French Onion Baked Chicken

One onion

Two or three cloves of garlic

1 tbsp flour

1 tsp sugar

Salt and pepper

4 Chicken thighs

One cup chicken broth

2 tbsp white wine or vermouth

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Slice the onion very finely, and saute in a little cooking oil. After the onions start to color, add sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic. 

When onions are golden brown, add flour and mix together well. Add chicken broth to deglaze the pan, then add the vermouth/wine and mustard. 

Add in the chicken and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, until chicken internal temperature is 165.

Budget Friendly; Shakshuka

I have two new series I’m starting, in addition to the Lessons in the Kitchen series and seasonal meals. One is healthy meals that follow the “Healthy Plate” model, and the other is a Budget Friendly series. Today’s dish I almost couldn’t decide which series to put it in, since it could work in either one. I eventually decided it works best in the budget series, and has the benefit of being very healthy. 

After the holidays, I always have to watch my budget. Between traveling, eating out, and going to holiday events, it makes an impact on my budget. I also have noticed grocery store prices increasing, as I’m sure many of you have noticed, too. I thought since I’m focusing on adding more budget meals in my personal life, ya’ll might like some inexpensive recipe ideas, too.

Shakshuka is a super easy, flexible meal. The most simple way I make it is with onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, eggs, and spices. Usually I add other ingredients (like ground beef or beans) to make it stretch a bit further, and I like to experiment with the spices, too. It’s a great dish to add into your normal rotation of recipes, as it’s simple, inexpensive, and easy to experiment with.

I used canned and frozen ingredients (except the eggs and tortillas), but you could instead use fresh ingredients, of course. I also included beans, but didn’t use dry beans. If I had used dry beans, it would have decreased the price further. You could also not use beans at all, and just have the vegetables and eggs, of course, but it’s a good way to make the meal go further.

I also like to serve this with some kind of toasted bread. This time, instead of toast, I fried a couple of tortillas in a little oil. They were really good, and I’ll definitely serve them with this meal again in the future.

The below recipe makes 8 servings, and it’s a great dish for leftovers. I will poach as many eggs as are needed for the first night, then divide the rest up into containers. Each night I use a small frying pan, heat up the tomato base, then poach the eggs.

The way I made this dish came out to be $10.65 for the entire order. Since I expect this to make eight servings, with one egg and one tortilla per serving, the cost per serving is just $1.11. I didn’t include the oil or seasonings that I used because those are very infrequent purchases. Also, the seasonings and oil are highly customizable. 

Eggs = $1.39 (12 ct) = 0.12/egg

Beans = 2x $1.38 (Dry beans = 1.49/16 oz)

Tomatoes = 2x $1.19

Pepper and Onion = $1.33

Tortillas = $2.29 (20 ct) = $0.12/tortilla

Garlic = $0.50/ head

Basic Shakshuka 

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

28 oz can of diced tomatoes

8 Eggs

1 Bell pepper

1 Onion

Spices

Saute the bell pepper and onion.

Add tomatoes and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer until desired consistency (this is up to personal preference, but I like mine pretty thick).

Use a spoon to make wells in the tomato, and crack eggs into them. Poach eggs in the tomatoes for 4 minutes.

Serve. I like to serve it with some kind of toast.

Shakshuka with Red Kidney Beans

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

28 oz can of diced tomatoes

8 Eggs

12 oz bag frozen diced onion and bell pepper blend

4-5 garlic cloves

2 15 oz cans red kidney beans, drained

1 ½ tsp chili powder

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp roasted garlic

Saute the bell pepper, onion, and garlic.

Add tomatoes, beans, and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer until desired consistency (this is up to personal preference, but I like mine pretty thick).

Use a spoon to make wells in the tomato, and crack eggs into them. Poach eggs in the tomatoes for 4 minutes.

Serve. I like to serve it with some kind of toast.

Shakshuka with Red Kidney Beans

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

28 oz can of diced tomatoes

8 Eggs

12 oz bag frozen diced onion and bell pepper blend (or one fresh bell pepper and one onion)

4-5 garlic cloves

2 15oz cans red kidney beans, drained

1 ½ tsp chili powder

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp Italian blend seasoning

1 tsp roasted garlic

Saute the bell pepper, onion, and garlic.

Add tomatoes, beans, and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer until desired consistency (this is up to personal preference, but I like mine pretty thick).

Use a spoon to make wells in the tomato, and crack eggs into them. Poach eggs in the tomatoes for 4 minutes.

Serve. I like to serve it with some kind of toast.

Basic Shakshuka

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

28 oz can of diced tomatoes

8 Eggs

1 Bell pepper

1 Onion

Spices

Saute the bell pepper and onion.

Add tomatoes and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer until desired consistency (this is up to personal preference, but I like mine pretty thick).

Use a spoon to make wells in the tomato, and crack eggs into them. Poach eggs in the tomatoes for 4 minutes.

Serve. I like to serve it with some kind of toast.

