Thursday, June 29, 2006

Creative cooking

I've been in a most interesting discussion on one of my yahoogroups recently. The topic has turned to food budgets and menus, and it seems that I do things quite differently than most!

Our food budget is $50 a week for our family of four. It's sometimes a little tight, but most of the time it's not terribly difficult to hold it to that amount. One of the easiest ways to do it is making a variety of stir-fry meals. Everyone in the family loves rice, so I just change what we put on top. :o)

I usually mix-and-match:

yellow squash
bell/sweet peppers
onion (scallions are best for me)

depending on what I'm making. Here is one of my favorites, from



2 whole chicken breasts, skinned, boned & cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. water
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 to 4 c. sliced broccoli or spinach

In a small bowl, blend peanut butter, water, soy sauce and sugar; set aside. In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over high heat. Add garlic and pepper; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add chicken, stir-fry until firm and white, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli or spinach, stir-fry until bright green, about 3 minutes. Stir in peanut butter mixture. Cook, stirring constantly until sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes. Serves 4.


I add more veggies than just broccoli though -- usually carrots, a little bit of onion, and water chestnuts -- and the chicken is hit or miss, depending on whether we have it and whether I want to bother cooking it. LOL!

If I'm making a Mexican-y stir-fry, I add corn and black beans, at the end, just to warm them up a little bit. Instead of the peanut butter, soy, etc, I add Mexican spices like cumin and cayenne.

If I'm making Moroccan-y, I use the basic veggies (broccoli, carrots, asparagus, etc) and add Moroccan spices like ginger, cinnamon, etc and maybe throw in some almonds and raisins.

I'm using the same basic items for each meal, but just changing the combinations and spices makes something that's new. It's the easiest way for me to use up things in the refrigerator and pantry while not having the same boring old thing week after week!

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