Monday, September 22, 2008

2 Cheap Chicks & $20!

About a month ago my sweet little friend over at Big Red Kitchen, Robin Sue, called me with a challenge. Being the frugal mommies we are - she asked if I wanted to be part of a dynamic duo - "2 Cheap Chicks and $20". The concept would be that we would pick different grocery stores and make a gourmet meal for under $20. As soon as she asked I was all over it! Just a quick note here about Robin Sue. Yes - she is freakishly small, and yes I am freakishly tall. My 6 feet put beside her 5 feet make us look more like Mutt and Jeff rather than a dynamic duo. What can I say - I KNOW good things come in small packages and Robin Sue proves that! Click over to her blog, Big Red Kitchen, to see what wonderful things she did with $20!

The challenge was on. We decided our first location would be Trader Joe's. The rules would be to make 3 dishes to feed 4 people for under $20. Sounded easy enough, so I scoured through cook books trying to find cohesive recipes that would lend themselves to such a tight budget.

We brought our calculators, $20, and imaginations! I had visions of preparing a wonderful meal with a gourmet dessert, but when you start adding up all those little ingredients that go into making just one dish, your expectations readjust slightly.

We slowly filled our carts and headed for the check out while holding our breath. Robin was sure she had gone over while I was completely confident in my math skills. I had checked and rechecked and proudly went through the check out with only my 20 dollar bill. All I can say is thank goodness for the "Take a Penny, Give a Penny" dish. Yikes - I had gone over 6 cents!

Here is the finished meal. If you ask me - it was worth the 6 extra cents! See if you agree.

The first side I chose was Baked Honey Onions. I love onions and I feel they play second fiddle too much of the time. I wanted a recipe to highlight this wonderfully tasty vegetable! The recipe I found in my Giant supermarket magazine was just the thing.

Baked Honey Onions
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 large white onions, quartered
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 325. Mix all ingredients (except the onions and cheese) together in a bowl. Coat a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the onions in a single layer in the dish, and cover them with the chicken broth mixture.
Cover onions and bake for 1 hour. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Return to the oven, and bake for 5 more minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Serves 4.

Green beans are always a hit in my house and what could be better than adding Pancetta to these already yummy morsels!

Green Beans with Pancetta and Brown sugar
1 bag frozen green beans
2 Tablespoons Brown sugar
4 oz Pancetta

Cook Pancetta in fry pan. Continue to remove grease as it cooks but retain it for later use.
Cook green beans in microwave according to package.
Drain green beans and toss with 2 Tablespoons brown sugar. Add cooked Pancetta and desired amount of grease.

Chicken was the last item on my menu. When my hubby and I moved to Rochester N.Y. we were introduced to Chicken Francese. I could not get enough of it when we lived there and sadly - we don't eat it very much anymore. I knew this was the perfect opportunity to introduce my children to one of my favorite dishes. The original recipe calls for skinless, boneless chicken breast, but I was on a budget! Chicken tenders would have to do this time.

Chicken Francese
2.5 lbs. Boneless, Skinless, chicken breasts
2 cups chicken stock
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 olive oil
3/8 cup white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup lightly salted butter
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Flour for dusting
pinch of salt and pepper

1. Season flour with salt and pepper.
2. Lightly dust chicken breast in flour and dip in beaten eggs.
3. Saute chicken in vegetable oil, approximately 3 minutes per side on medium heat.
4. Remove chicken from pan and deglaze with white wine and chicken stock.
5. Reduce liquid by half and add heavy cream.
6. Finish with lemon juice and adjust seasoning.
7. Return chicken to sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.


I could not make an extraordinary gourmet dessert - however with $1.50 left over I treated my family to 3 triangles of a Toblerone bar. Not a bad way to end a meal!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about our $20 adventure! Check back Wednesday for a Weight Watcher's meal and then Friday for a recap on our Gourmet Club that met over this past weekend! Robin Sue and the Dude "Himself" hosted a mighty fine Hoe-down! Can't wait to share the pictures!


Robin Sue said...

Your meal rocks! Love the onions, I never had them that way. Yay a new recipe for me. Oh wait three new recipes! I need to make that chicken and now I have the grocery list and store!! That day was so much fun. We are off to the next assignment soon. Freakishly small, huh! Tell that to my thighs, they'd laugh!

Lisa said...

Great dinner! That had to be a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

Hey that meal sounded sooo good and I love the onion recipe. Think I might get with that this week. It may be the only "gourmet"
meal I have tried.

Alexa said...

You guys are so fun and creative. Well done on this awesome meal!

Kristen said...

That is so funny - when I saw the photo of you two I thought "Either Robin is really short or you were really tall." Ends up being both!
I love this challenge. Great job, you two!

Rindy R said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! What a fun experience this was for me - can't wait for our next location!

Anonymous said...

I have always wanted the recipe for this kind of chicken. This looks fabulous. You did a good job! You girls are so smart and funny. Ma- Robin's Ma.

Anonymous said...

Rochester, NY--Holla! :)