I got off work at 1 and came straight home. I haven't spent a penny today! I didn't buy any coffee or tea at work, no food, nada! Unless I have to go out for some reason I should be at home the rest of the day, not spending money.
I took a breakfast sandwich and ate it when I got a couple minutes. I sure am glad I took it, too, because I got very hungry and would have bought something if I hadn't had that sandwich.
So now I'm at home. The other package of boneless ribs the boss and I bought is thawing. She's requested some cooked in a way other than how we had them for New Years so I'll do something with them this evening. I'd like to use the slow cooker and am considering marinating them in Dale's then sprinkling them with garlic powder and pan frying them a bit before putting them in the slow cooker for the night.
I'm open to other ideas on how to prepare them but whatever I do it needs to be done tonight as I have to be at work at 7:30 in the morning.
Viewing the 'Cooking and Recipes' Category
I got off work at 1 and came straight home. I haven't spent a penny today! I didn't buy any coffee or tea at work, no food, nada! Unless I have to go out for some reason I should be at home the rest of the day, not spending money.
Wednesday was a no spend day and yesterday was another. Awesome! I can't recall the last time I managed that but hope I have many more in the future.
Today was destined to not be one because of the laundry. I went to the washateria this morning but it was closed. I needed to burn about 20 minutes until it opened so I drove to Albertson's and am glad I did. They had boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.79 lb so I got 2 packages of those. They also had boneless sirloin steak for $2.99 a lb so I got a few of those. When I got home I divided it all into one serving portions, used the vacuum sealer, and now have plenty of meat in the freezer again. I hadn't planned on spending that $20 but my supply of meat was getting very low and I don't pass up a good deal on meat, especially when I'm so low on it.
When I got home I put the clothes away (by the way, I spent $2.50 on the laundry) and ended up getting sidetracked by canvas bags. Yes, canvas bags. I had several in the closet and they all had stuff in them and for some reason it was bothering me to not know what all was in them so I cleaned them all out, threw away the old trash, gum wrappers and whatnot, put away other items, etc. and now I have them all hanging together on one hanger. In the process of going through them I found my iPod headphones I thought I'd lost, several small bottles of bath/shower gel, and 15 cents. It was almost like Christmas!
I spent some time yesterday looking at "cooking for one" sites and am dismayed how few helpful ones there are. I found a lot of sites saying that's their purpose but they don't give a lot of practical information or actual recipes. Contrary to what one would think, it isn't always as easy as cutting a recipe in half or thirds or whatever. Yes, it often works that way but not every time. I did find a few sites with helpful information and recipes, though, and will spend time today pillaging and plundering.
Tonight's dinner will be the turkey ham and cabbage from my menu but I'm going to change it a little. I have about 3 ounces of chicken broth languishing in the fridge so I'm going to use that with a bit of butter and olive oil to fry the cabbage, onion, sweet potato, and turkey ham all together. I might pass on the green beans but am not sure about that yet.
I work tomorrow but it's a fairly short shift and I don't get a meal break so I shouldn't need to take lunch or buy anything there. I might even be able to make it a NSD!
I know that menu planning helps me stay within my food budget and eat better so I'm returning to that and am going to work hard to take it seriously. It might seem silly for a household of 1 but it is what it is and I need to take whatever actions necessary to keep the food budget under control and still eat nutritious meals.
Since my very recent epiphany that I love to cook but don't necessarily love to eat after I've cooked, I've decided to concentrate on cooking very small amounts of food and not preparing a new dish unless I have no leftovers or the ones I have are planned for in another meal. Over the last year or so my skill (to me it really IS a skill to cook for one and not a horde or even just two if that's what one is accustomed to) in those has improved but as evidenced by the containers in my fridge I'm not yet proficient and improving that area of my kitchen life has become a goal for 2012.
Breakfast today was the last of the mexican stew (I think I hear a choir of angels singing in the background!) and I get the feeling fried cabbage and onions might be in my future for this evening!
The rest of the week I'll have, in no particular order:
Stir fried chicken and vegetables with a small amount of brown rice (had this tonight)
Pan fried tilapia with 1/2 a baked sweet potato and salad
Large salad with chicken, tomato and plenty of cheese
Pan fried sliced turkey ham with baked cabbage, 1/2 a baked sweet potato, and green beans (had this)
Vegetable soup with homemade noodles
Tuna patties with salad and spinach
Whatever leftovers are in the fridge (had this)
Now, I think it's okay to change the plan a little. You know, I'm not in the mood for spinach so I have green beans with my tuna or I'm not in the mood for tuna so I have boiled eggs but I've decided it's not okay for me to decide I don't want tuna and prepare a five course meal including cornish game hen and scallops. There's nothing wrong with a meal like that but I need to plan for it. I think that's a fairly reasonable request - does it seem so to you???
