Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oh what a deal meal!


Dinner was delicious last night, I can't stop talking about it. Is your mouth watering yet? I'm just so proud of my good deals, and my savings turned in to a wonderful meal. I just have to share!

For the recipe of Crunchy Honey Dijon Chicken click here or see the recipe index at the top.

This is the regular cost of the meal, with no sales or coupons:

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast: $3.99/lb (one pound used)

Fresh Express Caesar Salad (with dressing, croutons, cheese): $3.99

Betty Crocker Butter and Herb Potatoes: $2.19

Total: $10.17 (plus 75 cents for milk, mustard, butter and extra ingredients)

= $10.92 or $2.73 per serving

Here's how I did by combining sales and coupons:

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast: $1.88/lb on sale

Fresh Express Caesar Salad: $1.88 with coupon

Betty Crocker Butter and Herb Potatoes: $ .38 with sale and coupon

Total: $4.14 (plus 75 cents for milk, mustard, butter and extra ingredients)

= $4.89 or $1.22 per serving

And who said math wasn't fun?


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Crunchy Honey-Dijon Chicken


Oh, what a delicious dinner. I am so hooked on honey dijon mustard. It's surprisingly light, still creamy and delicious in dinner recipes. The boneless skinless chicken breasts that I bought at Albertsons were kind of fat, so I sliced each one in half through the middle. They were thin and easier to work with, plus they cooked very quickly. So this recipe made 4 pieces of chicken, although it was 2 large chicken breasts. I buy the off-brand cheapest corn flakes available for homemade bread crumbs, they are yummy and crunchy, but don't buy anything fancy. Enjoy every bite:)

Husband Rating: 5 stars

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (sliced in half, or 4 small)
1 1/2 cups corn flakes
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp. Honey Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/8 tsp. Thyme

Preheat oven to 400. In a shallow dish stir together melted butter and honey dijon mustard. Sprinkle in thyme. In a ziploc bag crush corn flakes, I used a rolling pin on top of the sealed bag. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Dip each piece of chicken in butter/mustard mixture and then place in bag. Seal and shake to coat. Layer into a lightly greased dish and bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and breading is lightly toasted.

Linking up with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!

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Chewy Granola Brownies


I'll admit I was a little nervous throwing this recipe together. I have a box of granola in the pantry, but I'm the only one who dares go near. I got this idea from our dear friends at bettycrocker.com, so when I had to make a dessert for a friend who just had a baby, I thought it was the perfect chance to give it a go. I used Kashi granola with almonds, it kept its crunch and was delicious. Betty Crocker has the "supreme brownies" in a Turtle variety, that's what I used here. It included walnuts in the batter and it comes with a package of caramel to squeeze on top. If you just have regular brownies, throw in some extra nuts and use ice cream caramel to drizzle on top. I wasn't at home when husband tried the brownies, but he mentioned as soon as I walked in the door how delicious they were. I told him later it was granola, he said he would never have guessed and I'm "allowed" to make them again. Success!

Husband Rating: 4 1/2 stars

1 box brownie mix
Ingredients called for in brownie mix (egg, water, oil)
1 1/2 cups granola
1/4 cup chocolate chips
4-5 Tbsp. caramel

Mix brownie batter according to package directions and spread into 13x9 baking pan. Scatter granola on top of brownie batter evenly. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Drizzle with caramel. Bake according to package, until brownies are done. Enjoy!


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Friday, January 22, 2010

Bowtie Alfredo with Blackened Chicken


Oh alfredo, how I love you! We are pasta fans, no doubt about it. I love bowtie noodles because they hold the sauce so good. I have been making this recipe for years, it's the easiest way to get a creamy alfredo sauce that is perfect every time. There are lots of great sauces that use cream or half and half, but sometimes they end up too thin. I used this sauce with my beginning cooking students (picture high school freshman boys here) and it was always successful. I've made lots of swaps over the years with whole wheat noodles, low fat cream cheese, etc, but this is the basic recipe, swap as you wish. I use just a few sprinkles of Cajun seasoning for the blackened chicken, I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to heat. If you're feeling brave lay it on!

Husband Rating: 5 stars

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese
3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp onion, diced small
1 cup chicken broth
4 cups bowtie noodles
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 roma tomato, diced (to garnish)

Boil and cook bowtie noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, slice chicken into thin strips. Drizzle oil in a skillet over medium heat and add chicken. Sprinkle evenly with Cajun seasoning and cook until chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and onion. Saute until tender. Pour in 1 cup of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and slowly add cream cheese. (I usually cut brick of cream cheese into 16-20 pieces and drop them in one by one here). With a wire whisk, soften and smooth cheese. When sauce is smooth, add Parmesan cheese. Spoon over bowtie noodles, add chicken and use tomatoes for garnish. Enjoy!

