My last trip to the grocery store was a pain in the wallet. Stocking up for school lunches, weekday dinners and my contributions to the annual block party quickly added up to $178.41.
I know I'm not alone in feeling the pinch of higher grocery prices and a slow-growing economy so I'll be among those taking Melissa d'Arabian's advice for saving money on family meals.
D'Arabian features "Ten Dollar Dinners" on the Food Network and some days feeding a family of four on a ten spot can feel like splurging. If you've been feeling your belt wrap even tighter (after paying for school supplies, fall sports leagues, a few fall wardrobe essentials and all) you'd be wise to pick up a copy of "The $5 Dinner Mom One-Dish Dinners Cookbook" (St. Martin's Griffin).
In her book Erin Chase, creator of 5dollardinners.com, shares more than 150 recipes for one-dish meals that don't cost an arm and a leg. Each recipe includes the individual ingredient costs, and while I want to know where she finds canned diced tomatoes for 20 cents, I certainly appreciate knowing how ingredients add up.
This isn't a flashy cookbook with photos of every dish, but for $17.99 you get all those recipes (with taste-tempters like Chorizo Black Bean Soup and Southwest Macaroni and Cheese), several full-color photos as well as priceless tips for selecting cookware, prepping and reheating meals and stretching ingredients.
If $17.99 is a bit much to fork over right now, ask your local library to order the book. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put "$5 Dinner Mom" in the subject head and on Sept. 10 I'll select one person at random to receive my slightly used copy.
Bomb Pops take flight: During our Cook of the Week Challenge I ask contestants to use some pretty disparate ingredients. When I walk down the aisles at the grocery store I chuckle (somewhat evilly) as I plot challenges that might contain American cheese, orange marmalade, canned peas or precooked breakfast sausage links. Yet, I've never been so devious as to throw ice pops into the basket.
The folks at Blue Bunny beat me to it. They found a way to combine Bomb Pops and chicken wings.
The recipe for Blue Bunny Bomb Pop Spicy Chicken Wings goes like this: Place 6 fried chicken wings in a small saute pan with 2 ounces hot sauce and 1 Bomb Pop; simmer over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons butter and reduce until sauce has thickened. Add 2 ounces chopped fresh parsley and 1 ounce bread crumbs; toss and serve.
Let me know how the gang at the next Bears game gathering likes it; I'm still trying to figure out what to do with American cheese and orange marmalade.
Your vote counts: If you've had the chance to eat at Chicago's Old Town Pour House, then you know chef Paul Katz's Bottleneck Barbecue Sauce and Bacon Onion Relish is one of the best sauces in the state. Katz has the opportunity to take that sauce national, but he needs your help to do it.
Katz is one of 30 finalists in Rosemont-based US Foods's Next Top Product contest. The food service supplier is working with chefs from coast to coast to find products worthy of bringing to diners everywhere. The winner will receive $20,000 in cash and prizes and have his or her product developed for restaurants across the country.
To help move Katz into the next round of judging, vote for his recipe via US Foods Facebook page at facebook.com/usfoods/app. The top three vote getters will advance. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. Friday.
• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at dpankey@daily herald.com or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at Facebook.com/DebPankey/DailyHerald or follow @PankeysPlate on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.