Thai-ing The Knot

Blake and I honeymooned in Thailand. It was beautiful, romantic and much more than I ever imagined. It was a long trip, but we would both gladly make it again to be in such a unique place with friendly people. We had the most wonderful and extravagant cabana all to ourselves. We felt like modern-day movie stars.

We didn’t do too much touring, but we did ride elephants, play with monkeys, made curry with all ingredients from the jungle and ate many local dinners and lunches. All of the tours and excursions were fun and we felt fairly safe EXCEPT the zipline tour. Needless to say, I thought our marriage was going to be a short one. At many points on this zipline tour, I was completely sure our lives together were going to begin and end in Thailand.

When we arrived back at our hotel, we had Authentic Spicy Basil Chicken to celebrate not dying. For the whole story, continue past the recipe and keep reading. It was quite a day!

Spicy Basil Chicken

Serves 4

Spicy Basil Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bunch Thai Basil (at asian market, not normal basil)
  • 2 Bell peppers
  • 1 Vidalia Onion
  • 2 Jalapeno pepper
  • Small handfull of sesame seeds
  • 5-8 Cherry Tomatoes (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 lb. Chicken breasts
  • 1-2 tbsp low sodium chicken stock
  • Sesame Oil

Directions:
1. Deseed and dice jalapeno peppers or leave in seeds for more heat
2. Cut bell peppers and onions into desired size and set aside
3. Cut cherry tomatoes in half
4. Cut up chicken into desired size (1 inch long strips or so) and set aside
5. Heat 2 tbls oil in wok (1 tsp sesame oil if available)
6. Add onions, peppers to wok and saute for 5-6 minutes
7. Add cut up chicken to wok or large pan and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until white edges start to form
8. Turn up heat, add sesame seeds, and continue to stir fry, add drops of sesame oil (regular if no sesame) as needed to keep from sticking
9. Once everything is sizzling loudly and starting to get a fried color add chicken stock and soy sauce in small amounts to create moisture and steam as needed (this is not a very wet dish it should be moisturized but mostly dry)
10. Continue stir frying
11. Add pulled basil leaves, halved cherry tomatoes
12. Add lime juice, shrimp if using, cherry tomatoes if using and turn heat to low or off while continuing to stir fry with remaining heat
13. Let sit for 2-3 mins stirring ocassionally and serve over rice. We always like to add a fried egg to our meals.

Honeymooning in Thailand was like being on a bipolar vacation. Within the walls of the resort, it was magical. The staff, dressed in their pristine uniforms, stopped and bowed at us as we walked by. After walking through a lobby of luxury, we passed several pools overlooking a crystal blue ocean. The property was lined with lush green plants, orchids and simple trickling natural streams of water which enhanced the sounds of paradise. After meandering down the most beautiful path, we engaged on our personal gate which enclosed the most romantic and private cabana steps away from the gently crashing waves.

We arrived to a bottle of delicious champagne on the lip of our own personal pool whose surface was covered in local flowers. I literally felt like I was in a story book. I opened my 10 foot glass french doors and walked across the mahogany hardwood floors and fell face first onto a pile of rose petals on my four-posted king sized bed wrapped in the freshest, 1000 thread count white sheets my body has every made contact with. Blake brought a special bottle of wine for me, but I didn’t have a glass. He pressed “0” on the phone, mentioned a wine glass and before he hung up, a polite gentleman was at our gate with a crystal wine glass on a tray waiting for my arrival. Story book…I know.

We settled into our cabana with a dip in the pool, a few chapters in my easy-to-read Nicholas Sparks’ book and a midday nap in the previously mentioned extravagant sheets. After a well worth it 26 hour travel day, we were pretty tired. Unfortunately when we woke up it was 4:30 am Thailand time. Hmmmm…. we had to figure out how to kill an hour and a half before the obnoxious breakfast buffet opened.

I could get used to this.

We decided to walk in the ocean as at low tide in front of our resort you could walk a mile toward the horizon and only become knee-deep in water. It was a wonderful time in our memory book. When we returned, the buffet was opened. We walked up the stairs to the open air octagonal dining room surrounded with ocean views. Before entering, we were greeted by the staff. We were presented with every fresh fruit on the island upon a bed of crushed ice, waiting to be chosen to be our juice of choice for the morning. I typically chose watermelon and lychee and Blake opted for kiwi and mango. We waited briefly while our fruit was transformed from one state of matter to another. 

