Monday, January 28, 2008

Stir Fry Chicken over Rice

This frugal stir fry for my Food Stamp Challenge week didn't include the mushrooms, sesame oil or water chestnuts.

For the not frugal: snow peas, bamboo shoots, sake instead of rice wine vinegar, fresh grated ginger root, baby corn, shitake mushrooms.

One Whole Chicken Breast
2 ribs of celery
1 to 2 carrots
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 of a head of broccoli
1/2 onion
4 large mushrooms
sliced water chestnuts (small can)
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
chicken bullion cube
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch

The trick to stir fry is in the preparation. Cube the chicken breast into 1 inch chunks. Toss in a bowl with about 1 tbsp soy sauce, ginger and the sesame oil. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and bring to room temperature before cooking.

Slice the celery and carrots in oblique shapes (not just crossways). Cut the half of red pepper into strips. Coarsly chop onion into 1 inch pieces. Slice the mushrooms. Cut the broccoli into spears, slice in half if they are too large. Drain the sliced water chestnuts

The idea is to have all the pieces, meat and vegetables, approximately the same size.

Before cooking group the vegetables on your chopping board according to the length of cooking time. Mushrooms and red peppers don't takre as long to cook so you want to add them at the last.

Make the sauce: combine the soy sauce, water, bullion cube, rice wine vinegar and sugar. Heat or microwave until disolved. Set aside to cool. Stir in the cornstarch when cooled.

Cooking the Stir Fry:

In a large deep fry pan or wok, heat about 1 tbsp oil until very hot. Add the chicken all at once and stir in the hot pan for a couple of minutes until the chicken is almost done. Remove chicken pieces from the pan and cover to keep warm.

Add a bit more oil to the pan if needed and bring back to hot. Toss in the carrots, onion and celery. Stir and toss in the pann until just beginning to become limp. Add the red pepper, mushrooms and water chestnuts and continue stiring for about a minute. Add back the chicken pieces and toss about another minute or less.

Stir the sauce mixuture to mix up the cornstarch, which has settled on the bottom. and pour all at once over the stir fry. Quickly toss and stir for about 30 seconds or until the sauce is thickened and clear. If the sauce is cloudy looking, the cornstarch hasn't cooked.

The time from beginning to end of the stir fry process is usually about 5 minutes or less.

Food Stamp Challenge Grocery List

I am posting my shopping list for the food stamp challenge here and discussing it over at my other blog Dust Bunnies of the Mind. I am assuming a couple has $200 a month in food stamps to spend on food. I am also assuming that they are not starting with ZERO food in their house and have some basic staples like salt, spices, cooking oil. The challenge is to feed yourself on $3.oo a day. I think this is easily done with some simple cooking skills and budgeting.

This is bare bones food. I didn’t buy any luxury items for our hypothetical couple. It also assumes that we have to buy a lot of staple items that most people should otherwise own like flour, sugar, cooking oil etc. Once you buy these items, you won’t need to get them for several months again.

Shopping list * things that will likely have leftover amounts for next month ir several months budget

2 Whole 5 lb chickens .89/ lb (sale) 8.90
London Broil/Top Roun 2.99/lb (sale)x3 8.99
Hamburger 4 lb @ 1.99/lb (sale) 8.00
Small Ham 2.5 lb @ 1.89/lb 4.75
Lunch Meat Thin Sliced @.79/pk x 4 3.16
Pork Steaks 2 lb @ 1.19/lb (sale) 2.36

Milk 2% @2.59/gal 2.59
Butter @3.09/lb 3.09
Eggs @ 2.29/doz x2 4.58
Cottage Cheese @2.19/pt 2.19

Raisin Bran Cereal .250/box (sale) 2.50
Oatmeal Regular 1.79/1 lb box 1.79*
Rice .89/lb 2 lb bag 1.69*
Spaghetti 1 lb bag 1.95
Macaroni elbows 1.40 lb 2 lb bag 2.79*
Dried Navy Beans 2 lb bag 2.89*
Corn bread mix 1 package .89
Sugar 5 lb 2.69*
Flour 5 lb 2.49*
Brown Sugar .89/lb .89*
Top Ramen Soup 6 for 1.00 1.00
Bread @ $3.00/ loaf (sale @1.99) 6.00
Tomato Sauce sm can @ .35 ea x 4 1.40
Whole Tomatoes canned Lg. 1.85
Corn .50/can sale x2 1.00
Green Beans .50/can x2 1.00
Garbanzo .50./can x2 1.00
Kidney beans .50/can x2 1.00
Black Beans canned .89 .89
Jar of Jalapenos 1.79*
Stewed tomatoes .79/can (sale) x2 1.58
Canned Half Peaches 1.95
Canned Whole Chilies 2.59
Frozen Peas 1 lb bag (sale) 2.00
Bottled Lemon Juice .89 small .89*
Jar of Salsa 3.60*
Tuna .99 a can x 3 3.00
Frozen fruit juices @1.89/can 3.78

1 lb each at 4.89/ lb Cheddar and Jack 9.78
Sliced Swiss (I package 8 slices) 5.65

Onions .50/lb 5 1.25
Potatoes 5 lb 2.75
Garlic 2.99/lb 4 heads .90
Carrots .79/lb 5 ..87
Broccoli Heads 1.59/lb two crowns 1.49
Celery Whole Stalk 1.19 1.19
Red Bell Pepper 2.59/lb 1.17
Roma tomatoes 1.89/ lb 8 tomatoes 1.53
Apples 1.89/lb = 4 apples 1.89
Head of Romaine Lettuce 1.89
TOTAL 133.86

I still have 66.14 left to spend!!