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  • Barbecue Burgers and Caramelized Mini Meatloaves

     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    Sometimes, nothing will do but a big juicy burger! Unfortunately, taking the family out to eat burgers can get spendy. My solution? To come up with a delicious, budget-friendly version with a little help from Grocery Outlet.

    Not only am I going to give you tips for making a delicious burger at home, I'm going to take those flavors and turn them into the most amazing meatloaf you've ever had! (Yes, I know that's a huge claim, but you need to try this recipe!)

    Besides shopping at Grocery Outlet, one way you can save on your weekly meal planning is by selecting meals that overlap ingredients. That's exactly the case with these burgers and meatloaves! I ended up spending about $20 on the ingredients for the two dinners featured in today's recipes. Even better, some of those ingredients yielded leftovers (such as eggs, cheese, and barbecue sauce) that could be turned into additional meals that week.

    Night One: Barbecue Bacon Cheeseburgers

    Chances are good you've made burgers before. But today, I wanted to share a couple tips to make your burger even better.

     

    Burger Ingredients

     

    Here's what you'll need to make four burgers:

    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 4 slices of cheese
    • 2 tbsp barbecue sauce
    • 10 slices of bacon
    • Salt & pepper, to taste
    • Hamburger buns
    • Condiments of your choice

    The key to this recipe is the unique "bacon weave" you're going to make. The idea came from The Burger Lab, where they insist that this is the best way to make bacon to cover the top of your burger and not shift around when you're eating it. After trying it, I have to agree; this method works great.

    On a foil-lined baking sheet, weave the bacon in and out. Then place in a 425º oven for about 20 minutes, until done but not burnt. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into quarters.

    Bacon Weave

     

    While the bacon is baking, you can cook your burgers. To give mine extra flavor I did two things: 1) I added 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce to the beef before shaping into patties and 2) I cooked them in my cast iron skillet with a little bit of the bacon drippings that I collected off the baking sheet. Much more sauce in the meat and you'll find the burgers will be too moist and want to fall apart during the cooking process.

    Of course, if the idea of a bacon-topped burger cooked in bacon is just too much bacon for you, omit cooking the burgers in bacon drippings. (But seriously - can you ever have too much bacon? I think not.)

     

    Close-up of Cheeseburger 

     

    When your burgers are done, add the sliced cheese (I chose Kraft cheddar slices because I found them for just $1.99 at Grocery Outlet). I like to let them melt down a bit on the meat before serving. Top with a section of the bacon and any condiments of your choice. Enjoy!

     

    Bacon Cheeseburger!

     

    Night Two: Caramelized Onion Cheddar Mini-Meatloaves


     
    If you grew up dreading the nights mom made meatloaf, I'd like to challenge you to try my recipe. It may just change your mind about meatloaf! The ingredients are similar to the burger recipe, so you'll save money.

     

    Today's recipe draws inspiration from $5 Dollar Dinners as well as Iowa Girl Eats and is adapted for my own tastes and ingredients I found at Grocery Outlet.

     

     Meatloaf Ingredients


     
    Here's what you'll need to make 5 mini meatloaves:
    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 onion, sliced thinly
    • 5 slices of cheese, cut into small squares*
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup prepared barbecue sauce (plus extra for meatloaves while cooking)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tbps Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • Salt & pepper, to taste

    * I used cheese slices because I was able to use the same package on the previous night's burgers. But, you could just as well use cubes of cheese in this recipe.

     

    My Grocery Outlet had a really nice selection of prepared barbecue sauce with prices under $1! For this recipe, you can choose any kind that suits your fancy.
     
    The basis for this recipe is delicious caramelized onions. Start by sauteing the onions in the butter for a couple minutes, until soft. Then, turn the heat down, stirring often, until the color is rich and the onions are soft - about 20 minutes. While this step does take a little bit of time, you don't want to skip it as it makes this recipe!

     

    Preparing the meatloafs
     
    Next, prepare your meatloaf mixture. Mix the ground beef, bread crumbs, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce,  garlic powder, salt, pepper, egg, cheese, and onions in a large bowl. Mix with a spoon until you have an even consistency throughout. I sometimes find that this process goes easier just by mixing with your hands. While it's a bit messy, it seems to go better. (Plus, you can always wash your hands later!)

    Form into 4 mini meatloaves on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook in a 425° oven for about 20 minutes, until no longer pink in the center. To make these extra amazing, I spread about one teaspoon of barbecue sauce on top each meatloaf about 10 minutes into cooking.
     

     Meatloaf and Broccoli

    These meatloaves came out very flavorful and moist! I served mine with roasted broccoli (also purchased at Grocery Outlet). Other ideas for sides would be mashed potatoes, salad, or green beans. This recipe also reheats wonderfully - I found it was every bit as delicious served the next day for lunch.

    If your family is decidedly anti-meatloaf, I hope you'll give this a recipe a try. I might just change your mind!

    Join me next month for another menu plan and shopping list!


    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In the rare event she finds spare time, she loves gardening, hanging out with her girlfriends, and watching old cheesy monster movies.

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  • Beans and Rice: Versatile Recipes to Stretch Your Budget


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    Beans and rice: the quintessential "dinner on a budget" fare. Unfortunately, I think beans and rice have gotten a bad rap. Sure, it's easy to make a bland dinner with these staples, but with a little creativity, you can cook up a flavorful, budget-friendly meal that will have your entire family smiling.

    Each month in 2014, I've been working to come up with delicious, low-cost meals using Grocery Outlet ingredients and this month? It's all about beans and rice.

     

    Shopping at GO

     

    One of the things that I love about Grocery Outlet is that I never know exactly what I'm going to find - it's truly like hunting for treasure! Today's recipes are very easy to adapt to whatever you happen to find at your store. Here are a few of the good deals that I spotted on my trip last week:

    • Ethnic spices for as low as $0.79
    • Ro-Tel Tomatoes for $0.99
    • Organic canned beans for $0.99
    • Chorizo for $3.39

    My Grocery Outlet trip came to right around $20, and each of my dinners is hearty enough to feed a family of six. Not only that, I had lots of leftovers and items that didn't entirely get used (for instance, I barely put a dent in the HUGE bag of rice I bought at Grocery Outlet for $2.49!).

    Night One: Stuffed Green Peppers with Spanish Rice

     

    Stuffed Pepper

     

     

    For this recipe, I combined several of my favorite foods - stuffed peppers, tacos, and Spanish-style rice - to create a delicious meal. While there are a few steps and ingredients involved, I can assure you, it's very simple to put together and the results are delicious!

     

    Ingredients

     

     

    Here's what you'll need:

    • 6 green peppers, tops and seeds removed
    • 1/2 onion, chopped
    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 2 cups cooked rice (roughly 1/2 cup uncooked)
    • 1 can black beans, drained
    • 1 can corn, drained (or 1 1/2 cup frozen)
    • 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes
    • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
    • 1 14-oz can tomato sauce
    • 1 cup shredded cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar)
    • Salt & pepper, to taste

     

    Green Bell Pepper

     

    Grocery Outlet consistently has amazing prices on peppers of all kinds! I found these for just $0.49 each - and red, orange, and yellow peppers for just $0.99 each. That makes a recipe like this very affordable! Keeping in mind you'll be stuffing these, look for nice-sized peppers that tend to have flatter bottoms.

    Start by washing your peppers, cutting off the tops and removing the seeds.

     

    Boiling Peppers

     

    Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and plop your peppers in for 5 minutes. Remove them with tongs and place in a baking dish. Add a bit of salt and let them sit while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

     

    Filling for Peppers

     

    Saute the onion until translucent (about a couple minutes), then brown the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper and drain off the excess fat. Next, mix in the 2 cups of cooked rice, the Ro-Tel tomatoes, the beans, corn, and taco seasoning. 

     

    More Filling

     

     I encourage you to taste your food at this point to make sure it's seasoned how you want. Once you stuff your peppers, this will be more difficult to do!

     

    Daughter stuffing peppers

     

    This next step is a fun one to involve your kids with! As you might have guessed, you're going to stuff those peppers with your rice and beans mixture. After every spoonful, I had her gently pat down the mixture with the back of her spoon so we could really pack in the goodness.

     

    Stuffed Peppers Ready to Bake

     

    Next, you're going to dump that can of tomato sauce on top - this helps keep everything moist and delicious during the baking process - and top with the cheese. I prefer cheddar, but you could get creative with whatever cheese strikes your fancy at Grocery Outlet! Bake in a 325º oven for 25-30 minutes.

    I found I had a good 2-3 cups of the rice and beans mixture leftover. I ended up freezing this portion for the next time I make this recipe.

     

     Cheesy Pepper

     

     

    These turned out just amazing! Full of flavor, and the beans and rice will really fill you up! My husband and I also found they were tasty reheated the next day for lunch. Enjoy!

     

    Night Two: Southern Red Beans and Rice

     

     Red Beans and Rice

     

    It's night two, and while we'll still keep with the beans and rice theme, we're going to do something completely different and take inspiration from New Orleans and this Emeril Lagasse recipe.

     

    Sausage

     

    While at Grocery Outlet, I noticed this chorizo for just $3.39. I've used this brand of sausage before (see my meatballs recipe from a few months back) and LOVED it. I understand chorizo might not exactly fit with the New Orleans theme, but I'm going with it anyways. (Hence the vague "Southern" in the recipe title!)