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Aprons


This fabric screamed at me from the shelves. A little bit retro, a little bit girlie and a whole lot irresistible. Paired with a red polka dot sash and a little rick rack at the neckline, it's the perfect bridal shower gift.

But don't worry, I also made some in small and medium for little girls. Pictures coming soon!

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Chicken Fajitas


When I was pregnant I prepared 8 freezer meals of chicken fajitas. The week after we brought our baby home from the hospital we ate chicken fajitas for dinner, 8 days in a row! Husband felt confident making them, and seriously they are always delicious. The prep for the freezer meal is very simple, and cooking it up is equally easy. I'm going to give 2 sets of instructions below, one for a fresh dinner and one for the freezer. You could easily substitute steak for the chicken. Remember to use for freezer fajitas within 3 months.

Husband Rating: 5 stars

For dinner tonight directions: 1 meal

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup of sliced green and red pepper
1/4 cup sliced onion
1 packet McCormick's Fajita seasoning (you could easily use taco seasoning here)
6 flour tortillas
Your choice of toppings: cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, sliced olives, lettuce, etc.

Slice chicken into thin strips. Drizzle oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Add onion, green pepper and red pepper slices. Sprinkle fajita seasoning (or taco seasoning) over chicken and veggies. Cook and stir for 5 minutes, or until veggies are tender. Warm tortillas. Spoon chicken and veggies into tortilla and top with cheese, sour cream and other toppings.

For freezer dinner directions: 8 meals


16 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 green peppers
2 red peppers
2 onions
48 flour tortillas
8 packets McCormick's fajita seasoning (or taco seasoning to taste)
16 gallon ziploc bags, 8 quart or sandwich bags

*Note: You are precooking the chicken for faster prep later, but freeze the vegetables fresh, saute them when you actually make the meal.

Slice chicken into long, thin strips. Cook over medium heat in a skillet drizzled with oil, about 9 minutes. Sprinkle with fajita (or taco) seasoning to taste. Cool, and divide chicken into 8 gallon bags. Slice peppers and onion. Divide into 8 sandwich bags and seal. Divide tortillas, 6 each, into gallon ziploc bags. Label, date and freeze.

To prepare 1 meal:
Warm 2 Tbsp. oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add small bag with vegetables, saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Add ziploc bag with chicken. Slowly cook and stir until chicken thaws, about 5 minutes. While still sealed, place bag of tortillas in the microwave for 1 minute. The moisture and steam will cook the tortillas, peel apart gently to avoid tearing. Layer chicken and veggies in a warmed tortilla and top with cheese, sour cream and your favorite toppings.

Tip: I print out the freezer prep instructions above and tape it to a bag. That way husband can handle all on his own!

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Deep Dish Pizza (with bisquick)


Again, here I am experimenting with Bisquick. Pizza is one of my "clean out the fridge" recipes since I can pile on just about every vegetable that is about it go bad on top and husband will eat it. I usually make my homemade dough from scratch, but I thought bisquick would be a speedy alternative here. I used a 9 inch cake pan for this recipe. I wish I would have gone up the sides higher, since the bottom crust was very thick. Even with the yeast the dough was tough to work with (I added a little milk to mine since it was dry) but it was faster than a dough from scratch. I have a great freezable pizza dough recipe, so I am going to experiment with assembling the pizza, freezing, and then cooking in the oven. I'll get back to you with that recipe when I've perfected it. Until then, enjoy a simple pizza loaded with veggies!

Husband Rating: 3 stars

1 1/2 tsp. yeast
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. warm water
1 1/2 cups Bisquick
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup cheese
1/4 cup tomato sauce
Topping Ideas: green pepper slivers, olives, mushroom, red onion, pepperoni, sausege, tomatoes, ham, italian seasoning

Dissolve yeast in warm water. In a bowl stir together bisquick, oil and yeast mixture. (Mine was very dry, I added about 1 Tbsp. of milk here). Knead and roll dough until smooth, about 2 minutes. Let dough rise for 5 minutes. Grease a 9 inch cake pan with olive oil. Press dough into pan, going up the sides. Bake dough for 8 minutes at 425 degrees. Remove, and add sauce, cheese and toppings. Bake for 12-14 minutes more, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Remember, you can always click on my Recipe Index for a complete list of recipes.

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Chicken Fingers (with bisquick)


In my latest coupon run to Albertsons I picked up 2 boxes of Bisquick. I've been experimenting with some recipes using Bisquick, and yesterday's dinner was a success. I kind of wish I would have pounded out my chicken a little flatter, I had to add a few minutes to the cooking time. The breading was fantastic and it held on the chicken better than regular bread crumbs. My husband thought they were great, and I will be making them again. He suggested that I make a bunch next time chicken is on sale and freeze them for a quick snack. Mmm, so much yummier than the boxed variety right?

