Category Archives: Cheap and Friendly Family Meals

Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam

I posted this article back in April of 2013.  Here we are, about the same time SEVEN years later in the middle of a SIP Mode, and I’ve been needing to come up with more meal ideas than usual 🙂

So, I’ve been using my blog as a resource for different dishes to make with what I have on hand.  I’ve always got at least one can of Spam® in my pantry!

 

Spam is a wonderful thing, I’m talking about the canned meat, not that junk in your email box. In Hawaii, we make something called Spam Musubi (moo-sue-bee), it’s something like sushi I guess you could say.

I knew that Spam became very popular there during World War II, as well as much of the Pacific. The USArmy found that it was the most effect way to get meat to the soldiers.

I did a Google search on Spam and was simply fascinated. I won’t do any lengthy copy&paste for you, I’ll just hyperlink the Wikipedia article for you to read. One fact I do want to point out to you though, in the United States, Hawaii residents consume the most Spam per capita. Do I still count?

Teriyaki Spam Musubi

5 ½ – 6 cups cooked medium grain white Rice

1 can Spam, sliced equally into 8 pieces

2 sheets of Musubi Nori

Sauce:

¼ cup Brown Sugar

½ cup Soy Sauce (I love low sodium Aloha Shoyu)

1 Garlic clove, smashed

Steam the rice and allow to cool down enough to handle, but still warm.

In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients until the sugar dissolves, set aside.

In a dry skillet, brown the Spam well; set aside. Wipe out the pan, add in the sauce and bring to a bubble; add back in the spam, turning occasionally, until sauce thickens.

Time to assemble!

Place a piece a plastic wrap over a board. Cut each sheet of Nori in 4 equal pieces, there should be perforations to follow on the sheets. Place a piece of Nori shiny side down on the plastic and the Musubi form over the middle of it.

Fill the form with rice; press down very firmly with the top piece of the form that has been moistened with water.  While still holding down the handle of the top, carefully remove the form and top piece.

Place a slice of Spam over the rice; wrap the Nori tightly over the Spam and rice, damping the last edge with water to ensure it sticks to itself.

Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes, this softens the Nori a bit and makes much more pleasant to eat.

Unwrap and enjoy a little piece of Hawaii, preferable at the beach!  Back home, these yummy treats are enjoyed anytime of day or night.  They can be found just about anywhere, even at gas stations.

ALOHA!

Save Those Bones!

Talking about Soup … In my last post, I talked about making your own Stock.  This makes a wonderful base for many dishes, not just Soup.

 

 

Ever since the World fell off it’s axis and went bonkers, I have had a hard time finding Boneless-Skinless Chicken that I keep in my Deep Freeze.  No problem!  I found a 12 pound package of Bone-In/Skin-On fresh Chicken at Costco.  It’s honestly not that difficult to de-bone that bag of Yardbird, but please, please, PLEASE save those bones, oh and the skin too 😉

Get yourself a half sheet rimmed baking sheet, filled with those salvaged bones along with whatever Veggies you have that aren’t quite pretty enough for a meal.  I used limp Carrots, Celery and Onions from the Veg Bin. Toss the lot with some Olive Oil and S&P.  Pop that all into a hot oven, 450°, for about 30-40 minutes or until everything turns a lovely golden brown.

Next, break out a large Stock Pot, fill it with 8-12 cups of cool water.  Chuck in the contents of that sheet pan, along with about 2-3 Garlic Cloves-smashed (you don’t need to bother peeling them either), 2-3 tablespoons of whole Black Pepper Corns, 2-3 Bay Leaves and some leftover Parsley Stems, yes stems, they give the Stock and better taste than using the Leaves.

Bring this all to a gentle boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and skim off that “foam” that collects on the surface.  I like to cook this for about 4 hours or until any of that meat from the Bones falls off and the Veg Matter is quite soft.

 

 

Strain off the solids and reserve as much of the beautiful Stock as you can possibly squeeze out through a mesh strainer.  Now you can discard those Bones, they’ve given up all they can.

 

Save your cooled Homemade Stock however you like.  I’ll freeze some of it in an Ice Cube tray for recipes that call for a coupla tablespoons of Stock or Broth.

You just made about 2-3 quarts of lovely goodness that is low in sodium, fat and cost you NOTHING! 

Look What I Found!

 

Say what?!

