Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday Flier Highlights and Soft Pretzels

Hello again,

Yesterday just for fun I made a batch of soft pretzels. Whenever I make them I remember how easy they are and then I wonder why I don't make them more often. A bit time-consuming but nothing difficult. I used this recipe,, but I modified it. I needed more flour than it called for, and I added the boiling step (most pretzel recipes call for it, and it helps the crust taste more pretzel-like, less like French bread.)
Make the dough, and rest it for an hour. Cut off equal pieces and shape by making a snake then twisting the legs twice and pressing the toes on. Let rise another twenty minutes (seen here).

Boil them for a minute in a baking soda bath.

Drain on a kitchen cloth (not terry cloth).

Brush with honey butter (shown here) or egg wash. Sprinkle with kosher salt. 
Hot and fresh! Good with mustard or more honey butter.

I have the Publix and Winn Dixie flier. Via Foods is out of fliers today, but I'll check back with them and report their sales. They've been consistently low on many meats. We called a friend who owns a BBQ restaurant last week, because we knew he'd know the cheapest price in town on pork shoulder (Boston butt), and he said he's been getting his at Via Foods. We went to Wal-mart with the Via Foods flier and bought pork shoulders from them at the Via Foods price, .98 lb.

Publix has asparagus for $2.49 lb., green grapes .99 lb., pears .99 lb., and their summer vegetables are once again $1.29 lb. They have a lot of buy-one-get-one-frees (bogofs): tuna, chicken broth, canned tomatoes, fruit cups, canned fruit, canned vegetables, juice, snack crackers, granola, Hebrew Nat'l hot dogs, mac & cheese, kraft mayo, pasta, juice boxes, brownie mix, V8 fusion, granola bars, oats, peanut butter, Bull's-eye BBQ sauce, Ken's dressings, Fuze, Orville's popcorn, Thomas' bagels, Arnold bread, Eclipse gum, Doritos, EB organic baby food, Klondikes, "All" brand soap, 9 Lives dry, and more. And on Saturday and Sunday only, their Kellogg's cereals are all 50% off.

Winn Dixie has a bunch of bogofs as usual, too. It's one of the ways they compete with Wal-mart, because Wal-mart doesn't honor bogofs, they just match the lowest price of area grocery stores. WD's bogofs: strawberries and blackberries, mac & cheese, Sargento cheese, Dole salads, Little Sizzlers, center cut pork chops, boneless chicken breasts, country style ribs, Luzianne tea bags, WD spices and extracts, canned tomatoes, yellow rice, various Cover Girl, taco shells, Stonyfield yogurt, Hefty trash bags, PF bread, olive oil, PF cakes,  Blue Bunny and Starbucks ice cream, Juicy Juice boxes, and more. If you buy three of their General Mills cereals, you'll get a bag of Folger's coffee, a gallon of milk, a bag of powdered donuts, and a dozen eggs free. A 4 lb. bag of sugar is $1.48, and that's a stock-up price. Whole beef brisket is $3.49 lb. Pears are .99 lb.

Save-a-Lot has chicken thighs, .88 lb.

If you want to make meals out of the items on sale this week, here are a few ideas:

To use the bogof boneless chicken (WD) and pasta bogof (Publix) and vegetables (Publix):
Chicken Scallopini (For a good recipe, )
Chicken Primavera with Parmesan Pasta ( )

To use Publix tuna bogof and pasta bogof:
Tuna Noodle Casserole (

To use thighs from Save-a-Lot, bogof chicken broth from Publix, and bogof rice from WD:
Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo)

To use bogof pork chops from WD:
Smothered Pork Chops ( . You might serve rice (WD) and vegetables from Publix.

To use the bogof peanut butter and bogof oatmeal (both Publix), how about some Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal Muffins?

To use eggs and Winn Dixie's Little Sizzler's bogof, how about a big frittata--Italian oven omelet--with sausage links arranged as spokes? Here's a recipe that uses potatoes and Italian sausage, but you can substitute the ones on sale.

If you do any extra holiday cooking, it might be a good time to stock up on WD's spices and extracts (bogof).
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday's Grocery Specials


This week's best meat deal is once again at Via Foods supermarket, on the corner of Business 98 and Spring Avenue near East Avenue. Wal-mart will honor their prices, but I would bring along a Via ad flier. They don't add a 10% surcharge like Grocery Outlet.

