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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Weekly Menu 3/3+


mini-monkey bread

 oven fried chicken

pork chops with apples

taco crescent bake

creamy mustard chicken

mac and cheese
peas and carrots
apple crisp

15 bean soup
crusty bread

1.       There’s really only one way to make monkey bread and it takes some time, but it is well worth your effort.  I’ve tried easier and faster recipes, but they leave you wanting the real thing.  This version is an attempt to help you eat a little less per serving because once you start tasting that crispy caramelized sugar bites of goodness, you don't want to stop.  Or I've heard you don't want to stop.  :)

Mini-Monkey Bread
1 stick butter melted
2 cans biscuits; quartered and divided in half if using layered biscuits
½ c sugar
2-3T cinnamon
Melt butter in shallow dish.  Mix cinnamon and sugar in another shallow dish.  Drop cut biscuits into butter, then into sugar mixture.  Place well coated pieces into a muffin tin, or into a bundt pan.  Bake 10 min (muffins) or 40 min (bundt). 

Oven Fried Chicken (365 Ways to Cook Chicken)
¼ c shortening
¼ c butter
1c + 2T flour
2 tsp paprika
¼ tsp each salt & pepper
3lb chicken pieces or boneless
1 can biscuits
1 30oz can of peach halves (in hmmm hmmm syrup)
Whole cloves
1 ½ c hot milk (for gravy)
Preheat oven to 425.  Place shortening and butter in 9x13x2 baking dish and set in oven until melted.  In plastic or paper bag combine flourp, paprika, slat and pepper.  Add chicken, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat thoroughly.  Place chicken skin side down in hot shortening.  Bake 45 minutes; then turn.  Push chicken to one end of pan.  At the other end, arrange uncooked biscuits in single layer, without draining off shortening.  Stick cloves in peaches and place on top of chicken (I usually skip the cloves).  Bake 15 minutes. 
To make gravy, remove chicken, biscuits and peaches to serving platter.  Pour pan drippings into medium sized sauce pan.  Whish in 2T flour and cook for 1 minute without browning.  Whisk in milk, bring to a boil, cook until thick and smooth. 


1.       If you aren’t a fan of fruited meat you can always cook these separately, but the apples are nice and mild with the chops. 
2.       Use boneless chops if they don't kill your budget.  You can buy a large pork loin and slice your own chops for <$2/lb at Sam’s (vs. $5/lb at HEB for the butterfly chops) and freeze them individually wrapped in wax paper. 

Apple Pork Chops with Stuffing (Adapted from Quick Cooking)
4-6 thick pork chops; boneless preferred
Salt and pepper
3 apples peeled and sliced
3T brown sugar
3T butter
1-2 boxes Stovetop stuffing
Place chops in a baking dish and salt and pepper both sides.  In a skillet add apples, butter and sugar and sauté until the apples are well coated in the buttery/sugary goodness; about 5 minutes.  Pour apples over chops, be sure to scrape out all of the goodness onto the chops.  Mix stuffing with warm water and place over the apples.  Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes at 350.  Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes to get the top layer of stuffing a little on the crunchy side. 

Ranch Green Beans
Green beans
Dry ranch dressing mix
Combine it all and sauté in a covered pan until cooked the way your family likes them.  My family is wary of green beans and likes them super cooked.  They don't want them jumping off the plate or anything, so I cook them to death. 

Taco Crescent Bake
1 can crescent rolls
1 c cooked ground meat
1 c sour cream
½ c picante sauce
1 c grated cheese
Lettuce & tomato
Unroll and seal the seams on crescent rolls into a 9x13 pan or a jelly roll pan.  Combine sour cream and picante and spread over the rolls, top with ground beef and cheese.  Bake 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Top with lettuce and tomato and serve. 

