Tuesday, August 23, 2011

52 Treats: Dinosaur Food Cookies

This was SO MUCH FUN! I really played up the ingredients, making a big deal about how yucky it was and how much the dinosaurs were going to love eating it. I think the girls actually thought the peanut butter was crushed bugs...AJ kept eating it and then saying YUCK!! and then making gagging sounds. When we were done I asked Mia if she wanted to eat some of the batter...she said, "do you think the dinosaurs will be mad if we eat their food?" We kept scaring eachother by saying, do you hear that?? It's the dinosaurs coming for their cookies! Then we took some of the finished cookies outside and pretended we could hear the dinosaurs coming.
AJ tasting the crushed bugs
Mia tasting the crushed bugs

Dinosaur Food Cookies

1/4 cup dirt (cocoa)
1/2 cup swamp water (milk)
2 cups crushed bones (sugar)
1/2 cup fat (margarine or butter)
3-1/2 cups grass (uncooked quick oats)
1/2 cup squashed bugs (crunchy peanut butter)
1 tsp. muddy water (vanilla)

mix dirt, swamp water, crushed bones and fat.  Bring to a boil; boil for one minute.  Add grass, muddy water and squashed bugs.  Stir until bugs dissolve.  Drop on waxed paper, let cool.

Recipe Budget Project: Week 3

I was below the grocery budget this week...so far this project is going well.  Since I prepared a lot of healthy recipes last week, this week I'm focusing a bit less on health and more on taste.  Plus, since I have the 1/2 marathon coming up this weekend, I don't want to limit my carb intake. 

This week's menu:

Monday and Tuesday:  Fiesta Taco Salad
Wednesday and Thursday:  Vegetable Lasagna
Friday and Saturday:  Chicken Cacciatore

Recipe: Fiesta Taco Casserole

This was really good and easy to make.  I served it with a big salad. 

Fiesta Taco Casserole

1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1 (15 oz.) can spicy chili beans in sauce, undrained
1 cup salsa
2 cups coarsley broken tortilla chips
1/2 cup sour cream
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 cup cheddar or monterey jack cheese
Salad greens, to serve

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook chicken in a skilled for 8-10 minutes over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain.  Stir in beans and salsa.  Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.

Place broken chips in 2 quart casserold (I used an 8x8).  Top with chicken mixture.  Spread sour cream over top.  Sprinkle tomato over sour cream.  Sprinkle cheese over top.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.  Serve with salad greens and additional sour cream and salsa, if desired.   Makes 6 servings.

Approximate cost per serving:  $1.86

Recipe Rating:
Taste:  7/10
Effort v. Payoff:  5/5
Kid-Friendliness:  2/3
Total rating:  14 points (four stars)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Decorating Cupcakes

There's nothing exceptionally special or creative about this activity, but we had a lot of fun.  I thought I would share in case there are any moms out there desperate on a rainy day for something fun to do.  I just used a boxed cake mix and some frosting that I found in the cupboard, and we had the leftover candies from our krispie treat snowmen earlier in the week.  AJ had tons of fun helping to make the cupcakes while Mia was at preschool. 

Cheap and healthy lunch ideas from eating well

Cheap and healthy lunch ideas from Eating Well

Recipe: Cinnamon Pork Tenderloin with Potatoes and Carrots

1 Pork Tenderloin
2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 large white potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 lb. bag baby carrots
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 apples, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 Cup balsamic vinegar (optional)
4 shallots (or 1 onion), diced

Place all in dutch oven or heavy lidded pot and bake at 375 for 1.5 hours or until pork is cooked through.  Next time I might try adding a couple tablespoons of maple syrup.

This is really easy recipe to make.  I'm thinking about taking out the balsamic next time and maybe substituting apple juice or just leave it out altogether. 

The kids loved the pork and ate a couple of helpings each.  The potatoes are great fuel for my marathon training (15 mile long run this week!)

Approximate cost:  $3.05 per serving

Taste:  8/10
Effort v. Payoff:  4/5
Kid-Friendliness:  2/3
Bonus health points: 1
Total:  15 points (4 Stars ****)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Apple Chicken with Vegetables

4 Skinless, Boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks (I used whole skinless thighs because I had some in the freezer)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. minced ginger
2 carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, diced
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 Cup apple juice

Place chicken in dutch oven or heavy lidded pot.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss in garlic and ginger.  Stir to coat chicken with oil, garlic and ginger.  Add vegetables.  Pour apple juice over all.  Bake at 375 degrees until chicken is cooked through. 
If you are using diced breast it should only take about 30 minutes.  The chicken thighs too closer to an hour.

