Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tropical Tuna Sandwich $2.20

Here's a healthy spice up on the traditional tuna fish sandwich.  We really enjoy the extra flavor from the surprise ingredients!

Tropical Tuna Sandwich

2 (6 oz) cans water packed tuna drained .98
1/4 cup mayonnaise type product .20
2 Tbsp crushed pineapple, drained .15
2 celery stalks .15, chopped
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish .15
2 tsp yellow mustard.10
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon.05
8 slices whole-wheat "healthy" bread .40

mix the tuna, mayo, pineapple, celery, pickle relish, mustard and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Spread 1/4 of the tuna on each of four slices of toasted bread - top with a light dusting of cinnamon sugar mix, and the other slice of bread.
halve, and serve with extra celery for great crunch!

Brought to by the Fit, Fast & Frugal Foodies

Im much thriftier these days, but even I make errors

So our meal planning, grocery shopping system has evolved into this: Kim and I meet once a week, sometimes in between work and errands, and sometimes later in evening after kids go to bed, and over a beverage(lastime it was Kaluha over ice, yum!) together we plan our meals for the following week. Then Kim does the grocerylist and puts it in the blog(shes much more organized that way) I price everything out because the savings and staying under budget everyweek is a great feeling for me(yes, my life has become very exciting b/c of this money saving blog!) and this system has worked for us thus far. We have found in general the best prices for groceries have come from Aldi. I know at times Costco,Sams, Walmart can match or even beat Aldi prices, but there is the issue of having to buy in big quantities that is sometimes a deterent, and for me the size of the stores and the time it takes to make my way through the store is sometimes just not appealing to me. So in general, I can buy 90% of what I need for 30-40% (or more) savings at Aldi, so it is an absolute no brainer, oh and I can whip through the store in less than 15 minutes. All that said, I made a bad purchasing call this week. I needed two red peppers for the Red Pepper Sauce, and my Aldi only had tripacks of peppers(yellow, orange and red) for $2.39(.80) per pepper, and instead of purchasing those and finding another use for the yellow and orange peppers, I opted to purchase peppers at local grocery store since I needed a few other items for the dinners this week that Aldi didnt carry. Well, I ended up buying 2 red peppers for $4.59. I was mad at myself the whole way home from the store, and eventually went back to the store, returned the peppers, went back to Aldi and bought 6 peppers for less then $5.00. As far as the extra yellow and orange peppers- they will not be going t waste, I am roasting them and topping them on crostini for part of our Easter Meal.

Grocery List April 4-10 $65.06

MMM... looks like an EASY shop this week! 
So many healthy items ... must be time to get ready for swimming! :-)

Assumed Items:
Olive Oil$3.99

Aisle One:
Rolled Oats (Not instant Oatmeal) $1.79
Dijon Mustard$$1.39
Cayenne Pepper$1.09
Brown Sugar$1.19
Whole Cloves$1.09
Baking Powder.99

Eggs (1 dozen - 6 for Sunday, 6 for Thursday).98
1% milk (4 1/2 cups - Sunday, Monday & Thursday)$1.89
8 oz Cheddar Cheese (shredded if desired)$2.29
Reduced Fat Cottage Cheese (not Fat Free).89
Feta Cheese$1.89

Macaroni (or Rotini)$1.09
Bread Crumbs (at least 1 cup)$1.29
Parmesan Cheese$2.49

4-6 Apples$2.29
Bag Salad$1.99
Romaine Hearts$2.49
2 bags fresh Spinach (one Wednesday, one Thursday)$1.99
Lemons (4 needed)$1.59
Green Onion.89
White (or yellow) onion$2.49
Fresh Garlic.89

1 ½ lbs Raw Flank Steak$4.49
1 pound imitation crab meat$2.29
Tilapia Fillets$3.99
Chicken Tenders$6.29

1 12-oz can or bottle of beer (can be “too old to drink”)$>.50
white wine$2.29
happy shopping - more importantly, happy Easter!

ready set go ... It's APRIL 4-10 Menu $29.41

Welcome, officially, to the second quarter of the year - we're more than 13 weeks into it!  And, still lovin' it!  I will admit having a wonderful blog partner is most helpful... our dinner ideas both compliment our taste buds  and challenge one another to try new things.

