"Your biting sarcasm wounds me, Madam..."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Superbowl and meatballs.

Nothing has changed at home and I'm still plodding along trying to stretch every dollar still in the bank account. It really sucks when you figure out that you weren't doing too badly all along, as far as income goes, and realize that you wasted a lot of money on absolutely nothing at all while the money was coming in regularly. I have nothing to show for all of the money that we threw away. That is so disappointing.

One way i'm trying to save money is by cooking a lot more often.. like every night. Which was never something I've been really inclined to do. It's not that i don't like to cook, I do. It just stresses me out a little. Planning a meal and then making sure i have all the ingredients and realizing that i don't and going food shopping almost every single night before i go home to cook is really annoying and always makes me wonder if i'm saving any money at all. I guess in the long run I am because i'm collecting ingredients but It's just so hard to tell.

And then getting home around 7:00 and making sure the meat is defrosted and trying to cook so that everything times out right and is done around the same time and I get myself stressed out over nothing, hoping above all hope that the chicken is GOOD. But TheBoy doesn't care. He very rarely tells me that something i've made is disgusting, when i know damn well that it is. I just want to be SUCH A GOOD COOK! I come from a long line of really good cooks and i need to inherit the trait from all of the Italian grandmothers in my family because I'M ITALIAN! Italians need to be good cooks or else they've failed their culture and their family.
Or so it feels.

Hey, do you guys have any easy, weeknight recipes you'd be willing to share? I'm finding that my chicken-cutlet, hamburger, meatloaf, chicken-cutlet repertoire is getting a little monotonous. I don't want to have to spend more than an hour on anything that I'm making after work and would like not to have to buy a whole basket-full of ingredients every time i cook something. Do you have anything simple? I would love to hear from you! My sanity will thank you.


In other news, TheBoy and I have this weekend to ourselves which is always such a blessing. We normally have his kids 3 out of 4 weekends per month. This kind of arrangement, while great for the kids' parents, (their mom gets to have her weekends to herself and her fiance' and go out on Saturday nights while dad gets to see his kids as often as possible) is absolute torture on me for painfully obvious reasons. 3 out of 4 weekends a month.

But this weekend is just us! We can go out Saturday night! We can walk around the house in our underwear! Naked, even! Such luxuries! Such simple, cost-effective pleasures...

Ugh.. who am i kidding? We'll just stay home all weekend and i'll watch all of season 6 of the Gilmore Girls in my pajamas. Cause i love them and have no life.

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  • Hm...though I am a great cook, I have no advice for you because 1) I am a vegetarian and 2) I tend to cook weird, complicated meals. When I am by myself, which is most of the time, I drink a cup of soup every night and maybe have a quesadilla. Simple.

    Good luck with it, though. Epicurious has a whole section of quick meals, and you can see the fork rating and the comments so you know what works and what doesn't.

    Another trick is if you have a couple ingredients but don't know what to do with them, you can google the words and come up with recipes...

    By Blogger SUEB0B, at 1/30/2007 9:37 PM  

  • Do you have a crockpot? Presenting my simplest, yet actually cooked meal yet:

    Put roast in crock pot.
    Dump in a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup.
    Dump in a packet of dry onion soup mix.
    Turn crock pot on for a bunch of hours.

    Don't stir it or anything- it miraculously all combines by itself. Also, you could add potatoes and/or veggies right in there with the meat so you only have the one dish to clean.

    TheBoy was a huge fan, as it's real Man Food.

    By Blogger Jessica, at 1/30/2007 10:33 PM  

  • suebob - i'll check out Epicurious to see what's over there. I haven't been to his?her? site yet. Thanks for the tips!

    jessica - funny you should mention it, but yes, i do have a crockpot. got it from mom for christmas and i've yet to open the box. which is sad, because i asked for it and still have not even tried to use it.
    I hate to ask...what kind of roast do you use? how stupid is this... what does it say on the label? I am seriously dumb when it comes to buying meat..
    Thanks! This sounds like a really easy one for me to break out the new crockpot.

    By Blogger claire, at 1/31/2007 8:28 AM  

  • Sucks to the decreased income. I like to make pork chops because they are cheap.

