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

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


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.


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)

Which Came First…The Quail or The Egg?

My family is crazy about eggs. We eat all kinds of them. We like the tiny and colorful ones used to decorate sushi rolls. We like chicken eggs, Easter eggs, and  Cadbury eggs. We REALLY love quail eggs. They are so yummy and delicate. We put them on top of a lot of dishes, but my favorite is seared scallops. Blake is determined that the reason it is my favorite is because of my OCD. I do have to admit, I really getting a warm and fuzzy feeling inside when I see the fried egg cover the scallop perfectly; not too big and not too small. They just seem to be good matches.

Seared Scallops with Fried Quail Eggs

(Appetizer, but can be Entree if you add more scallops)

Serves 2

Total Price- $2.94

Total Price per Person – $1.47

Average Retail Price- $5.18

Total Savings- $2.24

Seared Scallops and Fried Quail Eggs


-8 medium to large sea scallops

-8 quail eggs

-¼ cup of micro greens

-2 tbsp butter

-Dash of olive oil and vinegar


-Dash of Sriracha

* We  melt butter to drizzle on ours*


  1. It is imperative that the scallops are brought to room temperature and patted dry, very dry.
  2. Then sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper and any other seasoning you like.
  3. Put 2 tbsp butter and a dash of olive oil (the olive oil is not for the flavor but to prevent the butter from burning) in a pan and bring to medium to high heat.
  4. Wait until the pan is extremely hot and add the scallops. Make sure they are at least 2 inches apart so that they sear rather than steam.
  5. Cook on the first side for 3 minutes. DO NOT MOVE THE SCALLOPS.
  6. Flip and cook other side for 1-2 minutes.
  7. You can touch scallops to feel if they are ready. They should be soft enough that they smush in when you push them, but not firm.

Quail Eggs

  1. Heat a thin layer of oil in a pan to medium-high heat.
  2. Crack the quail eggs and place them in a very small bowl.  Make sure to do this before you crack into the pan to get any shell out.  It works well to use a sharp knife and cut a small clean slit into the shell before cracking.
  3. Place the quail eggs in the oil and cook until all of the white is cooked through without flipping.
  4. Use a spatula to transfer the quail eggs from the pan to a plate keeping the yolk side up.  Place one on top of each scallop.

Fried Quail Eggs


  1. Melt some butter to put on the base of the plate.
  2. Then place the scallops.
  3. Top each scallop with a fried quail egg yolk side up.
  4. Toss micro greens in a little oil and vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper and use for garnish. If you have Edamame beans, they look pretty on the plate. Drizzle some Sriracha in the butter for a nice touch.

Savings for this meal

Scallops- $18.99 for 4lb. at Costco

Quail Eggs- $2.99/ 18 eggs at Super H Mart

Katsu Culture

I have always been intrigued with cultures. I love how the way people eat, live, talk, pray, etc. is so highly influenced by where they grew up. I grew up in Georgia and my parents in North Carolina. Our culture is southern. We eat fried food, love front porches, drink sweet tea and spend a lot of time together on Sundays.

Blake grew up in Georgia too but his mom is from Michigan. She has lived in the south for a long time, but it is interesting to see how Blake and I are different just because his mom was from Michigan. You know the stuff inside the turkey on Thanksgiving? Blake calls it stuffing. I call it dressing. Bratwurst’ were a part of Blake’s childhood where I only knew of hot dogs. They are just little things, but they are interesting to me.

In Japan, slurping your soup and noodles is a compliment to the chef. This has started some pretty heated conversations in the Foster household.

Me- “Blake STOP slurping!”

Blake- “I am trying to compliment you, babe.”

Me- “I am not Japanese, so stop!”

Blake- “Still.”

“Still.” will always win an argument. Be the first to say it!

