Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lighter Side - Asian Influenced Beef Salad

We love Newman's Own "Lighten Up" Sesame Ginger dressing!! It has great flavor, and portion control is easy because the amount suggested (2Tb per serving) is actually enough to dress a serving of salad and make it actually TASTE like you added dressing!!
So last night we had simple salads of romaine lettuce and cooked carrots (bought baby carrots on sale, so I par-cooked and froze in portions to use later) tossed in that dressing, along with roasted red and green bell peppers, and beef that I very thinly sliced when it was still partly frozen (makes it easy to get really thin pretty slices) and tossed in 1 heaping teaspoon of hoisin sauce, 1/2 teaspoon curry paste, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, and teaspoon of red wine vinegar. I cooked the beef in a saute pan just long enough to cook thru, which was around 4 minutes total, since I sliced it so thin (good for really quick dinners!).

The Hub really liked it... I think I would add less hoisin to the marinade/coating for the beef next time, and maybe kick up the spice a bit more - I thought the beef was too sweet, and since the salad dressing is also sweet, it would have been nice to have a little variety. But it was VERY quick and healthy (which I need to remember to concentrate on when I meal plan next week!)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Why Can't I Quit You!?

Friday night I just HAD TO give in to a craving for Nachos... had to be done, and they couldn't be "diety"...

I read on a blog somewhere that shopping in the "ethnic foods" (don't shoot the messenger, that is what they call it - I know nacho sauce isn't authentic!) can land you cheaper prices on items you normally buy outside of it.. example, this can of sauce was in the "Hispanic foods" section, next to things that were mostly labeled en Espanol... it cost half as much as the crappy salsa/queso mixes in the jars by the "Mexican food" supplies... I'm not saying it is right or wrong to segragate the queso, I am just saying it was cheap and GOOD (Like exactly like you would get at the ball park good!) King Soopers had wicked sales on their Kroger brand chips last week, so I grabbed a bag of tortilla chips for a buck and we had those with cheese, and some left over steak from steak sammies the other night diced up small, and jalepenoes... I also had some diced onion and canned tomatoes on mine.. Yum... oh neon orange "cheese", how I love you...

Saturday was basket ball game night for us, since I had been offered 15 dollar tix at work... they even included a hot dog and a medium soda (and we splurged and got a beer each too).. Stadium food a-plenty for Keri this weekend!!

Sunday I finished off a less-than-healthy weekend with shamelessly UN-portion-controlled plates of spaghetti with canned tomato sauce jazzed up with ground turkey and fresh basil, and garlic bread made from a demi loaf of frozen bread from Target coupons...

Here is my problem... free bread is indeed, FREE bread... but pasta and potatoes and bread and all of this is going to turn us into roly-poly versions of our former selves quickly...
I have always let weekends be a "break" from anything too diety or strict - but I have to really watch what I am serving during the week...

Any favorite cheap and healthy meal ideas?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bad blogger... what have I been cooking? (and get some bread!)

Ok, so when I got back into town on Tuesday night, we had a frozen pizza for dinner...
Wednesday I was headed to Target for more beef (don't judge me!) when I learned of this little ditty... Target has a coupon for $1.00 off Archer Farms Artisan Breads... a smart shopper pointed out that they have mini loaves (perfect for two people, actually) for $0.99... yep, that's free kids... free really good bread...
So Wednesday night we had steak sammies, thin sliced chuck steak quick sauteed and seasoned with garlic powder and some Worcestershire sauce; served on a mini Cibatta bread square (perfect for two cut diagonally!) warmed in the oven with a bit of 2% cheddar melted on it... We had oven fries as well...
Tomorrow is the last day to use the Target meat coupon, BTW (if you are obsessed, like I obviously am.)

Yesterday we got a little mini-blizzard in Denver... it was pretty hairy while it was going on, but getting out and about today was not a problem.. So last night we had Chicken and noodles. My family has a wonderful recipe for a delicious totally homemade version of Chicken and Noodles, but it is best on a Sunday.. for a quick weeknight version I cut a large chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and browned all sides in a sauce pan before adding a can of cream of chicken soup, half a can of water, and a sprinkle of dried thyme... meanwhile, I boiled some dried egg noodles, adding frozen broccoli for the last 2 minutes of boiling, and drained.
Stir saucey chicken with broccoli and noodles and eat hardy... it was GOOOOOD and really perfect for such a cold night!