Makes 4 servings

I am so excited about this recipe.  Thanks to Gillian McKeith for the recipe idea.  www.gillianmckeith.info
Mine has a few adjustments.  I left out a couple of ingredients that I didn't have and added zucchini because I had some on hand.   You can pretty much use whatever vegatables you have on hand.  The flavors of the apple juice, garlic and ginger really get into the chicken and veggies as it steams.  There is virtually no sodium in the recipe except for what small amount might be in the chicken already.  But the juice, garlic and ginger give it so much sweetness and flavor that you really don't miss any salt at all.  The juices make a great tasting broth.  You can really use whatever veggies you have on hand.  I wish I had taken a picture but we had gobbled it up before I remembered to get my camera out!

Taste: 8/10
Effort v. Payoff: 5/5
Kid-Friendliness:  1/3
Bonus health points:  3
Total:  17 points (four stars ****)

Cost Breakdown
Chicken thighs:  2.75 on sale
Onion:  .35
Carrot:  .25
Broccoli: $1.00
Red Pepper:  $1.64
Zucchini:  .75 (mine was FREE from the garden!)
Apple Juice:  .10
Garlic and Ginger:  .15
Olive oil:  .5
Total cost:  $7.49
Cost per Serving:  $1.88

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Recipe: Chickpea Burger Salad

Okay...I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that this is the world's most delicious meal....'cause it's not.  But it is super-healthy and really inexpensive to make.  I personally love the taste of the chickpea burgers, and AJ ate half of hers.  Mia didn't like it, but Chris was able to scarf down two of them. 

15 oz. can Chickpeas (low sodium)
15 oz can Kidney Beans (low sodium)
1 large carrot, grated
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 large handful cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 vegetable or chicken boullion cube, crumbled (low sodium if available)
1/4 Cup sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp. Tahini **(Optional, see note below.)
Mixed salad greens

At the grocery store, I saw that a tub of Tahini was about $7.00.  I thought that was too much money to spend for something that will go bad before I use it up, so I decided against buying the Tahini.  I have made this recipe without the tahini before, but I wanted to think if possible substitutions.  If your grocery store sells nuts and seeds in bulk, you could just buy a small amount of sesame seeds and make your own tahini.  But the store I was at didn't offer sesame seeds by the pound.  I figured that cashew or almond butter would be okay, but those were also really expensive.  Then I remembered that I had some trail mix at home...walnuts, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds....so when I got home I picked out the fruit and tossed a couple of handfuls of nuts into my coffee grinder.   I had to process it a couple times and stir it up, but after a couple of minutes it was nut butter (tasted pretty good and actually kind of close to tahini.)  So I used that as a substitute in this recipe.  But as I said before, I've made it before leaving this out altogether, and it was still fine. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease two cookie sheets.  Mix all ingredients together.  Process with food processor or handheld blender until blended but still fairly coarse.  Form into patties approximately 3 inches across and 1/2 inch thick.  I used a 3 tbsp ice cream scoop to measure.  Bake in preheated oven for approximately 18 minutes. 

Place patties over salad, and add desired dressing. 

Makes six servings.

Cost Breakdown: 
Kidney Beans:  .75
Chickpeas:  .75
Carrot:  .15
Onion:  .35
Cilantro:  .50
Boullion:  .30
Tahini or nut butter:  .40
Salad greens:  2.00
Salad Dressing:  .35
Total cost:  $5.55
Cost per serving:  $0.93

Taste:  5/10
Effort v. Payoff:  4/5
Kid-friendliness:  1/3
Bonus health points:  3
Total rating:  13 - (***)

Monday Activity: Krispie Treat Snowmen

Today was too rainy to go to the park, so for a fun project we decided to make Krispie Treat Snowmen.  I'm not sure if this was just an excuse to buy fun candies to decorate them or not...but we did have fun.

Just make the Krispie Treats per the normal recipe, but instead of spreading it into a pan, form it into ball shapes.  I used my ice cream scoop.  After they cool off a bit they might look more like saggy lumps than balls, so you might need to roll them back into ball shapes.  Once cool they will maintain their round shape. 

