch and freeze them!

Apple, Cheddar and Turkey Meatballs

--1 1/2 pound extra lean ground turkey
--1 egg
--1 tsp kosher salt (or regular salt)
--1 tsp ground black pepper
--1 tsp onion powder
--1 green apple, peeled and shredded
--1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
--1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries (I skipped these just because my guys won't eat them)

In a large mixing bowl, mix the ground turkey with the ingredients. I used my hands.
Make golf-ball sized meatballs, and drop them into your crockpot. I used a 6 quart crockpot, but you could use any size over 3 quart, probably. These made enough meatballs to feed our family of 4 for dinner, with 8 leftover for breakfast and lunch.

If you have a large family, or would like to cook enough to freeze, double or triple the recipe. You can definitely stagger-stack the meatballs on top of each other.

Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 5-9---the cooking time will depend on how many meatballs are in the crock, and the size of your machine. The more full it is, the longer it will take to cook. I cooked 1 1/2 pounds of meatballs in a 6 quart for exactly 4 hours on high. I could have left them in a bit longer to brown the ones on the very top, but we were hungry.

Total cost:
Turkey - appx $3.00
Egg - $0.14
Green apple - $0.67
Cheese - $0.46
(I left out cranberries)


Monday, September 8, 2008

Easy Cheese Biscuits

This recipe is one listed in The Best of Cooking with 3 Ingredients by Ruthie Wornall. I add more milk until the consistency is a little stickier because that's how I like them :)

2 1/4 cups baking mix
2/3 cup milk (I use closer to 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients until soft dough forms. Beat for 30 seconds. If dough is too sticky, add more baking mix. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Grandma's Chicken Stew

I came across this recipe for Grandma's Chicken Stew at iVillage...(my personal adjustments noted) I use this recipe most often when I have roasted a chicken, so that I have homemade chicken broth, and plenty of leftover chicken bits so that I don't need to use canned chicken. I usually substitute the grated carrots for some frozen mixed veggies, and I season the broth with Mrs. Dash before adding the noodles and such.

Grandma's Chicken Stew

2 cans (14 ½ ounces each) fat-free chicken broth *29 oz homemade broth
1 can (14 ½ ounces) vegetable broth
¾ cup already-shredded carrots *1/4 bag frozen mixed veggies
8 ounces (about 4 cups) wide egg noodles
1 large can (10 ounces) white-meat chicken *leftover roasted chicken bits
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cold water
Black pepper to taste *Mrs Dash to taste

1. Bring the chicken broth and vegetable broth (and Mrs Dash seasoning) to a boil in a covered 4 ½-quart Dutch oven or soup pot over high heat. This should take 8 to 10 minutes. When the broth boils, add the carrots (frozen veggies), noodles, and the chicken and its juices. Cover the pot and bring the broth back to a rolling boil.
2. Uncover the pot and stir, breaking up any chicken chunks slightly. Continue to boil, uncovered, over high heat until the noodles are tender, about 6 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, combine the flour and water in a small container that has a lid. Shake well until the lumps disappear.
4. When the noodles are just tender, add the flour mixture and stir constantly until the stew is slightly thick, about 2 minutes. Season with pepper and remove from the heat. Serve in large soup plates or bowls.

Total cost (when using roast chicken leftovers)
Chicken broth - 0.00 (leftovers)
Veggie broth - 1.00
Frozen veggies - 0.25 (1/4 of a 0.99 bag)
Chicken bits - 0.00 (leftovers)
Egg noodles - 0.50 (1/2 of a 0.99 bag)

Grand total: $1.75!

Mimi's Sticky Chicken

Copyright 1985-2001 Mimi Hiller at

When I found this recipe I had to read it twice - cook at 250 degrees? But that's not a typo. it's basically a crockpot-style recipe in the oven, and the mix of seasonings is just perfect. I like a juicy chicken (and my oven can be a bit drying) so I slide a few pats of butter or margarine under the skin and rub the spices underneath as well as on top of the skin.