Potato Soup

Belated happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a great holiday season. It was great to spend time with some of my family, and now I’m excited to get back into the normal routine. I have a couple of new recipe series planned for the next few months, and I can’t wait to share them with ya’ll. For today, I hope you enjoy this simple comfort meal.

We’re starting off the year with one of my favorite winter meals. I love everything potato, and growing up my favorite soup was always potato soup. It’s a warm, hearty meal, and I love it on chilly January nights. Not that we’ve had many chilly nights so far this year, but it’s still a good meal.

Potato Soup Recipe

8 servings

10 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 onion, diced

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 lb bacon

⅓ C. bacon grease or butter

⅓ C. flour

3 C. chicken or vegetable stock

2 C. Milk

1 can cream of chicken soup

Salt pork (optional)

Basil

Cilantro

Paprika

Salt

Pepper

Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

  1. In a dutch oven, cook bacon. When almost done, add a few pieces of salt pork. Remove bacon to cool and crumble, and reserve ⅓ C. drippings.
  2. Saute onion and garlic with salt pork, salt and pepper. Remove pork and toss potatoes in the vegetables. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Heat ⅓ C. bacon fat or butter, stir in flour and seasonings and cook until golden, stirring frequently. Add broth and one cup milk and bring to a boil.
  4. Add potatoes and vegetables, cream chicken soup, and last cup of milk. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Top with bacon and cheese.

Have fun, be safe, and eat good food!

Potato Soup Recipe

8 servings

10 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 onion, diced

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 lb bacon

⅓ C. bacon grease or butter

⅓ C. flour

3 C. chicken or vegetable stock

2 C. Milk

1 can cream of chicken soup

Salt pork (optional)

Basil

Cilantro

Paprika

Salt

Pepper

Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

  1. In a dutch oven, cook bacon. When almost done, add a few pieces of salt pork. Remove bacon to cool and crumble, and reserve ⅓ C. drippings.
  2. Saute onion and garlic with salt pork, salt and pepper. Remove pork and toss potatoes in the vegetables. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Heat ⅓ C. bacon fat or butter, stir in flour and seasonings and cook until golden, stirring frequently. Add broth and one cup milk and bring to a boil.
  4. Add potatoes and vegetables, cream chicken soup, and last cup of milk. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Top with bacon and cheese.

Southern Thanksgiving

It’s almost that time of year. When everyone’s diets go out the window and I completely blow my grocery budget. The holidays. And I don’t know about other parts of the country or world, but in the South, we don’t skimp on the holidays. Everything has full fat butter, and most things have sugar in one way or another. It’s delicious, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Growing up, we normally had Thanksgiving turkey, but we also almost always had a ham at Thanksgiving. Definitely ham at Christmas. And frankly, I like ham better than turkey. It isn’t ever dry, and it normally has a lot more flavor.

Thankfully, my husband also has fond memories of sugar ham, so he doesn’t care if we have that instead of the more traditional turkey. We both have a favorite way for it to be cooked, the way our grandmothers made it. Seeing the crock pot with the ham, with rounds of pineapple and little red cherries, will always remind me of Christmas and my dad’s mom. 

I love having ham because it’s also pretty easy to make. All it needs is a few ingredients and to sit in the crockpot for as long as it can, which makes it a pretty hands off meal. I made us one this year earlier in November, and it was a great reminder of the holidays and what is to come. A ham for two people is pretty reasonably priced, and I found one for about ten dollars that lasted us for three meals, a total of six servings. To go with it I made macaroni and cheese and roasted asparagus. I was originally going to do fresh green beans, but the green beans at the store didn’t look good, so I switched last minute to asparagus.

I’ve shown how I cook asparagus before, but I just roasted them at 375 fahrenheit for about twenty minutes. I like to drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. You could also add garlic and onion powder, or pretty much any other seasonings you would like.

I’ve been using the macaroni and cheese website from The Pioneer Woman for almost ten years at this point, and it has never let me down. I even follow it almost exactly, which doesn’t happen often. Sometimes I don’t include the egg, and it turns out fine. I also like to add a little smoked paprika and a few dashes of hot sauce at the same time as the other spices. It doesn’t make it hot or spicy at all, just gives a really good, almost smoky flavor.

Hams are sold with the fresh meat in the grocery store. They come in multiple sizes, so you kind of have to guess how much you need. I got a pretty small one, and it made about six servings, but if I was cooking for more than two or three people, I would go ahead and get one of the bigger ones. They sell some of them “spiral-sliced,” which I love. It makes it a lot easier to serve, and it means the brown sugar and juices can flavor more of the ham. The one I bought was labelled as a “Picnic Shoulder,” but unfortunately I don’t remember the weight.

