Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries- With a Kick

I loved the sweet and savory with this easy meal. It goes great with chicken or burgers. Enjoy!

1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon(s)
1/4 teaspoon(s) ground red pepper
1 tablespoon(s)
vegetable oil
2 large (about 1 1/2 pounds) sweet potatoes


Prepare the sweet potatoes: In a small bowl, combine cumin, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel potatoes, cut each in half lengthwise, and cut each half into 6 wedges. In a large bowl, combine the cut potatoes, oil, and spice mixture. Toss until potatoes are evenly coated.

Bake the fries: On a baking sheet, arrange potatoes in a single layer and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake until edges are crisp and potatoes are cooked through -- about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

BBQ Pulled Pork

So as I was wandering the grocery isles last weekend trying to figure out something different to make, I saw this McCormick's Seasoning Packet for BBQ Pulled Pork. Every time we eat BBQ, Joe orders pulled pork, so I thought he might like this. Well Joe LOVED it! I also think it was good, but not to the extent of my husband. It made a lot of meat, but he was thrilled to eat these leftovers!! It is super easy to make. Try it out!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH
Makes 10 servings.

You Will Need
3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder roast, well-trimmed (I used 2 pork loins b/c I could not find pork shoulder roast)
1 pkg. McCormick® Slow Cookers BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar

PLACE pork in slow cooker.

MIX Seasoning, ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar until blended. Pour over pork. Cover.

COOK 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH. Remove pork from slow cooker.

SHRED pork, using 2 forks. Return pork to slow cooker; mix and heat with sauce before serving.

Important: For best results, do not remove cover during cooking.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cheddar Potato Soup

I love recipes that require minimal steps and ingredients. This particular recipe is both. Another bonus, I usually have all of these ingredients at home. This was shared with me by my friend Amy. She raved about the soup- and I have to agree! Enjoy!

2 pounds red-skin potatoes cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I left the skins on)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped carrots
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup half and half
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Place potatoes, carrots, onion, broth, and salt in crockpot. Cover and cook on LOW 6 -7 hours or HIGH 3 - 3.5 hours or until veggies are tender.
2. Stir in half and half and pepper. cover; cook on HIGH 15 minutes. Turn off heat and remove cover. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted.

Turkey Sausage and Tortellini Soup

This recipe came from my friend Matty. With four kids, I am amazed she can find anything they all like. So, when she said her kids love this easy recipe, I knew I had to try it. The girls enjoyed the soup and I did, too. I made it without the sausage for a non-meat meal.

6 ounces smoked turkey sausage cut-up
2 cups shredded cole slaw mix
frozen Italian-style green beans (can't remember the size, but they have a small bag at Kroger and that's what I use)
2 cans Italian-style stewed tomatoes
1 can condensed French onion soup
3 cups water
9 ounce package refrigerated tortellini
grated Parmesan cheese

Put everything except the tortellini and the cheese into a crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add the tortellini and let cook for another 30 minutes. Serve with the cheese sprinkled on top. Easy, delicious and my kids love it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Meatless Mondays

I mentioned earlier that we are doing "Meatless Mondays" at the Gordon house. I am lucky that the girls enjoy beans and soups. So far, that is what I am sticking with. But to do this for the year, I will have to be a bit creative. This video sets forth the challenge. It is a bit zealous, but I believe from what I have been reading, that small changes like this can make a big difference. There is an article in this week's Time Magazine about the making a difference through Farm Raised meat, too.

So- here are some facts:

  • In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report actually found that the raising of livestock accounted for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions for the world (compared that to the 11% that is created by our transportation). In fact, it takes eight times the amount of fossil fuel energy to produce a single protein of animal product, compared to a single plant based protein. According to this report, meat production is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases.

  • In addition the production and raising of livestock uses 30% of the Earth’s arable land for pasture, an additional 33% of the land to grow and cultivate their feed and 5000 gallons of water to produce a single pound of meat (compare that to the 25 gallons of water that is needed to produce one pound of wheat). Livestock also contributes substantial amounts of pollution to the water supply due to their manure, antibiotics and the pesticides used to produce their food.

