Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Well, a new year is approaching quickly. This traditional meal is also a cost-savings meal. I hope everyone has a safe and happy start to 2010, and follows it up with a little luck for the new year. I will blog again to finish out my week of meals in 2010! Enjoy!

  • 1 bag of black-eyed peas (follow directions to prepare) ($1.00)
  • 1 lb. sausage, sliced ($3.98)
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 lg. onion, chopped (purchased for previous meal)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can whole tomatoes ($.88)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Place black-eyed peas in large stew pan to simmer.

Fry sausage in oil until well browned.

Drain all but 2 tablespoons of oil from skillet. Saute onion in remaining oil.

Add onions with oil and remaining ingredients to peas. Simmer for 30 minutes over a low heat.

Serve with corn bread (2 for $.88)

TOTAL for a New Year's Tradition: $6.74

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ham and Cheese Quiche- $10.00 Meal

This is another bonus recipe, because it makes two. I think with some of my savings from other days, the total should still be okay, but this is the most expensive meal so far. It is however, something different. That is really what I wanted more than anything else. So, enjoy!

2 (9 inch) pastry shells (Pillsbury 2 for @ 2.00)
2 cups diced fully cooked ham ($2.69)
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese ($2.99)
1 onion chopped (purchased earlier)
4 eggs ($2.75 - cage free/ grain fed)
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Line unpricked pastry shells with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 400 degrees F for 5 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5 minutes longer.

Saute Ham and onion on a skillet. Then, divide ham, cheese and onion between the shells. In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper.

Pour into shells. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Or cover edges with foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Serve with jar Cinnamon apple sauce ($1.39)

Grand Total: $11.82 (without milk) - so price wise it was a BUST, but it should average out during the week

Crockpot Chicken- $10.00 Meal

I have done this chicken in many different versions (BBQ, Lemon Garlic, Italian Dressing)- all would be pretty cheap, but this is the most basic version, but just as tasty. There is nothing like coming home to a meal already done- so this is another slow cooker meal. You will notice I bought a 10 pound bag of potatoes and a 3 pound bag of onions. I use these ingredients all the time, and it was much more economical to buy the larger bags. Single potatoes were $1.00 a piece! Don't be surprised to see these ingredients come up again this week.


1 whole chicken ($3.20)
4 potatoes- sliced or wedged (10 lbs bag for 2.99)
2 onions (3 lb bag for 1.99)

Place potatoes and onions on the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the chicken on top. Salt and pepper generously. Put a few pats of butter in the slow cooker with the chicken and other ingredients. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Serve with green beans (2 cans for $1.25)

Grand Total: $9.43

Vegetable Beef Soup- $10.00 Meal

There is nothing better than a warm cup of soup on a cold winter's day. So, when looking for my next $10.00 or less meal, I wanted a soup. I thought I would share one of the best soup recipes I have. My mom shared it with me when I got my first apartment and I my first crock pot. The name of the soup has changed and so has the packaging, but every time we have it, the family loves it.

1 lbs of stew meat ($3.37) (save a $ and use ground beef)
1 package of Mrs. Grass Soup Starter (Vegetable Beef Soup) ($3.69)
1 box of crackers ($1.29) (purchased for previous meal)

Brown meat of medium heat until outside of meat is brown in a skillet. This step seals in the goodness of the meat. If you are using ground beef brown completely. Drain grease off of meat.

Place meat in the crock pot, along with 8 cups of water, and whisk in soup starter. Place on low for six to eight hours in the crockpot. (Can be cooked on the stove for about 30 minutes)

Serve with crackers.

Grand Total: $8.35

Poppy Seed Chicken- $10.00 Meal

Budget Recipe #1

Poppy Seed Chicken Ingredients

  • 4 leg quarter pieces of chicken ($2.79)

  • 1 container of sour cream ($1.37)

  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup (2 @ $1.34)

  • 1 sleeve of saltine crackers ($1.29)

  • poppy seeds

  • butter

Boil chicken leg quarters until fully done. Mix sour cream and cream of chicken soup together into mixture. (I found that I used less of the cream of chicken soup and the sour cream than the recipe called for) Crumble package of crackers into small pieces. Melt half a stick of butter in the microwave.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop chicken into large chunks into the casserole dish. Spread sour cream and soup mixture over chicken, completely covering it. Sprinkle cracker pieces all over the top.
Pour melted butter evenly over crackers. Sprinkle poppy seeds all over.
Bake 30 minutes, until crackers are golden brown.