16 ounces of Commercially made Soup for $4.99 + local taxes, I think anyways, is pretty dawg-gone steep!  That’s about 2 servings of Soup – a cup a piece.

 

 

I make my own broth …

 

 

… and then I make my own pot of Soup for pennies per serving.  Also, when you cook from scratch, you know exactly what’s in your dish.  Store bought or prepared foods, have SOOOOOO much sodium in it that’s not  good for you!  Whatever is leftover, I freeze for later in portion sizes.

Cook for your family!

 

 

Chicken and Mushroom Hot Dish

My husband and I have been in the SIP Mode now for just about TEN WEEKS! And it’s getting harder and harder to dream up dinner ideas. 

I stand there in front of the open `fridge or stare at the Deep Freeze Inventory Dry Erase Board and try to think of interesting, tasty, not-what-we-ate-last-night dishes.

I had de-frosted two boneless-skinless Chicken Thighs, had a handful of fresh Cremini Mushrooms that needed to get used up, 2 or 3 cups of Homemade Chicken Stock that should really go into the freezer, the ever present pot of steamed White Rice and of course my well stocked pantry with Onions and Garlic

Let’s throw this all together and call it a Hot Dish!

Chicken & Mushroom Hot Dish
Serves Two

2 B/S Chicken Thighs (or Breast Meat, whatever you have), diced
1 C. fresh Mushrooms, diced (Button, Cremini, even canned if you must, just heat those through)
1/2 C. Sweet White Onion, diced
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
2 Tbsp. Oil (Olive, Vegetable, Canola, what’s in your pantry)
1 Tbsp. fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, minced or 1 tsp. dried Parsley
2 C. Chicken Gravy **
S&P to taste

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the Oil over medium-high, once you see wisps of smoke, add the Mushrooms and sauté them to light golden.
Next add the Onion and cook til translucent; stir in the Garlic until it’s just fragrant. Transfer everything to a plate and set aside.
Add another tablespoon of Oil to the pan and heat until it shimmers; sauté the Chicken until cooked through, set aside with the Mushroom mixture.

** At this point, you can make your own Gravy in a snap.
Add 1 1/2 cups of Chicken Broth/Stock and scrape up any bits that got stuck to the bottom of the pan; bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium heat.
In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of Broth/Stock with 1/4 cup of Flour, whisk until there’s no more lumps. Slowly whisk this into the hot Broth/Stock and simmer until thickened. Taste of S&P.

OR

Add just a little water to the pan to de-glaze it, scraping up those lovely bits and add in a store bought Gravy and bring it to a simmer.

Either way, now we add back into the pan that Chicken and Mushroom mixture, give it a really good stir and bring it all to a simmer. Add in the Parsley and check for seasoning.


Serve warm over cooked Rice or Noodles.

And remember now, a recipe is simply someone else’s idea, you take it and make it your own.

A Dinner Request

Sometimes, you just want something simple, tasty, and nostalgic for dinner.

DH had made what I thought at first was an odd request for supper, “Let’s have Mac and Cheese with Hot Dogs one night”.

Okay!

I made a little more grown-up version of a School Lunch favorite with Trader Joe’s Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese, along with a lower sodium, tastier Hot Dog, cut up and pan-fried-crispy.  I thought that Peas & Carrots would really throw it all into the kiddo range, dont’cha think?

😀

Chicken and Snow Pea Stir-Fry

I’ve been thinking a lot about Cheap & Friendly Family Meals lately.  So many households need quick and inexpensive meal ideas; may I humbly suggest this one?

Auntie Doni’s Chicken and Snow Pea Stir-Fry

serves 4

3 B/S Chicken Thighs, diced

1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

8 oz. package Fresh Snow Peas

2 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced

3 Green Onion, chopped and divided

1/2 Tbsp. fresh Ginger, grated fine

1/4 tsp. White Pepper

1/4 C. Low Sodium Soy Sauce (you know we like Aloha Shoyu best!)

1/4 C. Chicken Broth

1/2 Tbsp. Corn Starch

1/2 tsp. Sesame Oil

 

In a large fry pan over medium-high, heat the Oil just til you see wisps of smoke. Sauté the Chicken until it get a little brown.  Now goes in the Snow Peas, Garlic, Ginger, half of the Green Onions and White Pepper, toss them with the Chicken and add maybe 2 tablespoons of water and cover.  Steam the veg to crisp-tender, this should take like 1-2 minutes, tops.

