I also need simplicity right now. So I'm looking for a few Crock-pot recipes, so I don't have to be in the kitchen, messing up dishes and trying not to burn dinner while the kids run wild wreaking havoc on the house. Several days this week we've been busy in the evening, and then at 5 or 6, I'm rushing home to start dinner and already have starving cranky kids impatiently waiting. So, low easy prep is important too. Those aren't unrealistic expectations, right?
I got yummy stuff from my Organic Produce Co-op this week, wanna see?
The fruits and the avocados are usually used up for snack. We've been getting cilantro for the past few weeks and I'm obsessed with making fresh guacamole with this seasoning called Herby that I bought from the family that runs the co-op. It's an organic seasoning blend made with herbs and spices, and it's got great flavors so I'm putting it on everything now.
Here's my menu plan along with explanations for what I'm thinking when I'm planning and how I try to balance cost with health.
Oven Baked Buffalo Chicken Fingers from my friend Leilani - I don't know where she got it from. :-)
with Ranch & Carrots (Kenny is crazy about Ranch dressing on everything, and so, of course, are the kids.)
Serves 6 to 8
1/4 cup hot sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato catsup
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
1 1/2 cups dried whole wheat bread crumbs
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Stir together hot sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, and catsup in a wide, shallow dish to make a marinade. Add chicken, turn to coat, cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes, or overnight. Remove chicken from marinade and gently press it into the bread crumbs, rolling well to evenly coat chicken all over.
For Freezer: After coating chicken, flash freeze on a baking sheet, covered in plastic wrap until firm. Place flat in a Gallon-size freezer bag.
Prep Directions: Thaw (if from frozen). Place on greased baking sheet, being careful not to overlap them. Spray chicken all over with oil and bake for 20 minutes at 375, or until cooked through and golden brown.
Per serving (about 4oz/103g-wt.): 180 calories (20 from fat), 2.5g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 55mg cholesterol, 710mg sodium, 15g total carbohydrate (0g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 22g protein
Barbecue Pulled Chicken from EatingWell.com
over whole wheat buns, with pickles, sliced red onions & little bit of sour cream
Steamed Artichokes w/lemon butter
*I'm going to reserve 1/4 cup of the sauce for tomorrow's recipe .
This can be made super cheap using pre-made barbecue sauce that is often free or just pennies (how you ask? It goes on sale for $1-$1.19 and a .35 cent coupon triples at my grocery store, which takes off $1.05, making it free - .14 cents!). The bottled bbq sauce is mostly high-fructose corn syrup and full of other yucky preservatives and artificial additives, so I prefer to make my own sauce, like in this recipe. BUT, I'll get a few of the free bbq sauce when they're available because on a busy day, or when I haven't made it to the grocery store yet, I can pull ribs or chicken out of the freezer and a bottle of sauce, plus a bog of frozen veggies (I also get these FREE) and get a quick cheap dinner everyone loves - it's still healthier and less expensive than the alternative of grabbing fast food or eating out. Using the free pre-made stuff it would cost only $4.70 for 8 servings (just the cost of chicken @ $1.88/lb on sale). I'm estimating about $7.50 for 8-servings for the original recipe (I don't have time to calculate the exact cost of each amount of spice :-).
Family Pizza Night
Greek Salad *rolled over from last week - I was busy and went with a few frozen pizzas instead! Kenny's begging for real pizza night, so I'll be getting our favorite toppings this week.
ThursdaySweet 'n Sassy Flank Steak from Jo Jo Ba on Sparkrecipes.com
served over Wilted Spinach
Frozen Garden Vegetable Medley (Free last week @ Kroger's with coupons)
Perfect recipe for this week! Flank Steak is on sale, this is made in the crockpot, and it uses the sweet potatoes, pineapple, onion (I'll be using red, not white) & spinach from the co-op, plus I have all the other ingredients on hand, and am already making BBQ sauce for the Tuesdays' dinner.
Flank Steak (also called London Broil. Or maybe it's just similar to London Broil. I don't know if they're the exact same cut, but I know they're pretty much interchangeable in recipes) is on sale at Randall's this week for 1.88/lb (usually $5.49, so big savings!) I'll buy enough for this recipe but I'll also buy several extras and mix up a couple marinades (can be seriously simple: a packet of onion soup mix with tomato sauce, a cup of salsa with some garlic, lemon & soy sauce, whatever) and put the Flank Steak into a Ziploc Freezer bag with the marinade and then freeze. Then I've got easy inexpensive marinated meat for another time. Flank Steak/London Broil is a stringy, generally tough cut of meat - so it's inexpensive and it works great for the crock pot b/c slow cooking it all day makes it really tender. You can throw veggies in the bottom of the crockpot, put your marinated Flank Steak on top and in 5 or 6 hours dinner's done.
Spicy Garlic Lemon Shrimp from epicurious.com
Quinoa Pilaf from Tyler Florence, Food Network
We like the big shrimp (like 16-25 ct), so I usually buy them when they're on sale around $4.50-$4.99/lb. They're on sale this week and I still have a 2 lb bag in my freezer from the last sale. I have to have pretty substantial sides when I cook shrimp because I need something to help fill everyone up before they each scarf an entire pound of shrimp on their own. We're big shrimp lovers.
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal from one of my favorite blogs 5DollarDinners.com
I'm going to use Steel Cut Oats, instead of quick oats. Steel-cut oats are better nutrition-wise, of course, the trade-off is that they take longer. BUT, you can put them in boiling water for one minute and then remove them from heat and leave them to soak overnight, then bring them back to a boil in the morning, and continue the above recipe just like you would with quick cook oats.
Easy Zucchini Parmesan
I have one Zucchini from the co-op and saw this idea, that might make a great snack for the kids. I'm hoping I can trick Lincoln into eating veggies this way. Picky little guy won't touch anything green lately! I'm going to add some garlic & Herby Seasoning, and use olive oil instead of the butter spray.