Served with rice (2 cups precooked) ($1.75) and steamed broccoli ($1.00)

Total for the meal: $9.54

BONUS RECIPE: Once I cooked this I found that I had half a pan left, half of the rice left, and some of the broccoli. Now many would have this as leftovers, but we do not do very good with leftovers. So, I got an aluminum pan and mixed the poppy seed chicken, the rice, and the broccoli all together with some of the left-over cream of chicken soup (to add moisture). I placed it in the freezer for a second meal. So really- two meals for the price of one!

Week After Christmas Goal- $10.00 Meals

The week after Christmas is always a great time for teachers- we get one more week off. I find that projects and cooking are attempted that I normally would not have the time for during a busy work week. Once I start back to work, I don't experiment with recipes as much. Last year at this time my goal was to stock the freezer. This year, I am going to try to do a week of recipes all for $10.00 or less each. I was successful with the first two- which I will post tonight. I went shopping today and purchased everything I needed for the seven meals and a few things for the house- for $66.00. A few of the things I already had, but wrote down the prices as I went to share when the time comes I can tell you how much they would cost. I did not use coupons, but I did buy primarily store brand. If there was a huge price discrepancy in items, I would buy the middle. I shopped at Kroger, but I bet most stores would be comparable. Needless to say, I was quite pleased with myself. :)

So, here is the week's worth of menus- for less than $70.00 (average $10.00 a meal)

  • Poppy Seed Chicken with sides of steamed rice and broccoli
  • Vegetable Beef Stew with Crackers
  • Ham and Cheese Quiche with Cinnamon applesauce
  • Crockpot chicken with onions and potatoes with green beans
  • Middle Eastern White Beans served over white rice with Bread
  • Tacos with Refried Beans
  • Black-eyed peas with corn bread and Sausage (Happy New Year's Food!)

I will post the prices for each of the recipes I make this week- and we will see how I d0- let the challenge begin.

Note: I did not include the prices of milk, butter, or spices since I typically have them all the time.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cream of Tomato Soup

On Christmas Eve the Stauffer family attends church, eats dinner, and open presents. Mom always prepares a meal that can be served shortly after church, since the young and old seem to be ready to eat. This year, as we have done before, we are having soups and sandwiches. This soup is a recipe that mom found in 2006 on I am not sure how this particular recipe would be considered light, but it is tasty. I was not able to find the recipe online now, but luckily she had printed it out. She is going to serve it with the Potato Leek Soup (

  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 2 cans of V8 Juice
  • 1 cup half and half cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil

In a food processor or blender, combine stewed tomatoes and cream cheese; cover and process until smooth. Set aside. In a large saucepan saute onion and garlic in butter. Whisk in tomato soup and V8 until blended. Gradually stir in cream cheese mixture, cream, and basil. Cook and stir until heated through (do not boil). Serve and enjoy!

Birthday Party

The girls turn five and seven tomorrow, yes they have the same birthday. Every year we have party for them in Fort Smith with all of the great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. . .basically all the fam. Clay and I cook a big dinner and we have cake and ice cream. Since we have been doing it for six years you have to stop and think about what to have, and what will not break the bank. The girls decided to have chicken spaghetti for their birthday this year. I decided to put green beans, fruit salad, and bread. Then of course, cake and ice cream. Tracie and I made the chicken spaghetti today (with store bought rotisserie chickens). I am posting the link to all of the recipes we used on this meal, since they all go well together and can feed a big crowd.

Green Beans

Chicken Spaghetti

Fruit Salad

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stauffer Family Chaos

I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time in 2009. My mom seemed to enjoy handing it over. One thing my grandmother and mom both do is make a meal timeline. My sister, Tracie, the engineer, took great notes for us. I am posting ours from Thanksgiving. One thing I messed up with on Thanksgiving is having too many things to put in the oven. Next time I will do green beans on the stove to help out the oven a bit. So, let me warn you before you make the same mistake as I did.

