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DINNERS FOR DOLLARS

JANUARY 16-22

Don’t you love this cute little menu? It’s a free printable that I found on pinterest. I’ve been doing really good for the past few months with planning menus and cutting our grocery budget. I’ve also been using my crockpot almost exclusively and I love it. Seriously. Love it. I buy those nice slow cooker bags that make clean up a snap for Mr.McHunky, because we have the “I cook it, you clean it” rule at our house.

I grocery shop on Friday’s so I will be doing my weekly menu posts on Thursday’s for the following week. The menu above covers Monday January 16 thru Sunday January 22. I will post the menu and then each of the recipes, including the total cost of each.

Baked Ziti

1 box ziti noodles ($0.85 on sale)
1 lb sliced sausage ($2.29)
1 jar spaghetti sauce ($1.68 on sale w/ coupon)
1 can sliced mushrooms ($0.49)
1 carton ricotta cheese ($1.38)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese ($2.32)
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese ($1.98)

Mix ziti noodles and spaghetti sauce in bottom of crockpot. Add about ¼ cup water to jar, shake and pour over ziti noodles. Add sausage, mushrooms, ricotta and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Stir together until mixed well. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Cook on low for 6 hours.

COST- $10.99
I’ve made this dish before and it makes enough for our family of 6 to eat dinner one night, Mr.McHunky to eat leftovers the next day plus still enough for Leftover Wednesday’s dinner. That’s about $0.85 per serving.

BBQ Sandwiches

3 frozen boneless chicken breasts ($2.99)
1 bottle BBQ sauce ($1.19 on sale w/ coupon)
1/4 cup brown sugar (in pantry)
3 T worcestershire sauce (in pantry)
Hamburger buns or sandwich rolls ($1.06)

Dump frozen chicken breasts, BBQ sauce, brown sugar and worcestershire sauce into crockpot and cook on low for 5 hours. Shred chicken and return to crockpot, cooking additional hour. Serve on hamburger buns or sandwich rolls.

COST- $5.24
I use the bags of frozen boneless chicken breasts and I get 2 dinners out of a $5.98 bag. This dinner makes enough for dinner for the 6 of us plus Mr.McHunky takes it for lunch the next day. I serve this with tater tots and a veggie. The cost for just the BBQ sandwiches is about $0.75 per serving.

Enchiladas– recipe adapted from HERE

1-2 lb ground beef ($5.89)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed ($0.68)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed ($0.68)
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic ($0.98)
cup water
1 t chili powder (in pantry)
½ t cumin (in pantry)
½ t salt (in pantry)
¼ t pepper (in pantry)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar ($1.16)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese ($1.16)
6 flour tortillas ($0.99)

Brown ground beef and drain. Add all ingredients except cheese and tortillas; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. In separate bowl, cominbe cheeses. In crockpot, layer ¾ cup beef mixture, one tortilla and ⅓ cup of cheese. Repeat layers. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

COST- $11.54
I’ve made this dish before as well. It makes a ton so if you have a smaller family you might want to half this recipe. I use 2lbs on ground beef. We get a full dinner for all 6 of us, plus lunch for Mr.McHunky on Friday and lunches for the family on Saturday. That’s about $0.89 per serving.

Swiss Chicken

3 frozen chicken breasts ($2.99)
6 slices swiss cheese ($1.09)
1 can cream of mushroom soup ($0.60)
¼ cup milk
2 cups stuffing mix ($1.68)
½ cup margarine, melted

Spray crockpot with cooking spray. Place chicken breasts in botton of crockpot. Top with cheese slices. Combine soup and milk; mixing well. Spoon over cheese. Sprinkle with stuffing mix. Drizzle melted butter over top. Cook on low 8 hours or high 4-6 hours. Before serving, shred chicken and return to crockpot; stirring mixture well.

COST- $6.36
This dish normally makes enough for dinner for the 6 of us plus a lunch for Mr.McHunky. That’s about $0.91 per serving.

Chili & Cornbread

2 lbs ground beef, cooked ($5.89)
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed ($0.68)
1 pkt chili seasoning ($0.69)
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic ($0.98)
1 can tomato sauce ($0.46)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 T sugar
2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix ($0.50)

Mix all ingredients in crockpot and cook on high for 3 hours. Serve with cornbread.

COST- $9.20
We love chili. We are also chili minimalists, we don’t like a lot of extras in our chili. I’ve experimented for years to find the perfect chili recipe with the right brand of products. I use the generic Wal*mart pinto beans, tomato sauce and mild chili seasoning and I use Hunt’s Fire Roasted diced tomatoes with garlic. The flavors are great. Mr.McHunky adds hot sauce to his and we all top it with cheese. It makes a ton- we get dinner for the 6 of us, plus 2 lunches and another night of leftovers for 4 of us. That makes it about $0.77 per serving including the cornbread.