Stack three balls to make a snowman figure and let the kids decorate with candies. 

We had so much fun making (and eating) these. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

This week's menu

Monday - Chickpea burgers with Spinach and cabbage salad with low-fat dressing
Tuesday-leftovers from Monday
Wednesday-Steamed Apple Chicken
Thursday and Friday - Braised Balsamic Pork Tenderloin with apples and potatoes

Also, I only spent $93 at the grocery store this week!  I think it will get us through the week, but I might need to make another small trip for lunch items. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Busy week

So this week has been kind of crazy...The new puppy and a trip to Story Land has kept us pretty busy.  The puppy is doing great.  He likes to nip and chase the girls a little bit, but I'm hoping he'll grow out of it.  He is doing GREAT with his housetraining.  He's only had a couple accidents in the house.  On Thursday he was home alone for 8 hours and he held it the whole time!  He is such a little darling (when he's not chewing on something.)

And Mia has been too big for her toddler bed for quite awhile now.  She is constantly rolling out of it.  We'll find her laying fast asleep with her head on the ground and her feet still up in the bed.  I wanted to get a bunk bed so when AJ is big enough she can sleep on the bottom and it will save a lot of space in their room.  I found a great deal at Big Lots...$250 for the bunk bed and only $100 for the mattress.  It's a really nice bed, too.  And it's tax-free weekend here in Massachusetts, so we saved on the sales tax.  Chris is upstairs assembling it right now and Mia is overseeing his work and is very excited to sleep in her new bed tonight. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Panko Breaded Pork with Vegetable and Black Bean Ragout

I got the base idea for tonight's dinner from brokeandhealthy.com.  A link to the original recipe below:

I changed it up quite a bit.  My variation follows.  I thought it was pretty good.  The vegetable bean ragout definitely gets bonus points for health.  I really liked it but the husband and kids thought it was just okay.  Everyone liked the pork.  I got corn on the cob instead of rice because it looked really good at our local farm stand.  One thing I didn't like about the recipe was the pan frying of the pork.  It used a lot of oil and was pretty messy.  Next time I would do it in the oven...maybe put the pork on a baking rack over a cookie sheet or something to avoid sticking without using oil.

Panko Breaded pork medallions

1 pork tenderloin, cut into medallions (I used tenderloin because it was on sale, but you could use chops)
1.5 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs
Vegetable Bean Ragout
1 zucchini, diced
1 summer squash, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 can low sodium black beans
1/2 jar of your favorite salsa (I used a peach-pineapple...my favorite)
small amount of oil

Cooked brown rice, for serving.

For vegetable bean ragout:  Heat a teaspoon or two of oil in a medium pot.  Add zucchini and squash.  Cook until it just begins to soften...don't over cook.  Add drained can of beans and salsa.  Cook until just heated through.  Cover and keep warm while preparing pork.

For Pork:  Cut tenderloin into medallions.  Coat well with panko crumbs, pressing down so it sticks.  Toss in heated and well oiled pan and cook for a couple minutes on each side (depending on how thick it's cut...if you're using chops you'll need to cook it longer.).  Should be golden brown.  Again...next time I'm going to try oven cooking it to cut out some fat.. 

Makes six servings.

Taste:  5/10
Effort vs. Payoff:  3/5
Kid friendliness:  2/3
Health bonus points:  3/3
Total rating:  3 Stars ***

I'll re-evaluate after oven cooking the pork next time. 

Cost Breakdown: 
Tenderloin:  $4.95 on sale
Zucchini:  .60
Squash:  .60
Pepper:  .70
Corn on the cob:  $3.00  (would be even less if I'd used rice)
Panko Bread Crumbs:  .75
Oil:  .25
Cost per serving:  $1.81

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Trying to offset rising grocery prices, week 1: Recap

So it has been a week since my grocery shopping trip.  I am pleased to say that I came very close to sticking to the $125 grocery budget.  More importantly, we used just about everything, so there was very little waste.  It felt so good to go through the refrigerator tonight and see that pretty much everything was eaten up.  All I had to throw away was a little bit of leftover coleslaw and a pork chop.  

