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



-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


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


Key No What???


64 oz. ORGANIC QUINOA (Kee-noh-ah)

Total Price- $9.99

Average Retail Price- $37.05

Total Savings- $27.06

In my late teens and early 20’s, I was quite nomadic. I loved going to the University of Tennessee, but in the middle of my time there, I decided to pack it up and head out west. At times I regret that decision, but I know that it was that decision that ultimately made each event in my life unfold and lead me to Blake.

I had a great time living in Vail, CO. After leaving Vail, I headed back to NC where I got my degree from UNC Wilmington. My new found love for surfing led me to Sunny San Diego, CA where I found a job at The Marine Room
( that will forever be marked as one of the greatest experiences I have ever had.

When I moved to San Diego, it was clear that working in a restaurant was what I wanted to do. I wanted my days to be spent on a 10 foot long, freshly waxed, red, Allison surfboard, made specifically for me by one of the greatest surfboard designers of all times. It quickly became clear that I wasn’t the only one with this idea. Restaurant jobs were hard to come by.

I heard from a friend that there was this wonderful restaurant called The Marine Room that practically sat in the ocean. I was told not to apply because they rarely hire. Well, stubborn ole’ me went anyway. I am so glad I did because I landed the job, created amazing memories, met wonderful, life-long friends and learned more than I could have ever imagined from two of the best chefs in the world: Bernard Guillas and Ron Oliver.

I will never forget the stuff I learned there about food and wine. There was this fabulous dish that had a red quinoa in it. I had never seen or heard of quinoa, so I asked Chef Ron what it was. He explained to me all of it’s nutritional benefits and it’s history. Quinoa is a South American grain that is full of protein and essential amino acids. On top of that, it is gluten-free.

Since leaving the Marine Room, the popularity of quinoa has greatly increased. It is even finding it’s way to the grocery store aisles. The main problem with quinoa is that it is expensive. A small bag of it runs anywhere from $2.99-$8.99 for a 12 oz. portion. YIKES! This is why I am sharing this amazing deal I found. At Costco you can get 64 oz. of Organic Quinoa for $9.99, and it is delicious!!


Crazy for Cauliflower

I am so glad that cauliflower has received the recent spotlight in several cooking magazines lately. As long as I can remember, I have loved cauliflower more than most people. I think it is key to any salad and also adds a unique flavor to any assortment of roasted vegetables. The thing I love the most about it is the ability to transform it. It packs flavor, but it’s flavor can be transformed in any way. One of my favorite snacks is raw cauliflower dipped in yellow mustard. I was eating it the other day at school when one of my students came to my desk and greeted me with a simple, “gross”.

In 2007, when I was on an disgustingly limited diet to prepare for my wedding, I ate only vegetables. After a few weeks, the raw and roasted stuff was becoming boring, and I needed a new twist. Blake made mashed cauliflower, and I fell in love with it. We replace mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower all the time now. Last month, Blake had a brilliant idea. He wanted to make a mashed cauliflower souffle. BEST.IDEA.EVER.

The pictures will never do this side justice. For two reasons, it is basically a colorless dish, and I am horrible at taking pictures. Trust me, this one is worth making.

Asiago Cauliflower Souffles

Serves 4

Total Price- $2.63

Total Price per serving- $0.66

Average Retail Price- $4.39

Total Savings $1.76

(You will need 4 equal size baking ramekins)


– 1 head of cauliflower

-1 tbsp butter

-1tbsp sour cream

-1/4 milk

-3/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese


1. Break the cauliflower into large heads

2. Boil until fork tender

3. Strain and cool for 5-10 minutes

4. Blend with butter, sour cream, milk and salt and pepper (adjust seasonings and ingredients to your liking.)

5. After blending, the mashed cauliflower should be the consistency of grits.

6. Pour mashed cauliflower into baking ramekins.

7. Top with shredded Asiago (just enough cheese to cover the top)

8. Bake 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and melted.

9. If you want to make these the day before or the morning of, compose them, place them in the refrigerator and bake from cold at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

Savings in this side dish

Cauliflower $1.38/head at Super H Mart

Asiago cheese $2.99/lb at Costco

Jicama Dicama Dock

SNACKS:  The enemy to anyone who is watching their figure. Sure, you can bring an apple to work, but are you really going to choose that over the chocolate snacks in the break room? I don’t think so!