Saturday evening edit - I decided to have the stir fried chicken and vegetables tonight and succeeded in preparing just enough for one meal. I did make a little bit extra brown rice but it will get eaten tomorrow morning.
I paid close attention to how much of each ingredient I used to ensure I wasn't preparing too much and it worked well. I used one boneless skinless chicken breast, 1/3 of a yellow squash, 1/3 of a zucchini, a very small amount of chopped onion and chopped red bell pepper and a few baby carrots. That seemed to be the right amount of those ingredients for one good sized meal. I'll have to remember that because it seems to me that slightly smaller quantities with liquid and spices would be right for soup.
One of the budget busters for me is food. Not necessarily my daily food but eating out and 'convenience' foods bought because I'm tired, hungry and my cranky pants are just too darn tight. I have the eating out issue under control for the most part but still need ideas for quick homemade meals.
It would be great if they were also healthy but even if they're not I can probably play with the ingredients enough to make it healthy.
One of my favorites is what I had this afternoon before I headed to work: pan fried tilapia with mukimame. It takes less than 15 minutes to make and is so much tastier than a hamburger, not to mention a lot healthier, too!
So, what are some of your favorite quick homemade meals?
I mentioned finding sugar free, splenda sweetened mandarin oranges today and being excited because it meant I could have one of my favorite desserts again. CCraw asked for the recipe for that dessert and here it is.
Orange Jello Salad
1 can mandarin oranges
1 sm. can crushed pineapples
1 lg. pkg. Orange Jello
2 lb. cottage cheese
1 container Cool Whip
Drain together mandarin oranges and pineapple. In large bowl, sprinkle Jello over cottage cheese. Let dissolve. Mix, then add fruit, mix again. Add container of Cool Whip. Mix.
I always preferred it without the pineapple and whipped cream, though, so today I just used about a third of a small package of sugar free orange jello (dry), somewhere around a cup and a half of cottage cheese, and about half the can of sugar free mandarin oranges. I don't use particular quantities - I just add and mix until it tastes right.
I took some to work with me and had it on my break and I can't even tell you the happy it gave me!
I need to pay rent and water today but other than that, there shouldn't be any spending. I hope! I need a lot of NSDs as January's budget is slim, indeed. My car and life insurances are up for renewal this month so I have a lot money going out and not much coming in!
I'm going to cut my grocery budget to $100 for this month. Considering that I can't eat enough of the high carb, low cost foods like rice, beans, and pasta to do much good it's definitely going to be a challenge. My diet is mainly meats and low carb vegetables with a tiny amount of the higher carb things thrown in once in awhile for variety. I'm going to have to make better use of the foods I already have on hand and really limit my trips to the grocery/food spending. I know I can do this but I might need a cheering section.
In light of the above, I have a mexican stew simmering on the stove and will take that to work with me. My boss will most likely eat some as will some of the other folks hanging around. I've had a few people online and at work express the opinion that it's odd to take food for all to work but it isn't odd to me. I still struggle with cooking small quantities, leftovers seem to languish into oblivion in my fridge, and I'm not real big on food that's been cooked, frozen, and reheated so in addition to making very small quantities of food, I make larger quantities and share it. I call it Random Acts of Food Kindness, or RAOFK for short. Some of the young people where I work don't have money, don't have much food, and absolutely love to dig in to whatever I bring. And I love cooking for others so it's a win win situation. It might look like I'm spending money on food for other people (which doesn't help my budget) but this stew is made entirely of leftovers and if I hadn't created it I'd have thrown it all out!
Not bad, huh?
So today is my 17th day of not smoking. 144 pennies in the jar, each penny representing $1 not spent on cigarettes since December 16th, the day I quit. Pretty impressive, I think! I've had very few cravings for a cigarette and although I've had some rough moments it's been much easier than I anticipated. I'm not sure why that is but it is. I'm happy about it, though!
I think I might be sick with a bug so I've been resting on the couch all afternoon. I know I have to eat something, though, so I have 4 chicken thighs boiling and will use the meat for chicken and noodles, complete with homemade noodles. I have just a few store bought noodles so I made a tiny batch of homemade herb noodles to add to them. I really don't eat noodles often at all but gosh, I love them, and the homemade kind is the best!