52 Treats: Banana Bread

So I know banana bread recipes come a dime a dozen...so why bother posting this one?  The problem is that between my cookbooks, recipe clippings and websites, I've probably made at least ten variations of the recipe, each slightly different.  Some are good and some not so good.  The problem is that each time I go to find the "good" recipe, I can't remember which one is the right one.  This one has got to be one of the best, so I want to make sure I post it so I'll know next time which recipe is the best one. 

Mia was great help making this, and she ate a big piece after dinner.
Banana Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Taste:  8/10
Effort vs. Payoff:  4/5
Kid-friendliness:  3/3
Overall Rating:  4 out of 4 stars ****

    Recipe: Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa and Spicy Sweet Potatoes

    Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa and Spicy and Sweet Potatoes

    Okay, I know this isn't the greatest picture.  But it looked much better in person and it tasted great.

    Thanks to www.brokeandhealthy.com for the recipe idea.
    A link to the recipe here.

    4 thin boneless pork chops (the ones I got were about an inch thick so I sliced them in half)
    1.5 cups chopped pineapple (I used fresh because it was on sale...but you could use canned.)
    1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
    1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
    2 cloves of garlic
    juice of 1 lime
    Olive Oil

    Heat about two teaspoons olive oil in small pan over medium-high heat. Add pepper, garlic and ginger. Saute until soft and fragrant...about three minutes or so?? Toss in the pineapple and lime juice. Heat until boiling. Then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

    Brush pork chops with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook in grill pan over high heat until cooked through. I'm not good gauging cook times...maybe about 4-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness.

    Spicy Sweet Potatoes -- I LOVED this recipe.
    2 sweet potatoes
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 teaspoons brown sugar
    1.5 tablespoons paprika
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    little bit of salt and pepper.

    Preheat oven to 425. Toss potato cubes with olive oil and seasonings. Spread in baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through cook time.
    I served this with an arugula salad. It was AWESOME!

    Cost breakdown:
    1/2 a pineapple: $1.25
    Pork Chops: $2.88
    Lime: .34
    Arugula: 1.10
    Sweet Potatoes: $2.00
    Olive Oil: .30
    Spices, Jalapeno, Garlic, Ginger: .25 estimated

    Total cost: $8.12
    Cost per serving: $2.03

    Taste:  7/10
    Effort v. Payoff:  5/5
    kid-friendliness:  2/3
    Health bonus points: 2/3
    Star rating:  Four Stars ****

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    Field Trip Wednesdays: McCray's Farm

    This week's "Field Trip" was to McCray's farm in South Hadley.  We went with our friends Kim and Emma.  Kim  is a great friend.  I don't think I would have lasted this long out here away from Maine if it weren't for her.  She is always giving me great advice and tips.  She is a great resource when it comes to kids activities and places to go.  And Emma is just a doll and so much fun to be around.  Mia adores her.  McCray's farm has some farm animals...ducks, goats, cows, a horse, peacocks, pigs, rabbits.  The girls had lots of fun checking out the animals and playing on the old tractor.  Then we went in to have some ice cream (Banana fudge for me, Moose Tracks for the girls).  After the ice cream we had another visit with the animals.  We were there for at least two hours and had a blast.  So nice to be able to have some "adult" conversation while the girls played. 

    I know there quite a few places like McCray's around New England -- ice cream shop/petting zoo.  Gran-Val Scoop in Granville, MA, Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook, ME.  It's great low-cost entertainment.  We got over two hours of fun for the cost of an ice cream cone.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Trying to offset rising grocery prices Week 1: Skillet Spaghetti

    Friday's Dinner -- Skillet Spaghetti. Thanks to Marcia @ frugalhealthysimple.blogspot.com for this recipe. It was much better (and easier) than just plain spaghetti topped with sauce. My little girls loved it, and my picky eater ate two big plates! It's also perfect fuel for my 13 mile run tomorrow! This will definitely be going into regular rotation in our house.

    Here is a link to the original recipe:
    I tweaked it a little bit...I didn't have any artichokes

    Skillet Spaghetti
    2 teaspoons olive oil (.10)
    1 onion, diced (.40)
    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (.10)
    28 ounce jar spaghetti sauce (1.50)
    1 pound spaghetti (1.00)
    handful of chopped sun dried tomatoes (optional) (.75)
    3 cups water

    Served with green salad (1.25)
    Heat olive oil in skillet and add onion. Cook over medium-high heat until begins to brown. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add pasta, sauce and water. Cover and bring to boil.  Cover, lower heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Toss in sun dried tomatoes during last few minutes.