Combine the Shoyu, Broth and Corn Starch in a small bowl or measuring cup; pour over the Chicken and Veg and stir to combine.  The sauce will thicken and coat everything nicely.

Remove the pan from the heat and drizzle the Sesame Oil and sprinkle the remaining Green Onions over your finished dish.

Serve with Steamed Rice, Noodles or just by itself.

Here’s the break down of this dish:

Chicken $2.00 + Snow Peas $2.98 + everything else $1.50 = $6.48/4 servings = $1.64

WOW!!   😮

As always, a recipe is simply some else’s idea, you take it and make it your own.  Change out the protein and/or the veg, like Shrimp and Asparagus or Beef and Broccoli, the sky’s the limit.

 

**Cook’s note: if you like a saucier dish, double the Soy Sauce, Broth and Corn Starch.

Kielbasa and Cabbage

I was poking around again at Walmart and found this

We’ve eaten at Dickey’s BBQ Pit before and I thought that their Smoked Sausage wasn’t bad, hmmm

What if I made a Kielbasa and Cabbage dish with this?

YUM!

That was delicious !!  Oh, maybe I should write this down  😀

 

Auntie Doni’s Kielbasa and Cabbage

4 servings

1 Kielbasa (Dickey’s BBQ Smoked Sausage), sliced

2 C. Onion, chopped

2-3 C. Cabbage, chopped

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 tsp. Smoked Paprika

S & P to taste

 

In a Dutch Oven, heat 1 tablespoon of Olive oil over medium-high; sauté the Sausage until just crisp, remove to a plate and set aside

Add the remaining Oil and sauté the Onions until just starting to brown

Next add the Cabbage, Sausage, along with the Garlic and Paprika, give it all a good stir; turn the heat down to medium-low and cook until the Cabbage is crisp-tender.

Season to taste and serve

I like to serve this dish over wide Egg Noodles and maybe a nice piece of bread.

This is also a cheap & friendly family meal!  Here’s how I figure it:

Dickey’s Smoked Polish Sausage $2.98

Cabbage, Onion, Garlic, Spices $2.17

Wide Egg Noodles $0.50

Total $5.65 divided by 4 = $1.41 per serving, WOW!!   😮 

And as always, remember that a recipe is simply someone else’s idea, you take it and make it your own

ENJOY!

 

 

 

One-Pan Herb de Provence Chicken & Veg Supper

I keep hearing about Herb de Provence Roasted Chicken and wanted to try this for myself, but on a smaller scale, and with vegetables.

DONE!

Geez, I really should write this down, that was really tasty AND I got a big thumbs up from DH.

 

Auntie Doni’s One-Pan Herb de Provence Chicken & Veg Supper

Serves 2+

3 B/S Chicken Thighs

1 C. New Potatoes, halved

1 C. Baby Carrots

1/2 C. Onions, chopped

2 Tbsp. White Wine

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

2 tsp. Herb de Provence

1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350⁰

Line a sheet pan with Tin Foil

In a small bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients

In a large bowl add the Chicken & Veg, pour the Wine and Oil over everything, coat everything well

Sprinkle in the Spice mixture and evenly distribute over the Chicken and Veggies

Spread into the prepared sheet pan in a single layer

Roast for about 45 minutes, turning everything half way through

Cooking until the Chicken registers 165⁰; the Vegetables should be done at this point too

MMM!

Remember that a recipe is just someone else’s idea, take it and make it your own

ENJOY!

New Mexico-Style Chicken Green Chile Stew

I belong to a wonderful Food Forum online and one of the gals was talking about a New Mexico dish that she makes her own way… it sounded fabulous!  In New Mexico, Chile Verde is big, but it’s made with Tomatillos, which neither my husband nor I care for.  Her riff on this lovely stew was to use her homemade Green Chile Sauce instead.

I adore Green Chile Sauce, but don’t make my own, rather I use Hatch® Brand Green Chile Enchilada Sauce,  mild please, as well as their canned Chiles.