Sunday:  Easter Sunday - we're doing Apple Egg Bake
Monday:  Hearty Mac & Cheese w/ a salad
Tuesday:  Beer Soaked Beef on a Romaine Salad
Wednesday:  Tilapia Veggie Packet
Thursday:  Crustless Spinach Onion & Feta Cheese
Friday:  Chicken Vesuvio (cheater method)
Saturday:  Heavenly Crab Cakes

I'll try color coordinating things in a bit - and the shopping list too

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Asparagus in light Cream Sauce $3.95

We hope you enjoy the final of six meatless Fridays.  Not the happiest of holidays, perhaps, but that depends on your perspective - if you think of why he did it, it ought to be one of the happiest days - and yet while we celebrate the moment, it's a very very very dark day.  Take a moment to reflect on your life tonight while enjoying this entree.

Asparagus Cream Sauce

8 to 10 ounces Bowtie (Farfalle) Pasta .80
2 tsp olive oil.20
1/2 cup red onion .15
12 oz. chopped asparagus cut in 1 inch lengths $1.50
1/2 cup white wine .30
2 Tbsp flour .10
1 cup skim or 1% milk .20
1 tsp tarragon .15
1/4 cup reduced fat cream cheese.25
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice.05
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce.05
3 Tbsp grated Parm.20

Begin cooking pasta until tender as you normally would.
In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil until hot over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for four minutes.  Add asparagus and wine, bring to a simmer, partially cover, and cook until the asparagus is crisp-tender - about 6 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine milk and flour - add it to the skillet along with the tarragon and cook, stirring until thick, about 3 minutes.  Stir in teh cream cheese, lemon juice, and hot pepper sauce - stir until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
Divide pasta into four dishes, cover with sauce, sprinkle with parm and serve with a smile.

As is, this recipe is 8 g fat, 429 calories, 67 g carbs, 17g protien, ... you could improve these stats with some whole wheat pasta instead of the plain white used in this calculation.

Chicken with Mushrooms in Marsala $6.94

No fancy Italian names tonight, sorry!  I'm too straight forward with these things - Chicken Breasts in a really yummy-to-me sauce of Marsala wine and Mushrooms!  Absolutely one of my favorite dinners!

Chicken with Mushrooms in Marsala
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves or about 8 chicken tenders $3.20
1/4 cup flour .20
1/2 tsp salt.05
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper .05
2 Tbsp olive oil .25
1 Tbsp butter .10
8 ounces Portabello sliced or quartered .90
4 ounces White mushrooms, sliced or quartered .50
2 Tbsp green onions, or regular onions.10
1/2 cup Marsala wine .30
1/2 cup chicken broth .10
1 lb frozen vegetable of choice $1.19
Combine flour, salt, and cayenne pepper in a bowl
heat large skillet with olive oil over medium heat - dredge thawed chicken breasts through flour mixture and place in hot oil.
turn chicken after four minutes - continue cooking other side for another four minutes - and remove chicken from pan to a plate, cover chicken.
melt butter in same pan and immediately add both kinds of mushrooms.  Cook approximately 5 to 6 minutes, add onion or shallot and cook another 2 minutes. 
Add Marsala and to increase heat to med/high - bring to a boil and add chicken broth, once boiling, add chicken and reduce heat to low and await the beautiful thickening of the sauce.

Wonderful served with fresh steamed green beans - tonight, we had canned green beans. 


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cream of Green Vegetable Soup... & Egg Salad Sandwich $5.44

What a funny title!.

I've made tons of cream of (insert veggie) soup... I LOVE cream of asparagus, spinach, brocolli, mushroom, etc. soup.  Really, I have, and I do, and I shared my "basic" recipe with you a few weeks ago.  BUT...  I need to introduce a new recipe I found.  Neither Barbara nor I have tried this before, but you see, Barbara has a deep and profound dislike for "butter"... it's like the archenemy in her diet...she's certain that Butter is the source of almost all evil in the food world.  I,  being from Wisconsin, and having grown up in Reedsburg, WI, the "butter capital of the world" when I was growing up, do not think butter to be quite so evil.  I can live without it ... but it's a natural food - it's wholesome, our ancestors have eaten homemade butter for an eternity ... in moderation I have a really hard time thinking that butter is an evil food.  Margarine, in my mind is evil... I avoid it as much as humanly possible - it's not natural, it's artificial and icky... Never-the-less, I'm open minded to Barbara's dislike, and I present to you ... in it's debut to all of us ...