Noodles aren't hard to make and they're absolutely delicious! I generally put some kind of fresh herb in them but cheese is fantastic, too. Try this, play with it, and make it your own.
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp milk
1 cup flour (I generally use a combination of soy and whole wheat flours)
Mix egg, salt and milk. Add enough flour to make stiff dough. Roll thin, let stand 20 minutes. Roll up and slice 1/8 inch thick. Spread to dry for about 2 hours. Drop in boiling broth and cook 10 minutes.
And that's it! Nothing to it, really, and they're so much tastier than the kind you buy. If you try this recipe, let me know how it works for you.
Tomorrow I pay rent and the water bill but that should be it for the day's spending. I have a special work project Wednesday and it involves spending money so that won't be a no spend day. Darn it! Perhaps Thursday! It seems as though finding those no spend days just gets harder and harder.
I have a cornish hen thawing and will prepare that later today. Some will go to work with me tonight and the rest will be eaten later this week.
I also had an opened tiny bottle of white wine and some chicken stock leftover from when I made the saucy chicken a few days ago. In the fridge I found some woody asparagus stalks (I save those for soups and purees) and onion that needed to be used so I tossed the wine, broth, garlic and a bit of Glory beef base in a pan and let it boil then simmer and cook down a bit. I added the languishing vegetables and threw in some mushroom, green pepper, carrots, and mukimame. It's now simmering on the stove and smells absolutely great. I love soup on a cold day and since I work a long shift tonight and will be at Mom's tomorrow, having this soup ready will keep me out of drive thrus and/or eating turkey bacon and eggs again for dinner! It also uses up a few things that would have ended up being thrown out soon.
Hopefully putting my menu plan here will help me remember to follow it! It worked before and surely it can work again.
I don't break the meals down by day since I know I might not want this dish or that one on any given day. I just have a rough idea of what's in the fridge and I prepare what sounds good to me at that time and if there are leftovers and I work the next day, they go with me.
Last night I had the Saucy Chicken with asparagus. The leftovers will go to work with me today. I also have packed a low carb breakfast sandwich just in case I get hungry around 10 AM, low carb pudding and an avocado, half a lime and some homemade pico de gallo. On one break I'll have the pudding and on the other, I'll mash the avocado and mix it with the lime and pico. Voila, guacamole on the fly. I don't need chips with it - a spoon will do.
Thursday I'll be at Mom's house most of the day and will probably have eggs and turkey bacon for dinner.
The rest of the week I'll have:
Broiled portobello mushroom, bacon, and cheese "burger" with 1/2 a small sweet potato or a green vegetable of some kind
Asparagus and bacon roll ups with a salad
Alice Springs Chicken - http://www.genaw.com/lowcarb/alice_springs_chicken.html, green beans, and salad
Leftover Alice Springs Chicken and mukimame salad
Southwestern Chicken and Corn chowder - http://www.bitchincamero.com/2011/04/southwestern-chicken-corn-chowder/ with adaptations made so that it's lower in carbs
And that's it for this week's menu. Hopefully this will help me stay on track with the budget and encourage me to eat the healthy food I need and not junk.
I asked a group of online folks today for ideas on how to use 4 chicken thighs. I got some helpful responses and saved them for the next time I wonder what to do with chicken. I opted for trying the suggestion of a particular person because it used a novel, to me anyway, technique.
Well, that novelty didn't work out too well but I punted and the result is absolutely delicious! My plating and photography skills are sorely lacking but trust me, if you haven't tried something like this with chicken, you should.
Here's the recipe just as he shared it with me and my changes are below it.
Preheat your oven to 400 deg.
Season the the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Rub a few drops of lemon juice into them. Next, take a frying pan, with a lid. Cut your wax paper into a circle just bigger than the pan. Butter one side of the paper. Next put 3-4 tbs butter in your pan, heat it over med-high heat until it just stops foaming. Place chicken, skin-side down, into butter. Place wax paper on top of pan, butter-side down, and place lid on top. (paper should not be touching chicken)
Place in oven. Cook for 6 minutes. Test chicken with fingers. If the flesh is springy, and an indention made with the finger pops immediately back out, it is done, otherwise, put it back for a couple more minutes.
Remove chicken to a plate.
Add one 1/4th cup chicken or vegetable stock, and 1/4th cup wine to pan. Place over high heat, stirring until it reduces to nearly the consistency of syrup. Add 1 cup of heavy cream, and a few drops of lemon juice. Simmer to desired thickness. Remove from heat and stir in 1-2 tsp of parsely. Serve on top of chicken.
