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Monday, July 6, 2009

Budget Friendly Meals

Today's guest post is courtesy of Becky from Wheaton
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In an economy where we are all trying to make our dollar go a little further, we asked Becky to help give us some tools to stretch that food budget. Here are some budget-friendly recipes that are sure to be easy on the checkbook without disappointing the taste buds.

Asian Pork and Noodle Skillet

Tight on time? This quick skillet dish is a great “go-to” recipe that your family will request again and again!

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2 medium carrots, peeled

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1 medium red bell pepper

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5-6 green onions with tops (about 1¼ cups sliced), divided

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2 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)

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2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

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2 tablespoons Asian Seasoning Mix
4 packages (3 ounces each) oriental-flavor ramen noodles

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1 tablespoon vegetable oil

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4 cups water

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  1. Cut carrots into julienne strips. Cut bell pepper lengthwise into ¼-inch strips. Slice green onions; set aside tops for garnish.
  2. Using a boning knife, trim fat and silver skin from pork tenderloins. Slice pork lengthwise into four strips. Thinly slice strips crosswise. Combine pork, sesame oil, seasoning mix and two of the ramen seasoning packets; mix well.
  1. Add vegetable oil to (12-in.) skillet; heat over medium-high heat 1-3 minutes or until shimmering. Add half of the pork. Cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until browned; remove pork from Skillet and keep warm. Repeat with remaining pork.
  2. Add carrots and bell pepper to skillet. Cook 1-2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add water and remaining ramen seasoning packets; stir to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet. Add ramen noodles and white parts of green onions to skillet. Cover; bring to a boil and cook 4-5 minutes or until noodles are softened. Add pork; stir to break apart noodles. Remove skillet from heat; let stand, covered, 3-4 minutes or until pork is heated through. Garnish with reserved green onion tops.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 530, Total Fat 24 g, Saturated Fat 8 g, Cholesterol 100


Creamy One-Pot Pasta

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This one-pot wonder combines slivered garlic and fresh vegetables for a light pasta dish your family will be sure to request again.

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4 large garlic cloves, peeled

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1 jar (7 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, undrained

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3 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth (5¼ cups)

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1 lb uncooked penne pasta

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1 head broccoli (2 cups small florets)

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2 medium carrots, peeled

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4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufch√Ętel)

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¼ tsp salt

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½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper

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Grated fresh Parmesan cheese and snipped fresh basil (optional)
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  1. Thinly slice garlic and place garlic and 1 tbsp oil from sun-dried tomatoes into (8-qt.) stockpot. Cook garlic over medium heat 2-3 minutes or until garlic is golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add broth. Return to burner; increase heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir in pasta; cover and simmer vigorously 8-10 minutes or until pasta is almost cooked but still firm, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, cut broccoli into small florets; place into a medium size bowl. Cut carrots in half lengthwise; thinly slice crosswise on a bias.. Drain sun-dried tomatoes; pat dry with a paper towel. Slice tomatoes into thin strips. Add carrots and tomatoes to batter bowl.
  1. Cut cream cheese into cubes. Add vegetables, cream cheese, salt and black pepper to Stockpot. Stir until cream cheese is melted and fully incorporated. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook an additional 2-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serve immediately. If desired, top with grated fresh Parmesan cheese and snipped fresh basil.

Yield: 6 servings

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Nutrients per serving: Calories 410, Total Fat 11 g, Saturated Fat 4 g, Cholesterol 15 mg, Carbohydrate 65 g, Protein 15 g, Sodium 1000 mg, Fiber 5 g

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Ham and Cheese Brunch Squares

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Drop-in guests on their way for brunch? No problem! This colorful dish comes together in no time and serves a crowd.

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1 teaspoon vegetable oil

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2 cups (8 ounces) grated Colby & Monterey Jack cheese blend, divided

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1 package (22.5 ounces) frozen toaster hash brown patties, thawed (10 patties)

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8 ounces cream cheese, softened

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12 eggs

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.½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

.8 ounces thickly sliced deli ham

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4-5 green onions with tops, divided (1 cup sliced)

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3 plum tomatoes

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Additional coarsely ground black pepper (optional)

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  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly brush baking stone/bar pan with oil or other bar pan. Grate cheese. Crumble hash browns over bar pan; press gently into an even layer. Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over hash browns. Bake 13-15 minutes or until crust starts to brown and cheese is melted.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add eggs and black pepper; whisk until smooth. Coarsely chop ham. Slice green onions, reserving ¼ cup of the tops for garnish. Place ham and remaining green onions into a saute' pan; cook and stir over medium heat 2-3 minutes or until hot. Stir ham mixture into egg mixture.
  1. Remove bar pan from oven. Pour egg mixture over crust. Return bar pan to oven; bake 6-8 minutes or until center is set. Meanwhile, slice tomatoes in half lengthwise; scrape out seeds and dice. Remove bar pan from oven; top with remaining cheese, tomatoes and reserved green onions. Sprinkle with additional black pepper, if desired. Cut into squares and serve.
Cook’s Tips: To soften cream cheese, microwave on HIGH 15-20 seconds or until softened. Whisk until smooth. If desired, 2 cups cooked and crumbled bulk pork sausage (¾ pound) or 1 pound bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled, can be substituted for the deli ham.

Yield: 12 servings

Nutrients per serving: Calories 250, Total Fat 19 g, Saturated Fat 10 g, Cholesterol 260 mg, Carbohydrate 4 g, Protein 16 g, Sodium 530 mg, Fiber 0 g
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Some of these and other of my favorite recipes feature the Deep Covered Baker, which I lovingly call my “Magic Pot.” You can always improvise if you don’t have one, but this is the ONE piece of stoneware I feel every kitchen should have. I am offering a special for Cooking Show hosts in June or July ~ you can earn it for FREE or HALF-PRICE in addition to all of the other wonderful host rewards Pampered Chef gives you. Ask me how!! Shoot me an email at pamperedbecky@comcast.net and tell me you heard of this offer through your affiliation with DupageMamas. Then I can fill you on all of the other generous host rewards, as well as FUN summer theme shows you can choose from!


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Was this helpful? Would you like more recipes? We would love your feedback! And as always, if you make any of these meals for your family, take a picture and send it to us or just shoot us an e-mail dupagemamas(at)gmail(dot)com and let us know how it went. Becky has a lot more recipes where these came from so we can make this a regular feature if you would like to see more.

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We're always looking for guest bloggers! If you'd like to share something with the Dupage Mamas community, send us your completed post or half-baked ideas to dupagemamas(at)gmail(dot)com.

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