Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Update

This week was filled with many ups & downs but the high light was Food Lion’s Frugal Cook-Off.

Group Shot 2

(I’m the one in glasses, Katie’s on the far left)

Imagine Top Chef where the contestants have $15 and 45 minutes to prepare a meal consisting of a protein and two sides. But….you have no idea what your meat is and the mock store is very limited. I had been a bit apprehensive about what our meat would be and we lucked up with pork chops. As you may recall, cooking pork chops is not my specialty! My teammate & I did not win…but we had such a FUN time! And I learned quite a lot.

1. I cannot imagine how many cameras, video recorders, and other equipment there must be for TV cook-offs because just for this cook-off there were SO many! I walked in and felt like I was on a TV set. Here’s a fun teaser video of us all: https://vimeo.com/87181067

2. Knowing that pork should be pulled out of the oven at 138 degrees is only helpful if you actually check the meat’s temperature. Our pork chops were an astonishing 199 degrees!!!! when I checked. Wow. And even after finding out they were that overcooked I still tried to convince my wonderful teammate Katie that we should broil them to achieve a nice crispy exterior. Thankfully, a cooking pro from the store came over and hinted that perhaps we should just plate at that point.

3. Plating your food is WAY harder when you are on a time crunch. When I plate food for blog pics, I can take all the time in the world. No one is yelling out 2 minutes 1 second remaining. And, I had no idea that you should think about how things are going to look plated when you are determining what to  buy in the mock-up store. I mean, yes…I had thought the roasted carrots on our plate would add some nice color contrast to the sauteed spinach…but, our plate wasn’t quite as exquisite as what I had pictured in the beginning.

4. 45 minutes goes by WAY faster when you are under a time limit than when you are leisurely cooking at home. And, does anyone know how to get roasted vegetables to brown if you are using a sil-pat pan?

With all that said, I had the most wonderful time and the real reason behind that was meeting this fantastic group of bloggers. It was so nice to meet people face to face and learn about blogs that I had no idea existed. And my teammate Katie from The Perks was an absolute gem. I found someone in Charleston that composts!!! And she gardens (obviously…there is probably a good chance if you compost, you probably garden as well). The video team actually thought we were friends prior to the cook-off because of how much fun we were having together. I think I could write a post simply on how much fun it was hanging out with her.

You should check her and all the other lovely ladies out at the following blogs:

·       Megan Baker – Fried Green Pickles http://friedgreenpickles.blogspot.com/
·       Brittany Greer – Counting my Cupcakes http://www.countingmycupcakes.com/
·       Lisa Caplinger – Charleston Treasures http://www.charlestontreasures.net/
·       Valerie Kirkland – LiveFit Journey http://www.livefitjourney.com/
·       Sydney Gallimore – Queen of the Food Age http://queenofthefoodage.com/
·       Katie Perkinson – The Perks http://katiesperk.blogspot.com
·       Shelby Hanchey – Recent Somethings http://recentsomethings.blogspot.com

I will be back next week with a give away, recipes, and shout-outs to Food Lion and Charleston Cooks!. This post has already gotten so long. Food Lion so generously put together the cook-off and I want to share information with you that I learned about their store. They are making great strides in improving their quality of produce and store brand groceries. I was very impressed. And Charleston Cooks! hosted the event and CLEANED UP ALL OUR DIRTY DISHES!!! We had lots.

Thanks for reading this very long post and if you have a tip for roasting veggies with a sil-pat, I’d love to know your tricks.




Stretching 1lb of meat over 3 meals


Like most people, I am continually amazed at the cost of feeding my family. As the kids grow they seem to constantly be eating and I feel like I live at the grocery store.

Last week I was ecstatic when I was able to stretch 1 lb of stew meat over 2 dinners and 1 lunch for 2 adults & 2 kids.  Our first dinner was nachos, our lunch was tacos, and our second dinner was quesadillas served with Mexican potatoes. The key to doing this is to make your vegetables and starch be the featured ingredients instead of the meat. By loading the nachos and quesadillas with bell peppers, onions, lettuce, cheese, and avocado it was really easy to not use as much meat. 

For comparison purposes, I cooked another pound of stew meat this week but instead of stretching it, I made a typical meat, starch, and veggie meal. When I did that there was only enough meat for 1 meal.

By cooking the stew meat in a crockpot, it was also super simple to make. I tossed the meat with Mexican spices, drizzed on some honey, and then when the meat was tender I added in a can of diced tomatoes with peppers to give it a little kick.

If you are thinking your children don’t want to eat spicy food then, cook the meat with the spicy spices but before adding the tomatoes, pull out the meat for your children and rinse very well with water. My kids refuse to eat anything that isn’t plain tasting but they loved this meat after the spices had been rinsed off. If you try to cook the meat without the seasoning spices, the meat won’t taste anywhere near the same as having cooked for hours with spices rubbed on them initially.



CrockPot Mexican Stew Meat

1 lb of stew meat
2 tsp each:
-dried oregano
-dried cilantro
-adobo seasoning
-chili powder
-garlic powder
-ground cumin
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup honey
1 15.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with chili’s

Toss stew meat with all herbs, spices, and honey. Place in crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Test meat at 4 hours to determine how much more time is needed to avoid it drying out. Once meat is tender, add diced tomatoes and cook for another 30 minutes, until mixture is warmed through.

*These spices are all optional/customizable. If you don’t like one of them or don’t have something on hand, such as adobo seasoning, don’t worry about it. This is a very make as you like recipe.