Their NY strip steaks are $2.58 lb, while the uncut whole strip is .20 per lb. cheaper. Boneless basa fillets (a type of Vietnamese catfish) are $2.98 lb. A serving is about half a pound (8 oz.). These would be great fried and used in fish tacos. (For an easy recipe, visit this link: .) You can also pick up Hass avocados at Via for .79 each, to go with your fish taco dinner. Boneless chuck roast is $2.38 lb., which is cheaper than Winn Dixie's loss leader on chuck roast this week. At Via,  Boston butt is .98 lb., and most folks enjoy shredded barbecued pork. You could even make up a batch to freeze. Via's broccoli is $1.50 per bunch, but it looked awful, so I'm going to Wal-mart for broccoli and I'll have them give me Via's price unless theirs is cheaper. Via's 3 lb. bag of yellow onions is $1.49, and their seedless red grapes are .99, the same as Winn Dixie.

Speaking of WD, their large tomatoes are .99 lb. I'm excited about the asparagus, $2.49 lb. I really enjoy making Paula Deen's asparagus sandwiches, which we fell in love with at The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah. Surf laundry powder is bogof, two for $4.99. They have a lot of bogofs, as usual. Publix doesn't have any great sales this week, just quite a few bogofs, too many to list. I think I'll stock up on Pam spray, Emerald mixed nuts, and Lipton tea bags. Pasta sauce at both Publix and WD are bogof this week: Classico at WD and Barilla at Publix. If you add crushed fennel seed, jars of pasta sauce become pizza sauce. Ever make a pizza casserole? It's a kid-friendly meal. Follow this link to a Taste of Home recipe. .

My friend Julie works hard to make the Taste of Home fall cooking school a great success. It's on September 23rd this year, at South Walton High School. The tickets are $10 in advance. It's always a fun night and there are lots of door prizes.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Current sales and recipe thoughts


I got some deals at Winn Dixie and turned them into Sunday lunch. We had grilled chicken breasts marinated in pineapple juice and teriyaki. Create your own marinade, starting with an acidic ingredient such as pineapple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, or buttermilk...and then build up from there using other components (buttermilk and  pepper sauce is a classic marinade for fried chicken). Plus, when you marinate meat (or brine meat), the cells take up liquid and make the finished product much juicier. Use care with a sweet marinade if you plan to grill because it burns more easily. When I get chicken on sale, sometimes I divide it into dinner-sized portions and place it in freezer bags, then add a different homemade marinade to each bag and label. That way it's marinating as it freezes and also as it thaws.

For Sunday lunch, we also made grilled eggplant tossed with feta; garlic bread; roasted sweet potatoes and white potatoes; deviled eggs; and broccoli sauteed in olive oil with garlic, red pepper flakes, and orange zest.

A couple days ago we had a big pot of vegetable soup, so yummy with grilled cheese sandwiches. Save up your last bits of vegetables in a carton in the freezer and add them to your soup. Making soup is a cinch and one of my favorite things to do. This one contains: onions, carrots, celery, cabbage, potatoes, corn, green beans, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, bay leaves and basil. I made vegetable stock and then pureed the aromatics I used for the stock (onions, carrots, celery) and stirred them back in.

Vegetable soup

For today's beach picnic, we had cantaloupe and strawberries, and a pasta salad everyone really seemed to enjoy. I call it "Southwestern Pasta Salad:" tri-color rotini and kernels of roasted corn, avocado chunks, tomato, red bell pepper, small cubes of pepper-jack cheese, and a dressing of sour cream and mayo mixed with part of a package of taco seasoning. You could also add some red onion and black olives but some of my crew has allergies and dislikes.

Tomorrow is the last day for this week's grocery sales. If a store doesn't have what you are looking for, get a rain check. A family pack of top round steak is $2.38 lb. at Via Foods. I'm going to put some in the freezer and then make a note of it for Swiss steak later this fall--such an easy meal. A 4-lb. bag of sugar is $1.79 with a $15 purchase. Chicken thighs are .88 lb. They are easy to marinate and grill. I'm going to debone some and marinate them for the Banh Mi sandwiches I'm still planning to make (and of course save the bones for stock). Via's zucchini is .79 lb. (I put zucchini is pasta sauces and soup or sauté as a side dish). Cukes are .33 each (cucumber salad, or tzatziki sauce for Greek pitas); and milk is $2.99 a gallon.