The snacks that we made are crunchy, salty, refreshing, cheap and low calorie. Talk about a win-win. Snack away my friends!

Jicama Sticks

Jicama Sticks

–          One bulb of Jicama, peeled and cut into sticks

–          1 tsbp lime juice

–          2 tbsp fresh cilantro

–          ½ tsp garlic powder

–          1 tsp sugar

–          ½ tsp salt

–          ½ tsp paprika

–          ¼ tsp chili pepper

  1. Combine salt, sugar, cilantro, garlic powder, paprika and chili pepper into a bowl.
  2. Coat jicama with lime juice
  3. Sprinkle jicama with spice blend.
  4. Snack away!
  5. Keep refrigerated

*The cool thing about Jicama is that they are a blank slate. If you want a sweet snack, try cinnamon and sugar. Feel free to mix up the spices for some variety.*


Jicama- $1.99/lb at Kroger. Average Retail $2.99/lb

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!

You Can Still Look HOT Eating Hot Wings

One of my favorite foods in the world is hot wings. It drives my husband nuts when I eat them because I used a fork and a steak knife to prevent from having to slurp my fingers or dip into my 401k to afford enough paper towels to keep me clean.

I am O.C.D. Normally the things that I obsess about are doors being locked, cabinets being completely closed, recycling bins being organized, expired coupons and floor surfaces being free of dirt and debris. One other thing that drives me nuts is when anything is under my fingernails. It drives me crazy! It’s nearly impossible to eat a hot wing without getting sauce under your fingernails…..UNTIL NOW!

When I was on Facebook the other day, I saw a friend of mine, Tisha, ask her Facebook family if anyone could think of a way to eat hot wings with out looking like a barbarian. It was then that it hit me that I was not the only one. This discussion lead to the creation of the following dish. I know they are thighs and not wings, but they are close enough. Also, they are skinless which dramatically reduced the saturated fat and cholesterol.

Dainty Finger Lickless Hot “Wings” with Celery Casserole

Serves 4

Total Price- $5.37

Total Price per Person- $1.34

Total Average Retail Price- $13.58

Total Savings- $8.21

Dainty Chicken "Wings" and Celery Casserole

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (Super H $1.49/lb Average Retail $3.99/lb)

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

½ cup Texas Pete Hot sauce (Big Lots)

1 tsp salt (Big Lots)

1 tsp pepper (Big Lots)

1 tsp oil

  1. Clarify 6 tbsp butter by putting in sauté pan on low heat and waiting until white, foamy, coating forms on the top. Spoon out the white foam and leave remaining butter in pan.
  2. Add ½ tsp oil to prevent butter from burning.
  3. Set pan with clarified butter to high heat.
  4. Cut each thigh into wing-sized sections (average 3 per thigh)
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Once butter is very hot, add thigh to pan in batches leaving ½ inch between each thigh until browned and cooked through (approx. 3 mins per side)
  7. Set on paper towel to drain.
  8. Put 3 tbsp melted butter in a bowl.
  9. Mix melted butter with Texas Pete stir with fork until thick and mixed thoroughly.
  10. Drizzle over cooked thighs.


Cold Celery Casserole

½ cup Light Sour Cream (Publix Buy one get one FREE $1.79/2 Average Retail $1.79/1)

8 oz Fat Free Cream Cheese (Publix Manufacturers Coupon $0.40 off, doubled to $0.80 to $1.19 Average retail $1.99/ 8 oz

5 stalks of celery, diced (Super H $0.38/bunch Average Retail $1.99/ bunch)

½ sweet onion, diced (Super H 3lb bag $0.98 Average retail 3 lb bag $2.99)

1 tsp salt (Big Lots)

1 tsp pepper (Big Lots)

1 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese (Costco $6.99 5/lb bag Average retail $3.49/1 lb bag)

2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese (Costco $2.99/8oz Average Retail $4.99/8 oz)

2 tbsp Panko bread crumbs (Super H Buy one, get one free. 2/$2.99)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine first 6 ingredients into a bowl.
  3. Spread evenly into a glass 9 inch baking dish
  4. Top with remaining ingredients and place in oven for 30 minutes, until topping is golden brown and cream is bubbling..
  5. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
  6. Serve cold.

