Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Crazy Good Caribbean Baked Wings #WRALSmartShopper

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I have a food confession.  I'm not a fan of messy food.

You know, like those cheese puffs that leave your fingers orange for days.  Those powdered doughnuts that made you wish you didn't wear black.  And those sloppy joes that are... well, sloppy.  Heck, I've even been known to eat BBQ ribs with a knife and fork.

And the worst culprit of all? Chicken wings. In which the sauce inevitable gets all over your napkin, water glass, and sleeves. Despite the three tiny towelettes that you used after wing two. Which now, are not only adding to the pile of sauced up napkins and gnawed away bones. But also prompting the waiter to rush over with a plastic bib, that he puts around your neck just in the nick of time to catch that big glop of sauce running down your chin. Someone, please get that man a raise.

So, in keeping things clean, this week I decided to make some wings that are just as full of flavor, healthier than the fried version, and you guessed it... not quite so saucy. And in honor of this kick-off-to summer weekend, I chose some of my favorite flavors that remind me of the islands… and the beach.

The grapefruit, which is an underutilized fruit in cooking, adds a sweet tang to balance out the richness of the coconut milk. The honey and garlic offer a savory sweetness that works perfectly with the heat of the hot sauce and the fresh burst of spiciness from the cinnamon, a common ingredient in Caribbean cooking. All for a finger-licking good feast, without all the mess.

So, what’s the secret to getting crispy wings, minus the fryer? Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and bake your wings on a rack. This allows the air to circulate below and crisp them up on all sides.

Crazy Good Caribbean Baked Wings

1 package chicken wings
1/4 c. canned unsweetened coconut milk
Juice from 1 red grapefruit
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. honey
2 clove garlic, minced
5-6 shakes hot sauce (I like Cholulu)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large plastic bag add all the ingredients. Marinate the wings at least 6 hours, or overnight. Then preheat the oven to 350. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and top with a metal rack. Spray with non stick spray and place wings on top, skin side up.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, and then turn up the heat to 400 degrees. Continue baking for about 15-20 minutes or until wings are nicely browned (time will vary depending on thickness of wings).

Serves 4
$1.83 per serving

*Note: all costs are approximate due to regional sale prices, amounts needed just for this specific recipe, and ingredients on hand. This recipe was created to utilize sale ingredients listed for the current week in Raleigh, NC stores.

For more recipes, plus couponing tips and matchups, head on over to WRAL's SmartShopper Blog, where I'll be contributing recipes that are fun, flavorful and frugal.  And at just $1.83/serving, you're going to want to check these out.

Monday, May 26, 2014

{Video} 3 Healthy, Quick Dinners 5/26/14- Meatloaf, Turkey Asparagus Soup and Corn and Blueberry Chopped Salad #3DinnersAWeek

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This week was all about some fresh, healthy dishes... with a few retro favorites mixed in.

For more info about #3DinnersAWeek, click here.

And watch on to see how they all came together.


Friday, May 23, 2014

{Video} Chicken Fried Rice for One... and my dog O


It doesn't happen often, but when it does, the first things I think of are chick flicks, pink wine, and yes, I'd like extra cheese with that thick crust pizza, please.

I'm home alone tonight... well, except for my trusty sidekick.  Yes, this is Ocean, our white boxer.  And believe me, O doesn't mind, he just goes with the flow.  More attention.  More food.  And did someone say pizza?

But, as I picked up the phone, and reached to hit #5 on my speed dial, I started to talk myself out of it.  I'd been eyeing that new Chanel lipstick.  And there were 2 cookbooks I had in my Amazon cart that cost less than the price of that pizza.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

{Video} 3 Healthy, Quick Dinners 5/19/14- Balsamic Poached Chicken, Pork Picatta, Honey Thyme Salmon #3DinnersAWeek

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Not many people believe me when I tell them that grocery shopping is one of my passions.  

And that I cook dinners at least 6 days a week.  And that I'm up at 6:30am on the weekdays packing homemade lunches and whipping up smoothies to go.  And that we haven't been through a fast food line in over a year (well, my man did last week, and oh boy did he pay... but that story's for another day).

