Saturday, March 20, 2010

Another Saturday Night

Well its another Saturday Night and I find myself alone. Being a divorced mom with an Ex, I dont have Michael everyother weekend. Saturday night is usually the night I will make an effort not to be alone...maybe because I think of it as "couples" night, and even family night-as I think lots of families get together with spouses and kids, if not just other couples, so it is the one night a week, I dwell on my solitary status. I usually dont get included in the "family" or "couple" get togethers, so I have many built in options for Saturday Night(well, "many options", is a slight exaggeration.} I have a handful of divorced friends, and sometimes our schedules are on same page and we are childless the same night, so we will go to dinner, or else my mom is free lots since my father recently passed away, and she always welcomes a dinner out on Saturday night.
Since we started this project January 1st however, I have brought dinner to friends houses,or had people over every Saturday night Michael wasnt here. Tonight, however, I didnt get home until after 6 from my sons Basketball Tournement, and my mom had taken my brothers 5 kids to dinner since she was babysitting them, and there I was- left to eat alone. Our new rule for Saturday Night is leftovers, since we have discovered through this blog, by Saturday there is usually some food leftover, whether it is prepared food we made or left over ingredients. Ie, this week I had salad left over, tomatos, onion, beans, shrimp, tortilla chips, ranch dressing, so I made a version of the southwestern salad I loved so much a few weeks ago. I did sit infront of the TV to eat, but normally I wouldnt have even made anything, I would have grabbed some chips and salsa, or icecream, so actually making something for myself when I was alone was a huge accomplishment.
My mom brought up a funny question about dating, since she is always concerned about me dating someone, anyone:) She wanted to know if I would invite them to dinner, since I am not eating out this year, Im thinking not first date, or second, perhaps third, but consequently without having to buy me dinner, I am a cheap date. Lucky guy!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sunday's Mini Reubens

Sort of a fun "Sunday" family night kind of twist to the traditional Reuben sandwich ... (another contest with no prize, why are they called that?... Give me your comments, please!)

You'll need:
Cocktail Rye Bread (they're the little 2" by 2" square thin slices of rye bread!)
Thousand Island Dressing
Thinly sliced (left over) Corned Beef (or from the deli if it's not less than seven days after St. Patrick's day)
Sauerkraut (or left over cooked cabbage from the Corned Beef feast)
Swiss Cheese.

Preheat oven to 375 to 400 degrees
Place enough pieces of Rye Bread to cover the bottom of a "cookie baking sheet".
Spread a thin to medium-thin layer of Thousand Island Dressing a top the Rye Bread
Pile a couple thinly sliced slices of Corned Beef on top of each square, followed by a scoop of kraut to fit your fancy (my sandwiches are without kraut, please, thank you - Joe's are covered in kraut!)
finally, a slice of swiss cheese makes it "sandwichy", but is not necessary to keep it more "Reuben-esque"  (Lucky for you I don't write all my recipes at night - I'd have made up all sorts of funny words by now!)

put the baking sheet in the oven - sorry, put the "cookie sheet" in the oven for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.  Of course, if you have no cheese on yours, it's probably because you wanted a sandwich, in which case your sandwich needs another piece of bread, else it's an appetizer, and it needs cheese. Ahh, the debate of the appetizer "sandwich".

Anyway, hope the luck of the Irish is still with you!  Enjoy!


Stop wondering yourself and pulling your hair out.  Here's our simple solution for dinner this week!  March 21-27, 2009 (can you believe, we're a quarter of the year into this project VERY soon!... we're so loving it!)

Sunday:  Reuben Left over night!  mmm, more corned beef!
Monday:  Mandarin Orange Salad with shrimp, Almonds, and homemade Asian dressing
Tuesday:  Tilapia with fresh lemon caper sauce, potatoes, and steamed carrots
Wednesday:  Risotto & a Salad
Thursday:  Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breast with broccoli
Friday:  Pasta Puttanesca
Saturday:  Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip ... our new Appetizer Feature ... another way to look at Saturday night! 

