Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Green Bean and Chicken Rice Casserole

Who doesn't love Green Bean Casserole?  I have found and tested a recipe that is a perfect marriage between chicken and rice, and green bean casserole.  It is fabulous!  Be brave!  Give it a try.  The flavor is delicious. 


1 6oz pkg of long grain and wild rice             1.00
4 C cooked and cubed chicken                       3.84
1 pkg frozen french cut green beans             1.00
1 med onion--chopped                                      .40
1 green pepper--chopped                                 .77
1 envelope onion soup mix                               .50
1 can 98% fat free cream of mushrooms       1.50
1 can 98% fat free broccoli cheese soup         1.50
1 bag fried onions (yum!)                                 3.29
1 can mushrooms (yuck!)                                  .50

    I forgot to put the mushies in the photo...so here they are in all their glory.  

Prepare the rice to the box directions.  Meanwhile, mix all the remaining ingredients but the mushies and fried onions together in a large mixing bowl.  Add a little salt (you get some salt from the onion soup mix) pepper and all purpose seasoning to taste.  When the rice is done you can pour that in the bowl and mix it all up. 

Then you split the mixture into two 8x8 inch pans.  Carefully put mushrooms on half of each casserole.  Label the foil to include the name of the casserole, cooking directions and location of the mushrooms. 

Bake one at 350 degrees for 60 min.   Uncover and top with half the fried onions.  Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and bake 5 more min to brown the topping.   The other casserole can go into the freezer for a later dinner.   Put the leftover fried onions in the cabinet so it will be ready when you eat the other dish. 

Are you drooling yet?  How about our bowls?

Just make sure your husband gets the bowl with the mushrooms, and you get the one without them!  I made two casseroles for $7.15 each.  I know I can do better on the price, but I paid top dollar for the condensed soup and green pepper.  I was away from my usual grocery store and had to stop at another one. 
Christie aka Keeza


Friday, October 22, 2010

Broccoli, Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This is a wonderfully comforting meal.  This is a creamy soup that has a lot of flavor and color.   It's a great way to use leftover turkey after Thanksgiving.


1 6oz box of long grain wild rice mix                     1.00
   (don't be tempted to use two boxes...
            it's a disaster!)
1 bag frozen baby broccoli florets                         1.78
2 carrots--peeled and shredded                             .40
1 onion--chopped                                                      .40
3 C chicken cooked and chopped                           3.84
                (equally tasty with turkey)
1 can reduced fat cream of chicken soup                .78
4 oz reduced fat cream cheese                                 .60
1 tsp chicken base or one chicken bullion cube      .10
salt, pepper, and all purpose seasoning to taste
7 C water


In a large saucepan mix rice, water, seasoning packet  and chicken base/bullion and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 min.  Add broccoli, carrot and onion and cover.  Simmer 10 min.  Stir in cream of chicken soup and cream cheese.  Add in chicken and warm through.  Taste and add salt, pepper and all purpose seasoning to taste. 

This makes a great meal to cuddle up with on a cold evening and a great meal to bring to a friend that just had surgery or a baby.  I made 3 meals for $2.96 each. 

 This soup would also taste great with a little diced red pepper and sweet corn.  Yum!  I hope you give this a try.

Christie aka Keeza

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Norma's Chili

This is a fabulous chili recipe that I adapted from a family friend in Long Beach, California.  I reduced the amount of beans and increased the veggies.  Feel free to play around with the kids of beans and add more veggies like zucchini or spinach.


2lbs lean ground beef                      6.36
2 Large cans crushed tomatoes     1.86
1 can butter beans                             .97
1 can light red kidney beans            .66
medium onion--chopped                  .40
green pepper--chopped                    .50
3 celery stalks--chopped                  .25
2 carrots--peeled and grated           .20
2 garlic cloves--minced                     .10
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin


In a medium pan brown the ground beef and drain off any grease.  Drain the beans.  Add the tomatoes, beans, ground beef, veggies, garlic and seasoning to a crock pot.  Mine looked a little thick so I added 1/2 a cup of water.  You can thin yours out with a little tomato sauce.  Stir well. 

Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours.  I like to top our chili with sour cream, green onions, cheddar cheese, jalapenos or tortilla chips.  You can use any combination of these topping or none. 

I was able to make 3 meals at $3.77 without the cost of toppings.  With toppings, probably around 5 bucks a meal. 

