Friday, January 3, 2014

Chicken Breast and the Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

The sale dates are still messed up from the holidays. I’ll try to include them here, but be sure to check them before you shop.

Aldi has started to carry more organic produce. I have friends in other parts of the country who say that their stores have lots of organic produce, but I haven’t seen much here. You might want to check the store to see what’s available if you want to get organic. This week, though, for conventional produce, fruit seems to be the thing. Pineapples are 99 cents each, cantaloupe are $1.49 each, and blackberries 99 cents for 6 ounces, or about $2.50 per pound. These prices are good through Tuesday, January 7.

Marsh has strawberries $5.00 for two 1-pound boxes, or $2.50 per box. Canned vegetables are 49 cents each, but you have to buy at least ten “participating items” to get that price. Western style ribs, which come from the shoulder, are $1.99 a pound. Some of them will have bones, but you may be able to find some that are boneless, or nearly so. Pork sirloin roast is $1.69 a pound. It comes from the loin but it does have a bone. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are $1.99 in the family packs. These prices are good through Sunday, January 5.

Kroger has 5 cans of tomatoes for $3.00, or 60 cents a can. Cottage cheese is $1.25 a pint. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are $1.97 a pound. Two 1-pound boxes of strawberries are $5.00, or $2.50 each. And iceberg lettuce is 99 cents a head. These prices are good through Wednesday, January 8.

IGA has sirloin pork chops for 99 cents a pound in the family pack, and boneless, skinless chicken breasts and tenders for $1.99 a pound. Cabbage is 33 cents a pound. These prices are good through Sunday, January 5.

Looks like just about everyone has boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale this week. Maybe because they figure everyone made New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier this year, and they figure that chicken breasts fit right in there? Whatever the reason, let’s talk about them again this week. Be sure to check the older posts for recipes, too, including the ones for turkey breast.

I spent the holidays in Idaho with Mom, and we had chicken breasts a couple of nights. Mom usually slices, breads and fries them, but since I don’t eat grains we had to improvise. We came up with PARMESAN ALMOND CHICKEN BREASTS. It was a matter of dumping in some of this and some of that, but I think this is pretty close to what we had. It turned out really good, too – especially the crispy coating. In fact, we talked about maybe just frying the coating next time! We got two meals for two people each out of this, plus one slice left over, but the portions were a bit on the skimpy side. Let’s say four servings, because there is the extra protein from the cheese and the almonds. The total cost should be about $3.40, or 85 cents per serving. The first night we had a salad and buttered carrots with it, and the second night we had CREAMED SPINACH and buttered carrots. A pound of carrots would be 70 cents, plus a tablespoon or so of butter would bring it to about 75 cents. A head of the iceberg lettuce that’s on sale plus some ranch dressing would bring the total for the meal to about $5.50. You could add some extra veggies to the salad if you wanted and still keep it under $6.00 for the meal ($1.50 per person), or you could have half a pineapple for dessert. The Creamed Spinach runs about $2.25 for the batch, so that, plus the carrots and the chicken comes to about $6.40, or $1.60 per person, which is just over my goal of $1.50 per person.

I wrote this column while I was still at Mom’s house, so I looked through her cookbooks for recipes. She doesn’t have a lot, but she has some good ones. Mom grew up in near Des Moines, where Better Homes and Gardens had their headquarters (they may still be there, for all I know), and her sister still lives there. Mom has lots of their cookbooks. ORANGE CHICKEN comes from a 1969 cookbook. A batch will cost about $3.40 (I’m guessing on the cost of the orange juice concentrate), or about 85 cents a serving. With the orange juice and ginger, it would be great over broccoli. A pound of frozen broccoli was 98 cents at Walmart the last time I checked, but I’d use two pounds. That would bring the total to about $5.40. The culinary etiquette gurus say you shouldn’t have fruit in more than one course of a meal, but I’d have fruit for dessert anyway, since it’s on sale this week. You could have half a pineapple for a total cost of about $5.90, or you could have half a cantaloupe and bring the total to $6.15. Or you could have just a pound and a half of broccoli and keep the cost under $6.00 (under $1.50 per serving) with either kind of fruit. Or, if you wanted to be really fancy, you could combine a 6 ounce box of blackberries with some cantaloupe. It would bring the total cost to a bit over $6.00, but blackberries and cantaloupe go so well together. You could skimp a bit on another meal to make up for it.

The next recipe, EASY CHICKEN DIVAN, is one of my favorites. It uses cream of chicken soup, though, and I try to avoid processed foods like that. You could substitute homemade CREAM OF WHATEVER SOUP MIX if you wanted. This costs about $6.50 if you use the canned soup, or about $6.00 if you make your own. It makes six to eight servings. At six servings, it would be $1.00 per serving, which would bring it to $4.00 for four servings. (I’ll tell you what to do with the other two servings in a minute.) You could add some buttered carrots for another 75 cents and a big lettuce salad with a grated carrot and some dressing for less than a dollar more. Or skip the skip either the salad or the carrots and have fruit for dessert. It will still cost under $1.50 per person.

As for the extra two servings of the Chicken Divan, add it to a cup of milk and a pint or so of chicken broth, heat it, and use a blender to make Cream of Chicken and Broccoli Soup out of it.

I hope you have a fabulous New Year, and I hope to see you at the HUB sometime! Check out their schedule of cooking demos and tastings. The last time I talked to Kayte, she said they hope to have something going on every day. And don’t forget the cooking and gardening classes. I know it’s still January, but it won’t be long before it will be time to start your seedlings inside!

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