Steak & Blue Cheese Baked Potatoes- Making Meat the Sidekick

Big Texan Steak Ranch!

Photo Credit: By Jinx!

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Steak. It’s what’s for dinner.

What if you don’t have much though? There are few things in life more unsatisfying than a small tiny piece of steak on a plate. If you are going to have a steak, you really should have a steak.

That’s the dilemma I found myself in recently.

It was one day past grocery shopping day and I had NOT been grocery shopping yet. Our freezer is always pretty well stocked since we strategically shop, but the only meat I had defrosted was one sad lonely sirloin. Too small to feed us all, but oh so convenient.

Wanna learn to shop with strategy? I’ve written, oh a dozen or so, posts all about it! Click here.

When I find myself with too little meat and too many hungry bellies, I make the meat the sidekick. In this case, I grilled up the steak as usual and sliced it thinly.

The (Informal) Recipe

Meanwhile, I threw some baking potatoes into the oven to get nice and crusty on the outside and tender on the inside (I rubbed them with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle some kosher salt on them too! Baked at 400 for 45 minutes to an hour depending on how large your potatoes are and how many you are cooking).

I can’t have steak without grilled onions, so I also slowly grilled up some onions in a pan with a bit of olive oil, salt and a small pat of butter. (Slow cooking onions is the way to go. The slower the better!)

When it was time to eat, I put a bit of butter on the potato and smushed up the insides really well. A bit of salt and pepper and blue cheese came next.

I paused before setting the grilled onions on top, but I’m SO glad I went with it and it was an excellent decision.

Topped with my sliced steak and dug in.


As a side note: I got caught by my neighbors standing on the picnic table in the backyard taking pics of this dish. It was slightly embarrassing. If you’ve never stood precariously on top of a table outdoors with your very expensive DSLR in an effort to get the perfect balance of light and vibrant color, well than you probably aren’t a blogger 😉 .
Do as mommy says. Not as mommy does. You are exactly right. This is NOT safe.


The food, the picture, the stretching of one simple steak into a meal for an entire family…even the likelihood I just convinced the neighbors I have some weird food fetish, it was all totally worth it.

Yum to Steak & Blue Cheese Baked Potatoes. (Served with this yummy broccoli recipe Katie posted awhile back. My new favorite way to eat broccoli!)

You can also stretch your meat by:

  • Using rice and beans as fillers
  • Use your meat in a soup w/ plenty of veggies
  • Casseroles are a great way to stretch your protein a bit farther! Rarely do you need as much meat as the recipe calls for.

What’s your suggestion for stretching too little meat a bit farther to feed your family? Tell me in the comments. 

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Frugal Recipe: Chicken, Bacon, & Cheese Stuffed Pastry

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Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day yet? Restaurants are always SO crowded and you end up breaking the bank trying to have a ‘special’ dinner. How about staying IN and making a restaurant quality meal at a MUCH LOWER price?! Try our Chicken, Bacon, & Cheese Stuffed Pastry!

This recipe has tender chicken, crispy bacon, melted cheese, and a flaky pastry. I bet I’ve got your attention now!

I adapted this recipe for Chicken, Bacon, & Cheese Stuffed Pastry from a Rachel Ray recipe, Love Birds–Chicken in Pastry. You aren’t going to believe how easy this restaurant quality main dish is!

Chicken, Bacon, & Cheese Stuffed Pastry


  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
  • Blackening seasoning, or seasoning of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 slices of mozzarella cheese
  • 6 strips of bacon, cooked
  • 1 sheet puffed pastry (I use Pepperidge Farm), thawed to room temperature.


  • Season chicken with blackening seasoning. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Place chicken in skillet and cook through to internal temperature of 165 degrees. You want the chicken fully cooked in this step!
  • Cut the pastry into 6 pieces. Place a slice of mozzarella cheese on pastry, then bacon & chicken.
  • Pinch and seal the pastry around the cheese, bacon, and chicken, flip over and place on greased baking sheet.
  • Brush the tops of the pastry with egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon water). This will give you a nice golden brown top.
  • Bake in pre-heated 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Yes, it’s that easy! When we have Chicken, Bacon, & Cheese Stuffed Pastry for dinner, I actually cook the chicken & bacon ahead of time (during the kids’ nap time!). All I have to do is assemble, then bake, and dinner is ready in a snap!

So this Valentine’s Day, send the kids to the grandparents, save your money & sanity, and enjoy a restaurant quality meal at your own home!