     

    Rice Ingredients

     

    Here's what you'll need:

    • 1 lb dry red beans
    • 1 cup onions, chopped
    • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 stalk celery, chopped
    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1 lb chorizo (or sausage of your choice)
    • 3 tbsp minced garlic
    • Salt & pepper, to taste
    • 1 tsp dried thyme OR a couple sprigs fresh thyme
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 4-6 cups chicken broth or water
    • 1 cup beer (optional)
    • cayenne or hot sauce (optional)
    • steamed rice, to serve

     

    Beans


    Cooking with dried beans versus canned can really save you money! If you've ever been intimidated by cooking them from their dried version, don't be. Simply rinse and sort them, and place them in a deep pot with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, then cover and remove the pot from the heat for an hour. After this, you can rinse and drain them and proceed with the recipe.

     

    Mixing Ingredients

     

    Saute the onion, bell pepper, and celery in a little bit of vegetable oil. Season with the thyme, salt, and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. Next, work in your chorizo and bay leaves and brown.

    About this time, my son wandered into the kitchen inquiring about the delicious smell! I was pleased to tell him it was dinner!

     

     Mix in the beans

     

    I did not drain my chorizo, because I wanted the flavor to really infuse my beans, but you could drain it a bit if you wanted at this point. Add the beans and garlic. I then added 1 quart of chicken broth and 1 cup of beer. If you want to skip the beer, just use more chicken broth. You could also use water in place of all/part of the broth, too. The important thing is to make sure you add enough liquid to cover the beans.

    Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Once the beans start to get tender (anywhere from 30-60 minutes) smash about half of them up against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon. Then, continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until you've reached a nice consistency and flavor. Ideally, you want some liquid - but not entirely soupy. If your beans start to get too mushy, you can always work in more liquid.

     

    Beans and Rice

     

    These beans came out very good! This also produced a HUGE pot - enough to easily serve 6, 8, or more. My version has quite a bit of flavor, but I went easy on the spice since I knew my kids would be eating it. If you like a bit of a kick, I'd add a pinch of cayenne or hot sauce. Serve over rice.

    If you've grown tired of plain ol' rice and beans, I hope I've challenged your thinking with how delicious they really can be. Make sure to shop Grocery Outlet first for inspiration for your rice and beans dishes and see how much you can save.

    Join me next month for another menu plan and shopping list!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In the rare event she finds spare time, she loves gardening, hanging out with her girlfriends, and watching old cheesy monster movies.

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  • Grilled Rainbow Vegetables


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    Last month, I shared that one of the best ways I've found to save money on your groceries is to plan your meals around seasonal produce, not meat. Not only is this a healthful approach to eating, it's also a great way to prevent dinner ruts! Today I want to show you how I took the bargains I found at Grocery Outlet and turned them into two delicious, budget-friendly meals.

     

    Peppers

     

    My Grocery Outlet store almost always carries bell peppers at low prices! I decided to use that as the inspiration for this month's frugal recipes. 

     

    Grocery Outlet Ingredients

     

    Here are some of the great deals I picked up at Grocery Outlet to complete a couple dinners:
    • Chicken at $2.19/lb
    • Zucchini and peppers at $1 each
    • Red onion at $0.50
    • Organic canned beans at $0.99

     I even found a big bag of bamboo skewers for just $0.99! Since we're moving into summer now, I took that as my cue to do some grilling!

    All told, I spent a little less than $15 at Grocery Outlet for these ingredients! (See what I'm starting to get at by featuring vegetables?)

     

    Night One: Honey Chicken and Grilled Vegetable Skewers


    What could be more fun than making kabobs for dinner? They are simple to make and full of flavor. It's also an easy way to sneak in extra veggies in your family's diet! Today's recipe is adapted from this recipe I spotted at AllRecipes.

     

    Here's what you'll need:
    • 1-2 lb chicken, cut into 1" chunks (I found that 1 lb made 4 skewers, plan accordingly!)
    • 3 bell peppers, cut into big chunks (I used red, yellow, and orange)
    • 1 red onion, cut into big chunks
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 1/3 cup honey
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 2 tsp minced garlic
    • ground pepper
    • skewers
    • Salt & pepper, to taste

    Start by chopping your vegetables into large-size chunks. As much as possible, try to cut them roughly the same size for even cooking.

     

    Chopped Veggies

     

    Mix the honey, oil, soy sauce, garlic, and pepper in a bowl. Allow your chicken and chopped vegetables to marinate in it at least 2 hours in the fridge. You could even allow it to marinate overnight if you have the time!

    Skewers

     

    When you're ready to cook, heat up your grill (or grill pan, as I'm using!). Using the skewers, alternate threading a vegetable and chicken cube until full. As you can tell from my picture above, I left some room at the bottom and the top for easy eating. In some cases, I added an extra veggie here and there, too.

    This is going to take anywhere from 12 - 20 minutes cooking time, depending on the temperature of your grill and the thickness of your food. Rotate every few minutes to ensure even cooking.

     


    Grilled Chicken Skewers

     

     
    You could serve this alongside a salad, fresh buttered bread, and some fresh fruit. Feel free to change up this recipe to suit your preferences and what you find at Grocery Outlet! Mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and jalapenos (de-seeded!) would also be delicious.

    Enjoy!

    Night Two: Grilled Rainbow Vegetable Pasta

     

    Summer Vegetable Salad

     

    For the second night, we're going to do something a little bit different with grilled vegetables! This dish has a ton of flavor, it's good for you, and it's inexpensive. What more could you ask for?

    Here's what you'll need:

    • 1 lb cooked & drained pasta
    • 1 can Great Northern Beans, drained (or beans of your choice)
    • 1 red bell pepper
    • 1 orange bell pepper
    • 1 yellow bell pepper
    • 1 small zucchini, sliced
    • 1 red onion, cut into large chunks
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1/4 cup fresh torn basil leaves
    • Parmesan cheese, to taste
    • Salt & pepper, to taste

    Rainbow Veggies

     

    Start by preheating your grill or grill pan. Then, get to work on your veggies! As I was chopping mine up I realized, "Eureka! It's a rainbow!" Hence, the name of this recipe. Toss your veggies with 1/4 cup olive oil, some salt and pepper.

     

    Grilled Veggies

     

    Grill your veggies until they are fork tender and have that nice char-y look about them. 

     

    Summer Vegetable Pasta

     

    When your veggies are cooked, toss them in a large bowl with the cooked pasta and can of beans. To that, add 1/4 cup olive oil, the fresh torn basil, plus the cheese, salt, and pepper to taste. While this is a vegetarian dish, you could easily add grilled chicken, steak, or shrimp if you wish. Either way - it's absolutely delicious!

    The next time you're shopping at Grocery Outlet, consider how you could turn the bargains you find into healthful, budget-friendly meals!

    Join me next month for another menu plan and shopping list!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In the rare event she finds spare time, she loves gardening, hanging out with her girlfriends, and watching old cheesy monster movies.

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  • Fresh Vegetarian Meals for Summer


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

    One of my best tips for getting out of a dinner rut? Plan your menu around vegetables, not meat! Not only is this a creative way to menu plan, it's good for your body and your budget


    On the vine tomatoes

    This month, I decided to shop at Grocery Outlet for inspiration for a couple vegetarian meals. I wanted to come up with meals that would be light and refreshing as the weather has started to heat up!

    Of course, I didn't leave my store disappointed! Check out some of the deals I spotted...

     

     Deals from Grocery Outlet

    I snagged a 1-lb package of tomatoes on the vine for $1.99, 2 containers of cherry tomatoes for $1.50, grated Parmesan cheese for just $1.99, and a full pound of mozzarella cheese for $2.99! After taking the tomatoes home, I knew I wanted to make dinners that played on the flavor combination of one of my all-time favorite appetizers, bruschetta. (And yes, they both turned out AMAZING!)

     

     Wine

    I even managed to find a bottle of Chardonnay for just $2.99, which went perfect with my menu.

    To this, I also picked up a loaf of bread, some garlic, and a red onion! All told, I spent only $17.04 at Grocery Outlet on these simple dinners (including the wine) - the rest of the ingredients needed I already had on hand (and you likely do right now, too).

     

    Night One: Broiled Tomato & Herb Sandwiches

     

    Open Faced Sandwiches

     

    I knew I wanted one of my recipes to be a sandwich of some sort. But what to do? That's when I came upon this Broiled Tomato Sandwich recipe. I loved the idea of an open-faced sandwich! I took the idea and made some modifications to the recipe to suit my taste. The result? Pure heaven!

    Here's what you'll need:

    • 1 lb tomatoes-on-the-vine, sliced
    • Loaf of bread (choose something that is a little "sturdier")
    • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (plus more for top)
    • ¼ cup butter, softened
    • ½ tsp dried parsley
    • ½ tsp dried basil
    • ¼ tsp garlic powder
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • Salt & pepper, to taste

    Cut Tomatoes
    Start by preheating your broiler, then get to work on marinating your tomatoes. Whisk the olive oil and vinegar in a bowl, and add some salt and pepper. Gently place your sliced tomatoes in, stirring to cover. Here's a tip: when you're ready to use the tomatoes, don't throw out that marinade. It makes a delicious dressing!

