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Monday, July 9, 2018

Money crunching time again = new recipes the family LOVES

So, it's been 4 years since I posted...I guess I'm not the world's greatest Blogger....whatever.  In those 4 years, I have seen my littles become teenager, and 1 is now legally an adult (scary thought).  Things have been a bit like a roller coaster, but more like one of the little kids rides....up until a few weeks ago.  I won't bore you with everything that happened, but we did unexpectedly need a replacement car, which meant a new car loan and the car that died wasn't even fully paid off that leads to me tackling the finances and meal planning/grocery shopping like a demon.

I researched several recipes (from only 2 of my cookbooks so far) and came up with 2.5 weeks of meals, then shopped mainly for just those meals with the standards that we always use (cheese, milk, bread, lunchmeat).

However, there was a request for the recipes I used (especially since my family is made up of picky eaters and these ALL earned a grade of an A - yes, I told them to grade them with suggestions on what would make them better).

SO here we go: (all recipes come from either The $7 meal cookbook or taste of home Dinner on a Dime)

Meal #1:
Cornmeal fried fish with tomato and spinach spiral pasta.
*nobody really likes fish, especially salmon, but I try to get them to eat it at least once a month, this recipe has them saying they could probably handle it more often if this is how I continue to cook it!*

Cornmeal fried fish:
1/4 c all-purpose flour                                          1 egg
3 tablespoons cornmeal                                        3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon salt                                                   4 (4-oz) fish fillets, thawed if frozen
1/8 teaspoon pepper                                              1/3 c vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter

1-In small bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper, and mix well.  Cut butter into small pieces and add to flour mixture; cut in with 2 knives until mixture is finely blended.  In shallow bowl, combine egg and milk and beat well.
2-Pat fish dry.  Dip fish into egg mixture, then into cornmeal mixture, coating both sides.  Let stand on a wire rack for 10 minutes (don't ask me why).
3-Heat oil in large skillet until it reaches 375*.  Fry fish over medium heat, turning once, until golden brown, about 8-12 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Now, I know that fried food isn't good for you, but we rarely eat anything fried, so I figure if this was something that everyone enjoyed, a fired meal every now and then won't hurt us.

Tomato-Spinach spiral pasta
*this is the way I made it, not the way it was written out*

1 package (8-oz) spiral pasta                                    fresh baby spinach
grape tomatoes, cut in half                                       3 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese                    1/2 teaspoon salt
Zesty Italian dressing

1-cook pasta according to package directions; slice tomatoes (as many as you want or that you know your family will eat); rinse off baby spinach (again, based on how much you want or what your family will eat).
2-drain pasta and rinse under cool water.  Place pasta in large bowl and add tomatoes, spinach cheeses, and salt.  Add Italian dressing to your taste and mix.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until needed.

*Recipe that gave me the idea called for creamed spinach (blech), not cooling the pasta down, and not adding the dressing.  I wanted something a little light to go with the fried fish, and based on the family's reaction, this was a pretty good choice.

Meal #2: Chicken cutlet Parmesan over buttered noodles with peas

Chicken Cutlet Parmesan
4 (4oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts                           2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg                                                                                     1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs                                           1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon pepper                                                              1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350*.  Spray a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.  Place chicken on waxed paper, smooth side down, and cover with more waxed paper.  Gently pound until chicken is about 1/3 inch thick.

2-In shallow bowl, beat egg until foamy.  On plate, combine bread crumbs, pepper, and Parmesan.  Dip the chicken cutlets into the egg, then into the bread mixture, turning to coat.

3-In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add chicken cutlets and brown on both sides - about 2-3 minutes per side (this cooks the breading and seals in the moisture, but they are NOT fried).  Remove from pan and place in prepared baking dish.  Add tomato sauce and Italian seasoning to saucepan and bring to a boil.

4-Pour sauce over chicken cutlets in baking pan and top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until sauce bubbles and cheese melts and begins to brown.  Serve with pasta if desired.

Buttered pasta:  I used wide egg noodles and cooked them as directed, then tossed them with butter.  I served the chicken on the pasta.

Peas: seriously?  heat them up in a small pot :-)

Only "issue" with this meal is that everyone said they wish it had more cheese on top, so that is easily fixed.

Meal #3 Triple Cheese Quesadillas with beef
*original recipe is just for triple cheese, but I had left over roast beef and we are a family of meat eaters, so I figured I'd just add some to the mix)

1 cup grated cheddar cheese                                            8 (8-inch) tortillas
1 cup grated Swiss cheese                                               2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese                                      1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1-In small bowl, combine cheeses and Italian seasoning; toss well.  Place four flour tortillas on work surface; divide cheese mixture among them.  Top with remaining tortillas.

2-Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Spread butter on both sides of each quesadilla and place in skillet.  Cook, pressing down gently with a spatula, until first side is golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.  Carefully turn each quesadilla and cook, pressing down with spatula, until cheese is melted and second side is golden brown, about 2-5 minutes.  Remove to serving plate, cut into quarters, and serve.

What I did differently:  I buttered 1 side of the first tortilla and place it in the pan, then added some cheese, some shredded beef, and more cheese, followed by the buttered second tortilla.  I was not "gentle" with the spatula as I wanted the cheese to melt and hold the beef inside.  Nobody really had any complaints about this other than it needed more spice (that was my husband)

Meal #4 Eggrolls (made this before, but it's been a while and was requested)

1/2 pound ground pork                                                   2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 carrot, shredded                                                           1 tablespoon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced                                                   2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion                               1 tablespoon water
1 cup shredded cabbage                                                  1 (12-count) package egg/spring roll wrappers

1-In a large skillet, brown ground pork until almost done.  Add carrot and garlic; cook and stir 4-6 minutes until pork is cooked through.  Remove from heat, drain well, and add green onions, cabbage, soy sauce, and mustard.

2-combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl and blend well.

3-To form egg rolls, place one wrapper, point-side down, on work surface.  Place 3 tablespoons filling 1-inch from corner.  Brush all edges of the egg roll wrapper with cornstarch mixture.  Fold point over filling, then fold sides in and toll up egg roll, using cornstarch mixture to seal as needed.

4-Fry the rolls in peanut oil heated to 375* for 2-3 minutes, turning once, or until a deep golden brown.  Egg rolls may be frozen after frying., I use a pound of ground pork, and previously left out the carrot, garlic, and green onions.  This time, I added them in, but I added the cabbage (really, part of a bag of pre-shredded cole slaw mix) last and didn't cook until the cabbage wilted.  Apparently this was the right way to make it because it got even more raves than the previous way I made them.  Yes, fried....ok, so this week wasn't the best, but I'm still working on finding recipes that everyone loves.

Tonight is a new recipe for roast beef and gravy and I'll be attempting Rice Pilaf from scratch

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