$10 buck dinners!

Well balanced meals for a family of 4. $10 or less!

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Chicken, Bean and Green Chile Empanadas

Do you love Mexican food, but hate the fact that all the good stuff is fried? Well, try these baked Empanadas!  I’m not saying they don’t pack some calories, but they’re definitely better than eating fast food or restaurant Mex. And obviously better on your budget.

For less than $7 bucks, you’re whole family can enjoy a feast!  Roberto’s don’t stand a chance!

Empanada Dough:

3 cups flour – $.75
1 1/2 teaspoons salt – pantry
1 tsp baking powder – pantry
1/4 cup lard or shortening – $1.00
1/2 to 3/4 cup warm water
1 egg yolk (use the white to brush the empanada before baking) – $.33

COST: $2.08

In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder. Using your hands, cut in shortening (or lard) until well blended. Add egg yolk and 1/2 cup warm water and begin mixing with fingers.  Add more warm water as necessary, but do it a little at a time until dough comes together smoothly, not sticky. Dough should be soft and smooth, and not elastic!

Now! You’re ready to roll. If you need to flour your surface, go ahead. You shouldn’t need to, but this takes practice, so don’t be afraid. In the end, it’s all good. I promise!

Baked Chicken, Bean & Cheese Empanadas:

* Empanada dough (see recipe above)
1 to 1 1/2 lb chicken breast or thighs (~2 cups shredded cooked chicken) – $2.20
1 cup shredded cheese (I like colby jack) – $1.00
1 can refried beans – $.70
1 bay leaf – pantry
1 large onion, chopped – $.35
2 Tbsp chicken bouillon – pantry
1 Tbsp canola oil – pantry
1/2 tsp cumin – pantry
1 tsp red chili powder – pantry
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper – pantry
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional) – $.25

COST: $4.50

Place the chicken breasts in a pot with bouillon and bay leaf. Cover with water and bring to boil. Simmer on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Let cool and shred chicken into small pieces while keeping meat moistened with 2-3 tablespoons of the broth and set aside.

Heat oil in a saute pan and add chopped onions, cumin, chile powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add your shredded chicken. Continue cooking mixture for 2-3 more minutes and add refried beans. Mix well and set aside.

Separate empanada dough into golf ball size pieces and roll into a circle. Think small tortilla! About 8 inches in diameter.

Oops! Don’t forget to preheat oven to 425 degrees.

While oven is heating, continue preparing empanadas.  Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in the middle of the dough circle and then sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Fold the top half of the circle of dough over the filling to form a semicircle, and press edges together firmly to seal. Pinch edges shut, like you would for an apple pie.

Beat egg white and brush each empanada nicely. Place empanadas on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and slightly puffed. Serve with salsa, guacamole or sour cream. You can’t go wrong!


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Chicken Stuffed Poblano with Calabacitas

If you like stuffed bell pepper, you will LOVE stuffed Poblano! Add to the dish, Calabacitas, and you have a Southwestern meal that is so delicious, so rich, so pretty, you’ll want to share it with everyone!  Fresh and fun, and a little bit spicy.  Perfect for a dinner party with friends!

Chicken Stuffed Poblano Chile:

4 poblano chiles – $2.09
1 large onion, diced – $.25
2 tsp minced garlic (or 1 tsp garlic salt) – pantry
2 Tbsp Canola oil – pantry
1 lb boneless chicken breast or thigh (I use thigh. It’s cheaper and I like dark meat) – $1.97
2 roma tomatoes, diced – $.50
1 can red beans (kidney), drained – $.65
1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded – $.75
1 tsp salt – pantry
1 Tbsp red chili powder – pantry
Dash of cumin – pantry
2 Tbsp chopped Cilantro (optional)
1/2 tsp pepper – pantry

COST: $6.21

Using a sharp paring knife, cut a slit lengthwise from stem to tip of poblano chile. Leave the stem intact. Once you slice lengthwise, make small slits to the side so you can open the chile when you’re ready to stuff.

Carefully cut away the seeds and membrane, if you choose. I leave them, but if you don’t want seeds, rinse the inside of the peppers and set aside.

In a large fry pan, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium to high heat. Add chicken. Sprinkle with cumin, salt and pepper and cook till done and brown. Remove cooked chicken from pan and let cool.

In same fry pan, add 1 Tbsp oil and cook onions till tender, then add garlic and tomatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes and add beans and mix. Chop cooked chicken into desired small chunks and add to bean mixture. Last, add red chili powder and cilantro. Mix and stuff Poblano peppers.

In preheated oven (350 degrees), spray a 2 quart baking dish with Canola cooking spray. Place stuffed Poblano, cut side up, in baking dish. Top each stuffed pepper with a large handful of shredded cheese, cover with tin foil and bake for 25 mins. Uncover and continue baking for 10-15 mins more.

Since Poblano are not really a spicy chile pepper, I opted to add the heat in the calabacitas. You could add the heat in the stuffing, if you prefer. Don’t be afraid to modify to your taste.


3 small zucchini or summer squash, such as yellow crookneck (sliced, 1/8 inch thick) – $1.34
2 Serrano Peppers, finely diced – $.25
1 tsp minced garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic salt) – pantry
1 1/2 Tbsp Canola oil – pantry
Corn kernels from 2 ears of corn, or 1 can corn, drained (frozen works too) – $.80
Salt (to taste) – pantry
1/2 tsp pepper – pantry

COST: $2.39

Sauté squash in oil over medium heat for about 2-3 mins. Add diced serrano and continue cooking for 4-5 more minutes, adding garlic when squash begins to wilt. Last, add corn kernels and season with salt and pepper.

Continue cooking for just a few more minutes or until corn is hot and tender.


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