Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pasta con Funghi $5.09

Some meals make me think of Italy, and when I think of Italy, I alway think of my dad because he was a man who embraced America when he migrated here at the age of 27, but he never, ever forgot his true Italian roots. He was a struggling laborer when he came to America, but every couple summers, he found a way to scrape enough money for us to go back to Italy.
All day today, I had on my mind, the"best" pasta dish I ever had in Italy. When I was in my 20's I went to Italy just my dad and I. A group of us, including my dad, had been driving back from a mountain climbing excursion, and we decided to stop to eat. We were winding through the mountains and came upon a little town of about 5 houses, so I was baffled when my cousin pulled into the tiny brick street and parked and said "lets go eat". I said "where?" he pointed to a little brick house, and sure enough there was a little sign outside the door that said "Ristorante". We were greeted at the front door with giant smiles by a women and two kids, and were escorted to thier diningroom. We were immediately served warm crusty amazing bread and olive oil the color of green gold. The women tells us the "primi" course for the day is pasta con funghi(mushrooms), we are all onboard with that. If one is lucky enough to travel to Italy, they will learn very quickly that there are many courses to Italian meals. A normal meal would be a pasta course, and then a secondi, which would be a meat, poultry, or chicken. Then there is the antipasti(before the pasta) part of the meal, which consists of meats and cheeses usually. OK, the eating traditions in Italy is for another blog, if anyone is interested. Long story short, the pasta that came out of this womens kitchen, prepared by her husband and served by her children in thier home was simply amazing. The noodles just melted in my mouth as they took on the flavor of the mushrooms. It was prepared with a delecate amount of olive oil, garlic, red pepper and topped with fresh parm cheese. I love mushrooms, and have had this dish many times, but never do I remember it tasting like it did that day in a small mountain town of abruzzo, in the middle of nowhere. When the women came out to take our order for our secondi, it was unamimous that we all wanted a second helping of pasta funghi, and we all skipped the secondi. I really didnt have any vegetables for tonight, so I splurged and went to local grocery store and bought porcini mushrooms and got some good parm cheese from my sister inlaw who always shops Costco for Italian cheese, pulled out a really good bottle of olive oil that I recieved, and made my beloved Pasta con Funghi. I thought it was pretty darn good, was the "best" meal I ever had- no, but for a moment I was back in a place I havent been in years to, and a mountainous place tha will never be the same without the man who moved mountains, my dad.

Pasta con Funghi
8 oz mushrooms(white button, portabello, shitake, porcini) $2.99
1/4 cup olive oil $1.00
2 cloves minced garlic .20
1/2 lb pasta .50
salt and pepper
red pepper(optional)
parm cheese .40
Total $5.09
clean and slice mushrooms(in relatively small peices 1/2 inch)
in large skillet, heat oil low, and slowly saute garlic
add mushrooms and saute, add salt and pepper
cook pasta according to directions
add pasta in the large skillet with mushroom, toss together saute for 2 minutes
top with parsley and fresh parmesean cheese

Shopping List for Feb 28-Mar 6. Aldi again!

Here's What to Buy... cross off what you don't need!

Happy Shopping!
Aisle One

Minced garlic (2-4 cloves) .69
Balsamic Vinegar (2 Tbsp) $2.49
Peanuts (optional - recipe calls for one ounce) .39
Natural Peanut Butter (1/4 cup) $1.69
Soy Sauce (2 Tbsp) $2.49

1% milk (5 cups) $1.99
8 oz Cheddar Cheese shredded $2.29
Butter $1.99
Blue cheese $1.99
Yogurt (1-6 oz cup) $1.59(I bought large one)
6 Eggs .50

2 jars Marinara (Splurge on one if you can) $1.98
Rice (long grain, brown, or instant, your choice) $1.49
2 cans Tuna .98
Linguine .99

Bagged Lettuce Salad $1.99
Romaine or mixed greens $1.99
Carrots $1.19
Onions (at least 2).99
1 bag multi-colored peppers (you’ll need 2)$2.39
Cucumber .49
Snow Pea Pods$3.49
Baking potatoes$2.59

