Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hearty Sausage Soup

Soup is the ultimate food, as far as I'm concerned. It's inexpensive, easy to make, a great vehicle for leftovers, and there's just something comforting and "homey" about a bowl of soup. This recipe evolved while I was trying to use up some of the meat that had made its way to the bottom of the chest freezer, and it's now a family favorite! Use homemade broth and dried, cooked beans to reduce the cost!


1lb sweet italian sausage (if links, remove from casings)
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped (about 2 cups onion)
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups carrots)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp basil
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp sage
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
2 cups leafy greens (spinach, mustard greens, kale, escarole, etc), rinsed and torn
about 5 cups broth (chicken or veggie)
1 can beans (Great Northern, kidney or black beans work best), lightly drained
1 cup small pasta (I prefer a tricolor pasta, but use any you like!)

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, brown the sausage and break up the pieces.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, basil, rosemary, sage and pepper. Stir to mix well. Cook about 7-8 minutes, or until the veggies are just tender.

Add the diced tomatoes and leafy greens, cook about 3-5 minutes until heated through.

Add the broth and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the pasta, cook about 8 minutes or until al dente.

Total Cost:

Sausage: $1.99
Onion: $0.85
Celery: $0.25
Carrots: $0.25
Garlic: $0.10
Tomatoes: $0.85
Greens: $1.00
Beans: $1.00
Broth: FREE! (use homemade veggie or chicken broth!)
Pasta: $0.25
Seasonings: $0.15

Grand Total: $6.69 for 8-10 servings!

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Crockpot Spinach Manicotti

Summer's here, and if I'm not grilling, I certainly don't want to be turning on the oven. My crockpot gets plenty of use all year long, but summer is when it becomes an absolute necessity! This stuffed manicotti cooks up wonderfully in the crockpot without getting too mushy. I stuff mine with a ricotta and spinach mixture, but you can use any other manicotti/stuffed shell stuffing as well.

1 box manicotti shells (uncooked)
1 container (15 oz) ricotta cheese
10 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce


Combine ricotta, spinach, 1/4 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, egg, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl, mix well.

In the bottom of the crockpot, pour 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 1 cup of your pasta sauce. Stuff half of the uncooked shells with your spinach mixture, and arrange on top of the sauce. Pour another cup of sauce and the 2nd can of diced tomatoes over the top, sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Stuff the rest of the manicotti with the spinach mixture and arrange on top of the sauce. Top with the rest of your pasta sauce and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours.

Total Cost:
Manicotti - $1.99
Ricotta - $1.99 (or make it yourself for about $0.75)!
Mozzarella - $0.50
Parmesan - $0.75
Diced tomatoes - $1.80
Pasta sauce - $1.00
Spinach - $1.25
Egg - $0.12

Grand Total: $9.40 for 6-7 servings (2 manicotti)

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chinese Chicken & Cabbage Stir Fry

I'm always looking for good ways to use up leftovers, especially for a whole roasted chicken! Stir-fry is a great vehicle for shredded chicken meat, as well as for leftover veggies. This recipe uses carrots, snow peas and red pepper but you can substitute any veggie of choice! If you want a really speedy stir fry dinner and have some leftover chicken on hand, just use a bag or two of broccoli slaw mix (no dressing) in place of all of the veggies!

Chinese Chicken and Cabbage stir fry


1 package (9 oz) Asian Udon noodles
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp ground ginger
1 small head Napa or Savoy cabbage, shredded or chopped thin
2 carrots cut into matchsticks or shredded
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
6 oz fresh snow peas
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 cup shredded chicken (leftovers if you have them!)


Boil water and cook the noodles for about 3 minutes until tender. (you may want to break or cut the noodles in half, especially if you are feeding little ones) Drain and toss with 1 Tbsp oil, set aside.

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add garlic and sesame seeds, cook while stirring frequently until the seeds brown, about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage, carrots, peas and peppers, and toss until lightly coated with the oil. Add ginger and stir until well mixed with the veggies. Cook about 3 minutes, until the cabbage softens and the veggies are cooked but still crisp.

While the veggies are cooking, combine the soy sauce and honey in a small bowl.

When the veggies are tender, add noodles and chicken and cook for 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Add the soy sauce mixture and toss well to coat.

Total Cost:
Udon noodles: $2.50
Cabbage: $1.10
Pepper: $0.65
Carrots: $0.25
Peas: $2.25
Oil: $0.10
Soy sauce: $0.15
Honey: $0.10
Seasonings: $0.10
Chicken: Free!

Grand Total: $7.20 for 6 servings

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Healthy turkey nuggets!

My kids love nuggets. Unfortunately, that usually means the greasy, mystery meat variety from the fast food joint. So when Once a Month Mom posted a recipe for Apple Chicken Nuggets for the freezer, I had to try them!

