Monday, August 23, 2010

Bandera Chicken

This dish is kind of a partially deconstructed enchilada for the lazy Frau. Also freezes well so why not double the recipe, make two, and freeze one for later. You can easily modify the ratios here to produce a dish to suit your tastes. More chicken, more beans, vegetarian, etc.


1-2 C cooked, shredded/diced chicken(grill leftovers or deli rotisserie work great)

1 Can of evaporated milk 16 oz-ish

16-20 oz shredded cheese (cheddar, Colby, jack, etc)

2 cans diced green chilies

1 can of diced tomatoes with chilies (or Rotel) drained, with liquid reserved

1 can of beans, rinsed (we like black or red beans)-optional

8-12 corn tortillas

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp salt

Mix evaporated milk, 1 can chilies, and juice from the tomatoes in a bowl. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. Coat the bottom & sides of a 9x13 casserole pan with your choice of cooking oil. Mix cumin, salt, and 1 can of green chilies into the chicken using fingers to ‘work it in.’ Tear corn tortillas into quarters. Layer tortillas, sprinkle 1/3 of meat mixture along with a smattering of tomatoes, cheese, and beans if desired. Work your way to the top of the casserole dish and top with your ‘sauce’ of evaporated milk, chilies, and tomato juice. Top with cheese and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until sauce/cheese is brown & bubbly.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tightwad Tuesdays: Saving Money By NOT Shopping at Walmart

Today’s post is inspired by my dear friend’s facebook status about her desire for change in her shopping habits. I quote " the hunter/gatherer is on the mission for new and better hunting grounds. The toxic swamp of WalMart will be avoided." Since she lives in rural Mississippi, this is no easy task. While we haven’t discussed it, I believe her motivation for this is to avoid WM for the same reasons so many of us have decided to avoid WM; poor customer service, low quality products, poor employee relations, etc. I am not going to get into the politics of the WM debate here because, let’s face it; WM isn’t the only entity guilty of the above. I will however, refute a widely held belief that the way to save big on groceries is to shop WM. Au contraire, Sister-Fraus…au contraire.

As a side note to all my Metro-Fraus who have a glorious Trader Joe’s at their disposal; suck it! We don’t have Trader Joe’s here and we hate you because you do…but I digress.

You see, WM is big enough to make up their own rules about pricing. When doing a side-by-side comparison of items at regular grocers vs WM, the ‘everyday’ price is nearly always 10-20% cheaper at WM. As the largest retailer in the country, they can buy product in large enough quantities to secure a better wholesale price, resulting in a lower price overall to pass on to the consumer. But as you may have noticed, WM doesn’t really have ‘sales.’ Sure, they put out a flyer every week and have their creepy, little yellow dot flying around the store lowering prices. But overall their prices stay about the same.

So what’s a Frau to do? If it’s cheaper there ALL the time, how can I save by shopping somewhere else? Three concepts: The Loss Leaders, the Sales Cycles, and the Pantry Padding (Amen). These three concepts will do more to save you money than almost any other penny-pinching activity. A perfect storm that, once you get the hang of it, will consistently save you an average of 50%. Some definitions are in order:

#1 Loss-leader

A loss-leader is an item with a sale price that is very, very low perhaps half price or less. These items are chosen by corporate marketing types with the sole purpose of bringing you into the store. They often price these items so low that they may even lose money on it. Why? Because they know that once you are in the store, you will likely buy other stuff that is not on sale. The regular priced (i.e. overpriced) stuff is where they make their money back. But if you are smart, as I know all of my Sister-Fraus are, you can use this system to your advantage. Hold that thought.

#2 Sale Cycles

Sale Cycles are the schedules that the corporate marketing types use to rotate sales. Let’s say you love Cheerios. If you watch your grocery store flyers, one week Cheerios will be on sale for about ½ price, maybe less. Approximately, 4-8 weeks later, Cheerios will once again be on sale for ½ price. It is as predictable as a hangover or a Diane Lane movie.

#3 Pantry Padding

I used to refer to this practice as stockpiling but then I met a weirdo, up all night, conspiracy theorist and it started to remind me of them, so I changed it. Pantry padding is just another word for having a very well-stocked pantry.

So here’s the really complicated part…watch out…I might just be about to blow your mind.

• View the weekly flyers in your Sunday paper or online and list the ‘loss leader’ items that you would normally buy at full price anyway

• Buy enough of them during the current sale cycle to ‘pad your pantry’ until the next sale cycle, 4-8 weeks later

• Resist buying anything that isn’t on sale and deeply discounted because chances are it will be on sale and deeply discounted within a few short weeks

That’s it. About 20 minutes of planning and a resolve to not buy anything that isn’t a loss-leader. When you do this and do it consistently you will always pay 30-50% less for those items. If you can do this with most of your grocery items, the result will be a much smaller grocery bill with nary a coupon in sight. If you add coupons into this mix, you start getting into free or even profit-generating shopping, which, admittedly, is not for everyone.

If you are still not convinced, think of it this way when it seems like too much trouble. If you averaged a 50% savings on most of what you buy, you could save $2400 a year. If invested in a mutual fund every month at a conservative 9% return it will equal nearly $40,000 after 10 years.

But I don’t care about the money. I just want to be sure I have enough Frank’s Hot Sauce in the basement to last me through the revolution…shudder the thought, it keeps me up at night. Weirdo.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Moron-proof recipes

My last few recipe posts were a little ingredient/skills heavy so this week we will tackle an area near and dear to my heart-recipes that even the stupidest among us (kitchen-wise) can not destroy. Yes, Laura, that means you. Excellent for company and one of my mom's favorites.

Shrimp Victoria

1lb of uncooked shrimp from anywhere the water is not ruined for generations
1 onion (or several shallots if you are feeling uppity)
1 16 oz package of fresh mushrooms
bottle of dry white wine
16 oz sour cream
as much butter as your conscience will allow

Melt the butter, saute' the onions and mushrooms til tender. Deglaze pan with 1 C white wine, add shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes until pink. Remove from heat, sir in sour cream. Serve over rice. Drink the rest of the wine.