Saturday, February 13, 2010

Anything goes Baked Potato

Today was the easiest dinner thus far, and it really needed to be! Today was just non stop from 7am, between Basketball practice, basketball game, B-Day party drop of and pick up, cleaning house, going to bank, post office. and an hour and a half of sledding, dinner time arrived and it was all I could do, but say- "Im baking potatos, pick out your toppings. I do have to say, we had my 3 nieces over, and my nieces could eat potatos everyday and twice on Sunday, but my sons life would remain unfazed if he never saw a potato again. He doesnt necessarily dislike them, but could easily live without them. He chose an interesting combo of tunafish and potato. He diced up tomato and onion, and mixed it in with the tuna and mayo, and topped the potato. He ate all the tuna, and managed to eat some of the potato.

One niece chose bacon and tomato, kindof like a BLT, without the lettuce. Another just wanted a little salt and pepper(thats how much she just likes potatos) My favorite potato was my niece Sams, she chose white beans, tomato, spinach and mozzarella, which we melted in the micro.

Anything really goes with potato. I would be careful not to include another starch, like rice or something, veggies would be great as well, chicken, or different types of cheese.
For a healthy nutritional dessert, I whiped up in no time flat- Strawberrie Banana smoothies.
1/2 lb frozen strawberries
2 medium bananas
2 1/2 c milk
mix all in blender
no ice required b/c the frozen strawberries provide the "slush", and no sugar because the fruit is sweet enough.

The Heron's followed finished up the lunch meat we bought for the potatoes as well as the swiss cheese, bacon and a little broccoli as well! (I highly recommend microwaving your "finished product" for 20-30 seconds to melt the cheese and meld it all together ... but the particular child for whom this potato was intended DOES NOT like melted cheese anywhere but on his pizza.  I barely had the picture taken before he whipped off the cheese and ate it "on the side".  I guess, to each their own, so long as they eat it, right?  AND THAT IS ONE OF THE BEAUTIES OF TONIGHTS MEAL!)

Once we finished off those items, I was left with a plain potato for myself... I went for the taco meat (extra kid food one night :-) ), salsa, cheese, & sour cream - I also broke Barbara's suggestion of no more starch, throwing in some black beans ... mostly because "they were there!".  Super delicious, and pretty nutritional as well! 

Happy Clean out the Refrigerator - EASY Saturday meal!!!

A Special Week - Menu 7, Feb. 14-20

WOW... What a week coming up!
St. Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, and the first week of Lenten Meat-free Fridays.

Here's what we have in store for you!

Sunday - Rolled Chicken Breast, Flavored Rice, and Dessert!
Monday - Southwestern Salad
Tuesday - Beef & Barley Soup and thick crusty bread
Wednesday - Baked Refried Bean dip
Thursday - Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad
Friday - Shrimp Agli Olio
Saturday - Panini grilled sandwiches

Shopping List Feb 14-20

Here we go again - Shopping list number 7 is it?  WOW!  This is so fun to be organized and not stressing about what to make for dinner - or what I need to buy to make dinner tonight!  FUN! 

Misc. Aisle One Staples
Brownie Mix
Blue Tortilla Chips (or tortilla chips of your choosing)
Southwestern Ranch dressing (or Ranch dressing)
Reduced Fat Beef Broth (4 cups) (At Aldi this is over by the bread)
Dried Oregano
Minced Garlic
Bay leaf
Dried Parsley
Dried Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sliced Provolone Cheese
Cheddar or Mexican Blend shredded cheese
Eggs (2 eggs)
Lunch meat of choice

Flavored Rice Mix
2 cans Black Beans
1 can diced tomatoes
Taco seasoning package
Flour tortillas
Italian Bread Crumbs
Marinara jar
2 pkgs Spaghetti or linguine (1 each?)
Parmesan Cheese (1/4 cup)

pre-bagged Salad Mix
Red Pepper (Multi-colored pepper pack)
Onion (1 ½)
Celery (1 rib)
Carrot (1 large)
Fresh Garlic (opt'l)

1 ½ top sirloin beef steak (for cutting into soup)
1 lb ground turkey

2 lbs. quick frozen split chicken breasts (not tenders) (one pound optional)
Frozen Corn
10 oz frozen green beans
10 oz frozen green peas
12 oz. Cooked Shrimp
Frozen Broccoli or Asparagus

White Wine (approx. 1 cup for cooking)
½ cup pearl barley
Chiabatta bread
Crusty Bread of choice - french, chiabatta, or whatever you like

You know the drill - check the pantry, check the frig, check the freezer!