Anyway, the point about cultures is that we all have comfort food based on our likings, upbringings and cultures. Chicken Katsu with Tamago Omelets and Miso soup is definitely a Japanese comfort food for us. Every time we make this for friends, they ask for it again and again. Enjoy

Chicken Katsu and Tamago Omlete

Serves 2

Total Price- $2.11

Total Price per person- $1.06

Average Retail Price- $4.91

Total Savings- $2.30

Chicken Katsu and Miso Soup

-5 eggs

-2 tbsp mirin (see photo)

-1 tbsp soy sauce

-2 tsp sugar

-2 tsp rice wine vinegar

-1 tbsp oil

-2 tbsp white Miso (see photo)

-2 tsp Dashi powder

-3 cups water

-1/2 cup cubed tofu

-2 green onions diced

-2 chicken breasts, butterflied/pounded to 1/2 inch

-1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

-1 sheet dried seaweed

-Katsu Sauce (see photo)

1. Mix eggs, Mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine vinegar

2. Set aside about 1/2 cup of the egg mixture.

3. Heat 1/2 the oil large sauté pan over med-high heat

4. Add 1/6 the egg mixture to the pan and spread thin across the saute pan

Step 1

5. Fold/roll the egg mixture in 1 inch portions and continue to roll until 1 inch thick

Step 2

6. Add another 1/6 of the egg mixture to the pan and spread thin

7. Fold/roll the 1 inch portion of rolled egg, pausing for 10-15 seconds each fold to allow it to cook.

Step 3

8. Add another 1/6 of the egg mixture and repeat until it is completely rolled and about 1 inch thick and 1 inch tall

Step 4

9. Set aside.

Complete Tamago Omelet

10. Add the remaining oil to the pan and repeat for the 2nd Tamago Omelet.

11. Cut Tamago Omelet into 1/2″ portions and wrap with strips of dried seaweed if preferred.

12. Heat water in medium sauce pot or microwave

13. Add white Miso, Dashi powder, tofu, and green onion to the water and serve.

14. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, or heat 1/2 inch of oil in sauté pan over high heat.

15. Dip the chicken in the 1/2 cup egg mixture that was set aside, and then coat in Panko breadcrumbs.

16. Place on a pan in the oven, or into the oil.

17. If cooking in oven spray with butter spray or drizzle with oil and cook 8-10 minutes per side until chicken is cooked through and bread crumbs are golden brown.

18. If cooking in oil cook roughly 7-8 minutes per side until chicken is cooked through and bread crumbs are golden brown.

Serve with Tamago omelet, Miso soup, a side of Katsu sauce and rice.


-Boneless, skinless chicken breast- Ingles $1.98/lb

-Tofu- Super H Mart $0.98

-Mirin-Super H Mart $1.00 off

-White Miso- Super H Mart $2.00, and it lasts for a year

Pictures for Reference


White miso

Deck the Halls with Balls of Risotto

I often find myself naming foods based on their shape. It makes sense to me, but at times makes the food sound less appetizing. For example, we made “Risotto Balls” before we knew they had a name; Arancini.

My best friend, Jenny, and I love Stoney River. We love their “Stoney Balls”. Our favorite bartender of all times , Ken, HATES when we call them that. “They are Stone Pups”, Ken tells us. I guess people like to use words like “pups”, “fritters”, “bites”, etc for things that are round. Where did the love for shape descriptors go?

Have fun, and try some variations.  Blake loves jalapeno and ham filled Risotto Balls with a pineapple cheddar sauce.  You can also make them any shape you want.


Serves 6 (appetizer)

Total Price- $4.23

Total per Person- $0.71

Average Retail Price- $11.29

Total Savings- $7.06

Fried Risotto Balls

1 cup Arborio rice

2 ½ cups chicken stock

½ cup milk

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp oil

½ cup ricotta cheese

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup mozzarella cheese

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

1 tsp pepper, garlic powder, oregano

3 cups of oil (olive or olive mixture preferred)

2 eggs

2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs

½ cup marinara sauce

1. Heat chicken stock and milk to medium heat in a saucepan.

2. Heat butter and 1 tbsp oil to medium-high heat in a large sauté pan.

3. Add Arborio rice to the butter and oil and stir to evenly coat and roast for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add 1 cup of the chicken/milk broth to the rice, bring to a simmer, and stir often until

most of the broth is absorbed into the rice.

5. Repeat with the remaining 2 cups of broth, adding 1 cup at a time and stirring until the

rice has soaked it up.