So, here is our list to serve the meal at 1

Cranberry Relish- 9 am- (made from fresh cranberries)
Sweet Potatoes- 9:00 for 1 hour (took longer :o)
Corn- in the crockpot at 10:00
Dressing - 10:00 for 30 minutes (then into the microwave to keep warm)
Ham/ Glaze- 10:15- 135 minutes in the roaster (in laundry room)
Fried Turkey - oil on a 10:30- turkey in at 11:15 (all depends on the size of the turkey)
Twice baked potatoes 10:30 for 45 minutes (then into the warming drawer)
Baked Asparagus-10:30 for 45 minutes (then to warming drawer)
Green Bean Bundles- in at 12:00 for 20 minutes
Salad- Fresh greens with vinaigrette- tossed about 12
Rolls - in the oven at 12:30 for 10 minutes(set to rise at 11:00)

Pumpkin Pie- crust night before/ pies baked first thing in the morning
Chocolate Pie- night before

Cheese Ball/ Crackers/ Relish/ Celery/ Carrots

Set at 12

'90s set the table for a decade of good eats

--> By J.M. HIRSCH Associated PressPublished: 12/20/2009 2:30 AMLast Modified: 12/20/2009

Want an easy way to sum up how Americans ate during the first 10 years of the new century? Three words should do it.

Sushi at 7-Eleven.

For this was the decade of the gourmeting of America, an era when cola wars and burger battles made way for artisanal sodas and grass fed beef, when coffee went from a cup of joe to a double shot-half-caff-soy-latte, ethnic was de rigueur and local became the new global.

It was a fine time to be a foodie.

Not that everything exactly whet the appetite. Contaminated produce and soaring food prices turned our stomachs. And we lost some of the luminaries and institutions — Julia Child and Gourmet magazine — that had worked so diligently to brighten our meals.

More than ever before, issues long treated as the mushy peas on the collective American dinner plate — organics, local and sustainable agriculture, animal welfare — were getting sirloin-style treatment, sometimes in the least likely of places.

Walmart embraced organics — a $21 billion industry, up from $3.6 billion in 1997 — a decision that broadened access, but that critics feared would dilute the industry's standards. And the home of the Egg McMuffin said it would study how to raise chickens without cramped cages.

Meanwhile, books and movies that tore into big industry food and would have been relegated to the granola set a decade earlier — Morgan Spurlock's 2004 film "Super Size Me" and Michael Pollan's 2006 tome "The Omnivore's Dilemma" — pervaded the popular consciousness. Eating became a political act.

Whether prompted by concerns about the quality of school lunches, climate change or worker conditions in the Third World, more Americans started to vote with their stomachs. Suddenly, the carbon footprint of your carrots was an issue.

Slow Food, a highly politicized Italian-born movement dedicated to preserving artisanal and sustainable foods, made its first major foray into the U.S. in 2008. It sputtered shortly after, but that such a Euro-centric group even made it on the American scene is remarkable.

Speaking of votingIt says something about our appetite for good food when the most-watched kitchen is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Following the ketchup-as-vegetable Reagan years, the no-broccoli-allowed Bush Sr. years, eight years of Bubba's burger fixation, and finally the fake turkey faux pas of Bush Jr., America put a Foodie-in-Chief in the White House. Everything from the peach cobbler President Barack Obama ate in Chicago to the arugula harvested from the South Lawn garden planted by Michelle Obama suddenly became sought-after news.

Food also had a lighter side. We were primed by the Food Network (whose viewership jumped 392 percent from 1999 to 2009) and other channels to treat what we eat as entertainment. The era of Child's behind-the-stove television was fading, replaced by an army of reality programs with screaming chefs, cooking throw downs and towering cake creations.

Good luck if you just wanted to learn how to make beef bourguignon. For that, you'd have been better off tuning out and logging on. The Web exploded with food-driven content, much of it fed from social networks and blogs. Even Martha Stewart got in on it, using Twitter to send 140-character recipes.

By J.M. HIRSCH Associated Press

One-Pan Chicken and Potato Bake

I found this in a Kraft Food and Family Magazine from 2006 that my friend Sandra had given me. I tried to find the link, but Kraft no longer has it up- so here it is. This is great for working moms- and can even be done on low heat in the crockpot.