This week we've added one pound of "Optional" chicken breast - we're having a southwestern salad mid-week that some readers will enjoy with meat, like chicken, shrimp, or even tofu... thus we've added a pound of chicken to the shopping list - if you're an Aldi shopper like us, you know that the chicken breasts come in three (3) pound packages, so since you're buying the chicken for the Valentine's Day dinner, you may as well use the extra chicken in this salad if you're so inclined.

I've also tried to indicate a little better how much of an item you'll need - like the celery and carrot - you need one rib of celery and one big carrot ... if you've got a little celery left from a prior week we want you to know that you don't need a whole new bunch, just one!

We know that there are a lot of spices and things in here too... we're actually assuming that you have most of them as they are typical staples (especially garlic, oregano, basil, and parsley), but as Barbara blogged about, the spices are only $1.19 at Aldi (and today, with coupon, they're $.50 at Walgreens... do your smart shopping!)  WE NEVER RECOMMEND SPICES FROM THE CHAIN STORES!

Here's hoping it's another week with the FULL list coming in under $70.  We're sure if you've been with us a few weeks this will be about $45!  YEAH!

Pasta Aglio Olio and Tomato Basil Bruscetta $5.20

Aglio meaning garlic and Olio meaning Oil(which could only mean Olive Oil) That is exactly what the pasta consists of- garlic and olive oil. In Italy, it is usually the pasta one makes when in a hurry, or when they have limited ingredients in the house, and need to whip up a meal. Upon further research, apparently pasta aglio olio is most known in the Abruzzo region of Italy, because at one time it was the most poverty striken of regions. That is actually the region that I come from, and I can confirm I have had many a Aglio Olio in Abruzzo. I will admit that it taste far better in Italy, then in America, as does some meals(not all, just some-sorry have to be honest)I suspect it is because of the olive oil. The olive oil is like no other, the flavor, texture, richness is hard to discribe. I personally always use extra virgin olive oil when cooking, and when making this dish I highly reccomend fresh garlic.

3 cloves garlic minced .40
1/2 cup olive oil .40
1 lb pasta of choice(Im using linguine)$1.00
salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to instruction
heat skillet on low with oil
saute garlic slowly, carful not to burn
Drain noodles, loss with garlic and oil

Optional tomato and basil
dice 3 or 4 tomatos(.80), and 2 tablespoons chopped basil .30
when pasta is cooked toss in large skillet with oil and garlic combo, add tomato and basil, and saute together for 2 or 3 minutes

loaf of french or italian bread $1.50
1/4 cup olive oil.25
1 clove garlic.15
diced tomatos(2).40
chopped basil(1 tablespoon).15

total $5.20
Slice bread, brush with olive oil(1/8 c) and bake in oven at 350 until crisp
combine tomato, basil, garlic and olive oil, add salt to taste
top bread with tomato topping

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sweet & Spicy Pork Tenderloin $4.22

Let's jump right is, cuz it's our night to really shine in the kitchen and this is an amazing tenderloin! ... Prepare your potatoes (recipe at bottom) first as they take considerably longer than the meat!

Sweet & Spicy Pork Tenderloin
Olive Oil spray
1/2 tsp. cumin.10
1/2 tsp cinnamon .10
1/2 tsp salt.05
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper .02
1/8 tsp chile pepper .05

1 pork tenderloin (1 lb), trimmed of visible fat $3.40
1 tsp. olive oil .10

2 Tbsp honey .20
1/2 Tbsp hot pepper sauce (like the hot wings sauce) .10
1 tbsp minced garlic .10

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a small roasting pan or ovenproof skillet (just large enough to hold your pork) with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and chile pepper.  Rub the pork evenly with the teaspoon of olive oil then rub the spice mixture evenly over the pork until it is coated.  Coverly loosely with plastic wrap - refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the honey, garlic and hot sauce.  Whisk to mix and set aside.

Set a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until it is hot enough to sizzle water.  Place the pork in the pan, cooking for 1 (one) minute per side, or until browned all around.  Transfer to prepared oven-proof pan.  With a basting brush, evenly coat the pork with the prepared honey mixture.

Roast the tenderloin about 18 minutes per pound, or until a thermometer inserted in the center reaches 155 and the juice runs clear.  Remove from the oven and tent with aluminum foil.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Transfer pork to cutting board and slice into thin slices.

