Posts Tagged ‘5 dollar dinners’

Coconut Curry Chicken and Baked Coconut Brown Rice

September 28, 2009

This is my third successful installment of 3 Mondays of $5 Dinner Challenges.  This means, each Monday I’ve been cooking a meal for 2 adults and 2 children for around $5.  Here’s the real challenge, though:  I do it while maintaining my commitment to eat mostly local and organic vegetables and humanely raised meats.  For this final meal, I made Coconut Curry Chicken and Baked Brown Rice for $6.96.

This meal was really fun to do because we don’t often do curries in our house.  It is a super simple recipe for the new-to-curry crowd that will impress your family.  The sweet coconut milk is perfectly suited to these warm savory spices.  Baking the rice assures a perfect result every time that doesn’t stick to the pan and is done without a rice cooker.  I used leeks, but it would be even easier and just as tasty made with onions and you can throw them in with the rest of the vegetables instead of having to cook separately like I did with the leeks.  Here’s how made this fantastic meal for just under seven dollars:

Prices and Products

  • 1 tbsp. expeller pressed canola oil: $0.10
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) organic coconut milk: $0.50
  • 4 white mushrooms (0.15 lb.) : $0.47 (10% off)
  • 1/2 of an organic leek (0.275 lb.): $0.44
  • 1/2 of an organic carrot: $0.20 (10% off)
  • handful of organic snow peas: $0.45 (10% off)
  • small organic green bell pepper: $0.67 (10% off)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder: $0.50
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar: $0.01
  • 14.74 oz. organic, sustainably raised chicken: $2.81 (10% off)
  • 1 cup (uncooked) brown basmati:  $0.81
  • 1/2 tsp. salt: negligible

How I got these great deals:

  • The best deal of the day was the organic coconut milk which is normally more than two bucks a can.  Whole Foods was having a sale for $1.50 a can plus I had a dollar off coupon for any Thai Kitchen brand product (you can print this coupon from Yahoo Deals too – expires at the end of the year.)
  • I used my monthly 10% off coupon at PCC for all the groceries marked as “10% off” above.  It really does add up to some savings.  I would have done better on the veggies to go to the farmer’s market though.  Unfortunately there’s not time for that every week.

Recipes

Coconut Curry Chicken and Vegetables

You will need:

  • 1/2 can coconut milk (about 7 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken thigh meat (about 15 ounces before skinning and deboning), cut into large bite-size pieces 
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 of a leek (lengthwise half), sliced crosswise every 1/2 inch
  • 2 1/2 cups bite-sized pieces of vegetables (ex. mushrooms, carrot, bell pepper, snow peas)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thair basil (optional), rough chopped

Put it together:

  • Heat 1/2 tbsp. oil in wok (or large skillet) on medium heat.  When hot, add leeks and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Transfer leeks to bowl and set aside.
  • Add 1/2 tbsp. oil to wok, still on medium heat.  When hot, add chicken and cook until no longer pink in the middle, stirring occasionally.  Transfer chicken to a bowl and set aside.
  • Bring coconut milk and water to simmer in wok on medium heat
  • Add brown sugar and curry powder and stir until well blended.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Add in chicken and all vegetables except for the leeks.  Cook about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp.  Toss in leeks and serve.  Optional:  garnish with Thai basil

Baked Coconut Rice (Serves 4). 

You will need:

  • 2 T oil (e.g. Canola)
  • 1/2 can coconut milk (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice (ex. basmati)

Put it together:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil.
  • Wash rice. Lightly brown the rice in oil in a fry pan.  Transfer to a 1 1/2 quart ovenproof dish. 
  • Pour coconut milk mixture over the rice, take caution because this can create a lot of hot steam.
  • Bake covered for 50 to 60 minutes, until rice is tender and fluffy and moisture has been absorbed.
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$5 Dinner Challenge: Australian Zucchini Slice

September 7, 2009

This is my second installment of 3 Mondays of $5 Dinner Challenges.  This means, each Monday I’ve been cooking a meal for 2 adults and 2 children for around $5, although this week’s dish will serve 4 to 6.  Here’s the real challenge, though:  I do it while maintaining my commitment to eat mostly local and organic vegetables and humanely raised meats.  For this second meal, I made Australian Zucchini Slice for $6.25.

My husband learned to cook this dish in home ec. class in Australia and when he moved to the states he wrote home for it.  I’m so glad he did because it is a great go-to recipe for brunches or anytime you need a hearty one-dish meal.  Fresh local eggs give this all-around family favorite a lovely rise.  This is one of the few egg dishes that I add the onions to still raw.  This recipe bakes long enough to soften and sweeten them, but still leaving a garden flavor.  A scoop of organic flour makes for a perfectly soft texture throughout.  Of course no recipe of my husband’s would be complete without smokey bacon, but I’ve made it vegetarian before and that’s great too!

I’ve included both the original Australian recipe and the converted American recipe, so hopefully no matter which side of the globe you’re on you’ll find it accessible.  The American version calls for whole wheat pastry flour, since that’s what we use in our household, but the original is white flour.  I’ve also noticed that I usually have to increase cooking times when making Aussie dishes, so the American one’s cooking time is longer.  (My guess is the difference in humidity causes this.)