The juice bar

Needless to say, we were living a dream. If people hadn’t noticed my abundant freckles, 5 foot 3 frame and bushy eyebrows, and people hadn’t noticed Blake’s asymmetrical face, narrow backside and knob knees, one may have mistaken us for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Wait….I just got a little caught up in the dream.

Anyway, the bipolar begins when we stepped outside the front door of our resort. This doesn’t mean that Thailand was not nice outside the doors, it was just a different world. A world of Muy Thai boxing where boys aged 10-18 beat the ‘you know what’ out of each other on a homemade wrestling ring, with a non-educated referees who were more into  a good fight than keeping the children safe. The likes of blood, saliva and teeth were flying everywhere. My vision of a honeymoon night: looking at stars and having Chardonnay on the shoreline. Blake leaned more towards Muy Thai and Red Bull and Vodka. I guess he won 1/14th of the time. This was a night to remember. Romantic….not so much.

Date night under the not-so-romantic lights of Muy Thai Boxing

One afternoon, we decided to go for a walk around the island. It was scary but memorable for sure. Along the way, we were convinced by a nice local fella to book a tree top zipline tour. “This seems fun” we thought. He told us he would pick us up at 8:00 in front of our resort. Since we were rising at 6:00 most days, 8:00 seemed perfect, plenty of time for a pre zipline nap and consumption of local fruit juice.

7:30 am hit, and we had finished our overly extravagant breakfast, walked passed several bowing staff members who knew us by name at this point, jumped over the flowing waters that encompassed the lobby and waited on the bamboo chairs by the breezeway where guests were picked up for such tours.

Blake and I watched as several European couples were whisked away for their jungle tours, beach tours and waterfall trips. Each couple being picked up in a white vans or buses with very authentic logos decorating the sides. 8:10 rolls around and all of the other parties have been picked up. Blake and I begin to think we booked the wrong day. In the distance, we see a small 1990 Suzuki Sidekick ripping down the gravel drive. The vehicle is so small that the dust from the gravel covers the windshield.

“Beep, beep, beep!” Blake and I look behind us thinking for sure the 15-year-old driver is coming to pick his girlfriend up from the night shift on duty at the resort. We continue to sit, waiting on our white van with an authentic logo. “Beep, Beep, Beep!” Blake and I both instantly look behind us to see who this local teen was honking at. Said teen approaches with his hand out saying “you Mr. Bake? Bake? Mista Bake?” I turn to my new husband and make the “there-is-zero-percent-chance-I-am-getting-in-the-Suzuki-with-this-child” look at him. He looks at me and passively says to the teen, “Yes, that’s me.” My feet concrete themselves into the luxurious lobby floor as I grip onto the bamboo chair. The whiteness in my knuckles tells Blake that I am not on board, but he and his non-confrontational ways grabs my hand and pulls me towards the two-door, logoless Suzuki. “Get in” the local teen says as he pushes the front seat forward for us to load up. Blake jubilantly jumps in the back, reaches for my newly blinged left hand and looks me in the eye for what I thought was going to be the last time.

Twelve miles of careless, bumpy, off-road driving later, we arrive at anything but a licensed and insured zipline tour. The teen straps on our harnesses and pulls out his Nokia flip phone. After exiting the home screen which was decorated with a naked woman with blonde hair and delicious fake breasts, he began to give us the ziplining “demo”.

He flipped up the screen and began to play a self-made video of himself and his friends doing this zipline tour. This was our safety video/training. Then he let us strap into a non-name brand harness and “practice” ziplining on a 6 foot wire where our feet still hit the ground. Training complete. “Let’s go” he said.

Notice our ride in the background

Hesitantly,Blake and I climb up a tree 75 feet on a homemade ladder to a homemade platform to stand and overlook Thailand before we delve into what I think it my adventurous honeymoon death. I pictured Monica Kauffman on Channel 2 Action News saying “Two newlyweds from Atlanta ziplined to their death yesterday in Thailand. The company was a group of teenagers who were attempting make a few extra dollars. The fled the scene. One was found with a local prostitute in a pub and the other three are still on the loose.”

If I had only known how to slow down

Pretty far fall

Blake commits and follows our non-english speaking, adolescent leader who gives us hand signals to instruct us. He makes it safely to the next platform. I am so in love with my husband that I drop as well. I did not understand the sign language instruction which told me to use my hand to slow down. Instead I went full speed into an off brand spare tire which was attached to the tree for”cushioning”. Yeah, that’s going to be a bruise. Aside from the direct danger we were in, the views were to die for. We did snap a photo hoping those who found our bodies would see that we were happy in the moment.

