January 26, 2009

Grocery money and recipes...

A post on a military wives' group online got me thinking. Apparently DH and I do a great job of spending money wisely on food. I thought we did okay, but that we could be doing a lot better. After multiple posts the past few weeks on grocery budgets, I feel better about our food costs. We went to the commissary Saturday and spent $112.42 on food. A couple of items will not be completely used up this menu, or I bought it for next menu cause I had coupons that were about to expire. If I only bought exactly what we had to have, it would have been $10 cheaper. 

Anyways, some recipes...

Stove Top Chicken - found this in my last Southern Living magazine. Made for some very yummy chicken and some very flavorful broth! I changed the recipe they gave slightly - cause a couple of parts didn't make any sense at all. Basically I washed the chicken (4.5 lbs) and dug out the icky parts. I rubbed the chicken with a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heated up a dutch oven. Put the chicken in breast side down with 1/4 cup blush wine (white is used, but I didn't have any of that already open) and 1/4 cup water. Brought to a boil, then covered. Cooked for one full hour (till 180*). YUMMY. I saved the broth to use for later. While I do occasionally buy carton and canned broth, I'll use my own if I have it. Now what they said to do was drop butter in the dutch oven while heating, brown the breast side of the chicken for 5 minutes. Then flip and add the wine and water mixture. Well, that's just stupid cause as soon as you put the lid on, condensation happens and the browned part just creates a brown mush skin. After all, I don't care about the skin - I care about the yummy meat! The meat was very good, and once I took all the meat off we had enough chicken to make two meals. :D

Tonight we had MIL spaghetti. Remember awhile back when DH decided that he was going to cook his mother's spaghetti sauce? Well, we ate half of it for a dinner that night. I froze the other half and we had it tonight. There's still some leftover too - that'll become DHs lunch later in the week. 

I can't find one of the items that I need to make the cheesy chicken and potatoes, so I think I'm just going to invent something for that instead. lol. Yep, invent something with what I do have for that meal. Who knows what we'll end up with, but I'm sure it'll be edible!

I've never attempted a Jambalaya before. I've never had true NO style Jambalaya before either. But the 14th edition of BH&G's Cookbook has a recipe, and I'm going to try it! It has sausage and shrimp and rice....and well,  I love sausage, shrimp, and rice. I'll post it after I try it and type it up. 

Menu: Jan 24 - Feb 7

Weekend Baking: Apple Crisp

24th Saturday Breakfast/Lunch: Egg in a Hole

24th Saturday Diner: Stove Top Chicken, homemade mac and cheese, and veggie

25th Sunday Breakfast/Lunch: Applesauce pancakes

25th Sunday Dinner: Meatloaf, leftover mac and cheese, and veggie

26th – 30th: Monday – Friday Meals:

1. Cheesy Chicken and Potatoes
2. Leftover MILs spaghetti
3. Chicken Parmesan
4. Jambalaya
5. leftovers

Weekend Baking: none

31st Saturday Breakfast/Lunch: oatmeal and apples

31st Saturday Dinner: Beer Batter Fish and fries

1st Sunday Breakfast/Lunch: scrambled eggs and biscuits

1st Sunday Dinner: Superbowl Sunday Party somewhere – spicy bean salsa

2nd-6th: Monday – Friday Meals:

1. Beef Noodle Bowl
2. Frozen pizzas
3. Grilled cheese and frozen veggies
4. Cheesy chicken and rice casserole
5.  Out to eat (cheap Chinese)

January 17, 2009

Italian Minestrone Soup

Got this from one of the two cookbooks that my MIL gave to me for Christmas. This one is called Busy Woman's Quick and Easy Recipes. I've seen much better cookbooks, but there are a handful of recipes I'm going to try from it in the coming months.

Italian Minestrone

1 (16oz) package frozen onions and bell peppers
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup butter
2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes (get the no salt added ones)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 (14oz) cans beef broth
2 (15oz) cans navy beans
2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, sliced
1 cup elbow macaroni

Saute onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic in butter for about 2 minutes in soup pot. Add tomatoes, oregano, basil, and a little salt and pepper. Boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in beef broth, beans, zucchini and macaroni and boil. Reduce heat again and simmer for another 15 minutes or until macaroni is tender.

Since DH doesn't count meat free meals as meals, I'm thinking about adding some left over pork shoulder to the mix. I'm also considering fixing the pizza Monday and the BBQ shoulder Sunday. This way I can make BBQ pizza. Yummy!!! I even have some wonderful Corky's BBQ sauce left from back home. Mmmm. DH and I are both from just outside of Memphis, TN. You just can't beat the BBQ from back home, and boy does everyone love BBQ there!! I really miss Memphis in May BBQ Festival. Full of yummy shoulders, ribs, and whole pigs. All during a huge party on the river. One of the few things I miss about home! :)

Have a great long weekend everyone!

