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February 2009

What's for Lunch? Seven Simple Lunch Ideas

Are you tired of eating leftovers and fast food lunches? If so, you'll love these easy-to-prepare meals for people on the go! If you plan on brown-bagging your lunch, I recommend making these recipes the night before. That way, you can grab your lunchbag as you head out the door. If you work from home or serve these recipes on weekends, you'll be happy to know all of them can be made in 30 minutes or less! Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Monday: Sesame Ginger Turkey Salad: For less than $5.00 you can have a wonderful salad that will tantalize your tastebuds. Prepare the turkey the night before and reheat in the microwave before adding to the salad greens. Delicious!

Tuesday: Healthy Lunchmeat Wrap with Fresh Fruit: This is one of my personal all-time favorites! Make the sandwich wrap the night before and wrap it in butcher's paper or plastic wrap. Place the fruit in a Tupperware container and you have a cheap gourmet lunch that is certain to satisfy!

Wednesday: Spring Vegetable Soup: This soup is packed with flavor and super easy to make. I recommend making this soup one or two nights before. The flavors marry to create a burst of fresh flavor in every bite!

Thursday: Caribbean Caesar Chicken Salad: Baked chicken combined with fresh pineapple and mango chunks atop a fresh bed of romaine lettuce provides a delightful island flavor!

Friday: Gourmet Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich: This unique twist on a classic favorite is more like dessert than lunch. Dark chocolate peanut butter, raspberry preserves, macadamia nuts and shredded coconut are certain to delight your tastebuds and your sweet tooth! 

Saturday: Spicy Garlic Grilled Chicken Wings: This is my highly regarded "secret" wings recipe. Serve with potato salad, baked beans and fried pickles for a flavorful meal that is certain to please!

Sunday: Grilled Gourmet Sandwiches: Let your imagination run free and experiment with these super simple, exceptionally tasty gourmet sandwiches!


What's for Dinner? ~ Seven Cheap Gourmet Dinner Suggestions

Are you wondering what's for dinner? If so, here are 7 super simple cheap gourmet dinner suggestions:

Monday: Balsamic and Olive Oil Marinated Pork Shoulder Steaks. This entree is perfect with sides of macaroni and cheese and green beans. Add a slice of bread with butter or dipping oil or a hot dinner roll.

Tuesday: Baked Mahi Mahi Fish. Mahi is a delightful white fish with mild flavor. If Mahi Mahi isn't available, substitute with Talipia or Cod. Serve with a baked potato and peas or green beans.

Wednesday: Brie Stuffed Chicken Breast. This entree pairs well with roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes or baked potato and a side of corn.

Thursday: Gourmet Meatloaf. Pair with a fresh garden salad, mashed potatoes and green beans, corn or peas, and a hot dinner roll.

Friday: Gourmet Flatbread Pizzas. By the end of the week most people are too tired to cook. Try these indiviual personalized pizzas for a quick, easy meal.

Saturday: Gourmet Crab Legs. This super simple recipe yields scrumptious tasty crab legs so delicious you don't even need melted butter! Serve with a side salad, baked fries and corn-on-the-cob.

Sunday: Herb Crusted Chicken Breast. This is the perfect Sunday meal! Serve with baked sweet potato fries and steamed aspargus or mashed potatoes and green beans.



Chicken Breast Stuffed with Brie Cheese & Wrapped in Bacon

Last night, I whipped up an amazing chicken breast stuffed with brie cheese and wrapped in bacon. Unfortunately, my digital camera broke and I was unable to photograph my creation. However, it was so amazing I HAD to share the recipe with you. Once I purchase a new camera, I'll make the recipe again and add some photos to this post. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this delicious entree as much as we did!

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Brie Cheese and Wrapped in Bacon

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Ingredients:

2 6-ounce Chicken Breasts
3 strips Bacon
4 slices Brie Cheese

Directions:

  • Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry with a paper towel.

  • Place chicken inside a quart-size plastic bag.

  • Using a hammer, gently pound chicken until it's about 1/2-inch thick. Or, use a meat mallet.

  • Place two 1/4-inch slices of Brie cheese in the center of the breast.

  • Fold chicken breast twice, making sure cheese stays tucked inside.

  • Wrap each breast with 1-1/2 slices of bacon. Secure with toothpicks.

  • Place on broiler pan, then place in broiler.

  • Broil for 7 minutes, then turn chicken breast and broil for another 7 minutes.

  • Remove from broiler and let sit for 3-4 minutes.

  • Remove toothpicks.

  • Transfer to serving plate and enjoy!


Super Simple "Leftover" Chicken Pasta Recipe

The following Super Simple Chicken Pasta Recipe was created using leftover chicken and a variety of pastas. Do you ever have boxes with just a little bit of pasta left in them? If so, this recipe is the perfect solution!


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Here's what you need to make this tasty dish. Feel free to add or delete spices and veggies to create your own unique pasta dish.

8 ounces Dried Pasta - I used penne, shells and bowtie pasta

1 or 2 Chicken breasts, diced (You could use dark or white meat or a combination)

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1/2 White or Yellow onion, chopped

1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped

1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeds removed and minced

1 Tomato, seeded and chopped

1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Using a 6-quart pot, fill about 2/3rd's of the way with water to boil the pasta.

Place the pot on a stove burner and turn on High. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt, if desired and a teaspoon of olive oil (helps to keep the pasta from sticking).

Add pasta to boiling water and cook for 10-12 minutes.

Add 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil to 12-inch skillet. Place on stovetop burner and turn heat to Medium.

Add garlic and onion. Saute until onion becomes translucent; about 4 minutes.

Add green bell and jalapeno peppers and cook for 3 minutes.

Add diced chicken.

When pasta is thoroughly cooked, drain water and add to veggie mixture in the skillet.

Reduce heat to Low.

Add tomatoes and gently toss. Cook all ingredients for 4-5 minutes.

Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Feel free to add in additional spices such as Mrs. Dash, basil, oregano or parsley.

Transfer to serving bowl and enjoy!

Add a yummy salad and freshly baked bread (Pillsbury has a fabulous French bread loaf!) for a satisfying meal.


Calling All Top Chef Fans - Enter the QuickFire Challenge Today!

Are you a Top Chef fan? Personally, I'm addicted to it. Although Stefan definitely has talent, he's a bit too arrogant for me. I'm rooting for Hosea and Carla and would be happy for either of them to win. Fabio seems like a great guy, but I'm not so certain he'll make it to the final four. And, while I hold nothing against Leah, when she quit during the fish cleaning challenge, I question her abilities as a Top Chef. Chefs can't quit no matter how tough the situation.

While watching Episode 11 last night, Top Chef aired a commercial inviting all chefs to enter the Quaker Oats Quickfire Challenge. Winners will be flown to New York City to compete against other Top Chef fans.

The Quaker Oats Quickfire Challenge ends on February 27, 2009, so it's time to get creative in the kitchen and test, test, test. However, before you begin be certain to read the Quaker Oats Quickfire Challenge rules.

My mind is racing with ideas after browsing the Quaker Oats recipes. I didn't realize you could do so many different things with oats. All this time, I've only eaten oats for breakfast or made cookies. Suddenly, a whole new world has opened up! I can't wait to get in the kitchen and start experimenting.

Even if you decide not to enter the contest, you can find exciting new recipes at both the Quaker Oats and Bravo TV websites. And, you're always welcome to try any of the recipes presented on The Cheap Gourmet blog.

Good luck with the Quaker Oats QuickFire Challenge!