A moment where to pros outweighed the cons

We got the hang of it and went from platform to platform. We landed in the middle of the course when I noticed that there were no ladders along the way. It was zipline to the end or jump 150 feet to the bottom of the jungle. Miraculously, but we made it to the end. ‘Teenage ring leader’s mother’ was waiting for our arrival with juice boxes and fresh lychee-esque fruit to curb our appetites. We ate, spoke different languages, smiled and I gripped Blake’s hand until my knuckles where white as we drove back to our little “Yuppie Paradise”. I took a deep breath as I arrived back at my cabana. Needless to say, the staff knew to follow me with a wine glass and a bottle of the finest chardonnay. For the next two hours, I relaxed by my personal pool (vacation bipolar at it’s best).

I told Blake that for dinner I wanted a classic. Spicy Thai Basil Chicken. We went to the city and had ourselves some local cuisine. Every month or so, I ask Blake to recreate this meal for me. It always reminds me how precious life is. For this reason, we always grow our own Thai Basil. Life is good and Thailand is my favorite place on Earth. Enjoy a recipe from our memory book and celebrate the fact that Monica Kauffman is still not familiar with our names.

Life is Sweet

Advertisements

My Saturated Fat Costs How Much?!?!?!

Wendy’s makes me so mad. If I am going to consume a generous amount of saturated fat, sodium and sugar, I expect it to be cheap. Blake and I always treat ourselves to fast food on road trips. Wendy’s used to always be in the running for our choice of meal. I absolutely love the Chicken Club with bacon and mayo only (picture of health, right?), and Blake loves the option of chili for dipping his sandwich. The last time we went to Wendy’s the lady on the other side of the static-laden speaker said, “That will be $20.09, please pay at the first window.” I politely ask her to repeat herself as I was sure the static had interfered with that total. “That will be $20.09, please pay at the first window.”

Needless to say, against Blake’s pleading for me not to, I told the kind lady that we would like to cancel our order, and I moved onward to the next saturated fat jungle. Blake gets so mad at me when I change my mind on things at the last minute based on price.

The one that makes him the most mad is when we decide to shop at Whole Paycheck Foods. I absolutely love Whole Foods. I love the way they set up the produce with such design and pattern. I love the crushed ice where the fresh fish are displayed, I love the free floating wine selection, and I love the olive oil tasting bar. Not to mention, the deli guys always seem to be incredibly good looking with their tattooed forearms and wide ear piercings. For all of these reasons, I always find myself loading my basket and heading toward check out. It is almost guaranteed that every time I round the corner past the salad bar and fresh baked breads, I begin doing the grocery cart math in my head. $5 for this plus $8 for this plus $17 for this plus $3.50 for this…… $75 for one meal! Blake glances over and sees the color in my face quickly fading. Instantly, he takes the cart, begins putting all of the collected groceries back on the shelves and tells me he will meet me at the car. Off to Kroger we go.

One day, one of the women on my tennis team told me about Luciano’s, a small yet elegant Italian restaurant near my house. I was anxious to go. Blake and I walked up to the door and it looked beautiful. I opened the door and saw the dreaded white tablecloths. Don’t get me wrong, I love white tablecloth restaurants, but not with my 3 year old who has no concept of volume when speaking. In the corner of my eye, I noticed a take out menu….Bingo! Blake went in and ordered us two sandwich and sides, and we waited to pay. “That will be $16.16” the beautiful and polite hostess said. Being that there was no static to interfere, I simply assumed she had not done the math correctly. I asked her if that total was correct and she printed me a receipt showing me that she had in fact computed the total correctly.

Here I stand in a beautiful restaurant with an open grill, granite top bar, fresh herbs growing in the foyer and chefs in white coats, paying $4.00 less than I would at Wendy’s.

This little experience led us to the creation of our dinner last night. Luciano’s makes an Italian Chicken BLT. It is on Ciabatta bread with a pesto aioli and pancetta instead of regular bacon. They serve it with house made truffle and Parmesan potato chips. Blake recreated it last night with home cut truffle french fries. It was amazing!

