I’m Cheap

cheesy-chicken-broccoli-casserole
One of my faaaavorite dishes growing up – cheesy chicken broccoli casserole. I think I requested it for my birthday dinner nearly every year. While I believe my taste buds have become a bit more ‘cultured’ over the years, this dish brings great feelings of nostalgia and I will love it forever. It is very fitting that I am posting this on the very day of my wonderful mother’s 60th birthday…as this is her recipe.
That being said, you will not find this dish anywhere in France. Interpret that how you wish.
Where you will find it, is Wisconsin.  Most recipes that include canned soup originated somewhere in Wisconsin.
Recipe
  • 2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 cups broccoli
  • 1 can cheddar cheese soup
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • Pinch curry powder
  • Pinch ground mustard (my add)
  • Dash Worcestershire (my add)
  • S&P
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Bake the chicken breasts (about 30 minutes at 350, drizzled with olive oil and S&P), and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Lightly steam the broccoli – about 2 minutes in the microwave. Leave the oven heated to 350.
Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, except the shredded cheddar. Make sure you don’t overdo the curry powder – that’s a sure fire way to ruin this casserole.
Layer the broccoli on the bottom of a casserole dish, followed by the chicken. Pour the cheese sauce over to cover completely. Top with shredded cheddar, and bake uncovered for 45 min. Let sit for a few minutes, then serve over rice.
Merry Christmas everyone! I will be busy eating other people’s food over the holidays, so I will see you in the New Year!
grilled-marinated-flank-steak
One word might come to mind when you think of grilled flank steak: ‘Why?’
Trust me, I had the same feeling, as my husband suggested it for dinner week after week. It just seems sort of lame. Of course, anything that is incredibly cheap, lean, and easy to prepare seems like a waste of time to me. But then I make something like this, a real winner, and I leave the kitchen feeling like I really accomplished something – an economical and effortless meal I could make for our future family of 8 while my husband picks everyone up from soccer practice. Just kidding, we would put them in gymnastics.

I think flank steak has to be marinated. It’s a very lean meat and highly benefits from the marinating process, giving it lots of juicy flavor. I’m in love with this marinade – you might see it on my next 6 posts. On chicken, on pork, on pizza, on ribs. I guess that’s just 4.

I marinated the steak overnight, but I think you could get away with just a few hours. I also made mini slits on the top of the steak to help the flavor really get in there.

Recipe

  • 1 lb flank steak (serves 3-4)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • couple dashes Worcestershire
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large ziploc bag, add the steak, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Heat your grill to high (450-500 degrees). I ran into a loooot of problems here. Texas is hot right now. So hot that I think grilling season might actually be over for the summer. I heated our grill to MEDIUM, and it was at 550 degrees within 3 minutes. It made our steak just a little more done than we would have liked (flank steak is best medium rare – ours turned out medium), but if you don’t live in Texas this shouldn’t be a problem.

Remove the steak from the marinade, and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. This will help form a nice crust on the steak. Grill the steak for about 4-5 minutes on each side, then remove and tent with foil for about 5 minutes before slicing. The next step is very important.

SLICE THE STEAK CROSSWISE AND AT A SLIGHT ANGLE IN VERY, VERY THIN PIECES.  If you don’t, you run the risk of my husband running into your kitchen and crying, ‘What are you doing??!!’ like you are burning down the house or something. I actually may have been better off burning down the house. I had no idea such rules applied to flank steak, so I am warning you ahead of time to save you from any future ridicule. I gladly handed over the knife to my husband for a ‘proper slicing,’ and I can even admit that his was better. It tastes good thin like that. Enjoy!

Apricot Balsamic Chicken

apricot-balsamic-chicken
I hope you all had a wonderful Father’s Day! We did, although we had neither of our dads to celebrate with us. We did, however, have a wonderful summer dinner in their honor, and I’m sure both of them would have been happy to eat it. I would send the leftovers, but that would be gross.
Apricot Balsamic Chicken – a make shift recipe filled with things I like. My favorite type of recipe. Also my least favorite type of recipe for blogging purposes, because once I get cooking it makes it very difficult for me to remember measurements, quantities, all the ingredients, etc. I don’t know how people with cookbooks do it sometimes – they must make things over and over until they get it just right. Well not me,  I don’t have time for that. I have a job. But this chicken was darn good so estimates will have to do.
Recipe
  • 2-3 lb bone-in chicken breasts and drumsticks, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil and/or butter
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 jar apricot preserves (it looked like a cup or so)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar
  • Several dashes Worcestershire
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh Thyme
  • Chicken broth – about 1-2 cup
Start by preheating the oven to 300 degrees. You will need to brown the outsides of the chicken, so you can either do this in the dutch oven you will be using, or on a hot grill. I opted for the grill, because it’s summer and it seemed like the right thing to do.  Heat either the grill or your burner to high (if grilling drizzle the chicken with olive oil, if using the stove heat plenty of olive oil in the pot),  and brown on each side – about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and sprinkle with S&P.
In the dutch oven, melt about a tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Add in the diced onion and cook for about 5-10 minutes. Pour in the balsamic, and let it reduce a little.  Add in the apricot preserves and then the brown sugar, because clearly there is not enough sugar in the preserves alone. Sprinkle in plenty of Worcestershire, and then throw in the Thyme. Mix well.  Place the chicken back in the pot, and mix around to coat. Pour in chicken broth until the chicken is nearly covered. Coat everything evenly. Place the chicken in the oven, and cook for 2 hours.  Remove the pot from the oven, and transfer the chicken to a plate; let rest for a few minutes before serving. Bring the sauce to a boil to let it thicken up – you can add a little corn starch (mixed with water) to help this process along. Brush the chicken with more sauce, then serve. If you are serving this for a dinner party, you will want to strain out the herbs. If you are serving this to your husband, who cares. This is verrrry delicious melt-in-your-mouth chicken.
shrimp-cocktail-sauce-off

