Saturday, May 29, 2010

Menu May 30-June 5

I too have been a bit off kilter - as B says in her post on yogurt parfaits! YUM.

So, with hope that this easy menu will get me back to normal due to its ease and pep... We give you:

Sunday: Grilled Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms
Monday: Memorial Day - cold veggie pizza perfect appetizer/picnic fare
Tuesday: Spinach Lasagna
Wednesday: Pizza Stuffed Burger
Thursday: "A" Salad - apples, almonds, And gorgonzola Cheese
Mushrooms and Peas Bruschetta
Friday: Salmon patty with pinapple and mandarin orange salsa
Saturday: a fav of mine, Greek Pinwheels

yeap, pretty sure that will help! Nothing difficult - plenty of feel good stuff - and lasagna to boot.

Blackbean Patty with Mushrooms $6.00

Ive been sitting on the baseball fields all day for a travel baseball 11u tournement, just smelling the burgers cooking, thinking of my own burger I am going to enjoy tonight. We allready made these burgers a few months back and we all absolutely loved them, so we arent changing the basic recipe, however, we are going to change the topping. Tonight we are going for a simple, yet delicious mushroom topping. I love sauteed mushrooms, and the great thing about them is all the ways they can be served-over chicken, steak, salmon, pasta, rice, etc.....A little crumbled blue cheese will make it even better....
Blackbean burger recipe(previously done)
cost $2.31

1 lb button mushrooms $1.99
2 garlic cloves minced .15
1 tablespoon olive oil .20
2 tsp balsamic vinegar .10
1 tsp parsley .05
salt and pepper
1/4 cup blue cheese $1.20
heat olive oil in skillet, add garlic on low, saute for five minutes
add mushrooms, balsamic, salt, pepper
saute for 12-15 minutes or until mushrooms are soft
remove from heat, add parsley

Top burger with mushrooms

Alternate version -
I didn't want to do the same cumin spiced black bean burger - I wanted to try a new flavor of a GREAT discovery! i wanted a warmer, woodsier flavor
I made the following:
Mushroom Black Bean Burgers (serves 6)
8 baby bella mushrooms, diced FINELY
2 ounce blue cheese
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 egg white

Combine above in a food processor bowl. Pulse until mashed and blended - not over processed.
Make into six patties and place into a non-stick frying pan (as many as your pan will accomodate - mine did three) and cook for 5-7 minutes per side.
heat frying pan, then add:
1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms thick slices
1/2 cup white button mushrooms, thick slices
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
heat thoroughly, adding more balsamic if appropriate/necessary until the mushrooms brown, then add
1/4 cup blue cheese to mushrooms, still in the pan, and shut off heat - leave on side burner until mushroom black burgers are done cooking.
Put a patty on a bun, top with 1/4 mushroom/blue cheese mix, cover with bun top, serve with a small romaine salad with 1 tsp balsamic vin and 1 tsp good olive oil for each person.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Yogurt Pick Me Up any time of day $1,79

I have been a little off kilter with my stomach lately, its my highly acidic stomach, that tends to act up occasionally. When this happens, I usually eat some yogurt, infact when Im dilegent, I eat yogurt everyday, it is known to kill bad bacteria, and keeps my stomach feeling good. I make a meal out of it with some fruit and some cereal(the cereal gives it some crunch and flavor) not to mention vitamins and fiber!! My favorite cereal was on sale at Walgreens, so I decided to buy my whole "meal" there.
The cereal was on sale for $1.99/12.25 oz box 1/4 cup .20
yogurt 6 oz .99
pinapple $1.89 1/4 c .25
mandarin oranges $1.79 1/4 c .35
Total $1.79
mix all ingredients together, or layer the ingredients
This snack is loaded with calcium, vitamin A, B6, C, D, iron, fiber, and protein
btw, as we have mentioned there are lots of sales at Walgreens, as there are at most convenient stores, the challenge is to look for them. The cereal was a great price, I have payed over $4.00 for this cereal at times, if a manufacture coupon is used, even better. So even though the yogurt and fruit wasnt on sale, and could have been purchased at a better price, Walgreens was just so much more convenient. Time and gas as well sometimes are a very big factor in my life, and if it meant going to another store today, I wouldnt have gone. I never tire of that yogurt parfait, Ill be having another tomorrow, with ingredients oplenty leftover.

Asian Style Salad $6.93

Since this is intended as a side to accompany the Coconut Shrimp, I won't do a full recipe - but really, this is a great time to serve up an asian flavor salad with the following ingredients:

Romaine or iceberg lettuce (no need to be fancy).99
diced red peppers(2) $2.20
diced pea pods$2.99
Asian Style bottled dressing (I like Newmans' Own).75

You can crunch this up by adding chow mein noodles... optional as always!