Hawaiian Ham Sammiesrecipe credit

1 pkg of 12 Hawaiian sweet rolls ($2.24)
1 onion, minced (on hand)
1 stick of butter (on hand)
3 T dijon mustard (on hand)
2 t worcestershire sauce (on hand)
3 t poppy seeds (on hand)
1/2 lb shaved ham ($1.99)
8 slices swiss cheese ($1.09)

Melt butter in small skillet and add onions. Add mustard, worcestershire sauce and poppy seeds into onion and butter. Let simmer for several minutes. Slice rolls as a group lengthwise and place bottoms in a foil lined 13×9 pan. Spread 3/4 of onion mixture on rolls in pan and top with ham and cheese slices. Replace roll tops. Spread remaining onion mixture over top. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes on 350.

COST- $5.32
I haven’t made these before but I thought they would go perfectly with NFL playoff Sunday. I don’t imagine we’ll have many leftovers since the recipe only calls for 12 rolls. I’m guessing it will end up costing about $0.89 per serving.



Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Bars Recipe

Every year I make something yummy for the neighbors mainly to apologize for anything my kids have done during the year just to be neighborly. Last year I made The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls. They are super yummy and everyone loved them but they are also very time consuming when you have a little baby who demands to eat and stuff. So this year I had to simplify the plan a little bit. I decided to make Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Bars instead. The recipe is easy and the end result is delicious.

Ingredients:

1 tube of sugar cookie dough
1 family size box of brownie mix
2 pkgs (8oz each) cream cheese, softened
2 tsp peppermint extract, divided
2.5 cups white chocolate chips
4 candy canes

Directions:
1. Prepare brownie mix as directed on the box. Stir in 1 tsp peppermint extract. Bake as directed on box.

2. While brownies are baking, press sugar cookie dough into bottom of 13×9 baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.

 3. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes until edges are lightly golden brown. Let cool.

 4. When brownies are done baking, cut off all the hard edges and discard….or eat them like I did because it’s a shame to waste perfectly good brownie edges.

5. Crumble baked pan of brownies into large mixing bowl and add 2 pkgs of softened cream cheese. Mix well. (I forgot to take a picture of that step so use your imagination). After mixing, spread the brownie mixture on top of cookie layer.

6. Melt the 2.5 cups of white chocolate chips in microwave until smooth. Stir in remaining 1 tsp of peppermint extract.

7. Working quickly, evenly spread white chocolate over top of brownie layer.

8. Place 4 candy canes in a ziploc bag and crush into small pieces.

9. Sprinkle crushed candy cane bits over top of the white chocolate layer.

10. Lightly score the top of the chocolate to prevent cracking and put in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to help set the chocolate. After chocolate is set, cut into bars.

11. Put bars into cute Christmas tupperware lined with festive tissue paper and deliver to grateful neighbors.



THE YUMMIEST CREAM CHEESE DANISH RECIPE

Can you tell what I’ve been craving this week? These are sooooo good.

Cream Cheese Danishes

Ingredients:
Two 8-ounce tubes of crescent rolls
Two 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar plus some to sprinkle on top
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Preparation: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 9 x 13 pan. Separate 1 can crescent rolls. Press triangles together in a single layer on bottom of pan. With electric mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg. Spread in pan. For the top layer use last can of crescents. Be sure edges are pinched together. Brush milk over dough. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 30 minutes.

I also sprinkled a few with cinnamon too. Yummmmmmm. Sorry, no picture.  They disappeared too fast for me to get one….



SHOW US YOUR LIFE: THANKSGIVING RECIPES

I have been so excited for this week at Kelly’s Korner! Over the years we have perfected our Thanksgiving menu but new recipes to try are always a fun change. Matt and I host Thanksgiving every year- for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is because we have the most kids and therefore the most difficulty making out of town trips. The second reason is that we are smack dab in the middle of both of our parents. Mine are 2 hours away to the west and his are 2 hours away to the east. Normally we also have my sister, her fiance, her gay boy bestie who is seriously the funniest person I have ever met in my life, Matt’s two brothers and their significant others and a random person or two that didn’t have anywhere to go. This year we’ll be joined by one of Matt’s co-workers who is new in town with nowhere to go for the holidays and an elderly neighbor who is medically unable to travel to see her family this year. It’s a big crowd and we make tons of food. My sister, The Momma and I split the cooking duties every year and The Mother Law usually brings a few things that have nothing to do with Thanksgiving. Sigh…

I always make a few starters to keep the masses happy while we cook the main meal. This year for the appetizers I am making:

Cranberry-Pineapple Minis
1 can (20oz) crushed pineapple, in juice
2 pkg (3oz each) raspberry flavor jello
1 can (16oz) whole berry cranberry sauce
2/3 cups walnut pieces
1 apple, chopped
Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Add enough water to juice to measure 2 ½ cups; pour into saucepan. Bring to a boil. Pour over gelatin mixes in large bowl. Stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in pineapple, cranberry sauce, walnuts and apple. Spoon into 24 paper lined muffin cups. Refrigerate 2 ½ hours or until firm. Remove liners. Makes 24 servings.