January 14, 2009

Ichiban Kan

Ichiban Kan is my favorite place to buy bentos, accessories, and other random items. I noticed yesterday they added products since the last time I've been on the site. It's also a lot more user friendly - yay! Anyway, I took their survery and got a discount code for $5 off any purchase. Even though I get it's a thank you to me, I hope others might use this who normally don't use the site. It's a great excuse to buy and get addicted to bentos and other Japanese products.

code: IchibanSurvey100150

$5 off any purchase. Code valid through 1/31/09.

January 11, 2009

Sushi and bento lunches

I somehow managed to make sushi....good sushi at that. It won't replace my desire to hit up a Japanese sushi bar, but this skill will allow me to enjoy sushi more often. Of course I'm too paranoid to use actual fish even though I love it. I decided to go for simple in case I did something really wacky and it came out bad. I used cooked crab meat and cucumber inside. Very delicious. And since I didn't use any raw fish, I was able to make a lot so that we can have some for tomorrow's lunches. While sushi is best fresh, I think it'll still be rather good tomorrow. 

    • Photobucket
    •  DH didn't care too much for the cucumber. I don't think he realizes that he's had cucumber in his sushi before. But being the nice wife that I am, I left it out of his rolls. Knowing DH he'll share a few of his rolls with someone tomorrow. The white cup contains soy sauce. The green container contains just a small bit of wasabi. Gotta love the commissary - the only thing I didn't buy there that is necessary is the nori, which I already had.
    I like the cucumber, so I used more of it in mine. I didn't have another container like I used for DHs, so I had to layer my rolls with parchment paper. I added a few extra cucumber sticks to my box. Later I went back and added carrot sticks and a string cheese. I realized that I was probably going to share half of my sushi with my coworker and I needed more to fill me. DH did get a small bento container with peanut butter, carrot sticks, and celery sticks. 

    I made 3 cups (uncooked) calrose rice. Mixed it with 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 3 heaping tablespoons of sugar, and 1 tablespoon salt. Most of the rice was used to make the sushi pictured above. I made another dozen rolls too that we ate this afternoon. Mmmmmm. The rest I used to mold. Ichiban Kan has some great rice molds. This is the one I own. After I mold the rice, I dip it into some furikake (rice seasoning). I bought mine at the commissary, but I'm sure Ichiban Kan has them online along with some Asian markets. I couldn't find a single Asian store that carried the stuff back home, but it's out there. We use it on top of steamed rice all the time. Even my father who hates the thought of seaweed loves this stuff. As you can tell from my picture, we're almost out. 

    And here's the only bento pictures I remembered to take last week. We both had chicken pot pie filling that didn't fit into my pie mixed with extra potatoes. DH had string cheese, crackers, yogurt, and a banana. Some of that is eaten as a snack for him. I had just a string cheese and a banana. I don't need as much as him - he runs and works out. I sit on my butt at work. At least I'm honest.

Chicken and Dumplings and more...

Chicken and Dumplings

I absolutely LOVE this recipe. Got it from another military wife's blog. This will always be a weekend meal because of the cooking time. It took me awhile the first time I made it, but today it didn't take me nearly as long now that I know what I'm doing. DH and I will get two dinners out of this recipe, so it makes enough for 4 hungry adults all by itself. :)

Broth Ingredients

·      2 cartons of low sodium chicken broth

·      3 chicken breasts

·      5 carrots – three left whole, others sliced into rounds

·      1 medium onion chopped

·      5 celery stalks – 3 left whole, two chopped

·      1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

·      2 cloves garlic, crushed

·      chopped parsley

Dumpling Ingredients

·      2 cups all purpose flour

·      2 teaspoons baking powder

·      ½ teaspoon salt

·      1/2 cup whole milk (may use up to 1 cup)

·      4 tablespoons oil

·      poultry seasoning


       Put the whole black peppercorns, two cloves of crushed garlic in a tea bag or coffee filter, tie it up and put it in a stock pot along with the chicken, whole carrots, whole celery and two cartons of broth. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat and let it simmer for an hour. Take the chicken out and cut it up into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Discard tea bag, whole celery and whole carrots.

Mix ingredients for dumplings well, I put it all into my kitchen aid stand mixer and let it knead with the dough hook. Turn out onto floured surface knead 4-5 times. Roll half the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick and cut into strips (or use heart cookie cutters). Repeat with remaining dough. Bring stock up to a boil, add carrot, celery and onion that was chopped up and chicken. Drop dumplings into stock. They will float to the top. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with parsley.