6. After all of the broth is soaked up the rice should be a rich, creamy texture.

7. Remove the rice from heat and place into a large mixing bowl.

8. You can add the fillings/seasonings that you like at this point.  I will give you the

recipe for a great cheesy risotto ball.

9. Add ricotta, sour cream, mozzarella, Parmesan, pepper, salt, garlic powder, oregano

and mix together while the mixture is hot.

10. Taste the mixture and season to taste.

11. Refrigerate mixture until cold and setup. (Roughly 2 hours)

12. This mixture can be stored for up to 5 days and used to make Risotto Balls as needed.

13. Heat 3 cups of oil in a medium saucepan to high heat.

14. Combine the breadcrumbs and Panko breadcrumbs with a pinch of salt, pepper, and

preferred seasonings.

15. Beat the eggs and set aside.

16. Roll the cold rice mixture into balls roughly 1 ¾ inch diameter.  (The size of a plum)

17. Roll the balls into the egg mixture, and then in the breadcrumb mixture and evenly

coat with breadcrumbs.

18. Place the risotto balls into the hot oil and fry until a dark/golden brown.

(Roughly 5-8 minutes.)

19. Serve immediately with heated marinara sauce or sauce of choice.

20. Enjoy!

Sales used in this recipe:

Olive Oil (Publix BOGO $9.99 for 2)

Ricotta Cheese ($0.75 manufacturers coupon, doubled at Publix making it $0.29)

Mixed Up Meatloaf and “Sufferin’ Succotash”

One of my friends at work asked me for a good tomato gravy recipe and it had us stumped for a little while. When I think of tomato gravy, I think of big buttery home made biscuits. Blake and I wanted to make something more creative to eat with the tomato gravy. As much as I want to claim the idea, it was all Blake. He wanted meatloaf and mashed potatoes, so why not mix them together? I will claim the Succotash because I love veggies and so many were on sale this week!

We replaced the traditional meatloaf topping of syrup/honey mixed with ketchup with plain honey and let the tomato gravy take the ketchup’s place.  We plated the meatloaf on top of the tomato gravy so the crispy sweet top of the meatloaf was intact and it made for really different bites on the top vs. the bottom of the meatloaf.  It ended up being an amazing combination that Blake loved.  The crisp, sweet honey topping with the more savory tomato gravy really created some great textures and flavors.  The tomato gravy went really well with the succotash also.  This dish went from being a few random ideas to one of the best dishes we have made in a long time.  We will definitely be making this again!

Inside Out Shepherd’s Pie Meatloaf

Serves 4

Total Price- $4.84

Total Price per Person- $1.21

Average Retail Price- $11.70

Total Savings- $6.86

Inside Out Shepherd's Pie


-1 lb ground chuck (Kroger $1.98/lb Average Retail $3.99/lb)

-¼ onion chopped (Super H $0.98/3 lb Average Retail $1.99/lb)

-1 tbsp Worcesterschire sauce (Manufacturers coupon $0.75 off Heinz product Average Retail $2.49)

-2 tsp minced garlic (Costco 48 oz/ $3.99 Average Retail 6 oz $2.99)

-1 egg (Costco 36 eggs for $1.18 $0.06/egg Average Retail $2.99/12 $0.25each)

-½ cup breadcrumbs (Kroger $1.00 off from Average Retail $3.99)

-1 tsp salt (BOGO Publix $0.73/2)

-1 tsp pepper (Big Lots)

-1 tsp garlic powder (Big Lots $1.00 Average Retail $3.49)

-½ tsp paprika (Big Lots $1.00 Average Retail $3.49)

-½ tsp cayenne pepper (Big Lots $1.00 Average Retail $3.49)

-1 ½ tbsp honey (Kroger $0.50 off doubled to $1.00 Average Retail $3.99)

1)      Combine ground chuck, onion, Worcestershire, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.

2)      Place 2/3 of the mixture into a greased 3 x 9 loaf baking pan. (Just over halfway full)

3)      Place a 2/3-1 inch layer of the mashed potatoes into the baking pan.

4)      Place the remaining meat mixture on the top of the baking pan.

5)      Cook in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

6)      Drizzle the honey over the top of the meatloaf and return to the oven for 45 minutes, or until an internal temperature of 155 degrees.