Coconut Shrimp

I present this recipe direct from Weight Watchers - WW has worked for so many people, myself included, albeit in the past. The concepts are simple, they work, and while they are frequently "tweaked", they remain constant fundamentally. Track everything that passes your lips - and stay within your intended range. WOW... really, this is not different than any other program - it's just that they make it simple, and it works.

This is a recipe from the Weight Watchers site that I wrote down a long time ago - probably around 2005 or so - when I was an on-line member. I'm a lifetime member as I lost about 15 pounds before I ever had kids and have applied the concept on my own various times throughout my adult life. This recipe is going to give you 5 points, while a non-baked version would give you 16.

Coconut Shrimp - by WW, this is serving for 6. Most people would say serving for four.

2 sprays of Cooking Spray .10
2 large egg whites .16
3/4 cup flour.15
6 oz. beer .40
1 1/2 tsp baking powder.10
1/4 tsp salt .02
2 cups coconut flakes
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (leave tails on)

preheat oven to 450. Prepare large dark baking sheet with cooking spray

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg whites, 1/2 cup of flour, beer, baking powder and salt.
Place remaining flour in a shallow bowl
place coconut in another shallow bowl.

Holding shrimp by it's tail, dedge each shrimp in flour, egg/beer batter, and then roll in coconut coating both sides.

Once the tray is full, spray the shrimp with cooking spray. Bake until coconut is golden brown and shrimp are bright pink and cooked through - about 12 minutes.

To make this crunchier, substitute one cup of coconut for one cup of Panco, which are light, Japanese breadcrumbs.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Couponing Adventures

Barbara's been asking me, almost since we started this, to tell you some of the awesome adventures and successes that Joe has at the grocery store with his coupons!  Today was one of those days.  He didn't buy anything without a coupon.  He spent $30.65 - and we're a good deal towards being set for the summer in terms of snacks and desserts.
Here's a lowdown on what he bought:
  • 13 4-packs Hunts Snack Pack Pudding (yes, 52 individual cups)
  • 4 Kid Cuisine "kid tv dinners"
  • 1 bag of All Natural Lime/Sea Salt Corn Tortilla Chips
  • 1 6-pack Luigi Icee Cups
  • 1 2-liter bottle Orange Crush
  • 1 package light hamburger buns
  • 2 frozen pizzas (a good brand)
  • 3 14 oz cans Hunts diced tomatoes
  • 1 can fat free Redi Whip
  • 6 3-packs of Orville Reddenbacher microwave popcorn (all either butter light or natural)
  •  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
  • 1/2 lb. deli ham
  • 2 48 oz bottles Canola Oil
  • 1 48 oz bottle Vegetable Oil
  • tobasco sauce
  • 2 cans Pam cooking spray
  • 1 bottle (12.6 oz) Pantene conditioner (that's for me)
So, Joe spent $30.65, and he has a $10 coupon to use at the store the next time he goes.  This is called planned shopping with "Catalinas" and coupons.  The Catalinas were generated for buying $25.00 worth of ConAgra products ... most of what we bought were ConAgra products... AND, Joe did this shopping in 3 separate trips thru the line.  He spent $20.89 his first trip (got a $10 catalina), then $.66 his second trip (no, not a typo - he planned it, he used coupons & a $10 catalina - but he earned a $10 catalina too), and $9.09 his third trip thru (used a $10 catalina, earned a $10 catalina).  Additionally, I am spending $.44 on a stamp to send away for a coupon book said to have $25 in coupons. 

Jewel totals the coupons used for us - that total is $45.25.  As well, Jewel always has a "Preferred Savings" - this week our Preferred Savings is $50.54 (ours for swiping the store sponsored card).  Totalling the coupons, the preferred savings, and what we actually paid, we acquired $126.44 worth of product for $30.65 (plus $10 off our next purchase).

We regularly read a website called to learn all about the best deals of the week.  Sometimes we shop at Jewel, sometimes Walgreens, but we are regularly getting things for free by using the coupons that come in your weekly newspaper. 