     

    Cheese Spread

     Next, make an herb butter. Combine the softened butter with the dried herbs, 2 tbsp Parmesan, and garlic salt.

     

    The Essential Baking Company Bread

     

     I picked up this beautiful loaf of bread at my Grocery Outlet for $2.49. Because you will be topping the bread with tomatoes and butter, you want a bit of a heavier bread like this. Too soft, and the whole thing could go mushy on you.

     

    Tomato Sandwiches

     
    Lightly toast your bread. I did this by placing in my broiler for a minute. I didn't let it turn brown at all; just enough to firm it up a little. Then, spread the herb butter on your bread and top with your tomatoes. Add a bit more Parmesan cheese and throw under the broiler for a few minutes. Watch it closely; you don't want it to burn! Mine was done in about 5 minutes.

     

     Open Faced Sandwich

     
    You can enjoy this sandwich open-faced, or, combine two for a full sandwich. To keep it light, serve with a salad using the reserved marinade. This sandwich was so good, I found myself returning to the fridge later than night for a second helping!


    Night Two: Bruschetta Pasta

     

    Bruschetta Pasta
     
    For night two, we're keeping with bruschetta theme, but doing something a little different. Your costs will still stay down because many of the ingredients you used last night can be used in tonight's dinner! I took this recipe for Bruschetta Pasta and paired down the ingredients to keep it simple and frugal. This pasta is so delicious, you'll find yourself going back for seconds (my husband and I sure did!).

     

    Vegetables

     

    Here's what you'll need:
    • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved (one container at Grocery Outlet = 2 cups)
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 2 tbsp minced red onion
    • Salt & pepper, to taste
    • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
    • 1 lb pasta of your choice, plus 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid
    • 8-10 torn basil leaves

     

     More Marinade!

     
    Very similar to last night's dinner, you're going to start by creating your marinade! Mix the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and minced garlic clove in a large bowl.

    Tomatoes and Mozzarella

     

    To the bowl, add your halved cherry tomatoes, red onion, cubed mozzarella, and basil. Stir to coat.

     

     Bowl of Bruschetta Pasta

    To complete the dish, toss in the cooked and drained pasta along with the 1/4 cup of reserved cooking liquid. Serve hot, or refrigerate a bit and serve cold. Either way, it's absolutely delicious!

    The next time you're planning your family's menu, think about how you could save money by using similar ingredients or going vegetarian for a dinner or two. Then, make sure to shop Grocery Outlet first to save even more.

    Join me next month for another menu plan and shopping list!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In the rare event she finds spare time, she loves gardening, hanging out with her girlfriends, and watching old cheesy monster movies.


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  • One Bag of Frozen Tilapia: Two Dinners!


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project



    I know it can be tough to stick with a budget and come up with interesting dinners at the same time! For each month of 2014, I've challenged myself to shop at Grocery Outlet for inspiration. The goal is to come up with a couple nights' worth of dinners that use similar ingredients in different ways. The result? Non-boring dinners that please your family and your wallet.

    After the last couple month's worth of heavier (but delicious!) meals involving sausage and pork, I decided it was time to lighten things up a bit. As the spring months start to warm up, I find myself naturally craving lighter fare. So this month? It's all about FISH!

     

    Tilapia Ingredients

     

    I purchased everything pictured above at my Grocery Outlet store for just $20.80! (To be fair, a bag of frozen sweet potatoes are also included in that amount and didn't make it into the picture.) I actually ended up saving more than I spent on this trip and check it out - I have a bunch of produce, fish fillets, and organic beans. Not bad for good-for-you food!

    Here's what I ended up buying at Grocery Outlet. Please note prices & availability may vary from store to store.
    - 1 bag of frozen Tilapia fillets, 2 lbs ($5.99)
    - 1 package broccoli slaw ($1.99)
    - 1 red onion ($0.50)
    - garlic (3 for $0.99)
    - 2 mangoes ($0.50 each!)
    - 1 lemon ($0.50)
    - 1 bag jalapenos ($1.99)
    - 1 bottle lime juice ($0.99)
    - 1 red pepper ($0.99)
    - 1 bunch cilantro ($0.50)
    - 1 can organic black beans ($0.99)
    - 1 bag Rold Gold Pretzels ($2.69)
    - 1 bag frozen sweet potatoes ($1.29)
    - 1 bag corn tortillas $1.13

    From the pantry:
    - ½ cup flour
    - 2 eggs
    - sea salt & pepper
    - 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    - ½ teaspoon ground cumin
    - 1-2 tbsp olive oil
    - vegetable oil, to fry


    Night One: Pretzel-Coated Tilapia Fillets

    I noticed that this recipe for Pretzel-Coated Fish got great reviews from AllRecipes.com. I also loved the simplicity of the ingredients! I decided to make a couple alterations based on my preferences and what I found at Grocery Outlet. Note that I sprang for tilapia, but my Grocery Outlet had several other varieties of lean white fish in stock that would work just fine for today's recipe (think cod, swai, halibut). Feel free to swap out as you wish!

    Start by taking ½ cup flour, about 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp of pepper and placing in a gallon-sized bag. Add 1 lb of thawed fish fillets, and toss gently to coat. Now, create your stations (as pictured above). In one pie plate or shallow bowl, whisk two eggs. In a second pie plate or bowl, add about 1 cup crushed pretzels. You can crush the pretzels using a knife or coffee grinder, but my trick is to place them in a plastic bag and mash them with the blunt end of a meat tenderizer. (It's fun; try it!)

    Next, heat up some vegetable oil in a large skillet and pan fry your coated fish for about 10 minutes, until cooked through. (Turning over at about the half way mark.)

     

    Pretzel-Coated Tilapia

     

    I served mine with a bit of the broccoli slaw and some of the sweet potato fries - both of which I snagged at Grocery Outlet. Not only is this a beautiful dish - it's delicious!

     

    Plated Tilapia with Broccoli Slaw

     

     

    Night Two: Tilapia Tacos with Mango Salsa

    For night two, we're taking a totally different direction with that fish! Thaw out the remaining 1 lb of fillets from your bag. Whisk together a tablespoon or two of olive oil, the cumin, 1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro, a dash of lime juice, and a bit of salt and pepper. Drizzle over the fish and allow to marinate in your fridge for at least one hour.

     

    Marinating Tilapia

     

    Next, make your mango salsa! Mix together 2 small chopped mangoes (or one large), 2 tablespoons of minced red onion, ½ minced seeded jalapeno, ½ minced red bell pepper, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon lime juice. While this may seem like a lot of work - trust me, it's worth it! It's also the most labor intensive component of both recipes. I should also add this ends up being enough to add on as a relish to your fish tacos, but if you'd like more to serve with chips or have on hand for later - you might want to double the recipe!

    Add it to the fridge to marinate a good hour or better before throwing the meal together.

     

    Mango Salsa

     

    When it's time for dinner, pan fry your fish in a skillet with a little oil. If you prefer, you could also bake it.

    When the fish is done, you can cube it or slice it into pieces and fill it in warmed corn tortillas. Top with the mango salsa. I served mine with more of the broccoli slaw and some of the organic black beans I'd picked up at Grocery Outlet. Season these with some of the leftover cilantro and lime. Be creative!

     

    Finished tacos

    The next time you're planning your family's menu, think about how you could save money by using similar ingredients or leftovers for a second meal. Then, make sure to shop Grocery Outlet first to save even more.

    Join me next month for another menu plan and shopping list!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In the rare event she finds spare time, she loves gardening, hanging out with her girlfriends, and watching old cheesy monster movies.


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  • Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, Two Ways!


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

    Every month in 2014, I'm sharing a plan for a couple meals you can easily put together for your family by shopping Grocery Outlet. My goal is to keep the menu to $2 or less per serving, based on a family of six. To capitalize on the savings I'll get by shopping at Grocery Outlet, I'll be creating meals that use similar ingredients, or as in the recipes featured this month, using one main ingredient two different ways.

    This month, I wanted to create a couple recipes that minimized your prep time. And what's more convenient than whipping out the slow cooker? So the first day, we're going to throw a pork roast in the slow cooker and then shred it and make pulled sandwiches. We'll use a bit of the leftover meat to create a deliciously different pizza!
     
    Haul from Grocery Outlet


    Here's what I ended up buying at Grocery Outlet:
    - 3.5 lb pork roast
    - 1 package bacon
    - bag of onions
    - garlic
    - 1 clamshell organic salad greens
    - 1 2-cup package pizza cheese
    - 1 pizza crust mix (on sale for just $0.33!)
    - 1 bottle barbecue sauce
    - 1 bottle pickles
    - hamburger buns

    From the pantry:
    - 1 tbsp brown sugar
    - 1 tbsp chili powder
    - 1 tbsp kosher salt
    - 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    - 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

    All together, I paid just under $25 out of pocket at Grocery Outlet for the items from my grocery list above! That works out to $11.64 per meal, or $2.08 per serving (based on 6 servings). That works out to just a tick over $2 per serving, but I should point out that I suspect this menu plan serves more than 6. The pork roast yielded SO MUCH shredded meat that I gave a bunch to a friend to enjoy for dinner!

    Night One: Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Pork Sandwiches

    I found this highly-rated slow cooker pulled pork over at Chow.com and made some modifications for today's recipe.