ARE YOU WITH US OR WHAT!  This is a seriously great menu!  I can't wait to jump in!

shopping list - March 21-27 $60.47

This week's menu created in a coffee shop, after working on another project, without Jenna the amazing 3 year old, AND...WITHOUT COOKBOOKS!  welcome to our shopping list you brave brave soul!  Seriously, we've only forgotten one item (syrup for my french toast) ... you gotta have FAITH!

Aisle One Staples

1000 Island Dressing $1.19
Slivered or Sliced Almonds $2.49
Canola oil or sesame oil $1.99
Rice Vinegar or White Vinegar $1.99
Soy Sauce
Ground Ginger or fresh ginger root
Capers $2.69
Garlic (you’ll need it 3 or 4 times this week!).89
Dried Parsley .99
Artichokes (plain, not marinated)$2.29
Olive Oil (if you’re running low, grab it, we’re using a lot this week)$3.99
Anchovies (totally optional!)
Water chestnuts (optional)
Crackers, Crustini, breadstick, for dipping/spreading tapas dinner$1.19

Swiss Cheese Block or slices $1.99
Provolone Cheese Slices $1.99
Reduced Fat Cream Cheese .99

Sauerkraut (or left over cabbage from St. Patrick’s Day Feast)
2 cans Mandarin Oranges (or one big can).98
Long Gran Rice (Abborrio is preferred for Risotto)$2.29
Parmesan Cheese, grated $2.29
Spaghetti noodles .99
Marinara $1.19

Romaine Hearts or Bagged Salad $2.49
Bag Salad - ready to eat $1.99
Lemon .89
Potatoes (of your choosing – sweet, white or red) $2.49
Baby carrots .99
Mushrooms, white button, Porcini, or Portabella – all three for fun if your budget allows $1.49
Broccoli .99
Spinach (frozen can substitute!).99

Corned Beef (left over from St. Patrick’s Day Feast)

2 + lbs Chicken Breast (not tenders)$6.29
Tilapia Fillets $3.99
Spinach (fresh can substitute).99

Mini Cocktail Rye Bread $1.49
White Wine $2.29
Chicken Broth (resealable box or can).69

Looks like you can get it ALL FROM ALDI (or whatever discount store there is near you!)... unless you want anchovies, and really, I mean REALLY?  Water Chestnuts might be a challenge as may the rice vinegar and sesame oil ... BUT, a few weeks ago Aldi had a big push on Asian-type foods ... these products very well MAY be in your Aldi.  You can also splurge on the mushrooms and maybe to get the "right" kind of rice for Barbara's Risotto Wednesday.

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce $3.44

SO much more than the title implies - yes, those are Red Peppers and Peas amidst the tomatoes! 

There is SO much wholesome goodness in this dish ... and REALLY, it's light!  10 g fat! In this type of dish... unheard of!

Here you go Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce $3.44!
1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise &seeded (or equivalent amount of "jarred" roasted red pepper) (1.00)
1 cup evaporated low-fat (or skim) milk (.75)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (.30)
1/2 tsp freshly grnd. black pepper (.01)
1 tbsp olive oil (omitted for lent)
2 tbsp finely chopped canadian bacon or prosciuto  (omitted for lent)
2 cups (1 can) diced tomatoes, with the juice (.55)
1 cup frozen peas (.33)
8 oz linguine or long-type noodle (.50)

Preheat Broiler.  Quarter the Bell Pepper, then place the it cut-side down on the broiler rack.  Broil 4 inches from the heat for 10 to 15 minutes until the skin is blackened.  Remove from the broiler and place on a plate with an inverted bowl over top them - allow to steam about 5 minutes, then peel and slice into ribbons (thin strips).  (Obviously omit this step if you are using jarred roasted red pepper - a welcome shortcut that didn't exist in my world when I was first introduced to this recipe)

Prepare water for the pasta.
In a small bowl, combine the evaporated milk and the parmesan cheese and black pepper.