Creamy Mustard Chicken (Pioneer Woman)
4 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
3 whole Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 cup Brandy (or White Wine If Preferred)
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Grainy Mustard
1/4 cup (to 1/2) Heavy Cream
1/4 cup (to 1/2) Chicken Broth
Salt And Pepper, to taste
*Amount of cream and broth has slightly decreased; add more as needed.  Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so that you have eight smaller, thinner chicken cutlets.  Salt and pepper both sides.  Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook cutlets on both sides until nice and golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken from the skillet and keep on a plate.  Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic to the pan and saute it for a minute, stirring to make sure it won't burn. Next pour in the brandy (or wine if using) being careful if cooking over an open flame. Then just let the booze bubble up and cook until it's reduced by half.  Throw in the mustards and stir to combine, then pour in the cream. Stir in chicken broth, adding more if the sauce seems too thick. Taste sauce and adjust whatever you think it needs. Add chicken breasts back to the pan, nestling them into the sauce. Allow sauce to cook for another few minutes, shaking the pan if needed to move things around. 


1.       This mac and cheese recipe is how I think Luby’s makes theirs.  Don’t worry about the cottage cheese it all melts into cheese-y goodness during the baking process so you won't even notice that it’s there. 
2.       I buy the American Cheese deluxe slices, you don’t have to unwrap them and they are more cheese than cheese by-products (no offense to Kraft singles of course). 

Sausage links
Mac & Cheese
4T butter
¼ c flour
Salt & pepper
1t ground mustard
2c milk 
6-8 slices American cheese
½ c cottage cheese
2c macaroni
Cheddar cheese

Melt the butter and add flour to make a roux; allow to brown slightly.  Add milk and seasonings.  Bring to a boil and allow to thicken. Add American and cottage cheeses until melted.  Combine with cooked macaroni and pour into a 9x13 pan.  Top with slices of cheddar cheese and bake about 15 minutes at 350, until cheese is melted. 

Peas & Carrots
Apple crisp
3-4 chopped unpeeled apples
½ c rolled oats
½ c brown sugar
½ c bisquick
¼ c melted butter
1t cinnamon
Place chopped apples in a baking dish.  In a bowl combine remaining ingredients until crumbly.  Place crumbles over apples and bake 20-30 minutes in a 350 oven.  Serve warm.

1.       Put your beans on to soak the night before in your crockpot and then in a small bowl have all your dry spices measured out so you can just pour them in first thing in the morning. 
15 bean soup aka Minestrone (Mom)
2 c dried bean mixture
1-2 lbs trimmed stew meat, or ham bone, or skip the meat tonight for Lent
Up to 1T salt (if you’re using a ham bone you might want to cut this amount in half)
½ tsp pepper
16 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
Cayenne pepper (to taste –as in none for me, thanks)
2 quarts water
¾ to 1 c small shell macaroni
Wash bean mixture.  Put in crock pot to soak overnight.  Drain beans, add remaining ingredients (except pasta) with water going in last so that crockpot is full.  Cook on low all day.  Either cook pasta on stove top or add to soup and let cook for about 30-45 more minutes until pasta is tender. 
OR simmer on stovetop 1 ½ hours.  Add macaroni and cook 30-45 min longer. 

Crusty Bread

Grocery Deals 2/29+

Sprouts     asparagus .99/lb, squash.88/lb, cucumbers .49, lettuce .88, avocados .69, tomatoes .69/lb, broccoli .99/lb, cauliflower .99, strawberries $2, grapefruit .20, apples .99/lb

HEB              Asparagus .97/lb, red bell peppers .77, tangelos .77/lb, chicken breasts $1/lb, pork chops 1.97/lb, boneless chicken 1.97/lb

Randalls      pork loin 1.99/lb, 90% lean ground beef 2.99/lb, Charmin 24 pack 10.99 (if you buy 2 --> .46/roll a best price), crescent rolls (with ad coupon) 1.49 ea

Fiesta (38th St)   leg quarters .49/lb ($10 min), Bluebell $4 ($10min), avocados .50/ea, navel oranges .17/ea, cabbage .33/lb, cucumbers .33, green bell peppers .33

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tuesday Terrific Tip--Freezer List

My mom rearranged her freezer over the weekend and that reminded about the freezer as a great kitchen tool.

