Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cookbook giveaway

Visit the $5 Dinner blog and enter to win her new cookbook!

Chicken Potato Pancakes

This is a great way to use up your leftover chicken, you can even throw in some leftover veggies or whatever else you have to use up.

What's in the mix...
- mashed potatoes (with some cornstarch. egg and seasoning)
- shredded chicken thighs
- sauteed onions & garlic with herbs

Dip in beaten eggs and then potato flakes.
This is filling enough to simply serve with a side salad and you're done. My ten year old son liked it so much that the leftovers went in hos lunch bag the next day.

$5 Dinner Challenge

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thai Chicken Wraps

This one was adapted from Sandra Lee's recipe. A very simple and inexpensive meal. The sauce was just chunky peanut butter, garlic, lime juice, sugar and water whisked together. Adjust the amounts to meet your taste buds and the consistency you like.

Put shredded chicken on a tortilla, top with the sauce, greens and cucumbers.

Help for your holiday and grocery budget

Check out Angel Food Ministries to help your food budget this Holiday season (or any season). There is no income level required, anyone can order, too many of us are effected by todays economy. You can even order food to bless another family this season. There are many sites nationwide. Check out the site to find a pick-up and order location near you.

They have a monthly menu. This month their signature box provides food for one week for a family of four for only $30 (You can order multiple boxes. (Box includes 2 lbs NY Strip Steak, 1.5 lb boneless pork roast, 1 lb chicken breast fajita strips, 1 lb lean ground beef, 1.5 lb all white meat chicken tenders, 1 lb bake or fry fish sticks (32 count), 1 lb hickory smoked center cut ham, 1 lb frozen baby lima beans, 1 lb frozen green beans, 2 lbs frozen french fries, 2 lb bag fresh apples, 10 ct flour tortillas, 2% shelf stable milk, one dozen eggs and a dessert, pretty good for $30!)

They also have a senior/convenience box for $28 which provides prepared meals for seniors or people on the go (this months includes meals like...roasted chicken with red potatoes sugar snap peas and carrots, swedish meatballs with sides, meatloaf with sides etc. check the site for a full listing.)

On the December menu is also an allergen free food box, a 6lb assorted grill meat box, a special 2" 4.5 lb steak combo, a 10 lb IQF assorted poultry box, meat and cheese Christmas gift box, premium fruit and veggie box, and an assorted Christmas fruit box.

Hurry to place your order for December - my local site's orders are due today.

Please use me as a referal (

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chicken & Black Bean Tortilla Soup

Tonight's dinner came from the fact that I had leftover tortilla taco shells from last night, vegetables to use up and chicken in the freezer, plus I watched both Rachel Ray and the Contessa make this on Food Network today.

To start I chopped onions and peppers added some minced garlic and sauteed in melted smart balance. At the same time I poached chicken thighs and chicken breast tenderloins in broth made with bullion.

I added tomatoes that I had diced and a can of chicken stock, then I scraped the bits off the bottom of the pan, which gave the veggies a kind of roasted effect.

I added the following spices.
- Adobo Chili Powder
- Adobo
- Cilantro
- Chili Powder
- Bay Leaves (don't forget to remove)
Use whatever amounts suits your taste buds.

I strained the stock the chicken was cooking in and added it along with a can of corn (kept the liquid to sweeten it a bit) and black beans (these were originally dried, it helps to cook up a bunch at once and freeze them in individual bags, about a cans worth for various recipes)

I broke up my leftover taco shells and served on top of the soup. You can also add the tortilla shells or chips to the soup to thicken it.
My eight year old son made the corn muffins (with a little help & from a box) for our dinner. The best thing was - this made enough to freeze some for another whole meal.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rachel Ray's Warm Chicken Piccata Spinach Salad

This one is from Rachel Ray's Express Lane Meals (pg 51) which is one cookbook of my growing collection that I keep going back to for good, fast, easy meals.

I substituted onions for shallots and chopped frozen spinach for fresh to cut costs and I omitted the lemon juice because I didn't have any lemons, but the white wine and capers added plenty of flavor. Tip - you can get cooking wine for a much smaller price in the international isle in some stores. I get it at my local Shoprite.

What's in it...
- 3 boneless chicken breasts (great way to stretch chicken by chopping it and adding it into something)
- salt & pepper
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- rolls
- rice
- butter
- one medium onion chopped
- 3 small spoonfuls of chopped garlic (from the jar, don't tell anyone:)
- 3 tablespoons capers
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 boxes of frozen chopped spinach

First I browned the chicken in Olive Oil, when it was done I removed it and let it sit till the end, when I chopped it and added it in.
Sauteed the onions, garlic and capers in olive oil and 1 TBSP butter, then added white wine and let reduce.
Added the spinach and then the chicken.

Served it up two ways, my boys ate it with rolls and my daughter and I had it over rice, cause that's the kind of girls we are.

This was a nice, healthy, and affordable meal. My kids ate it surprisingly well even with the spinach factor. The boys seem to eat anything better when they can make it a sandwich.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chicken Chili Mac in the crockpot

Hey all! Proud to say I'm now at 21 weeks, cooking again, working out and feeling good!