Oven Roasted Potatoes

wash (peel if desired) and dice potatoes of choice (red, yellow, white, russet, etc.)
toss with LIGHT coating of olive oil (i do it right on the cutting board)
place on dark baking sheet and seperate to allow even cooking
season with your choice of seasoning salt or ground rosemary or just salt to taste.
bake at 400 degree oven for first 15-20 minutes while you prep the meat - then turn oven down to 350 when you sear the meat allowing it to cool to the 350 degree oven for proper preparation of the meat.
toss regularly (10 minute intervals) to ensure even browning and cooking
approx. cook time is 40 minutes

Fresh Steamed Brocolli
wash and cut brocolli into spears
boil 1 inch of water in a pan large enough to hold all your brocolli
As soon as the water boils, add brocolli - steam for about 7 minutes
drain - spritz with "spray butter" or lemon or serve plain (my personal choice!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Herb Encrusted Salmon $8.88

I have always wanted to make a "herb encrusted" piece of meat or fish. I have never made a crust before other then braad crumbs or a combo of bread crumbs and and parm cheese, and the idea of a crust that has lots of flavors from herbs sounds like it would be awesome.

I searched the web and came up with an idea of my own based on many recipes that I have found, so we shall see what happens.....

2 cloves of minced garlic, or 1 tablespoon of jarred minced garlic .20
1/4 cup dried parsley .30
1 tsp paprika .10
1 tablespoon basil .15
1/2 cup breadcrumbs .30
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil.50
4-6 salmon filets $3.99
2 large sweet potatoes $1.00

4 medium sweet potatoes $1.25
total $ 8.88

Mix all dry ingredents together, and add in olive oil.
cover the top of each salmon piece entirely with the crust mixture, 1/4 inch thick.
Place in baking pan, pour remaining olive oil over the fish, and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, or until fish is flakey to the fork touch.

Cut sweet potatoes in strips like french fries. Place in baking dish. Toss 1/4 cup olive oil. Spice them up with paprika. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wednesday's Italian Beef $8.31

Oh the look of delight on Ellie's face when we break out this meal will be priceless.  She's crazy about this, and we have it on her busy nights.  Lately her busy nights are coming closer and closer together!

Italian Beef Sandwiches ($8.31)

1 package Cattlemen's Ranch Italian Style Seasoned Broth and THinly Sliced Seasoned Cooked Roast Beef - Frozen 2 lb size. ($5.69)
1 package Loven Fresh Hoagie Rolls ($1.69)
1/4-1/2 cup mozarella cheese (optional) ($.25)

1 package garden salad mix ($.99)
(ranch) dressing to taste ($.25)

thaw (either in the refrigerator for as long as it takes or in the microwave for up to ten minutes) the meat enough to get it out of the plastic package.
heat, but DO NOT BOIL the sauce and meat to slightly more than desired temperature.
toast opened rolls in toaster over or under broiler - maybe 3 minutes
place 3-4 slices of meat on each bun, top with mozarella cheese (optional) and replace other portion of bun.  cut into manageable pieces (halves), and serve with a small dish of the sauce if desired!

Not exactly our cheapest meals ... in fact, kind of the opposite - proof that you pay for convenience foods.  AND YET ... if you'd gotten this from a restaurant four "french dip" or "Italian Beef" sandwiches, and four salads ... good luck with that for under $8.50.  AND, you still enjoyed dinner as a family around your table.

Bean Beans the more you eat, the Healthier you are!!

I have always been a fan of beans, do I eat them everyday, or even every week? no, But I think I am going to start! This little legume packs a big, big punch. Beans are lowfat, high in fiber, and provide a high quality magnesium, iron and folate.
The beans have twice as much iron as beef. Maintaining a high level of iron, ensures a stable supply of hemoglobin,and this carries energizing oxygen to every cell of the body.
Beans are also loaded with thiamine which is essential for high mental performance.
Because they are high in fiber, they help cut cholesteral.

Our recipe this week includes them in a pasta dish, but they would be great baked with chicken or fish, in a vegetbale soup, or even on a green salad.

Monday Night Farfalle with Canellini Beans and Spinach

I have been thinking about this meal since I met with Kim last Thursday to come up with our dinner menu and grocerylist. It is truly one of my favorite pasta dishes, and oh so easy to prepare.
The ingredient list is short, and btw, Farfalle is my noodle of choice for this entre, but by no means a must. As in any pasta dish, any noodle is acceptable, whether its a preference, or it was on sale, or all one has in thier kitchen.
1 lb pasta .99
1/2 cup olive oil .25
2 tablespoons minced garlic, or two minced garlic cloves .10
10oz spinach, fresh or frozen $1.99
2 cups cannellini beans(or another form of white bean) can or dry*.69
1/2 cup parm cheese .40
Total $ 4.42

Boil noodles according to instructions
Heat 1/4 oil in skillit on low. Add garlic and saute 5 minutes, add in spinach.
continue to cook on low, stiring occasionally.
If spinach is fresh, cover with lid, until spinach is all wilted, approx 10 minutes.
in last few minutes of cooking, add beans, and mix all together.
Drain pasta noodles, combine in skillet with spinach and bean combo, add remaining olive oil.
toss and add salt and pepper to taste.
remove from heat, and add parm cheese.