Sorry - no pics.. I will be back in tip top blog updating form next week, promise!!

Now go buy beef and mini bread!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cooking for sissy..

I am making Sissy and BIL the Spicy Honey Brushed Chicken from Cooking Light tonight... love it!! (I am using boneless chicken breast)

I will be back to frugal and healthy cooking entries and menu planning when I jet back to Denver from Indy next Tuesday...

Eat well!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Orange Margaritas and Beef fajitas

After last year's um, "grease fire incident" that signaled the end of grill season, I spent Sunday with a can of Easy-off and a scraper making sure that my grill pan was clean as a whistle and ready to go... I decided to use it last night to make our fajitas since yesterday was so pretty)

To compliment our dinner, I decided to make a recipe for Orange Margaritas I found on the web, since I have lots of OJ (stocked up because of a good sale and coupon from Safeway this past weekend) and only had a tiny little bit of lime juice left... (ahhhh yes, "use what you have drinking") Actually, it was a really yummy switch!

So I tossed some onion slices in tin foil and my peppers on the grill first, since the peppers cook pretty fast - I like to blister on each side, including inside: And then removed the peppers and tossed the meat on (yep, it is Target coupon meat, and nope, you don't even need to bother asking that for at least the next month, probably more - the answer is a big old YES!) - I seasoned it with cumin and ground red pepper..

I sliced the meat super thin, served it with all the fixin's I could find, and The Hub and I both kicked it up a notch with some tabasco-type hot sauce on our fajitas... with our Margaritas it was a tasty and affordable way to celebrate the first grilled meal of the year!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Singapore Noodles with Hoisin Chicken

I found this noodle recipe on The Nest, and it turned out really well. The sauce was spicy and it was a fresh way to use pasta, which is such a great staple but can lead to a maranara rut, yo? I did thicken the sauce using a bit of cornstarch slurry, just because I like a sauce that clings. Also, I didn't have any Sesame Seeds, so I just left them out - and since The Hub is Mr. Picky pants, I omitted the scallions...
Here is the recipe:

Singapore Noodles
½ cup lite unsweetened coconut milk
½ cup vegetable broth3 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon Curry Powder
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/8 teaspoon Ground Red Pepper
½ pound angle hair pasta, cooked and drained
¼ cup chopped scallions (white and green parts)
½ cup diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon toasted Sesame Seed
1. Stir coconut milk, vegetable broth, soy sauce, Curry Powder, honey, Ground Cumin and Ground Red Pepper in small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Place hot pasta in serving bowl.
3. Add sauce to pasta and toss to coat. Sprinkle with scallions, bell pepper and Sesame Seed. Serve hot.

To go with it, I diced up a chicken breast and tossed it in a teaspoon of hoisin sauce and then baked it covered at 350 for about 12 minutes (since it was diced it cooked fast).

Good recipe - I would make it again...

Old Faithful Beef Stew

Last night I made my dependable, cheap, and very quick beef stew using some of the fabulous Sutton and Dodge beef I have been stocking away from Target thanks to the sweet sweet deal I mentioned on Tuesday.. It amazes me how much The Hub loves this recipe - it is so easy that I almost can't stand it, but he would eat it once a week for the rest of his life and be happy as a clam..
Crusty thick sliced bread for dipping and mopping scores extra points...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lighter Side - Nachoes

Anyone who knows me, or has been reading this blog a while, knows that I have an obsessive, shameless love of nachoes... nacho cheese is my favorite substance on the planet. That being said, nachoes and liquid cheese aren't exactly healthy or low-cal.
So last night I tried making a lighter version. I cut corn tortillas into wedges and sprayed lightly with cooking spray before baking until crispy...(see, this is what it looks like.)

I topped it with some ground beef seasoned with chili powder and S&P, 2% cheddar shreads, diced jalepenoes, roasted red peppers, and lettuce, and drizzled it with my usual secret sauce of yogurt and hot sauce mixed together...