Mimi's Sticky Chicken

2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 whole roasting chicken, about 3 pounds
1 cup chopped onion

Combine all spices (first 8 ingredients) in a small bowl.
Rinse chicken inside and out, drain well.
Rub spice mixture over skin and the inside of chicken.
Place in a resealable plastic bag, seal and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to roast, stuff cavity with onions.
Place chicken, breast side down, in roasting pan.
Roast uncovered at 250 degrees for about 5 hours.
Baste occasionally with pan juices or until pan juices start to caramelize on bottom of pan and chicken is golden brown.

Total cost:
Spices - negligible
Chicken - appx $3.50
Onion - $0.31

GRAND TOTAL: $3.81 with LOTS of leftovers
*I also use the carcass to make chicken broth for use in other recipes!

Italian Chicken Skillet

This is a great recipe from the book Diabetes Meal Planning on $7 a Day -- Or Less! by Patti Geil and Tami Ross. This recipe includes great meal-stretching ideas like cutting meat and veggies into small bite sized pieces, and thinning sauce out with water (or milk, depending on the topping) to help it go further. Because zucchini is a very inexpensive veggie, and DS LOVES them, I tend to add extra zukes and just reduce the water a bit so the sauce isn't too thin. This dish also works great over rice!

Italian Chicken Skillet

Cooking spray
1 tsp corn oil
1 tsp (or 1 clove) minced garlic
1 small diced onion
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 7-oz can mushroom stems and pieces, drained and rinsed
3-4 small zucchini squash, quartered lengthwise and diced into bite-sized pieces
1 14-oz jar reduced-sodium spaghetti sauce
½ cup water
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
2 2/3 cups cooked pasta, cooked without added salt or oil

Preparation Instructions
Prepare pasta according to package instructions.
Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add oil and warm over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook until onion turns clear (about 3 minutes), stirring frequently.
Add chicken and cook until no longer pink (about 7 minutes).
Stir in mushrooms, zucchini, spaghetti sauce, water, and red pepper flakes.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
Serve over hot pasta.

Total Cost:
Onion - $0.15 (about half a small onion)
Chicken - $2.00
Zucchini - $0.45
Can mushrooms - $0.40
Pasta sauce - $0.75 (about half a large jar)
Pasta - $0.60 (about 2/3 package)

Grand total (with leftovers) $4.35

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Easy Thai-Style Chicken

I had a craving for peanuts one night, and chicken on the menu..this was the end result! The veggies and spices are all pretty flexible, and can be adjusted based on what you have in the pantry. The basic flavor mix I was going for is spicy, sweet, savory, and peanutty - so go to town!

Easy Thai-style Chicken

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp minced garlic (or to taste)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 split chicken breasts - skinned and deboned, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup hot water
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
2 zucchini or green squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into bite size pieces
Prepared couscous, rice or noodles (whatever is handy)

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add garlic, cook just until it browns. Add chicken pieces, sprinkle with chili powder and cumin, cook thoroughly - appx 5-7 minutes.
In a separate bowl, mix peanut butter, water, soy sauce, sugar and ginger. Using hot water will help melt the peanut butter and it will mix faster.
Add zucchini to pan, cook 2 minutes until just tender.
Add peanut sauce, cook until sauce is smooth, appx 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Serve over hot couscous, noodles or rice.

Chicken - appx $2.00
Zucchini - $1.50
Peanut butter - appx $0.45
Soy Sauce - appx $o.20
Couscous - $0.75
Spices - negligible


Kielbasa and Pasta Supper

This recipe came about because I found myself with two extra mouths to feed and not a lot of prep time - it's quick, easy, and VERY inexpensive....and TASTY!

Kielbasa and Pasta supper

1 kielbasa, cut into quarters and then diced into bite-sized pieces
1 box pasta of choice (I used rotini, easy for the kiddos to get on their forks)
1/2 bag frozen peas
2 tbsp butter or margarine
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp fresh ground pepper (optional)

Bring water to boil in a large pot. In a small fry pan, heat the kielbasa on medium-low heat. After about 3 minutes, add the garlic powder and stir well to coat the kielbasa. Heat for an additional 2-3 minutes. When water is boiling, add pasta and peas. Return to a boil, cook for appx 8-10 minutes or until pasta is tender. Drain, put into a large serving bowl. Add warmed kielbasa. Add margarine (and pepper) toss until well mixed.