    Also, chicken marsala is super easy, just take pounded chicken breast, flour it, sautee in butter in a skillet, remove chicken, add some presliced mushrooms, salt pepper and a cup or so marsala wine and chicken stock (or be like me and add a boullion cube and a half cup of water), add back in the chicken and simmer it down for about 15 minutes or til chicken is cooked and sauce thickened. Serve on some rice with a salad.

    By Blogger Christine, at 1/31/2007 10:25 AM  

  • "It really sucks when you figure out that you weren't doing too badly all along, as far as income goes, and realize that you wasted a lot of money on absolutely nothing at all while the money was coming in regularly. I have nothing to show for all of the money that we threw away. That is so disappointing." --I'm so there with you right now. And, yes, I agree.

    My fiance and I have been staying in most nights, cooking for ourselves, and it's amazing how much money you save, and generally, how much healthier you eat, too. I'm just hoping we can keep it up. The craving for pizza, it's growing. : )

    By Anonymous kerrianne, at 2/02/2007 4:32 PM  

  • MMMmmm... chicken marsala...

    The crockpot really is an easy way to go. I love a good long-cooked chicken stew. You basically toss in chicken broth or water with a little salt, chunked chicken, veggies and some spices like pepper, sage, dill and bay leaf, then let it go all day. Many stores even have pre-packaged "soup" veggies, usually with the key ingredients of onions, carrots, parsnips, and maybe a turnip and some parsley (parsnips are my favourite!). Garlic and celery are good in there, too, as are potatoes, which give it nice heft. Just slow cook all day and mmm-mmm!

    Plus, to make it all out kick-ass? When you get home, just grab a box of Bisquick and some milk and make dumplings (the recipe's usually on the box). Make them on the dry side so they rise up like biscuits in the pot, and let them cook 'til they soak in some of the broth.

    Man, I'm dying here. All I had was an apple for lunch...

    Anyway, let me know how the sausage pasta goes, if you try it. I'm going to try to convince Mrs. Nator to make nachos and her famous fresh guacamole for the Superbowl... :o)

    By Blogger Da Nator, at 2/02/2007 6:05 PM  

  • Claire~ I feel as tho I have failed you by deleting my cooking blog. I am so sorry momma! Anyway, if you'd like, can lend you my slow-cooker recipe cook book.

    In the mean time, here are some recipes, that are healthy yet yummy tasting and none too spicy. The Balsamic Chicken is my fave by far!
    Also I have made the pork roast and that is quite yumm-o too!

    Easter Pork Tenderloin
    main meals
    Servings: 8
    Preparation Time: 20 min
    Cooking Time: 12 min
    Level of Difficulty: Easy

    Marinate it overnight for an even deeper flavor.

    •1/2 cup reduced-calorie pancake syrup
    • 1 tsp dry mustard
    •1 tsp ground cloves
    •1 tsp ground ginger
    •1 tsp table salt
    •1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    •1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
    •2 1/2 pound lean pork tenderloin, use two 1 1/4-pound pieces

    •Combine syrup, dry mustard, cloves, ginger, salt, cinnamon, and pepper in a large zip-close plastic bag. Trim pork of all visible fat and cut each tenderloin in half widthwise. Add tenderloins to plastic bag, squeeze out air and seal bag; turn to coat tenderloins. Place bag on a plate and refrigerate on bottom shelf, turning bag occasionally, at least 2 hours or overnight.

    •Preheat broiler. Place tenderloins in a roasting pan and pour marinade over them. Broil 5 inches from heat until pork reaches an internal temperature of 160°F, about 6 minutes per side. Let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before slicing. Yields about 4 ounces of meat per serving

    balsamic chicken with mushrooms
    main meals
    Servings: 4
    Preparation Time: 10 min
    Cooking Time: 10 min
    Level of Difficulty: Easy

    For a different flair, substitute dry white wine for the chicken broth, then sprinkle on a few spoonfuls of chopped sun-dried tomatoes with the mushrooms.

