Grill Envy

Jones Bridge pool is one of my favorite places within the Georgia state lines.  I became a member when I was a baby, and spent approximately 50 hours there a week until I was 16. Last year, Blake and I were looking for a community pool to join so that we could establish some new friends with kids for Lottie as she was getting a little bored of watching Blake play video games and grocery shopping with me. I knew that Jones Bridge was going to be place we were going to join. From the second I made the decision, it was as if my Barracuda fins instantly grew back in.

The coolest thing about this pool is that you don’t know a stranger there. Everyone talks to everyone whether they have been introduced or not. In fact, I have met several friends there that I was never introduced to…we just started talking. It just feels like home when I walk into the gate.

This summer Blake and I have been grilling out a lot. The other night we decided to grill at the pool. We ran through our options…steak, chicken, fish, veggies…. I was simply bored with the choices. Blake decided that pizzas would be fun. Instantly, I thought pizza stone, rolling dough, expensive, hassle….

Blake proved me wrong. He headed out to Ingles where he found Naan, an Indian flat bread, on sale for about a dollar each. He picked up six of them and we were ready to go. We pulled out all of the cheeses and toppings we could find in the fridge, and created an awesome meal that was quite impressive. Of course, we made enough to share with our friends at the pool and a little more for those we hadn’t yet met.

Grilled Pizzas

-Naan, Indian bread

-Olive oil

-Pizza sauce

-Cheese (be creative)

– Toppings (be creative)

Directions

1. Brush a bit of olive oil on the Naan bread.

2. Top with pizza sauce of choice, olive oil, pesto, or whatever sounds good.

3. Apply toppings and cheese of choice.  These can be made ahead of time and wrapped in aluminum foil to make at a later time or assembled right at the grill.

4. Preheat grill to medium-low heat

5. Place pizzas on grill and leave on until crust is at desired crispness and the  cheese is melted/browned. (about 8-12 minutes)

6. Leave lid down as much as possible.

Pizza Ideas

-Bacon, ham, jalapeno, pineapple, mozzerella cheese and pizza sauce

-Caramelized onion, goat cheese and Gruyere, arugula, and olive oil (Thanks Jenny!)

-Buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, tomatoes with olive oil

-Grilled onion, mushroom, red and green pepper (slice them up really small) and Gruyere or mozzarella

-Traditional sausage and pepperoni

– Pulled pork, cole slaw, BBQ sauce

– Hot sausage, Granny Smith apples, reduced Balsamic vinegar, blue cheese, mozzarella and olive oil

– Shrimp with buffalo sauce, diced celery, blue cheese, mozzarella cheese

– The list keeps going on and on….. this is an amazing meal to get rid of leftovers or have fun with whatever is in the fridge.

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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

Why Do You Build Me Up, Butternut?

In the past, I would choose a pre-salad over pre-soup on any given day at any given restaurant. Since having Lottie, my taste buds and food cravings have changed tremendously. Now, when given the opportunity, I will always choose soup over salad.

In the winter, I typically have a pot of butternut squash soup in my fridge at all times. I love making shrimp to put in the soup to add texture and Enoki mushrooms provide a unique twist. Lottie loves it as well as a pasta sauce over whole wheat Rotini.

For awhile I stopped making this soup because cutting and peeling the whole squash was too hard for me (and my knives). Once again, Costco came through for me. Get this: They have fresh, precut and peeled butternut squash in the veggie section for $4.99/2lbs. Not only is it cheaper, but it is so easy!

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves- 8

Total Price (no shrimp)- $8.24

Total Price per Person- $1.03

Average Retail Price- $14.98

Total Savings- $6.74

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

-2 lbs (one large or two small) Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed- seeds removed

-1 small sweet onion

– 2 medium sized carrots

– 1 stalk of celery

– 1 sweet potato (optional)

– 3-5 cans chicken of vegetable stock

– Sauteed or grilled shrimp (optional)

– Enoki mushrooms (optional)

 

Directions:

1. Cut celery and carrots into small pieces.

2. Diced onion.

3. Put celery, carrots and onions into large pot and cook on medium heat for five minutes. Add a little salt and pepper.

4. Add all cubed butternut squash.

5. Cover with chicken stock until all vegetables are just barely covered.

6. Boil until squash is fork tender.

7. Turn off heat and allow everything to cool.

8. Blend until smooth (add water or stock if you like it thinner).

9. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

10. Serve and Enjoy!

 

Sales used in this Recipe:

2 lbs. Butternut Squash- Costco- $4.99

 

A Crustacean and a Bivalve Sittin’ In a Dish….

I love south eastern coastal towns. To me, they are filled with the most inviting and peaceful landscapes on earth. I often picture myself freshly showered with damp hair which was minimally brushed with the expectation that the salt air would take control of it anyway, wearing a white sundress and walking down a sandy boardwalk at dawn. As the sea grass identifies the direction of the wind and the waves reinforce it, I begin to think. My mind wanders into space.

As I reach the end of the board walk and start walking down the beach, I climb to the top of the wooden life guard stand and have a seat. I begin to observe my surroundings. The beach is graced with the families that are soaking in every minute on the shoreline. They still have their umbrellas, beach balls and chairs out and it is clear they have been relocated a dozen times based on the changing of tides. There are also new and old couples walking hand in hand waiting on the increased romance that a sunset over the ocean delivers. There are grandparents and their grandchildren filling sand buckets with sea shells and a few frat boys playing Bocce Balls getting just a little too rowdy.