Yum!  Enjoy!
Christie aka Keeza

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Grandma Betty's Bran Muffins

By popular demand....here is Grandma's bran muffin recipe!  I must admit, this is the skinny version.  If you would like to make the original version follow the recipe but pay attention to the parenthesis in the ingredient list. 


1 1/2 C Splends's sugar blend for baking
             (or 3 C white sugar)
5 C all purpose flour
5 tsp baking soda
3 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon (omit for original)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (omit for original)

1/2 C unsweetened apple sauce (omit for original)
1/2 C vegetable oil  (1 C oil)
1 C egg beaters (4 eggs beaten)
4 C buttermilk
2 C water

4 C all bran cereal
2 C bran flakes


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix first group of ingredients--sugar through nutmeg-- in a giant mixing bowl with a spoon.  Next mix in the wet ingredients one at a time--applesauce through water--into the dry ingredients with a hand mixer.  If you mix in this order you wont have any clumps of flour in your batter.  Lastly stir in all bran and bran flakes with a spoon.  The batter will start out wet and get thicker the longer it sets.  This is normal and you do not need to thin it out.

The batter will keep well in the fridge, so if you need to run out and pick up the kids, just pop the bowl in the fridge and finish baking when you get back.  Next grease or spray muffin tins to prevent sticking.  Pour batter into muffin tins until they are 3/4 full.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 min or until the tops are golden brown.

Then I run a knife around the outside of each muffin and move them to a plate to cool for an hour. 

Aren't they cute?  Once they've cooled enough to handle I move them to a freezer bag to store.  I put one bag in the fridge and two bags in the freezer.

 These will last for several weeks, maybe even two to three months.  They are great for breakfast or a snack.  We like to cut them in half, microwave them for 10 seconds to warm them and spread them with a little margarine.  They have a great flavor of cinnamon.  Your house will smell like Grandma's come over! 
I did not calculate how much each muffin costs because the thought of calculating 5 tsp baking soda makes my head spin!  But I get 72 muffins (6 dozen) out of this recipe. 

Christie aka Keeza

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spinach, Artichoke and Chicken Pasta

When I was a little kid growing up in Southern California my whole family would eat artichokes for dinner.  Mom would boil them on the stove and we would sit around the table for what felt like hours peeling back each leaf and dipping them in butter and scraping the soft goodness on our bottom teeth.  Who wouldn't love an artichoke?  I guess my husband doesn't.  I assumed all families steamed artichokes for dinner in the spring, but I guess that wasn't a big tradition here in West Michigan.  When we were first married I made James one for dinner and he said, "What is that?!"  Ha ha ha.  When I make this meal for him I cut the canned artichoke hearts up into small pieces and I tell him it's Spinach and Chicken pasta.  He eats it all up and never complains.  =)


3 C cooked chicken-chopped      3.84
1 lb penne pasta                            1.00
1 med onion--chopped                  .40
1 clove garlic--minced                    .05
1 box chopped frozen spinach     1.42
      (thawed and drained)
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts        2.42
         (make sure not to get the marinated ones)
3 Tbsp margarine
3 Tbsp flour
2 C skim milk                                 .30
1 1/2 C chicken broth                   .50
4 oz provolone                              1.18
   (shredded is best, all I can find is sliced--which I chop into small pieces)
3 oz shredded Parmesan             .98
S&P and a pinch of nutmeg to taste


Heat water in a large pot and cook the penne once the water comes to a boil.  My box recommended 11-13 minutes, so I cooked it to the lowest recommended time.   Meanwhile in another large saucepan heat the margarine, onions and minced garlic over med-low heat.  When onions are soft add the flour and stir well.  Gradually stir in milk and chicken broth to form a slightly thick sauce.  (it should be thinner than gravy)  Add salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg to taste.  Slowly stir in Parmesan and chopped up provolone.  The provolone makes the sauce a little sticky and stringy.  If you like smoother less gooey sauce, then just add more Parmesan and skip the provolone.  I like the provolone because it has a great tang.  Turn the heat to low and stir in drained thawed spinach and the chicken.  To disguise the artichokes, I chop off the end and quarter the remaining layers.

  Stir the sauce really well to incorporate the spinach, artichokes and chicken in the ooey gooey sauce.

