Monday, November 8

Make Ahead Monday: Chili

When my husband and I were in college, one of the "things to do" in that small town was to go to a burger chain there called Steak'N'Shake.  It was super yummy!  Almost everything they serve is wonderful, but one thing I especially love there is their chili.  We searched long and hard to find a chili that compared and finally I found a knock-off recipe online.  After a few minor tweaks here is what we ended up with.  We really enjoy this hearty meal during the colder months, but have even been known to enjoy it in the spring and summer!  Even better is what a frugal meal this is (though not completely healthy as I have yet to find a good substitute for the cola) and the fact that it is done in the slow cooker AND it freezes well for a quick meal!

Steak'N'Shake Style Chili

2 T oil
1 lbs ground beef
½ t salt
1 T chili powder
2 t ground cumin
½ t pepper
2 t cocoa
3 (15 oz) cans chili/kidney beans
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup cola (not diet)

Brown ground beef and salt in oil – if there is a high fat content to the ground beef you can omit the oil (I usually do).
Drain meat and add to slow cooker.  Add remaining ingredients and stir.
Let simmer on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours.

To Freeze: Mix ingredients together and transfer to freezer bag (or other container for freezing).  I usually double bag soup style dinners to prevent leakage when thawing.  Also be sure to write the date and directions for cooking on the bag.  Take out of freezer the day before to thaw (or thaw in cool water in sink--will probably take a few hours), place in slow cooker morning/afternoon you want to enjoy and follow cooking instructions.

**Frugal Tip: You can cut the amount of ground beef in half and add more beans to make this stretch further and be cheaper.

Monday, November 1

Make Ahead Monday: Chicken Cordon Bleu

This recipe isn't as frugal as most of the others I have or will post, but it is super yummy!  It is something I usually make for special occasions with my husband as some of the ingredients are usually on my regular shopping list (boneless, skinless chicken breast being one of them).  My husband also enjoys the leftover ham and swiss cheese for sandwiches the following week ;)

Chicken Cordon Bleu

6 4-oz boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
6 thin ham slices
6 slices swiss cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup 
1/4 c white wine or chicken stock (I never have wine in the house)
1/4 c nonfat sour cream
1 T dijon (or spicy brown) mustard
1 c mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 t minced garlic
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 t salt (preferably kosher or sea salt)
1/2 t black pepper
2 scallions, chopped (optional)

Putting the dinner together:
  1. Place the chicken breasts on a plastic cutting board.  Arrange a slice of ham and swiss cheese on top of each one.  Roll each chicken breast tightly and secure with a toothpick.  
  2. Place the rolled breasts in the prepared baking dish(es).  
  3. In a bowl, combine the soup, wine, sour cream, mustard, mushrooms, garlic, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and mix thoroughly.  
  4. Pour the mixture over the chicken.  
  5. Sprinkle with the scallions.

For dinner tonight:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.

To freeze:
Cover the dishes with plastic wrap and heavy-duty aluminum foil.  Label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator before cooking as directed above.

***Frugal Tip:  Since I only make this for the two of us, I usually cook 3 portions (one for each for dinner and one lunch for the next day) and freeze the other three.  So, theoretically, if you doubled this recipe you could make enough meals for 4 nights.