Steak (your choice here – spend what you can)$10.99
Bacon (turkey if you want) $1.99

Chopped Broccoli .99
Ravioli $2.29
Frozen veggie of choice$1.19
Prepackaged Sweet & Sour Stir Fry Veggies$2.99
1 lb chicken meat (for stir fry) $2.07
Mixed Fruit $2.89
Shrimp (12 oz, pre-cooked)$3.49

Crusty bread $2.29
White bread .89

Total: $71.01

You know what to do - but this week we've thrown in a challenge of buying good steaks. See, for me, there's nothing harder! I don't know what to buy, and since Barbara seldom ever eats beef, she's even less help. I do know that you usually can't go wrong with a Filet Mignon, but those are frequently expensive! You can also do well with a New York Strip, but beyond that, perhaps we can get some comments from our readers about their favorite kind of steaks...??? Please!

As my husband finds bargains this week for the steak, I'll post them right away! It's a great chance to save some cash or make some "deals" with store coupons or "catalinas".

February 28-March 6 MENU

Still no repeats ... can you believe how fun and refreshing this is!

Sunday - Cream of Broccolli soup with crusty bread & lettuce salad
Monday - Ravioli night w/ mystery Marinara
Tuesday - Thai Shrimp Salad (welcome back TBL)
Wednesday - STEAK NIGHT (for you, Robert!)
Thursday - Sweet & Sour Chicken Stirfry
Friday - Tuna & Pasta salad
Saturday - French Toast, Bacon & Fruit Smoothie

So, a little personal reflection on last week by Kim...
I've been sick this past week - came in late Monday night, and it's still sitting in my chest and behind my eyeballs... it's not good.  So, every single part of my day is stressing me out except... what to make for dinner!  Monday night was the debacle with the cauliflower...I couldn't find the strenght to smash my cauliflower, so the picture is Barbara's source of laughter whenever she's having a bad moment, Tuesday was left over Beef & Barley soup for us - though I did make Tuesday's dinner for lunch on Wednesday.  Wednesday was suppose to be the Cacciatore, which I made on Thursday while Wednesday featured chili which I had the strength to warm up from it's previously frozen state and photograph (I love that chili!!!).  Last night fish just wasn't gonna happen for a miriad of personal reasons not the least of which was a small gift to my husband of not eating fish twice in one day - he had it for lunch - so we ordered Pizza Hut (a nice way to limit myself to two pieces of pizza - we only ordered 1/2 of one pizza without meat!).  Luckily it was a $10 for any 'za special and the younger two shared a $5 pizza mia. 

ANYWAY, the reason for this rant on the menu page is to tell you that despite feeling the worst I've felt in at least a year, I didn't stress about dinner ... it was ALL UNDER CONTROL!  I knew what I was to make, I knew I had the ingredients, and all I had to do was spend the 30 or so minutes per day to do it!  SO NICE to not stress about what to eat!  JUST DO IT FRIENDS, MAKE YOUR MENU, SHOP ONCE A WEEK, ENJOY AND RELAX.
thanks for encouraging me!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tilapia with lemon, potatoes and vegetables $4.79

Back by popular demand- Lemon used in cooking. A few weeks back, I made a chicken dish with lemon, and my family loved it, esp my neice Amanda. I promised another lemon dish, and a whitefish seemed like the perfect combo with lemon, not to mention my lack of more then 30 minutes to cook tonight. I managed to pull it off, with the help of a quick cooking entre-fish, left over mashed potatoes from a few nights ago(sorry, no time to make sweet potato fries)
and frozen vegetbles that require no cleaning or chopping, just a quick steam.