7)      Remove from the oven and let set for 15 minutes.

8)      Serve with succotash and tomato gravy.


-1 lb Idaho Potatoes peeled and cubed (Super H $0.98/ 10lb bag Average Retail $4.99/10lb bag)

-½ stick salted butter (Costco 5lbs $5.19 Average Retail $2.99/lb)

-½ cup sour cream (Publix Buy one get one free2/$1.99)

-¾ cup whole milk (Costco $1.89/gallon Average Retail $3.49/gallon)

-salt and pepper (BIG LOTS)

  1. Boil potatoes until fork tender.
  2. Add butter and mash.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mash
  4. Salt and pepper to taste


-1 can tomato paste or 6 oz. home made tomato paste (Walmart $0.50/can Average Retail $1.19/ can)

-4 slices bacon (Kroger Meat Mania $2.99 from $4.99)

-3 tbsp flour (Publix BOGO $1.99/2)

-2 tbsp butter (Costco 5lbs $5.19 Average Retail $2.99/lb)

-2 cups water

1)      Cook the bacon over medium high heat until ¼ cup of bacon grease is rendered and set bacon aside.

2)      Add 3 tbsp flour to the hot bacon grease and whisk.

3)      Cook flour until lightly browned into a rue.

4)      Slowly whisk in the water and tomato paste.

5)      Continue to simmer and stir until nicely thickened.  (roughly 10 minutes)

6)      Add 2 tbsp butter and stir, keep hot until ready to serve.


-½ cup shelled edamame beans (Super H $0.78/bag Average Retail $3.99/bag)

-1 tomato diced (Garden FREE Average Retail $2.99/lb)

-2 ears of corn, cut from the cob (Publix 10/$1.00 Average Retail 2/$1.00)

-1 zucchini (Super H $0.38/lb Average Retail $1.99/lb)

-2/3 tbsp olive oil

-1 tsp ground ginger (Big Lots $1.00 Average Retail $3.49)

1)      Heat a sauté pan on medium-high heat with the olive oil.

2)      Add edamame beans, tomato, corn, zucchini, and ground ginger and stir.

3)      Sauté until tender.  Roughly 10 minutes.

‘Tis The Season to be Green and Fried

When I was 10, the movie Fried Green Tomatoes was released.  The young actress, who played Idgie Throughgood, in the movies was about my age, and we looked exactly alike.  For one solid year; I was a fake movie star. We had the same color hair, rebellious personality, tomboy mentality and hairy legs.

Iggie in the movie

Me, much younger but as close as I get digitally

Until my adulthood, I thought Fried Green Tomatoes was just a movie.  Now I know it’s a wonderful asset to any meal as a side dish, an appetizer, an addition to a sandwich or  a salad topper.  Right now is the season since all of our tomato plants are starting to ease off and we have the extra green ones that just won’t turn! Tonight, in honor of our own appetizer week, we have made it a wonderful first course. Add a little homemade mustard sauce and voila!

Fried Green Tomatoes

Serves 4

Total Price $0.79

Total Price per Person $0.20

Average Retail Price $3.61

Total Savings- $2.82

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes


2 green tomatoes (Garden- FREE Average Retail $2.99/lb)

2 tsp olive oil (Costco $9.99/ 64oz Average Retail $4.99/16oz)

1 cup of flour (Publix BOGO $1.99/2)

¼ cup panko bread crumbs (Super H $.100 off from Average Retail $3.99)

pinch of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, mustard powder, cayenne pepper and powdered sugar (BIG LOTS)

1 egg (Costco 36 eggs for $1.18 $0.06/egg Average Retail $2.99/12 $0.25each)

¼ cup milk (Costco $1.89/gallon Average Retail $3.49/gallon)


2 tbsp Spicy Mustard (BOGO Heinz at Publix $1.99/2)

1 tbsp Mayonnaise (Publix Buy one Get one Free $3.99/2 Average retail $3.99/1)

1tsp lemon juice (Super H 5 lemons/ $0.99 Average Retail $2/$0.99)

1tsp milk (Costco $1.89/gallon Average Retail $3.49/gallon)

dash of worscershire

pinch of paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder (BIG LOTS)