I'm not a fan of lemon so I used fresh lime juice on the chicken. I also chopped up about 1/3 of a portobello mushroom and cooked it with the chicken then removed it when it was done. I rocked along until I couldn't get the wax paper to cooperate. It curled and fell into the pan. Repeatedly. I finally gave up and found a very flat lid that would fit the pan and just buttered the under side of it. Then I realized my oven wasn't heating properly so I continued with the chicken cooking on the stove top. At the end, I added the cooked mushrooms to the sauce.
Really, this chicken is absolutely scrumptious. I ate it with fresh asparagus sauteed in butter and there's enough of both for my lunch tomorrow so I won't be tempted to buy lunch.
Some bad (for this area) weather is being predicted for later this week. Apparently we're going to have lows between 15 and 20 for a couple of days and the chance of light snow Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Brrr! I don't like that at all, especially when I'm trying to keep the thermostat set at 70! If I could just get the man person to wear his thermals we might be able to save a little on heating.
Weather like what is coming means comfort food is necessary so tonight when I made our menu for the week to post on my cooking blog I figured in some things like stuffed mushrooms and baked cabbage. Both are things that are so very good when the weather is very cold. And they're easy and not expensive at all.
What's your favorite cold weather food and do you have a recipe for it? I'm looking for some new things to try and it would be great if y'all would share with me!
Too bad it isn't money but it is baking chicken and a pot of split pea soup. Mmmm! Neither of those are on the menu for this week but one of the nice things about my kind of menu planning is the flexibility it provides. I'm off today and it's cold outside and that put me in a cooking mood so rather than make Swiss Steak, which is what I had in mind for tonight's dinner and doesn't take much effort or create a great smelling house, I put a highly seasoned whole chicken in the countertop convection oven and started a pot of soup in one of the slow cookers.
The man person isn't too fond of split pea soup but will eat mine once in awhile. Instead of cooking the peas until they're mushy or running them through a blender, ending up with a pot of green gunk, I cook them in a pot of broth with seasonings, vegetables, and meat. The resulting soup is ambrosia on a cold day! Today's version is made with beef broth, one small red potato, carrot, onion, green beans, plenty of garlic and the meat from a smoked turkey leg. Oh man, it smalls so good and tastes better!
And to keep this on the topic of personal finance, having the soup and chicken ready to go will keep us from eating lunch or dinner out, saving us about $20 for each of those meals. Okay, that's a tenuous tie to personal finance but it works.
Happy eating, all!
I love menu planning. It saves me a lot of time, money, and stress and its something I've done for years. I share my menus in a couple of Yahoo cooking groups and sometimes put them here, too, because they're definitely finance related.
Knowing what we have on hand and what I can make with it all keeps us from spending money on eating out and eliminates excessive grocery shopping trips and with the cost of food now, keeping those trips down to a minimum can save a lot!
I normally sit down on Sunday and plan the week's dinners so this entry will have meals for tonight and tomorrow night only and Sunday I'll post a new entry for the coming week.
You won't see a lot of inexpensive, high carb meals from beans and rice because we're both diabetic and try to keep the carbs down to a dull roar. The man person also has coronary heart disease so we keep fat under control, too. It aint easy eating lower fat and lower carb! What you will see is fairly balanced meals made with quality ingredients, all purchased at my price.
So, on to the food!
Tonight we're having barbecued skinless chicken breasts with green beans and buttered red potatoes. Rather than using barbecue sauce which normally contains a lot of sugar I prefer a little Memphis style Barbecue Spice which contains no sugar. It's great on cauliflower, too, specially when the cauliflower is slow roasted. Mmm!
Some of the leftover chicken will be chopped and used for chicken salad, one of the man person's favorites for a quick lunch or snack. The rest will be used in Vegetable Chicken Soup, one of my favorites. I usually have a pot of it in the fridge and it's great for cold nights.
Tomorrow night we'll have Breakfast Meatballs with tossed salad and spinach. These meatballs are great anytime, not just at breakfast, they're very portable for a meal on the go, and they freeze very well. Honestly, these are my second all time favorite meatball with Swedish Meatballs just barely coming in first.
Breakfast Meatballs - original recipe with my lower fat adaptations noted
This is a somewhat blurry picture of my breakfast meatballs laden mini-bento box. Yummy lunch!