     

    Pork Roast

     

    Place one thinly sliced onion and two cloves of minced garlic in the bottom of your slow cooker and pour 1 cup of broth on top. Next, combine the brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and cumin in a small bowl. Pat your 3-4 lb pork roast dry with paper towels, trim as desired, and then rub the spice mixture into the meat. Place the pork roast on top of the onions and garlic in your slow cooker and cook on low 8-10 hours or high 6-8 hours.

     

    Cooked Pork

    When I went to remove the roast from my slow cooker later in the day, my 5-year old daughter wandered into the kitchen and asked, "Mama, what is that wonderful smell?" So warning: be prepared to come home to a delicious aroma!

     

    Pulled Pork

    Remove the roast from the slow cooker and shred using two forks. My roast just fell apart, it was that moist! Don't forget about the broth and onions still in your slow cooker! Run them through a strainer and return the onions back to the slow cooker. You can return the shredded pork to the slow cooker as well. After the remaining broth has sat for a few minutes, the fat will float to the surface so you can easily skim it.

    Add 1 ½ - 2 cups of the barbecue sauce to the pork and combine. Pour in the reserved broth ¼cup at a time, until the meat is moist.

     

    Pulled Pork Sandwich


    The first night, serve the pulled pork on hamburger buns!



    Pickles

     

    I served mine alongside these hot & spicy pickles I found at Grocery Outlet for just $1.49! This is comfort food at its best and quick to serve up!

    Night Two: Leftover Pulled Pork Pizza

     

    Pulled Pork Pizza

    Now of course, you could go on and enjoy pulled pork sandwiches for the second night, but I want to encourage you to be creative with your leftovers!

    Pizza Crust

    Use any pizza crust recipe you like, but I opted for these Betty Crocker pizza crust mixes at Grocery Outlet for just $0.33! One of these makes a 12" pizza. I'd recommend you use 2 or even 3 of these crusts for feeding a larger family. All you need to do is combine with water and let sit for five minutes!

    I topped my pizza with 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce (leftover from yesterday's recipe), one cup of pizza cheese, one cup of the pulled pork, and 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped up.

     

    Pulled Pork Pizza Slices

     

    I topped with a tablespoon of chopped cilantro after cooking. Of course, there are so many variations you could take on this pizza. Try adding sliced red onion, green peppers, or crushed red pepper. You could also nix the cheese or add fresh sliced tomato. This pizza was oh so good - and it took only minutes to throw together thanks to reusing the previous night's leftovers!

    The next time you're planning your family's menu, think about how you could save money by using similar ingredients or leftovers for a second meal. Then, make sure to shop Grocery Outlet first to save even more.

    To download this recipe in a PDF, click here: March Recipe

    Join me next month for another menu plan and shopping list!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In the rare event she finds spare time, she loves gardening, hanging out with her girlfriends, and watching old cheesy monster movies.


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  • Italian Wedding Soup and Spaghetti and Meatballs


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project



    Every month in 2014, I'll be working to give a plan for a couple meals you can easily put together for your family by shopping Grocery Outlet. My goal is to keep the menu to $2 or less per serving, based on a family of six. In addition to finding terrific bargains at Grocery Outlet, I'm going to work to save money by using similar ingredients across both meals. For instance, in January I shared an awesome hearty slow cooker chili recipe and then we took the leftovers and turned them into burritos for the next day!

    For February, it's all about meatballs! Meatballs are delicious and quick to make, plus they can be used in a variety of dishes. We'll start by making up a big batch of meatballs the first night we'll make an amazing Italian Wedding Soup. The next night, we'll simmer the remaining meatballs in a simple spaghetti sauce.

     

    Ingredients

    Chances are you may already have many of the ingredients needed for either or both of these recipes like I did!


    Here's what I ended up buying at Grocery Outlet:
    - 1 lb lean ground beef
    - 1 lb ground bulk sausage (OR for leaner recipes, opt for a 2nd lb of lean ground beef)
    - bag of onions
    - bag of carrots
    - 1 clamshell organic baby spinach
    - Fresh grated Parmesan cheese (I found this for just $1.99!)
    - Loaf of sourdough bread
    - 2 (28 oz) cans of whole tomatoes (I found these for just $0.99!)
    - 4 cans chicken broth

     
    From the pantry:
    - 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
    - 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
    - 1/2 cup dry pasta (for soup) - any kind you have will do!
    - dry spaghetti noodles
    - minced garlic
    - 6 oz can tomato paste
    - 2 eggs
    - 1 tsp sugar
    - 1 bay leaf
    - 1/4 cup olive oil
    - salt and fresh ground pepper

     
    All together, I paid $23.27 out of pocket at Grocery Outlet for the items from my grocery list above! That works out to $11.64 per meal, or $1.94 per serving (based on 6 servings) - just under my $2 menu plan goal!

    Not only that, both of the following recipes are absolutely delicious. Even my picky eating children adored them!

    Step One: Meatball Prep!

     

     Meatball Prep

    The first step is going to be the most time consuming, but lucky for you, it's not that time consuming! I recommend you make all the meatballs for both recipes on the same night, to reduce mess and prep time.

    In a large glass bowl, mix the lean ground beef, sausage (if using), breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, 2 eggs, 2 tsp minced garlic, and tbsp Italian seasoning.

     

     Meatballs!

     

     I find the easiest way to mix is simply by hand! If you can't get over the "ew" factor, you could process in a mixer. Once mixed, roll into small meatballs. I worked to make mine as consistent in size as possible, for even cooking times. You're now ready to make the next two recipes!

    I should mention that the Italian sausage made these meatballs quite tasty, but definitely upped the fat content. If you're looking to reduce that, I recommend you swap out the sausage for another pound of lean ground beef. Another idea would be to pre-cook the meatballs for the recipes below, to cook off some of the fat.

    Night One: Italian Wedding Soup


    Italian Wedding Soup

    I drew inspiration from this recipe at AllRecipes.com for today's easy and delicious soup! Start by bringing your 4 cans of chicken broth (8 cups total) to a boil. Then, add 1 cup diced carrots, 1/2 cup pasta (I used corkscrew), 1 cup spinach and 1/2 of your batch of meatballs. Cook for 10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked. That's it! I served mine with the loaf of sourdough bread.

     

    Night Two: Italian Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs

     

    Spaghetti & Meatballs

     

    Once you've tried this delicious spaghetti sauce, I dare you to go back to the jarred stuff! I took inspiration from this recipe at Allrecipes.com.

     

    Spaghetti Sauce


    This recipe is incredibly simple to prepare, but it does require some time - so make sure to plan ahead! Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Stir in the 2 cans of whole tomatoes, salt, sugar, and bay leaf. Cover, reduce to a simmer for 90 minutes. Next, add your meatballs, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and pepper to taste. Cook another 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are fully cooked. Serve with the pasta of your choice. I also love mine topped with a little Parmesan.

    The next time you're planning your family's menu, think about how you could save money by using similar ingredients or leftovers for a second meal. Then, make sure to shop Grocery Outlet first to save even more.

    Join me next month for another menu plan and shopping list!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In the rare event she finds spare time, she loves gardening, hanging out with her girlfriends, and watching old cheesy monster movies.


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  • Hearty Slow Cooker Chili and Chili Cheese Burritos


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project



    You're short on time, you're short on money, you're short on ideas!

    Does this sound like you? If so, I want you to join me this year at the Bargainista Blog. Each month, I'm going to give you a Grocery Outlet shopping list and recipes that will provide 2 meals for a family of 6. My goal will be to keep the total serving cost right around $2 per person, as well as keep your prep work simple. We're going to do this by focusing on similar ingredients between the 2 meals or using the leftovers from the 1st night's meal in a different way for the 2nd night. Here's our plan for January: the first night we're going to make a hearty chili in our slow cooker. Perfect for a cold winter's night and super quick when it comes to prep time! Then the second night, we're going to take the leftover chili and bake up some burritos. We'll also make sure to pick up some fresh salad makings to round out the meals.


    Ingredients

     

    Now if you've made chili before you might think it's a bit boring - but that's only because you've not yet tried this kicked up version complete with sausage! I have made many chili recipes in my day, but I have to say this one is by far the tastiest!

    Grocery List:
    - 1 lb ground beef
    - 1 lb ground bulk sausage
    - 1 yellow onion, chopped
    - 1 green pepper, chopped
    - 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    - 2 cans diced tomatoes, with juice
    - 3 cans chili beans
    - 2 stalks celery, chopped
    - 1 bag sharp cheddar cheese
    - 2 bags 10-ct tortillas
    - 1 bag corn tortilla chips
    - 1 container organic salad greens
    - 1 bottle salad dressing

     From the pantry:
    - 4 tbsp chili powder
    - 2 tbsp beef bouillon
    - 1 tbsp cumin
    - 2 tsp ground oregano
    - 1/2 tsp cayenne
    - plenty of salt and fresh ground pepper

     
    I was able to find everything I needed at Grocery Outlet to complete my two meals. My total cost? Just $26.51! That works out to $2.21 per serving (2 meals at 6 servings each). Plus, I should have some food leftover - for instance, I bought an entire bag of yellow onions. 

