Category: Main Dish

The One Week $25 Challenge

I’ll be conducting several challenges this year, the first is to cook and eat on less than $25 dollars from Monday to Friday. Normally, I only have coffee for breakfast and eat out for lunch two or three times a week. But for the purpose of this challenge, I will eat three meals a day. I will not be counting beverages or staples that I have on hand at all times, such as salt, pepper, butter, sugar, flour, garlic, seasonings, oil, etc.

I went to the store for the first shopping trip today (Sunday) and stocked up for breakfast and lunch for all five days plus dinner (mostly) for the first three days. I took a strategy of using products more than once such as bread, eggs, rice and potatoes. Each day I will update this post with my meals and recipes.

Here is the grocery list and the prices.

Item Cost
1 lb Chorizo 1.93
2 lb Grade A chicken thighs 3.33
12 oz Center cut Bacon 2.00
Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls (8 cnt. Tube) 0.00
1 white onion 0.33
1.1 lb Red potatoes 1.08
1 head Iceberg lettus 0.88
3/4 pound broccoli crowns 0.73
1.2 lb Roma tomatoes 1.11
1 8oz can cream of chicken 0.88
16 oz Cavatappi Pasta 1.00
16 oz. Linguine Pasta -0.93
16 oz Small Red Beans (Dry) 1.15
16 oz Long Grain White Rice 0.74
1 Small loaf white bread 0.69
1/2 dozen grade AA large eggs 1.19
8oz Monterey Jack Cheese (1) 1.67
Green Bell Pepper (2) 0.78
Calamata Olives (3) 1.04
Tomato Sauce (3) 0.29
White Onion (3) 0.33
Prime Ribeye Steak (4) 4.75
TOTAL 24.98

Day 1

  • Breakfast: Scrambled egg and buttered toast.
  • Lunch: BLT
  • Dinner: Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

I needed some cheese for the casserole so I had to pick up an 8 oz block of Monterey Jack ($1.67). Even though I tried to cut the recipe amounts back so I would not have leftovers, I still had enough for lunch the next day plus some.

Dinner recipe ingredients: 1/2 pound chicken, 1/2 cup rice, 2 medium broccoli crowns, 1 can of cream of chicken)

Day 2

  • Breakfast: Poached egg with toast
  • Lunch: Leftover Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
  • Dinner: Red Beans and Rice with Chorizo

Leftovers AGAIN. I am finding it very hard to cook a single serving, but then again how can you cook 1/8th cup of rice? I guess I could have pre-cooked the rice yesterday and reserved 1/2 for tonights meal. If I try a challenge similar to this in the future, I will definately precook rice. Supplies are holding out well. I expect that when the challenge is over I will still have at least 1/2 of the rice and beans left and probably most of the pasta.

Dinner recipe ingredients: 1/2 pound Chorizo, 2/3 cup rice, 1/2 cup red beans, 1/2 medium white onion, 3 cloves garlic, Cajun seasoning.

Day 3

  • Breakfast: Fried egg toasted Sandwich
  • Lunch: Leftover Red Beans and Rice
  • Dinner: Chicken Fajitas with Spanish Rice

Ok, leftovers have become a strategy at this point, however, I do not plan to have the same dish more than twice. Once for dinner then again as leftovers for lunch the next day. I’m going to have plenty of bacon, tomatoes, lettuce and bread to work with since I have abandoned the daily BLT for lunch.

Dinner recipe ingredients: 1 pound chicken, 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 medium white onion, 1 green bell pepper, 1 Roma tomato

Day 4

  • Breakfast: Cinnamon toast with bacon
  • Lunch: Leftover Chicken Fajitas and Spanish Rice
  • Dinner: Linguine with Red Meat Sauce

Dinner turned out alright, but I do think that the Cavatappi would have been the better pasta to use.

