Sunday, November 14, 2010

How to Open a Pomegranate

Pomegranates have been on sale for $1 for a couple weeks now at Kroger. I love them, but they take FOREVER to open. They also stain everything (including the quilt I made last year). I found this video on youtube, and we were eating pomegranate seeds within 5 minutes! I thought I did a pretty good job not squirting juice everywhere until I went over to Brett with a bowl of seeds. He smiled really big and told me to look in the mirror... I had maroon dots ALL over my face (including my eye lids and glasses)! I didn't even think to take a picture until after I wiped them all off. Yay for kitchen tips!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hasselback Potatoes

I found these interesting potatoes on foodgawker. (This picture with recipe is from How To: Simplify.) We really liked them. All of the recipes for them are pretty much the same and very easy. My favorite addition is to make very thin slices of garlic and press them in every two to three slits. Next time you are planning on making potatoes and don't want to add extra calories with cheese/sour cream, you should try hasselback potatoes!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

I've been looking for a good pork loin recipe since it's something different than chicken and you can get it pretty cheap at the grocery store every once in a while. I made it tonight for dinner, and it was really nice for a change to be able to relax and not be in the kitchen than long. The sauce is sweet, but Brett approves, so it must go well with the pork! If you don't have ground sage, I wouldn't go buy it just for this. (At least I don't think it would make that much difference.) The sauce is what makes the pork.

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin
Let's Dish


1 (2 lb) boneless pork loin
1 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side or drizzle glaze over the shredded pork.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Yum. I was scared this was going to take all night, but it only took a little less than 2 hours from start to finish. (Ok, two hours is kind of a long time, but it's a hobby for me, so it's fun!) I adapted a recipe from Jaden Hair (Steamy Kitchen), and I still can't figure out how she doesn't end up with a ton of filling left over after making a package of dumplings... I'm going to say you need to half the recipe for one frozen dumpling pack. That, or you can use the full filling recipe and two dumpling packs, freezing a lot for later.

**Note: We don't usually eat really fatty foods, so unfortunately, these potstickers did not agree with my stomach. If I make them again, I am going to try ground turkey instead. (Not only is pork fatty, you don't drain the grease off since it cooks in the dumpling skin.) I had fun making them, though. :o)

Pan Fried Pork Potstickers

2 packages of frozen dumpling skins, defrosted overnight in refrigerator or 40 minutes room temp (do not microwave or set in water)

3 stalks green onions, cut into 2 inch sections
1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots
5 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1 lb ground pork (or ground turkey)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt (or 1 tsp regular salt)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
For the slurry: 1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp cooking oil

Dipping Sauce
1 tsp garlic chili sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar

In a food processor, add the green onions, bamboo shoots, and shiitake mushrooms. Pulse several times until all of the ingredients are finely chopped. (You may need to use a spoon to wipe unchopped ingredients off the sides and back into the middle to ensure even cutting) In a large bowl, combine this mixture with the ground pork, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, cornstarch, and ginger. Mix well.

Spoon 2 teaspoons of the filling onto dumpling skin. Brush a bit of the cornstarch slurry all around the edge of the dumpling skin. Fold over and press to secure edges. Make sure edges are sealed tightly. Shape the dumpling so that it has a flat bottom. Cover loosely with plastic wrap so that it doesn’t dry out. Go here to see a picture demonstration on how to do this.

When you are ready to cook, heat a large nonstick pan with 1 tablespoon of cooking oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add half of the dumplings, flat side down, not touching, to the pan. Let fry for 1-2 minutes until the bottoms are light golden brown. Pour 1/4 cup of water into the pan and immediately cover with a tight fitting lid. Turn heat to medium and let the dumplings steam for 3 minutes. Open lid and let the remaining liquid cook off about 1-2 minutes. Cut into a dumpling to make sure that the filling is cooked through. Remove to plate, wipe the pan clean with paper towels (or wash) and repeat with remaining dumplings. Serve with dipping sauce.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

French Baguettes

Thank goodness the doctor told me I could eat gluten again. It was incredibly difficult. (After about 3 days your body feels like it's entering starvation mode.) You can only eat so much fruit and nuts... He thinks I have IBS. I don't know if I completely agree, but I do know that I have had gluten for a few days now and feel fine. I am almost positive one of my issues is lactose intolerance. I'm just going to back off for a while and slowly try to add it back into my diet in a couple months.

I found this recipe on Tasty Kitchen. I will use them tomorrow to make homemade croutons in our caesar salads. I don't think I'll ever buy baguettes again! They even taste better than the ones fresh from the store. They do take a few hours to make, but they are very hands off. Enjoy!

French Baguettes
Tasty Kitchen member ThoroughlyModernHousewife

1 cup warm water
2 ½ cups bread flour
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 whole egg yolk
1 Tablespoon water

1. Place 1 cup water, bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast into bread machine pan in the order recommended by manufacturer. Select Dough Cycle, and press start.

2. When the cycle has completed, place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

3. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 16×12 inch rectangle. Cut dough in half, creating two 8×12 inch rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, beginning at 12 inch side, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end (into a baguette shape). Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Mix egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water; brush over tops of loaves.

5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week 1 Gluten/Dairy Free

I thought I was getting better last week since I was able to drink a glass of milk with 2 lactase pills. I still had a stomach ache and other symptoms when I ate other food containing gluten, but I thought I might have been getting over this lactose intolerance and maybe picking up gluten intolerance.

Right when I thought I was getting better, I made some bad decisions and made it worse. It was Ted's birthday this week, and Lori brought a huge box of Shipley's glazed donuts to work. I hadn't eaten anything close to a donut in a while, and I just had to have one... and then another... and then another. I don't know if it was the dairy or gluten, but bad idea. Then, I don't know why I thought I could handle this, but we had Pillsbury cinnamon rolls for breakfast. I felt extremely nauseous within 15 minutes of eating them. It was bad enough for me to give in and try a week free of dairy and gluten.

I think everything I am making this week is both dairy and gluten free, but it is extremely hard for me to be 100% gluten free. (Many of those strange ingredients that you see on the food label are masked gluten, and I don't have any of those memorized - except modified food starch.)