The result? Meh... it was fine.. The Hub liked them, and they were good, but let's face it - they weren't the ooey, gooey, yummy terrible-for-you nachoes that we all know and love... I liked the chicken and spinach tostadas I made a while back much better - they seemed to have more of a gooey quality or something... oh well, my quest for a low-cal great tasting nacho continues.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lighter Side - Buffalo Chicken Paninis and Ranch Greens

Sunday night I made The Hub country fried steak (incidently, I omitted the ranch dressing mix and he liked it even better) , so last night called for something light and easy... I cut up a steamed chicken breast, and layered it along with 2% cheddar shreds and a drizzle of buffalo sauce on reduced calorie bread to make two sammies.
I cooked them in my good old George Forman until they were warm and gooey on the inside, crunchy on the outside and nice and zesty....
We munched them down with some simple mixed lettuce dressed with fat free ranch dressing (I had some chopped red onion on mine) to counteract the buffalo sauce on the sammies.
It was quick and easy and inexpensive - and also filling and not calorie ladden... Most importantly, it got a big thumbs up from The Hub.

Stolen Moments - free beef!!

I am a huge fan of the meat at Super Target... it always looks, feels, and smells fresh, and the cuts are excellent...
Imagine my joy when I stumbled across this post on Jane4girl's food budget blog... Well hi-dee, hi, awesome deal!!

Excuse me while I stock up shamelessly...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lighter Side - Penny Pincher Chicken Cesar Salad

A Cesar salad topped with chicken is always one of our favorite quick-and-easy go-to dinners, and it isn't horribly expensive, but the calorie count can get out of control quickly, thanks to fatty toppers and dressing..

To keep it light, I used Kraft Light Done Right Cesar dressing, (3 tablespoons) and the juice of one half lemon mixed together to dress a mix of Romaine and Iceberg lettuces (no bagged salad here, lettuce can be a SUPER cheap veggie if you buy it whole!!)... I added some carrot slices, and skipped things like Parmesan cheese and croutons which can add fat and calories (although making your own croutons can let you enjoy the crunch and control the calories)..

The Hub is picky about his chicken.. In the past I have learned that I can sneak dark meat into meals if it is hidden by a sauce or in a soup - but not served straight up, such as here... I, however LOVE the dark meat. So, to keep costs super low, I bought a whole chicken and broke it down right when I got home... the breasts got cut into tenders, and packaged in single serve foil packets, labeled and stuck in a big bag... for the dark meat I left the bone in - which is how I actually prefer it, and packaged that in single serve labeled foil (and into the big freezer bag) as well.

I breaded and cooked The Hubs using the same technique you have seen again and again lately, and mine got a rub of herbs before being baked..

Everyone is happy- dinner is healthy and easy on the wallet..

Monday, March 2, 2009

Add another challenge to the mix..

On Friday my husband was laid off... this was followed by a weekend of meals I won't talk about here, because they consisted mainly of chewing on the horrifying news, and washing it down with generous portions of booze...

That being said, it is what it is, and we are much better off then so many, and so I add another check mark to my list of what is important in a meal.. economy..
I have long been obsessed with keeping my grocery bills low, it is my favorite challenge. However, I will need to adhere strictly to a budget now, not for the challenge, but because it will help The Hub as he searches for the next company lucky enough to employ him..

Look for the new Penny Pincher tag popping up a lot as I employ all my best money saving tricks (and learn lots of new ones, I hope!)..

After all that hootch and the biggest, bitterest pill we have swallowed together in our 4+ years of marriage, Sunday night I knew we needed something yummy but not flashy..

I whipped up stacked enchiladas with some left over shreaded pork and corn tortillas I had in the freezer, and made a REALLY GREAT sauce using a can of tomato soup and a half teaspoon of adobo paste from the pantry cabinet, and teaspoon of cumin... layered with some 2% cheese, the tortillas, and the pork, it was just what we needed to fortify us for what lies ahead.. I can promise I will never make enchillada sauce any other way - it was way too easy, flavorful, and cheap!! Portion control is needed when eating things like that, but I went light on the cheese, and I have leftovers for lunch this week...