8 Home-Cooked Meals for under $20?? No Problem – I’ve got you covered!

As I’ve shared many times before, I spend a few hours in the kitchen every weekend and we’ve got fresh and delicious home-cooked meals throughout the week ahead – and beyond!  Today’s adventure in the kitchen (and this blog post) isn’t about a new recipe I’ve been waiting to try, but all about my regular routine of ensuring I can always answer the question, “What’s for Dinner?” (and lunch, too, for that matter!)

So what does 8 meals for under $20 look like?

Chicken Salad Roasted Chicken goat-cheese-basil-chicken

 

 

 

 

I reserved 4 of the chicken breasts to prepare the Goat Cheese-Basil Chicken that will go in the freezer for easy weeknight meals (2 [2 serving] meals) that can be on the table in 45 minutes.  Then I roasted the remaining 2 chicken breasts with all the dark meat pieces.  The roasted breast meat (and a few of the thighs) were used to make the Chicken Salad (Quart size container – Easily 4-5 servings), and the rest of the dark meat pieces to be served alongside a salad, rice or potato, for another 2 [2 serving] meals.  (I saved the back bones to make chicken stock, too!)

Although I’ve shared each of these food prep ideas before, I thought it worth another post to remind everyone that fresh and delicious home-cooked are always within reach – at a fraction of the cost of going out or stopping at the drive-thru window on your way home from work.

I’m reminded about what I wrote in the “About Joe” section of this blog nearly 7 years ago, and it’s still true today.  Here’s an excerpt from that section:

I’ll write about shopping smart and turning leftovers into delightful new creations.  I’ll share ideas on dishes that can be made ahead and placed in the freezer to ensure a hot healthy meal after a long day at work.

I believe everyone can enjoy home-cooked meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – and feel good about what you’re doing for yourself and others in the process!  Food is a great way to share a part of yourself – and it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.

Thanks for joining me on my adventures in the kitchen, and I hope you’re inspired to try some of the recipes and prep-ahead ideas to reduce stress, eat fresh, and enjoy great food together!

Buon appetito!

 

 

 

 


Economical, Flexible, Delicious!

Cooking on a regular basis doesn’t mean you have to come up with something new and different each and every time.  What it does mean is that you and your family will have healthy home-prepared meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – even fast food!  As part of this weekend’s ‘Sunday Fun-day in the Kitchen’, here’s a tray of breaded chicken cutlets (that have made an appearance on this blog before) that was the result of 3 large boneless chicken breasts for $5.18!!  Imagine the possibilities:  Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Sandwiches, Sliced Chicken atop a Green Salad, or any other way you can imagine eating crispy delicious oven-baked breaded chicken cutlets! – And what a bargain!!

Platter of Breaded Chicken Cutlets

Breaded Chicken Cutlets

Using a sharp knife, filet the boneless chicken breast to about 1/4″ thick, then cut into 4-5 cutlet size pieces.

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper both sides of each piece, dredge in flour, dip in beaten egg, then coat with seasoned bread crumb mixture.  Place on a prepared (cooking spray) baking sheet pan, drizzle olive oil between and around the pieces, then bake for about 15 minutes on each side to a crispy golden brown.  (You should shake the pan about half way through the cooking on each side to ensure the cutlets don’t stick to the pan.  Add more olive oil as needed.)  Once cooked, move cutlets to rest on a plate – then enjoy!  These store really well in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.  Now you know what’s for dinner!


Simple, Delicious, Roasted Chicken Salad

After all the years I’ve been making Roasted Chicken Salad, I realized it’s never made an official appearance on this blog.  I’ll share the way I go about making it, but it’s up to you how you’ll make it your own.  It’s really as easy as 1, 2, 3:

Picture of oven roasted chicken breasts

1.  Roasted Chicken Breasts

Picture of Chopped Carrots, Celery, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries

2. Chopped Carrots, Celery, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries

Picture of Chicken Salad with Crackers

3. Chicken Salad – Ready to Eat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started with 4 bone-in/skin on chicken breasts.  (You could use boneless/skinless, too, but I like the flavor from the bone and skin during roasting.)  Drizzle each with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/pepper.  Roast in a 400F oven for about 50-60 minutes.  You’ll know they’re ready when they’re golden brown and the internal temperature is at 160F.  Let cool, then remove meat from the skin/bone and chop into small size dice.  Set aside in large bowl (for mixing.)

Chop about 1/2 cup (2 stalks) celery, 1/2 cup (2-3 small) carrots, and a handful each of walnuts and dried cranberries.  Add to the chopped chicken.