    Download a PDF of this recipe to print out here: Chili Recipe

     

    Night One: Hearty Slow-Cooker Chili

     

    Hearty Chili

     

     
    I was inspired by this chili at AllRecipes.com which combines ground beef and sausage! I changed up the recipe a fair amount to incorporate ingredients I found at Grocery Outlet and had in my pantry. I also wanted to make sure this recipe wasn't too spicy, so I omitted some of the spicier ingredients.

     

    Sausage

     

    Lucky for me - I found the ground sausage for just $1.99 at Grocery Outlet! Elsewhere, you'd pay about $4! I also found great deals on the other ingredients for this dish including the yellow onions, green bell pepper, and chili beans.

    To cook your chili, start by browning the ground beef and sausage in a skillet. While your meat is cooking, prep your other ingredients and place them all in a slow cooker - this will help maximize your time in the kitchen! Once the meet is fully browned, drain excess fat and add to the slow cooker. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours.

    When complete, simply spoon into bowls and serve! Top with the shredded cheese and serve with the tortilla chips and a generous side of salad.

     

    Chili!

    Night Two: Chili Cheese Burritos

     

    Chili Cheese Burritos

     

    Night Two is going to be a snap because you already have your chili assembled. Preheat you oven to 350°. Spray a cookie sheet or baking pan. Fill a tortilla with a nice dollop of the chili and top with cheddar. Roll and place on the sheet or in the pan. Cook for about 15 minutes, until warmed through and the tortillas are just baked.

    Serve with a side salad.

     Burrito!

     

     I had a couple of these for dinner last night and they are AMAZING! I'm thinking of making a huge batch and freezing them to send with my husband for lunch! My 7-year old son thought they were delicious too, and he's not normally a fan of chili.

    The next time you're planning your family's menu, think about how you could save money by using similar ingredients or leftovers for a second meal. Then, make sure to shop Grocery Outlet first to save even more.

    Join me next month for another menu plan and shopping list!

     

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In the rare event she finds spare time, she loves gardening, hanging out with her girlfriends, and watching old cheesy monster movies.


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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project


    The weather's cold, your schedule's packed, and you have no idea what's for dinner. If this sounds like you, here's a thought: whip up a pot of hot soup! Making soup is pretty easy and usually only requires a few ingredients, making it easy on the budget too.

     

    DSCN3461 (600x800)

     

    The other day, I stopped in at my local Grocery Outlet store and found these canned Hunt's tomatoes for just $0.79 each. I decided to roll with it and make tomato bisque! I drew inspiration from this recipe from AllRecipes.com for today's post, eliminating several ingredients and adding roasted red peppers and cheese toast floats for a twist. Ingredients:
    • 4 cans 14.9 oz diced tomatoes
    • 1 red pepper
    • 2 cups half & half
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1 cup diced onion
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • plenty of salt & pepper, to taste
    • French bread, toasted and buttered, 1 or 2 cubes per bowl (optional)
    • Shredded cheese, about 2 or 3 tbsp per bowl (optional - I used sharp cheddar)

    DSCN3470 (800x600)

     

    Set your oven to 450°. Cut your red pepper into slices, put on a baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and top with salt. Roast until they are fork tender and the skins are just starting to char - about 10-15 minutes.

     

    DSCN3476 (800x600)

    Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large stockpot and add in the onions. Sautee until softened. Then add all four cans of tomatoes (undrained), salt, and pepper.

     

    DSCN3479 (800x673)

    About this time, I found my red peppers were roasted, so I added them into the soup mixture. Bring it all to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Next, add in your 2 cups of half and half and stir until heated through.

    DSCN3482 (800x600)

     

    At this point, you can use an immersion blender to puree the soup. I don't have an immersion blender, so I just pureed it in batches using my Vitamix. Works just as well!

     

    DSCN3484 (800x600)

     

    Now you could eat your soup up at this point and it would be delicious. But I felt it needed something extra... So I took a couple small pieces of French bread, toasted them in the oven with butter, then placed them on top of a bowl of soup. To that, I added a bit of shredded sharp cheddar that I found at Grocery Outlet and finished it all under the broiler for about a minute.

    If you go this route, make sure to use a broiler-safe bowl and set it on a baking sheet to easily move it in and out of the oven.

     

    DSCN3490 (800x600)

     

    This soup was very good, and I do think the toast on top made it perfect comfort food! Best of all, this recipe will yield you lots of soup - easily enough to feed 6 or 8 people or leave leftovers for a smaller family.

    Like this post? You might want to read the others in this series:

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Apple, Bacon & Cheddar Grilled Cheese


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    When the chilly fall weather hits, many of us like to think about comforting foods like chili, stews, or that old standby - grilled cheese and tomato soup! Today I wanted to share a very simple way you could change up that plain ol' grilled cheese into something deliciously different. Here's what you'll need:
    • Bread
    • A few slices of cooked bacon
    • Sliced apples, such as Granny Smith
    • Good quality cheese - I am using cheddar
    • Butter, softened

    DSCN1995 (800x479)

     

    I couldn't help but notice this Hickory Smoked Thick Cut Bacon at my Grocery Outlet store last week... it was only $4.99 and elsewhere you'd pay over $12! I thought it'd be the perfect ingredient to add to my new and improved grilled cheese!

     

    DSCN2015 (800x600)

     

    The second fun ingredient for today's recipe: apples! My Grocery Outlet store was selling a bag of Fujis and Galas for just $1.50, but I opted for the tart Granny Smiths for a couple bucks more. These apples are on the small side, perfect for kids' lunches or recipes like today's, where you just need a few small slices.

     

    DSCN2020 (609x800)

     

    There's no reason to go with a plain old cheese slices when you're shopping at Grocery Outlet! They have so many delicious cheeses at low prices to choose from. I opted for a sharp yellow cheddar, but I also think a Swiss cheese would work excellent with today's recipe.

     

    DSCN2023 (800x600)

     

    I opted for a classic, old fashioned white bread and spread plenty of softened butter on.

     

    DSCN2024 (800x606)

     

    Now, if you like a good mustard or maybe a flavored mayo, you could also consider adding that at this point. I'm not a huge condiment gal, so I kept this pretty straight-forward and skipped adding mayo or mustard and went straight for the apples.

     

    DSCN2027 (800x639)

     

    Next, I layered on the cheese and crisped bacon. Yum!

     

    DSCN2028 (759x800)

    From here, just cook up your sandwich in a skillet. I think the key to making a perfect grilled cheese is lots of butter, and lots of time. Keep it at a medium heat and let the bread brown slowly, giving the cheese time to melt. 

    The next time you're in a rut with your dinner, one idea would be to try changing up the ingredients or preparation a bit. And make sure to check out your local Grocery Outlet store for great ingredient ideas, too!

    To download this recipe in a PDF, click here: Download PDF

     Like this post? You might want to read the others in this series:

    Make sure to come back next month for another fun installment!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Sausage & Pepper Mac 'n Cheese


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    At a freezer meal swap I participated in recently, my good friend Haley brought this delicious homemade macaroni and cheese casserole to share. (You might remember Haley from this video we were in for the Grocery Outlet YouTube channel a few months ago!) Unlike just plain old cheese and noodles, hers had chicken sausage, vegetables, and a breadcrumb topping. It was perfect comfort food!

    I loved the idea of elevating an old standby dinner - macaroni and cheese - into something a bit heartier. Talk about a perfect way to get out of a dinner rut! Taking inspiration from Haley's dish, I headed to my local Grocery Outlet to see what I could find to make something similar.

    DSCN1212 (800x600)

     

    I found these packages of Beeman Gourmet Sausages priced at just $2.99! Elsewhere, you could expect to pay up to $5.99 for the same product. I decided to select the Apple and Gouda Cheese variety. We've had it before and it's delicious!

     

    DSCN1216 (800x632)

     

    I couldn't help but notice these beautiful peppers for just $0.50 each! This is a great deal on colored peppers - they can often be as much as $1.50 at other grocery stores (and sometimes more.).

     

    DSCN1244 (600x800)

     

    Finally, the pasta. I found this package of rotini for just $0.89. Feel free to use whatever pasta you want for this recipe; it certainly does not have to be elbow macaroni.

    Start by preparing your bag of 1-lb pasta according to package directions. Veer towards cooking it "al dente" as you'll be baking it up in the oven a bit. While the pasta is cooking, you can begin to cook up the other components of this casserole.

     

    DSCN1238 (800x600)

     

    I sliced up all four chicken sausages (12 oz) and browned them lightly in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil.

     

    DSCN1242 (800x600)

     

    Next, I added in a diced red pepper and continued cooking for another minute or so, just until soft. Turn off heat and set aside.

     

    cheesesauce

    Now it's time to make your cheese sauce. Gather 1 cup of warm milk and 2 cups of shredded cheese (I chose 1 cup of sharp cheddar and 1 cup of Colby Jack, but you could vary this based on your preferences). Start by melting ¼ cup of butter (that's ½ a stick) over medium heat. Once it's melted, whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour. The mixture will thicken and bubble pretty quickly, so make sure to keep whisking - don't let it burn! Once you see the bubbles form, begin to drop in cheese shreds by handful and alternate with adding the milk, whisking constantly, until it's all incorporated. Finally, add a pinch of salt. At the end you should have a delicious, silky smooth cheese sauce!

    Turn off the heat, and set aside. If you've timed everything right, your pasta should be just about done now. Go ahead and drain it.