Here's the way I'm looking at this week's adventure by Joe...
  • Hair conditioner from the grocery is EXPENSIVE, normally, but this week it's on sale from its $3.99 price to $3.29, PLUS, last week or the week before Joe got a "catalina" - a coupon printed by the Catalina machine at the checkout - for $1.50 off Pantene my favorite conditioner was $1.79 instead of $3.99.  Not bad.
  • Another good coupon is the one for Tobassco sauce - normally $1.79 for the 2 oz size, Jewel has it on sale for $.99 this week.  THEN, we had a $.75 coupon in the newspaper, so Joe paid $.24 for a fresh bottle of Tobassco!  mmm for him.
  • And, really, why so much Oil/Pam?  Well, the Wesson is Jewel priced at $5.00 - it is Preferred Savings discounted by $2.50 to $2.50 per bottle and the Pam is Jewel priced at $2.95 less Preferred Savings of $.45 to $2.50 as well.  COUPONS folks, we had $2 off Pam and $2.00 of Wesson... we spent $8.50 on nearly $21 in cooking oils...
  • We even had a "catalina" coupon for the lunchmeat - we got a half pound of hickory smoked deli ham for $3.93 less Preferred savings of $.70 and the catalina for $2.00, so we paid $1.23 for .53 pounds of meat.
  • If we'd paid ful price for the tobassco ($1.79), the Conditioner ($3.99) the Cooking Oil/Spray ($20.98), and the lunch meat (3.93) we'd have spent $30.69 - Joe spent $30.65 so in other words... EVERY ITEM ON THE LIST ABOVE ... OTHER THAN THE LAST SIX ITEMS WERE ... FREE! (and don't forget, we have $10 in free groceries next time we shop at Jewel).  (who cares if I have to donate the cooking oils to the local food pantry - the people using the food pantry need oil too...)
Now I do totally understand that we are not buying the ingredients that I need to cook dinner - other than the frozen pizzas and lunch meat, I've really got nothing to eat in this pile of stuff.  BUT, the point is, if I buy all these things which I could be paying full price for now, and save them for when we need them, I won't be spending the money on them later.  THEREFORE, I have the add'l cash that I might have spent another time to free me up to buy what I need for groceries for the meals I intend to make this week.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spaghetti Carbonara with Spinach $2.91

OK, heres the the solution to my biggest challenge in cooking-how to get Michael to eat more vegetbles....usually I have to hide them in something, because he runs when he sees green, but when he saw me serving up this meal he said "oh, I love this". I know Ive never made this combination before, so Michael must be remembering this dish from the time we made Carbonara with peas. That must have been in the first weeks of this blog,(btw, I cant believe we are six months in) and still going strong.....yipee. Anyway, so Michael obviously liked this dish and the idea of bacon and eggs with his pasta. BTW, as rich and cholesterol laden as it sounds, it is not. We use egg whites and not yokes and turkey bacon instead of pork. Here is the way I am going to get my child to eat the dreaded spinach!!


4 eggs(use one whole egg, and the whites of the other 3 ONLY.32

1/2 lb fozen spinach.60

5 strips of lean turkey bacon.50

1 lb of pasta
2 tsp olive oil
parm cheese optional
red pepper flakes optional
salt and pepper

boil pasta according to instruction

cook bacon strips in large pan until crispy(remove from pan, and place between two papertowels and pat down to remove extra oil)

cumble bacon into small pieces

in same pan, pour out excess bacon grease, add olive oil and thawed spinach, add salt and pepper to taste, saute for 5 minutes

beat eggs and egg whites together until smooth

when pasta is cooked, drain and immediately place in pan with spinach, toss in egg, and cook all together for 5-10 minutes, tossing constantly, until egg is cooked.

in the last few minutes toss in bacon

serve with parm cheese and or red pepper flakes

Chicken Breast with Artichoke & Swiss on Couscous (Wednesday)

We had a very similar meal a few weeks ago, and Barbara's family thought she'd re-invented the wheel - they thought it was the best thing she's ever cooked - or at least close.  We're going to change up the meal just a touch by adding the artichokes under the swiss.  I did promise Barbara to melt my swiss cheese this time - that might cause issue, but I'll try it with at least my plate!
4 chicken breasts $3.10
olive oil .20
white wine .25
artichoke hearts .99
4 slices swiss .50

So, to make the chicken,
Place 1/4 cup white wine and 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, heat over medium heat to almost boiling, add the chicken tenderloins, cook for four minutes, flip, cover, and cook another four minutes.

place 1-2 artichoke heart quarters on top of the chicken, then cover with a slice of swiss or provolone cheese.  Place under broiler for 3 or so minutes to melt and slightly brown the chicken.

serve this chicken with:

Parmesan Couscous
I like to buy plain, unflavored sides when we have grains - rice and pasta mixes, while fast and easy are LOADED with sodium.  and artificial things I'm not in the mood for.  SO... here's my recipe for Parmesan Couscous.

1 box Plain Couscous (check stats - should have zero sodium)
1/4 cup chopped artichoke hearts
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring as much water as the box dictates to a boil  use just watern o oil or butter, then add the couscous and remove from heat.  After five minutes remove cover, fluff, and stir in parmesan cheese and artichoke hearts.  Cover again, and let sit up to 10 minutes, covered, before serving.  (Don't let it get cold, but give the cheese a few minutes to melt together.

Serve chicken and couscous with a side salad.

Balsamic Salmon Salad (Thursday) $7.78

I'm pretty excited about bringing all these flavors together - a bit nervous about the sodium content of this meal, but still excited about the salad topped with a beautiful piece of fish.  Oh, and potatoes in a salad for the second week in a row!