Sugar Ham

Picnic shoulder, or spiral sliced ham

Brown sugar

Sliced pineapple

Maraschino cherries

Coca-cola or Dr. Pepper

Place the ham in a crockpot. If it is a really big ham, you may have to slice part of the top off for it to fit. Just work with it until you can fit the whole thing in the crock pot. Sometimes if the lid just won’t seal, I’ll use aluminum foil, then layer a towel over the top for added insulation. Be careful if you do this, as the aluminum foil will get hot.

Pack brown sugar onto the top of the ham, and as far down the sides as you can reach.

Lay pineapple slices around the outside of the ham, using toothpicks to keep them on the sides.

Dot cherries in the middle of each pineapple slice, and in any other gaps you may have, using toothpicks to keep them in place.

Pour 8 – 12 ounces of Coca-cola or Dr. Pepper over the ham. 

Cook on low for eight hours, or as long as needed, or on high for 4 – 6 hours. Periodically baste the juices over the ham.

Sugar Ham

Picnic shoulder, or spiral sliced ham (My 3.5 lb ham made six servings)

Brown sugar

One can sliced pineapple

Maraschino cherries

8 – 12 oz. Coca-cola or Dr. Pepper

Place the ham in a crockpot. If it is a really big ham, you may have to slice part of the top off for it to fit. Just work with it until you can fit the whole thing in the crock pot. Sometimes if the lid just won’t seal, I’ll use aluminum foil, then layer a towel over the top for added insulation. Be careful if you do this, as the aluminum foil will get hot.

Pack brown sugar onto the top of the ham, and as far down the sides as you can reach.

Lay pineapple slices around the outside of the ham, using toothpicks to keep them on the sides.

Dot cherries in the middle of each pineapple slice, and in any other gaps you may have, using toothpicks to keep them in place.

Pour 8 – 12 ounces of Coca-cola or Dr. Pepper over the ham. 

Cook on low for eight hours, or as long as needed, or on high for 4 – 6 hours. Periodically baste the juices over the ham.

Lessons in the Kitchen; Lemon Onion Tilapia

It’s always a good idea to have a few easy, quick recipes on hand, and especially so with the upcoming holiday season. I like having recipes that mostly use things I generally have on hand, and ones that don’t take much effort are even better. This recipe definitely checks all those boxes, and I keep it on my menu rotation pretty frequently. It has the added benefit to me of the memory of the afternoon when my grandma taught me this recipe.

I use Tilapia, typically, but you can use any kind of fish. I like keeping individually wrapped tilapia filets in my freezer, and eat them a lot for lunch and occasionally for supper. A basic white fish like Tilapia, Whiting, or Cod are good to keep on hand because they are so versatile. There are tons of sauces and toppings you can put on them, and multiple ways they can be cooked, too. It’s also one of the recipes you can buy in bulk at your regular grocery store.

For sides, you can make whatever you like. I try to have some sort of vegetable, but I also like having some kind of carb, too. Tilapia is a light fish, so I like having something filling, like rice, as a side. This time I made fried rice with peas and egg. The rice isn’t so much a recipe as it is a method, but I’ve included instructions below anyway. It should get you started. Of course you could always do a more simple white rice, steamed veggies, and/or salad. This one is really up to you. If I made it this week, I would probably make sides of white rice and blanched spinach with sesame oil and garlic. Next week, I might just stick a simple salad and toast with it.

Lemon Onion Tilapia

One Tilapia filet per person 

Half a lemon per person

Quarter onion per person

One tbsp butter per person

One clove garlic per person

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Slice the lemon and onion, then layer half on the bottom of your dish.

Add the tilapia, then cover with the remaining lemon and onion. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Add crushed garlic clove and butter to the pan, then bake at 375 for 20 – 30 minutes, until done.

I like to cover the pan with aluminum foil for the first 15 – 20 minutes, then remove it for the final baking time. The fish should flake easily and be opaque when it’s done cooking. Periodically spoon the butter and juices back over the fish during bake time.

Fried Rice

Cooked rice (white or brown, however much you want)

Some kind of frozen or canned vegetable (I normally use frozen sweet peas, but corn or carrots would work really well, too)

Sesame oil

Canola oil

One egg

Soy sauce

I try to cook the rice ahead of time. Heat a little oil in your pan, then add your rice.

Stir for a moment as the rice cooks, then make a hole in the middle. Add your egg and scramble to cook. Once cooked, add frozen peas and mix everything together.

Add sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Literally, taste the rice and adjust seasonings as needed. 

Lemon Onion Tilapia Recipe Card

One Tilapia filet per person 

Half a lemon per person

Quarter onion per person

One tbsp butter per person

One clove garlic per person

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Slice the lemon and onion, then layer half on the bottom of your dish.

Add the tilapia, then cover with the remaining lemon and onion. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Add crushed garlic clove and butter to the pan, then bake at 375 for 20 – 30 minutes, until done.

I like to cover the pan with aluminum foil for the first 15 – 20 minutes, then remove it for the final baking time. The fish should flake easily and be opaque when it’s done cooking. Periodically spoon the butter and juices back over the fish during bake time.