The Sandwich

Image

Ingredients

– 2 chicken breasts

– 2 ciabatta rolls
– 6 slices of pancetta, cut thick
– lettuce
– tomato, home grown when possible
– 2 tsp pesto aioli
– italian seasonings and salt and pepper to taste
 
Directions

1. Slice rolls
2. Slice tomatoes into sandwich sized slices
3, Cook pancetta (cook just like you would regular bacon)
4. Season chicken with a little salt and pepper and Italian seasoning of choice
5. Grill chicken
6. Grill bread
7. Put a layer of aioli on both slices of bread
8. Add chicken, then stack with tomato, lettuce, and pancetta
9. Cut the sandwich in half and spear the two halves together with a toothpick or skewer
 
The Aioli
 
Ingredients 

 
– 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
– 1 1/2 tbsp premade pesto
 
Directions 
 
1. Mix two ingredients
 
French Fries
 
Ingredients
 
– 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut
– Frying oil of choice
– Pinch of truffle salt (this can be expensive but lasts forever. We get ours at William Sonoma)
 
Directions
 
1. Peel baking potatoes, or leave skin on if you like skin on fries
2. Slice your potato into french fry sized slices, or use a mandolin for quick and perfect sized fries
3. Heat oil to 350 degrees and drop in 1 potato worth of fries
4. Cook each set of fries for 8-12 minutes depending on desired doneness
5. Remove fries and place in a bowl lined with paper towels
    (Fries can be fried a 2nd time for extra crispy, or one time for more mushy fries depending on what you are going for)
6. Repeat for each potato
7. Sprinkle with a few pinches of truffle salt and toss, serve immediately

Saucey Pants

I am on a constant search for the perfect sauce. My definition of perfect, as it relates to a sauce, is something that doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, isn’t fancy, doesn’t cost too much and can be used on several different meats or vegetables. I am pretty sure I have found it.

When I make pork tenderloin, my” go-to” flavors are BBQ sauce or Paul Newman’s Olive Oil and Vinegar salad dressing. As a pulled the tenderloin out of the freezer the other morning, I knew neither of the above were going to cut it. I wanted something bold, clean, and slightly citrusy. I found a similar recipe and browsed my pantry.

The result of what I created is PERFECT! We had it on pork, but I think it would add a great spin on fish, beef or chicken. It would be delightful on grilled shrimp thrown into a salad.

The PERFECT Marinade

The PERFECT sauce

Ingredients

– 1 can (8 oz.) pineapple juice

– 1/3 cup fresh lime juice

– 1 tbsp lime zest

– ¼ cup orange marmalade

– 3 tbsp Hoisin sauce

– 2 tsp minced garlic

– 1 tsp Dijon mustard

– ¾ tsp ground ginger

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened.
  2. Coat meat or veggies of your choice in marinade and prepare.

*We used ½ on our grilled pork tenderloin and used the other half as the sauce on the plate*

Once Upon a Time in Mexico…

Going to a Mexican restaurant is always something I have done for Blake. I don’t like the smell of the frying tortilla chips, margaritas or the taste of melted cheese. I don’t mind cheese slices or cheese platters, I just don’t like it melted. The hard part is I love Mexican ingredients, tomatoes, beans, cilantro, cumin, corn, etc.; I just don’t like the saucy and cheesy execution.

The last time I was “taking one for the team” at a Mexican restaurant, Blake and I were waiting at the bar for our table. In this particular restaurant, the kitchen door was right next to the bar. Blake and I were engaged in a conversation when something caught my eye. I noticed one of the employees carrying a 5 gallon paint bucket. As he walked behind the bar to grab a dish cloth, he set down the bucket. Guess what was in the bucket? LARD, 5 gallons of it. Needless to say, we didn’t wait for our table, and we left determined to use the amazing ingredients that Mexican food offers in a lardless way.

The cool thing about this dish is it’s versatility. You can top it with avocado

Disclaimer: I do love seeing all of the new trendy, fresh Mexican restaurants popping up all over the place. They are a whole different ball game.

Black Bean and Chicken Casserole

Serves 6

Black Bean Chicken Casserole

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced (more if you are an onion fan)
  • 3 chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1-1/2 cans black bean, drained
  • 3 ounces green chile peppers, diced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or 1 tbsp dried cilantro
  • 1 ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup uncooked instant rice
  • ¾ cup frozen corn (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Stir in onions, and cook until soft and translucent.
  4. Stir in chicken; cook until golden on all sides. (this may take two rounds in the pan)
  5. Pour onions and chicken into a casserole dish.
  6. Stir in tomatoes, black beans, corn, chile peppers, cilantro, cumin, and rice.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
  8. Allow 10 minutes to cool and enjoy
  9. Serve with sour cream.

