Friday, April 29, 2011

Craziness... and a bit of Cookin with Creamy Chili Corn Chicken

Ok so to my few followers I apologize for my slackerish ways... I know that is not really a word but hey, you get the picture!  To be honest I haven't been cooking much lately due to date nights, no a/c, friends, mystery shops, and just plain old exhaustion!  But, I have made a few meals so let me tell you about one of them today and will continue to tell you about them for the next week.  So, the recipe I will highlight today is Creamy Chili Corn Chicken.  Josh and I really liked this meal, but it will probably not be a staple in our home... our 9 year old was not to keen on it at all!

Kid friendly?
Well... it was not accepted by our 9 year old, although our 2 year old ate it up.  I think that this could be a kid friendly meal if you are not dealing with the pickiest child on the planet like I am.  He didn't like it because he doesn't like corn or chilies... so it pretty much was a bust with him.  He didn't even really eat it at all.  But my 2 year old ate it up so it is half and half!

This recipe is a little more involved time-wise but not horrible.  I think it took about 45 minutes start to finish.  You have to chop an onion, cut the defrosted chicken, use some egg whites to make the coating, etc.  But i thought it was well worth it.

Easy on the pennies?
Yes this meal was budget friendly!  There were a few items that I had to pick up such as corn oil, chili powder, and cornmeal but that was because I was out of them.  So, if those are regular staples in your house then this meal really won't cost much at all.

Creamy Chili Corn Chicken


2 egg whites
2 Tablespoons water
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
6 (6 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup corn oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 (4 ounce) jars chopped green chiles
1 (15 ounce) can Mexican style corn or 1 cup cooked fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
2 cups queso fresco or low fat plain yogurt (I used yogurt)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Combine the egg whites, water, salt, and chili powder in a large bowl and whisk until frothy. Cut each chicken breast cross wise into 4 strips and add to the bowl with the egg whites. Toss to coat.
  2. Place the cornmeal in a zip-top plastic bag. Add one-third of the chicken strips, seal, and shake to coat. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  3. Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and brown the chicken on both sides in batches, 4 minutes each batch, adding more oil as needed. Remove the chicken to a paper towel lined baking sheet as it browns. Add the onion and sauté until soft, 5 minutes.
  4. Spoon off the oil from the pan. Add the chilies and their juices and heat until boiling. Add the corn and any juices and heat through. Add the chicken and stir in the quest fresco. Heat to simmering but do not boil.
  5. Stir in the cilantro. Serve with a side of mashed potatoes.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Zesty Mexican Soup

A little too zesty...

Although this meal was very tasty, very easy, and very budget friendly, it was also very spicy, at least for most of the family, including my 2-year-old. It was pretty much my fault because I used medium salsa instead of mild. This soup will be in our repertoire, just not with medium salsa!

Kid friendly?
Well, it was a bit too spicy for my 2 year-old but my 9 year-old still enjoyed it. He just couldn't finish it because of the spiciness.

This meal took pretty much zero prep time. I had some leftover chicken from the quesadillas and the rest is all canned things except for the chopped cilantro which was super quick to chop. I would definitely not forgo the cilantro because it was the soup maker for me.

Easy on the pennies?
A very cheap meal, I always have chicken and everything else is not expensive at all. Despite it's cheap ingredients it was still very healthy which is great!

Easy Chicken-Mushroom Quesadillas
Copyright Eat Better America

Prep Time:
5-10 min

Cook Time:
20 min

6 servings (of 1 cup each)

· 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
· 1 can (14 oz) Progresso® reduced-sodium chicken broth)
· 1 can (11.5 oz) vegetable juice cocktail
· 1 can (15.5 oz) Green Giant® whole kernel corn, drained
· 1 cup Muir Glen® organic salsa (any flavor)
· 1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles
· 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

The simple and straightforward directions:
In 3-quart saucepan, mix all ingredients except cilantro. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Stir in cilantro.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lemon Garlic Tilapia

Day 2 of my quest:
While it took more than 30-minutes start to finish, this one was a definite success!  

Lemon Garlic Tilapia - photo by pinkpotatochips
The lemon garlic tilapia was delicious and super easy.  I paired it with some brown rice and steamed veggies… so tasty! 

Kid Friendly?
My 2 year-old ate some of it and our foster son said for non-fried fish it was good, although fish in general is not his favorite.  But, he ate it and gave it a semi-compliment which is good enough for me.  He is not used to eating anything healthy and pretty much being able to say he didn’t want something and eating chips instead.  So, him clearing his plate without too much complaining is good enough for me!  I would certainly deem this kid friendly.