1 pound turkey sausage (I use homemade)
1 pound lean ground beef (I use buffalo)
2 eggs (I use egg beaters)
3 Tablespoons onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
3 to 5 ounces cheese, grated (I like cheddar, swiss, and a little asiago)
salt, pepper, garlic, and other spices to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Roll mixture into bite sized balls and bake until done, 15 to 20 minutes.
To freeze: after baking put meatballs in the fridge to cool then put a few in a freezer bag or plastic container, label with the date and contents, and freeze.
When ready to use, just heat meatballs in a 350 oven for about 25 minutes or microwave them on high for about 4 minutes.
So there you have it - two of our upcoming meals with more to come on Sunday. Enjoy!
We really enjoyed this dish, though I changed it some last night. It turned out more like Chicken & Dumplings but that's okay because we love those. This is very good served over a little wild rice with a salad and fresh green beans. My notes on the changes I made in last night's version are at the bottom.
2 cups cooked chicken
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 soup cans water
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
16 ounces buttermilk biscuits (8)
Combine all ingredients in crock pot except biscuits; blend well. Cut biscuits into quarters, stir into mixture. Cover; cook on Low 4 to 6 hours stirring occasionally or until biscuits are cooked.
Denise's notes -
I used 4 thighs I'd slow cooked the day before. I didn't measure the chicken. I just de-boned the thighs and chopped the meat into small pieces. I also used 1 can of milk and 1 can of water rather than 2 cans of water and ommitted the chicken bouillon granules, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. I threw in freshly ground black pepper, crushed garlic, and dehydrated onions and cooked it on high for about 3 hours. I like the changes I made and we'll have this again...and soon!
I love to cook. It's one of my all time favorite past times. I check out cookbooks from the library, haunt garage sales for deals on them, and am just generally obsessed with cooking and books about it.
Unlike so many fruglies who give up all subscriptions, I subscribe to three magazines - National Geographic, Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country. The three of them are worth every penny to me - NG for the sheer pleasure I get looking at the breathtaking photos and reading the stories of far away places and CI and CC for the kitchen knowledge they impart.
But over the last month I've gotten away from cooking so much and I really have to find my way back.
I have absolutely got to get back to planning meals at least a week in advance. Without that, we eat out too often, and that's a real budget buster! Spring Break is here so the 16 year old male bottomless pit is visiting and his 15 year old sister, almost as bottomless, will be here for a few days, too. In light of these facts, I need a little help planning meals. I've done it for years so I know how but my brain is tired of doing it and I need a little push.
In my freezer, I have a couple of whole hens (tough when baked or roasted but I can use the pressure or slow cookers for stewing), a package of charcoal steaks (5 small steaks), some ground turkey and turkey breakfast sausage, a package of beef smoked sausage, a dozen chicken tamales, lots of vegetables, and plenty of cheese.
In the fridge I have a dozen eggs but will get more today. I need to buy milk and bread, too.
In the cupboards I have plenty of canned vegetables, rice, beans, pasta, flour, salt, all those necessary things.
I have three slow cookers, a microwave, a digital pressure cooker, and an electric skillet. We have no oven or grill right now so baking/roasting/grilling are out.
Here are some thoughts I have on meals I can make this week:
Cut one to one and a half of the steaks into bite size pieces and use it to make 'beef tips' and rice. Rod and Stephen both love that. Serve it with a salad and a green vegetable.
Have breakfast one night, using ground turkey to make turkey sausage and have that with eggs and toast.
Cook beans in the slow cooker one night.
Make chili with ground turkey one night.
Cook a hen in the pressure cooker and use that for a few dishes. I have a few stand bys we like with cooked, cubed chicken but need some more ideas. If you have something you make with cooked chicken, please let me know!
Any other ideas?
That's our spending for yesterday and today. That includes $10.59 for food at Wal-Mart, $2.24 for a hot dog and drink for me at work, $1 for coffee for me at work, gas in our truck, and $35 for my oldest stepson. The hot dog and drinks for me at work should come out of the food money since that $87 is for groceries and eating out so I removed $3.25 from the food envelope and slipped it into the savings envelope. I'm not sure if I should have just kept it for myself since I used my money to buy the things at work but I decided to just put that money in savings. That seemed fair to me.
$66.07 seems like a lot of spending for two days but we didn't spend $28.71 on cigarettes in the last two days and that's a very good thing.
DH confessed that he found a couple of butts and has smoked them but he's an adult and I can't prevent that. As for me, I haven't had a smoke or even touched a cigarette since we quit the morning of January 31. I know myself. I can't smoke one, not even one little drag, or I'll be off and running again.
