Posted by: amandaleigh1231 | March 5, 2013

Saving Freezer-Burned Chicken

My Husband and I have had a busy six months.  In August, we put a bid on a foreclosed, fixer-upper and had our offer be accepted.  The biggest drawback was that there were several items that needed repaired before the funding bank would release our mortgage funds.  Luckily, the bank that owned the property was so happy to unload it that they allowed us access to the property to make the repairs as long as we signed a waiver that we would not hold them liable for any injuries that may occur on the property.  Then there was the packing and the “real’ housework – gutting the kitchen, family room, electric – you name it and we did it.  In fact, we are still working on the less used areas, and probably will be for a few years.

You are probably asking yourself what, exactly, this has to do with money saving meals.  It has to do with freezer burned chicken.  Back in August, my warehouse club was running a special on the IQF, boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  It was a 10lb bag for just under $16.  I thought, “This is great!  I can just throw these on the grill on the nights we are busy repairing, packing, whatever, and dinner is served.”  The best laid plans can get derailed so easily.  Too many projects stretched into the late night, and we turned to the $2 subs from our local gas station to stave off hunger.  Since our move was just a mile down the road, we were able to bring all of our freezer goods along – no waste, right?

Today, I planned to thaw the last few of those breasts for dinner.  They look something like this (from http://www.cookingfortwo.com):

Image

Yuck!  However, I am not going to waste that chicken.  My steps to saving it:

  1. Marinate it to rehydrate and cover any off flavor.
  2. Tenderize, with a mild acid.
  3. Pair it with lots of veggies so that it is less of a focal point.

My frugal freezer burned chicken

  1. Chop chicken into bite size pieces
  2. Mix 1/4 cup oil, 1/8 cup rice vinegar, 1/8 cup soy sauce, 2 tbsp orange marmalade or apricot jam, minced garlic, thyme, and black pepper to taste.
  3. Marinate chicken for about 2-4 hours
  4. Pour off excess marinade and sautee on high heat 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times
  5. Toss in a ton of veggies – I used red onion, yellow squash, hot peppers, frozen broccoli, and shredded carrot.  Cook about 5 more minutes until veggies are hot and chicken is cooked through.
  6. Enjoy with steamed rice or pasta

I’ve done this several times in the past and it is yummy!

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Posted by: amandaleigh1231 | February 24, 2013

A Frugal Failure?

One of my favorite days of the week is grocery day.  I love wandering the aisles, searching for the tasiest looking items and, of course, the best values.  My most uttered phrase when it comes to grocery shopping is, “Full price is for suckers!”  If it is not a great value, then it is not a neccessity.  Sadly, my husband does not share the sentiment, and is a horrible impulse shopper.

This past Thursday, I went to my local Giant Eagle.  I only had a few select items (all seasonal or on sale) to purchase, and was looking forward to browsing the items, and taking advantage of a few free samples from their specialt cheese section.  When I reached the seafood selection, I realized that I did not have a meatless meal planned for Friday, since it is Lent.  I texted my husband, asking if he wanted me to get any seafood for Friday.  As soon as I sent it, I knew that I had worded it wrong.  I  should have asked if he wanted some Tilapia (on sale and individually vaccuum sealed to limit waaste).  But no, I had to leave it open to interpretation….

His response was scallops and shrimp to make seafood pasta.  Part of me wanted to say that it was too enxpensive, but Nick rarely asks for anything special other than his favorite brand of coffee.  I would have felt gulity had I pretended not to get the text.  So…I picked up a small amount of the scallops and a two pound bag of jumbo shrimp (since that was a weekly special).  I ended up right at $75, my weekly average, for the trip.  While I did not get to bank any funds for the next time I needed to stock up on pantry supplies, it still wasn’t too horrible.

On Friday, Nick cooked the pasta.  By the time we added some fresh veggies to the mix, it became clear that the shrimp and scallops were going to go a lot farther than I had thought.  We were able to put enough of both into the freezer that I probably won’t have to buy any more fish for the remainder of Lent.  This meal will not go down in the list of the best meals for our budget, but it was not a complete failure.

Nick’s Seafood Pasta

Put a pound of linguine in the pot to cook.  While it is cooking, heat olive oil in a large pan.  When hot, add 2 cloves of crushed garlic and sautee about a minute.  Toss in a few shripmp and scallops and sautee until nearly firm.  Add 2 cups of vegetables of your choice and sautee another 2-3 minutes.  Add 1 can of clams and 1 cup of chicken stock with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch disolved in it.  Bring to boil and simmer about a minute or until the liquid begins to thicken.  Pour over steaming hot pasta.

Posted by: amandaleigh1231 | February 17, 2013

The Amazing Upside-Down Chicken

At one point in his life, my husband had aspirations of becoming a chef.  You would think that this would mean that he is the main cook in our household when, in fact, the opposite is true.  I cook about 90% of our meals.  You can imagine my surprise when I arrived home from work to find that my husband had cooked a huge meal for us Roasted Garlic Chicken, Steamed Rice, and Fresh Broccoli.

Then I took a look at the food.  He had cooked the chicken upside-down, with the breast down in the pan.  I had just assumed that everyone, especially someone who had once held aspirations of becoming a professional chef, would know that it is standard to roast a chicken with the breast facing up.  Despite the fact that the chicken was cooked upside-down, it was moist, flavorful, and delicious.  Nick insists that roasting the chicken upside-down was intentional, but I know better.

The chicken was purchased for $0.99 per pound, for a total cost of $4.32.  From that four pound chicken we had several amazing meals:

  • Roasted Garlic Chicken with sides of Rice and Broccoli
  • Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
  • Chicken Pasta Primavera
  • Chicken and Caramelized Onion Quesedilla w/ Sauteed Broccoli
  • Spicy Vegetable Soup cooked with stock made from the chicken bones and some aromatics

For me, this was the epitome of a money saving meal.  Not a bit of that chicken went to waste.  By stretching the amount of protein that was used, we included many more vegetables than we would have if we had featured meat as the centerpiece of each meal.  Most importantly, these meals tasted good and were good for us.

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