Health Benefits
REDUCE RISK OF HEART DISEASE. Beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds contain little to no saturated fats. Reducing your intake of saturated fats can help keep your cholesterol low and reduce your risk of heart disease.
MAINTAIN HEALTHY WEIGHT. A plant-based diet is a great source of fiber, which is absent in animal products. Foods rich in fiber make you feel full with fewer calories, resulting in lower calorie intake and less overeating. On average, Americans get less than half the recommended daily quantity of fiber.
IMPROVE OVERALL QUALITY OF DIET. Consuming dry beans or peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.

Environmental Benefits
REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.

To find out more- go to

Chicken Breast with Balsamic Vinegar and Garlic

This is a great addition to the recipe box. Very easy and tasty.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon butter


  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Rinse the mushrooms and pat dry. Season the flour with salt and pepper and dredge the chicken breasts in the flour mixture. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat and saute the chicken until it is nicely browned on one side (about 3 minutes).
  2. Add the garlic. Turn the chicken breasts and scatter the mushrooms over them. Continue frying, shaking the skillet and stirring the mushrooms. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the vinegar, broth, bay leaf and thyme. Cover tightly and simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a warm serving platter and cover with foil. Set aside. Continue simmering the sauce, uncovered, over medium high heat for about 7 minutes. Swirl in the butter or margarine and discard the bay leaf. Pour this mushroom sauce mixture over the chicken and serve.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Garbanzo, tomato, and pasta soup- $10.00 meal

Meatless Mondays! I love the alliteration- and the challenge it brings. I am currently reading Food Matters, by Bittman. One of the challenges set forth is to reduce your footprint in what you consume. One way to do that is to eat less meat, especially red meat. So, our first goal will be to have "Meatless Mondays". This recipe is one that the family enjoyed tonight and we will do again.

1 can of garbanzo beans (or chickpeas), drained ($1.29)
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes ($1.00)
1 32 oz. box of broth (beef or veggie) ($1.96)
1 cup of small pasta ($1.00)
1 onion diced ($1.97 for 3 lbs)
2 tablespoons of garlic
1 teaspoon of basil
1 teaspoon of thyme

1. Sauté onion and garlic in a skillet.
2. In crockpot dump can of garbanzo beans (drained), tomatoes, broth, and sauté onion and garlic.
3. Add basil and thyme.
4. Cook on low six to eight hours.
5. 30 minutes before serving pour in pasta and add 2 cups of water. Taste to see if salt is needed.

Serve with bread or crackers

Total $7.19

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Budget Meal Shopping List-- 7 meals

This is the shopping list for the 7 budget meals I did the week after Christmas. I have some new recipes I am going to try this week, too. I am planning five meals a week at home. With our schedule that can be a challenge. It is taking some planning on my part, too. Today I made enchiladas for Friday and put them in the freezer, knowing that I will not have time to cook them Friday. I also have two soups planned, since it has been so darn cold here. I am also trying to go meatless on Mondays (I can remember that way.) I will write more about that later. I will update soon.

Meal List

  • 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!)

3 lb bag of onions $1.99
1 head of lettuce $1.10
4 tomatoes $1.12
4 potatoes- sliced or wedged (10 lbs bag for) $2.99


Canned and Bagged Items
1 bag of Spanish rice $1.00
1 Hard Taco Kit with seasoning and salsa $2.19
1 1/2 cups dried white kidney beans$1.39
1 (14 oz.) can whole tomatoes $.88
2 cans of cream of chicken soup $1.34
1 box saltine crackers $1.29
1 bag of rice $1.75
2 cans green beans $1.25
1 jar Cinnamon apple sauce $1.39
2 boxes of corn bread $.88
1 package of Mrs. Grass Soup Starter (Vegetable Beef Soup) $3.69
1 bag of black-eyed peas (follow directions to prepare) $1.00
1 can tomato paste $.55
1 can of refried beans $1.59
1 (14.5 ounce) can beef broth can be vegetarian alternative $.55
TOTAL $20.74

1 lbs ground chuck $2.07
2 cups diced fully cooked ham $2.69
1 lb. sausage, sliced $3.98
1 whole chicken $3.20
1 lbs of stew meat $3.37
4 leg quarter pieces of chicken $2.79
TOTAL $18.10

2 bags of shredded cheese) (Buy 1 get one free) $2.99
1 dozen Eggs - cage free/ grain fed $2.75
2 cups milk) $2.99
1 container of sour cream $1.37
TOTAL $10.10

2 (9 inch) pastry shells $2.00
1 bag broccoli $1.00
Garlic Bread $1.89
TOTAL $4.89

TOTAL GROCERIES FOR WEEK: $61.03 for 7 meals ($9.00 under)

1. Garlic
2. Lemon juice
3. Ground cumin
4. Olive oil
5. Poppy seeds
6. Butter
7. Salt
8. Pepper

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I made this the other night and it was pretty good. I think it's a good basic that you can make to fit your own tastes very easily. I would like to try this again and make a spicy version!!