I am planning on making smoothies (without oats, and maybe add 2 tsp ground flaxseed) for breakfast. I also bought gluten/dairy free waffles and Chex cereal (dairy/gluten free).

For lunch, I will eat leftovers from the dinners I cook. I also bought some Amy's freezer meals (dairy/gluten free) with a giftcard that my mom gave me. If we don't have enough leftovers, I will take those instead of eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich.

This week for dinner:

Saturday: Orange Chicken with brown rice

Stir fry with fresh vegetables over rice. (I'm making up my own recipe. Once I am done tweaking, I'll post it.)

Tortilla soup (Most broth is not gluten free, but I know that Swanson's 99% fat free is.)

Exotic Chicken Salad Sandwiches (For some reason, I forgot that bread was out of the picture. I'll either eat it alone or buy some gluten/dairy free bread.) - If you are avoiding gluten, the regular Kraft mayo is gluten free. All of the other kinds (light, olive oil, flavored) contain gluten.

Tilapia and wehani rice salad

Chicken tikka masala and Indian basmati rice (If you are going dairy free, use soy yogurt instead of regular.)

Pork chops and mashed potatoes (using dairy/gluten free butter) - and silly me just realized to make pork chops, you use flour. I guess I will either use cornstarch or nothing - just season them.

Hopefully I will see an improvement over the next week!

Orange Chicken

Another yummy gluten and dairy free meal. If you are trying to avoid gluten, do not use Kikkoman soy sauce. It is made from wheat. La Choy brand is made from soy. You can also use gluten free tamari. I have adapted the following recipe from this website. Brett likes a lot of sauce to mix in with the rice, so I only use 2 chicken breasts. If you don't want it really saucy, use three or four chicken breasts.

Orange Chicken

1 cup water
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp orange zest, grated
¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes, optional
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 to 2 Tbsp Peanut oil (or other oil for cooking chicken)
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size cubes
Sesame oil, optional
½ tsp ginger root, minced
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp green onion, chopped
5 Tbsp cornstarch, divided (more, if needed)
¼ cup cold water

Mix together the first 8 ingredients (through the brown sugar) and set aside. This is the sauce.

Put 3 Tbsp cornstarch into a gallon sized ziplock bag and drop the chicken cubes in. Shake until fully coated. (Add more if not enough to coat chicken.) In a large nonstick skillet, heat the peanut oil and saute the chicken until browned. (Make sure it is cooked through - may take a while. Chicken should not get tough.) Remove the chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Wipe pan clean with paper towel and add sesame oil with onions, ginger, and garlic. Fry about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add sauce mixture. Blend well over medium heat for a few minutes. Combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cold water and mix thoroughly. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into sauce. Once the sauce has thickened, add the chicken back to the skillet, toss to coat with sauce. Serve with rice.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

I was bad and made homemade pizza. There are a lot of yummy pizza crust recipes out there, but I usually make some sort of variation from Ree's recipe because I am too indecisive to choose another one. (Plus, a lot of recipes have too much yeast = beer taste, which I think is gross.)

Basic Pizza Crust (makes two crusts)

1 tsp instant or active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil

See here for the non cheater, knead it yourself method (at the bottom of the post).

What I do: Put all of the ingredients in a bread maker in this order: water, olive oil, flour, salt, yeast. Press start! (Mine takes an hour and a half to make dough). You can use regular salt if you don't have kosher salt (I forgot and used regular tonight). You can also use different flours. I've done 4 cups all purpose, 2 cups all purpose + 2 cups whole wheat, and 4 cups bread flour. If you want a thicker crust, bread flour is the way to go (what I made tonight).

**This makes two pizza crusts. I usually make one BBQ chicken pizza and one pepperoni.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Ingredients (for one pizza)
1/2 of the dough from the above recipe
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
barbecue sauce
ranch dressing (optional)
olive oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or 8 oz of the real stuff, sliced thin)
1/3 red onion, cut in half and sliced very thin
chopped cilantro, to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Salt chicken breast on both sides, then place in an ovenproof dish. Pour BBQ sauce over the breast and turn them over to coat. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Remove from oven and cut into a fine dice. Set aside.

Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.

Roll/stretch out one pizza crust. Lay it on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle a little olive oil on the crust, then sprinkle on a little salt.

Spoon a couple of tablespoons of extra BBQ sauce on the crust and spread it evenly. (You can use ranch dressing if you don't want it too barbecue-y.) Top sauce with the mozzarella. Sprinkle on the diced chicken and thinly sliced red onion.

Sprinkle again with a little salt, then bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle on plenty of chopped cilantro. Cut and serve immediately.

**Note: If your crust is rock hard after 15 minutes, don't worry. It will soften as it cools. It happens to me every time I make pizza/calzone rolls.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Quinoa with Sundried Tomatoes

Speaking of trying new things, ever heard of quinoa (pronouced keen-wah or kee-NOH-uh)? It's actually pretty good. Quinoa is a whole grain that is high in protein. You can buy it in the bulk section at HEB. I think 1 cup is a little over $1. (You can also buy it in the rice isle at HEB for about the same unit price.) Here's a yummy recipe Catherine pointed me to in the Eat-Clean diet cookbook.

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
8 sundried tomatoes, not packed in oil
2 minced shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups low sodium, low-fat chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup dry quinoa grains
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
1 tsp sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

1. Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Rinse well under lukewarm running water for about 1 minute. Set aside. (You must remember to rinse quinoa grains well before cooking to remove the bitter saponin covering. Rinse until the water runs clear.)

2. Heat oil in large sauce pan. Add tomatoes, shallots, and garlic. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes or until shallots are softened. Add stock or water and bring to a boil. Stir in quinoa grains and cayenne pepper. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork to separate grains. Stir in seasonings.

