Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Perfectly Roasted Chicken

Hello again! I apologize for not writing more frequently. Our life has been filled with parties for weddings and anniversaries, road trips, and work. It’s crazy!

I usually bake once a week for Daniel’s office and have been since he started his internship there. Granted, some weeks are more hectic than others, so sometimes they don’t get any goodies. Anyway, this is usually why I share baking recipes-I love to bake, but don’t want the calories sitting in our house. So what do I do? Keep a few bites and send it off to L.G. Barcus!

This recipe, however, is not a baking recipe. I love chicken any way you can cook it, but wanted something new. I am a white-meat girl and that’s usually all Daniel gets, although he likes dark. For some reason, as easy and simple as it is, people don’t really roast chickens anymore… so I found a great recipe. It is delicious-and cheap. I found whole chickens for $.69/lb last week and a few weeks back and bought a few to freeze. The recipe calls for fresh thyme, but I don’t buy fresh herbs or grow them so I used dried and it was great. Enjoy!

Roasted Chicken

• 1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
• Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 large bunch fresh thyme (or a few tbsp dried)
• 1 lemon, halved
• 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise (or a few tbsp minced from jar)
• 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
• 1 large yellow onion peeled, quarters, and sections pulled apart.
• 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
• 4 Potatoes, peeled, cleaned, and halved
• Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and potatoes in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, a little thyme and olive oil.

Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

*TIP* Carrots and onions are FANTASTIC. I would recommend 2 onions if you really like them, and TONS of carrots!

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours uncovered, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

*TIP* It is super important to let the chicken rest. If won’t get cold, don’t worry. If you cut it right away, the juices will run out of the meat. Let it rest, girl!

Check back soon- I’ll have a recipe for my Grandma’s slaw (no mayo!) and Blueberry Coffeecake Muffins. Hello!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Eatin on the Cheap with Low-Fat Cheesecake!

Post 2! The requirement to actually write a post has been looming over my head. Recently I’ve gotten some flack for not writing every day- let’s clarify something. I will not be writing every single day. Sorry! There are several reasons for this.

1.I do not have time to do so. I work 40+ hours a week!
2.Trying new recipes is expensive- I will be trying only 1-2 new ones per week. I won’t post unless I have a recipe-regardless of what you might think, I don’t like to hear my own voice out loud (or read my own thoughts online), so I won’t post “just because”.
3.As you will read in this post, part of saving money on groceries is the reality of leftovers. I only cook 3-4 different recipes per week anyway.

With that being said, let’s get on with it!

If you know me at all, you know that I’m chatty. Like my Mom, I tell stories in a very round-about way and give lots of background information, regardless of whether or not you care or whether or not it’s necessary to understand the whole story. I’m a nosey person, always gotta have the scoop. I figure everyone wants to know as many details as possible, just like me- so forgive me.

I was talking to my mom on the phone (as I do most every day of my life) and she went on to rave over this whole blog thing, as if I was some author- a legit one. The gal can’t copy and paste, so I guess I’ll cut her some slack. Anyway, she told me she couldn’t believe I only spend $40/week on groceries and I told her my “secrets” (which I think are common knowledge, but perhaps not!) and she requested I post them. So, Momma, this one’s for you!

Eatin on the Cheap!

I’m a pretty cheap shopper in all aspects. The cheaper, the better. Most people equate “cheap” and “groceries” with an unhealthy diet- Ramen, chips, etc. Not so!

Daniel and I eat all of our meals for $40. We eat fresh fruits and veggies at every single meal (sans breakfast- fruit only!). How? Here are a few tips.

1.Know what you already have in your kitchen and then plan all food out in advance. I either write out or type every single meal we will be having for the week, then make a grocery list of all the things I could possible need. Printed recipes come in handy at this step. I absolutely hate forgetting 1 or 2 ingredients and having to go to the store mid-week. After all planning, go through your cabinets and pantry again and cross off what you already have.