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil and then when it's hot add the canadian bacon.  Once starting to crisp, add the tomatoes and ribbons of peppers.  Cook over medium heat until flavorful and slightly thickened (5 or so minutes).  Add the peas and cook until heated through, about 2-4 minutes.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until tender, place in a large pasta serving bowl and add the milk/cheese/pepper solution, tossing well to coat and melt the cheese.  Transfer the tomato sauce to the serving bowl, toss to combine, and serve!

A definite favorite!  For the lenten treat, we made it without the olive oil or the canadian bacon.  It was certainly good flavor and even healthier than the 10 grams of fat represented above.  We didn't think it was missing any flavor as the tomatoes and peppers really "owned the dish", but the meat would have been a nice addition and a slightly more flavorful meal.  Such a small sacrafice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Corned Beef & Cabbage - really! $8.15

Stolen off the internet, then modified with my non-olive eating friend's secret caper ingredient ... guess that makes it our own recipe!
Corned  Beef & Cabbage w/ potatoes - SLOW COOKER!!! ($8.15)

1 medium onion, cut into wedges (.10)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered (.40)
1 pound carrots - cut into medium sections (like 3 per carrot) (.25)
3 cups water (enough to COVER the meat - meat cooked without water cover will get tough and dry)
3 garlic cloves, minced (.20)
1 Tbsp Capers, rinsed (.35)
2 tbsp cider vinegar & 2 tbsp sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (.01)
1 (3 pound) corned beef brisket with spice packet, cut in half ($6.05)
1 small head cabbage, cut into wedges (.79)

1.Place the onion, potatoes and carrots in a 5-qt. slow cooker. Combine everything else up to the meat and contents of spice packet; pour over vegetables. Top with brisket, then cabbage. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Let's see what happens, friends!
Complete with a green tablecloth and some genuine (home brew) ALE!, this was my first ever Corned Beef - and it was one to remember!  Well be featuring it again in another year!  YEAH US!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thursday's Mediterranean Mahi Mahi $9.10

Another menu item compliments of the Body for Life program -
A lemon-seasoned fillet cooked "campfire style" in a foil packet!

Mediterranean Mahi Mahi ($9.10 for FOUR grown-up servings!)
2 cans cannellini beans, drained & rinsed ($1.26)
6 roma tomatoes, diced ($1.99)
1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced (free from your garden, or $1.00 from store)
4 portions Mahi Mahi fillets (or any other thick white fish fillet) ($4.99)
1 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning (.05)
2 lemons, sliced ($.80)

Divide the beans onto each of 4 large squares of aluminum foil.  Then add 1/4 of the tomatoes and 1/4 of the basil.  Next the mahi mahi topped with the seasoning salt then the a couple slices of lemon.

Fold the foil packet to completely seal the packet - make sure to wrap up all edges so it is "sealed"! 

Either grill for 14 or so minutes or bake each foil packet on a baking sheet in your oven at 450 degrees for 18 minutes.

slide into a shallow bowl or a plate and enjoy your Mediterranean Fish Fillets!
Here's another shot of the dish - this one made with the oft' substituted canned tomatoes in lieu of fresh.  The juice is different colored, and the beans may pick up more tomato flavor versus the lemony flavor of the fresh tomato dish.  Never the less, a very "do-able" substitution, and a really yummy dish!