Cream of Green Vegetable Soup - the book we're copying it from says this will feed six

The soup base :
2 1/2 cups chopped onions .60
1 garlic clove, minced .05
3 cups diced potatoes .70
1 cup chopped celery .25
3 cups water

Spinach additions:
10 oz fresh spinach, rinsed, tough stems removed.99
1/4 tsp nutmeg.05
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried.15
1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme (1/4 tsp dried).05

2 cups Buttermilk (2 TBSP vinegar + enough milk to make 2 cups).40

In a soup pot, combine the onions, garlic, potatoes, celery and water.  Bring to a boil, then cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add your chosen combination of green veggies and herbs and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the vegetables are tender.  Working in batches in a blender or food processor, puree the soup with the buttermilk return it to the soup pot.  Add salt to taste, reheat, and serve.
per 10 oz. serving:  122 calories, 5.5 g protein, 1 g fat, 24.1 carbs, 3.2 g total dietary fiber

We're also recommending Egg Salad Sandwiches:

8 eggs .70
1 tsp prepared mustard.10
2 Tbsp reduced fat mayonnaise (try the kind with olive oil in it if you're shopping outside the Aldi).15
1/2 tsp paprika.05
4 tortillas or pitas or bread .50
put eggs in a pan cover with cold water totally cover eggs, bring to a hard boil over high heat.  Cover, shut off heat, and let sit for 15 minutes.  Drain, cover with cold water, sit for 15 minutes, and remove - refrigerate.

Remove shells from eggs (put them in your garden or plants!)
throw 4 yolks away, but th.e 8 egg whites and 4 egg yolks into a bowl and mash.

Combine with 1 tsp prepared mustard and the desired amount of maonnaise (start with 2 Tbsp).  Mix in 1/2 tsp paprika, and serve on whole wheat bread (or toast!).  I must confess, as you can see in the picture, I used a wrap - it was wonderful!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Babyback Ribs $ 12.30

I am making this entres for the second time in my life, and I am a bit nervous about it because I made ribs once ever, and that was to enter into a competition in my hometown. It is a contest that is held every September, and tons and tons of people compete. Men(usually men) show up hours early to the park, and park their BBQ's-gas, electric, small, huge, expensive, cheap....its evolved into a massive competion where people come from all over the area to hang out for the night, eat, drink, dance and grill. I thought it would be an incredible feat in and of itself to just drag my grill to the park, set up tables, chairs, provide drinks, appetizers, dessert and ofcourse prepare ribs for competion, what I never dreamed of was coming in second. That is second place out of 40+ contestants mostly male. The most ironic catch to the story is I dont like ribs and havent eaten them in even once in 25 years, but I researched techniques and combined a bunch, and came up with this recipe. I will say though, and I can say this from being a winner in the rib game, the name of the game with ribs is slow cooking and technique. Here is the award winnin recipe:
1 tablespoon cumin .15
1 teaspoon paprika.05
1 tablespoon garlic salt.15
1/2 cup brown sugar.25
mix all spices and sugar together thoroughly

1 slab babyback ribs $10.00

work in the rub all over the ribs, making sure to cover the ribs entirely
place on bake pan and slow bake at 250 for 2 hours

1 1/2 cup BBQ sauce .70
1/2 cup red wine .40
in sauce pan on low heat reduce redwine
when reduced, combine with 2 cups BBQ sauce and bring to boil, brush on BBQ sauce.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lets all go to Disneyland, I mean Aldi

These photos are classic to me, because this is "springbreak" week in the Chicagoland, and unlike 3/4 of my sons and my nieces school we are staying home and not jetting to some exotic local like Cabo, the Carebean, Florida Keys, St. John....and these are just some of the vacations my kids told me about. Instead this morning, I told my kids I had to do a little work(yes, I do have a job!) and then I had to go to Aldi b/c I needed to stock up for the week meals(one day behind schedule)You would have thought I had said I was going to Disneyland. "Please, Please let us come" "we've never been" How could I say "no", and here I was thinking i was going to have to take them to an indoor waterpark this break and all they really wanted was a trip to Aldi. They have been with me every step of the way with this blog- trying everything I cook with an open mind, making suggestions, complimenting meals,taking picures, helping with techy stuff on computer when Kim is unavailable, so I guess it is just natural they would want to see how this all started.
Once we made it passed the excitement of the shopping cart/quarter exchange, we made it inside and began our adventure. The kids had a field day helping me find what was on my list, and then lots and lots of other stuff. To make a long story short, I did spend $40.00 over budget. Let me give you some of the highlights, I let the kids each pick out 2 snacks(hey its springbreak and this is our cheap trip to somewhere exotic!) then we got cupcake mix with frosing and sprinkles(an activity that will take up atleast an hour this break)frenchtoast stix, waffles, shrimp coctail(my family loves this more than anything)yogurt- wait, not done yet, frozen fruit for smooties, icecream, and finally gum. What is so funny is my nieces Amanda(age 13)Samantha(age 10) and my son Michael(age 11) all noticed the difference in prices between Aldi and the grocery store near our houses. Infact we talked about it all the way home. Sam says, "seems like everyone should shop at Aldi."
We left Aldi with the back of my minivan loaded down, and some very excited kids. Sometimes we all forget the simplest things in life, can be the most rewarding.
There are many reasons we did not go away this springbreak, including the fact and expense that I need a new roof on my house, and more importantly it was right around this time last year we put "grandpa", my dad into hospice, and the memories are still really deep. However, it is not the "vacation" that matters, but the time spent with family and friends that really makes the difference. Sometimes I think myself and my brother and sisterinlaw are doing something right, because while most of our kids friends are away in tropical beautiful areas right now, and we are stuck in STILL COLD Chicago, and they haven't complained once, infact they made a great adventure out of Aldi.

