Thursday, July 19, 2012

Quick, easy, and cheap dinner ideas!

I know we're not the only family who have been hit hard in this economy. As much as I would like to go back to work full time for the monetary benefit, its just not possible with my health. Between a tight budget, and two little girls that make dedicating a lot of time to preparing a meal impossible, I am always on the lookout for quick, easy, and most importantly, cheap dinner ideas.

Join me as I share with you a few of my favorite dinner ideas that meet the above criteria. Don't hesitate to link up with me by posting some of your own favorites.

1.) Chicken alfredo casserole- This is a favorite of mine and it's always a hit. I've gotten feedback from others telling me that they have added veggies such as broccoli to it. It goes great with garlic bread and a salad and what kid doesn't like chicken alfredo with cheese on top?

2.) Easy tuna casserole- This is a recipe that I first learned to cook from my step-mom, Rhonda. It fed me many times during my days as a single gal out on her own. I always ate mine with a slice of buttered sandwhich bread.

3.) Sausage and crescent roll bake- My sister, Nikki made this for me a few years ago during a night of wedding planning for her upcoming nuptials. I've been making it ever since and I'm sure I'll be making it for years to come. It's great for breakfast and an easy dinner with a side of scrambled eggs. It has cream cheese in it for goodness sake, that's enough said.

4.) Southwest chicken- I just made this for the first time this past Sunday and I am salivating at the idea of making it again. We love Mexican food and this was right up our alley. My aunt Robin made it for her and my uncle Dan's 35th wedding anniversary this week and they loved it.

5.) Chicken noodle soup- I love this dish! Its so comforting and filling and what is great is that it makes enough for leftovers the next day. Ladle on top of a pile of creamy mashed potatoes and be prepared to be taken back to your grandmother's kitchen.

6.) Chicken taco ring-  I whipped this baby up after having something similiar to it this past Christmas. My mother-in-law made a ground beef version for us Christmas day. We branched out this year and did a Mexican theme instead of the tradional ham or turkey.

7.) Holiday crunch- Once again I can't believe I am posting this recipe. My mom made this for us growing up and I loathed it back then. Apparently I have turned over a new leaf because I actually enjoy it now. We always serve ours with a side of corn.

8.) Salsa ranch burgers- I first discovered this recipe over at Cassie Craves. The hard part about this recipe is frying up the burgers in a pan, but you are reminded that its worth the mess and hassle after each bite you take. We love this burger!

9.) White chicken enchiladas with green chile sour cream sauce- There are no words in my vocabulary that would adequately describe just how delictable these are! I love them that much and they are another dish that I discovered over at Cassie Craves.

10.) Broiled tilapia parmesan- I'm not a seafood person by any means. Sadly Daniel loves the stuff so on occassion I do the good wife routine and make him something like this. Don't tell anybody, but this is actually pretty good. I don't even use fresh lemon juice, just squeeze in some of the stuff out of the little yellow

11.) Veggie pizza- If you're looking for a refreshing and light dinner or even lunch, this is right up your alley. It's a great way to get lots of vegetables into your kids and it doesn't hurt that its smothered in a ranch sauce.

12.) Chicken ranch spaghetti- The girls and I adore this meal. I usually make it when Daniel is out of town on business since he isn't the biggest fan. It has three of our favorite things in it...pasta, broccoli, and ranch. They gobble it up and we usually eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Now link up and share some of  your favorite quick, easy, and cheap dinner ideas!

Salted Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bark

It's no secret that someone in this house has a serious sweet tooth. Part of being married to Daniel means always having ice-cream readily available. I think it was part of my vows to His sweet tooth goes beyond just ice-cream. In order to quench his need for ice-cream it also means that you must have either chocolate or caramel sauce on stand by, as well as having sprinkles or having some sort of chip available. Chocolate chips, mint chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, he has no preference, as long as he has some chips to sprinkle on top. Personally, I can make a half a gallon of ice-cream last for weeks. He's lucky if he can make his last a week and then my ice-creams safety becomes jeopardized. It's quite entertaining really. He'll eat all of his, then for a couple of days you can tell he's dying to start on my ice-cream but he isn't brave enough to ask. Then after the first couple of days I give in and let him dig into mine. It's my wifely duty to make sure he and his tummy are happy!

Now, I would be lying if I said I didn't have a sweet tooth as well. I couldn't turn down a chocolate chip cookie or a piece of cake, preferably store bought, to save myself. When we don't have this kind of stuff at home I'm fine as I don't typically crave them. Sadly though, when they are in this house, I have a real problem staying away from them. I have an even bigger problem staying away from the sweet recipes I find on-line on a daily basis.

This bark is a little gem that I once again found on Pinterest. That site is doing horrible things to my waist line I tell ya! I just made the Southwest Chicken that I discovered on there the other night, and I'm already anxious to make it again. This bark will be no different. I just made it this morning and I won't admit to how many pieces I have already had. What is great is that I pretty much always have these ingredients on hand. I think the hubby was kind of impressed when I told him I made the caramel sauce from scratch!

The recipe originated over at The Legume Loyalist, but I pinned it from the mama say what blog

I will take this stuff over a bowl of ice-cream any day of the week!

Salted Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bark

2 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 a bag of pretzel twists, I used pretzel sticks as that is what I had on hand.
1 bag of chocolate chips
Sea salt

1.) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2.) Then line a large jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and lay a single layer of pretzels down.

3.) In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and the brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Let it boil gently just until it starts to stick to the bottom and it forms a nice smooth caramel. You’ll want to let it bubble a little and get really thick.

4.) Remove from heat and pour evenly over the top of the pretzels (don’t worry if every single pretzel isn’t covered). Put in the oven at 350 degrees for five minutes.

5.) Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Place it back in the oven for a minute or two to allow the chips to melt.

6.) Spread the chocolate chips around with a spatula.

7.) Sprinkle generously with sea salt.

8.) Let cool on the counter top for a few minutes and then pop in the freezer for at least two to three hours.
 * My lack of patience allowed it to freeze up for about two hours. Three hours was out of the question!

9.) When it comes out of the freezer, break it up into uneven chunks with your hands and serve. Or if you skip the aluminum foil step like I did, cut it into pieces and then scrape it out with a spatula. If you don't use the foil, make sure you lightly spray your pan.

How can you say no to something so gorgeous and enticing?
I've linked up this week with The Purple Pumkin blog where I've feature my peanut butter chocolate chips brownies. Be sure to go check it out!

The Purple Pumpkin Blog Link Party