My New Favorite Smoothie

A few weekends ago we went to Dallas for Jayme and Zach's wedding (beautiful!), and we spent the weekend with Catherine and Garrett Johnston. We love them and miss them. Catherine shared this book with me, and my mom bought it for me last week. I am trying to eat a lot healthier, and a lot of her recipes look tasty. Cutting out dairy hasn't been fun, but it has pushed me towards learning how to make a lot of new things in the kitchen. I think Garrett's mom got this smoothie idea from the Eat-Clean cookbook. It's super easy and quick.

1 fresh banana
handful of frozen blueberries and/or strawberries
1/3 cup dry oatmeal
1/2 cup yogurt (I use almond milk)
splash of juice (still great without this - we don't buy juice often)
1 scoop vanilla protein (I use this, but you can get vanilla soy protein a lot cheaper in the bulk section at HEB if you don't want to spend a lot of money)

Puree all ingredients. (I use a magic bullet.)

**Sam's sells 4 lbs frozen blueberries for $7.50.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Spaghetti Sauce

My friend Vicky gave me a recipe for spaghetti sauce. It is really easy and yummy. The following mix makes enough for 4 batches of spaghetti sauce.

1/4 cup Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp celery salt
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp sugar

Pulse in blender/food processor for 5-10 seconds. Store in an air tight container for up to 6 months. Add 2 Tbsp of the above mixture to a 28 oz of tomato sauce and 6 oz tomato paste. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Weekly Menu Board

Every Saturday morning I come with a meal plan for the week. I used to write them on a dry erase board that I used for college, but last night I made the one above (I can't seem to get a clear picture with my camera, sorry). I have to write down all of the meals for the week or I won't remember what I bought food for... It was really easy and cost me about $8. All you need is a frame (I got this 8" x 10" at Ross for $6.99), a sheet of scrapbook paper, a sheet of vellum, and a paper cutter (or scissors if you can cut straight - maybe draw a line with a ruler then cut). Make a word document in your favorite font (I used Pea c-squared) that has each day written like above. You can then write on the outside of the frame with a dry erase marker. So easy and much more attractive than a plain ole' dry erase board.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Kroger Deals

No recipes for a while. I have something strange going on with me, keeping me from dairy. Lactose intolerance? Gastroenteritis? I'm not sure. Hopefully I'll find out sometime this week.

Here are my favorite deals this week at Kroger:

Almond Breeze (the vanilla flavor is delicious!), $2.50
-$0.55 Kroger ecoupon
-$1.00 5/23 SS

Honey Nut Cheerios - 25 oz (what Brett eats every morning), $2.74
-$0.55 Kroger ecoupon
-$1/2 printable from or
=$1.69 for the first one and $2.19 for the second one

Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters, $1.29
-$1 shortcuts ecoupon or cellfire ecoupon
-$1 printable from,, and
=+$0.71 for the first one and $0.29 for the second one, etc.

Best Life Buttery Spread, $1 (Lactose free!)
-$1 6/13 RP or 7/11 RP

Speed Stick (men's or women's), $0.88
-$0.50 7/25 SS

Cauliflower, $1 each

**P&G Mega Deals**

Charmin Ultra Soft/Strong 16 ct, $5.99
-$3 Kroger ecoupon
-$0.25 6/6 or 8/1 P&G
=$2.24 ($0.14 a roll - crazy cheap!)

Downy Softener or Fabric Sheets, $3.99
-$2 Kroger ecoupon
-$1 6/6 or 8/1 P&G

Tide - 100 oz, $9.99
-$2 Kroger ecoupon
-$0.35 6/6 P&G or $1 7/4 or 8/1 P&G
=$6.99 (very good deal for Tide)

Gillette Body Wash, $1.99
-$2 7/4 P&G

Other great deals at:

Southern Savers
Couponing 101
The Big Red Pot

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kroger Trip 7-17

I know it is hard to see everything in that picture. Those are all of the groceries that I got this afternoon ($117 worth of stuff for $48). Kroger is having a mega event sale. I didn't get that many mega event items, but I definitely took advantage of the sale. Here are some of the deals I did:

Pork loin $1.97/lb

Butterfinger, $0.50
-FREE coupon from Facebook

Kraft olive oil mayo, $2.89
-FREE cream cheese coupon I got in the mail

Smart Balance Milk, $2.99
-$2 6/13 RP or 7/11 RP
-$2 ecoupon
=$1 moneymaker

Sudafed PE, $2.09 (closeout)
-$1.50 4/11 RP

Rolaids, $2
-$4/2 6/6RP
=two free

Cottonelle 12-pk, $4.99
-$1 July All You magazine or $0.50/1 in 7/11 SS
=$3.99/pack = $0.33/roll

Mega event items:

Quaker rice cakes, $0.99
-$1 Kroger print out coupon from a few weeks ago

Tums Ultra, $3
-$2 Kroger print out coupon from a few weeks ago

Kraft cheese, $1.88
-$1/2 Kroger coupons in the mail
=$1.38 each
**If you wait to buy these on Monday, you will get catalinas (buy any 5 and receive $5 catalina) - I'm sure you can buy four and get a catalina, but I don't know of what value.

Hunts tomatoes, $0.45

Dan-o-nino yogurt, $2.29
-$1.50 6/6 SS or 7/18 SS
=$0.79 each
(When you buy 2 you get a $1 catalina)

Ore-ida hashbrowns, $2.29
-$1 ecoupon

Q-tips (375 ct), $1.50
-$0.30 5/23 RP
=$0.60 after triple coupon

Philidelphia cream cheese, $0.99
-FREE cream cheese coupon I got in the mail

Scotch Brite scrubber, $1
-$1 6/6SS
(This rang up as a mega item but didn't have a mega item tag.)