* I have always bought beans from a can, and thought they were the same as dried beans, and then I tried beans my sister inlaw had bought dried, and had soaked overnight, and I noticed a much more flavorful taste, and upon further research, they taste less salty as well, not to mention much, much cheaper. So when I remember, I buy the dried beans and soak them overnight, then I boil them for a half hour, and shazam!! I have fresh beans, and lots of them. I am not sure if this is true b/c I always forget to weigh them, but the beans sure seem to multiply in size, after soaking and boiling.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich $5.84

Let's hope the Superbowl heats us up tonight as we all sit back and enjoy "the best teams of the year" duke it out in an all out battle ... or something like that.  I think it's all about the get togethers, fattening food, and beer.  And the commericials!

For those of you thinking the fattening foods part is not for you, THIS RECIPE IS FOR YOU!

From the Body For Life cookbook we bring you...

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
2 tsp paprika .05
2 tsp chili powder .05
approx. 1 pound chicken breasts $ 2.10
1 tsp olive oil .10
1/2 cup hot sauce .20

8 Romaine Lettuce Leaves .15
4 Buns $1.29
Carrot sticks .25
Celery sticks .25

3/4 cup low fat sour cream .50
2 tsp minced garlic .20
2 green onions, sliced .40
1 oz blue cheese, crumbled .25

total $5.84

1.  Combine paprika & chili pwdr - sprinkle spices on chicken breasts.
2.  Spray non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-low heat.  Place chicken breasts in skillet, cook for six minutes - turn and cook until no longer pink in the center, about six more minutes.
3.  Remove chicken breasts, put olive oil in pan, warm for one minute (med.-low heat), then stir in hot pepper sauce.
4.  Coat chicken breasts in hot pepper sauce, place on a bun with a couple leaves of romaine lettuce

In a small mixing bowl, combine sour cream, green onion and blue cheese - mix thoroughly.

A wonderfully delicious sandwich ...

Wanna make this an "appetizer" type meal for the superbowl party?...
cut the chicken into "pieces" like nuggets either before you cook or at least before you dip in the hot sauce, and serve on toothpicks instead of a bun.  This method saves you the carbs so you can indulge on chips or some other high-carb Superbowl treat!

Go Saints!

Clean Up Fridge again Omelette .91

Omelette time again! I decided to try to make a lighter omelette for lunch because I knew I was going to dinner, and I also was going running in the afternoon and didnt want anything heavy. So I cut out the yolks and made an eggwhite omelette. It came out light and fluffy and super healthy.
4 egg whites .36
1/8 cup mozarella cheese .20
1/4 cup spinach .10
1/4 cup red pepper .10
1/8 cup onion .05
1/4 cup milk .10
sat and pepper to taste
Total: .91

Seperate the egg yolks from the whites, discard yolks.
dice vegetables, combine in a bowl- vegetables, cheese and eggwhites. Whisk together.
pour into small baking dish, cook for 30 minutes at 350.

this serves 2.

Groceries for week of Feb 7-$ 65.31

Without even really trying, and definitely coming up with what we feel are good, healthy and relatively easy meals, Kim and I are keeping the Dinner grocery bills under $70.00 consistently. Obviously, I am not clearing out and throwing away spices and condiments at the end of every week, or any other leftover food ie chicken breasts vegetables, so my grocery bill has been consistently between $30-$45 dollars. I believe Kim has gone as low as $20.00 something. This week, I didnt need any spices* except for Paprika, so I saved there. Also, I was good with parm cheese, carrots, celery, sweet potatos, baking potatos, chicen, bread crumbs,chicken breasts, so I came in around $42.00 this week, which sounds great for a week of nutrient packed dinners. Eating healthy and good food doesnt have to break the bank, or even take hours and hours of time, it just takes organization, that is the key.
Allright- happy Superbowl watching. We be having Hot Wings!!

I can not stress enough how ridiculously expenseive spices can be at regular grocery stores. I dont and will never understand the amazing difference in cost at discount stores like Aldi, Walmart, even indepedent grocery stores, vs the major chains. We are talking the difference between $3.50-$5.00. to $1.09 a jar. 5 jars of assorted spice at Aldi cost me $5.45. 5 spices at the "competeing" grocery store could cost upward from $17.50 to $25.00!!!??? Thats just crazy. Same quality, not to mention the sizes at Aldi are usually double that of competing brands.