Hope you enjoy the Chicken, Bacon, & Cheese Stuffed Pastry!

*Here’s a $1/2 Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry printable coupon for you!

Baked Taquitos with Slow Cooked Carnitas & Cheese

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This week I’ve posted game day recipes for:

Now let’s make some baked taquitos!

This recipe is pretty versatile and GREAT for Game Day!

First off, you’ll make your meat. You can make your meat as far in advance as you want. I made slow cooked carnitas based off of this recipe (I mainly changed the quantity of spices. Most of the reviews agree that most of the spices should at least be tripled).

This makes a TON of meat.

If you don’t intend to use all of it for your taquitos (and I doubt you will unless you are actually feeding the Patriots and the Giants, which I kind of doubt you are!), just freeze the rest and pull it out for taco night for the next few weeks! I also love to make nachos with it.

Here’s the recipe for Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas:


  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (4 pound) boneless pork shoulder roast
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups chicken broth


1. Mix the salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander and cinnamon in a large bowl.

2. Pat pork shoulder roast dry and roll in the spice mixture until fully coated.

3. Put the roast into your slow cooker and slowly pour the chicken broth along the sides (not on the top, you don’t want the spice mixture to wash off the top).

4. Throw in your bay leaves and cook on low for at least 10 hours. Halfway through, flip it over.

5. Take the meat out of the slow cooker and shred it with two forks, discarding any fat. Put the shredded meat back into the liquid to keep moist.

Okay, so now that we have our carnitas, we’re going to set some aside for our taquitos! Here are the instructions for making the taquitos:

Baked Taquitos w/ Pork Carnitas & Cheese


  • Pork Carnitas from above (or whatever meat you want to use)
  • flour tortillas
  • shredded cheese
  • baking sheet
  • cooking oil spray (like Pam)
  • Salt


1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Warm your tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. You want them to be flexible.

3. Spoon a small amount of meat and cheese into the middle of the tortilla (make sure to drain the meat of juices so you don’t have soggy tortillas!

4. Roll up tightly and place on a foil lined tray.

5. Repeat for however may taquitos you need or until your tray is fully covered with a single layer of taquitos.

6. Spray the taquitos with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with salt

7. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, take them out and turn them halfway through the cooking time.

Serve with sour cream and salsa and your guests will LOVE you!

Check out more frugal recipes here on Family Friendly Frugality.

Italian Sausage Soup: A Hearty & Wholesome Soup You’ll Love

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I’m a big fan of soups.

I like my soups hearty with a bit of meat, a bit of veggies and a bit of starch.

This soup has it all. 

Sausage, potatoes, beans, onions, spinach…mmmm good!

The best part about this soup? It’s totally a one pot meal!

The second best part about this soup? It includes BACON!

Sold? I thought you would be. 😉

Italian Sausage Soup

Source:**(see note)


  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 large russet potatoes cut into chunky cubes (about a 1/2 inch size cube)
  • 1/2 lb Italian Sausage, casing removed (my sausage was Chicken Italian Sausage. It had mozzarella in it, which might have made my soup just a tad bit more awesome)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes***
  • 1 carton low sodium chicken broth (32 oz)
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1 can cannelloni beans (15-19 oz) washed and drained
  • 1 cup half and half (I didn’t have half and half. So I did half a cup heavy cream and half a cup of milk. Worked fine)


  1. In a large deep pot, cook your bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and don’t eat it! Seriously…don’t. Crumble it and set it aside.
  2. Crumble sausage and cook until browned in the same pot. Remove from pan and set aside. (you might want to drain your sausage. I didn’t, and as you can tell from the picture above, the soup had a bit of grease in it. Which is not a huge deal, but next time I’ll be sure to drain and pat down the sausage after cooking)
  3. Now throw your onions, potatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes into the same pot. Pour the chicken broth on top and bring to a boil.
  4. After bringing the pot to a boil, take the temperature down to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add crumbled bacon, sausage, spinach and beans to the pot and cook for 10 more minutes or until potatoes are cooked through (took me about 15 minutes)
  6. Just before serving, add half and half and cook just until heated through.

**Note: the original recipe asks for a lot more liquid than my version and also subs in kale for spinach. I like my version better, but feel free to check out the original as well!
***The kids weren’t HUGE fans of this soup. I eyeballed the red pepper flakes and might have put a bit more than 1/4 teaspoon in. It was a bit hot. It was fine for me and my husband, but if you have kiddos eating it, you might want to cut back or just put the red pepper flakes on your individual bowl instead of in the community pot.