4 pieces Tilapia or whitefish $2.80
1/4 cup olive oil .20
1/4 cup white wine .20
2 medium lemons .35
salt and pepper
dried parsley(optional) .05
salt and pepper Tilapia(desired amount)
place in baking dish
coat evenly with olive oil, white wine, and juice of one lemon squeezed evenly
on all four filets

bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes
sprinkle with dried parsley
top fish with sliced lemon
1 lb fresh or frozen veggies .99
1/4 olive oil .20
salt or pepper
garlic salt optional
Total $ 4.79

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chili - - Doc's Chili $5.88

This recipe is adapted from The Biggest Loser books and website - it's called Doc's Chili because apparently the doctor created the recipe and they made it all the time. I don't know any of this for sure because, while I'd do anything to meet Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper too, I'm not about to consume enough of this or any other food to qualify for the show. Instead, I'll do her workouts and eat their food to try my best to look like a Biggest Winner!

Doc's Chili
3 cups chopped yellow onions .60

1 pound lean ground turkey $2.29
2 tablespoons chili powder .10
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried) .10
1 teaspoon ground cumin .05
2 tablespoons chopped garlic .10
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (one 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained ) .69
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (one 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained ) .59
3 cups diced tomatoes (or one 28-ounce can roasted diced tomatoes, undrained) .49
1 cup fat free chicken broth .29

1/2 cup black olives .39
1/2 cup chopped green onions or chopped fresh cilantro .20
$ 5.88
Spray a large saucepan or Dutch oven with a few sprays of cooking oil spray. Add onion and sauté over medium-high heat until soft and just starting to brown. Add ground turkey and cook over medium high heat, until cooked through; about 6 minutes. Add chili powder, oregano, cumin, garlic, beans, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Chili always improves with age, so let it simmer as long as you can!

Serve in about 1 cup size portions. Garnish with olives and green onions or cilantro and serve immediately.

1 cup is 324 calories, 10 grams fat, 28 carbs and 22 protein.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore(Hunters Stew) $7.67

Here is an old family favorite, dating back to my childhood. I am using basically the same ingredients as my Mom did, however, I am changing the preparing/cooking process.
My Moms recipe called for a can of tomato paste and tomato sauce, that is simmered on the stove with olive oil, and fresh garlic, salt and pepper etc... I don't always have time for that, so my recipe calls for a jar of my favorite marinara. Also, she usually sauteed the whole meal on the stove, I am opting to bake it all in a baking dish.

Chicken Cacciatore
4 Chicken breasts $3.00
1 Red Pepper sliced .80
1/2 medium onion sliced .20
1 lb mushrooms sliced $1.39
1 Jar 26 oz marinara .99
1/4 cup white wine (optional).30
1/2 linguine or spaghetti .99
Total $ 7.67

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine all ingredients in a baking dish and add marinara and salt and pepper
bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Serve over cooked pasta.

Calories: 426 (with a full serving (56 dry oz) of Whole Wheat Pasta)
Fat: 3 grams
Carbs: 56 grams (the pasta is LOADED with carbs!)
Protein: 39 grams

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

White Bean Crostini and Blue Cheese, Walnut,cranberry Salad $7.12

Yeah!! Another salad! I am so happy that Kim is so cool with having salad often. Its funny because cool and interesting salads are what I usually order when dining out, and now I just create them at home, and Oh My Godness, for a fraction of the cost. This salad was actually Kims idea, and I am happy I used up blue cheese from last week and walnuts. I also wanted to get even more nutrients in the meal, so I added a whitebean crostini to the mix. The white beans I had boiled and frozen two weeks ago, when we had pasta with beans and spinach.
I also had a bit of leftover meatloaf and potatoes, which Michael had along with the salad. The "bean crostini" was in no way passing his lips, however, it gave me an idea for next time I make "mystery" mashed potatoes. I guarantee he will never know.....

