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Menu Monday 26

Heather says

Well, last week didn’t work out as planned. There were a lot more let’s make do with what we have that’s quick dinners, but I was able to reshoot one of the most popular recipes on this site.

Quick beef and cabbage skillet, it’s a handful of ingredients and thirty minutes until you’ve got a warm, filling (and believe it or not paleo if you’re into that) meal.

 

Quick Beef and Cabbage Skillet HE101

If I keep this up and manage to re-shoot one recipe a week, I may manage to catch up by 2018.

I kid.

Mostly.

I also started to make an interesting chicken fajita soup but I left the wheat-free flour somewhere else and ended up making a tortilla soup that the family loved, but it was too thrown together to write up. It’s still movement in the right direction and I’ll take that.

So what’s up for next week? Well, I’ll be sharpening my knives if the sharpening stone and ceramic rod arrive (they should).  Lent starts this week and I’m going to buckle down on the whole let’s not eat out thing, unless I’m on the road for work. I have to have the practical caveat in there, sorry.

And on the menu:

  • Monday – Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, cabbage, carrots
  • Tuesday – We’re headed out with some friends for Fat Tuesday, otherwise it’d be the perfect excuse for Shrimp Etouffee
  • Wednesday – Lentil casserole, baked sweet potatoes, kale (Ash Wednesday)
  • Thursday – Taco soup, tortilla chips (or maybe I’ll remake last week’s soup with a lot more attention to detail)
  • Friday – Fish and tomato stew, with bread and / or potatoes
  • Saturday – Sloppy joes / tacos, broccoli with cheese sauce (experimenting with a gf version) and what the heck chips
  • Sunday – Let’s shoot for the Chicken, mushrooms, and peppers dish, rice and peas, acorn squash

What will you be cooking this week?

Are you trying anything new?

 

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Weekly Menu 25

Heather says

Last week turned out to be a really good week overall.

I used my stick blender to experiment with a sauce for fish tacos, it still needs some tweaking before I share it, but we’re on to something good. I didn’t make pho on Wednesday, instead I went with a Must Go style soup, loosely based on Sausage and Sweet Potato Soup.

IMG_20150204_110428

And then, I finally broke out some of my photography stuff and managed to get a decent picture of chicken bog.

Lowcountry Chicken Bog

This is a big step for me; I just haven’t had the mental or personal bandwidth to do this. And if any of you have any idea what I have done with my tripod, that’d be good to know. I guess it’s just lost in that mental fog of 2013.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anyhow, let’s keep the ball rolling and make plans for this week:

  • Monday – CORN (That’s clean out refrigerator night as there is a ton of that chicken bog left)
  • Tuesday – It’s like Taco Tuesday, but on a. .. oh, Tuesday. Buffalo Chicken Tacos & BLT Salad (If there are any good tomatoes, doubtful but a girl can hope)
  • Wednesday – Let’s try that pho idea again… maybe, but definitely soup of some sort
  • Thursday – Spaghetti (squash) and meatballs 
  • Friday – Baked Fish and Chips, Broccoli
  • Saturday – Chicken roasted with mushrooms, peppers, and onions -It’s definitely time to redo these photos- Roasted potatoes, some kind of green vegetable or salad, it’s going to depend on what looks during the week.

Here’s hoping we can keep that momentum going and have another good week.

Is there anything you are looking forward to trying this week?

What did you make last week that worked (or didn’t)?

Submitted to: Menu Plan Monday

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Chicken Thighs and the Reduced Budget

Dear Home-Ec 101,

My husband was recently laid off -sound familiar?- and we really need to cut our food budget while he looks for a new job. In your opinion, what’s the most economical cut of meat or poultry I can get to feed our family? I pretty much stuck to boneless skinless chicken breasts before, but right now they don’t seem to be such a good deal.

Signed,

Stretching in Stratton

Heather says:

First of all, I feel for you guys. I hope he finds something soon.

When budgets are tight, it’s really hard to beat chicken thighs as an economical cut of poultry. I’m not a huge fan of dark meat, but I’ve matured enough  (hush, peanut gallery) to know that sometimes my preferences just don’t matter that much.

