Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spaghetti Sauce

I had a request several days ago to talk about what to do with leftover spaghetti sauce. Jackie, I'm so sorry that I've been such a bum and haven't gotten a post done! I'm going to post about it now; I know it's way too late for your leftovers, but hopefully it will help out next time! :-)

I would say that the best thing to do with leftover spaghetti sauce is to use it for a modified freezer cooking session. You can use it to make up a few meals to store in the freezer to make your life easier later.

My favorite use for leftover spaghetti sauce is pizza. It's a perfect pizza sauce and a quick dinner, especially if you use one of those par-baked pre-made crusts. I like to make mine in the bread machine, and it's still a simple-to-assemble meal. Or, an even easier option is either mini english-muffin pizzas or french bread pizza. Both are quite tasty!

Another family favorite that I freeze all the time is lasagna. It takes 3-4 cups of spaghetti sauce for a 13" x 9" pan of lasagna. You can use the no-cook noodles or cook your noodles; either way, assemble the lasagna, wrap it well, and you can freeze it, uncooked. Simply take it out the night before you plan to eat it, let it thaw in the refrigerator, and bake at 375° for 60 minutes, uncovering the last 10 minutes.

Stuffed shells or manicotti are other fun pasta options that freeze well. Cook the large shells or manicotti noodles and stuff with your preferred filling (we go simple with cottage cheese, chopped spinach, and mozzarella). Place in a pan and pour spaghetti sauce all around and over them and pop into the freezer. These thaw and bake like the lasagna, but bake in about half the time.

I really like to freeze a modified version of a Taste of Home recipe called Beef Mushroom Spaghetti. It is easily prepared with leftover sauce.

Cook 7 ounces of spaghetti noodles according to package directions.
Meanwhile, brown 1/2 lb. of ground beef and drain. Stir in 2 c. leftover sauce and 1 can of cream of mushroom soup. Stir in the cooked noodles and a can of mushroom pieces, drained.
Place in a greased 8" square baking pan. Cover and freeze.
When ready to prepare, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Keeping covered, bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes until heated thru. Top with grated parmesan. Yum!

Or, how about Chicken Parmesan?? Dip chicken breasts in beaten egg and then coat with bread crumbs. Bake in the oven until done, about 30 minutes at 350°. Serve over pasta and cover with leftover sauce and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.

I haven't tried this one, but I would think it would be good in an italian-style soup like pasta e fajoli. I'm sure there are recipes online for this.

And the last idea I can think of, but another one that I personally wouldn't use, is stuffed peppers. We don't like green peppers here, but I would think spaghetti sauce would be great mixed with the meat and other filling.

So there you have thoughts on leftover spaghetti sauce. Somehow, I now have a craving for pasta!!!! :-) If you have some other ideas, please share! I know I'm forgetting several!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Please Vote for Me!!!

A tip that I submitted to the site Get Dollar Savvy, by Reader's Digest, has been selected as a possible winner of $250. I did win this contest a few weeks ago with a grocery-saving tip (and they have yet to contact me!), but as most of you know, I just had major surgery and I could really use a little help with all of these medical bills!

If you would be so kind as to help me out with your vote, please go to:

Scroll down to the contest. My tip is the first one on the list, shown as submitted by KaryaDawn (my nickname there). I would so very much appreciate your vote!

While you're there, submit your own tip for next week's contest. It's a tough one this time! In order to submit an entry, you do have to register, but you don't have to do anything just to vote, so no need to worry about spam or anything.

Thanks for your help!!!!

Hen House Bargain Meal of the Week

So did anyone even notice that I neglected to post a Bargain Meal of the Week last week??? Time got away from me, and the sale was lousy anyway, so I didn't get anything posted. Now don't you feel guilty for not noticing and asking me about it??? ;-)

This week, we're looking toward the warmer months, when the Crock Pot becomes a favorite appliance because it doesn't heat up the kitchen like the oven! Hen House has Fresh Split Chicken Breasts on sale, so let's make a little Chicken Cacciatore in our Crock Pots. Sound good?

Here's your Hen House shopping list:

Fresh Split Chicken Breasts, 2 lbs, $1.49/lb
Hunts Tomatoes, Crushed, 2 cans, .77 ea.
Lipton Side Dishes, Butter & Herb, .97
Fresh Asparagus, 1 lb, $1.49/lb

Items from your kitchen:

Milk and water to make the noodle mix
Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

2 lbs. bone-in chicken breasts, $2.98
2 cans crushed tomatoes, $1.54
1 T. italian seasoning, negligible
Salt and pepper to taste, negligible

Combine seasonings and tomatoes in Crock Pot. Place chicken on top and cover with tomato mixture. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

About 20 minutes before mealtime, prepare the Lipton side dish - $.97
Just before mealtime, steam the asparagus in the microwave - $1.49

Total cost of meal: $6.98

For more great budget meals, be sure and visit 5 Dollar Dinners!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I WON!!!