Pumpkin Crescent Rolls8 oz cream cheese, softened
15 oz can pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 T flour
2 T cinnamon
1 t pumpkin pie spice
8 pkgs refrigerated crescent rolls
½ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 375. In mixer bowl, blend cream cheese, pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, flour and spices until combined and smooth. Unroll crescent rolls, separate and lay flat. Evenly spread 1 ½ T of pumpkin mix over dough. Roll into crescent shape and sprinkle top with sugar. Bake 11-13 minutes until golden brown.

Triple Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms48 med. White mushrooms (about 2 lbs)
1 pkg (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup finely chopped green onions
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt
Using damp paper towels, wipe mushroom caps clean; remove and discard stems. In colander, squeeze liquid out of spinach until dry. In large bowl, mix spinach, feta, cream cheese, green onions and ¼ tsp salt until well combined. Fill each mushroom with heaping teaspoon spinach mixture; top with Parmesan. Transfer to 15 x 10 jelly roll pan; bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and filling is golden brown.

Sweet and Spicy Meatballs1 can Rotel, untrained
1 jar (9oz) strawberry seedless jam
1 bag (16oz) frozen meatballs
Blend untrained tomatoes and jam in medium sauce pan; heat over medium heat until bubbling. Add meatballs; heat additional 10 minutes or until heated through. Place on serving platter.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
2 cans (10oz) Hormel chunk breast of chicken, drained
2 pkg (8oz) cream cheese
1 c ranch dressing
¼ cup pepper sauce
1 ½ cup cheddar cheese
Place cream cheese in shallow casserole. Microwave on 50% power until cheese is softened, 2-3 minutes. Stir in drained chicken, ranch dressing, pepper sauce and 1 cup cheese. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese. Microwave on 100% power 2-4 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips or celery sticks.

For the main course, we try to split the meal according to the distance they have to travel to my house. I do the bulk of the side dishes but several of my dishes can be made a day ahead and heated up on turkey day. The Momma does the ham and my sister does the turkey because I do all the appetizers. The Momma also does the mashed potatoes, the deviled eggs, the biscuits/rolls, and the pumpkin pie. My sister does the stuffing, the collard greens and the fruit salad.
These are my recipes for my contributions to the main course:

Corn Pudding
1 can cream corn
1 can whole kernal corn
2 eggs
8oz sour cream
1 stick margarine
1 pkg cornbread mix
1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Melt butter in casserole dish. Add cream style and whole kernal corn. Add cornbread mix and sour cream. Beat 2 eggs with fork in bowl and add to mix. Stir well. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, uncovered.

Green Bean Casserole1 can cream of mushroom soup
½ cup milk
1 t soy sauce
Dash pepper
4 cups cooked, cut green beans
1 1/3 cup French’s French Fried Onions
Mix soup, milk, soy sauce, pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Stir. Sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake 5 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole3 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
½ cup sugar
1 stick butter + 3T
1 T vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup milk
¾ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
½ t ground cinnamon
Melt stick of butter in casserole dish. Mix cooked sweet potatoes, sugar, vanilla, eggs and milk together until well combined. Pour evenly into casserole dish. In small bowl, combine pecans, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add remaining 3T butter and rub in with fingers until mixture is evenly moistened and forms clumps. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until topping is browned.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 (12oz) packages fresh cranberries
Bring water and sugar to boil in saucepan. Add cranberries and return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour sauce into bowl; cover and cool.

Honey Orange Carrots
16 oz pkg peeled baby carrots
1 ½ cups orange juice
2 T honey
1 T butter
¼ t salt
Combine all ingredients in med saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain gentle boil. Cook, stirring occasionally until carrots are tender and liquid has reduced to a glaze, about 20 minutes.

My favorite part of the meal, by far, is dessert. My thighs don’t lie people, I love my dessert. The Momma makes a killer pumpkin pie from scratch but I don’t have the recipe handy. We make a lot of desserts. A lot. And we never have leftovers, the vultures clean us out. I swear to you, I saw The Brother Law go back for a fourth peice of pie last year.

Pecan Cheesecake Pie
½ (15oz) refrigerated pie crust
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs, divided
¾ cup sugar, divided
2 t vanilla, divided
¼ t salt
1 ¼ cups chopped pecans
1 cup light corn syrup
Fit piecrust into 9” pie plate according to package directions. Fold edges under and crimp. Beat cream cheese, 1 egg, ½ cup sugar, 1 t vanilla and salt at medium speed until smooth. Pour cream cheese mix into piecrust, sprinkle evenly with pecans. Whisk together corn syrup, 3 eggs, ¼ cup sugar and 1 t vanilla. Pour over pecans. Place pie on baking sheet. Bake at 350 on lowest oven rack for 50-55 minutes or until pie is set. Cool 1 hour.