Sales used in this recipe: Black beans- buy one get one free- Kroger, cilantro free from the garden, chicken from Costco.

The Not So Ordinary Chicken Sandwich

There are few things worse than really craving a Chick-fil-A sandwich on Sunday afternoon. Sure, other restaurants have fried chicken sandwiches, and you could always add a dill pickle, but everyone who has ever had a Chick-fil-A sandwich knows that other chicken sandwiches don’t pale in comparison.

Blake saw an article once on trying to replicate this extraordinary edible masterpiece.  We tried it by the recipe one time, and neither of us could talk because the salt content had truly absorbed every ounce of saliva we had. Blake tried another route for a second time. They were perfect, and I truly think with the exception of the perfect pickle duplicate (we are still trying to find this), one would not be able to differentiate between Blake-fil-A’s Not So Original chicken sandwich and Chick-fil-A’s Original Chicken Sandwich.

Go ahead…try for yourself!

Blake-fil-A’s Not So Original Chicken Sandwich

Serves 4-6

Total Price- $6.50

Price per Person- $1.08

Average Retail Price- $20.94

Total Savings-$14.44

 

Ingredients

-4 Chicken Breasts cut into “chick fil a-sized” cutlets

– 2 Cups Milk

– 2 Eggs

– 2 tsp Sugar

– Pinch of Pepper

– Pinch of Salt

– 1 1/2 Cup Flour

– 4 1/2 Tbsp Powdered Sugar

– 1 1/2 Tbsp salt

– 1 tsp paprika

– 1 tsp garlic salt

– 3 1/2 cups Peanut oil (Canola or Vegetable are ok)

– 8 Plain, Cheap Hamburger Buns

– 1 tbsp butter

Directions

1. Mix milk, eggs, 2 tsp sugar, pinch of pepper, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl

2. Soak Chicken Breast cutlets in milk mixture

3. Mix flour, powdered sugar, salt, paprika, garlic salt in a large bowl

4. Heat Oil over high heat in a pressure cooker with the lid off

5. Dip the chicken cutlets in the flour mixture, coating thoroughly, and setting aside one at a time.  Let the milk mixture drip off before dipping.

6. Dip the floured cutlets back into the milk mixture, and then re-dip the cutlets into the flour and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

7. Once oil is heated to 350-375 degrees (it should fry vigorously if a tip of a cutlet is dipped in), place the chicken cutlets into the oil quickly and close the lid of the pressure cooker.

8. Cook for 3 minutes once it starts to steam steadily.

9. Quickly cool and relieve the pressure in the cooker (cold water in the sink cools it fast if dipped, and cool water ran over the lid)

10. Remove the chicken and set aside

11. Serve with lightly butter toasted hamburger buns and 2-3 pickle slices

12. Smash bun down with your hand to make it more Chick-fil-Aish

Unseasonally Seasonal

I absolutely love when fresh herbs are on sale in the winter. I get so spoiled in the summer with the endless supply of my home grown herbs, that I miss them so much in the winter. Generally they run between $2.00-4.00 for a small bunch of herbs when you buy them at the store. I was at Ingles the other day when I found them Buy One, Get One FREE! I grabbed a pack of sage and a pack of basil. I really like to use sage with chicken whenever I get the chance. I also noticed Boar’s Head prosciutto was on sale for $1.10 off per pound at the Publix deli. I knew that I could make something delightful with these items.

I have always been a huge fan of the under-appreciated, yet salty and lean meat, prosciutto. Recently, I have noticed it gaining popularity in the food magazines which makes me very happy. In fact, a prosciutto and egg biscuit graced the cover of Food and Wine in January. Go prosciutto…way to keep up the fight to the top!!!

Prosciutto and Sage Chicken Breast

Serves 4

Total Price- $5.42

Total Price per Person- $1.35

Average Retail Price- $9.75

Total Savings-  $4.33



4 8-oz chicken breasts

12 fresh sage leaves

4 oz very thinly sliced prosciutto cut into 12 strips

4 tbsp extra virgin oil

2/3 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 tsp corn starch

4 lemon wedges

Directions – preheat oven to 375:

1. Dry, salt and pepper chicken breasts

2. Place 3 sage leaves on each breast

3. Wrap each breast with 4 strips of prosciutto securing the sage in place

4. Sear chicken 2 minutes each side in a pan over medium-high heat with 2 tsp olive oil

5. Remove chicken from pan and place in the oven for 6-7 minutes or until done

6. Combine broth lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl, stir with whisk until well misked

7. Add lemon juice mixture and one tbsp olive oil to the pan

8. Bring to a boil stirring constantly

9. Cook for one minute until thickened, stir with a whisk

10. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve with angel hair pasta or polenta.