💡

How about we try our own version of New Mexico-style Chicken Green Chile Stew …

 

Auntie Doni’s New Mexico-Style Chicken Green Chile Stew

Serves 4

1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

½  C. each: Chopped Onions, Carrots & Celery

1 C. Corn Kernels, frozen, canned or fresh

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. Cilantro, minced

1 tsp. dried Oregano

½ Tbsp. ground Coriander *

½ tsp. ground Cumin

1/8 tsp. Smoked Paprika

2  Hatch® Brand Whole Green Chiles (about ½ C.), canned or fresh roasted, chopped

1 15 oz. can Diced Tomatoes

2 C. cooked & shredded Chicken Meat **

1 C. Hatch®  Brand Green Chile Sauce (aka Enchilada Sauce)

3 C. Chicken Stock or Broth **

1 small can (approx. 8oz.) Creamed Corn

2 C. New Potato, cooked & diced, canned or fresh

S&P to taste

 

In a Dutch Oven, heat the Oil over medium-high.

Add the 1st four ingredients and sauté until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

Add in the next 6 ingredients and stir until fragrant.

Next goes in the following 6 ingredients and bring to a boil.

Lastly, add in the Potatoes, reduce to a simmer and cover partially.

Cook for 20 minutes and adjust your seasonings with Salt and Pepper to taste.

I made a small-ish batch this first go-around, but I did freeze half of it, and it re-heated beautifully.  I’ll be making another batch to freeze and have on hand for a quick meal.

YUM!

Remember, a recipe is simply someone else’s idea, you take it and make it your own.  I used Hatch® Brand, that’s what we like, you use what your family likes.

*Cook’s Note: I think I may lessen the amount of Coriander next time, it was a bit over-powering a taste, IMHO

** Cook’s Second Note: I poached about 4 bone-in/skin-on Chicken Thighs in some leftover Onion, Carrot and Celery discards that I save in the freezer; cooled and pulled the meat and saved the cooking liquid (aka stock or broth if you use b/s Chicken) for this recipe, as I do for many others… saves money 😉

Tuna “Not Like The Lunch Hall” Casserole

I have this recipe that I pulled out of one of the first issues of Rachael Ray’s Magazine and I adapted it just a bit to our liking, but that’s what recipes are all about, right?

Auntie Doni’s Tuna Casserole 

½ lb. Barilla Whole Wheat Medium Shells

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

4 Tbsp. Butter

1 C. minced Onion

1 C. minced Celery

½ C. minced Red Bell Pepper

1 Tbsp. Flour

½ C. Dry White Wine (like a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, something you would drink, NOT cooking wine, EVER)

½ C. Chicken broth

1 C. Half and Half

1 C. frozen Peas

2 seven ounce cans of Tuna, drained and flaked

1 ½ C. Bread Crumbs (make your own, fresh is better then that stuff in a can)

Cook the pasta to desired doneness, I always take it 1 minute longer than the directions on the box say. Drain well and set aside.

In a large, deep pan (* I have Rachael Ray’s pasta pot, so I use this to boil the pasta and make the sauce, see below) over medium heat, sauté the onions and celery with the Olive Oil and 1 tablespoon of the Butter, for about 3 minutes or so, don’t brown the veg.

Add in the Red Bell Peppers and cook for about a minute.

Stir in the flour and cook for about another minute. Mix in the wine and reduce for 1 minute. Now whisk in the broth and bring to a boil to thicken.

Turn the heat down to low and stir in the half & half; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Throw in the peas, tuna and cooked shells, fold everything together and leave to heat through.

Preheat the broiler.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large microwaveable bowl (I use my big Pyrex measuring cup). This is optional, but I like to swirl in a couple dashes of hot sauce and then mix in the bread crumbs.

Spoon the Tuna mixture into a 9X13 inch ovenproof dish and top with the buttered bread crumbs. Pop the casserole under the broiler just long enough to brown the top and then …

Tuna "Not" Casserole

Let’s eat!

For our new neighbors

This makes too much for the two of us to eat in one sitting, so I split the recipe and this time I put half into a disposable aluminum pan to share with our new neighbors, who I know were too busy to make dinner.

Served with a green salad and the rest of that bottle of dry white wine and that’s dinner or lunch if you like.

When DH asked what we were having for dinner and I said Tuna Casserole, I got, “EW! I don’t like that”. Hmmm, really? Then why is it all gone? AND  why did you ask me, “Why are you giving away good food to the neighbor?”

Rachael Ray's Pasta Pot

*This is my new favorite pot!

Enjoy