     

    DSCN1255 (800x600)

     

    As you might have guessed, you're going to mix the pasta, cheese sauce, and sausage all together. Pour into a lightly-greased casserole dish. Sprinkle ½ cup breadcrumbs and drizzle with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Bake in a 350º oven for 15-20 minutes until set.

     

    DSCN1260 (800x489)

     

    Well, how was it? I have to tell you that of all the dinners I've featured here on the Bargainista Blog, this is hands down my favorite! It's hearty fall comfort food at it's finest, but it's still quick and easy to make. I spent a total of $8.39 preparing this dish thanks to Grocery Outlet, so it's also friendly on the budget.

    A special thank you also to my friend Haley for the idea!  Download the PDF of this recipe here: Recipe Card.

    Like this post? You might want to read the others in this series:

    Make sure to come back next month for another fun installment!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Bacon & Egg Casserole with Citrus Smoothies


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    Have you ever had cereal for dinner? I'm not going to lie - I've done it before. I think we can all relate to those crazy days where the thought of digging through recipes and cooking is too much to think about. Today I'd like to share with you an easy recipe that's inspired by breakfast, but more substantial than a bowl of Toasted O's or Fruity Rings. While you can definitely enjoy it for breakfast, it's a go-to dinner recipe in my house because of how quick it can be prepared and requires only a few ingredients.

     

    DSCN2066 (800x600)

    For this recipe, you'll need a pound of ground breakfast sausage or bacon. I found this Aberdeen Farms Hardwood Smoked Sliced Bacon on sale for $2.99 at my Grocery Outlet. The beauty of shopping at Grocery Outlet is that you never know exactly what you'll find! Feel free to tweak today's recipe with whatever yummy looking sausage or bacon you find at your store.

     

    DSCN2081 (800x600)

    Start by preheating your oven to 350º. Cook your bacon or sausage and drain. While it's cooking, tear up four pieces of bread and sprinkle them on the bottom of a casserole dish. I used wheat, but white works great too. I prefer using a "fluffier" type bread in this recipe - nothing too dense or heavy.

     

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    Crumble your bacon or sausage and put it on top of the bread pieces.

     

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    Next, top with 2 cups of grated cheese. I like using a medium cheddar.

     

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    Whisk six eggs with 2 cups of milk together and season with fresh ground pepper. I omit salt because there is plenty in the bacon!

     

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    Pour the egg mixture on top of the casserole and bake in the oven between 20-30 minutes, when eggs are set.

     

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    This is such a delicious, hearty casserole!

     

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    I like to serve this dish with some sort of fruit or fruit dish. While at Grocery Outlet, I noticed they had pineapple Chobani Greek Yogurt at my store for just $1.99. I decided to pick some up along with a bag of frozen mango for $3.99 to make a tropical smoothie.

     

    DSCN2101 (800x600)

    For the smoothie, I simply combined 1/2 cup of the Greek yogurt, 1 cup frozen mango and 1 cup orange juice. To kick it up a bit, you could add a nice handful of organic spinach (which yes, they also carry at Grocery Outlet!).

     

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    So there you have it: breakfast for dinner that's NOT a bowl of cereal!

     

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    The next time you're at your local Grocery Outlet store, see what fun and frugal ingredients you can find to spice up your dinner table!  Download the recipe here.

     

    Like this post? You might want to read the others in this series:
    Make sure to come back next month for another fun installment! Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Crispy Oven Fried Chicken


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    I always find a good selection of cereal at my Grocery Outlet... and I've recently noticed them carrying nicer brands, too! I recently found this Bear River Valley Honey Nut Rounders bagged cereal at my South Tacoma Grocery Outlet store for just $1.99.

     

    DSCN0662 (800x600) (2)

     

    I decided it would be the perfect, simple ingredient to put a fun spin on a dinner classic: fried chicken! I mean, talk about a quintessential summer picnic food right? I wondered if I could come up with a non-deep fried version that would still be moist and packed with flavor. I'm excited to tell you that I did! The other great thing about tonight's recipe is that you should likely have most of the ingredients on hand already - so it's a good one for the budget.

     

    Crispy Oven Fried Chicken


    For a PDF of this recipe, click here.

    Ingredients
    • 1 package of fryer chicken pieces (~ 1-2 lbs; skin on or skinless)
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
    • 1 cup crushed honey-flavored cereal (or other cereal of your choice)
    • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
    • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
    • 2 eggs, whisked with a splash of milk

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    I started with a good quality package of chicken. Check it out - my Grocery Outlet store carried these organic, local drumsticks for just $3.27! Now you could go skinless, but I prefer skin once in awhile, so I left mine on. (I justified it by reminding myself I wouldn't be deep frying!)

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    Preheat your oven to 400°. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow cake pan or pie plate. Dip each chicken piece in the mixture, dust off any excess flour and set aside.

     

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    Now it's time to prepare the coating. You're going to start by taking your cereal and processing it down. Before we go on, I want to mention that you could really use any number of cereals you find at your Grocery Outlet store - feel free to experiment around! I like using a honey-based cereal for the sweetness, but you could also opt for something like corn flakes or a crispy rice cereal.

    Don't worry if you don't have a food processor for this next part, either. I don't and I don't let it stop me! Ready to see my secret?

     

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    I just put it in a plastic bag and smash it with a rolling pin! A meat tenderizer also works well (just use the flat end). As you can see, I didn't entirely pulverize the cereal, but left some bigger pieces for texture. Do what you like.

     

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    Once your cereal is processed as you like, mix in 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and 1 tsp of poultry seasoning. Here too is some room for spicing things up. Feel free to add garlic powder, cayenne, or grill seasoning depending on your taste preferences. When you're done, put the mixture in a shallow plate or pie pan. In a separate pan, whisk a couple eggs with a splash of milk.

    As you can see from the picture above, I like to create a clear assembly line for my chicken! It's going to go in the egg wash, then to the breading and finally onto a cookie sheet topped with a lightly sprayed rack for the oven.

     

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    I like my pieces really covered, so I make sure to take extra time to pat down the breading on any bare spots.

     

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    The secret to keeping the breading on the chicken? Use a rack! I also sprayed my chicken with cooking oil as well as spraying some on the rack. As you'll soon see from my final photos, I lost very little breading this way. (Plus, it makes for easy clean up.)

     

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    Give the chicken a turn at 20 minutes. Cook an additional 20 minutes or until no longer pink.

     

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    The result? Delicious! My chicken was very moist inside and full of flavor. The honey cereal added a subtle sweetness to the dish. This chicken was quick to assemble, easy on the budget, and most important, family-friendly.

     

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    You could serve it hot, as I did; or serve it chilled. As for the leftover cereal? Well, I'd say you got breakfast covered too!

    Like this post? You might want to read the others in this series: Make sure to come back next month for another fun installment!

     

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Goat Cheese & Apricot Preserve Appetizer


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    Normally, I don't try to spice things up at the dinner table with fancy cheese because it's so expensive! However, Grocery Outlet always surprises me by offering up gourmet cheese for ridiculously low prices. This has been true of all the locations I've had the pleasure of visiting.

     

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    While at my local South Tacoma store recently, I stumbled upon such a cheese find. Check it out:

     

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    It's a small log of honey-flavored goat cheese for just $1.99. Elsewhere, you'd expect to pay about twice that. As I've never cooked with goat cheese before, I thought this would be just the ticket for this month's Breaking out of the Dinner Rut post. After all, I have definitely fallen into a pattern of choosing the same basic cheeses over and over again. Why not let a Grocery Outlet steal spark a new culinary experience?

     

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    While shopping - I bumped into my pal Christopher who works at Grocery Outlet. (He's actually the genius behind the Grocery Outlet YouTube Channel - make sure to check out their fun videos if you haven't already!). It turns out I was there during a wine tasting. How awesome is that?

    I mentioned the goat cheese to Christopher and he said he didn't much care for the stuff. But then he remembered an exception! He'd recently had an appetizer at a local restaurant which consisted of a crostini topped with dried fruit, pecans, and honey. I thought this sounded like excellent inspiration.

    So here's my version of that idea, frugal-ed up using Grocery Outlet ingredients!

     

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    Goat Cheese and Apricot Preserve Appetizers

    Ingredients

    • Crackers or appetizer-sized toast
    • Dried cranberries
    • Preserves of your choice - I selected apricot
    • Small log goat cheese

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    Start by spreading a little of the preserves on your crackers. Now you could use those fancy little toasts or crostini if you want, but I found that plain old crackers worked just fine for this recipe.

     

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    Next, spread a little of the goat cheese on top. You'll find that it may crumble a bit. Don't worry; it doesn't affect the flavor one bit.

     

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    Can you believe you're almost done with this recipe?

     

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    Finally, top with a few dried cranberries.

     

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    That's it!

     

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    I think they look pretty displayed on a cutting board with some sprigs of mint or other fresh herbs. (I had mint in my garden, so that's what I used!) You can serve this as a prelude to a light dinner alfresco, perhaps with some sparkling wine (make sure to check Grocery Outlet's wine department for fabulous prices there, too)!

    All told, I spent about $8 on the ingredients to make this recipe. I love that it's totally frugal but looks like I paid a lot more to make it.

    How were these?

     

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    I think the results speak for themselves!