Here are lists of other deals (many great deals with printable coupons, but our printer needs more ink, and I keep forgetting to buy it):

Southern Savers
Couponing 101
Mommy Snacks
The Big Red Pot

You may think, how on earth do those ingredients make all of our breakfasts/lunches/dinners? I stockpile, so I don't have to spend a lot each week. I spend more than other couponers because I make all of our meals (no freezer/pre-made food) and use a lot of produce. Also, cooking is my hobby, so I don't mind spending a little more at the grocery store to buy items without coupons. I actually don't use coupons at Kroger that much anymore unless there are big sales like today (many of the products I buy don't have coupons - but I only buy them if they are on sale). On weeks where I spend less, I stock up on meats - sirloin steak, ground beef/turkey, salmon, tilapia, and chicken breasts. Last week I stocked up on sirloin, chicken breasts, and a lot of cereal (special K and honey nut cheerios) - and my wonderful grandma gave me two boxes of cereal. :o) Today I got 5lbs of pork loin which I will trim up, cut in half, and freeze for sometime in the future.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

$25 Kroger giftcard with transferred Rx

Make sure to check out this week's Kroger ad. There is a coupon for a $25 giftcard when you transfer any prescription from another pharmacy. (Coupon valid through 7/20/10. Not valid on Rx included in $4/$10 generic program.) I'm so excited because I have a prescription I need to fill this week! I love free groceries. :o)

7/10 CVS Trip

I "paid" $1 for everything pictured above. (I really only lost $1 CVS ECBs.)

Here are the deals I did:

Buy Complete Multi Purpose Contact Solution (12 oz) at $7.99, get $7.99 ECB (Limit 1)
-$2/1 coupon in the 5/16 RP insert
=$5.99, get $7.99 ECBs = $2 overage

Buy 2 John Freida Products (3 - 12oz) at $5 each, get $5 ECB (Limit 1)
-two $3/1 coupons in the 6/6 SS insert (Root Awakening Products)
=$4, get $5 ECB = $1 overage

Monthly Deal: Buy 2 CVS Pantiliners (22 ct) at $0.50 each, get $1 ECB (Limit 3)
=$1, get $1 ECB = free

Tide deal stated in an earlier post (7/4 to 7/10 weekly ad deal).

There are two other free deals that I didn't do. They are a Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday deal, and I already have a lot from last summer.

Buy Paper Mate Pens (10 ct) at $0.99, get $0.99 ECB (Limit 1) = free

Buy 5" Calibur Scissors at $0.99, get $0.99 ECB (Limit 1) = free

Here is a full list of deals and coupon match-ups for this week's ad (Southern Savers).

Here is this week's ad.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Butter Chicken

I have finally found a good butter chicken recipe! I'm not sure how authentic it is, but it tastes like Indian food to me, and we really like it. It goes really well with the basmati rice recipe I have.

Butter Chicken

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen member lillieknits


4 pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground coriander
¼tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground cardamom (I don't have ground cardamom, so I used one pod)
1 whole lime, juiced
1 whole onion, diced
4 Tbsp butter (I used 2 Tbsp)
1 can (14.5 oz can) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz can) petite diced tomatoes
1 pint cream (I used 2 cups 1% milk mixed with 2 Tbsp cornstarch)
1 bunch chopped cilantro, to taste
Basmati Rice (I made this rice)

Combine first 9 ingredients and marinate overnight.

Saute the onion in the butter until soft. Add marinated chicken and cook about 3 minutes on each side. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then cover and adjust the heat to low. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Take the breasts out and cut them into bite-size pieces. Add the cream/milk mixture and cilantro. Add chicken breasts back into the sauce. Serve with basmati rice. (If you are using the milk + cornstarch mixture, let the sauce thicken up for a few minutes before you put the chicken back in.)

**When I made this I only used two chicken breasts. I'm not sure how much of a difference the chicken will be in the above marinade. It is a small volume so you may want to double it...?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

$4 Tide at CVS

Tide Laundry Detergent $5.97 Earn 1 ECB (Limit 1)
-$1/1 Tide Detergent 7/4 P&G
=$3.97 after coupon and ECBs

Here are the links to this week's deals:
Southern Savers
The Thrifty Mama

Here is a link to this week's ad.

General Tso's Chicken

I think I have found out how Chinese restaurants get chicken to have a breaded texture but still really moist. Cornstarch. It sounds weird... and looks a little strange when cooking, but it really works! I've made this a couple times, so I know it wasn't just luck the first time that the chicken ended up tender. I also made a few changes from the original recipe I found. It originally had more sugar, ketchup, and ginger.

General Tso's Chicken
Adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures

1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3-4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
6-8 spring green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
hot pepper flakes (optional)

Mix together the first 6 ingredients (through the water) and set aside. This is the sauce.

Put the cornstarch into a ziplock back and drop the chicken cubes in. Shake until fully coated. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the chicken until browned. Remove the chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Wipe pan clean with paper towel and add sesame oil with onions and chopped ginger. Fry about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add sauce mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer about 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens a bit. Add the chicken back to the skillet, toss to coat with sauce and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through. Add red pepper flakes, to taste, if desired. Serve with rice.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cajun Chicken Pasta

I used to order cajun chicken pasta every time I went to Chili's. We don't each out much anymore, but I try to resist getting it when we do go there. Pasta already has a lot of calories, so adding heavy cream just isn't an option at our house. I would want to make it every week. This original recipe (link below) had heavy cream, but we still like it with 1% milk/cornstarch. The pioneer woman has a good recipe for cajun chicken pasta as well, with of course, heavy cream. I think less than 10% of her recipes have no butter/heavy cream. :o( You can still substitute the cream with 1% milk/cornstarch. The main difference between her recipe and this one is that there is also chicken broth and white wine in hers. Here is the recipe for what is pictured above. My version of Ree's is below as well.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
Adapted from


12 oz rotini, cooked according to package
2 Tbsp butter (or olive oil)
2 skinnless, boneless chicken breast halves, sliced 1/2" thick
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp cajun seasoning, or to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt, to taste
1 cup milk (we used 1%)
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Cook rotini (or similar pasta) according to package directions. Drain; set aside. Melt butter (or olive oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. (We like to cook the chicken on the George Forman, seasoned with lemon pepper and Tony's.) Add garlic and onions. Cook for a few minutes. Add cajun/creole seasoning, cayenne pepper, salt, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Stir to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover; Stir 1 Tbsp cornstarch into 1 cup milk. Once the cornstarch is dissolved, stir in the milk mixture and let simmer another 2 minutes. Take off heat and stir in parmesan cheese. Stir in cooked pasta. You may need to let sit for a few minutes to let the pasta absorb the sauce and thicken.