I used ground turkey instead of chicken, and they turned out fine - the moisture in the spinach kept the meat from drying out too badly. If you don't have spinach eaters in the house, try using grated apple and carrot, or grated zucchini instead. You'll still get the extra nutritional punch from the veggies without the stronger taste.

Homemade nuggets (adapted from OAMM's Apple Chicken Nuggets

1lb ground turkey
1 large onion, diced small
1 large apple, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
1 tsp dried sage (or 1/2 tsp ground sage)
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried parsley
2 cup frozen spinach (no need to thaw)
Panko crumbs
PAM cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. Use your hands to mix everthing together well.

Pour the Panko crumbs in a pie dish or other shallow dish. Spray a baking sheet with PAM spray.

Form about a 1 1/2" meatball with the meat mixture, then flatten into a nugget shape. Bread all sides with Panko and place on the baking sheet.

Before putting the pan in the oven, spray the tops of the nuggets with PAM spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, turning the nuggets over about halfway through baking. Makes about 2 dozen nuggets.

**To freeze: flash freeze in a single layer on a cookie pan, then store in a gallon freezer bag. Reheat in the microwave for a minute or so, or in the toaster oven (about 8-10 minutes at 425 degrees)**

Total Cost:
Ground Turkey: $1.805.35
Onion: $0.30
Apple: $0.30
Frozen Spinach: $1.80
Panko: $1.99
Seasonings: $0.15

Grand Total: $5.34 for about 48 nuggets, or 8 6-nugget servings!

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Cheater" Chili

As a chili lover, I know that the best chili is the one that cures over many hours, simmering into deliciousness that is best served with cornbread. But sometimes, I forget to break out the crockpot before work. So what's a girl to do with a chili craving and limited cooking time? Cheat, of course!

I threw this little gem together one night after work when the kids were hungry and I had a hankering. It's quick and dirty, but oooh so good :) I like to have it over crunched up Fritos!

Cheater Skillet Chili


1 1/2 lb ground turkey or beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 can black beans, lightly rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
3/4 cup ketchup
Hot sauce to taste


1. Brown the ground meat over medium heat, drain excess juices.
2. Add onion, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, beans, tomatoes, and ketchup. Stir to mix well.
3. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Total Cost

Ground turkey: $2.00
Onion: $0.30
Pepper: $0.80
Ketchup: $0.25
Beans: $0.75
Tomatoes: $0.85
Spices: $0.30

Grand Total: $5.25 for 6-8 servings!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bacon Spinach Penne

This recipe hails from AllRecipes.com - it was fast, inexpensive and delicious! I had never thought of wilting my spinach with the hot pasta, what a great time saver!!

Bacon Spinach Penne

1 (12 ounce) package penne pasta (or other pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 10 oz bag of fresh spinach, torn (or one 10 oz bag baby spinach)

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place bacon in the skillet, and cook until browned and crisp. Add garlic, and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook until heated through.
Place the spinach into a colander, and drain the hot pasta over it so it is wilted. Transfer to a large serving bowl, and toss with the remaining olive oil, and the bacon and tomato mixture.

Total Cost
Pasta - $0.89
Bacon - $1.00
Diced Tomatoes - $0.85
Spinach - $1.00
Olive Oil, Garlic - $0.20

GRAND TOTAL: $3.94 for 6 servings!

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Quiche

It never occurred to me to serve quiche...long ago it had been categorized as a "fancy" dish to be reserved for special brunches and such. But then I learned how inexpensive they could be to make, and I was sold! Quiches can be used to get rid of the last of your leftover broccoli or asparagus from previous dinners, become a savory home for bacon or ham scraps, or turn "brinner" into something more than eggs and toast!

This recipe is for a broccoli cheese quiche, but you can substitute fillings and cheeses for whatever suits you! Any of the ingredients can also be exchanged for some of their lower fat counterparts.

Broccoli Cheese Quiche


4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli, thawed
1 frozen pie crust


-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
-Whisk together the eggs, milk, sour cream, thyme, salt and pepper. Be sure the eggs are well mixed in. Add the cheese and stir to distribute.
-Put thawed broccoli in the frozen pie crust. Pour the egg mixture over the broccoli. You may have to use a spoon to distribute the cheese a little, as it may settle on the bottom.
-Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until cooked through and top is a golden brown.

TO FREEZE: Allow the baked quiche to cool. Cover with aluminum foil and then wrap in plastic. When you are ready to eat it, place the quiche FROZEN into a 375 degree oven for about an hour or until heated through.


Eggs: $0.56
Milk: $0.14
Sour Cream: $0.50
Cheese: $0.75
Broccoli: $0.60
Pie Crust: $0.90
Seasonings: $0.15

GRAND TOTAL: $3.60 for 4 servings! Less than $1 per serving!

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