2.Have a general idea of how much things cost. I know, this comes with time, but it does come in handy. You just have to be a regular shopper! This way, you can be at any grocery store and know whether something is a good deal or not.

3.GO TO ALDI. I know several Aldi-haters, and I’m not sure where the sentiment comes from. Some are skeptical of the quality, but I’ve never ever gotten something bad or low-quality from there. The place is home to me-even the smell (which I LOVE) brings back childhood memories. Anyway, most things are definitely cheaper there than at other grocery stores, even Walmart. They have fantastic produce for great prices (in the winter, I bought 8-piece bags of Sunkist oranges for $.99- that’s not even a sale!), fresh dairy/bakery items, and even low- and reduced-fat alternatives, like shredded cheese, FOR NO ADDITIONAL COST! Groceries have been getting better, but sometimes you have to buy name-brand to get reduced fat and I don’t do that! Here are a few staples that I always get there and their typical prices.

Milk Gallon - $2.04
Pineapple- $1.99
Strawberries- $.99
Cantaloupe- $.99
Grapefruit $.33/each
Blueberries (pint)- $1.19
Cherry Tomatoes (pint)- $1.19
3 Green Bell Peppers- $.99
3 Multi-colored Bell Peppers- $1.99
Whole Wheat Bread $1.19
Bagged/washed salad $.39-$.99
Frozen Chicken- $5.99/3 lbs
Frozen Pizza- $2.39
Biscuits-$.39/10 pack
Eggs- $.99
Shredded Cheese- $2.19/3 cups (not 2)

The list goes on and on. They also have great prices on cereals, canned items, chips, yogurt, veggies, everything. I understand that you might be able to get some of these items cheaper at other stores when they are having a sale (refer to point #4!) or you have coupons, but these are ALWAYS prices. They are consistent and when the market is great, you can see it reflected in the prices. They rarely raise their prices! I don’t really buy their meat, except for frozen chicken breasts, which brings me to…

4.Shop sale ads, especially meat sales! My friend Ellie and I have an unspoken pact that we text one another REALLY great deals on things like meat and other staples. When something goes on sale, stock up and freeze it. A lot of times meat is genuinely on sale; other times, the store runs manager’s specials that don’t make it to the store ad. These are usually meats that need to be sold by the next day. FREEZE IT. I know, you’re thinking I spend money on meat in the middle of the week, so no wonder I only spend $40- I’m not buying meat! Nope- that’s included. Last week I bought 2 whole chickens and am not even using them until this week and next week. Worried about wasting gas? My stores are all within a mile of one another (Aldi, Hy-Vee, Price Chopper, and Walmart), so I don’t!

5.Buy what’s in season- especially with produce. This is obviously when prices are cheaper. I HOOVER blueberries; however, I refuse to buy them unless it’s summer because I will not spend $5 per pint. I just bought a pint (actually, 2!) at Hen House for $1.88 (Aldi was closed- we have a rough weekend). Learn to like fruits and veggies throughout the year… and refuse to buy what’s not in season at the time. Chances are it won’t taste very good anyway.

6.Shop with a list- you’ll be more likely to get all of the things you need and less likely to stray from the list and buy things you DON’T need. Be disciplined!

7.Finally, eat leftovers. Since there are only 2 of us, I cook for 4 people and we eat the same thing two night in a row or every other night (Monday and Wednesday the same, Tuesday and Thursday and same). You will save time cooking, make use of the food you buy and waste less, and, of course, save money!

I don’t necessarily clip coupons, but they always help, too. My friend Ellie plays the Grocery Game at and absolutely loves it. I haven’t had the time to try it, but one day I might!

Anyway, hope this experience was worth your reading time. Here is a great recipe for your patience!

Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Brownie mix, all necessary additions
3 Fat Free Cream Cheese Boxes
3 Eggs
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Cup + Garnish Mini chocolate Chips
1 tub fat-free cool whip

Spray and line Spring Form pan with parchment paper (take bottom out and trace a circle!). Make brownie for fudgy recipe and pour into pan (can substitute apple sauce for oil to make healthier). Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. Brownie should NOT be set when you take it out. It will cook more with the cheesecake.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add 1 egg at a time, beat thoroughly. Add condensed milk and vanilla and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour over slightly cooled brownie. Bake for 55 minutes at 300 degrees or until center is set. Cool completely (and slowly- on the counter top, not fridge!) and spread with cool whip and sprinkling of chocolate chips.

Cheesecake tip- Cheesecakes crack when the moisture inside evaporates while it bakes and sometimes while cooking to fast. If you fill a pan with water and place it on a lower rack while the cheesecake bakes, it should help!

See you soon (probably NOT tomorrow!)

Monday, June 7, 2010


Well, here it is! My first blog. I was a little hesitant in starting this, mostly because I'm weary of people thinking I'm vain and view myself as interesting enough to follow and read. While I hope I'm not vain, I certainly don't think I am at all interesting. Nonetheless, people seem to think recipe-sharing would be worth it. So here we go!

On a shopping excursion for work at Michael's, I wondered into the Clearance aisle (hello, always!) and found some Paula Dean products. While I think her accent and creepy laugh can get annoying and she uses entirely too much butter in her recipes, she's got some cute stuff! I threw a recipe box ($3), magnet ($1- "Get Cookin, Ya'll" with measurement equivalents... good times) and adorable vintage apron into my cart and was on my way, completely hooked on this idea. I loved Julie and Julia, but this is not that. I will not be cooking through a cook book, especially Julia Child's.

The teacher in me feels the urge to organize my writing, prepare you for what you're about to read... so I'm going to do just that.

Why am I doing this?
I LOVE to cook, especially bake. There is something about having my own time to create yummy meals and treats for the people I love that brings joy to my heart. It's not a waste of money (like scrap booking-sorry all you scrappers!) because, well, a girl (and her husband) gotta eat! Trying new recipes is always fun, too. I love to taste something new, change ingredients, make things healthier, and, if possible, cheaper. As much as everyone enjoys a new, different recipe, new ingredients can cause your grocery bill to skyrocket. This is something I hate. Most of the time, I spend no more than $40/week on groceries for the two of us, and that includes heaps of fresh fruits and veggies. So, in this blog, I will only be trying recipes that meet the following criteria:

1. Include only pantry favorites/staples I already/usually have and a few more main ingredients.
2. Relatively healthy (this excludes all desserts, of course!)
3. Use ingredients bought on sale (especially meat!) or are relatively cheap all the time.

Pretty user friendly, I hope!

I will try new recipes, list them here, and give any tips I know of for shopping or substitutions. If anything, I hope you can add a few new recipes to your collection!

Our garage disposal has been "broken" since last Friday and couldn't get fixed until today (there was a dish rag and peach pit down there... woops!). Needless to say, Daniel and I have most likely supported several salaries at the Red Baron pizza company. Now that it is finally fixed, I'm back to actual cooking. Nothing special tonight, just grilled chicken salad (as in lettuce salad, not mayo-walnuts-eggs salad) with tons of fresh veggies and fruit for dessert. To christen my first post, I'll leave you with my FAVORITE recipe of all time. I can't believe I'm sharing it, but I guess that's the whole purpose of this blog. Enjoy it- it has become a favorite among many.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake!

In a Mixing Bowl, combine:
3 1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Tsp Baking Soda
2 Tsp Cinnamon
2 Tsp Nutmeg
2 tsp salt

Mix with spoon or spatula, make a well in the center. Add:

4 Eggs
1 Cup Oil
2 Cups Canned Pumpkin (1 Can)
2/3 Cup Water

Beat well, stir in:

1 Bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, floured (can use milk chocolate, but I don't know why you'd want to!)

Pour into 2 greased 9x13 pans and bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes, or until passes tooth pick test. Makes 30 LARGE pieces (you'll want it, trust me!) and can be served with a dusting of powdered sugar or cool whip.


Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!
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