Tomorrow I'm going to attempt sushi for the first time ever. We'll see how that goes considering I still haven't figured out which internet advice I'm going to use. If it turns out well and easy, I'll share it. If I don't care....well, you know why. ;)

I really did make bentos all week long. I only remembered to take a picture of Monday's bento though - and it wasn't even the cute one from last week. As soon as I stop being lazy, I might actually upload the photo from my camera. :D

I also realized that I messed up on my menu. I'm still using the same meals, just in a different order. I lost my mind apparently and forgot about commitments and when MLK Day really is and the fact that we have to eat 5 dinners from Monday through Friday. lol. I think DH would notice if I didn't cook dinner one night. Oh well. Maybe next time I'll proof read my menu. 

12th-16th: Monday – Friday Meals: 

1. Pasta alla vodka
2. Hamburgers
3. Grilled cheese and frozen veggies
4. Shrimp primavera
5. waffles or waffles or waffles (can't decide if I want to try a new recipe or not!)

January 03, 2009

Best Ever Chicken Pot Pie (and other recipes)

I'm heading off to the commissary tomorrow. Other than needing to buy some fresh fruit and milk, we should be able to last 3 weeks. I have $15 in coupons this time, so hopefully my grocery bill will be a bit smaller than last time. 

Egg in a Hole- silly and simple. :)

KombatKween’s Chicken Pot Pie


·      6 tablespoons butter

·      6 tablespoons flour

·      2 cups chicken broth

·      1 cup heavy cream or half and half

·      2 cups vegetables (corn, peas, carrots), can use canned with the liquid drained off

·      2 chicken breasts, coked and cubed

·      4 white potatoes, cubed small and cooked

·      2 pie crusts, store bought or homemade 


      Melt butter in a pot and stir in flour to form a thick paste. Add salt and pepper. Stir in cream and chicken broth. Cook on a simmer until thick.

       Add vegetables, potatoes, and chicken. Pour into pie crust, top with the other crust. Polk holes in the top to vent. Cook at 375* for 35-45 minutes.

Double the ingredients to make 3 pies or 2 really full ones! 

This pot pie is seriously the best ever. It's heavenly to begin with, but it's even better as leftovers. So I don't feel too silly making a pot pie just to put it in the fridge for the next night's meal. Plus it'll make for a super easy Monday meal cause who feels like cooking on a Monday night after a holiday weekend?! Not me.

Stuffed Wraps - DH loves those tortilla wrap places. I don't see sense in spending $6 (or more!) on a single wrap when I can make healthier, tastier ones for a lot cheaper at home. I throw in frozen chicken in a crockpot in the morning. Add in a can of diced tomatoes and my own taco seasonings to taste. Cook on low. When I get home, I put rice in the rice maker, shred the chicken, heat up the beans, and I'm good to go. Easy. Stuff a large flour tortilla with rice, chicken mixture, black beans, lettuce, cheese, and anything else that strikes your fancy. So yummy, and you'll have plenty of leftovers for much cheaper.

Oh, and my husband has requested that I start making bentos for him again. So maybe I'll share some of my bentos on here soon. I was obsessed about making nice, cute ones last summer but kinda got out of practice with it since I eat my own lunch at home most of the time...I did get a couple of new bento items recently, so this will give me the chance to try them out! :)

Menu: Jan 3-23

Weekend Baking: apple dumplings

3rd Saturday Breakfast/Lunch: bacon and eggs

3rd Saturday Diner: Olive Garden (out to eat)

4th Sunday Breakfast/Lunch: Egg in a Hole

4th Sunday Dinner: Steak, frozen steamer veggie, roasted red potatoes, Hawaiian bread

5th – 9th: Monday – Friday Meals: (lunches- Hawaiian bread sandwiches, yogurt, cheese sticks, mini muffins, fruit)

Mon.) Chicken pot pie (bake Sunday night)
Tues/Wed.) Leftover Chicken pot pie
Tues/Wed.) Stuffed wraps (chicken in crockpot with diced tomatoes and taco seasonings, black beans, cheese, rice, lettuce etc)
Thurs.) Bratwurst, salads
Fri.) Out to eat (Irish, Chinese)


Weekend Baking: none

10th Saturday Breakfast/Lunch: cinnamon rolls

10th Saturday Dinner: Chicken and dumplings

11th Sunday Breakfast/Lunch: scrambled eggs and biscuits

11th Sunday Dinner: sushi and leftovers

12th Monday Breakfast/Lunch: omelets

12th Monday Dinner: Pork Shoulder BBQ sandwiches, frozen veggies

13th-16th: Tuesday – Friday Meals: (leftovers for lunches)

1. Italian Minestrone with pork shoulder added to make DH happy
2. Pasta alla vodka
3. Grilled cheese and frozen veggies
4. Shrimp primavera


Weekend Baking: none

17th Saturday Breakfast/Lunch: blueberry muffins

17th Saturday Dinner: shortcut chicken manicotti

18th Sunday Breakfast/Lunch: leftovers

18th Sunday Dinner: homemade pizza

19th-23rd: Monday-Friday Meals:

1. waffles (freeze extras)
2. Out to eat (Irish or Chinese)
3. Tuna helper
4. Frozen ravioli