The freezer, whether stand-alone or just the one that comes with your fridge, can be a great way to extend the life of fresh food.  It can make it so that you don't have to eat the same casserole for 62 days in a row to work through a whole 9x13 pan of whatever.  In case you were wondering I miss S's late night refrigerator raids, he was great at keeping the excessive leftovers down to a minimum.

Anyway, since we live way out in the middle of nowhere I like to be sure to have extra of pretty much everything and my freezer is where I keep anything perishable.

So in my freezer, I keep extra loaves of bread, bags of chips.  Yes, you can freeze chips and they don't get soggy.  I learned that first hand from my personal Frito-Lay representative; he's retired now.  

I also have a one gallon jug of water that I keep frozen in the freezer, so that if I need to do a lot of extra running around with groceries during the summer I can keep them cold in an ice chest.  Yes, I keep an ice chest in my car.  Don't you?  Yeah, I didn't either when we lived in town.

Anyway, I keep all of the chicken things together, the beef, pork, and then all the paper wrapped meat is venison sausage.  Extra waffles, a frozen pizza, cooked beans, a couple of casseroles, a turkey.  It's all in there.

Oh, yes the door is full of storage too... we'll start from the bottom and work up...

Coffeemate.  If you get this stuff at a great price then you can freeze them and they will keep for at least six months.  Remember the cheese that stood alone?  Here it stands with it's neighbors in the door of the freezer.  A large bag of okra that I cut up a little, or a lot at a time, last summer.  We had gumbo last night.  It was great.  Then 4.5 lbs of butter.  Yes, you can freeze butter too.

Oh, did I not mention the Girl Scout cookies?  That's because you weren't supposed to notice them.  I'm saving those for the summer, which is the best time to eat frozen thin mints.  The coolness of the mint, and the frozen cookie.  It really cools you off in the heat of May.

Oh, are you noticing more cookies?  Lots of girls have asked, and we've been supportive this year.  There are more in the pantry.  I did learn that you could give them $5 and help them and your waistline all at the same time.

You can feel a twinge of jealousy that I have those fillets in my freezer with the 'save reduced for quick sale' stickers on them.  I paid only $2 per package for them.  As soon as I returned home with them, they went right into the freezer.  They are delicious and I think we're eating like kings when we have them, but knowing that I paid a fraction of the regular price....well I like that part the best.

Growing up when we ate steak my dad would always ask, "I wonder what the rich people are eating tonight," presumably because we were eating their food.

Anyway, the one thing I don't currently ON my freezer is a list of everything that is in there.  K is really good at keeping her list up to date.  I know HOW to do this, but I only make a vain attempt at this exercise.

Write down all of the items you have in your freezer.  If you have multiples of them, like butter, cookies or venison sausage, you create some sort of box or tick mark out to the side, so that as you take something out of the freezer you can check the box, complete the tick mark etc. so show yourself that it's been removed.

You could in theory, if you weren't like me, know exactly what's in your freezer without opening the door. Or subject your fingers to frostbite looking through all of the packages for that package of ham steaks.

You could say... make up a grocery list or know if you need to buy leg quarters thanks to a great sale you heard about.  Or perhaps you already have 25 lbs of chicken in your freezer and you don't need to buy another single package; especially if one family member is on poultry boycott.

Those are things you could do.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Frugal Friday--More Expensive Free Stuff

A few weeks ago a friend gave me this really cute sweater.

Yes, I have a complete attraction to argyle and so what if I asked for the sweater right off her back.  She didn't give it to me... until the next day.  In fact when she put it on that morning she actually thought I might like the sweater, it was a hand me down to her the night before.  Thankfully for me, the sleeves were too short for her.

When she gave it to me, she let me know that she hadn't had a chance to wash it.

I was so impatient to wear it ahead of my regular time of the week to do laundry, that I ran it through the wash all by itself.  I forgot about it and had to run it through again. There's a 24 hour rule with my washer that must not be questioned.