2 heads of romaine chopped or mixed bag of greens or spinach $1.50
4 ounces blue cheese .99
1/2 cup cranberries .60
1/4 cup chopped walnuts.40
1 cup raspberry vinegrette.50
Combine in salad bowl and mix in dressing

White Bean Crostini 16 oz can of white beans.69
1 tsp olive oil.20
1 tsp rosemary.05
salt to taste
Total $7.12
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender

Loaf of french or Itaian bread sliced thiny$1.99
1/4 cup olive oil .20
brush oil on bread and toast at 300 for 10 minutes or until crisp
spread bean dip on each toasted slice of bread

Monday, February 22, 2010

Meatloaf Patties & Smashed Potatoes with a healthy twist! $6.94

We bring you a bit more (adapted) Rachel Ray tonight - in some life a long time ago we watched the food channel on occasion (back when I had time to watch tv before cooking dinner! - now the food channel is something I Google on occasion!) - Joe saw this being made on tv and requested it ... it was the first meatloaf I'd ever made, and I actually enjoyed it. Now, it's one of his favorite treats!

Meatloaf Patties

1 to 1-1/2 pound ground beef - preferably 93% lean $2. 39
1 slice bread, torn into smallish chunks .04
1 egg white .08
1 tsp. seasoning salt (or 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper)
1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste .05
1 medium onion chopped finely -- reserve 1/4 for later use. .20
1/8 cup milk (add last if necessary) .05

Place meat in a large mixing bowl and create well in the center - put bread chunks in well and cover with milk... pour egg whites over bread along with salt, tomato paste and 3/4 of onion. Combine everything well and form 4 patties about 3/4 inch thick. Pan fry meatloaf patties in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat 7 minutes on each side under a loose tin foil tent (traps heat - a stove top/oven combo.

Hi Barbara here with a healthy potato recipe.
I have taken to hiding food groups in my sons meals. In my meat sauce I will put a lot of finely ground up carrot, I put ground up beats in his chilli, pureed sweet potato in his mac and cheese. It's one of the only times I feel good about being a liar. Michael absolutely eats with his eyes first, and his eyes dont like the site of vegetables. Cauliflower is so incredibly healthy, I found the easiest way to hide it in food, through the only way my son will eat potatoes- mashed.

The recipe is simple:
1 to 1-1/2 lbs potatoes of choice (red with skins, peeled, yellow, white - it's up to you!)$1.25
1 head fresh cauliflower $1.39
1/4 cup butter .20
1/4 cup milk.10

Wash, and if applicable, peel potatoes and place in cold water in large enough pan to boil both potatoes and cauliflower simultaneously. Bring potatoes to a boil, add frozen cauliflower or cut up fresh cauliflower, and boil approximately 10 minutes until potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork. Drain, return potatoes and cauliflower to the hot pan in which you cooked them ... add butter and salt/pepper to taste, mash with potato masher or fork to desired consistency - add milk as necessary for creaminess.
(returning the cooked potatoes/cauliflower to the pan helps to eliminate the moisture from the water and helps them soak up the creaminess from the milk and butter.)
For most people this procedure would produce amazing healthy mashed potatoes, however, for my oh so picky son, who wont eat mashed potatos that have any lumps in them, I have to run the potato cauliflower mixture through the food processor or blender(a hand mixer will do as well) It is worth all the trouble for me, because Mr. Finicky always asks for seconds! Of course I dont tell him he is having "seconds" on vegetables. Ha!

Finally, this is the most awesome meatloaf gravy ever!
3-Condiment Pan Gravy
2 tbsp butter ,20
remaining onion
2 tbsp finely chopped mushrooms (if desired - totally optional!)
2 tbsp flour.05
1 to 1 1/2 cups beef stock.59
1 Tbsp ketchup.10
1 tsp. spicy brown mustard.10
1 Tbsp. steak sauce.15
Total $6.94
Remove meat loaf patties to a platter and return pan to medium heat. Add butter and onion to skillet - cook 2 minutes and sprinkle pan with flour - cook flour 1 minute and whisk in 1 cup beef stock - bring to a bubble... add more stock if it's too thick. Stir in condiments and remove from heat.