Summer vegetables are still on sale at Publix, and Winn Dixie has eggs for .99 a dozen (omelets or frittata for dinner) and lots more (see last Wednesday's post). Plan a week or two week's worth of menus using items on sale and in your pantry and freezer. I try not to run out of anything--buy on sale and stock up whenever you can. Make at least one meal a week vegetarian (like soup and grilled cheese sandwiches or black beans and rice). Shopping from your own pantry and freezer is often the most frugal option.

Happy shopping and cooking! Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wednesday's Grocery Specials and Stuff I've Been Cooking

Hello again,

Winn Dixie has a few specials worth mentioning this week. Fresh corn on the cob is .25 each. Cantaloupes are bogof at $2.99 so you might want to split the deal with a friend. Boneless chicken breasts are bogof at $4.59, making them $2.30 a lb....not that great, but if you need some this week it's not too bad. I wouldn't stock up at that price. Other bogofs include Breyer's ice cream (at Publix also, WD is $3.99 and Publix is $4.13); Kraft mayo, Miracle Whip, (Hellmann's at Publix), all bogof; 5 lbs. of red potatoes at WD are bogof $4.99--that's ten pounds for $5; Lay's chips, Kraft cheese, Thomas bagels or powdered donuts, Birdseye frozen corn on the cob, all bogof. Hormel Cure 81 hams are bogof, making them $3.00 per pound, a much better price than deli ham.

Using some of the specials at WD this week, you could have a great Labor Day meal of marinated, grilled chicken breast sandwiches served on French-style buns (bogof in deli). You could marinate in teriyaki and top the sandwiches with honey mustard and pineapple, or go the American route with bacon and cheese. Serve with roasted red potatoes or potato salad, grilled corn on the cob (homemade chili butter or basil butter), and two-melon salad (or watermelon-tomato salad).

Save-a-Lot has chicken thighs and drums for .88 lb.--compare that to Publix, $2.99 lb. I'm going to make Banh Mi sandwiches soon using thighs. Also S-a-L's boneless chuck roasts are $2.49 lb.--not an amazing price, but better than I've seen lately. I try to keep a couple of roasts in the freezer for BBQ'd beef, Sunday roasts, Machaca Beef (Mexican shredded beef) and beef stew. It's cheaper and easier to go shopping in your own freezer and pantry, so stock up when items are on sale.

Publix has summer veggies on sale again this week, .99 lb. for green beans, eggplant, okra, zucchini, and yellow squash. Okra, tomatoes, shrimp/sausage and rice would make some lovely Cajun food (a 3 lb. bag of Rico rice is still .99 at Publix). Their Labor Day loss leader is spare ribs, $1.79 lb. Paul Newman's pasta sauce and Mueller's pastas are bogof (Ronzoni is bogof at WD), and it's nice to have those around for pasta casseroles. (I simmer jarred sauces with carrot & zucchini cubes and red pepper flakes and toss with cooked pasta, bake and top with mozzarella for an easy vegetarian supper.) Cool Whip is bogof, so buy a few and freeze if you use them around the holidays. Planter's peanuts are bogof and it's easy to make spiced nuts, just toast a jar of them on a baking sheet (350 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes), and then carefully toss with 2 teaspoons chili powder, a teaspoon of cumin, a good pinch of cayenne and about two teaspoons of oil so the spices stick and bake them for another ten minutes. These are a favorite of football fans and they pack easily. I keep peanuts around to toss into stir-fries, too. Breakstone sour cream is $1, so it's a good time to make chili, potato salad using sour cream, and a dip I make that's surprisingly popular: it's just a package of taco seasoning and a carton of sour cream (2 cups). You'll never want regular sour cream on any Mexican dish again, once you taste it.

Today I made Do Chua for the Banh Mi sandwiches I hope to make this weekend. We've been watching "The Great Food Truck Race," and the Nom Nom truck is so successful, we'd like to see what the fuss is about. I had to order daikon radishes from Publix, and they were very nice about it. The prices weren't cheap, especially considering how many daikons I grew in my fall garden last year.

Carrots and daikon giving up some liquid
Do Chua--Vietnamese pickled daikon radishes and carrots

Ground chuck was on sale at Winn Dixie last week, so today I made Three-Bean chili, which will go into the freezer.

I also made a big batch of meatballs for the freezer.

I think it's important to get a good crust on them, but they aren't cooked in the middle until they simmer in sauce.

Ready to cool and head into the freezer. 
It feels good to have some things put away for the busy nights (or lazy nights) to come. These make wonderful meatball subs, or spaghetti toppers.

Thanks for reading!