There is a lot of talk about cocktail sauce in our house. I order it A LOT (more than anyone should), and so there is inevitably a good deal of discussion regarding the amount of horseradish and chili in the cocktail sauce.  As part of our super fun and easy Sam’s Club Dinner, there was a giant bag of frozen shrimp that needed to be incorporated. The shrimp, first of all, were awesome. Get frozen, cooked shrimp at Sam’s. Immediately. Second of all, the fact that a shrimp cocktail would ensue was inevitable. The sauce, however, was up for debate. What do you do in a situation like that? Have a competition against your husband for the best cocktail sauce.

The winner: Both of us. For two reasons:
1. His was really different in a fun and delicious way
2. I would never admit defeat in my own self-imposed competition

Recipe #1 is mine – very traditional, classic, cocktail sauce – a bit sweeter from the ketchup but has a good bite from the horseradish (add more or less to your liking).

Recipe #2 is John’s – the addition of dijon was a surprising and yet genius decision. His rationale is that we always eat crab claws with a mustard sauce, so why not shrimp? True John, true.

Recipe 1

  • 1/4 cup Heinz Chili Sauce
  • 1/3 cup Heinz Ketchup
  • 1 T. horseradish
  • 1 t. lemon juice
  • 1/4 t. worcestershire
  • Dash tabasco
  • S&P

Recipe 2

  • 1/2 cup Heinz Chili Sauce
  • 1 T. horseradish
  • 1 t. lemon juice
  • 1-2 t. dijon mustard
  • S&P

John’s recipe is estimated because he is ‘too cool for measuring,’ so adjust quantities to your liking.

Both sauces were enjoyed with a glass of wine and beautiful weather on the front porch…

My husband likes to run errands.  Any kind of errand, really; anything that will use up his seemingly never ending abundance of energy. On Saturday, he started them at 730AM, as I lazily slept upstairs. He came back hours later, with bags full of groceries from Sam’s. No, we don’t have 25 mouths to feed, but yes we love the great steals you can find at the place. Because I didn’t want anything he bought to go to waste, and because I like a good cooking challenge, and because I was shocked you could make a great meal this cheap – I cooked a Sam’s Club Dinner.

Recipes to follow (now posted hereand here)….

Shrimp Cocktail

Grilled Lamb Chops

Red Wine and Mushroom Sauce

Roasted Vegetables with Lemon, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt

…and a popover and potato skin thrown in to make sure we wouldn’t starve

Can we say frugal and resourceful? I think so.

Baked Ham Sandwiches

baked-ham-sandwiches
I’m about to introduce you to something that will change life as you know it.  Your previous life with typical, mundane ham sandwiches is over.  Thanks to Sarah Foster’s Southern Kitchen, (my favorite cookbook now that I indeed have a southern kitchen)…we now have ‘Ham and Cheese Rolls’ available to us.  They contain all the ingredients that I believe are great 100% of the time: ham … cheese … mustard … butter … worcestershire. They also involve ‘marinating’ and ‘baking’…..sold?
Luckily, this discovery coincided with planning our annual St. Patrick’s Day party. I was looking for a perfect party food that was super easy to make in large quantities, super delicious, and looked good with these balloons that my husband ordered a week in advance.
So I made the ham sandwiches. And let me tell you, they were a party hit. I made a few modifications to Sarah’s recipe….I took out the garlic (I don’t know why you would add garlic to all these other wonderful ingredients)…I took out the grated onion (same reason)…I added brown sugar (because it seemed natural, and WOW)…and I bought Hawaiian rolls from the store rather than made my own (I’m an underachiever).
Recipe (makes 12 small sandwiches)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 T Dijon Mustard
  • 1 T Worcestershire
  • 2 T Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 lb smoked ham, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb Swiss or Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
  • 12 Hawaiian rolls (or other slider bun of choice)
In a saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the dijon, worcestershire, and brown sugar. Bring to a low boil, remove from heat, and set aside.
In a baking dish (or aluminum foil pan for ease of cleanup, which is what I did)….assemble the Hawaiian rolls with the ham and cheese.
Pour the sauce over the sandwiches, cover and MARINATE for several hours or overnight.
The next day, or however long you were able to wait, place the sandwiches in a 350 degree oven and bake, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover the sandwiches and bake for another 10 minutes.
I made 48 sandwiches for the party. There were 6 left, and we ate the rest of them over the course of the next few days. I even caught myself lying to the neighbor on Sunday when he asked if we had any of those ham sandwiches left. Sorry, I said, we ate the last of them last night. Not my proudest moment.