In the afternoon I opened the washer to find a very heavy, completely soaked, ball of cotton.  Hmmm, the washer hadn't spun the sweater at ALL.  Well I'll just run the spin only cycle.  That ended with the washer making a terrible grinding sound and L advising that I had better call Mr. Appliance.  This is no sponsored endorsement of Mr. A, but if they'd like me to blog about them, I'd be happy to accept.

I love Mr. Appliance.  They said they could come right out the next day, I got the last appointment for Friday afternoon.  Whew.  Laundry day at my house is Sat/Sunday.  The nice repair man showed up around 4, did a great deal of assessment on the washer and after running all sorts of things through the machine and testing this and that he declared that my washer was just fine.  However, there was the small matter of the service fee.  Of course.

The lessons from this?
1.  Don't be so darned impatient to wear a new sweater.
2.  My washer is still in good health overall, unless you are washing only a cotton sweater.
3.  Wash full loads.  This is a great tip for the washer or dishwasher.  You'll use the same amount of electricity and likely the same amount of water as you would if you were just running a partial load.  That can add up and your bill starts to creep up, then you can't buy as much chocolate, you have to adjust your average bill payment amount.
4.  I need to enjoy this sweater for a long time.  Free stuff is still expensive in our household.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Weekly Menu 2/25+


turkey burgers
sweet potato fries

roasted rosemary chicken
baked potatoes

pork chops

fruit n yogurt parfaits

creamy white chili
crusty bread
chocolate pudding

beef brocoli lo mein
orange slices

filet o fish
tater tots
green beans
3-2-1 cake

BBQ Mushroom-Turkey Burgers (Taste of Home)
¾ c chopped onion
2 tsp butter
1 c sliced mushrooms
1 medium carrot grated
¼ dry red wine or chicken broth
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 pound ground turkey
¼ c bbq sauce

In large non-stick skillet, saute onion in butter for 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and carrots and cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Add the wine/broth, salt and pepper; simmer for 2-3 minutes or until liquid is evaporated.  Transfer to a large bowl; cool slightly.  Crumble turkey over mixture and mix well.  Shape into four patties.  Cover and refrigerate at least an hour (or not if you don’t have that sort of time).  Coat grill rack with non-stick spray before starting the grill.  Grill until done, top with an additional ¼ c bbq sauce. 

Sweet Potato Fries

Rosemary Roasted Chicken
6 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp black pepper
whole chicken
2T Italian dressing

Mix first three ingredients in small bowl.  Starting at the neck of the chicken separate the skin from the meat of the breast, thighs and legs of the chicken.  Spoon cream cheese mixture under skin and use fingers to push and spread mixture onto thighs and legs (this is all still under the skin).  Place chicken in shallow baking dish and brush with dressing.  Bake at 375 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

Pork Chops w/Garlic & Wine (Pioneer Woman)
6 whole Pork Chops (medium-to-thin)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
Salt And Pepper
1-1/2 cup Red Wine
1/2 cup Beef Broth (more If Needed)
1 whole Bay Leaf
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
18 whole Peeled Garlic Cloves
1 Tablespoon Butter (additional)
Heat oil and butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops and sear them on both sides until they're nice and golden, about 2 minutes per side. (No need to completely cook the chops at this point.) Remove the chops from the skillet and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium-high, then throw in the whole garlic cloves. Stir them around and cook them for several minutes, or until they get nice and golden brown.
Pour in the red wine, then add the bay leaf. Stir around and let it reduce, raising the heat if necessary. Cook the sauce for several minutes, or until it's nice and reduced and thick.
Stir in the beef broth (you can add more if it needs the liquid) and add the chops back into the cooking liquid, arranging them so that they're swimming in the sauce. Allow the chops to cook in the liquid for a few minutes, then pour in the balsamic. Shake the pan to get it to distribute, then cook for a couple more minutes, or until the pork chops are done.
Remove the chops from the pan once more, then let the sauce reduce a little more if needed until it's very thick and rich and the garlic is soft. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of butter and sprinkle in a little salt and pepper.
Arrange pork chops on a platter, then pour the whole skillet of sauce (including garlic) over the top.
Serve with a green salad.
*You may substitute white wine for a slightly lighter sauce.


