Sunday, August 31, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Wrap - Quick Lunch or dinner

Quick and easy.
Heat up precooked Buffalo Chicken strips, Tyson has good ones you buy frozen and these are from Aldis that I find to be just as good.
I use whole wheat wraps, but whatever you have will do.
-Drizzle a bit of Lite Ranch dressing on the wrap.
-Cut the chicken strips and put on top of the ranch.
-Layer lettuce (use whatever you have, I use anything but iceburg, which really has no nutritional values)
-put on shredded mozzarella cheese (or whatever you like, mine was 2%)
-add whatever you like, I'll usually add olives and roasted red peppers
So good, but so easy!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bratwurst and What's in the Fridge

Tonight's dinner was a kind of, I know I have bratwurst and rolls, I need to use up what's in the fridge and I wanted to try a red pepper from my garden to see how hot it was (turned out - not too hot, now I can use more :).
Decided to cook the brats with peppers and onions, a bit of chopped garlic and beer, then decided towards the end to add a bit of sea salt and Cajun seasoning.

Browned the brats first.

Love all those beautiful colors (and vitamins)!

Added the beer and brats and then spiced it up.

For a side used up my farmer's market zucchini.

Added some garlic and diced tomatoes.

There you go.
I will admit - the kids ate hot dogs but they did eat the zucchini.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Grocery Shopping Tip

Take stock before you shop.

When making your shopping list make sure you check what you already have. You may have something you can build a meal around or enough items for a few different meals if you're creative.

I'm infamous for buying things I had at home because I wrote the ingredients down from a recipe and forgot to check if I had it before going to the store.

When I take stock first I spend a lot less.

Flowers? For Dinner?

This past Saturday a couple of friends, my mother and I took a trip to the Farmer's Market (followed by a trip tot the thrift store:).

Several of the venders were selling squash flowers. My mother and I bought some and decided to cook them up for our family dinner. We asked one of the women selling them how to cook them and she said you could batter them and deep fry them or saute them with butter.

We decided to go with the batter for the first time, especially since I wanted the kids to try. They were delicious and the kids actually like them, well most of them did at least.

Can't wait to experiment more with them.

Anyone else tried them?

How did you cook them and what did you think?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Meatloaf with a Kick!

Adapted a recipe from Everyday FOOD magazine to make meatloaf with quite a kick!
Mixed together ground beef, egg, chopped onions and red peppers, cajun seasoning (I believe it was McCormick brand) and bread crumbs.
TIP - Cheap way to get bread crumbs and use up your bread ends - put them in the food processor and make bread crumbs! I used multigrain and whole grain bread ends.

Put down half of meat mixure on baking dish.
Remove casing from chorizo sausage and place on bottom half of meatloaf.

I spread the chorizo so it wasn't quite so spicy all in one bite, though to make it even less, you could use less chorizo, mix it in or not use it at all.
Put the rest of the meatloaf mixure on top and spread chili sauce over it.

Finished product fresh from the oven.
My favorite part are the crispy end bits:)

Served it up with green beans and a whole grain mixture (from Trader Joes).
Adults liked it, my oldest son and daughter ate it but my pickiest wasn't thrilled, but when is he ever:)
As far as cutting costs - both the lean ground beef and the chorizo were from ALDIs along with the onions and the green beans (frozen) and the red peppers were from produce junction.
You could also go healthier and use ground turkey of course.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Garden Fresh and Farmer's Market Dinner - Pasta with Shrimp

Tomatoes and Basil
picked from my garden!

Squash or Zucchini
(what's it's proper name)
from the Farmer's Market

- Store brand whole wheat pasta
- Olive Oil
- anchovies (about half container)
- chopped onion
- a healthy amount of chopped garlic
- zucchini
- red wine
- 1 can store brand tomato sauce
- tomatoes
- basil
- frozen shrimp (from Aldi's)

1. boil and salt water for pasta, cook pasta while sauteing
2. "melt" anchovies in Olive Oil over medium heat
3. add and saute onions and garlic till soft
4. add a bit of red wine to scrape up bits on bottom of pan
5. add and saute zucchini
6. add tomato sauce and tomatoes (put the tomatoes in close to the end so they don't loose their substance
7. add the cooked shrimp and bring them up to temperature and you're ready to serve

TaDa! The finished product.

Everyone seemed to like this dish and my kiddos even ate the shrimp, of course only the required amount but just the same:)

BTW - Our dinners weren't quite so pretty, but they tasted great and it made a tasty and fairly inexpensive meal.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mmmm Bacon

I'm sure you've heard that bacon makes everything better, well, I agree!

Last night's dinner was a quick, easy and cheap one thanks to my shopping at ALDIs and Target:)

I used Archer Farms' (Which is Target's brand name food) "Carbonara Bucati" boxed mix. Instead of the two strips of bacon I added a whole package for extra taste and protein, but didn't fell guilty because it was turkey bacon (from ALDIs) and my kids were none the wiser.

I also used skim milk and Smart balance butter (which is not so cheap but is healthy so I'll splurge on it) for the sauce and it was plenty creamy.

Wish the pasta was whole grain, but you can't win them all. When I'm not having a lazy night, I'll make my own with whole grain, which would really be easy too but I already had the box:)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fresh from the Garden Veggies

Just thought I'd show you some of the veggies from my garden. I breaded and fried the eggplant and made a sauce from the poblano peppers and tomatos (with some onions, garlic, basil from the garden, wine and a little stock).

Quite a meal and not so expensive as it came from the backyard:)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Kids Ate It

Last night I served up a dish adapted from a recipe from Everyday FOOD. It was basically just chicken, sauteed with asparagus and portobello mushrooms, then mixed with pasta (whole grain).

The recipe called for button mushrooms but I found portabellos at ALDIs and was phsyched to use them. I also added a little white wine for flavor and to get up the bits on the bottom of the pan from sauteeing which added some nice flavor, a little salt and pepper and it was done.

Simple meal that every one of my kids ate, minus the mushrooms, though they each tasted them and my nine year old discovered he liked them. My five year old asked for seconds and my seven year old (the pickiest) cleared his bowl (minus mushrooms) with less complaining then usual and in record time!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Overbudget and Unhealthy, and surprising cheap and AND healthy solution

I haven't posted in while because I've been a busy VBS director. Unfortunatey this resulted in some very unhealthy and not so cheap meals for my family:(

I decided since I had spent so much over budget to bite he bullet and go to ALDI's which I had avoided for it's lack of healthy food in the past, even though it is incredibly cheap.

However, I wound up being very happy with my trip. I passed up all the processed foods, well, maybe the fatty chicken pot pies fell in may cart but that was it! I got all my meats including salmon ( I was surprized by their fish options as well), I even got turkey bacon and ground turkey for a healthy alternative.

Also got affordable veges and fruits (ones I can't just pick from my garden). Very excited to get avacados for $.99 not $1.50 (Their Shoprite price) Avacodos are good source of healthy fats and oils, add them to your salads, tacos (or anything with spanish flavoring) or make guacamole with a little lime juice and salt.

I couldn't get rice or pastas that were whole grain there but a trip to Target will remedy that!

So I was quite happy with my trip to ALDI's, noting they've gotten a lot healthier since my last time there.