Serve smashed cauliflower potatoes, meatloaf and a bit of gravy on a plate - sit back and enjoy the smiles. You might also enjoy a side tossed salad with oil and vineagar tonight.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday's Pizza Pinwheel $5.99

Pizza Pinwheel

Here's a fun alternative to the Sunday night pizza we're treating you to. This rollup idea can be done with so many varieties, like artichoke, red pepper, spinach and provolone, or pepperoni pizza or 4 cheese special - or skip the pizza idea and go with ham and swiss or ... well, the possibilities are endless!

1 refrigerated bread dough in a can (i.e. Pillsbury) $1.99
corn meal (optional)
desired pizza toppings like:

  • sauce $1.00
  • meat $1.50
  • veggies .50
  • cheese$1.00

total $5.99

Unroll bread dough to cover as much of a large baking sheet as you can - use rolling pin to flatten to as thin as possible. spread a small amount, no more than a cup, of pizza sauce, then desired toppings in similar, small amounts, on top of entire rolled out bread dough. Top with cheese - no more than a cup!

start rolling from one long edge to other long edge to create the longest "tube" you can from the crust available to you (match short edges as you roll so it's not like a triangle or anything).
Seal edge shut by pinching dough...rub with corn meal if available. Roll the entire tube so seam is at the bottom.

Bake at 400 degree for about 25 minutes until raised and golden brown. Cook for about 3-5 minutes longer than you think so that the center cooks thoroughly. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

Slice into slices about 1 inch thick.
Enjoy the pretty colors of this really fun pizza alternative!

Grocery List 2/21-28, 7 dinners $58.04 Aldi, you rock!!

Aisle One Staple
Ketchup $1.09
Spicy Brown Mustard $1.19
Steak Sauce $1.09
Dried cranberries $1.39
Walnuts $4.29
Raspberry or Balsamic Vinaigrette $1.09
Chili Powder $1.09
Dried Oregano $1.09
Cumin $1.09
Ground Mustard $1.09
Garlic .79

Favorite pizza produce (mushrooms, peppers, onions?)
3 Onions .99
Potatoes (1 lb) .75
Fresh Cauliflower (1 head)$1.19
Romaine lettuce $2.49
Avocado .69
Pear .20
Lemon .20
Multi-colored Peppers $2.39
1 package sliced fresh mushrooms $1.39
Sweet Potatoes $2.49

1 can tomato paste .39
15 oz can pinto beans (or dried beans).59
15 oz can black beans (or dried beans) .59
2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes .25
Marinara .99
12 oz Whole Wheat Pasta .99
Spaghetti or pasta of choice .99
White Beans (Great Northern White Beans) (can be used in the chili in place of the pinto beans as well) .59

mozzarella cheese $2.29
blue cheese c $rumbles $1.99

Sausage or pepperoni – favorite pizza topping $1.29
1 lb. ground beef $2.39
1 lb ground turkey $2.49

Tilapia Fillets$3.99
1 to 1 ½ lbs chicken breast $3.15
Frozen Veggie of choice $1.09

Refrigerated French Bread dough in a can (not biscuits, not crescents, must be bread dough) OR frozen unbaked bread dough$3.29
1 resealable box beef stock $1.29
1 can chicken broth .59
French Bread or Baguette$1.19
White wine $3.29

Total $58.04

Please check your pantry - we're thinking this will be a pretty fast week at the Market, though it will require two stores as the Aldi doesn't carry the Refrigerated French Bread dough in a can (like Pillsbury).

February 21-28, 2010 $42.79

Hello Blog Friends,
Time to learn what to eat all week!  This is so fun and easy.  It's been about 8 weeks, and we're still full of fun, fresh ideas!  YEAH!

Sunday - Pizza Roll
Monday - Meatloaf Patties & gravy with Mashed "Potatoes"
Tuesday - White Bean Dip w/ blue, cranberry, walnut salad
Wednesday - Chicken Cacciatore
Thursday - Chili
Friday - Lemon Tilapia, Sweet Potatoes, Veggie of choice
Saturday - Pasta con Leftovers :-)

Loads of yummy stuff - and quite nutritious as well.