Here’s how I made this fantastic meal for just over six bucks:

Prices and Products

  • 13 oz. local, certified organic zucchini from farmer’s market:  $0.75
  • 1 large local, certified organic onion from farmer’s market: $0.65
  • 3 rashers bacon (no animal byproducts or antibiotics in the animal’s feed or added hormones): $1.40
  • 4 oz. local, co-op owned, non-BGH cheddar (Tillamook): $1.00
  • 1 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour: $0.34
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder: $0.05
  • 1/2 cup expeller pressed canola oil: $0.81
  • 5 eggs from my friend’s happy backyard chickens: $1.25
  • Couple dashes of salt and pepper:  negligible

How I got these great deals:

  • I chose this dish because I knew zucchini and onions were in abundance locally right now, so was able to get excellent prices at the farmer’s market.  The onions were originally 75 cents each, but I only had 65 cents on me and the farmer had onions coming out her ears and was happy to take it.
  • I looked on the websites for my local grocery stores for specials on Tillamook cheese.  This brand is so popular here that usually someone has a sale.  Sure enough, in my local QFC’s online sale flyer, it was $3.99 for 1 lb.  You can get even better deals if you buy a larger brick, but we’d never go through it all.  It’s not a great deal if you throw half away!
  • My friend Angie is super into gardening and raising chickens naturally.  She sells the eggs of these “happy backyard chickens” for $3.00 a dozen.  This is a great way to get truly free-range eggs at a discount price.  Don’t think you have to live out in the sticks to do this either.  We’re in a suburb right outside of Seattle and it’s quite common for people to raise chickens.  Just ask around.  I bet you’ll find someone.

Recipes

Zucchini Slice (American recipe) Serves 4 to 6.

You will need:

  • 13 oz (0.83 lb) zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 rashers (slices) bacon
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 5 eggs
  • salt, pepper

Put it together:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grate unpeeled zucchini coarsely, fine chop onion and bacon.
  • Fry bacon over medium heat until lightly browned on both sides.
  • Sift together flour, 1 1/2 tsp. salt and baking powder.
  • Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, sifted flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour into well-greased 2-quart casserole dish.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until browned.

Before Oven:

After Oven:

Zucchini Slice (original recipe)

  • 375 g zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 rashers bacon
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 5 eggs
  • salt, pepper

Grate unpeeled zucchini coarsely, fine chop onion and bacon.  Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, sifted flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs, season with salt and pepper.  Pour into well-greased lamington tin (base measure 16 cm x 26 cm), bake in moderate oven 30 to 40 minutes or until browned.  Serves 4 to 6.

$5 Dinner Challenge: Olive Oil & Rosemary Chicken with Pearled Barley & Green Beans

August 31, 2009

challenge

“We are a one income family living in a two income world!” Erin, $5 Dinners

That quote really resonated with me and so I decided to challenge myself to three Mondays of $5 Dinner Challenges.  This means, each Monday I will cook a meal for 2 adults and 2 children for around $5.  Here’s the real challenge, though:  I will do it while maintaining my commitment to eat mostly local and organic vegetables and humanely raised meats.  For my inaugural meal, I made Olive Oil & Rosemary Chicken with Pearled Barley & Green Beans for $5.61.

The great thing about this meal is that it is one of the tastiest I’ve made lately.  The chicken was crispy and not over seasoned with a hint of rosemary.  The green beans were flavorful and crisp and since the barley was simmered in chicken stock, it complemented the meal perfectly.  Here’s how made this fantastic meal for just over five bucks:

Prices and Products

  • 1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary from my garden:  free
  • 1/2 tbsp. organic, cold pressed, Extra Virgin Olive Oil: $0.10
  • 1.09 lbs. chicken thighs (no animal byproducts or antibiotics in the animal’s feed or added hormones): $2.99
  • 1 cup dry organic pearled barley (each serving has 30% of your daily dietary fiber requirement): $0.69
  • 1 cup home-made organic, free range chicken stock with local veggies, good wine and home-grown herbs $0.76
  • 0.75 lb. local, pesticide-free green beans from farmer’s market: $1.07
  • Couple dashes of salt and pepper:  negligible

How I got these great deals:

  • I’d heard from my friend Elisa that the end of the day at the farmer’s market is a good time to bargain with the farmers, so I went ten minutes to closing and talked the farmer down from $2/lb to $1/lb on the green beans.
  • I told the butcher at Whole Foods about this really cool dinner challenge I was doing and he helped me pick out the pieces of chicken that were the best value and (don’t tell anyone!) did a little rounding down on the price.
  • I made the chicken stock from the left over carcass and offal from last week’s roast chicken, tasty wine that hubby found a great deal on, left over veggies from last week and herbs from my garden.

Recipes

Rosemary and Olive Oil Chicken Thighs

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Combine 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary and a dash each of sea salt and fresh ground pepper in a small bowl.
  • Wash and pat dry 1 lb bone-in, skin on chicken thighs.
  • Rub thighs with olive oil mix
  • Bake at 400 for about 45 minutes (until skin is golden brown and temp. is 165)

Barley Cooked in Chicken Stock

  • Cook 1 cup pearled barley according to instructions on package, replacing 1 cup of water with 1 cup of chicken stock (usually 1 cup dried barley for 3 cups liquid, simmer, covered for 1 hr 15 min.)

Steamed Green Beans

  • Cook 3/4 lb. green beans in steamer basket over one inch of water in covered pot on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached, but color is still bright green.