There was barely any prep time at all!  Just thaw the tilapia, chop up some garlic, squeeze some lemons, melt some butter, and viola after 30 minutes of baking you have some healthy, delicious fish!  As far as the rice is concerned, I put 2 cups of brown rice and 3 cups of water into my rice cooker (which I seriously could not survive without) and it was finished about the same time as the fish. I used a bag of frozen veggies that I could steam in the microwave.  So basically, I used about 10 minutes of my time to make a wonderful, well-balanced meal that my family enjoyed.

Was it easy on the pennies?
As far as fish goes, tilapia is definitely one of the most budget friendly and the rest of the ingredients are very simple and did not cost much at all.  I used frozen tilapia which is cheaper then fresh but tasted great.  One way you could cut the cost down is to use the bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemon juice, although lemons are not super expensive so either way it is not very costly.

Lemon Garlic Tilapia

Prep Time:
10 min

Cook Time:
30 min

4 servings

  • 4 tilapia fillets (I used 6)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (I used 2 cloves… I love garlic!)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes  
  • pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Rinse tilapia fillets under cool water, and pat dry with paper towels.  Place fillets in baking dish. Pour lemon juice over fillets, then drizzle butter on top. Sprinkle with garlic, parsley, and pepper.  Bake in preheated oven until the fish is white and flakes when pulled apart with a fork, about 30 minutes.

Final thoughts:
I don’t think I would do anything differently for this recipe, except maybe try the bottled lemon juice instead of fresh just to save the extra little bit of money.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Easy Chicken-Mushroom Quesadillas

Was it really that easy?
So tonight is the first night on my quest to finding tasty, healthy, easy, and budget friendly meals for my family  (well at least my first night blogging about it :-) ).  I am always on the lookout for healthy things that my family enjoys but I don't have hours to make gourmet meals nor do I have hundreds of dollars a week to spend.

I am a mother of a 2 year old daughter and a 9 month old son, as well as a foster mom to a 9-year-old son and expecting a new addition in August.  So, I am a typical busy mom that loves my family and wants to provide the best without spending all of my spare time in the kitchen.  Hopefully I will be successful in my search and I hope to help you in the process!  Several times I have made a meal that was said to be quick and easy, only to find that I am still cooking an hour and a half later which is so frustrating!  Well, now I will help you avoid those meals by letting you know the verdict before you try it.  I welcome your comments as well as the recipes that you have tested.  For my first night I made Easy Chicken-mushroom quesadillas from

Kid friendly?
This meal was very tasty -- even my super picky foster son liked them (he picked out all of the mushrooms, but he ate most of it); actually, I think this was the first time he complimented a meal instead of complaining!  My 2-year-old daughter ate them, although she dissected them like she does most meals.  


This meal wasn't as quick to prepare as the recipe stated; they told me it would only take 28 minutes to complete with the prep and cook time, but it took me about 40-45 minutes. But to their credit, their recipe called for cooked chicken and I had to cook my chicken; I'm sure there are several people who are faster chefs then I am!  My prep time was definitely cut short with the help of my food processor -- quite the meal life saver! 

Was it easy on the pennies?

This meal was pretty budget friendly, it was fairly simple ingredients and you could probably get away with cheaper then I did.  I purchased fresh mushrooms instead of canned because I like the taste so much better; if you do canned, it would cost probably 2 or 3 dollars less.
So, without further ado, the recipe...

Easy Chicken-Mushroom Quesadillas

Eating Healthy in 2009. Copyright 2007 Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved.
Prep Time:
12 min
Cook Time:
16 min
4 servings


·                              1 tablespoon canola oil (I used olive oil)
·                              1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
·                              8 ounces white button mushrooms, (about 3 cups)
·                              3 cloves garlic, minced
·                              2 cups cooked chopped skinless, boneless chicken breast (1 breast half)
·                              1 teaspoon ground cumin
·                              1 teaspoon chili powder
·                              1 teaspoon dried oregano
·                              2 cups baby spinach leaves, sliced into ribbons
·                              1/2 teaspoon salt
·                              1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
·                              4 (10-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas
·                              1 cup shredded Mexican cheese mix or Cheddar
·                              1/2 cup salsa
·                              1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream


Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook until the mushroom water is evaporated and they begin to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add chicken, cumin, chili powder and oregano and stir until all spices are incorporated. Add spinach, salt and pepper and cook until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.
Lay 1 tortilla on a flat work surface and sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Spoon 1/2 chicken and vegetable mixture on top of cheese, then top with an additional 1/4 cup cheese. Top with another flour tortilla. Heat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray over medium heat. Carefully place 1 quesadilla in pan and cook 3 minutes. Using a large spatula, gently flip quesadilla and cook an additional 3 minutes until lightly browned and cheese is melted. Repeat with second quesadilla. Slice each quesadilla into quarters. Place 2 quarters on a plate with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 2 tablespoons salsa.

Would I do anything different next time around?
A couple things I would do differently next time is to chop up the mushrooms. I just used sliced ones and they were a little big; plus I would grill the chicken instead of cooking it in the skillet.