Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cooking the Deals: June 2-8

After last week’s grilling bonanza and with the summer’s heat suddenly upon us, you may be looking at your usual menus and want something new. Cooking in the summer definitely has its blessings, with a bounty of in-season produce at peak flavor and rock-bottom prices. It can also be challenging to cook meals that won’t leave your kitchen as hot as your oven. Both an outdoor grill and a slow-cooker (Crock Pot) can be lifesavers on hot days.

Not sure what to do with this week’s deals? Here are some ideas for the deals I found this week at Jewel, Dominick’s, and Aldi.

  • pasta 
  • chicken leg quarters 
  • yogurt 
  • bagged salad 
  • strawberries 
  • watermelon
  • Skippy peanut butter 
  • blueberries 
  • rib half sliced pork loin 
  • macaroni and cheese
Ronzoni Garden Selects pasta ($.25 moneymaker after coupons):
Pioneer Woman: Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce
Paula Deen: Italian Pasta Salad

If Paula’s dish is too complicated, try this simple recipe:
Easy Italian Pasta Salad
1 box pasta + 2 chicken breasts + 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables + 1 can olives + 1 bottle Italian dressing. Bake 2 chicken breasts and dice, or use some of the chicken leg quarters from this week’s deals, skin and debone, then dice. Cook up the pasta, set aside to cool. Cook the frozen veg, then toss all ingredients together. Don’t use the entire bottle of dressing, just keep adding until you reach a level of seasoning that works for you. Remember that the dressing will pool at the bottom of the bowl and you can always re-toss this. Then chill the whole thing in the fridge for several hours. This is a great one to make up earlier in the day or the previous night for a quick dinner before sports practices.

Chicken Leg Quarters ($.69 per pound):
All Recipes: Garlic Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
All Recipes: Chicken with Chipotle
All Recipes: Zesty Slow Cooker Chicken Barbecue
Grilled Chicken (marinate overnight in your favorite seasonings and toss on the grill)
Pioneer Woman: Chicken Salad

Leq quarters are higher in fat than breasts, but they’re also more flavorful and more moist. They’re also hands down the cheapest cut you can get. While whole birds will often go down to $.77 a pound, you still have to cut them up or deal with roasting them whole. Leg quarters are a bit easier to work with and freeze beautifully.

Yogurt - Mountain High 32 oz. ($2.50 - $1 coupon, Jewel):
Yogurt is a wonderfully versatile ingredient. I buy whole milk yogurt to feed my 8 month old, flavoring it with fruit I cook up myself. It’s cheaper than YoBaby and infinitely adaptable to her changing tastes. It also has less sugar because I don’t add any!
Yogurt is also great for homemade smoothies. Keep yogurt on hand along with seasonal fruit and bananas for easy smoothies that will please kids and adult alike.
Simple Smoothies (makes 2 large or 3 medium smoothies):
1 banana (ideally chopped and frozen)
6 oz. (about 1 ½ cups) yogurt
about ¾ cup juice or milk
1 ½ - 2 cups frozen fruit (halved strawberries, whole blueberries, raspberries, peach or mango chunks)
Blend together until smooth. If your fruit is not frozen, add 2-3 ice cubes.

Yogurt can also be used in place of buttermilk or sour cream in recipes. I like to use yogurt in buttermilk pancakes (half yogurt, half milk to replace the buttermilk).
And last but not least, yogurt makes a great breakfast or snack layered with fresh fruit and granola.

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