Husband Rating: 5 stars

3 boneless skinless breasts (sliced into long, thin strips)
2 eggs
2/3 cup Bisquick
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 450. In a ziploc bag combine bisquick, parmesan cheese, garlic salt and paprika. In a small dish beat eggs. Dip each piece of chicken into egg mixture and then place in bag. Close and shake the bag until all the chicken is coated. Layer on a greased baking dish. Bake for 12-14 minutes (mine took 18 since they were fat) or until chicken is no longer pink and breading is golden. Serve with dipping veggies and your favorite dipping sauce like ranch or honey mustard.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Beginner Couponing

I've been couponing for almost a year and I'm addicted to the deals and savings. Most coupon blogs are confusing and aggressive, some of my beginner friends are having a hard time sorting through all the mess.
Today I'm going to post a super-beginner-easy coupon trip to Albertsons. They are having a great sale (ends tuesday jan 12th) right now that is an easy way to start. So get excited ladies, your first savings adventure of the new year. If you live in town, I'd be happy to go with you (my little guy loves riding in shopping carts) but I'll keep everything simple so you can handle it by yourself too.

Step one: Creating your shopping list
If you get the Wednesday newspaper, grab your ad, I don't so I look online. Visit www.albertsons.com, find "today's savings" and "view your ads." I like to click "browse by page" for easy viewing. To save the most $$ you want to combine what's on sale this week with a coupon. Go to page 6 of the ad for our great deal this week. The offer says that if you purchase $20 worth of items from this page, you get $5 back. So, look over all of the items there and choose the ones you use or like the most. Get your calculator ready, you want to get to $20, try to get as close as you can.
Here are 2 sample scenarios I did lastnight (and yes, you have to check out twice, I just put a divider between piles and paid twice, no big deal):

3 boxes of Honey Nut Cheeries - $1.88 each
1 box Multigrain Cheeries - $1.88
2 Betty Crocker fruit snacks - $1.88 each
1 box yellow Cheerios - $1.88
2 boxes 40 oz. bisquick - $2.99 each
1 Green Giant steamer veggies - $1.49
--------------------------------------------$20.60 total

4 boxes chicken, tuna, hamburger helper - $1 each
4 boxes Gushers - $1.88 each
2 boxes Betty Crocker fruit snacks - $1.88 each
2 boxes Honey Nut Cheerios - $1.88 each
1 Green Giant steamer veggies - $1.49
--------------------------------------------$20.53 total

My friend Jaimie got lots of Progresso soups, the yogurts are a great deal also, mix and match to whatever your family eats. As you can see, we like cereal and fruit snacks! Make sure you have a list written down, so you grab the right amount at the right price when you're shopping. Step one - done!

Step Two: Finding your coupons
I find most of my coupons online. The sunday insert has some, but you can do just fine without subscribing to the paper. To print coupons you need to install the coupon printer, super easy, free and takes a few seconds. The first place I look for coupons is bettycrocker.com. You do have to register with an email, but it's free. On the very top you'll see "coupons" click there. Scroll down and check mark all the coupons that match what you selected on your shopping list. Do you see bisquick, yoplait, progresso, fruit snacks, gushers, green giant, fiber one? Ta da!!! You can print each coupon twice from this website, it will ask you to install when you hit print.

The second place I look for coupons is at coupons.com. Do the same thing, scroll through the pages and find ones that match your list. You can print each coupon twice from this website also.

The third place I like is coupons.smartsource.com. Same rule here, twice per computer.

Read each coupon carefully and make sure if you have to buy 2, you have 2 on your list. Make any adjustments to your list and you're done with step 2!! Note on the printing - it lets you print twice per computer, so if you have 2 computers in your house you could have 4 coupons. Sometimes I even go to my mom's house and print, lol. Whatever works!

Step 3: Hit the aisles!
I go with my detailed shopping list and my coupons paper-clipped to the back. I put all of the items in order when I shop, and hand the cashier my coupons after he's done scanning everything. Your $5 off (called a catalina) will print AFTER you pay. If it doesn't print, speak up and the cashier will have to go over your receipt and get you one, this rarely happens. Most of the time I use that $5 off coupon right there, and check out a second time with my non-coupon items like cucumbers, tomatoes, eggs and fruit.

Alright - does that sound do-able? Is couponing attainable for the new year?

Comment if you have any questions, I'd love to help. I love being a stay-at-home mom and if I have to spend an hour clipping and gathering coupons every week to save money, then I'll do it. The more I can save, the more I'm gaurenteeing that I won't have to go back to work. It is fun though, searching for the deal and getting name brand products for cheap. Happy couponing!!

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