    Makes six servings.
    Cost per serving: $0.85!

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Stanley Park Mondays - Week 1: Collecting leaf specimens

    Another of my goals is to incorporate some educational activities that don't require a lot of material items or money.  Now that AJ is big enough to participate in this type of activities, I think it's important for us to get out and start learning lots of new things, and to really learn to appreciate the world around us. 

    A few weeks ago we started "Field Trip Wednesdays".  Not only is it a day for the kids to get out and do something exciting, it's also a day off of housecleaning for me :-).  It has been a huge success so far, so I wanted to add another specialty day to the mix. 

    Stanley Park is a great place and a truly wonderful resource for our community.  I am so grateful to have it so close to home.  The kids love the playground there, and AJ has been asking constantly to go to the playground.  So I thought we would head out to the playground for a while and then head into some of the nature trails to collect nature specimens.  I thought today we could start out collecting different kinds of leaves, and then later on we could use the internet to identify them and then either press them in wax paper, label them, color them, or do cutout shapes of the different leaves.

    We had a wonderful time.  We started out at the playground, found some kids to play with, then headed out to the trails.  The girls had such fun in the woods.  They were completely filthy when we were done.  I am a firm believer that the amount of dirt and grime a child picks up is directly relative to the amount of fun had. 

    We collected quite a few leaf specimens, and we also spotted squirrel, chipmunk, and a woodpecker -- I think it was a Downy Woodpecker.  We ended the walk at the duck pond where we saw frogs, goldfish, swan, ducks and geese.

    After naptime, we started on identifying our specimens.  We found a few really good websites to help identify the leaves.  These are a couple.  There are lots others, too.  Just do a Google search for Leaf Identification.


    Now the kids started to lose interest after awhile and were more into destroying the house and making messes than in making labels for the specimens...so I finished up making the labels. 
    Then we arranged the leaves on one sheet of wax paper, inserted the label, and placed another sheet of wax paper on top.  Place a towel or cloth diaper over the wax paper and iron with a dry iron at medium heat.  This kind creates a seal...although it's not an especially tight seal.  The leaves and label do wiggle around in there a bit.  So we finished four of these until the kids were bouncing off the walls and it was time to start cooking dinner.  We have a few remaining specimens.  for those I think we will just glue them on pretty paper and label them instead of doing the wax paper.  It's more hands on for the kids that way.  So we'll finish off this project tomorrow.

    Trying to offset rising grocery prices: Week 1

    I've become increasingly disgusted with the price of groceries and my constantly rising grocery bill.  It's also disheartening to see the amount of food we throw away.  I'm making an attempt this week to find healthy, low-cost recipes and to stick to a grocery budget.  Our family is very lucky that we have not been affected financially by current economic problems, but I'm always looking for ways to save money and live on less.  I would love to be able to save up enough money through cutting weekly spending to go to Disney again this winter. 

    Finding meals to suit the taste and health needs of the family is easier said than done, especially with a picky eater and a husband with high-blood pressure. 

    My goal for weekly groceries is $125.00. I came very close to that on my shopping trip yesteday, although I still need to stop at the farm stand for $15.00 or so worth of vegetables. 

    WARNING -- post under construction...I'm still trying to figure out how I want to format this stuff...just wish I had more time...

    Dinner #1:
    So the first meal this week was mini pizzas, cucumbers, fresh strawberries and cherries.  Okay, the pizza was definitely NOT healthy (320 calories, 14g fat, 3.5 sat fat, 700 mg sodium!), but they were on sale for 50 cents per pizza...can't beat that.  Hopefully some of the un-healthy factor was offset by the fresh fruits and vegetables?
    Mini pizza:  .50 per serving
    Cucumber .25 per serving
    Strawberries: .25 per serving
    Cherries:  .25 per serving
    Total cost:  $1.25 per serving

    All in all I consider the meal a success with the exception of the naughty mini pizza. The cost was low and everyone enjoyed it. I would like to try next week to do a healthier, homemade version of mini pizzas and attempt to freeze them
    Breakfast #1
    The kids had strawberries lightly dusted with sugar.  I know it doesn't sound like much, but I have a lot of trouble getting them to eat ANYTHING in the morning, so I was happy with them each finishing a bowl of strawberries...I guess it's better than a bowl of fruity pebbles.