Mix chicken and ‘chopped goodness’ with about 1 cup mayo (or combo of 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt,) about 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, and about 1/4 tsp. kosher salt.  (Since the chicken breasts were seasoned with salt/pepper, you’ll want to add additional to your taste.)

That’s it!  Simple and Delicious.  Eat with your favorite crackers, on your favorite bread as a sandwich, or put a scoop on top of a salad.  Now matter how you enjoy it – you’ll be making it again and again!  Enjoy!


Avocado Lunch Snack

Simple, Delicious, and Nutritious!

Sliced sourdough (or other crusty bread) drizzled with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper, then toasted/baked until golden brown.  Top with a small handful of arugula, sliced hard boiled egg, and sliced avocado – sprinkled with fleur de sel or other coarse salt.  A little side of Sopressata (or other hard salami) is an ideal complement to this nutritious lunch snack.  (I enjoyed this perfect little lunch while preparing our Thanksgiving meal.)

Avocado Lunch Snack

Avocado Lunch Snack


Sunday Prep Kitchen (and an Easter menu idea!)

Sunday was one of my typical days of prepping all that I brought home from shopping on Saturday, in less than 2 hours!   I didn’t set out for anything in particular as I went shopping, but found many great buys that will make their way to our dinner plates throughout the week ahead.

Sunday Prep

Sunday Prep

I couldn’t walk past 98 cent eggplant or asparagus at 98 cents per pound.  Whenever I find eggplant on sale, I typically make Eggplant Parmesan, but having a tray already in the freezer, I thought about a grilled vegetable pizza and knew I’d be stopping off at the Italian import store for some peppery panceetta and pizza dough.  As I continued my way around the store, the fennel flashed me back to a delicious Italian sausage and fennel sandwich I had a couple of weeks ago on crusty Italian bread.  My mouth literally started watering, so in the cart went the fennel as I headed for the sausage aisle.  Some of the best meals happen when you have no set plan in place!

As I was in the midst of prepping, cooking, and storing, I came across the leftover mashed potatoes from a few nights ago – and they quickly became my go-to potato pancakes.  That was Sunday – and we’ll be sinking our teeth into delicious meals all week long!

What are you having for Easter dinner?  I’ve made a ham for every Easter I can remember, and I just don’t feel like a ham this year.  I started thinking about what to have, and although I’m still thinking, I might use that grilled eggplant in a vegetable lasagna (grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, and spinach, topped with goat cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella.)  I’m thinking of grilling some chicken basil sausage on the side (for a little Easter je ne sais quoi,) make some garlic bread, a salad – and we’ve got Easter dinner.

Whatever you’re having, you’ll want to make the most delicious Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake for dessert!

Lemon Blueberry CakeI made this for our friend Christine’s birthday on Friday night – and it’s the perfect spring/Easter dessert.  You won’t be disappointed.  Mike came across this recipe a week or so ago (Sally’s Baking Addiction website,) and I’ll be making it again real soon.

Here’s wishing you a week filled with good food and happiness!  Buon appetito!


Salmon-Spinach Burgers, So Easy and Delicious!

Craving a burger and fries? How about a salmon burger? To make it even easier, I used a can (yes, a can!) of salmon from Trader Joe’s! Unlike me, I know, but I thought I’d give it a try – and I’ll be going back for more real soon. You can find a ton of salmon burgers on line, but my creation was fast, easy, and so good.

Salmon Burger

One can of salmon (drained), one egg, two tablespoons mayo, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup chopped spinach (fresh or frozen), about 10 saltine crackers (finely ground – use a plastic bag and a rolling pin), and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper.   Form into patties (makes 2 large) and coat with Panko breadcrumbs.  (These can be made ahead and placed in the refrigerator until cooking.)  I always double the recipe to make 4 burgers, 2 for now and 2 in the freezer to enjoy again real soon!

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Once hot, add the burgers and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until they’re to your liking. Add a slice of sharp cheddar cheese, a slice of crisp bacon (or not), some avocado, lettuce and tomato – and you’ve got an awesome burger.  I toasted the rolls and made a fast dressing with a little mayo and hot sauce.  Paired with some french fries (Mike’s favorite) and a fast, delicious, healthy (?) meal is ready to enjoy!  How about an ice-cold beer to go with that burger?


Leftover Makeover

Remember last weekend’s meatballs and chicken tenders.  They made an awesome sandwich for dinner last night accompanied by a mixed green salad.  Delicious!  We were headed for spaghetti, but opted for the open-faced sandwich, instead!

Open-Faced Meatball and Chicken Parmesan