*Note from Ree's recipe: Be aware of whether or not your Cajun spice contains salt. If it does not, you’ll need to lightly salt both the chicken and the veggies. If it does contain salt, be careful not to overdo it; stop a little short, then just add more cayenne to make sure you get enough spice without oversalting.

**Sandy Hern took this picture on her awesome camera. You can see more of her photos on her son in law's website.

If you like to cook with wine, here is the Pioneer Woman's recipe. We like it better than the above recipe. (I buy the four little white wine bottles at Kroger when they are on sale. I'm not big on wine, but chardonnay is good with this pasta.)

Cajun Chicken Pasta
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 Tbsp cajun seasoning, more to taste
16 oz pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter (can be left out)
1/2 large red onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup 1% milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
Parmesan, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
salt, to taste (optional)
black pepper, to taste (optional)
fresh parsley, to taste (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente.

Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces (I like to cook the breasts whole and chop it up when after it's cooked). Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.

Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Remove all vegetables from the pan.

With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in the milk/cornstarch mixture, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until sauce starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!

Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained pasta and toss to combine. Top with parmesan and chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Pecan Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Brett's mom, Sandy, has made this a few times when we came home. It is one of my favorite deserts that she makes. Well, she has a lot of really good desserts. Hopefully, over time, I will learn how to make all of them! The almond extract/flavoring gives it a little of a pistachio flavor. Yum!

1 1/2 cup butter or margarine (room temperature)
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
3 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla flavor
1 tsp almond flavor
3 cups cake flour, divided (2 3/4 cups + 1/4 cup)
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 10' bunt pan. In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, and cream cheese until fluffy (5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and almond flavor. Stir reserved 1/4 cup flour into pecans. Add remaining flour to batter a little at a time, beating at a low speed with mixer. Fold in pecans. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Cool and enjoy! Sift powdered sugar over the top if desired.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Creamy Jalapeno Dip

I made my own sauce! Well, I looked at like 3 different recipes and made my own version. I might still make adjustments, but here is what I did. I got the idea from Chuy's green sauce, but all of the copycat recipes I found were basically just jalapenos, a ranch packet, and a container of sour cream/mayo (not healthy at all). I knew if I made a sauce... we would eat it all... so I had to make some adjustments. I have only had their sauce a couple times, so I don't remember what it tastes like, but it does taste like a green sauce served at a tex-mex restaurant.

2 tomatillos - husks removed, washed, and halved
2 Tbsp cilantro
1 garlic clove, chopped
6 Tbsp light sour cream
1 ripe Hass avocado - halved, pitted, and peeled
5 pickled jalapenos (this is spicy, so you might want to start with a few and add)
1 1/2 Tbsp Hidden Valley Ranch mix

Put the tomatillos, cilantro, garlic clove, and sour cream into a food processor (I used my 3 cup mini processor). Puree until smooth. Add the avocado, jalapenos, and ranch mix, and pulse until creamy. Enjoy!

**Next time I might try 1/4 cup green chilies instead of the tomatillos. The copycat recipes on recipezaar use them.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Red Beans and Rice

A coworker of mine, Ted, gave me this recipe. I love red beans and rice, and I really love slow cooker meals while I'm working. This is really easy, and it makes for good leftovers.

Red Beans and Rice
Serves 10-12

1 lb dry red kidney beans
3 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
1 can petite diced tomatoes (I use Rotel)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 lb sausage, cut into 1/2" cubes (we like fully cooked jalopeno sausage, i.e.: Kountry boys or Slovacek's)
2 tsp kosher salt (reduce if salt sensitive)
cornstarch, if needed

Put beans into a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover the beans by about 1”. Cover and leave to soak overnight. The next morning, drain and rinse the beans, pull out any bean skins that came off, and put the beans into the crock pot. Add all the other ingredients into the crock pot and cook all day on LOW or about 4-5 hours on HIGH. (If you happen to be home while you are cooking this, I'd wait to put the sausage in until the last couple hours or so if cooking on LOW. The sausage is still good if cooked all day, but it is better if you can put it in later on in the cooking process.)

After done cooking, if you think that it is not thick enough, add 1 Tbsp of cornstarch (flour would work also, if you don’t have cornstarch) about 30 minutes before I want to serve it. You have to ladle some of the liquid into a cup and let it cool down then add the cornstarch to the cooled liquid and stir until the cornstarch is mixed in. Finally, pour the cornstarch mixture into the crock pot while stirring it into the beans. Turn the crock pot to HIGH after you add the cornstarch in. (By the time I get home, I want to eat... so if I do add cornstarch, I mix it in 1/2 cup cold water and add it to the crock pot. It takes a while for the liquid to cool down.)

Serve over cooked rice.

**Note: If you like spicy food, I wouldn't recommend adding any more chili powder or red crushed pepper than stated above until it is done. When cooked all day long, it gets pretty spicy. I was really surprised at how hot it gets.

6/27 CVS Run

I got all of the above for $3.30.

Here are the deals I did:

Stayfree Products, Buy one get one free
-Buy one get one free Stayfree product (up to $4.49) RP 6/27
=two free after coupon

**These are only free if you get two products that cost less than $4.49. I didn't see that, and I just picked up the ones that I always buy. They are $6.69. Therefore, I paid $2.20 for two or $1.10 for each one.

Spend $10 on above Household Helpers (2/$5) get $5 ECBs (Limit 1)
See here and here for all of the different coupons you can use.

I bought four scrubbing bubbles products at $2.50 each. I was going to use the $0.55 in the SS 6/13 insert, but on the bottles themself, there was a $2/2 any scrubbing bubbles coupon.