Dinner recipe ingredients: 6 oz Linguine, 1/2 pound Chorizo, 1/2 medium white onion, 1 green bell pepper, 1 can tomato sauce, 2 oz Monterey Jack cheese, 4 oz Calamata olives, 2 cloves garlic, 2 slices of bacon, 1 egg, almost a full head of lettuce

Day 5

  • Breakfast: 2 egg omelet with bacon
  • Lunch: Leftover Linguine with Red Meat Sauce
  • Dinner: Rib-eye with Roasted Red Potatoes

Well I was able to save enough money to treat myself to a Rib-eye on day 5! Smaller than I normally have and choice not prime, but a Rib-eye none the less. I also had enough bacon left to add a few slices to the potatoes as a topping.

Dinner recipe ingredients: 8 oz Rib-eye, 3/4 pound red potatoes, 3 slices of bacon

Bonus Food

I had all of the Cavatappi and cinnimon rolls left, 1/2 pound chicken, 2/3 of the Linguine, 3/4 of the red beans, 1/4 of the rice, 1/2 of the Monterey Jack, a couple of tomatoes and potatoes, 1/2 white onion and a couple of slices of bacon. I was able to go ahead and use most of the ingredients in the next few days. I still have all of the pasta, it will keep, but I did have to throw the chicken out.

So there you have it 3 meals a day for the work week without using any processed packaged food — with food left over. Of course on Saturday I cooked a very nice mushroom risotto that probably cost me $15-20 in ingredients.

-Chef Stacy

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Slow Cooker HOT Texas Chili

HOT Texas Chili

HOT Texas Chili

I love a great chili. I have participated in many chili cook-offs, but rarely place because I like my chili HOT. If you can’t take the heat stay out of the kitchen. The following is my basic chili recipe minus my 3 secret ingredients. When you make chili you always need to have a secret ingredient or three. I have different recipes based on the method of cooking, this one is for a 6 hour slow cooker. Of course you can substitute different chili’s and spices to taste.

I find that adding sweet tends to allow people to take the heat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground chuck (80/20), large grind preferred
  • 1 pound chorizo, large grind preferred
  • 1/2 pound diced chuck (1/4 inch cubes)
  • Chilies
    • 3 Serrano chilies, chopped
    • 4 Thai chilies, chopped
    • 2 Red Habanero, chopped
    • 3 Red Hot Holland chilies, chopped
    • 3 Red Fresno chilies, chopped
    • 1 Poblano chili, chopped
    • 2 Red Dulce Mediteraneo chilies, chopped
    • 3 Jalapeño chilies, chopped
    • 2 dried New Mexico chilies, whole
    • 2 dried Cascabel chilies, whole
  • Spices
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher or Sea Salt
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ground pepper
    • 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder (I use my own blend)
    • 1 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
    • 1 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 tablespoon paprika
    • 3/4 tablespoon fennel seed
    • 1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 8 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • Secret ingredients 1 (H), 2 (O) and 3 (T)

Directions:

Add wine and tomatoes to slow cooker set on low. Brown chuck, chorizo and diced chuck. Add to slow cooker undrained. Mix well. Prepare onion, fennel, garlic and chilies, add and stir in to slow cooker. Add spices and mix well. At about the 2 hour mark add brown sugar and mix well. Slow cook for 6 hours on low.

Serve in deep bowl with crackers and beer.

A nice spin to this dish is to add 1/2 to 3/4 pound of diced peeled deviened shrimp in the last hour of cooking.

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Green Eggs and Ham Quiche

Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss

Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss

This dish was inspired by a request from a Fackbook fan and my recent article on eggs (I made a reference to Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham“). These are great traditional quiches and a great treat for the kids.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon shortening
  • 1 cup chopped or diced ham
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 Roma tomato, thickly sliced

Directions:

Prepare 4, 4 inch x 1 inch crust as described in Cheesy Quiche Crust.

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

Prepare the custard by mixing spinach and onion in a food processor. Add eggs, milk, flour and shortening and mix thoroughly.