  1. Mix spicy mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, milk, worscershire, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder into a bowl and set aside. This is the sauce, and feel free to spice it up however you want.
  2. Cut Green Tomato’s into thick slices (1/2 inch) and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. In a large Ziploc bag add ½ cup flour, and salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper.
  4. Place tomato slices into the bag and shake until evenly covered.
  5. Mix egg and milk in a bowl.
  6. Mix the remaining ½ cup flour and panko bread crumbs in a plate.
  7. Heat ½ cup of oil in a sauté pan on med-high heat.
  8. Dip each tomato slice into the egg and milk mixture and then coat in the flour and panko mixture before placing into the sauté pan.
  9. Repeat with each slice and place tomato slices 1 inch apart.
  10. Flip tomato slices so they are evenly browned. (Roughly 2 mins per side.)
  11. Remove from pan and serve hot with the sauce mixture drizzled on the top or served on the side.  Goes great with a bit of fresh chives.

Driving Down the Gluten-Freeway

I have mentioned before and I will mention again, I LOVE WHEN READERS COMPLIMENT THE BLOG AND TELL ME WHAT THEY LIKE. One of my dear friends from middle school, Laura, and I reconnected on Facebook. She sent me an email about how she loved the blog. She and her family are gluten and soy free, so Blake and I took it as a challenge to make something that we wanted for dinner, but cater to her family’s diet.

If I ever fulfill my dream of being a professional chef, culinary teacher or TV food personality, I will be sure to incorporate the needs of people who have unique diets. I have a best friend, Kelly, who is a vegetarian. She says she loves to read the blog, but doesn’t cook much from it because we always use meat.  After looking back at our recipes, she was right, and now we are aiming to make more vegetarian-friendly dishes.

So for all of those of you who are steering away from gluten and/or soy, enjoy this dish!

Zucchini-Chicken “Lasagna”

(Eliminate chicken or replace with tofu for a delightful vegetarian dish)

Serves 6

Total Price with Savings- $4.49

Total Price per Person- $0.75

Total Average Retail Price- $12.59

Total Savings- $8.10

Gluten-Soy Free Lasagna

–         2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boiled and shredded (Super H $1.49/lb Average Retail $4.99/lb)

–         2 cans of plain tomato sauce (Costco 12/$5.99 Average Retail $0.99/each)

–         1 can diced tomatoes (Costco 12/$5.99 Average Retail $0.99/each)

–         1 tbsp olive oil

–         1 tbsp minced garlic (Costco 48 oz/ $3.99 Average Retail 6 oz $2.99)

–         1 tbsp Italian season (BIG LOTS $1.00 Average Retail $2.29)

–         ½ cup grated Parmesan (Costco $5.99 24 oz/ Average Retail 8 oz $3.99)

–         ½ cup shredded mozzarella (Costco $6.99 5/lb bag Average retail $3.49/1 lb bag)

–         1- 8oz container ricotta cheese (Publix brand $1.09 Average Retail $2.29)

–         1 tbsp fresh basil (FREE Garden Average Retail $2.99/pkg)

–         1 tsp fresh thyme (FREE Garden Average Retail $2.99/pkg)

–         2 medium zucchini, sliced thin lengthwise (Super H $0.38/lb Average Retail $1.99/lb)

–         Salt and pepper (BIG LOTS)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, olive oil, minced garlic, 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning into a pot and cook on low heat for 30 minutes. (If you are in a hurry, use higher heat).
  3. Boil chicken breast for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Shred when cool.
  4. Mix together ricotta, basil, thyme, ¼ cup mozzarella cheese, 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside for assembly.
  5. In a 9-inch glass-baking dish, drizzle olive oil in the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add thin layer of tomato sauce.
  7. Top with ½ sliced zucchini to cover surface of pan.
  8. Spread ½ of cheese mixture on top of zucchini.
  9. Top with shredded chicken, evenly dispersed.
  10. Coat chicken layer with more sauce to ensure it doesn’t dry out when cooking.
  11. Top with remainder of zucchini.
  12. Coat with one more layer of tomato sauce.
  13. Top with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella.
  14. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes.
  15. Uncover and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
  16. Allow 20-30 minutes for “lasagna” to set.

