$10 buck dinners!

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

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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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Red Chili with Hamburger, Asparagus, beans and torts!

Another meal that will leave you completely satisfied, yet wanting more! In fact, you’ll probably get a second plate. Which, of course, you know you shouldn’t, but you know what? Comfort meals are ok, in moderation.

Oh goodness! I sound like the food police. All I can tell you is this….for something so very simple (not necessarily fast, so don’t get the terms confused) and so affordable, this is a meal that not only sticks to the ribs, it becomes a tradition. A lot of things have changed in my life, but not this meal. Sometimes, simple is best!

Hamburger Red Chile (Chile Colorado style):

1 lb Hamburger – $3.02
3-4 Tbsp New Mexico Red Chili Powder (add more for heat & to your taste) – $.45
2 Tbsp Lard or Shortening – pantry
1 to 2 Tbsp flour – pantry
1/2 tsp salt (may need a little more) – pantry
1/2 tsp garlic powder – pantry

COST: $3.47

Cook hamburger till done, leave grease in pan. Depending on grade of meat, you may need to add 1 or 2 Tbps of lard or shortening and cook till melted.

Next, add flour to cooked hamburger and stir until well blended, basically making a roux. After roux has cooked for 1 to 2 mins or so, add powdered chile and mix well. Cook another minute, then stir or whisk in 1 1/2 cups water and bring to boil. Once to boil, reduce to simmer and if too thick, add more water, 1/4 cup at a time. You want a consistency of creamy soup and a nice deep red color. While cooking chile, add garlic and salt to taste. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot with fresh tortillas and beans and, in this case, super delicious sauteed asparagus.

NOTE: Varied amounts of water and chile will determine consistency and hotness. If you prefer more mild, try using California red powdered chili. If you like spicy, add more chili powder and make sure you use New Mexico.

Pinto Beans (yes, I make my own. Cheap, healthy and SUPER easy):

1 1/4 lb. dried pinto beans (rinsed) I made a little extra to use for burritos the next night – $1.39
1 Tbsp salt (or more, to taste) – pantry
1 Tbsp pepper – pantry
Garnish with: Sour cream or shredded cheese
Optional additions: Other spices or add some ham hock or neck bone. I like bacon too, but since I was going to use my leftovers for burritos the following night, I made them simple.

COST: $1.39

Start with a large pot and fill with 3 quarts water. Bring to boil, add salt, pepper and dried beans. Cover, bring back up to boil, then reduce to rapid simmer. Keep covered and cook for 3 hours, checking regularly to make sure you don’t need to add more water. Beans should never show on top of water. Add water as necessary. At the end of 3 hours, reseason and uncover to cook down for last hour. Continuing on rapid simmer. If you don’t have time to watch the beans cook, you can do this same recipe in a crockpot and cook all day on low, but use 2 qrts water. Perfect and healthy too! To serve, top with just a sprinkling of whatever cheese you have or sour cream, chives, onion or butter (my favorite).

Fresh TortillasTortillas:

OK, before we start. Let me tell you, tortilla making is a learned art.  Don’t worry about getting them round, just worry about taste.

Believe me, tortillas get easier and better the more you make them. Your first, second and even third batch may not be perfect, but they will be tasty.

Please, please, please, don’t give up! Because nothing! And I mean, nothing, is as tasty as a fresh tortilla.

3 cups unbleached flour – $.50
1 1/2 tsp baking powder – pantry
1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt (adjust to your taste) – pantry
4-6 Tbsp. vegetable shortening (I prefer lard, but reduce to 3-4 Tbsp) – $.30
about 1 1/4 cups very warm water, almost hot

COST: $.80

Mix dry ingredients in a large plastic or metal bowl. Add shortening or lard.  Using your fingers, squeeze or cut in lard. You want the mixture well incorporated.

Next add very warm water, a little at a time, mixing with one hand, until your dough is soft and not sticky. You don’t need steaming hot water, but pretty warm. Not cold or luke warm.

Knead the dough/masa for a few minutes. Do NOT over mix! Masa should be soft and not sticky.Tortilla Ball

Once you have your dough, let set while your tapa or comal heat. Temp should be medium high.

Once comal (cast iron griddle) is ready, pull off pieces of dough to form small balls. You can pinch them down with your hands a bit to make them flat, then roll out the dough with your rolling pin. You will roll from the center of the ball and up, center and down.

I will make a video soon, I promise. But for now, this is the best description I can give. With practice, this gets easier and easier.

Lift the tortilla and turn it over. Roll again, from the center and out. Continue till tortilla is thin and even.

Now, lay your tortilla on the very hot comal. It takes just a few seconds to cook on the first side. During this time, I’m usually prepping the next ball of dough to flat, but not yet rolling. Flip that first side after cooking for no more than 20 seconds or so.

Second side can cook about 1 – 1 1/2 mins. Flip. Cook 1st side again for maybe 15-20 seconds, just to make sure tortilla is thoroughly cooked and has a nice golden color with lots of nice brown specks on tortilla.

Place in a thin kitchen towel and cover or use a tortilla warmer. I never believed in these till I got one. They are awesome! Especially if you’re new to making tortillas. They really help keep torts warm while you finish cooking the whole batch.

And what veggie could be better with this meal than butter sauteed asparagus? Of course asparagus is perfect with darn near everything! It was on sale again for $.88 cents a pound! Just saute with some butter, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Cook till desired doneness. Or, if you’re watching the fat calories, add salted water to pan, no butter and blanche/steam till soft. Asparagus goes wonderful with beans, trust me! $1.90


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