My patch came off at work last night and I haven't replaced it. I'm fine without it. Oh yeah, now and then I think about smoking but it's when I have nothing to do, which isn't often. And even when I think about it it's a fleeting thought. For some reason I don't experience the physical agony and such that so many people do. But that doesn't change the fact that I love to smoke and am addicted. Or that I have to avoid only one cigarette...the next one.
I so very much wanted to go out to eat tonight. Instead, I grabbed a container of store bought barbecued shredded beef from the freezer and nuked it and we had bbq sandwiches. I'd also put some wings in the slow cooker this morning and DH had drained them a few times for me. When I got home from work I drained them again and covered them with Country Bob's Sauce, let them cook about an hour more and we had those with the sandwiches. Not as tasty as mexican food would have been but certainly much cheaper!
And now I want a cigarette. Oh yes, I do want one. I won't have one but I want one!
I just used the last of the chicken I cooked on the 19th. It gave us three meals for two people and three more meals for one person and I finally finished it off making today's lunch for two;chicken dressing and gravy with green beans. Yum! So that one little chicken provided eleven meals, total. Hmm, that comes to about .11 per meal, right?
Wow, that was one thrifty and rubbery chicken!
Someone in a Yahoo Group I'm in mentioned that she made Bubble and Squeak recently. I haven't made it in quite awhile but that got me thinking about the dish. I love that stuff and will more than likely make it for dinner one night this week.
So, in light of that, how do YOU make it? The recipe I use is good but I'm always interested in how others prepare dishes.
Share your B & S recipe, please!
Yesterday before heading to work, I put a whole chicken (purchased for .49 a lb for 2.5 lbs) in the slow cooker. I seasoned it heavily with Cook's Choice Brisket Seasoning, wrapped it tightly in foil, and set it to Low. My other half didn't take it out until about 8 PM so it cooked about 6 hours. It was very moist and flavorful and dipped in Country Bob's Sauce it was especially good!
Today before heading to work I used some of the chicken to make quesadillas. I took 3 with me but ate only 1/2 of one so there's plenty in the breakroom fridge for tomorrow if I need it. Presuming no one else gets to it!
And tonight when I got in I used some of the chicken in chicken salad. So, that chicken has provided 2 meals for two people and 2 meals for 1 person and there's still enough left to feed us both at least one more meal.
That's some cheap eatin'! And its a good thing we love chicken like we do.
It's actually after midnight but I figure "Midnight musings" sounds better than "12:34 AM thoughts"...
Anyway, I'm listening to archived Dave Ramsey shows, reading news stories about the President's proposed stimulus package, and eating a bean burrito. I need to get to bed soon but can't sleep. Fortunately I don't have to be at work until 4 PM so I should be able to sneak in a nap or two.
After hearing the commercials on Dave's show, I checked out e-Mealz. It seems like a pretty good deal at $1.25 a week so I looked at some of the sample menus. I was particularly interested in the low carb menus but was disappointed that they featured quite a few items we don't eat and they don't seem to have a menu plan for kosher diets. We don't eat rabinically kosher but it's very close to our diet. Not that I am seriously considering signing up for e-Mealz but I know a few people who might really benefit from it. I already do what e-Mealz says they do but I don't spend hours on it like the commercial mentions. It takes me 10 to 20 minutes to create a frugal but healthy menu plan for two weeks and I think we do pretty well feeding two adults for $30 to $45 a week with some weeks coming in well under the $30.
Speaking of frugal food, it's the time of year when we normally begin garden planning but we haven't considered it yet because we don't know where we'll be when it's time to plant. We might be in an apartment and only have a few pots in which to plant but it's possible we'll find an affordable lot somewhere and be able to put in a full sized garden. I'm praying for the latter.
Tomorrow before I go to work I'm cooking a whole chicken. It will feed us dinner tomorrow night and several meals through the week, including my lunches at work. Yaaay for stretching chickens! We'll also eat some meatless meals which means more money will be added to the challenge!
Okay, I'm off to bed now. I'm finally tired and it's about 1 AM.
It was a good day at work. It wasn't quite as busy as I like but it wasn't horribly slow, either. During my lunch break I ate my turkey pastrami sandwich and a few of my chips and drank iced water. Spending today? Nothing, zip, nada, zero!
I got home a bit ago and decided to sit for a few minutes before making dinner. It won't be anything fancy, trust me. DH is having chili dogs and I'm having chicken tamales topped with chili. Later I might have a chili dog but right now that doesn't appeal to me.