This soup was so yummy and comforting and even better the next day!

Check out all the frugal recipes here on Family Friendly Frugality.

Braided Spaghetti Bread Recipe – Dinner All-In-One Style

Braided Spaghetti Bread

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One night, we were combing through the pantry trying to find something for dinner. That night, we were supposed to go out to dinner, but one of the kids was feeling under the weather, so we needed to stay home.

It’s not that our pantry isn’t well stocked, it is VERY well stocked. However, sometimes when you have your mind stuck on going out for a nice restaurant meal, an old standby meal at home just doesn’t sound very appetizing!

I decided to comb through some of the budget friendly recipes I had pinned on Pinterest for some inspiration.

I came across this braided spaghetti bread and decided that it would be fun to tackle.

Not pretty, but oh so tasty

Well, I’ll say that it was fun to make, but mine did not turn out as pretty or as uniform as the one pictured on the Rhodes website.

In fact, mine was kind of a mess!

It sure did taste good though, and I encourage you to give it a try yourself!

Braided Spaghetti Bread Recipe

adapted from


  • 1 Loaf Rhodes Bread Dough or 12 Rhodes Dinner Rolls (we only had the dinner rolls) Thawed
  • Flour for rolling out dough
  • 6 oz spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • 1 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 lb ground beef cooked
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 –inch cubes
  • 1 egg white
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Parsley flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. On a floured surface, roll out your bread dough until it’s a 12×6 rectangle (this was difficult for me and is probably the reason my spaghetti bread looks so wonky. I wish you better luck )
  3. Take your cooked spaghetti and go ahead and mix it with your ground beef and spaghetti sauce.
  4. Go ahead and place your dough on the greased baking sheet you are going to cook it on (unless you feel confident you can transfer it easily after you assemble it).
  5. Take the spaghetti mixture and pile it lengthwise in the middle four inches of the dough.
  6. Top with mozzarella cheese
  7. Now you are going to make cuts alongside the filling. They should be about 1 1/2 inches apart and come within 1/2 inch of the filling. Do this up and down both sides.
  8. It’s now time to “braid” your bread. Begin by folding the top and bottom strips up over the filling. Then, alternating strips, braid left and then right over the entire loaf of bread.
  9. Brush the loaf with your egg whites. Sprinkle your Parmesan cheese and parsley over the top.
  10. Bake in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Let sit for a few minutes before digging in!

Since I didn’t take any pictures of the assembly process, here’s a crude diagram:

You probably won’t have 14 strips to braid with 😉 but my drawing is definitely not to scale!

Make this, stick a salad with it and bam! Instant meal!

NOTE: Next time I make this, I’ll probably sprinkle some sea salt over the bread before I bake it. I like salt though, for some of you, the Parmesan might be enough. This is a very versatile recipe, do what makes you happy!


Be sure to check out the other frugal recipes here on Family Friendly Frugality!

Quick & Easy Chicken with Rice

Another family favorite.  And the best part is that it’s an easy, thow-it-together-in-ten-minutes kinda meal.  Hope you enjoy.

Chicken & Rice


  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 cup rice
  • 2 envelopes onion soup mix
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2-5 chicken breasts (depends on their size. Cut into nuggets or strips based on preference)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Melt 1 stick of butter in skillet.
  2. Brown 1 ½ cup of rice in butter.
  3. Transfer rice to casserole dish (9×13).
  4. Add 2 envelopes Onion Soup mix, 2 ½ cups water and chicken pieces. (You can use anywhere from 2-5 breasts, depending their size.  Lately, I’ve been using 2 verrrry large breasts. Sometimes I cut then nugget size, other times I cut them into strips – your choice.)
  5. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces.
  6. Cover with foil, and cook 1 hour at 350°.

A Healthier Flash Fried Chicken Recipe (Really)

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Fried Chicken. 

My previous attempts at making “healthy” fried chicken were always super disappointing.

The kind that’s cooked in the oven never came out crispy enough for me.

Now, that’s probably my fault and someone out there probably has a recipe for oven baked fried chicken that will knock my socks off.

I’m not sure I’ll ever fry my chicken any other way though.

This recipe has been adapted from this cookbook: Now Eat This!: 150 of America’s Favorite Comfort Foods, All Under 350 Calories

It uses chicken thighs, which are quite cheap.