Sales used in this recipe-

Sage- BOGO Ingles

Prosciutto- $1.10 off per pound Publix

Angel Hair- Publix- $0.50 off

Catering to the Everything-Free Eaters

One of the things that my mom and her sisters share in common is that they all have very nurturing and catering personalities. I think these are such neat character traits to have. My aunt Sue posted on her Facebook that she is looking for gluten-free, sugar- free recipes and would love to have some that are vegan friendly. She wants to entertain her loved ones by catering to all of their specific diets.

The dinner we had last night was Thai Chicken Noodle Soup that can easily be made vegan by either substituting the chicken with tofu or leaving it out altogether. It was quite delicious and had just the right amount of spice.

Thai Chicken or Tofu Noodle Soup

*We got this idea from Food Network Magazine this month*

Serves 6

–          1 tbsp vegetable oil

–          1 onion, thinly sliced

–          2 cloves of garlic minced

–          2 tbsp green curry paste

–          6 cups low sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth for vegans)

–          15-ounce can coconut milk

–          1-2 tbsp fish sauce

–          2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced

–          4 oz thin rice noodles, broken into pieces

–          2 small skinless chicken breast thinly sliced or 2 cups of tofu

–          1 tbsp fresh lime juice

–          1 cup chopped cilantro

  1. Heat oil over medium high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook, stir occasionally about 5-7 minutes
  3. Add garlic and curry paste and cook, stirring 1-2 minutes
  4. Add chicken broth, coconut milk and fish sauce and bring to a boil.
  5. Add bell peppers and noodles and simmer uncovered until the noodles are al dente (3 minutes)
  6. Add chicken or tofu and simmer until cooked through (3 more minutes)
  7. Stir in lime juice and cilantro and serve hot!
  8. Savings in this meal:

Chicken- $1.48/lb at Kroger

Coconut milk- BOGO at Super H

The Whole Enchilada

I am not a big fan of Mexican food. To me, the flavors are kind of monotomous, and I always smell funny when I leave the restaurant. My best friend, Jenny and my husband, Blake love it! As with all of my other food pickiness, I have an exception to my dislike of Mexican food. I love Blake’s homemade Mexican food.

Last night, we had home made enchiladas. They were so good! They are not hard to make, but they do require some time and attention. The thing I love most is the fact that they are decently healthy!

Chicken Enchiladas

Serves 6

Total Price- $1.28

Total Price per Person- $1.92

Average Retail Price- $14.26

Total Savings- $6.49

– 6 chicken breasts or substitue any # of breasts for thighs (Make it even easier by buying a Rotesserie Chicken at the grocery store)
– 1 can Rotel tomatoes
– 1/2 tbsp cumin
– 1/2 tbsp chili powder
– Pinch of salt and pepper

– 1 Can salsa verde or green chili
– 1 tsp cumin
– Pinch of salt, pepper, and cayenne
– 1 tbsp sour cream

– 1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
– 1 package corn tortillas
– 1 can enchilada sauce, or home made enchilada sauce

Steps 1-3 can be eliminated by using Rotesserie Chicken

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Place chicken in a roasting pan, top with rotel tomatoes, cumin, chili    powder, salt, and pepper
3. Cover and roast in the oven for 1 hour

4. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes
5. Pull chicken apart and place in a large mixing bowl
6. Add salsa verde or green chili, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne, and sour cream
7. Mix well, and season to taste (Blake likes to add a bit of chopped up chipotle peppers with adobo sauce for extra heat to his)

8. Heat the oil in a saute pan to medium-high heat
9. Place the corn tortillas in the oil 1-2 at a time to soften and lightly cook, roughly 1 minute, and place on a paper towel
10. Spoon the chicken mixture into a corn tortilla, wrap, and place in a baking dish
11. Repeat until all of the chicken mixture is used

12. Top with enchilada sauce, and cheese if desired
13. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes or until sauce bubbles
14. Let set for 10 minutes and serve

Sales in this recipe:

Chickem $1.48/lb at Kroger

Corn Tortillas- $1.00 Southern Savings

Sour Cream- BOGO at Publix

Enchilada sauce- $0.20 off Soutern Savers

Merango Tango

I am not a big fan of casseroles or meals that are all mixed together. For example, I don’t like Chicken and Dumplings or Chicken Pot Pie because each bite tastes the same. I love to have a variety of meat and sides, so I have the ability to transform every bite into a new taste. There are a few exceptions to my stance on this. One is Chicken Merango.