4 bone-in chicken pieces
4 large potatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 cup Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1/4 cup Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese (if doing in crock-pot wait and add this at the end)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place chicken and potatoes in 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
Pour dressing over chicken and potatoes; sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through (180 degrees). Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Substitute: replace potatoes with sweet potatoes or acorn squash

Paula Deen's Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

I am not typically a fan of sweet potatoes at the holidays, but I have had some great ones lately. This is one of the recipes I have had. I made these on Thanksgiving for the Stauffer Family Thanksgiving. I will say they took longer to cook than the recipe said. Next time I make it I might boil the potatoes for a short while before making the casserole. I'll let you know how that works. Now, I will say even though they took longer to make- they were amazing! If you are going to make it for a smaller family (not a holiday meal) I would cut everything in half.

3 T butter
3 large onions, thinly sliced
6 large sweet potatoes, very thinly slices (about 14 cups)
2 cups of shredded Asiago cheese
1 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of heavy whipping cream

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions; cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until onions are very tender. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high and cook for 5 or 6 minutes, starring frequently, or until onions are caramel colored. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Layer potato slices over bottom of baking dish to cover. Sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of cream. Pour remaining 1 1/2 cups cream over top of layers. Sprinkle evenly with 1 1/2 cups of cheese and top with caramelized onions. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Post by Amy Jordan, recipe from Sarah-Cathrine Orahood

Mmmmmm - looking for a delicious recipe for Christmas morning? (Or any morning, for that matter?) Try this! It's delicious:

2 (8 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan. Press one can of the crescent rolls into the bottom of the prepared pan. Mix together the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Spread over the crescent layer. Unroll the second can of crescent rolls and lay them on top of the cream cheese layer. Do not press down. Pour the melted margarine over the entire pan. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden. Enjoy!

*The original recipe calls for 2 packages of cream cheese....I have made it both ways and I prefer using just one package of cream cheese; however, it's good both ways.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Only Chocolate Chip Cookies

So my friend Devon sent me a great recipe book called "Beat This" by Ann Hodgman. So far I have only made the chocolate chip cookies. I have gotten really good reviews so you must try them! Now I must warn you, this is not a quick recipe to make, but if you have the time, it is well worth it. It is also a large you could cut it in half if you wanted.

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
24 ounces chocolate chips
3 cups chopped nuts (optional)

I've made some of my own comments throughout the recipe...they are in BLUE.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line four large cookie sheets with parchment paper (you should actually use the parchment makes a difference).

In a food processor, grind the oats until they turn into a fine powder. (You can also do this in a blender, working in small batches.) Coarsely chop the chocolate and add to the oats, processing until the pieces, too, become as fine as possible. This may take a long time, but the finer the mixture becomes, the better the cookies will be. Set the oat-chocolate mixture aside.

Here are the oats and chocolate in the food processor. It'll take a while to grind everything down. Have patience.

Here's what it should look like when you are done processing the oats and chocolate.

Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then gradually beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

If you're using a heavy-duty standing mixer, add the oat mixture and beat it in. If you're using a hand-held or lightweight mixer, work the oat mixture in with your hands. Mix thoroughly.
(this is a very thick mixture that was tough for even my Kitchenaid, but it could handle it)

No matter what kind of mixer you have, do the next step with your hands. Work the chocolate chips (and nuts if you are using them) into the dough.

This recipe will make 48 large cookies. Make balls of dough about twice the size of golf balls (yes this is big, but it's okay) and place 12 balls on each cookie sheet, spacing evenly.

Bake one cookie sheet at a time in the middle rack in the oven. Bake the cookies for 11 minutes, reversing the sheet halfway through the baking. When you've baked them for 11 minutes, remove the cookies from the oven. The cookies will not appear done at that point, but take them out anyway. (The surfaces of the cookies will be covered with small cracks, but inside the cracks, the cookies will still look wet.) If the bottoms are brown, you've baked the cookies too long.

Let the cookies cool right on the parchment-covered cookie sheet rather than transferring to racks; if you transfer while they're still hot, they will fall apart.

Once the cookies are cool, put them into plastic bags and store them in the freezer. Kept at room temperature, they dry out too fast. (I skipped this step and it was fine.)

Final product--

Now I have made 2 batches of this recipe. The first time I made it I made the dough ahead of time and refrigerated the dough. If you do this, I recommend that you do not try and work with the dough when it is too cold. This is a really thick dough and when it is too cold it is very hard. The good thing about refrigerated dough is that the cookie did not flatten out too much in the oven, so if you like a thick cookie you might want to try this. Either way, the texture of the cookie is very stable, but soft, not crunchy.

The cookie on the left was refrigerated, the one on the right was not.