Kielbasa - $2.00
Pasta - $1.00
Peas - $0.50
Butter - $0.10

GRAND TOTAL: $3.60 for 6-8 servings

Chinese Beef and Broccoli

Looking for a new way to serve London Broil cuts? This recipe was from, and it provided a tasty alternative to the other dishes I've tried. I also had almost 3 full servings of leftovers. You can stretch this dish a little further by adding more veggies too.

Two things: First, it is best to slice the meat while it is still partially frozen - you can cut it thinner and it holds together better. Second, I added a soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder and ginger marinade - it really added to the taste and the meat stayed pretty tender in spite of the long cooking.

2 c. steak or London Broil (sliced thin)
1 lg. can mushrooms, pieces & stems (one 15 oz can, drained)
2 pkgs. frozen chopped broccoli (one 20 oz bag frozen broccoli)
Soy sauce (appx 1 cup for marinade, to taste in the pan)
2 pkgs. brown gravy mix

(Marinade steak pieces at least 3 hrs up to overnight in the following: 1 cup soy sauce, 1-1/2 tbsp ground ginger, 2 tbsp garlic powder, 2 tbsp onion powder, about 3/4 cup water or until the meat is mostly covered.)

In a large frying pan quick fry meat, adding soy sauce to taste. You may add garlic powder if desired. Add broccoli and mushrooms, stir constantly. If mixture is dry, add water.
Continue cooking on a low flame until heated (about 15 minutes). Add both packages of brown gravy mix. Stir until thickened. Serve over noodles or rice.

London Broil: $2.70
Can mushroom pieces: $0.60
Frozen Broccoli: $1.00
Gravy: $0.40
Rice: $0.50


Baked Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese gets a bad rap. If all you've experienced is the kind that comes in the blue box, fear not! You don't need to be drowned in orange cheese food to enjoy this tasty, and cheap, dinner! The below recipe is from, I used a quarter cup of BBQ sauce instead of the Worcestershire for a little more zing and a different flavor. This made enough to feed all 3 of us twice.

Homemade Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Copyright © 2002 by Michelle Jones, editor of Better Budgeting

This is a recipe for traditional baked macaroni and cheese, and has a custard like texture (because of the eggs). You can also add more cheese if desired (and even several types), and some butter! When you find a good sale on cheese at your grocery story, just try several different variations until you discover your favorite. And if you'd prefer a creamier (and quicker) macaroni and cheese, view my recipe for Creamy Macaroni and Cheese.

8 ounces macaroni, cooked al dente and drained
8 ounces grated cheese (2 cups), reduced-fat if desired
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 tsp. saltWorcestershire sauce (I used 1/4 cup BBQ sauce)
2 c. milk (half & half can be used for a richer variation, and skim milk is okay but the sauce won't be as thick)

Beat eggs, salt and Worcestershire sauce (BBQ sauce) together in a medium sized bowl, add milk and mix thoroughly.
Layer macaroni and grated cheese (3 layers of each) in a casserole dish.
Pour egg mixture over macaroni and cheese and bake at 350 degrees until set and lightly browned on top. About 45-50 minutes.

Cost for this dish, with a full round of leftovers:
Macaroni elbows $0.50 (half a box)
Grated cheddar cheese $1.50 (half a 16 oz bag)
Eggs $0.24
BBQ sauce $0.50
Milk $0.36


Chickpea Stew

This is one of my favorite recipes, it's good for nights when you don't want to do ANOTHER chicken dish or just want something with a lot of veggies for a change. I have served this alone as a main or side dish, or had it over rice to make it more filling and stretch it further. It also reheats VERY well! Plus this is a SUPER cheap recipe - just over $3 for the whole thing - so if you want to add extra of any of the ingredients it won't break the bank!