Peter Piper Picked A Pepper Relish

So far one of my favorite things about this blog is when people ask me for ideas. I like the challenge of finding ingredients for what they want on sale and making them into something delightful.

Last week I posted about home grown veggies. One of my friends, Christy, told me that she had so many banana pepper that she was throwing them out before she could use them. First off, I would say compost them. In fact, it was her mom, during my childhood, who introduced me to composting.

I thought for a while about what to make with a plethora of banana peppers. At first, I considered a casserole with a biscuit topping, but no matter how savory you make it, that would still be pepper overload.

So I went in the direction of a relish. The coolest thing about pepper relish is that it stays good for a while. Generally when anything is cooked in vinegar, it will last a lot longer than you would think.

Banana Pepper Relish

Total Cost- $1.49

Total Cost at Average Retail- $6.34

Total Savings- $4.85

Banana Pepper Relish

–         7-9 Banana Peppers, seeded and deveined and chopped finely (Garden FREE- Average Retail- $3.99/lb)

–         2 jalapenos, finely chopped and deseeded (Garden FREE- Average Retail $1.99/lb)

–         1 cup of vinegar (Publix Manufacturer’s Coupon $0.50 off doubled so $1.00 off from Average Retail $1.99)

–         1 tsp salt

–         ¼ cup water

–         1 tbsp mustard (Publix Manufacturer’s Coupon $0.40 off doubled so $0.80 off from Average Retail $1.79)

  1. Cook peppers and vinegar on medium heat for 5-7 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 5-7 more minutes.
  3. Quickly strain, still reserving some of the liquid.
  4. Allow time to cool and transfer to an empty jar.
  5. Refrigerate and serve

All it takes to make a pepper relish

The ingredients

Home Grown Country Girl

I am a cold weather person. I don’t like hot weather, but if there is one thing that makes hot sunshine and high temperatures worth it, it is home grown vegetables and fruits. We live in a house that doesn’t get much sunshine. Even after taking down 15 pine trees from the front yard, we still only have one area of the yard that gets 6-8 hours of sun/day. So Blake built me a terrace in that area which became our garden. As any of you farmers out there know, you need tons of sun to grow veggies and fruit.

We plant our garden in March or April. We make it an Easter Saturday tradition. The crops require quite a bit of water and we are believers in composted soil and additional fertilizer (the kind that promotes the growth of fruiting, not foliage). Don’t cut corners on the stakes. We did that this year, but next year we will get the taller and sturdier stakes, so the plants have more support when they begin to bloom.

A neat tidbit that we learned this weekend was about blueberry bushes; ours is not doing very well at all, in fact, it is quite pitiful. We went to visit Blake’s uncle Brian this weekend. He lives out in the country and grows a ton of produce. He has a blueberry bush that is the size of a storage shed. I could not believe it! He told me that the trick is to plant at least two or three together to encourage cross-pollination. I never knew this tip, so we are picking up a buddy for our friend, Mr. Blueberry on My Shoulder this weekend.

This year, we are growing tomatoes, jalapenos, banana peppers, green/red/yellow peppers, blueberries, okra and cucumbers. In retrospect, I would have opted for one extra tomato plant, some beets and one less jalapeno plant. I LOVE Beets! We have way too many peppers. One good pepper plant of each type would be enough for us.


Here is a little shot of the crops we picked YESTERDAY! Looks like I am due to make a few tomato pies!

A day in the garden

A few tips to a prosperous garden:

1. Leave plenty of space (at least 18 inches) between the plants when you plant them.

2. Plant them around Easter weekend.

3. Be sure to bury the bottom 6 inches of the plant you are planting. It seems like you are covering up a lot of the foliage, but that is ok.

