Saturday, January 31, 2015

Decorated Shortbread Cookies


I absolutely love shortbread cookies because they are so easy to make, the dough rolls out nicely and the recipe is great for making holiday cut out cookies. There's only three ingredients in the recipe: butter, flour and confectioner's sugar. They taste delicious.

For a little added pizzazz pick up a bag of Wilton's Candy Melts for the icing. You can pipe on writing and decorations or dip the cookies or frost by using a spatula. These handy little candy melts I found at Joann's Fabric store. A 12 ounce bag cost me $2.24! You get about 36 cookies per batch and they me cost right around $2.80 to make plain; with frosting about a dollar more as I did not use all the melted candy. Basically it's about ten cents a cookie so you can never go wrong budget wise with shortbread cookies.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Garlic and Herb Crusted Pork Loin


Roasted pork loins have been made and blogged about over and over here at Cooking On A Budget. I have oven roasted, rotisserie roasted, grilled and even done an Asian style in the slow cooker. All of the recipes have been delicious and successful.

Cooking on a budget means you may have limited funds available but it in no way implies that you sacrifice on taste. This Garlic and Herb Crusted Pork Loin is no exception as it is downright succulent and juicy. Not to mention the fact that the herb crust greatly enhances the taste and overall flavor of the roast. It's simply divine. This meal is one that you will be proud to serve your family and just as proud to serve guests as the look of it when it comes out of the oven, (not to mention the aroma while roasting) looks like something you would get at a fine dining restaurant.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Smashed Yukon Gold Taters


The night that we had Pork Chops with Orange Sauce I did a side of Yukon gold potatoes. The method I used was one I had seen quite some time ago and since I also had some fresh Thyme that got incorporated into this simple recipe.

My initial idea was to get them crispy brown almost like you would a home fry but honestly missed the mark slightly. I believe if I had split the potatoes in half instead of leaving them whole that I would have had more success. Despite that, the potatoes were marvelous.

This method is wonderful and it's so easy it's not really a recipe but rather a guide to go about achieving a great tasting potato.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tyson's Crispy Chicken Parmigiana


When asked to compete in a recipe contest for Tyson's Crispy Chicken Strips by The Daily Meal I was to say the least excited about the challenge. The task was to create a recipe that would be judged by the following criteria:
  • versatility
  • creativity
  • simplicity
Tyson crispy chicken strips are all white meat and have a crunchy coating. They are fully cooked then individually quick frozen so all you have to do is pop them in a 400° oven and bake for 18-20 minutes. What more can you ask for from a 100% all white meat product with a delicious crunchy coating? They would make a fantastic dinner with some macaroni and cheese and a side salad. Easy, right?

Well I came up with something just as easy. Tyson Crispy Chicken Parmigiana. Think about it - you don't have to go through the breading process as it's all done for you. All you need is some pasta, spaghetti sauce and Parmesan and mozzarella cheese and you too can have a great tasting meal on the table in about 30 minutes.

  • 1 bag Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips
  • 1/2 - 3/4 lb. spaghetti pasta - cooked el dente according to manufacturer's directions.
  • 2 - 3 cups spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil
You can do this casserole style or in individual gratins like I did. I used two strips for each gratin, but if you are doing this family style you will need to use the bag of twelve. If you don't have mozzarella cheese on hand then Monterey Jack is a great substitute. We don't buy expensive Parmesan cheese in a block to grate but by all means if you have fresh Parmesan use it. Also if you don't have spaghetti pasta, use another that you do have like a hearty penne or ziti.
  1. Cook your pasta according to box directions and be sure to cook it el dente as it cooks more as it bakes in the oven. Drain the pasta well.
  2. To a casserole dish add some sauce to the bottom and layer on a good amount of pasta over that.
  3. Spread some more sauce across the pasta per your individual taste.
  4. Add in the chicken pieces and top with more sauce.
  5. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese all over the chicken, sauce and pasta.
  6. Top with lots of mozzarella cheese followed by a drizzle of olive oil over the cheese.
  7. Bake in a preheated 400° for 18-20 minutes until the cheese is completely melted.
Serve with a side salad or another vegetable of your choosing for a great weeknight meal. Now how easy was that? In the time it takes you to boil the pasta, open a jar of sauce, open the cheeses and assemble this dinner and bake it you are talking dinner on the table in 30 minutes. What a time saver this chicken is!

If you don't use all the chicken strips for this meal, they have a handy zip closure so you can pop the bag back in the freezer to use for another night. I am also thinking that if you cook all of the strips up for a dinner like I suggested above with macaroni and cheese and end up with left overs, that the left-overs could be used in a mason jar salad for work the next day. Add your dressing to the bottom of the jar followed by your greens and chicken and whatever other vegetables you like in your salad. When you are ready to eat your lunch just shake the jar to distribute the dressing.

Look for this versatile and delicious coated frozen and ready to bake product in the frozen food section of your local grocery store.

If you are cooking for two this product is especially economical. There are 12 portions in the bag which means this bag would be suitable for at least 3 meals.

At the retail price that means you spend a little over $3.00 for the protein. Now that's budget cooking!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Potato Crusted Turkey Pie


This past Thanksgiving our store had a special deal on frozen turkeys and we picked one up despite the fact that we were going up to Massachusetts for the holiday and spending it with our son. Well we pulled that almost 16 pound bird out and cooked it up this week. I never shy away from cooking turkey throughout the year and perish the thought of having it only once a year as some others do. Turkey is just one of those down home comfort foods I love.

I am one who does not like to freeze proteins for any great length of time however my exception is with an already frozen turkey. I do believe turkey freezes well and you don't loose flavor over the life in the freezer.  This turkey was downright delicious. What I did a little differently this time around was to add a fresh herb that I have grown very fond of: thyme.

Monday, January 26, 2015



Well the "big game" is coming up very soon. February 1st to be exact. This is the game ending series of the NFL season in the United States. It's where two top teams compete to become the NUMBER ONE team in the NFL. Do I understand the rules of football? Not really. It's not my number one sport to watch and not really number two either. However it is the number one sport of millions of people. And even those like me get into watching this fantastic display of grit and athleticism displayed on the football field this one time during the year.

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