Two weeks ago I had a hankering for a southern country-fried chicken dinner. The only place to go for that around here would be Cracker Barrel. The cost for a meal like that, with two sides would be around $11.49 plus tax and tip.

I decided I was going to give it a try and see if I could recreate the dish at home for obviously less money. I found this great recipe for the chicken fried chicken (click here). The rest of the meal I improvised. I didn’t want to make the white gravy, as Cracker Barrel and the recipe called for because they used heavy cream. I like to cook a bit lighter than that. So, I used the little chicken bits you often find at the bottom of the frying pan and improvised my own natural gravy.

The other thing I changed was how I made my mashed potatoes. We have a little puppy dog that likes boiled chicken meat. I usually buy sale chicken for the dog at no more than .99 cents per pound. When hubby boils up the dogs dinner, I keep the fantastic chicken broth the boiling creates. I usually freeze it in bucket loads because it’s a great base for a future soup. This time, I used the clear chicken broth to boil my potatoes in. When it came time to mash these potatoes they were delicious all by themselves. They didn’t need milk or creme or anything else except a few tablespoons of butter. I also saved a lot of money on the side green beans as they came out of my freezer because they were last season’s left over crop.

This is what I got people. This recipe is a keeper! Delish! $15 saved!

Next up, was roast pork fried rice. Who on this earth doesn’t like fried rice? It’s a little tricky to make because the rice has to be super cold and the best cooking instrument IMHO, is a wok. Usually a good wok cost over $50 bucks. I got mine from Aldi for only $9.99 and it works just as well as the big boys.

I opened my fridge door last night scrounging around for what I could cook up fast and delicious in a hurry. It was after 5PM and I had nothing defrosted or prepared. Hubby and I just got back from a day of errands and we were tired AND hungry. I spotted a big bowl of leftover brown rice and a few strips of bacon leftover from breakfast and the idea of fried rice came to me in a flash. You can catch this recipe by clicking here.

I used a combo of sesame seed oil (very, very expensive) with equal parts of extra virgin olive oil to start. I stir fried 4 beaten eggs with a dash of low-salt soy sauce first and set it aside. I then sauteed minced/chopped fresh carrot, then chopped up onions with a squeeze of ginger (out of a tube) for taste. When the fresh veggies were done, I added in the chopped leftover bacon and a cup of frozen green peas. When all heated through, I set it aside. Next came the leftover, very cold rice. A dab of the oil combo, another squeeze of ginger and when all done, I added in a good portion of soy sauce. I tossed back in all the veggies and scrambled eggs. Voila’: stir fried rice!

The meal was the best one I’ve prepared so far. Practice makes perfect. Serves 6 BUT eaten by 2. $15 saved!

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