I just looked at the Reader's Digest Dollar Savvy website and learned that MY tip for saving money on groceries was voted the winning tip last week!! According to their rules, I won $250!!!! I am soooooo excited!!!!

Of course, I still have to get the confirmation email, but I submitted my tip as KaryaDawn, who has been named the winner!! You should go to Dollar Savvy and submit a tip for this week - how do you save money on bank and credit card fees? The editors pick their top 5 tips and submit them for public voting the following week. This week, LittlePeopleWealth is up for vote for her tip on saving gas money! (I messed up and didn't get my tip in on time this week, but that's okay!) Pop over there, vote for LittlePeopleWealth, and send in your own tip.

I can't wait to get my confirmation email, and then my prize!!!!! Woohoo!!! It's a good day!!

By the way, the reason I posted on my Leftovers blog is that the tip was about saving money on groceries, so it's related! :-)

Hen House Bargain Meal of the Week

Top o' the bargain week to ya! It's time again for the Hen House Bargain Meal of the week. I'm going to touch on two recipes for ya this week - the traditional St. Paddy's day fare and a recipe for you scoundrels who haven't the decency to be Irish!

Okay, confession time. I have some Irish in me, but I absolutely hate corned beef!! I'm going to post a recipe for it, but I can promise you that you won't find that dish on my dinner table next week! :) Sorry to all who revel in the tradition - it just isn't something I enjoy.

Dinner Idea #1 - Corned Beef and Cabbage

What you need to buy:
2 lbs. Boyle's Corned Beef - On sale for $2.79/lb
3 lbs. cabbage - On sale for .25/lb

Since I don't make this dish, I am borrowing an adapted recipe from Gooseberry Patch that sounds like one I would like if I ate corned beef:

Glazed Corned Beef

2 lb. corned beef brisket ($5.58)
1 T. mustard (negligible)
1 t. prepared horseradish (negligible)
1 T. red wine vinegar (negligible)
2 T. honey (.20)

In a slow cooker, cover brisket with water. Cover and cook on low setting for 6 to 8 hours, until tender. Place corned beef in an ungreased 13"x9" baking pan. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients; brush over beef. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden; baste occasionally. Makes 3-4 servings.

Toward the end of the cooking time, put some water on the stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling, drop in your cabbage, cut into wedges. To cut down on the cooked cabbage smell, drop in a couple of lemon wedges or half an apple. Cook until tender, about 7 minutes. (Cabbage - .75)

I think I would serve this with some boiled red potatoes. ($1.00)

Total cost of meal: $7.53

Now, for the meal I would love to prepare based on the current Hen House ad! This is a very easy meal with minimal cleanup and everyone loves it.

Dinner Idea #2: Chicken in a Packet

What you need to buy:
KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce - On sale for .96
2 lbs. fresh chicken breasts - On sale for $1.99/lb (Fri/Sat sale)
5 lb. russet potatoes - On sale for $1.50

Chicken in a Packet

2 lbs. chicken breast ($3.98)
1/2 c. KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce (.24)
4 potatoes, sliced thinly (.75)
1 green or red pepper, sliced (.50)

Tear off 4 large pieces of aluminum foil. Divide chicken into 4 servings. Take first piece of foil and drizzle 1 T. BBQ sauce on the middle section of the bottom half. Place one sliced potato on top of sauce. Place chicken breast on top of potato and drizzle with 1 T. BBQ sauce (you can use more if you wish). Top with 1/4 of the sliced pepper. Fold top half of foil over and seal edges. Set on a cookie sheet.

Repeat this process with the other 3 pieces of foil and ingredients. Line up on cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for about 45 minutes until chicken is done.

Alternately, in nice weather you can place these on the grill and cook until done. Be sure and use heavy-duty foil if you use this cooking method.

To serve, cut open the packets. When done, toss them. :) Easy, huh??

Total cost of meal: $5.47

For more GREAT dinner ideas on a budget, be sure and head over to 5 Dollar Dinners!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Leftover Pork and Country Soup

I had a request (thanks, Laurie) to discuss what to do with leftover pork chops (and fish, but that one is going to take me awhile since we don't eat fish! lol). As part of the leftover pork discussion, I am going to post one of my family's favorite soup recipes for the great recipe swap over at Grocery Cart Challenge! Read on.....