Last week we found out that baby #4 is a boy. He's following two boys and a girl and big sis was really hoping and praying for a girl but she is begrudgingly coping.

Anywho - thought I'd start off with something easy, tasty and cheap:)

Here's my Chicken Chili Mac...

This crockpot meal was so simple, I started it before taking my kids to the swim club, and all I had to do was add the macaroni when we came home and then eat! My kids gobbled it up after a long day of swimming (and then my youngest conked out about 15 minutes later).

What's in it?
- two chopped green peppers
- one onion
- one tomato (I would have added more but it was all I had today, diced tomatoes would have been really good too)
- two cans of chili beans
- three chicken breasts
- chili powder, cumin, cilantro and salt to taste
- water (enough to cover the ingredients)
- 1 pound macaroni
- shredded cheese (your choice) for a topping

Everything but the macaroni went into the crockpot early in the day.

When I got home I removed and shredded the chicken, added the macaroni and let it cook till tender, then I put the chicken back and it was ready to serve.

I'm thinking I'll use the leftovers for some Baked Chicken Chili Mac and Cheese. Mmmmmm

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sorry for the silence - news to share

Sorry for the silence. However, I have news to share. At the moment I have not been posting or reading many food blogs because I can't seem to stomach it. The reason is that I'm expecting! So in a few weeks, hopefully, the first trimester will be through and I will like food again.

Right now anything healthy and anything with a red sauce is quite repulsive to me, which is killing me, but I really like macaroni and cheese:)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rachel Ray's "Moo Shu Noodles"

Another one of Rachel's (recipe here) and it was a big family hit. I cut some corners to save some pennies on this one. All the veggies were bought from produce junction and I used button mushrooms instead of shiitake and thin cut pork chops with the bone in instead of boneless (they were cheaper and I got them on manager's special).

The fettuccine was Shoprite's brand, I didn't use egg ones because I couldn't find them.

shredded ginger and scallions

Instead of using hoisin and soy sauce I just used up the rest of my Soyaki from Trader Joes and added a little bit of soy sauce (I don't like things too sweet).

After I browned the meat I sauteed the ginger and scallions and then added the mushrooms, finally the nappa cabbage.

Another note - I've started using bouillon or "better than bouillion" instead of the stock in the box to save money. I've also been looking for the low sodium ones.

The vegetables made a lot of juice so I took some out and whisked in flour to thicken the sauce.

The finished product.

This fed my family of five and had three individual meals leftover for lunches. I find that when I put them away in individual meals the leftover actually get eaten and I can also freeze them for later (who needs Lean Cuisine on Stoufer's:).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Crockpot Sausage Meal

My money savers on this one were sausage, sold on manager's special (that means it's discounted because it needs to sell that day and then can be taken home and frozen, or used right away) and potatoes from produce junction, one bag gave me two large meals (lots of leftovers)

Simple meal to throw in before you go out and leave it to cook in the crockpot. First you brown the sausage (leave it whole or in large pieces which you will cut right before serving) and then stick it in the crockpot with diced tomatoes, the cut up potatoes and whatever spices you like (garlic and basil are winners in this dish).

Before serving remove the sausage and cut them (much easier to cut when fully cooked) add them back in and serve.

Two out of three kids actually asked for seconds and hubby made it the next days lunch.

Part of the $5 dinner challenge, though I don't know the exact cost, math was never a strength of mine:)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A few more Flat Belly Diet Meals

Tuscan Chicken - I found this surprisingly good served over greens, normally it would be pasta or some type of grain. The MUFA was the almonds.Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast - this was a big hit and also the first time I've attempted a stuffed chicken breast (any tips appreciated) the spinach was sauteed with onion and sundried tomatoes, plus it had a little bit of grated parm in it. As you can see the pine nuts were the MUFA.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Leftover Ham & Cheese Strata

Here's a really simple and delicious meal to help use up leftover ham. It's from the Rachel Ray show so you can get the recipe here. Basically, the only things I changed were, I used frozen asaparagus (defrosted), I used shredded cheddar (pretty cheap) and used my own bread machine bread.

Don't make my mistake, I forgot to grease the dish which made it very hard to get out:)

Simply pour the beaten eggs over the broken bread and then top with ham, asparagus and cheese. Then bake.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pretzel Crusted Chicken

I had made this a while ago and forgot to post but I just ran across the picture. Anyway, this is one of my absolute favorites (my family's too) so I had to share.

Original recipe is from Rachel Ray but I just ad lib now. Really simple.

Chicken tenderloins (buy frozen, they're so much more affordable) dipped in egg, then ground pretzels (I use the food processor) and a second round of egg and pretzel (keep your cost down and buy the no name store brand pretzel, no one will tell the difference), then simply fry till done.

They're topped with a mustard cheese sauce. Easy route, just melt some shredded cheddar and mix in spicy brown mustard, longer route, but still easy, make a rue with butter and flower, add some chicken broth and milk and then add cheese and mustard.

Then top with chopped dill pickles. To me you can't get any better than that!