    Like this post? You might want to read the others in this series:


    Make sure to come back next month for another fun installment!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Danish Wedding Cookie Trifle


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    After dinner, I'm more apt to pull out some cookies or scoop some ice cream for the kids if they want a treat. I do like to bake and make desserts, but I just don't think to do it all that often (which I suppose isn't necessarily a bad thing for my waistline!) For this month's Breaking out of the Dinner Rut feature, I wanted to come up with a dessert recipe to help you turn an ordinary day into an extra special one. I knew I wanted a delicious and "pretty" recipe, but one that would be quick and easy to make. I perused Grocery Outlet's aisles for a little inspiration .... something fun, unique.... And then I found this:

     

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    Danish Wedding Cookies for $1.49!
    I can't say that I've seen these anywhere else, but I have seen them a few times now at Grocery Outlet and have been curious to try them. And what could be more fun than eating a cookie supposedly reserved for a wedding in a foreign country? I definitely had to take these home. Here's what they looked like, upon opening:

     

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    Yes, they were good. VERY good. Kind of like a little chocolate chip cookie surrounded by a sugary coated goodness. I decided I should continue to eat a few more while I came up with a recipe....

     

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    After some pondering, I decided to trifle these cookies. Now, I've never made a trifle before, but I have eaten a trifle! It's kind of a lasagna of desserts, because you layer fruit, pudding, and usually cake. But instead of cake, we're going to use the Danish Wedding Cookies. Ingredients: 16 Danish Wedding Cookies, chopped 1 package instant vanilla pudding, prepared to package directions 1 banana, sliced thinly Fresh berries (I used blueberries) Whip cream Mint leaves and additional cookies for garnish (optional) Makes enough for 1 regular trifle dish or 2 pint-sized Mason jars Start by gathering all your ingredients. I made the mistake of putting the pudding together only to realize it sets very fast and I was not ready. Don't be like me. Get everything set and ready to go!

     

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    Now I don't own a trifle dish, and it seemed rather silly to go out and buy one! So I came up with the idea of using Mason jars. I think wine or margarita glasses or clear mugs would work well, too. Be creative and don't feel that you can't do this recipe if you don't have a trifle dish. Start by putting in four crushed cookies in the bottom of each pint-sized jar.

     

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    Next, top with a good dollop of the vanilla pudding, a few sliced bananas, some whipped cream, and a few berries.

     

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    Very simply, you'll repeat these layers, in the same order: four crushed cookies, the pudding, bananas, whipped cream, and berries. Allow to set in your fridge for about 3-4 hours.

     

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    Just before serving, top with the garnish of your choice! I opted for a fresh sprig of mint from my garden and another Danish Wedding Cookie. I would think fresh shaved chocolate would also be delightful. This dessert is exactly the kind of thing I want to eat in the evening out on the deck after a long day.

     

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    This dessert sure looks fancy, but would you believe I only spent $4.27 on the ingredients I needed to make it? (I already had the milk, berries, and mint at home.) The best news is you don't have to wait around for a Danish Wedding to enjoy this pretty dessert. Bon appetit!

    Download just the recipe by clicking here: Danish Wedding Cookie Trifle Recipe

    For more ideas, check out my other posts for this series:

    Make sure to come back next month for another fun installment!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Asian Mung Bean Salad


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    I recently happened upon a different item at my local Grocery Outlet store and I knew instantly that I had to bring it home for a fun dinner creation.....

     

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    Organic Sprouted Mung Beans for $2.99. Now I'm definitely familiar with bean sprouts, but not sprouted mung beans. I flipped over the package and it read:

    These tiny fresh-tasting beans have a rich creamy texture and nutty-sweet taste.

    Suggested uses included salads, pilafs, soups, purees, and sandwiches. Turns out, these are quite nutritious too! One serving (1/4 cup dry) contains 7 grams of dietary fiber and a whopping 10 grams of protein. It's also high in iron and vitamin C and low in fat. I'm thinking this would be a wonderful superfood for vegetarians to explore!

     

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    I decided to try these sprouted mung beans for the first time in an Asian-inspired salad. Today's recipe is quick, easy, and delicious! It's enough for 2 large servings, or 4 sides.

    Ingredients:

    Salad
    1 cup dry mung beans
    2 cups mixed salad greens
    couple sprigs cilantro, chopped
    1/4 cup chopped sweet peppers

    Dressing (from Once Upon a Chef's Asian Slaw recipe)
    2 tbsp honey
    2 tbsp vegetable oil
    2 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
    1 tsp soy sauce
    1 tsp sesame oil
    small piece of ginger, minced
    1 clove garlic, minced
    dash sea salt

    Start by prepping your mung beans. Add 1 cup of dry beans to 3 cups of boiling water. Let boil for 5 minutes before removing from heat, covering, and allow to set 4-8 minutes.

     

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    While my mung beans were rehydrating, I got to work on the rest of the salad. I found some lovely salad ingredients at my Grocery Outlet store yesterday - organic baby kale, organic mixed Romaine, a big bag of sweet mini baby peppers for just $3.99, and a bunch of fresh cilantro.

     

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    Have you ever tried these peppers? If not, I recommend them! They are perfect for dipping in hummus, slicing on sandwiches, or great when your recipe just calls for a little bit of pepper.

     

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    Prepare your dressing by mixing all the ingredients listed above and stirring. This is one of my very favorite Asian dressings I've come across on the web, and I make it often. Incidentally, I found a 1 lb bag of ginger at my Grocery Outlet for $1.99 and the garlic for $0.33 each. If you can't use up all the ginger before it goes bad? Consider chopping and freezing leftover portions or making ginger tea!

     

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    By now, your mung beans should be cooked and your salad ready to assemble! Toss the greens in the dressing, top with the peppers, scoop on some mung beans and sprinkle on the cilantro. I did have a decent amount of the prepped mung beans leftover, so I will refrigerate them to use in another recipe in the next day or so.

     

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    The warm mung beans added a nice touch to this salad - and they had such a mild, pleasing flavor! I could see how well they'd work on any number of recipes. While researching their use for this post, I also learned that some people even enjoy turning them into a cake! Now how would that be for a nutritious alternative for your kids?

    If you're looking for new, fun ingredients to make cooking fun again without breaking the bank? You need to visit Grocery Outlet!

    For more ideas, check out my other posts for this series:

    Make sure to come back next month for another fun installment!

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Cactus Tacos


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    I always find unusual and inspiring ingredients at my Grocery Outlet. This helps me avoid the much-dreaded "dinner rut" and keeps my meals fresh and fun. Recently, I found this item on my Grocery Outlet store shelf:

     

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    Hmmmm. Jarred tender cactus.

    I can't say that has ever graced my dinner table and I think it was just the ticket to keeping my menu creative this week. At $1.79 for a large jar, it would hardly break the bank to give it a go! That's another thing I adore about Grocery Outlet - I get to try new ingredients, but without having to spend a small fortune!

    I did a little research, and it turns out this can be a pretty versatile ingredient. You can serve it as is, use it on salads, incorporate it into Tex-Mex dishes, or toss it with beans and rice for a side dish. I decided to try it a couple different ways. But first, I was super curious about the smell and taste...

     

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    Time to pop the lid!

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    The smell was totally pleasant. It reminded me of a cross between jarred chilis and green beans. I was excited to give it a try! I decided to do a spin on tacos with the cactus. You could use chicken or pork, but I opted for a pound of thinly cut ribeye steak that I picked up at Grocery Outlet for $7.

     

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    Here are the ingredients you'll need to complete this recipe:
    • 1 lb thin steak, such as ribeye or flank steak
    • 1 tbsp cumin
    • ground pepper
    • 1 cup prepared salsa (your choice)
    • 1 cup jarred cactus
    • cilantro, to taste
    • corn tortillas
    Start by rubbing the steak with the cumin and ground pepper. Then top with the salsa. I had a verde salsa on hand, so that's what I used. Cover and allow to marinate in your refrigerator for an hour (or more!).

     

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    Preheat your broiler when you're ready to assemble the tacos.


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    How long you will cook the steak depends on two things: 1) the thickness, and 2) your preferred "done-ness" level. I personally have come to enjoy mine just slightly pink, so the meat remains tender. This steak was pretty thin, so I found broiling for 4 minutes on each side (8 minutes total) was perfect. I would encourage you to start with less time on the timer versus more. You can always cook a steak more (but not the other way around).


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    While your steak is cooking, drain and rinse your cactus.


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    I then warmed my cactus in a skillet. I didn't add any extra oil or seasoning, but I suppose you could do that if you wanted to. I wanted to enjoy the flavor on its own this time. If you are feeling creative, you might add garlic, peppers, beans, onion, or jalapenos at this point, too.


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    Here is my steak resting after being broiled. I let it sit on this cutting board for about 5 minutes before cutting it in thin strips across the grain. These two things will help keep your steak nice and tender. (Just like the sliced tender cactus, right?)


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    Assembling the taco is pretty easy: add some steak strips to the middle of a warmed corn tortilla and layer on the cactus. I topped with plenty of cilantro.


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    This recipe was delicious! (Yes, I did manage to down BOTH of the tacos pictured above for dinner.) Except for the time spent marinating your steak, it takes relatively short time to cook and put together too.


    If you feel you always make the same tacos with plain old ground beef, sour cream, and flour tortillas, try this cactus version instead! And here's a bonus idea for you:


    quesadillabanner


    Quesadillas!