So I had $10 worth of products
-two $2/2 coupons (so minus $4)
=$6, got $5 ecbs back = $1 for all four or $0.25 each

M&M Candies, Buy one get one free, $0.89 each
-B1G1 M&M’s Pretzel (up to $0.79) RP 6/27
=two for $0.10 after coupon or $0.05 each

Here are links to the full list of CVS deals and match-ups:
Southern Savers
The Thrify Mama
Common Sense with Money

Here is a copy of this week's ad.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Every once in a while, HEB has pork loin on sale for $1/lb. They are huge though... like ten pounds. I bought one a while back, cut it into 2 lb portions, and froze them. I have tried two pulled pork recipes, and to my surprise, the 3 ingredient recipe was better. Below is the recipe from I'm sure you can use a different soda if you want, but I tried it with root beer, and it was really good. I also made the pulled pork sandwich recipe on Simply Recipes. In this recipe, you make homemade bbq sauce. The sauce smelled really good when I made it in the morning, but it ended up being really tangy (because of the 3/4 cup vinegar). I'm sure I could do some tweaking, but I won't be doing that while I'm still working full time. I'm content with this three ingredient recipe. (The original recipe calls for 2 lbs pork tenderloin, but I would never use a pork tenderloin in a crock pot meal. Pork butt, shoulder, or loin will fall apart just as nice in the crockpot and are much cheaper.)

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Serves 8

2 lb pork loin, butt, or shoulder (trim fat)
1 can root beer
1 (18 oz) bottle of your favorite bbq sauce
8 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted

Place the pork in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily, 6 to 7 hours. (I just leave it on low all day.) Drain well. Stir in barbecue sauce. Serve over hamburger buns.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

$1 Superfruit Smoothies at Jamba Juice

Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 16th, 16-oz superfruit smoothies are only $1 at Jamba Juice. See here for more information. Thanks, Money Saving Mom!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Exotic Chicken Salad

This is not your ordinary chicken salad, but it's really good. We like it as a side or on toast (for chicken salad sandwiches). I half the following recipe since there is just two of us. Five cups of chicken is about one rotisserie chicken at Sam's ($4.97), so I just chop it up, use half of it, and freeze the other half for next time or to make enchiladas. Brett isn't a fan of fruit and meat, so he likes it better without grapes. I like the grapes though, so try it both ways! Also, I don't think the butter is necessary. You can toast almonds in a toaster oven vs. in butter on the stove.


1 3-1/4 oz package slivered almonds
2 Tbsp butter
salt, to taste
2 cups mayonnaise (1 1/3 cups if you omit grapes from recipe)
1 tsp curry powder
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp lemon juice
5 cups diced chicken
2 cups diced celery
2 to 3, 6-oz cans sliced water chestnuts, chopped
2 lbs red seedless grapes, each halved pole-to-pole

In a small skillet, cook slivered almonds in butter until lightly brown. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Mix mayonnaise with curry powder, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Combine almonds, chicken, celery, water chestnuts, and grapes. Pour mayonnaise mixture over all and combine well. Chill and serve.

Soy Sauce at Walmart

I only go to Walmart a few times a year for grocery items. I usually always shop at Kroger. I find that Kroger is a lot cheaper if you shop the sales and use coupons (and I really don't use that many coupons since I am so into cooking everything homemade/from scratch right now). There are some items at Walmart that are cheaper than Kroger even after sales. One of them is this:

This picture is for a gallon bottle of Kikkoman soy sauce, but the one they have is 1.2L. It is $4.77 which is a really good deal. Unfortunately, they do not have the reduced sodium kind available in that size. The 1.2L reduced sodium soy sauce is about $8 at the BCS Asian Market across the street. I just go ahead and get the 15 oz size at Walmart for $2.58 (low sodium is more expensive). Just thought I'd share that bit of random info with you!

CVS Deals

Buy 1 Schick Hydro Razor, $8.97, get $4 ECBs (Limit 1)
-$4 coupon in today's (6/13) RP
=$4.97 out of pocket, get $4 ECBS = $0.97

**I was in a hurry this morning, and I didn't realize that I was going to have to pay a dollar for this razor. I don't normally get razors where I will have to pay anything, but I know someone who wants this razor, so I got it anyway. It really doesn't matter though because I made four dollars in the below deal!

Buy 1 Gillette or Old Spice Body Wash for $4, get $4 ECBs (Limit 1)
Buy two Gillette or Old Spice Body Washes
=$8 before coupons
Use either:
-B1G1 Gillette Body Wash, exp. 7-31-10 (P&G 06/06/10)
-FREE Old Spice Deodorant wyb Body Wash or Deodorant (P&G 6/6/10)
=$4, get $4 ECBs = free

**This turned out to be a Limit 2 deal, so I paid $4 and got $8 ECBs! I love it when this happens! (I bought two old spice body washes, not gillette, if that makes any difference..? I'm sure it will be all over the blog world in a few hours.)

Before I went to CVS this morning I had $10 ECBs. I bought two old spice body washes, a shick hydro razor, and 3 dove peanut butter bars to get it to $10. I then got $12 ecbs. Therefore, I got "paid" $2 to buy all this! Gotta love CVS!

Go here and here to see all of the other CVS deals.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kroger Summer of Savings

This summer, Kroger has a spin the wheel game that you can play once a day to win free products! I didn't win anything yesterday, but today I won any Tazo Tea up to $3.99. A coupon was loaded onto my card and will take off the amount at the register. So fun! I'm totally going to play this a lot this summer.

**I went to Kroger today and got my free Starbucks Tazo Tea 20 ct bags. The $3.99 came off at the end of the transaction.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Free Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Sample

Go here to request your free sample of Starbucks' VIA ready brew. I love getting all of these fun, free surprises in my mail box. Yesterday I got a free neti pot and a free movie ticket through fandango!

Lemon Fusilli

My friend Catherine made this for us at one of our home church girl nights. So, so good. It calls for heavy cream, but I've made it both with half and half and fat free half and half, and it tastes the same. I was going to try it with milk (and maybe flour, if needed) tonight, but since fat free half and half was on sale and I had a coupon, I'm going to postpone that substitution, but I'll let you know if it works out.

**Nature's Sweet Cherub tomatoes are on sale at Kroger this week for $2.50. There is also a coupon in the 5/16 SS for $0.55 off one. $1.95 is a really great deal for those little tomatoes. (They are normally $3.99.) This is why I'm making this pasta this week; otherwise, it can be kind of pricey. Enjoy!