My aunt has made this meal for as long as I can remember. My sister-in-law made it last night. It made me think “what a good blog entry!” It is easy to make and it’s delicious. My brother is determined that egg noodles are a must. I was thinking of serving it on rice, but my brother said that would be like eating “Rice-a-cini Alfredo” and no one wants that.

Chicken Merango

Serves 4

Total price- $4.89

Total price per person- $1.23

Total savings- $5.67

Average Retail- $10.56

-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks

-2 cups of wide egg noodles

-1 can tomato soup

-1 can Golden Mushroom soup

-1 medium onion, cubed

– 1 jar of sliced mushrooms or 3/4 cup of fresh mushrooms

-1-2 tsp garlic powder

– 1tbsp of canola oil

– salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute the chicken until browned.

2. Pour in both cans of soup.

3. Add garlic powder, onion and mushrooms.

4. Simmer low heat for 30-40 minutes.

5. Do a little Merango Tango and enjoy!

Savings in this meal:

Chicken Breast on sale at Ingles- $1.48/lb

Campbell’s soup- BOGO Publix

Fried and Satisfied

My best friend, Jenny, and I love to talk about food. When we talk, text or email throughout the work day “what’s for dinner?” is always one of our questions to each other. Sometimes we talk just to figure out what we plan to have. I am not sure if it is because of our love for food or the fact that we talk so much we never have new news to share.

If Jenny goes out to dinner, and I am at home, I will look at the restaurant’s menu online and guess what she is going to order. We always consider Chicken Fingers or Buffalo Chicken Fingers pretty safe orders. I would not be willing to say the same about quesadillas, wings or hamburgers because we know they can be hit or miss. It is pretty hard to mess up a chicken finger.

Stefani, a Cook with Coupons reader (and friend), asked for a good fried dish. Her husband always wants something fried, but she is intimidated to do it at home. This is our “go to” fried meal. Hold the sauce if you like plain chicken fingers. Well Stef, here you go! Enjoy!

*Helpful money saving and flavor adding hint*

Keep the used oil. Let it cool overnight and put it back in a storage bottle.

Use if for the next few fries.

It adds flavor each time you cook in it and it doesn’t go bad.

Fried Buffalo Chicken Fingers

Serves 4-5

Total Price- $2.85

Total Price per Person- $0.72

Average Retail Price-$12.30

Total Savings- $9.45

Buffalo Chicken Fingers

Chicken

2 eggs

1/3-cup milk

1/3 cup Texas Pete hot sauce

1 tsp salt, pepper, garlic powder

1-cup flour

½ cup Panko bread crumbs

1 ½ tbsp powdered sugar

1 tsp salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper

4 chicken breasts cut into strips

1. Mix eggs, milk, hot sauce, 1 tsp salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a bowl.

2. Place the chicken strips into the mixture and stab a few times with a fork then let marinate.

3. Mix flour, Panko, powdered sugar, 1tsp salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne in a bowl.

4. Heat oil to high heat.

5. Toss the marinated chicken strips in the flour mixture and let set for 2-3 minutes.

6. Place the chicken strips in batches of 5-6 into the oil and cook for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.  To check pull the biggest strip and let sit for 30 seconds before cutting in half and making sure it is done.

7. Remove the finished strips and place on a plate covered in paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

8. Serve immediately with dipping sauces or toss in a sauce of choice.

Sauce

4tbsp butter

2tbsp Texas Pete hot sauce

1. Microwave butter for 45-60 seconds or until completed melted.

2. Stir in Texas Pete hot sauce 1 tbsp and then a little at a time until reaching the desired strength.

3. Lighter orange is more mild where red is hot.

4. Serve with steamed rice and asparagus!

Savings on this meal:

-Chicken- $1.48/lb at Inlges

-Texas Pete Hot Sauce- Buy one get one free at Publix for the extra large bottles

-Panko $1.00 off at Publix (limit 3)