Green Eggs and Ham Quiche

Green Eggs and Ham Quiche

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place all 4 crusts on a baking sheet for ease in handling. Bake crust for 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and fill with custard. Bake custard for 15 minutes, then remove from oven. Top each quiche with a thin to moderate amount of cheese. Finish topping with chopped or diced ham. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Plate with slice of Romano tomato.

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Slow Cooked Apple and Onion Stuffed Chicken

Apple and Onion Stuffed Chicken with Bacon and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Apple and Onion Stuffed Chicken with Bacon and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

When I first conceived this recipe, I was going to fry the chicken in butter for about 4-5 minutes a side. However, I had purchased a new slow cooker and was looking for an interesting way to use it. It was suggested that I do a stuffed chicken recipe. Serendipity at its best. I already had all of the ingredients.  So below you will find the altered recipe. The slow cooker gave me plenty of time to relax and fix a side dish of bacon and garlic mashed potatoes, and Bananas Foster for dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Green Apple, diced (Granny Smith recommended)
  • 1 Small Red Onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons Oregano
  • 2 Pieces of bread, toasted, (you can substitute 3/4 cup store bought bread crumbs)
  • 8-10 ounces diced Tomato
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed or quartered
  • 1 tablespoon dried Oregano

Directions:

Pounding Chicken Thighs

Pounding Chicken Thighs

Between two pieces of plastic wrap, unroll and pound flat chicken thighs.

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and apple and cook 6-8 minutes until onion is translucent and apples are slightly softened. Cut toasted bread in to small chunks and add to onions and apples. Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt an pepper. Stir until well mixed then add diced tomatoes. Continue stirring, then remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.

Stuffed Chicken in Slow Cooker

Stuffed Chicken in Slow Cooker

Place a spoon full or more of the onion/apple mixture on each thigh and secure with toothpicks. Place each rolled thigh in a slow cooker. Pour remaining mixture over thighs and add chicken broth and garlic. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste (1-2 teaspoons). Start cooker and cook on high for 2 1/2 hours. In the last 15 minutes of cooking add oregano.

Finished Product Ready to Slow Cook

Finished Product Ready to Slow Cook

Serve by plating Stuffed Chicken first then topping with remaining mix. The left over cooking juice can be used as a gravy or additional sauce for the chicken.

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Cheezie Chicken Enchiladas

Tabasco Salsa

Tabasco Salsa

Facebook fan, Desiree Rempel, recently shared one of her favorite recipes. I whipped it up the other night with one small change — I used diced tomatoes, rather than pimientos. It was a very wonderful dish. I chose to top it with green chili sauce. I had received a jar of Tabasco Salsa a couple of weeks ago and had that on the side along with some vegetable rice.

Serves: 2-4

Depending on the size of the tortillas, the recipe will yield 4-6 enchiladas. I use 8 inch diameter tortillas and am able to make 5 enchiladas with plenty left over for topping.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped (red preferred)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken
  • 1 can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 8 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • Flour tortillas, warmed

Directions:

Prepared Enchilads ready for oven

Prepared Enchiladas ready for oven

Cut chicken into small cubes no larger than 1 inch. In boiling water, cook chicken for 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Chicken can then be easily chopped into smaller pieces. Set chicken aside.

In a medium pot, over medium/medium-high heat, melt butter being careful not to burn. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add broth and cook until slightly thickened again stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes. Stir in cream cheese until well mixed. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese, chicken, chilies and diced tomatoes. Mix well, making sure cheese is melted.

Cheezie Enchaladas with Vegetable Rice and Salsa

Cheezie Enchiladas with Vegetable Rice and Salsa

Spoon about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of mixture onto each tortilla. Roll each up and place side by side, seam side down in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Pour and spread remaining mixture over enchiladas. Top with remaining 1 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.

Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve 1 to 2 enchiladas per plate. Suggested toppings, fresh chopped cilantro, green chili sauce, roasted red pepper or salsa.

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