Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hen House Bargain Meal of the Week

Welcome to installment #2 of the Meal of the Week for Hen House. If you don't have a local Hen House, you can probably find a great bargain meal at your local grocer by visiting 5 Dollar Dinners. If you click on the button in my sidebar, it will take you right to the feature - check it out!

This week's Hen House ad has a few deals, but they have definitely had better sales. It's been very difficult to come up with a recipe below $5, which is my goal. I do have one, which you will find below, and then a second meal that will put you just over the $5 mark. So keep reading....

Budget Beef Stroganoff

1/2 lb. ground beef ($1.00 - on sale for $1.99/lb)
2 T. flour (negligible)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder (negligible)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (about $1.00)
1/2 soup can water
1 can mushroom stems and pieces (about .75)
1/2 c. sour cream (about .50)
Cooked egg noodles (Best Choice on sale for .77)

Brown and drain ground beef. Stir in flour and seasonings to taste. Blend in cream of mushroom soup and water and stir until smooth. Stir in mushrooms and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream just before serving over hot cooked noodles.

Serve with your choice of Popeye's, Allen's, or VegAll Steam Supreme frozen vegetables on sale for .66.

Total dinner cost: $4.68

Or, another option is:

Oven-Fried Chicken

2 lbs. fresh split chicken breasts ($3.00, on sale for $1.49/lb)
1 container plain Best Choice yogurt (.39)
1 c. bread crumbs (free if you made them, or about .30)
Seasonings for the bread crumbs, if desired (negligible)

Coat chicken breasts in yogurt, then dip in bread crumbs until covered.
Place on greased baking sheet and bake at 350° for 1 hour or until done.

Serve with Glazed Carrots:

1 lb. baby carrots (Green Giant on sale for .99)
1 T. sugar (negligible)
1 t. salt (negligible)

Cook carrots in water until tender, 25-30 minutes. Drain off all but about 1 T. of the water, then stir in the salt and sugar.

To complete the meal, prepare 2 c. rice (approx. .50)

Total meal cost: $5.18

Both of these are family-favorites here. I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does! Be sure and check out the other bargain meals at 5 Dollar Dinners!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Burritos that were a "Keeper"

Tonight I decided to actually try and cook. Good thing I did, really, since DH didn't even get home from work till 7:00!!! I had some things to use up, so I decided to use one of my suggestions in my prior post on rice, and I made burritos of a sort.

We had a roast the other night, and I had instructed DH to put the gravy/drippings into a container in the fridge. It was made with cream of mushroom soup, so it was a nice creamy concoction. I removed all the fat from the mixture and discarded it (gotta love how that all rises to the top when chilled!). I set a half-cup aside and heated the rest up, adding cornstarch and water to make a nice thick base. Into this, I stirred around 2 cups of brown rice, and all the leftover shredded roast. A taste sample proved it was pretty good!!

I got out my tortillas and placed a large scoop of this filling onto each, topping with shredded cheddar/jack cheese. Now, I know this sounds really non-spicy, but my kids are NOT spice eaters, and my stomach is still recovering from surgery, so I'm not ready for much spice or any beans just yet. So, yes, these are a bit boring, but you can add anything you want to spice up yours! I rolled my tortillas into pretty burritos and put them in a 13x9 pan. Once they were all done (I ended up with 12), I covered the pan with foil and put them in a 275° oven to get them nice and warm for dinner.

Remember that half-cup of the gravy that I set aside? Well, I decided to make a nice sauce to pour over the top for DH and I. Into the gravy, I mixed a huge scoop of sour cream and some salsa. I mixed it well and got it nice and hot, and it was a very nice touch - DH loved it, even reheated!

The kids ate this very well, and loved that they could pick up the burritos and eat them without a fork. They were definitely not authentic, but it was a great use of all the leftovers from making a roast the other day. Nobody even realized that dinner was comprised of leftovers! :-) (By the way, the tortillas were left from making quesadillas the other

Friday, February 20, 2009

Let's Talk About Rice

I'm going to try and get back into the swing of posting great uses for leftovers. I'm slowly feeling more like myself, and while I still can't really cook, I do have some recollection of how I used to do it! ;-)

Gayle over at the Grocery Cart Challenge hosts a recipe swap every Friday, and I love to participate, as well as gather great new tried-and-true recipes. Gayle asked me to review how I use up my leftover rice awhile back, so I thought I would post a few rice recipes for the swap, as well as to help everyone use up those yummy little grains.

One of my very favorite uses for leftover rice is to turn it into mock fried rice. While "fried rice" screams fat and calories, you can actually create an excellent version of it with little fat. This is a great side dish, or I've also added leftover pork, beef, or chicken to make a complete meal.

"Fried" Rice

1-2 cups leftover white or brown rice
1-2 eggs or egg whites (use more egg if you have more rice)
1/2-1 c. leftover cooked veggies (corn, cabbage, carrot, celery, etc.)
1 T. soy sauce (or more to taste)
1/4 t. ginger
1/2 t. dry mustard (you can omit this, but it really is good!)

