Cooking on a Budget


Mornings are not my best time of day, so breakfast is usually just coffee and more coffee before I leave the house.  This week, I’m going to have a hot, protein packed breakfast with that coffee — because I made these scrambled egg muffins that I can just reheat in the microwave.

Ingredients

7 cage free eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 tsp cracked pepper
6 strips of cooked bacon, crumbled or cut into small pieces
1 cup of cooked broccoli florets, cut into little florets

How I Made Them

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with olive oil or baking spray. (I used a regular sized muffin tin and got 7 muffins).

Whip the eggs, cheese and pepper together like you would for scrambled eggs. Divide the bacon and broccoli among the muffin cups. Fill 3/4 full with the egg mixture.

Bake with the muffin tins on a cookie sheet (in case they overflow) in the center of the oven for 30 minutes or until the egg tops are set and lightly browned.

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How They Turned Out

Tasty! 20160124_134850 (2)

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The BFF and her boys get home from two weeks of holiday travel today, so I want to be sure that settling back in is as stress-free as possible. And, because I’m southern, the answer to that is making a casserole for their supper tonight.

This is a lightened version of chicken parmesan, baked in casserole form.  It’s easy peasy to make.

Bake three chicken breasts, covered with Italian or balsamic dressing, in a foil packet (400 degrees for about an hour).  Cook your choice of pasta (I don’t recommend long noodles) as directed.

Prepare a largish baking dish with olive oil or a foil lining. Transfer the pasta to the baking dish, filling it about a third full.  Cut the chicken up into bite-size pieces and top the pasta.

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Cover the whole casserole with marinara sauce. I like to use the organic marinara from Safeway, with a box of Pomi chopped tomatoes mixed in.

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If you’re not going to bake it right away, cover the casserole and put it in the fridge. When you’re ready, top the casserole with shredded cheese (an Italian cheese blend or parmesan) and bake it for 20-25 minutes, uncovered, at 350 degrees until the cheese is bubbly and the casserole is heated through.

We have a wonderful bakery here in Juneau: Wild Oven.  Their breads are perfect for all sorts of sandwiches and dishes.  I particularly like making French Toast with their Country French and Many Raisins breads.  This weekend, as a treat for my favorite munchkin, I made French toast with a lovely maple cinnamon toast sprinkle from Summit Spice and Tea (an Anchorage specialty store).

IngredientsIMG_2185 (2)

4 medium thick slices of French bread
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon toast sprinkle (cinnamon, maple sugar, brown sugar, cardamom)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter
sliced strawberries, maple syrup, etc. to garnish

How I Made It

Lay the slices of bread in a shallow baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. Then pour the egg mixture over the bread. Let the slices soak for 5 minutes. Turn them over, spoon the egg mixture over the top, and let soak another 5 minutes.

(This is a great time to wash and slice your berries.)

Heat the butter over medium-high heat.  Brown the bread in the butter, cooking about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Note that if your bread has lots of nooks and crannies, you’ll need to be sure that all of the egg mixture has cooked through on each side.

Serve hot, with berries and syrup. Serves 2.

How It Turned Out

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YUMMY!!

My favorite five year old is growing like a weed and needs all the building blocks to achieve great heights. While he has a broad taste for healthful foods (avocado, kale, hummus, etc.), it’s not easy to get him to eat more than a few bites at a time.  So we all try to pack as many nutrients as possible into what we know he’ll eat.  Pancakes! are one of those tried and true meals.

This recipe swaps out buttermilk for greek yogurt to add more protein (like I typically do in my sweet treats). One ounce of greek yogurt can have 2-3 grams of protein, where buttermilk has just one. That’s more fuel for the munchkin’s muscle-making! You can up the healthfulness by using whole wheat flour (I just didn’t have any).

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
3/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt
3/4 cup 1% milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted

How I Made Them:

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, using a fork to sift everything together.  Put 3/4 cup of greek yogurt in a glass measuring cup, topping with enough milk to hit the 1 1/2 cup line (I think this is about 3/4 cup).  Whisk the yogurt and milk together until combined, then add it to the flour mixture. Add the egg and melted butter, and whisk together to make the batter.  Remember that you want a slightly lumpy batter.