Lemon Fusilli
Ina Garten

1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 cups heavy cream (can use half & half or fat free half & half)
3 lemons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch broccoli
1 pound dried fusilli pasta (or any other twirly pasta that will trap in sauce)
1/2 pound baby arugula (I don't use this - it's good without it)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream, the zest from 2 lemons, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stem. Cook the florets in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula (optional), Parmesan, tomatoes, and cooked broccoli. Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it 1/4-inch thick crosswise, and add it to the pasta. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.

Walgreens Grocery Deals

I made a trip to Walgreens before heading over to Kroger this afternoon. This week they have Mazola extra virgin olive oil on sale for $3.99 (that's $0.23 an oz - good deal). Too bad there isn't a coupon, or this deal would be a steal. It's still way cheaper than any olive oil at Kroger. (This same size/brand olive oil is $5.79 right now at Kroger.)

I haven't seen Swanson's chicken broth on sale at either CVS or Walgreens in a while. I've never had Butterball, but I'm sure it's way better than Kroger brand. This is cheaper as well. I don't think I've ever seen chicken broth cheaper than $0.50 each.

Free Rolaids/Mylanta at CVS

In today's red plum insert you should have received a $4 off of any 2 Dramamine, Lactaid, Imodium, Pepcid, Rolaids, Mylanta or Tucks. You can use that coupon at CVS this week to get two free Rolaids or Mylanta chewables.

Buy any two of the products listed above, receive $4 ecbs (Limit 1)
Buy two Rolaids or Mylanta for $3.99 (I got two 36 ct Rolaids softchews)
-$4/2 coupon from 6/6 RP
=$4 out of pocket, get back $4 ecbs = free

Monday, May 31, 2010

Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

I found this recipe a few weeks ago on foodgawker. That website is kind of addicting, and it's really hard scroll through it for a while without getting hungry. (It's a food website in which you browse through pictures to find recipes. mmm) We like the regular Italian version of stuffed bell peppers, but this healthy alternative is really good for a change.

Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

Homemade by Holman
Serves 4

1/2 pound ground beef or turkey
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup black beans
1 cup corn
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 can diced tomatoes with chiles (Ro-tel)
1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
4 bell peppers
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, cook rice with water as directed on package. (Note: Brown rice takes about 40 minutes to cook. If you are short on time, you can use white rice or Uncle Ben's quick brown rice.) Meanwhile, brown turkey in a large skillet over medium high heat, crumbling as it cooks. Add 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, and 1/4 tsp chili powder. After about 5 minutes, add Ro-tel, and reduce heat to medium low. Add onions, black beans, and corn, and simmer until rice is cooked.

Meanwhile, prepare peppers by cutting in half through the top, remove stem, seeds and ribs. (This will make 8 bell pepper halves.) Rinse and set in a large baking dish. When liquid has cooked off rice, add 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/4 tsp chili powder and fluff with a fork. Stir into turkey mixture. Squeeze juice of half of lime over the mixture and add half the cilantro. Spoon filling into pepper halves. Add a couple tablespoons of water to pan, cover the pan with foil and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Uncover, peppers should be softened. Sprinkle on cheese and return to oven for about another 5 minutes until cheese is melted. Top with remaining cilantro and sour cream, if desired.

Target: Free or Cheap Armor All Products

Today I was thinking that I needed to go and buy some Armor All interior protectant. (**You can't use the $3/2 coupon on the smaller protectant, but you can use the $2 facebook coupon. $0.39 is still really cheap!) I have always used my dad's, so I wasn't sure how much it was going to cost. I just saw on MyFrugalAdventures that you can get it for free at Target!

Here are the prices of the Armor All products at Target:

Armor All Original Interior Protectant $2.39
Armor All Glass Cleaner $2.69
Armor All Car Wash Concentrate $3.49
Armor All Wipes $4.24
Armor All Upholstery Cleaner $4.24
Armor All Wheel Protectant $6.00

Use the $3/2 Armor All Target coupon along with the $2/1 Armor All manufacturer’s coupon to get free or almost-free Armor All products at Target.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

No Coupon Inserts this Sunday

Since it is Memorial Day weekend, there will be no coupon inserts. (Every week I check Sunday Coupon Preview so I know what to expect in the paper.) College Station sometimes gets the short end of the stick when it comes to coupons. A couple weekends this semester I didn't get a Smart Source insert or P&G insert. Not cool. I think I might just buy a paper on my way to or from church this summer rather than order them. That way I can look at through the paper before I purchase it to make sure everything is in there. Although I love coupons, I sometimes enjoy these weekends. Enjoy your Monday off!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Indian Basmati Rice

About a year ago, if you would have asked me what I knew about rice, I would probably just look at you, confused, and say, there are different kinds of rice...? Isn't all rice the same? No. I've come to realize it is not at all the same. I just learned a couple weeks ago that it takes 40 minutes to cook brown rice. Seriously? That takes for-e-ver. I still have not cooked with arborio rice (to make risotto), but I do know a little more now. In my pantry I have brown, basmati, cous cous (does that count?), jasmine (long grain), and medium grain (japanese) rice.

I have been trying to perfect the fried rice that they make at the Hibachi Japanese restaurants. I bought the rice they use, Kokuho (medium grain), and use all of the same ingredients... but it's not the same. I talked to the manager of HB in Houston, and he said even they can't cook it the same at home because they don't have those 500 degree cooking surfaces. Bummer. I then asked my Asian friends, and they went crazy on me when I told them I used medium and not long grain, jasmine rice. That is when I learned that Chinese people cook with long grain (jasmine) rice, and Japanese people cook with medium grain rice. The only difference to me really is that medium grain is stickier, but apparently there is much more of a difference than that. When you search on the web, every recipe I've seen uses jasmine rice, so don't waste your time and go buy medium grain rice. Jasmine is just fine.