You see, I'm what they call an ultimate foodie.  I pretty much think, dream and live for planning, cooking... and photographing (lol!) our meals.  But for someone who doesn't have the passion, or the time, cooking at home can quickly become a daunting task.

So, I'm hoping to help get you back in the kitchen (at least) 3 days a week, cooking healthy, delicious, and frugal meals.  And I promise, they'll be quick on preparation... and clean up!  And who knows, you might even find some of the joys that I've found spending time in the kitchen.  Like more time with family.  A break from the computer (I think we all could use more of that).  And the thrill of seeing fresh, healthy ingredients come together to make a beautiful and nourishing dish.

Heck, you might even lose a few pounds.  Or feel more energized.

Each week at the beginning of the week, I'll upload a video and some recipes for you to get inspired by.  Some will be my recipes, and some will be new ones, that don't even have a "real" recipe... which goes to show that great food can be simple, and playful, even.

Watch on for some shopping, cooking and money-saving tips.

Day 1 Recipes:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Morning Glory Muffin and Fruit Jars (Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Nut, Soy-free) #WRALSmartShopper


“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"  "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?  "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.  Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.  ~A.A. Milne

If you haven't noticed, I, like Pooh, get very excited about food... especially breakfast. But just like any relationship, the way we look at our food and how we eat it, has to be nurtured and respected in order to make it work. There were times when I'd be in such a rush, I'd make unhealthy choices, like grabbing a super-sized bagel, slathered with cream cheese. Or end up making my way through the fast food drive-thru, answering, "well, sure, I'd like hash browns and a diet coke with that." And even some days when I skipped it altogether. And I ended up not only feeling less productive in the morning, but I then ate even more than I typically would, throughout the rest of the day, because I was suddenly “starving.” Low energy and hungry are not a good recipe for success.

But, these days, I do it a differently. Sure, it takes some planning, and yes, I might even get 10 minutes less sleep in the morning. But, now I cherish the mornings, with my cup of hot Irish Breakfast Tea, and a breakfast that includes real foods, like eggs or toast (yes, I eat carbs now), or like this one.

And, what could be cuter than food in jars? Or more convenient?

So, this week, I decided to create a recipe using all the wonderful fruits on sale, but I didn't stop there. I also saw lots of vegetables, like carrots and zucchini marked down. And I couldn't help but think of my beloved Morning Glory Muffins from my B&B days, but lightened up. Then I thought how good they'd be baked in jars with fresh fruit, allowing you to make a week's worth of breakfasts in one shot. So healthy, so simple to put together, and versatile enough to use whatever fruits or vegetables you have on hand.

Have leftover muffin mix? Roll it into balls and cook them up as breakfast cookies to snack on, on the go.

Morning Glory Muffin and Fruit Jars

For the muffins:

2 cups oats (I used organic, but for gluten-free, make sure the package notes it)
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 zucchini, grated
1/2 apple, grated
1 large banana, mashed
1/3 c. rice milk (I used organic Rice Dream)
2-4 tablespoons honey, depending on desired sweetness level (I used less when cooked in the jars, as the fruit added some sweetness. And more when they were cooked alone as a cookie)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the fruit:

2 cups cut up fruit for the base- I used peeled apples, pears and blueberries, but you could use anything that you like baked, including other berries and peaches when they come into season.


Combine all of the muffin ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Let sit for about 20 minutes to moisten the oats completely. Next, spray 6 small jelly jars with non-stick spray. Add in the cut up fruit and top with the muffin mix. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until fruit is soft (I check it with a sharp knife). Remove to a cooling rack and serve. Store in the refrigerator with the lid on, for up to 1 week.

Serves 6
Cost per serving: .64 cents

*Note: all costs are approximate due to regional sale prices, amounts needed just for this specific recipe, and ingredients on hand. This recipe was created to utilize sale ingredients listed for the current week in Raleigh, NC stores.