    Strawberries: .50 per serving
    Lunch #2
    Doritos:  .25
    String cheese: .33
    Apple: .50
    Sliced turkey: .35
    Leftover mini pizzas from last night:  FREE!
    Carrots:  .10
    Cost per serving:  $1.53
    As for me, I just gobbled up the remainder of what the kids didn't eat.  So lunch for all three of us was about $3.00...that really changes the way I think about the $15.00 Mcdonalds lunch we had last week!
    Dinner #2
    I got the recipe idea from www.brokeandhealthy.com.  A lot of good recipes here. 

    Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa and Spicy and Sweet Potatoes
    4 thin boneless pork chops (the ones I got were about an inch thick so I sliced them in half)
    1.5 cups chopped pineapple (I used fresh because it was on sale...but you could use canned.)
    1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
    1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
    2 cloves of garlic
    juice of 1 lime
    Olive Oil

    Heat about two teaspoons olive oil in small pan over medium-high heat.  Add pepper, garlic and ginger.  Saute until soft and fragrant...about three minutes or so??  Toss in the pineapple and lime juice.  Heat until boiling.  Then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

    Brush pork chops with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook in grill pan over high heat until cooked through.  I'm not good gauging cook times...maybe about 4-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness. 

    Spicy Sweet Potatoes   -- I LOVED this recipe.
    2 sweet potatoes
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 teaspoons brown sugar
    1.5 tablespoons paprika
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    little bit of salt and pepper.

    Preheat oven to 425.  Toss potato cubes with olive oil and seasonings.  Spread in baking pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through cook time. 
    I served this with an arugula salad.  It was AWESOME!
    Cost breakdown:
    1/2 a pineapple:  $1.25
    Pork Chops:  $2.88
    Lime:  .34
    Arugula:  1.10
    Sweet Potatoes: $2.00
    Olive Oil:  .30
    Spices, Jalapeno, Garlic, Ginger:  .25 estimated

    Total cost:  $8.12
    Cost per serving: $2.03
    Breakfast #2
    Oatmeal and Fresh Strawberries:  Total cost:  .65 per serving
    Lunch #3
    Oops it's been a long day and I absolutely cannot remember what was on the menu for lunch today! 
    Dinner #3
    Pork Chops:  $2.88
    Arugula:  $1.00
    Carrots:  .75
    Brown Rice:  $.40
    Pineapple:  $1.00

    total cost:  $6.03
    Cost per serving:  $1.51
    Thursday's Dinner
     - A surprising success.  The kids absolutely loved the cole slaw.  Such an easy meal to prepare.

    BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Healthier Cole Slaw

    5 chicken thighs  ($4.33)
    1 cup BBQ sauce  (.50)
    4 hot dog buns  (.50)

    Put thighs in crockpot with a splash of water or BBQ sauce
    Cook about four hours on low
    Remove skin and bone from meat, cut or shred meat into medium-ish chunks.
    Add desired amount of BBQ sauce, stir to combine.
    Serve meat in Hot dog buns or hamburger rolls

    Healthier Cole Slaw
    16 Ounces cole slaw mix  ($1.79)
    1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt (low or nonfat) ($1.00)
    1/4 cup Mayonnaise  (.32)
    1/4 cup cider vinegar (.10)
    1 Tablespoon Honey (.10)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    Pepper to taste

    Toss everything but the cabbage into large bowl.  Stir to combine.  Add cole slaw mix and stir to coat.  That's it!
    Cost per serving for meal:  $2.16

    Friday, August 4 - So I'm finding that I haven't had time keep track of every meal, particularly breakfasts and lunches...but they've all been pretty much in line with the previous days...oatmeal and fruits for breakfast, sandwiches, cheese and veggies for lunches.  Except for today...I forgot that I had an appointment with my rheumatologist this morning so I didn't have a babysitter lined up.  So I had to drag the kids to the doctor's office where we had to wait an HOUR for the doctor to see me.  Needless to say I was frazzled by the time we left and we stopped at Wendy's for lunch:  16 dollars!  and all that sodium made me swell up like you wouldn't believe.