Scramble the eggs in a skillet sprayed with no-stick spray, then set aside when done.

NOTE: If you don't have leftover cooked veggies, but do have fresh carrots and celery, re-spray your skillet and saute the chopped/diced vegetables for 2-3 minutes till crisp tender, then continue the recipe.

Add cooked veggies and rice to the skillet and toss to combine. Stir in the soy sauce and seasonings (and any chopped meat, if using) until well-coated. Stir in the eggs and heat through.

Another great and common use for leftover rice is rice pudding. You can find lots of recipes online, or here is a quick and simple recipe:

Rice Pudding

1 pkg. cook n serve vanilla pudding mix
3 c. milk
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
3 c. leftover cooked rice

Cook pudding and milk according to package directions. Remove from heat and blend in the seasonings. Stir in the rice. You can serve this warm, or chilled.

Another option, that can be used for breakfast or dinner, that is very cheap, is a quiche! You can combine leftover rice with an egg and a bit of shredded cheese and pat it into a pie plate. Bake until lightly browned for a crispy crust, or simply add your quiche ingredients and bake it all at once for a softer crust. I have a post about making quiche here (though I used potatoes for the one I demonstrate).

A lot of people like stuffed peppers (though I really don't!) or stuffed tomatoes. Your family will never know the rice was "leftover."

Burritos or enchiladas can use up the rice in a yummy way. I have mixed the rice with chopped tomatoes, seasonings, and chicken or beef and rolled it up in corn tortillas for enchiladas or flour tortillas (with some refried beans) for burritos. My family just loves these options!

Another family favorite recipe where I always use leftover rice is Pizza Rice Casserole, which I posted previously.

Of course, there is always the standby of making soup. You can make up some nice chicken stock and create a quick and tasty chicken-rice soup. Or you can put the rice in a container in your freezer where you put all your small bits of leftover meats, grains, veggies, and broths/gravies. Once a month, you can have a batch of Freezer Soup. It may sound questionable, but it really comes out tasting great! I have been truly surprised at how much my family has liked the freezer soups I've "created." And that is about the most frugal meal you can find!!

I know I'm forgetting a bunch of uses for rice, but this will at least get you started. Please add your ideas in the comments section! Rice is a wonderful grain that can really stretch a grocery budget!!

And for more wonderful recipes, don't miss the latest Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap!!!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A New Feature - Hen House Bargain Meal of the Week

I am participating in a great new venture over at Erin's Every week, bloggers from all over the country join in and scour local grocery ads for great deals. Each person then puts together at least one "bargain meal" for that week, one that anyone can put together without having to use coupons or analyze the specific deals. It's a GREAT concept, and while it has little to do with utilizing leftovers, it definitely contributes to lowering the cost of groceries, which is what this blog is all about!

Hen House can be tricky. They don't often have great sales on meat, so some weeks it's going to be quite difficult to make the meal below $5. However, this week, they do have boneless/skinless chicken thighs on sale, and I have a family favorite recipe using chicken thighs. It's based on a recipe I found in Taste of Home, and it is a delicious one-skillet meal. I'm assuming that you have basic staples in the pantry that will be needed for the recipe, and some of the ingredients are not in the ad, so I am providing my best estimate of the cost based on my regular shopping trips.

Skillet Chicken Supper

1/2 c. flour - .10
1/2 t. garlic powder - negligible
1/2 t. pepper - negligible
3/4 lb. boneless/skinless chicken thighs - $1.72 (on sale this week)
2 T. vegetable oil - .15
1 3/4 c. water, divided - 0
1/2 c. soy sauce - .75
1/2 t. dried oregano - negligible
3 medium red potatoes, cut into 1" chunks - .50
3 large carrots, cut into 1" pieces - .30
3 celery ribs, cut into 1" pieces - .30
10 oz. bag frozen peas - .85 (based on Best Choice 16 oz. bags on sale: $1.36)

In a plastic zip-top bag, combine flour, garlic powder and pepper. Add chicken in small batches and shake to coat; set remaining flour mixture aside - do not discard!

In a large skillet, cook chicken in oil till lightly browned on all sides; drain oil.

Combine 1 1/4 c. water, soy sauce, and oregano and pour over chicken, Add vegetables and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165° or more. Remove the chicken and vegetables and keep warm.

Combine reserved flour mixture and remaining 1/2 c. water until smooth; pour into the pan with the cooking juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or till thickened. Serve with the chicken and vegetables.

Serve with a can of Pillsbury Biscuits, which are on sale this week in a 4-pack for .99, or splurge and get the Grands or Crescent rolls! :-)

Total entree cost: $4.67
Cost of biscuit can: .25
Total cost of meal: $4.92

Enjoy, and come back next week for a new bargain meal. And make sure you visit the Bargain Meal of the Week for lots of wonderful budget recipes!!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Surgery I've Mentioned....

If you are a regular reader and have wondered about the surgery I've mentioned previously, I finally blogged about it on my other blog. If you're interested, please check it out here.