Balsamic Salmn Salad
4 small to medium new potatoes, cubed.80
2 tbsp teriyaki marinade .10
2 cloves garlic, minced .15
1 tbsp fresh parsley.05
4 portions salmon fillets $3.99
mixed salad greens $1.99
2 tbsp fresh basil (1-2 tsp dried).10
2 tbsp fresh oregano (1-2 tsp dried).10
2 tbsp olive oil.20
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar .20
1 lemon, halved.10
fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Steam the potatoes until you can stick a fork in them with ease.
  • mix teriyaki marinade, garlic and parsley in a small bowl
  • preheat broiler - line with tin foil for easy clean up  spay foil with cooking spray then place salmon on pan & brush with teriyaki marinade mix.
  • Broil until cooked through and flakes easily - approx 8 minutes (depending on thickness of meat)
  • combine basil, oregano, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl - then toss with salad greens.
  • plate salad first, then potatoes, then broiled salmon - top with a squeeze of lemon & pepper to taste.
Aldi had no Salmon in store this week, so we switched in Tilapia -which Joe is significantly more fond of.  So long as you stay with a fish, the concept is the same, right?  Well, not exactly because Salmon is significantly higher in Omega 3's, but fish consumption in our house is always a good thing, so I'll consider it another successful meal!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fish Tacos $7.93

mmm... it's 86 degrees here in Chicagoland - time for something a bit out of the ordinary for us. I've only ever encountered Fish Tacos one time- in San Diego, so for me fish tacos on the hottest day of the year so far - by far - seems appropriate for the weather when I first met them. Oh, and might I add I only saw them there, I've never tried them. Barbara has, of course, so together we'll start from this...

1 Tbsp olive oil .20
4 limes .80
5 cloves garlic .20
2 tsp cumin .10
1 to 1 1/2 lb Swordfish or other thick, chunky white fish $3.99
1 avocado, diced .99
1/4 red onion .10
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced, finely .80
2 Tbsp fresh Cilantro .15
8 tortillas .40
Romaine Lettuce Leaves .20

First, make a quick marinade for the fish:
In a zipper style bag, combine olive oil, juice of 3 of the limes, 4 cloves garlic, 1 tsp cumin.
Add fish, marinade for 15 minutes at room temperature
While fish is marinading,
Mix juice of other lime, rest of the garlic & cumin, and the diced avocado, minced onion, jalapeno, and roughly chopped cilantro.

Cook fish by either broiling, grilling or pan frying - cook until opaque throughout.
Allow fish to cool, then slice into this strips (1/3 inch)

To serve, place a tortilla on a plate, place shredded romaine on half of the tortilla, add some meat, some tangy avocado salsa, fold in half, then EAT!

Ham and cheese Omelette (Walgreens) $6.20

My son comes home from a sleepover the other morning and tells me his friends mom made the best breakfast ever. Ofcourse Im intrigued and annoyed when he cant really describe it. He said egg of some kind. OK, I needed to find out, because like myself, Michael is not much of a breakfast eater, and although for me personally, I just dont like a big breakfast, Michael is a growing boy and should do better then he does for his breakfast meal. So I question his friends mom and she laughs(probably thinking, what do you feed Michael in the morning that he is making such a big deal about a Ham and Cheese Omelette?) The moment she said it, I thought Walgreens. I just got eggs on sale $1.29 at Walgreens last week and I knew deli meat and cheese were both on sale this week, 2 for $5.00. Sunday morning bright and early I got the frying pan going and hoped my son would like my omelette as much as his friends moms. Did anyone ever notice their kids being much more open to trying other peoples food, then their moms?
Here is my version of a Ham and Cheese Omelette, made from ingredients I am certain can be purchased from any convenience store and obviously any grocery store. As Kim and I have stressed, if time or location is the issue, their shouldnt be any excuses to eat healthy and avoid fast food if possible.
Ham Cheese Omelette(this is ingredients for one large omelette of which my son ate an impressive 3/4 of)

3 eggs .30
1/4 cup of diced cheese of choice(we did swiss).50
1/4 cup of diced deli ham.50
1/4 cup skim milk.10
2 tsp olive oil or butter.15

4 Large omelettes $6.20

in bowl wisk eggs thoroughly with milk
heat large skillet on medium, add oil or butter, when melted pour in egg, moving pan around so that egg is evenly spread in pan as it cooks
as the outside of egg starts to get golden, with spatula lightly start lifting its sides, so it will be easy to fold over when ready
before folding egg add ham and cheese to one side of omelette
loosen the other side with spatula and flip egg over and fold to make a semi circle
lower heat cook another two or 3 minutes so cheese will melt
place on plate and serve