Yum!  Doesn't that look like spinach and artichoke dip?  Mmmm  mmmh!  Turn the heat off.  Drain the pasta, and mix the pasta into the sauce untill well incorporated.
See?  You can hardly tell there is artichokes in there!  But this pasta tastes sooooo good.  It's like penne Alfredo and spinach & artichoke dip all mixed together.  I made three pans for $4.03.  One I put in oven to bake for dinner.  The other two went into the freezer for a later date.

Thaw for 1-2 days in the fridge.  Then bake covered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. 

Christie aka Keeza

Shepherd's Pie

I know, I know.  Not everyone is a casserole fan.  So if you don't like all your food touching please skip this entry and tune in later.  This week I will also be posting a fabulous penne pasta with chicken, artichokes and spinach.  Yum!  Then this weekend, I'm going to be baking Grandma Betty's Bran Muffins and they freeze beautifully! 


3lbs red skinned potatoes          2.10
1 clove garlic--minced                   .05
1/4 cup skim milk                          
2lbs lean ground beef                  6.36
1 tbsp steak seasoning
one medium onion--chopped       .40
3Tbsp margarine
3Tbsp flour
5 C beef broth                               1.00
1 bag mixed frozen vegetables     .98


Rinse and chop the potatoes into 1 1/2 inch cubes.  Add the garlic and cover with water in a large pot.  Boil until fork tender.  I like to leave the skins on, but you can substitute white potatoes and peel them.

In another large sauce pan brown the ground beef with the steak seasoning.  Remove and drain.  Add margarine and onion into pan and saute 3 minutes until soft.  Add the four and stir well to form a roux.  Gradually add in beef broth and cook until slightly thick.  Add in the vegetables and beef and heat through.  Pour into three 8x8 pans. 

At this point I like to put the pans in a flat spot in the freezer to let the beef mixture set up.  It makes it easier to top the beef mixture with the potatoes so the potatoes don't sink in.  Meanwhile drain the potatoes and mash them in a big bowl with the milk and some salt and pepper to taste.   I like to use a hand mixer. 

Once the beef mixture has been in the freezer for about an hour and the mashed potatoes have cooled.  Put the potatoes on top of the beef mixture in large spoonfuls. 

Top with foil and freeze.  When ready to cook, let thaw in fridge (2 days would be best) then bake covered at 350 degrees for one hour.   This makes great leftovers for lunches.  Yummy!  I was able to make 3 dinners for $3.63 each.

Enjoy!  Christie aka Keeza

Friday, October 1, 2010

Beef Fajitas

I have tried several fajita recipes and this is by far my favorite.  The beef is shredded (a little closer to a carnita) and it comes out so tender and flavorful.  I use the crock pot to do all the work for me, and then put the leftovers in a freezer container so I have a second meal ready to go later in the month.


1 1/2-2 lbs steak (round, flank, sirloin)         8.09
14-20 oz diced tomatoes
            with green chilies--drained                  1.36
2 oz canned diced jalapeno pepper                   .44
1 envelope fajita seasoning                                .78
1 onion--sliced                                                     .30
1 green pepper--sliced                                       .50
10    12 inch flour tortillas                                2.24
salsa                                                                    3.48
sour cream                                                         1.97
shredded cheddar cheese                                1.96
cilantro                                                                 .74

Directions:  In a crock pot layer the beef, the seasoning, the drained tomatoes, the jalapenos and sliced onions.  Put it on low for about 7 hours, then go run errands, go to work or take the kids to school.  This first step takes less than 1o min!

About 1 hour before meal time shred the beef with a couple of forks, or transfer the meat to a cutting board and slice it with the grain and return it back to the crock pot.  If it seems too wet you can ladle out some extra liquid.  Slice the green peppers and stir them into the crock pot beef mixture.  Close the lid and cook on low for one more hour. 

When you're ready to eat assemble into flour tortillas and top as desired with cheese, sour cream, cilantro and salsa.  I made rice to go along with our meal and my husband likes to put that in his fajita too. 

This meal is very flavorful!  You can leave out the jalapenos for delicate palates and small children.  But the beef comes out soft and tender.  I made two meals for $10.93.  I froze the rest of the meat mixture, the remaining tortilla shells and the shredded cheese. 

I hope you like this meal as much as we do! 

Christie aka Keeza