4. For tomatoes, pinch back the little leaves that grow in the joints of the plant. Go easy on pruning anywhere else.

5. Water regularly. We prefer in the morning. In the evening, the water can create bacteria from not having the sun and in the afternoon, it is pointless.

6. Plant cucumbers, squash and melon in the spot where your compost pile was.

7. Steer clear of planting vegetables in clay. Sandy or Sandy loam are your best bets.

8. The easiest crops to grow (in my opinion) are onions, peas, beets, rutabaga and zucchini squash.

9. Put some type of guard around you garden (mesh nets or chicken wire work well) to keep the precious, but hungry rabbits and deer away from your salad!

10. Don’t be afraid to grow a garden in the winter. Salad greens, carrots, beets, radishes, cabbage, collards, broccoli, cauliflower all take well to the cold weather.

Where is Ashton? I must be getting “Punk’d”

So just the other day my friend Christy, Ashley and I were talking on Facebook about using coupons. I was explaining to them that I definitely use coupons, but I am more of a “sale shopper”. This is not because I don’t like coupons or don’t take the time to find them or clip them, it is simply because we generally buy fresh produce and meat. When was the last time you saw a coupon for asparagus?

Anyway, I told them that someone needed to invent coupons for fresh produce and meat. That night, I went by my mom’s house to let her spend some time with Lottie, when I saw a coupon book about 15 pages long for Super H. The coupons books that I get in the mail from Super H generally include coupons for sauces, dry goods, cleaning supplies, rice, and other packaged goods. Nothing fresh.

I sat down expecting to see the same thing. I was floored when I saw what the coupons were. The booklet was filled with over 60 coupons for FRESH PRODUCE AND MEAT ONLY. These were absolutely, unbelievable prices!!!

Seriously, I got this the same day as I talked on FaceBook with friends about how they don’t exist.

The coupons are the best I have ever seen. Super H already has very low prices, but these seriously took my breath away. I felt like Ashton Kutcher was going to pop out and tell me I had been “Punk’d”

Here are a few examples of what is included:

4 Mangos for $0.98

10 Kiwi for $0.98

$0.68/lb for red or green seedless grapes

1 lb asparagus $0.88 (Unbelievable)

8 oz container of whole mushrooms $0.48

Whole Pineapple $0.98

Live Lobster $5.98/lb (seriously?)

Fresh Scallops $3.98/lb

10 lb bag of Idaho Potatoes $0.98

3 lb Vidalia Onions $0.78

Cauliflour $0.78 each

Hass avocado 4/$0.98

I could go on forever. The coupons are good from August 6- August 19, so be looking for some fun recipes that week.

No Knead to Buy Bread

One of the best and most flavorful ways that we save money with by making our own bread. I know exactly what you are thinking. What a hassle! Well, it is super simple and super cheap if you buy a bread machine. Then all you do is add the ingredients and press a button. It makes the most wonderful bread and your house smells great for a week.

There are several kinds of bread that you can make, some are easy and some are more difficult. Blake’s mom, Jeannie, is the master at making bread, and she shares all of her tips with us. Now, we make all different loaf breads, French bread, bagels and pizza dough. A loaf of homemade bread makes for a great housewarming or Christmas gift as well! The good quality bread at the average grocery store runs you about $3.99. That can really add up!

The bread machine recipes are endless on the Internet and once you get the hang of you, you can create your own. Bread Flour was buy one get one free the other day at Publix, so I went ahead and bought 6 bags of it. We are stocked for a few months now!

This is the bread machine we have. Blake’s mom bought it for us when it was on sale at Walmart for around $40. I highly suggest it. Our Bread Machine

This is the loaf that Blake made this morning for Yas and his dad. Yas’ dad lives in Japan, so it is always a treat when we get to see him. He loves Blake’s Onion Dill Bread. He says it is the best bread he has had in is whole life.

Homemade Onion Dill Bread- 2lb loaf

Hot and Fresh

Blake and Jeannie's Asiago French Bread and Plain French Bread