1 lb. chicken breast strips
2 tbsp. oil
4 c. vegetables (broccoli, red & green peppers strips,
sliced water chestnuts) - I used broccoli, carrots, onion, leaks, green pepper
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 c. rice

Stir fry chicken in hot oil in large skillet until brown.
Add vegetables; stir until done. Mix broth, soy, cornstarch
and sugar. Add to skillet. Boil, continue for 2 minutes.
Prepare rice. Serve chicken mixture over hot rice.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Whoopie Pies

So I made whoopie pies for a New Years party we went to. I decided to make them because it is a black and white cookie and the theme of the party was black and white. I had my first whoopie pie a few years ago when we lived in Alabama. Some good friends of ours were from Maine and this was a common dessert that was made up there. They are pretty much really delicious bit not at all healthy! Oh well! Just think of them as an Oreo cookie on major steroids!

This recipe is from the Martha Stewart website. If you search you can find it.

Whoopie Pies
Makes 2 dozen sandwiches

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift together flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside. Line two baking pans with Silpats (French nonstick baking mats) or parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until combined.

2. Using a 1-ounce ice-cream scoop, place cookies onto lined baking pans, twelve per pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

3. Spread 2 tablespoons of frosting onto each of twenty-four of cookies. Sandwich together with remaining twenty-four cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

From The Martha Stewart Show, September 2007

Seven Minute Frosting (for the filling between the cookies)


Makes 3 3/4 cups
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, preferably organic, room temperature
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 jar (7 1/2 ounces) marshmallow Fluff
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, preferably organic

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add Fluff and vanilla and continue mixing until well combined.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Middle Eastern White Beans- $10.00 Meal

So, this is the last of the $10.00 meals for the week. I will be trying to do more, but I have to recover from all of the new recipes in one week. Overall, I feel it was successful- I will try to post the shopping list for the seven meals this week, too. It came in under $70.00 for sure. I did have to laugh tonight because Hannah came up and asked me for her favorite meal for tomorrow. I said, "Well, what is it?" "Hamburger Helper," she replied. "Okay, I can do that!"

This was a recipe I found on When I read the ingredients I knew this was one my family would enjoy. When I looked at the directions, I knew this was one I could handle. This is a Middle Eastern bean recipe that would be a standard meal in a home. Clay and the girls enjoyed it, and it was very filling. Also, when I came home from school- it smelled heavenly!

1 1/2 cups dried white kidney beans, soaked overnight ($1.39)
3 tablespoons tomato paste ($.55)

1 (14.5 ounce) can beef broth ($.55) can be vegetarian alternative
3 medium onions, chopped ($1.99)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a slow cooker combine the beans, tomato paste, pimento sauce, garlic, onions, cumin, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix until the beans are coated. Pour in beef broth, and top off with enough water to completely cover the beans.
Cover, and cook on High for 6 hours, or until the beans are tender and the liquid is thickened. It should not be soupy.

Serve over rice ($2.00) and with bread ($1.89)

TOTAL: $8.37

Taco Supper- $10.00 Meal

Everyone needs a break from heavy cooking once a week, or more, so this one fits the bill for that need. We had a simple Mexican meal that everyone enjoyed this week. To keep with the 10.00 budget I had to make some choices, but everyone had plenty. I found the most economical route was to buy a taco kit to get started. Follow the directions and add what is needed-

1 Hard Taco Kit with seasoning and salsa ($2.19)
1 lbs ground chuck ($2.07)
1 head of lettuce ($1.10)
4 tomatoes ($1.12)
1 bag of shredded cheese ($2.00)
1 can of refried beans (1.59) or 1 bag of Spanish rice (1.00)

Assemble as directed on the box for the tacos. Add chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, and cheese in bowls. Heat beans with a bit of salsa stirred in. Once everything is ready, serve hot.

TOTAL: $10.07 (with beans) or $9.48 (with rice)