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic (or more, if you're a garlic fan like me!)
1/2 tsp basil -or- italian seasoning mix (depending on your taste)
1 can chickpeas, drained
2 med zucchini, quartered lengthwise and then cut into bite size pieces
1 med onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced (you can also use canned stewed or diced tomato)
2-3 cups chopped fresh spinach
2-3 cups cooked rice
Parmesan cheese

1. In a large saute pan, heat oil - add garlic and herbs/seasoning, let it sizzle for just under a minute or until the garlic is slightly browned
.2. Add chickpeas and zucchini, stir to coat with oil and garlic. reduce heat slightly, cover and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add onions, stir to mix, re-cover and let cook for about 3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
4. Add tomato, stir to mix, re-cover and let cook for about 2 minutes.
5. Add spinach, stir to mix, re-cover and let cook for about 4 minutes. Remove cover and cook an additional 4-5 minutes, or until the spinach is cooked.
6. If desired, serve over 3/4 cup of rice, add parmesan cheese to taste.Makes 4-6 servings.

Total cost:
Chickpeas - 0.59
Zucchini - appx 0.75
Tomato - appx 0.60
Onion - appx 0.20
Spinach - appx 0.80
Rice - appx 0.50

Total cost for a meal plus leftovers: $3.44!!!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Muffin Mania

This muffin recipe is from Cat Can Cook - it's wonderfully versatile AND simple! It takes me all of 10 minutes to put together, and I can use any add-ins that I have on hand. The base recipe is with bananas, but you can really use anything. Check out the original post, the comments are chock full of suggestions! I include some of my other add-ins at the bottom of this post.

Banana Muffins

3 or 4 Large bananas, mashed (the more bananas the moister, so I use 4)
1/2 cup white sugar (original recipe calls for 1 cup, but I don’t like them too sweet)
1 slightly beaten egg
1/3 cup melted margarine or butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour

Mix the mashed banana, sugar, egg and margarine together. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour.

Mix wet and dry ingredients all together, being careful not to over-stir!

Pour into greased muffin tins, and bake in 350 degrees oven for approximately 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Sugar - $0.07
Egg - $0.14
Flour - $0.14

GRAND TOTAL - $1.25 for 6 big muffins, or $0.20 per muffin

Add-ins that I've used (check back, I update this list anytime I try something new!):
  • 2 mashed bananas, 1-1 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 3 mashed bananas, 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 pint frozen blueberries
  • 1-1 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini, 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger, 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups shredded carrot, 1 cup applesauce (replaces butter), 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup white sugar (replaces all regular sugar), 1/2 tsp each nutmeg and cinnamon

Monday, September 1, 2008

Crockpot Brown Sugar Chicken

I came across this recipe during one Menu Plan Monday tour, when it seemed like every eighth poster was serving it and singing its praises. As best I can tell it originates from Confessions of a Wacky SAHM. It's simple and delicious as is, but easy to flavor with your own personality if you choose to. DH is a big fan of spicy food, so we have added tabasco sauce or red pepper flake for some heat! I definitely recommend thickening the sauce with cornstarch once the chicken is done, it makes a divine glaze.

Crockpot Brown Sugar Chicken
3 or 4 large boneless, skinless chix breasts (could also use chicken parts)
1C brown sugar
2/3 C vinegar
1/4C sprite or 7-up
2-3T minced garlic
2T soy sauce
1 tsp pepper

Mix ingredients and pour over chicken in crock pot. Cook 6-8 hours on low. Thicken juice with a bit of cornstarch if you like. I serve with rice or noodles. I also double the recipe on the sauce - I like sauce, lol!!

Appx cost (using chicken thighs, which I have more often)
Chix thighs: $3.65 (4 servings)
Brown sugar $0.21
Vinegar $0.16
Lemon Lime soda $0.12
Minced garlic $0.09
Soy sauce, pepper - negligible

Grand Total: $4.23, or $1.05 per serving