In the past, he'd suggest that we go grab something and I'd heartily agree. But tonight he didn't suggest and I didn't bring it up or even consider it. Rather, I asked him to give me a few minutes to rest before making us something to eat. He agreed and we'll soon eat our frugal but tasty dinner.
While at work I priced the store brand nicotine patches. 14 of them cost $24.99 plus tax and that box will last us one week. So, even while we're using them we'll be spending less than we spend on cigarettes. Gotta love that!
The slow cooked chicken turned out well but it didn't turn out crispy as I was told it would. It wasn't as wet as most slow cooked chicken is but it was far from crispy. I might not have had it wrapped tightly enough. I'll try it again another time and wrap it tighter and see if that makes a difference.
If one of you tries it, let us know how it turns out!
Or at least in ours! I have a whole chicken seasoned with chicken rub in the large slow cooker. I don't mind slow cooked chicken but I'm not wild about the boiled meat effect that method of cooking gives it. So I loaded the bottom of the crock with crumpled foil and chunks of potatoes since that helps keep the bird out of the liquid. Right after I put the bird in the pot I got an email from someone suggesting I tightly wrap it in foil for that crispy skin like you get with rotisserie chicken. So, I removed the chicken, wrapped it very tightly in foil, and put it back on it's bed of foil and potatoes. We'll see how it turns out. Hopefully it will be good.
This bird and it's leftovers are part of my menu planning for the next couple of days. We'll have it tonight with broccoli, spinach, or some other green vegetable, and the leftovers will be used for chicken and dressing with gravy, chicken quesadillas, and chicken salad.
The bird cost me about $2.89 so getting from it four meals for two people makes it a very thrifty chicken!
I got this from a Yahoo group recently but don't remember which one. It's very good, though.
Linguine with Creamy Alfredo Sauce
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
6 cups hot cooked linguine, cooked without salt
6 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh parsley
Mix the flour, garlic powder and pepper in saucepan. Stir in the broth until smooth. Cook and stir until mixture boils and thickens and remove from heat. Stir in yogurt or sour cream. Toss with pasta and a few tablespoons of the parmesan. Sprinkle with parsley and remaining cheese. Serves 6.
This is very good with a salad and green beans.
For those who seek more vegetarian dishes for health or wealth, here are some of our favorite meatless dishes. I'm working more meatless meals into menu planning and maybe these will help someone else, too. In addition to beans, peas, and vegetable based soups, we love these dishes:
Southern Stewed Tomatoes and Okra
1/2 c. butter, margarine or olive oil
1/2 c. onions
3 lbs. cut okra
2 c. canned tomatoes
1/2 c. green peppers (I leave these out as DH and bell peppers don't get along too well)
1/2 c. chopped celery
4 pods garlic
1/2 tsp. cayenne (I reduce this a little)
1 tsp. thyme
Sauté onions in pot until tender. Add okra, tomatoes and green peppers, Cook 10 minutes. Add celery, salt, cayenne and thyme. Mix well. Cook until okra is tender.
1 lb. TVP, cooked beans, or cooked rice
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 chopped green pepper
1 medium head cabbage
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1 small can tomato paste
8 oz. sliced mozzarella cheese
Cook tvp, beans or rice, onion, green pepper. Boil cabbage until tender then set aside, saving 2 cups of liquid. Combine 2 cups of liquid, oregano, tomato paste, salt and pepper and simmer, stirring often. Add meat mixture to sauce pan. simmer and stirring often. In a buttered 9x13 pan, layer cabbage and tomato mixture Top with mozzarella cheese slices as your very last layer only. Bake 400 for 30 minutes until cheese is browned. Serves 8.
Stuffed Mushroom Casserole Vegas Style
2 packages frozen spinach or 2 bunches of fresh spinach
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup green onion tops, chopped
1 & 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian herb seasoning
12 giant mushrooms
1 lb tvp, cooked beans, or rice
Cook spinach briefly in hot water; drain and chop. Mix with sour cream, 1/2 cup each shredded cheddar, monterey jack, and parmesan cheeses, chopped green onion tops, 1/2 tsp salt and herb seasoning. Place 12 stemmed fresh mushrooms, cup side up, in center of large baking dish. Spoon spinach around edges. Saute sliced green onions and one tsp salt. Add tvp, beans or rice and mix well. Spoon over mushrooms. Top with 1/2 cup each shredded cheddar and monterey jack. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Bake covered in 350 oven for 25 minutes. Serves 4.
Someone responded to one of my entries asking how I make homemade biscuits. I use a simple and straightforward recipe.
