Cooking on a Dime

Creating delicious meals in South Jersey on a budget just got easier with these simple how-to's of the kitchen.

Chicken Piccata Recipe March 24, 2012

If you couldn’t tell by now, I really like the Dinner Spinner! It makes finding recipes and cooking so easy!

I went to Acme to do some grocery shopping and found buy one, get one free chicken breasts at $6.99. So I looked up chicken recipes on the Dinner Spinner and found Chicken Piccata.


  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Flatten chicken to 1/2-inch thickness; place in bag, one piece at a time, and shake to coat.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown chicken in butter. Stir in whine or broth. Bring to  boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Drizzle with lemon juice.

I also bought a bag of steam vegetables for $3.99 which brings the meal to a total of only $11.00!


Chicken Tortellini Toss Recipe February 18, 2012

Chicken Tortellini Toss

Courtesy of



  • 2 9 ounces refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 4 cups broccoli and/or cauliflower florets
  • 1  14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
  • 1/2 10 ounce jar dried tomato pesto (1/2 cup)
  • 1  9 ounce frozen roasted or grilled chicken breast strips, thawed
  • Shaved Parmesan (optional)
In 4-quart Dutch oven, cook tortellini according to package directions, adding the broccoli the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain. Return to Dutch oven. Stir in undrained tomatoes, tomato pesto, and chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until heated through. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.
I must admit, while I found this recipe under the Quick and Easy tab on Better Homes and Gardens, I had a hard time with this recipe. My first problem: I had no idea what a dutch oven was. Come to find out it’s usually a cast iron cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid that can be placed inside an oven. But hey, I’m learning!
I went shopping at the Acme the night before since the ingredients had to be fully thawed to cook quickly. Now I was hoping that the shopping trip would be quick and easy too but I was so wrong. It took me about 45 minutes just to find tomato pesto! (It was by the produce) The rest of the ingredients were easy to find but I did take a while in deciding which packages to get since they were all different sizes and prices.
I decided to get two 11 ounce packages of cheese tortellini at $3.99 each since there wasn’t a 9 ounce package.
I bought a 12 ounce package of grilled chicken breast strips on sale for $5.99.
Again, I bought the Acme brand 14 1/2 ounce can of diced tomatoes with Italian herbs on sale for $1.00.
The 8 1/2 ounce jar of tomato pesto was $4.99.
The recipe didn’t specify if I should have bought fresh or frozen broccoli but I bought a 12 ounce package of Acme brand frozen broccoli florets for $2.99.
Grand total: $22.95.
When I got home from school around 5 pm, I began cooking dinner since my sister was starving. I found the biggest pot in my kitchen and filled it with water. I let the water come to a boil while I started to get the rest of the ingredients ready. When the water had come to a boil, I poured in both packages of tortellini. Now this is where I got a little frustrated. I forgot to turn the burner down as I added the broccoli after the tortellini but I was taste-testing the tortellini and broccoli to make sure it was cooking properly.
When the tortellini and broccoli were done cooking, I drained the water. The pot was so heavy I was surprised I was able to drain it by myself! I returned the pot to the stove and I added the chicken, diced tomatoes, and tomato pesto to the pot. I swirled that around a little and then added the tortellini and broccoli to the pot from the strainer.
It took awhile for the chicken to completely heat up so I covered the pot on the stove and let that sit while stirring occasionally. The  meal didn’t stay hot for long though; if we wanted seconds, we had to use the microwave to heat it up again. Other than that, my family definitely enjoyed this meal. I can’t remember the last time we even had tortellini and I have no idea why! It’s delicious!

My finished product!

 I think my picture looks really close to the recipe’s picture!

Savory Oven Baked Chicken February 4, 2012

Did you know that there are recipes on the inside packaging of butter? I didn’t either until my mother and I were looking for recipes for my first meal.

After a long and hectic day at school, the last thing I wanted to do was make dinner for my family (I guess I know how my mom and dad feel when they get home from work and have to cook dinner). Before I got home, I stopped at the Acme to pick up some last minute ingredients for the recipe I found inside the butter packaging.

Savory Oven Baked Chicken

Preperation time: 15 minutes • Baking time: 25 minutes

Parmesan cheese mixed with breadcrumbs create a golden brown crunchy coating on this oven-baked chicken.

  • 1/2 cup dried breadcumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 6 (4-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts


  • Heat oven to 375°F. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan Cheese, parsley, pepper and salt in shallow bowl; set aside.
  • Combine butter and garlic in 9-inch pie pan. Dip 1 chicken breast at a time into butter mixture; place into breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat evenly. Place chicken breasts into ungreased 13×9-inch baking pan. Drizzle with any remaining butter mixture.
  • Bake for 25-35 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned and juices run clear when pierced with fork.

Something I quickly learned in the kitchen: it’s okay to modify the recipe for whatever’s easier and works for you. The recipe called for chicken breasts but we had chicken thighs in the freezer so I pulled them out the night before to defrost them (thighs are actually more budget friendly because they have the bone inside). Instead of buying fresh parsley, parmasean cheese, and fresh garlic, I bought freeze dried garlic and Acme brand seasoned bread crumbs which will last a lot longer than the fresh ingredients. I’m a firm believer in buying store brand items. You will save much more money!


After I set the oven, prepared the pan, and prepared the chicken, I cleaned up the kitchen and set the table for my family. After about 20 minutes, the chicken was smelling so delicious! I went to check on it and realized I had the oven too high! I had it on 475°F when it should have been on 375°F! Now since I’m cooking in my mother’s house, I have access to a meat thermometer. If you don’t have one, I would suggest investing in one. It’s super helpful and will come in handy a lot. While the temperature was hot enough to be fully cooked on the inside of the chicken, red juice came out when I pierced it. A sure sign that it wasn’t finished cooking. So I adjusted the temperature and started to make the rice (Rice is super easy to make. All you have to do is boil water, add the rice, and let it cook!). The rice and chicken finished about the same time so the only thing left to do was pour the salad in the bowl and call my family to the table!

My family really enjoyed this meal and so did I. I gushed about cooking my first successful dinner to anyone who would listen!


I want this to be a budget friendly blog for college students and anyone else trying to save some money. My first meal cost me about $20.00.


Chicken Thighs: Even though I already had the chicken, my father bought them on special at Acme, 4 packages for $19.99.


Spinach Salad, Freeze dried garlic, and bread crumbs: About $10.00.


Rice: About $5.00