At this point, I take a giant breath and think to myself “Where am I going to go to eat some Shrimp and Grits?” After all, south eastern coastal towns specialize in their Shrimp and Grits and being a girl who consumes an average of two bowls of grits a day, this dish is right up my alley.

Shrimp and Scallops and Grits

Serves 4

Total Price- $12.08

Total Price per Person- $3.02

Average Retail Price- $25.23

Total Savings- $13.15


Ingredients

– 1 small onion-cubed

– ½ red pepper -cubed

– ½ green pepper- cubed

– 10inches Andouille sausage- cubed

– 12 medium-large shrimp

– 12 sea scallops

– 1/2 can beef consume

– 1 ½ cup of water

– ½ package Au jus mix

– 1 tbsp garlic- minced

– 2 tbsp oil

– 2 tbsp butter

– 4 servings of grits

Directions

1. Combine 1/2 packet of au jus mix with 1/2 the suggested cold water on the packet

2. Heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter in a large saute pan or pot over medium high heat

3. Place chopped onion, pepper, garlic, and sausage in the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes stirring often

4. Add 1/2 can beef consume, 1 cup of the au jus mix, and 1/2 cup of water to the pot, bring to a boil

5. Reduce the liquid by 2/3 until it thickens

6. Taste the sauce and add water 1/4 cup at a time if it is too salty for your taste.  This is a salty dish and the bland grits will help to delude the salt

7. Heat the remaining oil and butter in a large saute pan over high heat

8. Sear the scallops and shrimp, turning once, and set aside

9. Cook 4 servings of grits and separate into bowls

10. Pour the sauce evenly into the bowls, and top with shrimp and scallops

11. Serve immediately

Sales used in this recipe-

Costco- Kirkland’s brand shrimp- $15.99/6 lbs frozen

Costco- Kirkland’s brand sea scallops- $21.99/ 4lbs frozen

*** (I can honestly say that the frozen shrimp and scallops at Costco are as good as any I have had and the savings are HUGE)***

Ingles- Au jus package- BOGO

Ingles- Beef Consume- BOGO

A Pleasant SOUPrise

I love to pack a hearty lunch in my lunch box everyday. The OCD in me has a hard time when my lunch box has too much empty space in it. A bowl of taco soup, a small sandwich, a fruit and a perfectly folded napkin fill it up ideally.  This recipe makes enough soup for about 10-12 servings leaving a family of four with lunch the next day.

So we all have those nights where we don’t want to spend a lot of time making dinner or doing the dishes. This soup is one of those dishes that allows you to have a quick and delicious home made meal that leaves little to no mess.  Taco soup is a something that I grew up eating. I am not sure where my mom got the recipe, but we cook it a few times a month in the winter. Enjoy!

Taco Soup

Serves 10-12

Total Amount- $13.01

Total price per person- $1.09

Average Retail price- $22.88

Total Savings- $9.87


 

–          2 lbs of ground beef, turkey or bison

–          1 onion, chopped

–          3 cans pinto beans

–          3 cans corn

–          2 cans diced tomatoes

–          1 can Rotel tomatoes with chilies

–          2-3 cans of low sodium chicken broth

–          1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dry seasoning

–          1 packet of taco seasoning

–          1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

–          1 tsp garlic salt

–          2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

  1. Brown 2 lbs ground beef and 1 chopped onion in pot with a little olive oil
  2. Season beef with Lawry seasoning salt, garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce and packet of taco seasoning.
  3. Add 3 cans Pinto beans (slightly drained)
  4. Add 3 cans corn (slightly drained)
  5. Add 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  6. Add 1 can rotel tomatoes with chilies
  7. Add 2-3 cans chicken broth
  8. Add dry hidden ranch dressing packet
  9. Cook until warm (medium heat for 30 minutes)
  10. Top with tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese, olives, ect.

Sometimes I adjust flavor with more tomatoes or chicken broth….depends on your taste!

Sales used in this recipe:

Patton’s Meat Market- 5lb package of lean ground beef $11.99

Kroger BOGO –  Delmonte Diced Tomatoes

Kroger BOGO – Rotel Tomatoes

Costco $2.25 off Swanson Low Sodium Chicken Broth

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

Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson

My favorite thing about trendy social networking sites is the ability to keep in touch with people in your lives. One other thing I like about it is getting to know things about people that you may have never known. I have followed the lives of a lot of people I knew in high school. One of my friends, Kirsten Robinson, started a really cool business called Mrs. Robinson’s Twigs and Berries.

She sent me a sample of two of the mixes, and they were delicious! We made the most delicious and savory pork tenderloin with the Pistachio Twigs. I would highly recommend ordering a few packs to make this delightful dish time and time again. Not only is it wonderful and full of flavor and texture, but it is beautiful as well. It’s a great dish for entertaining.

To order from Mrs. Robinson, visit: www.twigsandberriesmix.com

Twigs Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Serves 6

Total Price- $14.86

Total Price per Person- $2.47

Average Retail Price- $18.50

Total Savings- $3.64

– 1 Pork Loin
– 1 Package of Twig’s Pistachio Trail Mix
– 2 tbsp each Dijon mustard, yellow mustard, honey mustard.
– 1 tsp salt, pepper, garlic salt

1. Stab the pork loin a few times with a knife or fork to allow for marinating
2. Combine pork, mustards, salt, pepper, and garlic salt in a large bowl or gallon sized Ziploc bag
3. Let marinate for 2-4 hours
4. Pour package of trail mix into a baking dish big enough to hold the pork loin
5. Roll the marinated pork loin in the mixture until coated evenly
6. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour

Sales in this recipe:

Twigs: Free sample

Pork Tenderloin- $2.49/lb at Publix

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