    The next time you find yourself in a dinner rut, explore the shelves of your local Grocery Outlet store. You might just find some unusual, fun, or inspiring ingredient to get you excited about creating meals again. In case you missed them, you might want to check out the meals I've previously shared for this series:


    Make sure to come back next month for another fun installment!

     

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Sundried Tomato Pesto Chicken Stuffed Manicotti


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     


    It can be so easy to grab for the same ingredients to make the same recipes over and over, can't it? That's why I love hunting for interesting foods at Grocery Outlet. They can help keep me from getting in those dinner ruts! Last month, you might recall how I discovered these pasilla peppers at my local Grocery Outlet store and used them to put a spin on traditional stuffed peppers. This month, I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful new Maple Valley store in Washington and did I ever find some delicious treats!


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    They had beautiful organic pasta for just $1.50. I rarely venture beyond plain old spaghetti (and maybe penne when I'm in a mood!), largely due to the cost. Sure, it would be fun to try some new pasta - but who wants to spend $4 or $5 a bag? Not this gal! But $1.50? Now I'm game to change things up at the dinner table a bit! I decided to poke around and see what else I could find to put together a fun new pasta creation.

     

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    Check out these beautiful pesto varieties: garlic galore; basil, garlic & sundried tomatoes; and bail & garlic. I decided to pick up the basil, garlic & dried tomatoes. After that, I decided to see what I could find in the cheese section to complete my meal.

     

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    If you like cheese of any kind, you really need to make Grocery Outlet your stop. Check out these tubs of shredded Asiago, Romano and Parmesan cheese - all for just $1.99 each. I've seen similar tubs for $4 or more at other stores! It's all good quality stuff, too.

    Taking my Grocery Outlet ingredients, I decided to do a spin on this beautiful Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells recipe I discovered a couple weeks ago. Here's what I came up with:

    Ingredients: 1 package manicotti
    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (optional: plus more for garnish)
    1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cubed and cooked
    1 package cream cheese (I opted for fat free)
    1/2 cup sundried tomato pesto (OR other pesto of your choosing)
    Fresh ground pepper & salt, to taste
    2 tsp minced garlic
    1-tsp fresh chopped Italian parsley (optional: plus more for garnish)
    One batch Bechamel Sauce


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    Start by making your filling. Place the cream cheese in a bottom of a mixing bowl and add the garlic.

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    Next: the pesto! I was really excited to give this a whirl. You can mix it to your taste, and I wanted a really pesto-y taste, so I ended up adding about 1/2 of this container.

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    Add the cooked, cubed chicken. Make sure the pieces are not too large, because you are going to be stuffing your pasta. If you would prefer, you could omit the chicken for a vegetarian take on this recipe. OR, you could swap Italian sausage for the chicken for a different flavor combination.

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    Mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan, freshly ground pepper, salt, and a good measure of fresh chopped parsley. If you wish, you could add some other Grocery Outlet cheeses into the mix! I think a little mozzarella would be rather tasty.

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    Mix it all together. This might not look pretty, but trust me - take one whiff and you'll be wanting to just spoon it right out of the bowl like this! Heavenly!

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    At this point, I set aside my filling mix to chill while I worked on cooking my pasta and prepping the Bechamel Sauce. Here's one more look at the beautiful organic pasta I ended up with:

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    I cooked the entire package until al dente in salted water. While the pasta cooked, I made the sauce. Now, I'd never made a Bechamel sauce, but I figured - why not? The whole idea is to get out of a rut, try something new!

    To make the sauce, I followed this recipe at Epicurious. Turns out, I had everything I needed in my fridge already and it took mere minutes. Easy peasy!

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    You can get the full details at Epicurious, but it basically involves melting butter, adding a little flour and watching it bubble, adding hot milk, waiting for it to thicken and seasoning with salt and pepper. Really, really easy.

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    At this point, you should have the filling, the pasta, and the sauce done. It's time to assemble! I started by adding a small portion of Bechamel to the bottom of a baking pan, to prevent sticking. My manicotti was a "mini" version, so I found roughly 2 tablespoons of the filling did the trick. I worked to get two pieces of chicken into every noodle.

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    Here are all my manicotti noodles nearly ready for the oven!

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    I topped with the Bechamel, making sure to cover each noodle evenly and topped with a little more Parmesan for good measure. Then I popped this dish into a 350° oven for about 20 minutes.

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    The finished product! Yes, this dinner took a little more time, but I promise, it's worth the effort! Delicious!

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    Serve with plenty of fresh green salad and maybe a loaf of crusty Italian bread or garlic breadsticks. This recipe should serve 4-6, depending on appetites.

    If you've been in a dinner rut, can I recommend paying a stop to your local Grocery Outlet? I guarantee you'll find some new ingredients to jazz up your meal plan this week without breaking the bank. Make sure to come back next month and see what new creation I've come up with. If you missed it, check out my Stuffed Pasilla Peppers recipe from last month, too.

    With thanks to What's Cookin, Chicago? and Epicurious for today's recipe inspiration.

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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  • Breaking Out of the Dinner Rut: Pasilla Peppers


     Guest Post from The Coupon Project

     

    It can be really easy to get stuck in a dinner rut, can't it? We stock our pantries and refrigerators with the same items, gravitate to the same recipes, and plan our meals around the same foods.

    Over the next several months, I'd like to show you how Grocery Outlet can help you get out of a rut and get inspired to create beautiful meals that won't break the bank. Unlike other stores, you never truly know what you're going to find at Grocery Outlet! I like to think of it a bit like treasure hunting. So what better place to visit to find creative ingredients that will get your imagination going?

    Yesterday, I visited my South Tacoma store and found this beautiful bag of pasilla peppers for just $1.49. They sold them individually for $0.50, but the bag of four was a better bargain (works out to $0.37 each).


    Now I'd never cooked with these before, but the price was right and I was completely intrigued. How could I use this ingredient to make a delicious meal? I was determined to find out.

    After a little hunting on the internet, I learned that I could stuff them - much as you would green bell peppers. I loved the idea of a Mexican-inspired stuffed pepper recipe!

    Here's what you'll need to recreate my stuffed Pasilla Pepper recipe (serves 4):

    • 4 Pasilla Peppers, cleaned and whole
    • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, undrained (fire-roasted would work well, too!)
    • 1 cup frozen corn
    • 1/2 cup onion
    • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
    • 1 tbsp cumin
    • salt, to taste
    • freshly chopped cilantro, to taste (I used about 1/4 cup)
    • 1 1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (or Monterey Jack)
    • freshly chopped tomatoes, sour cream, etc. to serve (optional)

    The first step is to broil your peppers. This took about 10 minutes and I flipped them every 2-3 minutes. They will start to char up, and this is OK!



    When done, allow to sit and cool for a few minutes until you can handle them without burning yourself. While waiting, you can prepare your filling.


    Start by sautéing the onion in a little olive oil. Once the onions turn translucent, add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.



    At this point, I added the can of tomatoes, the can of black beans, cumin, and salt. I let the mixture simmer for a couple more minutes.



    Next, I added the cup of frozen corn and cooked for another couple minutes, until everything was warm. Finally, I added the chopped cilantro. I like a lot of cilantro flavor, so I went with about 1/4 cup, but of course, any of these seasonings could be done to taste.



    By this point, your peppers should be cool enough to handle. Very carefully, make a small triangular slit just below the stem. Then, remove the stem and the seeds. Take care with the seeds and make sure to wash your hands immediately after! You do not want to forget and then rub your eyes after working with them (speaking from experience here!).


    You can also remove the charred parts quite easily at this point.



    Continue the process for all four peppers. This took me several minutes to complete.



    Now it's time to stuff these babies. Just prior to stuffing, I added 1/2 cup of the cheese into the mix. I don't know about you, but I like cheese mixed through, not just on top. Make sure to stuff the entire pepper. A regular tablespoon did the trick for me!



    Finally, top with more cheese and bake in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.



    Serve and enjoy immediately!


    I have to say, I loved this recipe. I had a second helping and it got two thumbs up from my husband. It was a nice spin on the traditional green peppers and would definitely spice up your meal plan this week.


    While I was preparing it, it occurred to me you could easily create variations to suit your diet, tastes, and/or what you have on hand. Here are a few other ideas I came up with for the stuffing ingredients:

    • Rice
    • Quinoa or other whole grain(s)
    • Ground meat (I would think chorizo would be excellent!)
    • Dairy-free by omitting the cheese or using a vegan "cheese"
    • Mexican-style cheese, such as Cojita (see what your Grocery Outlet has in stock!)
    • Different vegetables - squashes, bell peppers, tomatillos
    Creating a beautiful, healthful meal such as this does not have to break the bank when you shop at Grocery Outlet! By shopping at Grocery Outlet and using items already in my pantry, I ended up spending a total of $6.26 for the entire dish, or just $1.56 per serving!


    I hope I've inspired you to check out your local Grocery Outlet and see what new and interesting ingredient you can find to help get you creating in the kitchen this week!

    Have you ever cooked with pasilla peppers? What have you found at Grocery Outlet recently that surprised you?

    With thanks to Tasty Kitchen, City Mama, and  SparkRecipes for today's recipe inspiration.

    Angela Russell blogs at The Coupon Project, a site that encourages families to live well for less. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her firefighter husband and two small kids. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and has recently taken up canning.

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