For more recipes, plus couponing tips and matchusp, head on over to WRAL's SmartShopper Blog, where I'll be contributing weekly recipes that are fun, flavorful and frugal.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

{Video} Earth Fare- Learn how I bought lobster, wine, orchids, specialty cheeses... and I still saved money

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While many grocery stores are taking perks away, like doubling coupons, some of the healthier grocery store chains are playing it smart and upping their savings... while increasing their target audience.

Good for our wallets. And even better for our health.

I've been going to Earth Fare for years, since I worked right down the street from their first location, in Asheville.  And I was impressed... but I fell under the same spell that most of you do, thinking they are just too expensive.  And maybe they were.  But times are changing.   And now, stores like Earth Fare, are offering discount cards, exclusive apps and e-mail specials, and awesome promotions like you'll see in the video. 

Watch on to see yesterday's luxury haul (I know, I even got lobster!)  And then read below for even more tips to help you save at Earth Fare.

5 Tips to Save you Money at Earth Fare:

1) Sign up for their e-mails here and their app here to get exclusive promotions.  Also text EAT to 71700 to get mobile notices, which often include exclusive deals, like free products with purchase.

2) Check their homepage and social media pages regularly to catch any one-day specials and new promotions.

3) Take advantage of their everyday low prices, plus their monthly sales.  And make sure and sign up for their Tomato Bank, which earns you points each time you punch in your phone number before check-out, or buy certain products (click here for the weekly "get list").  100 points equals $1 in savings.

4) Use their store coupons found here, plus any printed or cut out manufacturer coupons.  A few good couponing sites that do an Earth Fare match up are:

5) Let Earth Fare cook for you, and save money three nights a week.
Family Dinner Night is every Thursday, from 4-8pm, kids (yes, all your kids) eat free with the purchase of one $5 adult meal (WOW!!)
- Then on Sundays, from 1-3pm is Burgers for Bucks. $3 burgers and $1.50 sides.
- And also, their Real Meal Pot Roast Dinner for $9.99 on Tuesdays from 4:30-7:30pm.

*Note- I am not working with Earth Fare in any way.  All opinions are my own.  I simple love to shop there, and I am on a mission to help people learn that they can save money and still eat healthy, fresh foods.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

{Video} Chicken Grilled Cobb Salad with a Maple Dijon Dressing #healthyluxemeals


Sometimes, even I, don't feel like cooking... or washing what seems like never-ending piles of dishes that fill up my sink and line my counter, on a daily basis.

Which is why a hearty, healthy, salad for dinner is always a good option.  So quick to put together, thanks to a few pre-prepared ingredients like poached chicken, hard boiled eggs, and my new favorite salad dressing.  Items I now keep as staples in my fridge to make lunch and dinnertime much simpler.  And keep the temptations to drive through the take-out line, or call for delivery, at bay.

And with the addition of some creaminess from the avocado, crunchiness from the radish and green onion.  And don't forget that bit of salty bite from the bacon (just one slice is all you need!)... and you've got a quick and good-for-you salad that's on the table in less than 20.

Watch on... to learn how to put it all together, plus a few tips on saving money at Harris Teeter and Earth Fare.  Yes, you can eat organic produce on the cheap.

Chicken Grilled Cobb Salad with a Maple Dijon Dressing

For the salad:

1 chicken breast, poached and cut in cubes
1 green onion, chopped (white and green parts)
1/4 c. cilantro, rough chopped
1 radish, sliced
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 head romaine, cut in half lengthwise
2 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped (I microwave them on a plate)
1 avocado, sliced
Olive oil
Seasoning of Choice (I used Parisien Bonnes Herbes from Penzeys) to sprinkle over the chopped chicken
Salt and pepper to taste

To grill the lettuce, drizzle in a bit of olive oil into a grill pan.  Get hot over high heat, and turn down to med-high.  Add in each half of the lettuce, and grill until a bit charred and leaves start to soften.  Turn over and repeat on other side.

Remove to a plate and top with all other ingredients and dressing.

For the dressing:

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. organic maple syrup
1/2 c. Dijon mustard (I like Grey Poupon)
1/4 c. red onion, diced
1-1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a mason jar.  Cover, and shake to combine.  Store in the refrigerator up to a week.

Serves 2