Steamed Pumpkin Pudding1 T softened butter
15 oz can pumpkin purree
2 2/3 cup buttermilk
1 ¾ cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups flour
5 T melted unsalted butter
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ t each baking powder and baking soda
1 t salt
Heat oven to 400. Grease shallow dish with softened butter. In large bowl, whisk pumpkin puree, buttermilk, brown sugar, 4 large eggs, flour, unsalted butter, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well blended and smooth. Pour into prepared dish. Bake 45 minutes or until puffed. Let cool until warm. Spoon into dessert bowls and top with scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Creamy 2 step Cheesecake
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
8 oz cool whip, thawed
1 crust
In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese on med speed until fluffy. Add sugar. Beat until well combined. Fold in whipped topping. Spread in crust. Refrigerate 2 hours. Top with canned cherry pie filling.

Dark Rum Pecan Pie
1 cup sugar
3 T butter, melted
2 cups pecan halves
3 large eggs, beaten
½ cup dark corn syrup
2 t dark rum
1 pie shell ( I use Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts)
Mix sugar and butter until well combined. Add pecans, eggs, corn syrup, and rum; stir until combined. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Reduce temp to 350 and bake 35-40 minutes longer or until filling is set around edge but center jiggles slightly. Cool completely.

Sweet Potato Pie2 cups mashed fresh or canned sweet potatoes
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
¼ cup half and half
4 T butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract
½ t ground cinnamon
1 refrigerated pie crust (I use Pillsbury in the red box)
In bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat sweet potatoes and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and half and half; beat 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Add butter, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon; beat until blended. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until filling is puffed and set around edges but center jiggles slightly.

That pretty much sums up our Thanksgiving day feast. For Christmas, we are much more low-key. Typically, The ‘Laws do not come for Christmas Day. My parents and my sister usually join us around mid-morning. A few years ago we decided that we did not want to do the traditional formal Christmas Day meal. Instead we began our own tradition of doing a Christmas brunch. My sister and I do all the cooking, it’s a day for my parents (especially my mom) to just sit back, relax and enjoy her grandkids. We have a few dishes that we make for Christmas brunch every year and they are so yummy.

Breakfast Bake
2 pkgs (16oz each) pork sausage
3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup original bisquick mix
2 cups milk
¼ t pepper
4 eggs
Heat oven to 400. Grease casserole dish. Cook sausage in skillet until no longer pink; drain. Stir together sausage, potatoes and 1 ½ cup cheese in baking dish. Stir bisquick mix, milk, pepper and eggs until blended. Pour into baking dish and stir. Bake uncovered 40-45 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 1-2 minutes until cheese melts.

Baked French Toast Casserole1 loaf French Bread, cut into 1” slices
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 ½ cup half and half
2 t vanilla
¼ t cinnamon
¾ c butter
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
3 T light corn syrup
Butter a 9×13 baking dish. Arrange bread in bottom. In large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, preheat oven to 350. In small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup, heat until bubbling. Pour over bread mixture. Bake in oven, uncovered for 45-55 minutes.

This year I am also going to make the Pioneer Woman’s amazing Cinnamon Rolls. Yummy!! And they taste even better than they look if you can imagine that. I took her advice and I now give these to each of our neighbors for Christmas. I’m a very popular person on our street come Christmas time. It’s all about the bribery, my friends, all about the bribery. My sister also brings her fabulous Biscuits and Gravy but I don’t have her recipe. They are scrumptous though and even my most picky child will clean their plate!
So there you go. Our Thanksgiving and Christmas menus. This is why my jeans never fit come January 1st. I think I gained 10 pounds just typing these all out.



SHOW US YOUR LIFE: DINNER RECIPES

Yummy. I love food. I love it a little too much sometimes, just ask my thighs! How can I narrow it down to just one recipe? Well I have to for Kelly’s Show Us Your Life: Dinner Recipes tour.

This is one of my all time favorite, easy dinner recipes that everyone in my family will eat.

Ritz Chicken Casserole
2 sleeves Ritz crackers
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
½ cup chicken broth
4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked & cut into pieces
4 ounces margarine, melted

Crumble 1 sleeve crackers in bottom of casserole dish. Drizzle ½ the melted butter over crackers. Mix chicken with soup, sour cream and broth. Pour mixture over crackers. Crush other sleeve of crackers over chicken mix and drizzle remaining butter over top. Bake at 300 for 30-40 minutes.

I always serve it with either corn or sugar snap peas. It’s a family fav and we eat it at least once a week most of the time.