Orange Roughy in a Red Roasted Pepper Sauce $9.28(pricey, but awesome!)

Theres a Tapas Restaurant by my house where I once had an Orange Roughy Appetizer with a Red Roasted Pepper Sauce, that I could not forget. I thought the idea of a red pepper sauce was interesting, but I had no idea it would be so delicious, infact I was sure it had butter in it or cream because it was so rich tasting. I couldnt believe it would be a very light sauce. Well, I am fairly certain there was no butter or cream because when I made it, I made it with the intention of adding butter if it didnt taste like the sauce I had tried a while back, but it tasted even better then I remembered. I looked up a bunch or recipes on the internet, and then kinda of created one on my own based on a combination of recipes I had found. Im thinking it is a keeper.

Recipe of Red Roasted Pepper sauce

2 medium size red peppers $1.60*
2 tablespoons olive oil .20
1 garlic clove .10
4 basil leaves .10

bake peppers for 40-50 minutes at 350, when done place in plastic bag and close bag
keep in bag 10 minutes then take out and peppers should unpeal very easily
blend peppers, olive oil, basil, garlc in blender until smooth and creamy
add salt, and set aside

4 pieces Orange Roughy $3.99
10 ounces spinach $1.99
1 cup button mushrooms .80
1 small onion sliced .20
3 tablespoons olive oil.30
salt and pepper
Total: $9.28
heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, add spinach, cook on low until spinach just wilted, add salt and pepper, and remove from skillet
heat oven to 350
salt and pepper fish and place on baking dish, cook for 10-12 minutes or until flakey
add remaining olive oil to skillet, add onions and mushrooms, cook on low until onions glassy and mushrooms soft, add red pepper sauce and heat alltogether 10 minutes
evenly devide spinach on 4 plates
place a piece of fish on each
top evenly with red pepper sauce
serve. Yum!
Im thinking this sauce would be great over pasta,any kind of white fish, chicken, maybe crabcakes......

Pizza Bianco and Insalata Caprese $6.49

I Was feeling very ambitious and decided to make homemade pizza instead of frozen to go along with my favorite "non lettuce" salad out there, and also the easiest!!-Insalta Caprese, aka tomato, mozzarella and basil.
Ill start with the pizza- sometime I am in the mood for a pizza sans tomato sauce, and that in Italy is called "pizza en Bianco". The Bianco is olive oil, lightly spread on the pizza crust, and then topped with whatever is of interest. This pizza was made with spinach and onion and light cheese, it was the perfect light combo to accompany the mozzarella salad.
Recipe for Pizza:
Pizza crust mix or frozen(I almost always use Pillsbury Hotroll mix-its awesome!).90
1o ounces frozen spinach.70
3 tablespoon garlic minced .15
1 medium onion sliced thinly .30
1 cup mozarella cheese shredded .40
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt .05

make pizza crust according to direction
heat 1 tblsp oil in small pan
add onions and saute until glassy(about 10 minutes)
add spinach and salt and pepper, cook 10 minutes
spread remaining olive oil on crust
sprinkle with garlic salt
top pizza with onion and spinach evenly
sprinkle on cheese
bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted

For Tomato Mozarella Basil Salad

2 tomatos sliced thinly $1.00
8 ounce ball of mozarella sliced $1.99
2 tablespoon olive oil .20
12-16 leaves fresh basil .80
salt and pepper

On a serving tray lay out tomato, mozarella and basil-rotating each like a sandwhich
dress with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste
some like balsamic vinegar, I prefer without, but either can work very nicely