Anyway... My friend, Bhavini, got me excited about cooking Indian food. Her recipes are delicious, but she lives in Dallas and goes to med school, so recently I've had to find recipes on my own. Some were good, but many were flops. I found this recipe of Basmati Rice, and it is pretty close to the kind they serve at Indian restaurants. Yes, you do need to buy basmati rice. It is completely different than any other grain. It is longer, but nothing like the long grain rice we buy at the grocery store. Basmati rice is really expensive at Kroger/HEB. I got mine at an Indian store in Houston. I think I got like 10 lbs for $15, but I got the good stuff. Also, if you ever do intend on making Asian or Indian food, you will save a lot of money going to an Asian or Indian store. I bought all of my Indian spices in a store in Dallas, spent about $10, and I don't think I will ever run out.

The only thing that might be missing is minced cilantro. I haven't tried it with cilantro yet, though. I'll let you know!

Indian Style Basmati Rice
Adapted from
Serves 6

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 (2 inch) piece cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 pods green cardamom
4 whole cloves
1 1/2 tsp cumin seed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 1/2 cups water
1 small onion, thinly sliced

1. Place rice into a bowl with enough water to cover. Set aside to soak for 20 minutes. (Do not over soak or the rice will turn into mush when boiled.)

2. Heat the oil in a large pot or saucepan over medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, and cumin seed. Cook and stir for about a minute, then add the onion to the pot. Saute the onion until a rich golden brown, about 10 minutes. Drain the water from the rice, and stir into the pot. Cook and stir the rice for a few minutes, until lightly toasted. Add salt and water to the pot, and bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed. Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork before serving.

Steamy Kitchen

I made both of these recipes a couple weeks ago. Her recipes give you a lot of confidence making authentic asian food in the kitchen. I've made four of her recipes, and all of them are very easy and taste like take-out food. Plus, ingredients at asian markets are crazy cheap. I'm not sure how much I'll be making this in the future since it's not so healthy, but it sure was good. (These pictures are from Jaden's website.)

Garlic Scallion Noodles

Pecan Crusted Tilapia with Honey Glaze

Make $4 buying Gillette body wash at CVS

Gillette Body Wash, $4, Earn $4 in ECBs wyb 1 (Limit 2)
Buy 2 at $4 each
-Use one B1G1 Gillette Body Wash PG 5/02
=$4, get back $8 ECB ($4 profit!)

See other CVS deals here and here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

One of my favorite pastas is Red Lobster's Shrimp Linguine Alfredo. So, so unhealthy for you, but so, so yummy. I found this recipe on, and hey, it doesn't have heavy cream! :o) Here is a "healthier" alternative that tastes almost the same to me. I wish I knew how to count calories...

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi
Ina Garten
Serves 3

vegetable oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus 1 1/2 teaspoons
12 oz linguine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves (I used dried parsley. 1/2 tsp?)
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.

When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Super Easy Fish Tacos

***Added: June, 6, 2010: Since this post, I got brave and made tilapia on the stove since I found some recipes on the internet. It's actually pretty tasty if you season it right. I did this because I found out that the below tilapia isn't that healthy for you since it's breaded. It is quick and yummy, but plain old frozen tilapia fillets are really healthy for you.. and I'm trying to cut out things that we can make substitutions for. I haven't made fish tacos yet without the parmesan encrusted fillets though. I guess I'll find out soon.***

I have tried many times to cook salmon and tilapia, but I have never been very successful. It can get pretty pricey as well. All of the recipes that I have tried were not worth it. I am spoiled from Fish Daddy's. (One day I will figure out the bourbon glazed salmon recipe!)

One of my friends told me about these Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia Fillets at Sam's. I think they are about $10 for 9 fillets. That is three nights of fish tacos for us. They are really good. Like so good that I don't think I am going to try to make my own tilapia for a long time.

This is probably one of my fastest weeknight meals. I bake 3 of them in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. While I am waiting for them to bake, I make a sauce. I have tried this one a few times, but beware, it is very spicy. Whenever I don't have a can of chipotle chiles in our pantry, I just make one out of mayonnaise, sour cream, chipotle tabasco, cumin, old bay seasoning, and chili powder. You can add whatever spices you like, just taste as you add. You really can't go wrong. I also cut up cabbage and tomatoes while I wait. So easy. Dinner ready in 25 minutes. And you don't have to be in the kitchen but for about 5 minutes. Awesome. Go buy some Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia Fillets at Sam's! You'll be glad you did. :o)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce

If you know how I am with cooking, I don't usually go the easy way out. I have been looking for a good enchilada recipe, but I have refused to use a can of enchilada sauce. I have finally found an easy, delicious chicken enchilada recipe in which you make homemade enchilada sauce!

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce
Adapted from Tide and Thyme

1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
1 tsp vegetable oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp sugar
2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce (or one 15 oz can)
1 cup water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 large breasts)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a mix of cheddar and monterrey jack)
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Vegetable cooking spray
Ground black pepper

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the onion, jalapenos, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions have softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water, bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

2. Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the thickest part registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 12 to 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate; set aside to cool. Strain the sauce through a medium-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on the onions to extract as much liquid as possible. (I would press, and then stir, scraping the strainer, over and over, until the liquid all went through.) Place onion mixture in a large bowl and set aside. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces. Add to the bowl along with the onion mixture. Add in 1/4 cup enchilada sauce, 1 cup cheese, and the cilantro. Toss to combine. (The original recipe has no fresh jalapenos, but 3 Tbsp pickled jalapenos, chopped. She adds them to this step. I thought that would be a lot hotter, so I skipped that step and added fresh jalapenos in with the onions in the beginning.)

4. Stack the tortillas on a microwave-safe plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high until warm and pliable, 40 to 60 seconds. Spread the warm tortillas out over a clean work surface. Place 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla. Tightly roll each tortilla around the filling and lay them seam-side down in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish.

5. Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with vegetable oil spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 7 minutes until the tortillas are starting to slightly brown on the top. (If you don't like a bit of crunch in your enchiladas, just skip this step completely.) - I don't recommend skipping this step.

6. Reduce oven temperature to 400. Remove enchiladas from oven and pour remaining sauce over to coat them thoroughly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar down the center of the enchiladas. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.

7. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese browns, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.