Here are some recipes that work perfectly, without extra steps, for chicken thighs (even if they say chicken pieces, you can use a package of thighs):

Chili Honey Chicken Thighs

Garlic and Soy Chicken Thighs

Balsamic Marinated Chicken Thighs

Carmelized Brown Sugar and Garlic Chicken Thighs

Oven Fried Chicken

Italian Marinated Fried Chicken Thighs

 

Some people will try to argue that the thigh bone makes the difference in cost between BSCBs and chicken thighs acceptable. I completely disagree. Whether you first remove the thigh before cooking or separate them after cooking, those chicken thigh bones are valuable. Save the bones in a freezer bag and use them to make chicken stock.

If you’ve never made chicken stock before, here are two ways to make chicken stock, and Eugene in the comments offers his method for making stock in his slow cooker. Homemade chicken stock sounds like a luxury, but using it to make rice or vegetables can significantly improve their flavor and boost the nutritional value without adding a ton of sodium.

So what else can you make with these budget friendly chicken thighs?

Any recipe calling for boneless skinless chicken breasts can be made with skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Debone the thighs yourself.

Any recipe calling for a whole, cut up chicken.

Examples:

Any recipe calling for leg quarters.

Examples:

If you find a recipe for chicken and want to alter it specifically for chicken thighs, here is a guide to altering chicken recipes based on cut.

Additionally:

Whole chickens are economical in their own right. Here’s how to cut up a whole chicken. With a little practice, this takes about five minutes and gives you a break from only dark meat.

Don’t forget your side dishes.

When you are trying to reduce your overall food budget side dishes become extremely important. Ounce per consumable ounce, vegetables, grains, and legumes are often significantly cheaper than meat.

When planning your meals allot your 10 – 35% of the calories to come from protein. That leaves a LOT of room for vegetables and whole grains. Treat your protein source as the after thought and focus on filling your dinner plates with other lower cost items. This doesn’t mean only empty calories, sides like: lentil pilaf, rice and peas, roasted broccoli, collard greens with northern beans, and roasted vegetables all are filling, but not terribly expensive. -With the broccoli, peel and slice the stems so they don’t go to waste). And don’t forget the poor maligned potato, just keep them out of the fryer. Try your hand at roasted potatoes or ranch potato wedges. Don’t be scared to get creative.

Good luck.

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Weekly Menu 24

Heather says

As I’ve mentioned before the menu plans I post are a frame work of what we’ll probably eat. Last week I experimented and instead of Thai coconut soup I decided to give Thai curry a try. Curry is something of a comfort food for me, I especially love it in the winter.

Not too long ago I saw on a Reddit thread, someone proclaiming, it’s not real curry unless you use a paste. You know, anytime someone uses the word real to describe anything, whether a food or a person, I should just tune out and find something else to do. But noooOOoo, I never learn.

In the past, I’ve never used a paste, I always heated the spices in the oil to release their flavor. The paste I tried could be summed up with: Meh. Generally, when trying a new recipe or technique I stick to the directions the first go around and riff on it the next attempt. I should have gone with my gut and used far more seasoning than the recipe suggested. It was edible, but definitely not the experience I was aiming for. I’ll give it another try in a week or two. Maybe.

Did you try anything new?

I finally got around to it and made Bobbie’s blue cheese dressing as a dip for chips and veggies last night during that big sports thing. I am now sorry I hadn’t made it sooner, homemade blue cheese is worth far more than the 3 minutes it takes to stir it up. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

And on to this week’s menu:

  • Monday – A giant salad with leftover pulled pork and blue cheese dressing
  • Tuesday – fish tacos, Southwestern salad
  • Wednesday – pho ?
  • Thursday – Spaghetti (squash)
  • Friday – Car picnic. I have a surprise for the minions, I don’t think they’ll mind.
  • Saturday – out
  • Sunday – Chicken Bog, Collard Greens, Cornbread

What are you having? Is there anything you’re looking forward to?

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Weekly Menu Plan #23

Heather says

Well, this is a safe space, right?

I fell off the wagon last week. We not only ate out, we also had what the kids call a “floor picnic movie night”. The latter is how I make serving raw vegetables, cheese, and other usually lunch but not terribly exciting foods palatable.

What’s my excuse? Sick kids and just being tired of “people”. By people, I don’t mean you, of course. You would never be rude to me or my support team; it’s part of why I like you. Naturally.

So here we go, a new week, a new menu, a new chance to try to be a little more on the ball:

What will you be having this week?

Are you serving anything special during that game that likes to be overly-protective of its branding?

And? If you need a pick-me-up to get you going, this is one of my kid’s coaches after they won their championship. (He did this before and after every game and I keep this video on my phone for when I need a little peptalk)

Let’s do this.