Use a nonstick skillet or griddle (so you don’t need more butter) over medium to medium-high heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter at a time onto the surface, making sure your pancakes don’t touch as they cook.  When the bubbles start to appear, flip your pancake and cook for about 1 minute. If you aren’t getting a lovely golden pancake, you might add a little butter to the pan.

Pancake

You can add berries or chocolate chips as you cook the pancakes, topping the pancake before you flip it.

Choc Chip Pancake

Keep your pancakes warm in the oven (set on warm) while you cook them, so they all go to the table hot.

How They Turned Out:

The munchkin ate FOUR of these little beauties for dinner.  SUCCESS!

This recipe makes about 8 small pancakes.  Double the recipe for a family of four.

 

We’re having a blizzard tonight, so it’s a night for comfort food. This chicken pot pie is my first attempt at the dish, so it’s a true concoction with lots of short cuts.  And since I don’t like biscuits (I know — what Southern girl doesn’t like biscuits!), I used crescent rolls on top.

Ingredients:

2 boneless chicken breasts
4 boneless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons of honey mustard
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 jar of Heinz chicken gravy
12 ounces of chicken stock
2 tablespoons lowfat sour cream
2 packages of Bird’s Eye Steamfresh mixed vegetables
6 ounces (1 jar) of sliced mushrooms
1 package of crescent rolls

How I Made It:

Place the chicken in a foil lined baking dish, covering the pieces with the honey mustard. Sprinkle with the crushed red pepper, cover, and bake for 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  When it’s done, let it cool and then set it aside until you’re ready to make the pot pie.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a large baking dish with non-stick spray. Cube the roasted chicken and set it aside.

Microwave the frozen vegetables according to the instructions on the package. In a large saucepan, heat the gravy over medium-high heat.  Pour 8 ounces of the chicken stock into the gravy jar, put the lid on, and shake to capture any gravy that was left in the jar.  Top off with the rest of the stock (equal parts gravy and stock) and then add it to the saucepan.

Whisk in the sour cream until blended.  Stir in the mushrooms and the vegetables.  Then remove the mixture from the heat.

Layer the chicken in the bottom of the large baking dish.  With a slotted spoon, spoon the vegetables evenly over the chicken.  Pour the remaining sauce over the chicken and vegetables.

Unroll the crescent rolls.  Use half of them, in sheet form, to top the chicken and vegetables. (You can bake the other half of the rolls as normal.)

Bake the pot pie for 15 minutes or until golden brown on top.

How It Turned Out:

Pot Pie

Not bad, but not great. The chicken is tasty, and the veggies aren’t mushy. I was hoping for a creamier sauce. Maybe reducing the chicken stock to half the amount of the gravy would help. Or, even better, putting in the time to make a sauce from scratch. Nevertheless, for a cold and snowy Thursday, it’s a pretty tasty dinner.

It turns out, my amazing BBQ sauce is just as tasty over chicken.  This supper comes together in about 65 minutes, depending on how long your chicken legs take.

Ingredients:

6 chicken drumsticks (free range are tastiest)
Kate’s End of the World BBQ sauce
2 lbs red potatoes, cut into large pieces (skin on)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbs sea salt
1 tbs fresh ground black pepper

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a baking dish and a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, spraying each with olive oil from a mister.

Place the drumsticks in the baking dish and put them in the oven.

In a large Ziploc, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread the potatoes onto the cookie sheet in a single layer.  Put the potatoes in the oven.

Once everything is in the oven, make your barbecue sauce on the stove.  Add it to the chicken when you turn the drumsticks for the first time.

Total baking time for the potatoes is 35 minutes; for the chicken, 45-50 minutes (until completely cooked and no longer pink).

Turn the potatoes and drumsticks every 10-15 minutes.

Remove the potatoes when they are nicely brown and slightly crispy, but not too crispy.  Cover the potatoes with foil to keep them warm while the drumsticks finish.

Serve with fresh green beans or a big green salad.

How It Turned Out:

The plates were licked clean!

Drumsticks

Most foodie folk would never admit to using old school Shake ‘n Bake, but I have to say it makes awesome “oven fried” chicken. And you get to re-enact the classic “And I helped” commercial as you shake everything in the plastic bag.

 

One trick to make it even better is to marinate the drumsticks, skin on, in buttermilk for 20 minutes before coating with the Shake n’ Bake. Then just follow the directions on the box for yummy oven fried chicken.

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