The whole dish

The Kitchen Sink that Helps Babies Think

I was a nutritionally unhealthy kid. My taste buds were constantly dancing, but my arteries and my waistline were taking a beating. After my first year in college, I had about 80 pounds to lose to be “average” for my age, gender and height.

My parents raised me with all of the love and compassion that great parents do. They are amazing, but in the 80’s in North Carolina and Georgia, eating a balanced and nutrient-rich diet was not something people thought about. People had just learned that cigarettes had a negative impact on your health and artificial sweeteners, in the likes of Tab Soda, were the talk of the town.

I became a mom in December of 2008. I knew that I wanted my child to be exposed to a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins. In fact, it drives my friend, Melissa, crazy that I have still never fed Lottie Mac ‘n Cheese from a box.

When Lottie started on solid foods, it was simple. We made our own purees and she loved whatever we gave her. The concept of something besides breast milk was a novelty to her. Then Lottie turned one, and she got several fun gifts, and I got a toddler with an attitude. This is when Lottie started throwing her avocado at me and dissecting her egg white omelets to remove the spinach. I never thought I would be there, but I was.

In the winter, I love to make butternut squash soup. It is simple. One day, I decided to take the method of my butternut squash soup but use broccoli. It was delicious and creamy. Then it hit me, Lottie loves whole-wheat pasta topped with butternut squash soup. I could make a veggie pasta sauce. I went to Super H Mart and bought all of the nutritious veggies that were on sale. I used the healthy method from the butternut squash soup with the veggies that were CHEAP and before I knew it I had healthy, nutrient-rich pasta sauce that Lottie (and my husband) absolutely LOVE!

Creamless, Creamy Veggie Pasta Sauce

Serves – 1 toddler for 6 weeks

Total Price with Sales- $5.28/batch

Total Average Retail Price- $16.19/batch

Total Savings- $10.91/batch

Tell them it's PESTO!

– 1 medium sweet onion, chopped (Super H 3lb bag $0.98 Average retail 3 lb bag $2.99)

– 3 stalks of celery, chopped (Super H $0.69/package Average Retail $1.49/package

– 2 unpeeled, chopped carrots (Super H $0.18/lb Average Retail $1.49/lb)

– 3 cans of chicken broth (Costco 12 cans for $6.99 Average Retail $1.19/can)

– 1 cup or more water depending on amount of veggies

(Use the veggies that you want your child to have, but I used the following)

– 1 bunch of spinach, cleaned (Super H $0.99/bunch Average Retail $3.99/container)

– 1 head of broccoli, chunked (Super H $0.69/lb Average Retail $1.99/lb)

– 1 lb asparagus, chopped (Super H $0.98/lb Average Retail $3.99/lb)

– 1 head of cauliflower, chunked (Super H $0.78/each Average Retail $2.29/each)

  1. Get the largest pot you have so you can make/freeze more sauce at one time. We use our lobster pot.
  2. Add enough olive oil to the bottom of the pot to keep the veggies from sticking.
  3. Add carrots, celery and onion and cook on medium heat until onions are translucent (about 5-7 minutes).
  4. Add all other veggies except leafy greens that cook fast .
  5. Pour three cans of low-sodium chicken stock over veggies and add water until the veggies and covered in liquid.
  6. Do NOT add more liquid once veggies are submerged.
  7. Boil veggies until they are all soft.
  8. Add leafy greens and boil 1 minute.
  9. Allow boiled veggies and liquid to completely cool (about 1-1.5 hours).
  10. Blend in batches and freeze in weekly portions.
  11. Surprisingly, the sauce is extra creamy and your kids will love it! It looks pretty gross, but serves in under Parmesan cheese and they won’t know!

* I freeze these in one-week portions, so I only have to make it once ever 6 weeks.

* Use what is on sale, the specific veggies don’t matter.

* Top with Parmesan cheese

* Use in your toddler’s other favorite dishes- omelets, quesadillas, rice, etc

* Veggies I would NOT use, cucumbers, potatoes, peppers or eggplant simply based on texture for the soup.

HAVE a BABY that doesn’t love to sleep?

Contact Laura Hunter at

She can help!