Pork chops can be diced up and used in recipes, sometimes even substituted for ham. One thing that I do frequently is a pork stuffed bread. Mushrooms and mozzarella cheese are wonderful additions to the pork and make a yummy dinner bread.

This one may sound a little over-the-top, but my kids enjoyed it. I have made a pork pizza. It's best with alfredo sauce, and is really good and a little different.

Cubed pork is also a great addition to a homemade quiche. Swiss or mozzarella cheese would be tasty with it.

If you would like something with a little more kick, you can simmer the cubed pork in your favorite bbq sauce and make a delicious sandwich similar to a sloppy joe.

I found a recipe in my latest Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine that inspired the use of leftover pork. It's called Chinese Roast Pork Paninis. You could modify this recipe and use your cubed pork by simply simmering the pork in a sauce made of 1 T. hoisin sauce, 1 T. honey, 1/2 T. sesame oil, 1/2 T. soy sauce, and sauteed chopped onion if you like that. Cook up on fresh bread on your panini press.

And finally, here is the soup recipe I promised. Originally, I made this soup with cubed ham, but recently used it for leftover chopped pork, and it was great.

Country Soup

1 c. water
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed to about 1/2"
1 package Country Gravy Mix (I use Pioneer)
2 c. milk
1 cup/can whole kernel corn
Leftover pork, or 1-2 cups cubed cooked ham

In large saucepan, bring water and potato cubes to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5-8 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, whisk gravy mix into milk until smooth.
Add gravy mixture, pork, and corn to saucepan with potatoes (do not drain).
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 min., stirring occasionally.

All of my kids love this soup, surprisingly enough. Hopefully yours will, too! As always, if you have any great uses for leftover pork chops, please share them! I know I'm forgetting a lot of ideas, but at least this is a great start.

And for a variety of fantastic recipes from around the blogosphere, be sure and visit Gayle's recipe swap!

Hen House Bargain Meal of the Week

When I looked at the Hen House ad this week, I had a moment of panic. It can be very difficult to find a bargain meal at Hen House, which is a bit of a higher-end grocery store. Their meat prices are almost always more than I am willing to pay, so I have to look at everything very carefully. One tip if you're a Hen House shopper: go in the store as close to 8 a.m. as possible. Head directly for the meat department. Somewhere in that area, generally on a big silver tray on top of the reach-in bins, you will find clearance meats. The stores here mark those packages down to at least half-price, often lower. You can get some really good deals, but you have to be an early bird!!

After a more careful perusal of the ad this week, my bargain meal jumped right out at me. It's a family favorite that I am sure you will love, too. I can't make this one often enough to please my's their favorite way to eat chicken! Let's get cooking!!

Your shopping list for Hen House:

1 lb. fresh boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins - $2.99 sale
1 pkg. Bar-S Sliced Bacon - $2.50 sale
1 bag Birds Eye Steamfresh or frozen vegs. - $1.50 sale

You will also need:

Ranch dressing
Monterrey-Jack (or your favorite) shredded cheese
Baking potatoes

Jack's Ranch Chicken

1 lb. chicken tenderloins - $2.99
6 slices bacon - $1.25
1/2 c. ranch salad dressing - $.50
1/2 c. shredded cheese - $.50

Spray a skillet with non-stick spray. Cook your chicken tenderloins until done. Place the tenders in a 13 x 9 baking pan that has also been sprayed with the non-stick spray. Set aside.

Cook the bacon in the same skillet (or in the microwave on paper towels, the way I do it) until cooked and crisp. Cut or crumble the bacon.

Pour dressing over chicken strips in pan. Top with crumbled bacon and shredded cheese.

Place in oven and broil on low until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with:

4 large baked potatoes (and top with the remaining dressing in the pan - $2.00
Prepared Birds Eye veggies - $1.50

Total cost of meal: $8.74

(Note: I know this is above the $5 that I said was my goal, but I've decided to increase that goal to $10. That allows me to make tastier and more interesting meals and is still WAY less expensive than going out.)

For more great menu ideas, be sure to check out 5Dollar Dinners!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

How About Some Requests??

I started this blog to help people stretch grocery dollars by utilizing leftover foods. I've posted on some of the most common foods I have in my home that need to be made over into new meals. But now I'd like to hear from YOU! What do you find sitting in your fridge that you'd like to do something with it? I want this blog to be helpful and informative, so please tell me what topics you would like me to address. Nothing's off limits, and I'd love some requests. If I don't have any ideas, maybe another reader can help out.

Let's make this fun, and full of even more valuable information. Tell me what you need to turn from Leftover into Brand New Meal!!!