She also asked what Sticky Chicken is. The Sticky Chicken recipe I use is here:
And here's the biscuit recipe I use:
2 to 2 1/2 c flour
3 heaping tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 to 1/2 c oil
1 1/2 c milk (powdered milk works)
Sift the flour, salt and the baking powder into a large bowl. If you don’t have a sifter, go buy one. They’re cheap and the biscuits will be much fluffier after sifting. Add the oil and milk until you have a fairly stiff mixture. If the mixture is too runny, you can add some more flour to thicken it.
In another bowl, pour some flour into the bottom (roughly 1/2 cup). With a large spoon, scoop out enough of the biscuit mix to make a 2" ball. Drop this into the small bowl and roll the ball of mix around, covering the outside with flour. Pat this into a 1/2 inch thick patty and place into a baking pan.
Repeat this until you have used up all the biscuit mix. Place this into a preheated oven at 325 to 350 and bake for 15-30 minutes or until biscuits begin to brown on top.
I've been craving sweet and hot chicken wings for several days and since I don't have any wings and I'm experimenting with just how long I can eat on $50 (this is day 19, by the way) I don't want to buy any. I figured I could improvise and create something halfway palatable but I have to admit this recipe, if you can call it that, is a very tasty alternative that satisfied the craving.
I cut some boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips, cooked them in a little butter with some Louisiana Hot Sauce and put them in a baking dish with Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce. I stirred them to ensure they were well coated and baked them for about 15 minutes at 300, then turned the oven off and let them sit for another 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
They turned out very well! Slightly hot and slightly sweet, just how I like them. And because I'm a frugal foodie (would that make me a froodie? or a frooglie?) I froze the butter and tiny bits of chicken in it and will use that savory concoction the next time I make chicken soup or casserole.
I had my Chicken a la Wings with steamed brussels sprouts and green beans and it was a fine and frugal dinner. There's enough left for lunch tomorrow and dinner another night this week.
::all said in best Grandpa Jones voice:: "Well, we have three bean soup with green onions, garlic, and turkey ham cookin' on the front burner. We'll have 'em with homemade biscuits and butter! We also have boneless, skinless chicken breasts defrosting and those'll be baked in the oven, some with lemon pepper, some with Country Bob's sauce, and some with fajita seasonin'. They'll all be cut into strips and used for salads, stir fries and just eaten with fresh vegetables throughout the week!"
Denise and Bob the Cat reply with "Yummm yumm!"
Okay, so Grandpa Jones wouldn't have cooked the way I do but y'all get the picture. That's my basic cooking for today in preparation for the coming few days.
I made this today and oh man, is it good! It's still too hot to drink it regularly but it will be good this winter.
Chocolate Snickerdoodle Coffee Mix
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup sugar (I used 12 packets of Splenda and it's too sweet - will use less next time)
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/4 cup non-dairy powdered coffee creamer
1/4 cup cocoa
3 T. instant coffee granules (I want it to taste like coffee and might use more next time)
dash of nutmeg
dash of cloves
1/2 tsp teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine all the ingredients together and store in airtight containers.
To serve: add 3 Tablespoon coffee mix to 3/4 cup boiling water; stir to dissolve.
Today was planned to be a no spend day for me. I wasn't going to leave the house and that means I don't spend money. But my mother had a 'quick' errand to run and wanted me to go along so I did. It just so happens that the place she had to go was very, very near the new Kohl's that just opened. Since neither of us had been in a Kohl's, we had to check it out. We found things we both wanted but I'm happy to say I didn't buy anything at Kohl's. Oh happy day!
However, Mom remembered another errand she needed to run and since it was going to take awhile and we were both famished we stopped at a convenience store for a snack. I spent about $3 but that's it.
We ran the other errand and went home and I will not go out again tonight. Period!
So it was almost a no spend day for me, close anyway.
Dinner tonight is Poor Man's Steak, brussels sprouts and a slice of pumpernickel with butter. I decided to try a different recipe than I usually use for Poor Man's Steak. I used this one today but cut all ingredients by half:
1 pound ground beef
1 cup milk
1 cup cracker crumbs
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 small onion, chopped
1 can mushroom soup
1 cup water or milk
Mix all together, except soup and water/milk and shape into a narrow loaf. (I flattened it on a cookie sheet instead) Let sit in refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Cut loaf into slices and fry in a skillet on both sides until brown. (I skipped the frying) Put slices in baking dish. Mix 1 can mushroom soup with 1 cup of water or milk and pour over each piece. Bake at 325° 1 hour.
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