Yogurt Parfaits
Layer fresh sliced strawberries with vanilla yogurt and granola

Granola Recipe:
3c rolled oats
¼ c brown sugar
¼c canola oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in microwave safe bowl or pie plate; microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Stir.  Repeat for a total of 8 minutes. On my microwave I have to lower the power to 80% or else I get a hot spot and then it burns, smells yucky and makes me mad. 

If you don’t like microwaves, or you haven’t inherited one from your late uncle then you can bake the granola for an hour, stirring in 15 minute increments at 350. 

After it’s all cooled, you can add 1 c of any of the following: wheat germ, sunflower seeds, other nuts (almonds, if you’re trying to do me in), coconut (you don’t want me to eat any), raisins (don’t microwave these—trust me) or anything else you think might be good in there. 

Creamy White Chili

1.       Hopefully you have some leftover chicken from Sunday night or leftover turkey in the freezer to use.
2.       You can make this in the crock pot with uncooked chicken and let it cook all day or use cooked chicken and make it faster on the stove top.  Do what works for your schedule. 

Creamy White Chili
2 c cooked chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 T canola oil or butter
2 cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 c chicken broth (frozen or canned)
8 oz chopped green chilies
1 c frozen corn
1 c frozen carrots
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp pepper
1 c sour cream
½ c heavy cream
Combine all ingredients except sour and heavy cream.  Simmer uncovered 30 minutes or cook in crock pot in as few as 6-8 hours.  Add creams at the end and allow to heat through before serving. 

Crusty Bread
Chocolate pudding

Beef Broccoli Lo Mein (Menus4Moms)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb. thinly sliced beef
2-3 (3 oz.) pkg. beef flavored Ramen Noodles
1½ cups water (may need more water if you use 3 pkg. of noodles)
1 red* or yellow pepper, cut into strips
1 c thinly sliced onion
2 cups broccoli florets* or cauliflower, thawed
3 med. green onions, chopped
2 tsp parsley
1 ¼ T soy sauce
Heat oil in large skillet, brown beef without stirring; remove to plate set aside.  Add peppers and onions to skillet and sauté until tender.  Add remaining ingredients bring to a simmer, add beef if not fully cooked.  Cover and simmer 3-4 minutes until noodles are tender. 

Orange Slices

1.        The cake recipe comes from our J, our crafty valentine mom, who is regularly out there looking for good ideas to share with me, and I appreciate her a LOT!
Tater Tots
Green Beans
3-2-1 Cakes

These individual little cakes are amazing and ready to eat in one minute! They are perfect for whenever you feel like a treat without all the fat and calories that cake can have. Genius idea!
1 box Angel Food Cake Mix
1 box Cake Mix - Any Flavor
2 Tbsp Water

In a ziploc bag, combine the two cake mixes together and mix well. For each individual cake serving, take out 3 Tablespoons of the cake mix combination and mix it with 2 Tablespoons of water in a small microwave-safe container. Microwave on high for 1 minute, and you have your own instant individual little cake! KEEP remaining cake mixture stored in the ziploc bag (or plastic container)and use whenever you feel like a treat! You can top each cake with a dollop of fat free whipped topping and/or some fresh fruit.

Helpful Tips:
This recipe is called 3, 2, 1 Cake because all you need
to remember is
3 T mix,
2 T water,
1 minute in the microwave!"

TRY various flavors of cake mix like carrot, red velvet, pineapple, lemon, orange, etc. Just remember that one of the mixes has to be the angel food mix; the other is your choice.   The flavor possibilities are endless!
No need to refrigerate, since the mix is dry. Always remember, that one of the cake mixes MUST be
Angel Food. The other can be any flavor.  The Angel Food is the cake mix that has the eggs whites
in it. So, if, anyone is allergic to egg whites, you can NOT serve this recipe.