    •2 tsp vegetable oil
    •3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
    •2 tsp Dijon mustard
    •1 large garlic clove(s), crushed
    •1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4-oz pieces
    •2 cup mushroom(s), small, halved
    •1/3 cup canned chicken broth
    •1/4 tsp dried thyme, crumbled

    •In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of oil.
    •In a medium bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar, the mustard and garlic. Add chicken and turn to coat.
    •Transfer chicken and marinade to skillet. Sauté chicken until cooked through, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm.
    •Heat remaining teaspoon of oil in skillet. Sauté mushrooms for 1 minute. Add broth, thyme and remaining tablespoon of vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are deep brown, about 2 minutes longer.
    •Serve chicken topped with mushrooms

    Baked Chicken
    main meals
    Servings: 4
    Preparation Time: 10 min
    Cooking Time: 30 min
    Level of Difficulty: Easy

    •1 sprays cooking spray
    •1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4 oz halves
    •1/2 tsp table salt
    •1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
    •1 Tbsp thyme, fresh, chopped, or 1 tsp dried thyme
    •2 tsp Spice Islands No Salt Lemon Herb Seasoning, or similar product

    •Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a shallow roasting pan with cooking spray.
    •Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Transfer chicken to prepared pan; sprinkle with thyme and lemon herb seasoning.
    •Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

    Yields 1 chicken breast half per serving.
    Notes : Tired of plain baked chicken? Use spice blends such as a lemon-herb combo for fantastic flavor in just minutes. For a cheesy twist, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese over each chicken breast before baking

    Easy Chicken Tetrazzini
    main meals

    Servings: 6
    Preparation Time: 25 min
    Cooking Time: 20 min
    Level of Difficulty: Easy

    •1 Tbsp reduced-calorie margarine
    •1/2 cup scallion(s), chopped (about 5 scallions)
    •8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
    •3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
    •1/4 tsp garlic powder
    •1/8 tsp black pepper
    •1 cup fat-free chicken broth
    •1/2 cup fat-free skim milk
    •1/2 pound chicken breast, cooked, skinless, cubed
    •1/4 cup canned pimento, drained and sliced (about a 2 oz jar)
    •2 Tbsp sherry cooking wine
    •3 1/2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
    •8 oz uncooked spaghetti, broken into thirds and cooked

    •Melt margarine in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add scallions and mushrooms; cook until tender, stirring, about 5 minutes. Combine flour, garlic powder, pepper, broth and milk in a small bowl; mix until well blended. Add flour mixture to saucepan; cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes.

    •Add chicken, pimentos and sherry; cook until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Stir in cheese and add cooked spaghetti; toss gently. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

    Grilled Chicken and Tri-Color Peppers with Chimichurri Sauce
    main meals
    Servings: 4
    Preparation Time: 30 min
    Cooking Time: 15 min
    Level of Difficulty: Easy

    •1 cup parsley, fresh, leaves
    •1/2 cup cilantro, fresh, leaves
    •1 large garlic clove(s), smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
    •1/4 cup water
    •1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
    •2 tsp olive oil
    •1 tsp fresh lemon juice
    •1/2 tsp table salt
    •1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
    •2 sprays cooking spray
    •1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4-oz pieces
    •1 medium sweet red pepper(s), sliced into 1-inch strips
    •1 medium orange pepper, sliced into 1-inch strips
    •1 medium yellow pepper(s), sliced into 1-inch strips

    •Place parsley, cilantro, garlic, water, vinegar, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in bowl of a blender. Blend on high, pulsing, until a smooth sauce is formed; set aside.
    •Coat a stovetop grill pan with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Place chicken in pan and grill until cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side; remove from grill, cover to keep warm and set aside.
    •Off heat, recoat grill pan with cooking spray. Place peppers in pan and cook until grill marks show on peppers, about 3 minutes per side. Serve chicken and peppers drizzled with chimichurri sauce. Yields 1 chicken breast, about 1/2 cup of grilled peppers and 1/3 cup of sauce per serving.

    By Blogger Orelinde_03, at 2/06/2007 1:18 PM  

  • We keep it pretty simple and pretty basic, but how about macaroni & cheese, spaghetti, frozen ravioli, if you have a Sam's Club membership they sell some really tasty frozen mesquite chicken breasts. Make a lasagna - It takes a while, but you'll eat it for days. Grilled cheese with red peppers in it...

    By Blogger 3carnations, at 3/09/2007 3:16 PM  

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