BTW - the side is Trader Joe's frozen marinated and grilled eggplant and zucchini.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Make your own Peanut Butter

Just got this link from my friend Robin, It's on Homemade Peanut Butter - "Peanut butter recalls got you scared? Play it safe and make your own PB instead"

Ok so this is awesome in so many ways from recalls, to saving money to less plastic peanut butter jars. I'm going to try it, how about you?

Anyone tried this before, how did it come out?

I'm still baking bread and now add making my own peanut butter, need to get one of those bread machines that you can make jam in (mine just makes bread, but I saw some at Goodwill) and my kids lunches are totally set:)

Winter White Lasagna (from Rachel Ray's new book)

I used Trader Joe's spicy Italian chicken sausage
White sauce, this was really good but I'll make double next time.

Loading up on those no-boil lasagna noodles (also at Trader Joe's), which I love but they seem to take more sauce.

So good. No this was not a flat belly diet meal, actually made it before and forgot to post, however I did add flax seeds (you can see some peeking out) so there's a MUFA

For my no cheese eaters I just swapped the white sauce for marinara and they loved it.

Recipe pg 236

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Eating really local with a home garden

So I was reading Robin's post about planning her home garden and I have to admit to doing a lot of dreaming about mine as well.

I made some great eggplant and tomato dishes last year and hope to expand my green thumb for more variety this summer.

How about you all, anyone have big (or little) plans for their garden's? I'd love to hear tips and tricks especially from my Jersey girls.

Here's something I just learned, you can plant cabbage in Spring and it's done by June for you to plant something else. Got any good cabbage recipes?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Anybody try The Grocery Game

I'm trying out I've had some savings so far, even got a couple items for free. Has anyone tried it or tried another grocery saving system that they recommend?

The grocery game keeps track of sales and sales trends and then combines them with coupons to get you the most savings. Seems to make sense.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Some of my favorite Flat Belly Diet Meals so far

Avocado Herbed Breakfast Tacos
Meatball Melt (substituted pesto (which is cheap at Trader Joe's) for Olive Oil and a whole wheat wrap for the pita, it's what I had:) Did you know you can get whole wheat wraps pretty cheap at Target? The meatballs are vegetarian (from Trader Joe's), or fake as my hubby says, but he keeps eating them.

Dijon Egg Sandwich (LOVED this one)

Soba Noodle Salad with snow peas - you can find soba noodles in the international isle of the grocery store or get them even cheaper at an Asian food mart. I've also seen people substitute whole wheat spaghetti if you can't find soba noodles.

Hearty Sausage with Brussels Sprouts - I will say this picture does not do it justice, it was actually a favorite that we've had twice so far (I got sausage on sale).

Turkey Avocado Cobb Salad - yes, even my kids ate it. I let two of them have ranch so they polished it off and my no frills one just ate it plain, he gobbled the turkey and turkey bacon ate the avocados and then had at least a little bit of the greens.
Actually my kids have eaten most of these meals without griping, except for my middle child who complains if I give him anything that isn't pizza. We've also eliminated most of the junk food (there's still a little bit) from the house so they're learning to snack healthy and don't seem to mind. It's much easier when it's not there, for me too:)

Get the recipes and portion sizes in this book, sorry, don't want to share copyrighted material.

Flat Belly Diet 4 Day anti-bloat meals and drink

So, my hubby and I, along with my parents have been trying the Flat Belly Diet. Basically it incorporates proper portions of healthy foods (whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies) with a MUFA (monunsaturated fatty acid).

You have four meals a day and a snack that is the same amount of calories as a meal. The meals are filling and to incorporate the MUFAs they have something like oils, olives, nuts, seeds, avocados and dark chocolate in every meal and snack! Can't loose with that, I mean you can loose weight but it's a winner on flavor:)

It starts off with a four day anti-bloat jump start, which I'll admit I didn't love, but mainly because a lot of the flavors I crave (salt and spice) can cause bloating so they were off the list, but only for four days, wait till you see my pics from the other meals. The meals were really filling, though I will admit to cheating a bit on an extra snack at night, which I know is the worst time:)

Still, for the four days I dropped a few pounds and 2 inches. Keep in mind this is mainly excess water weight. I have kept the pounds off (been three weeks on the diet) and am getting a bit smaller inch wise, though the scale stays the same so I'll chalk that up to weight training. Hubby keeps loosing and looks great, he is also working out.

This is "Sassy Water" not sure what exactly it does, although it had me drinking my water which is good. You had to drink 2 liters a day for the first four days. It had cucumber, lemon, ginger and mint. Any guesses on the benefits of these? It was actually quite good and refreshing.
One of the anti-bloat dinners - tilapia, red potatoes in olive oil (your MUFA) and green beans, the nice part of this diet is that it encourages healthy eating and it's something I can feed my kids as well.

This one I loved! Chicken (I seasoned with Trader Joe's no salt seasoning), mushrooms sauteed in extra virgin olive oil, and brown rice.
Another thing, this isn't so bad on the budget. Been to Produce Junction for the fruits and veggies and I looked through the meals and bought things I knew we would eat and I could save on. I did not however, buy all of the name brands that the book endorses because they were just not in my budget.