Tuesday's Santa Fe Chicken Soup $5.08

This isn't from the Jillian Michaels program, but I think she'd approve! Enjoy - get the kitchen cleaned up early, and remember to do pushups or sit ups or some wall sits during each commercial break tonight while watching The Biggest Loser! (I challenge you to hold an elbow plank for one whole commercial! - then work your way to two)

Santa Fe Chicken Soup ($5.08)

1/3 cup Brown Rice (.10)
approx. 1 lb chicken breast (2.00)
1 lime, halved (.29)
2 tsp taco seasoning (.10)
6 corn tortillas (.31)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil (.10)
1 clove garlic, minced (.05)
1/2 onion, chopped (.05)
1 can (4 oz) diced green chilis (.79)
1 box chicken broth or 2 cans chicken broth (1.29)
1-2 cups water

Cut chicken into smallish pieces - approx 1" chunks - cover with lime juice then 1 tbsp taco seasoning. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large pot over medium heat, add garlic and onion, saute until onion is soft - 5 minutes, add chicken and saute another 5 minutes, add chilies and saute an additional 2 or so minutes. Add 2 cans or 1 box of chicken broth, the uncooked brown rice, and the other 1 Tbsp of taco seasoning. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to very low ... leave covered for 40 minutes, then uncover for the last 8 minutes ... soup in an hour!

You'll also need to cut tortilla chips into 1/2 inch strips and bake to crisp - about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven (you can do this anytime in the cooking process).

To serve, place a few baked tortilla strips in the bottom of bowl, spoon 1/4 of the soup onto the tortillas, then top with a few more tortilla strips, a Tbsp of salsa, and sour cream and cilantro if available!

A perfect meal that needs no side dishes!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pollo Formaggio $5.20

Heres another dish I remember back from my waitressing days at a relatives Italian restaurant. When I started to write it out, I vaguely remember basil included in the chicken as well as red pepper, but since I didnt include it on our grocery list, it is not in this recipe, but it would certainly add color and even more flavor. I am still confident that this dish will be very tasty. We are serving it with pasta, but as usual anything can go. Roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, or vegetables.

Pollo Formaggio

2 large Chicken breasts $$3.15
2 tblsp olive oil .10
1/2 white wine .25
4 slices mozarella .35
8 red pieces red roasted pepper .45
1/4 c flour .05
salt and pepper

Total $4.35
slice chicken lengthwise and pound thin
salt and pepper chicken
dip in flour
place in baking dish
pour olive oil and white wine over chicken evenly
bake at 350 20 minutes
top with red pepper and mozarella and bake another 10 minutes

serve over pasta aglio olio
1/2 lb pasta .50
2 garlic cloves .10
2 tblsp olive oil .25
heat olive oil on low and saute garlic in large skillet
cook noodles according to instruction
toss cooked noodles in skillet with garlic and olive oil
Total $5/20
Here's the Heron family pic - we LOVED it!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

$36.79 I THINK "CHEAPEST" week so far!!

Im sitting at the diningroom table doing my Sunday afternoon/evening ritual of calulating what our dinner meals cost us this week, while my son works on a project on his computer. I asked him to guess what he thinks we spent this week, and in his childlike logic calculated if a family of 4 on average spends 20 dollars everytime they go to Subway(his fave fast food)and they went for 7 days they would spend $140.00. He further calculated since our dinners are far better then Subway, dinner must cost us $300 a week. So he was slightly off......point is, one may think whipping into McDonalds, Wendy's, Subway(you get the jist of this) that they are saving big, but they are coming out way in the hole financially and more importantly nutritionally. Our meals this week were packed with vitamins, nurtients, and good family time together around the table.

Sloppy Joes $ 4.01

Oh My Gosh, where has the day gone! 

It's beautiful outside - had the Girl Scouts Brownie trrop to a Maple Sugarring class - now it's late!  Better get started!  Minus the "simmer as long as possible" part of this recipe, it's easy and fool proof - and VERY well loved by everyone in the Heron home!

Happy Birthday Becky

Sloppy Joes
Brown together:

1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion

Then add:
1 10 3/4 oz can tomato soup
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp mustard

After browning ground beef with diced onion, drain off any excess fat.  Mix the rest of the ingredients into the meat.  Simmer until dinner time - the longer the better!  Serve on buns.  Sliced American Cheese is optional - but yummy.

Best served with fresh raw veggies on the side!  Ruffled Potato chips are a great addition too!