It also uses grapeseed oil, which isn’t all that cheap. I cut the oil in half for this recipe though and was able to get away with using just 1 quart. You could likely use even less oil as long as you have enough to cover up to about halfway on the chicken (since you flip the chicken halfway through the frying time).

The chicken DOES NOT cook in the oil, so you don’t have to worry about very much oil seeping into the chicken. It’s just to get that crispy, yummy crust.

This chicken has only 204 calories compared to 549 calories in traditional fried chicken. It also cuts the fat grams down from 30 to 10.9!

Flash Fried Chicken


  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • salt
  • 4 skinless chicken thighs (I actually took the skin off myself to save money)
  • 1 quart Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups low fat buttermilk (I make my own buttermilk. 1 tablespoon of white vinegar then add your milk up to the 1 cup line. Let sit for a few minutes)


  1. Heat the chicken broth in a big pot and season generously with salt
  2. Add your chicken to the pot and bring the broth to a simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the chicken is tender and cooked, around 40 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken and pat dry.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large deep pot heat your grapeseed oil to 400 degrees
  5. Set a wired rack over some paper towels
  6. Mix together your flour and seasonings in one bowl and add your buttermilk to a second bowl.
  7. Dip the chicken (one piece at a time) into the buttermilk and then into the flour. Repeat to double coat the chicken. Shake off excess flour.
  8. Fry the chicken 2 pieces at a time. It will take around 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.
  9. Drain on the wire rack and serve hot.

As always, be incredibly careful when cooking with hot oil. Grapeside oil is used in this recipe for it’s very high smoke point. Keep children out of the kitchen when cooking with oil.

This chicken is crispy and flavorful and sure to be a huge hit!


Be sure to check out all the frugal recipes here on Family Friendly Frugality!

Frugal Recipes: Skillet Enchiladas

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Guest Post by Cheryl Siens

My grandmother lived with us for the last 3 ½ years of her life. She had a very dear friend named Dorriene who had moved to New Jersey many years ago. Dorriene came to visit us to spend a week with Grandma during that time.
She told us the one thing she never got over missing from Texas was good Mexican food.  I made this recipe for her and she loved it.  Reminded her of a little place she and my grandparents used to frequent in San Antonio.  I was so glad to be able to send her home with a recipe that would bring back a little bit of Texas.


 Skillet Enchiladas


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 T. green chilies (I use the kind in a can)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 1/2 cups grated American cheese (I go to the deli counter and ask for about a 4-5 inch chunk of cheese)*
  • 1/2 cup chopped ripe olives -optional


  1. Brown ground beef and onion in large skillet. Drain fat.
  2. Stir in chilies, soup, enchilada sauce and milk. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat. Fry tortillas until limp, drain on paper towels.
  5. Put 1/4 cup grated cheese on each tortilla and small amount of ripe olives. R
  6. oll tortilla up and place in mixture in large skillet.
  7. Cover and cook 5 minutes.
  8. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  9. Cover until melted, about a minute. Serve hot.

*You can use Velveeta instead of American cheese, but to me, it’s not as smooth.

Be sure to check out all the frugal recipes here on Family Friendly Frugality!

Are you interested in guest posting on Family Friendly Frugality? Please email me heather @ I’m looking for anything in the family friendly/frugal niche, but specifically how-to’s, DIY posts and RECIPES! Must be original content not posted elsewhere.

Crock Pot Roast w/ Only 4 Ingredients!

My mouth is watering just looking at the pic!

This is a guest post by Cheryl Siens

I know there are thousands of recipes for crock pot roast, but this is one of the easiest I have ever cooked.  My husband complimented it THREE times, and though he always tells me thanks and that dinner was good, he never goes out of his way to give an extra compliment, much less three!

Crock Pot Roast


  • 2-3 pound roast (I use whatever is on sale or in the freezer)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • Salt and pepper


Salt and pepper your roast, then place in crock pot (cut in pieces to make fit, if you need to). In a separated small bowl, mix tomato and mushroom soups, then pour on top of roast.  Next, sprinkle the envelope of onion soup mix over the top of soup-covered roast.  Put the lid on your crock pot and set to cook for 8-10 hours.  Even the toughest roast will come out fork-tender.


Are you interested in guest posting on Family Friendly Frugality? Please email me heather @ I’m looking for anything in the family friendly/frugal niche, but specifically how-to’s, DIY posts and RECIPES! Must be original content not posted elsewhere.

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