Sausage and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms


During my winter break I had time to experiment with new lunch recipes, including this stuffed portobello mushroom. I found it in a weight watchers cook book and it has now become one of my favorite lunches. The meal is actually so filling it’s hard to believe it’s only 300 calories!




  • 2 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 link Italian turkey sausage
  • 4 oz canned artichoke hearts; drained and sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion; diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper; diced
  • 1 Tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Cooking Spray


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cut off mushroom stems and remove the veins. Place in baking dish, bottoms up, and bake for 10 minutes until mushrooms are tender.
  3. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add sausage, artichoke hearts, onion, and pepper; sauté for about 5 minutes, or until sausage is browned.
  4. Mix in bread crumbs and 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese.
  5. Top each mushroom with sausage mixture. Return to oven for another 10 minutes.
  6. Add the rest of the parmesan to the top of each mushroom; return to oven for about 1 minute or until cheese has melted. (makes 2 servings)

Greek Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce


I love gyros, but they can be very fattening and expensive. My solution? Make my own healthy version! Now I will admit these aren’t as satisfying as an authentic lamb gyro from Wally’s in Dinkytown, Minnesota, but they are still very good.




Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Chicken

  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (one lemon)
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/4 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

For Assembly

  • Pita bread (4 pieces)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • Red onion, sliced very thin


  1. Shred cucumber or chop it in a food processor. Wrap in a towel and squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Mix together, the yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
  2. To prepare the chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk together until well mixed. Add the chicken to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Heat a grill and set to medium-high. Grill the chicken 4 minutes per side or until fully cooked. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into strips.
  4. Heat pitas according to package directions. Top with Tzatziki sauce, chicken, tomatoes, and onions and enjoy!

The Frugality

If you were to purchase a chicken gyro at Dino’s Gyros it would cost you $6.50. How much did it cost me to make this entire recipe? $6.42! That means if I were to walk down the street to Dino’s Gyros to purchase one gyro I would be spending more than what it costs me to make 4 of my own gyros. That, my friends, is a frugal dinner.

Beef Pops with Pineapple and Parsley Sauce


I have to give credit to Food Network’s Giada for this amazing, melt in your mouth recipe. Giada suggests making the beef pops for an appetizer, but I like them so much that I just make them for a main dish. They are perfect with a side of wild rice or fingerling potatoes and a green salad.



For the Marinade

  • 3 cups fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For the Beef Pops

  • 1 1/2 lbs beef fillet, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 1 pineapple, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste


For the Marinade

  1. In a food processor, blend together parsley, garlic, red wine vinegar, chili flakes, sugar, salt, and pepper until smooth. Keep the machine running and gradually add the olive oil.
  2. Place half the mixture into a medium bowl. Place the remaining mixture into a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Beef Pops

  1. Place the beef into the medium bowl with the parsley marinade. Toss well until the beef is evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  2. Preheat the grill. Skewer beef and pineapple onto grill skewers, alternating beef with pineapple. Grill skewers for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Beef pops can be served on plates with the skewers or they can be removed from skewers. Drizzle with the remaining parsley marinade and enjoy! (This recipe makes about 20 skewers, or about 6 servings)


Grilled Fish Tacos with Chipolte Dressing & Coconut Rice


It may be a surprise, but I used to be one of the pickiest eaters I’ve ever known. My parents would have to feed me Nutter-butters just so I could get some protein, and the closest thing to fish that I would eat was frozen fish sticks. Now I’ll try just about anything, and I love sea food (besides oysters, I have yet to develop a taste for those slimy things). The first dish that really got my to love sea food was these amazing fish tacos from a restaurant in Pewaukee, WI called Kahuna’s. Sadly, Kahuna’s ran out of business about three years ago, leaving us fish taco-less. We have yet to find a restaurant that makes fish tacos as well as they did. In the meantime we have been on a search for our own recipe that can stand up to Kahuna’s. After many trial and errors, we came up with this recipe for Grilled Fish Tacos, which has become one of my favorite meals. It is ALWAYS on my food list when I come home since I don’t have access to a grill at school (believe me, it tastes way better grilled than baked). Serve these tacos with a side of coconut rice and you’ll feel like you’re eating at a beach-side dive in the Caribbean.





  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp seafood seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce, such as Tobasco
  • 1 lb tilapia fillets


  • 1 (8 oz) container light sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp seafood seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Corn Tortillas (8-12, depending on how much you stuff your tacos)
  • 3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1-2 cups cabbage slaw

Coconut Rice

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp coconut flakes, toasted


Fish Tacos

  1. To make the marinade, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, lime zest, honey, garlic, cumin, chili powder, seafood seasoning,  black pepper, and hot sauce in a bowl. Place the tilapia in a shallow dish or zip-lock bag. Pour the marinade over the fish and refrigerate 2-3 hours.
  2. To make the dressing, combine the sour cream and adobo sauce in a bowl. Stir in lime juice, lime zest, cumin, chili powder, and seafood seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until it’s needed. (This makes a lot of dressing and we always have leftovers. We use the left overs on quesadillas and sandwiches, otherwise you can just cut the recipe in half if you don’t want leftovers.)
  3. Preheat the grill to high heat and lightly oil a grilling grate. Set the grate 4 inches from the heat.
  4. Remove fish from marinade, drain off excess marinade and discard. Grill the fish about 9 minutes, turning once. The fish should easily flake with a fork.
  5. Grill the tortillas for about 1 minute on each side or until they are lightly toasted. (This just prevents them from falling apart when you eat them)
  6. Assemble the tacos! I like to spread the chilpotle dressing on the tortilla first, then add the fish, then the tomatoes, cabbage, and cilantro. Sometimes I’ll put a spoonful of coconut rice inside my tacos as well. This recipe makes about 4 servings (two tacos each, depending on how full you stuff the tacos).

Coconut Rice

  1. Start the rice at least 15 minutes before grilling the fish to be sure it’s ready when you want to assemble tacos. If you leave the rice covered it will stay warm for a long time.
  2. To toast coconut, cook coconut in a non-stick pan, over medium-high heat until it starts to lightly brown. Be sure to stir constantly, as it cooks very quickly. Once it starts to turn a golden brown, remove pan from the heat and set aside. You may need to remove the coconut from the pan completely if it continues to cook too much.
  3. To make the rice, combine rice, water, and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Cover and let stand for at least 10 minutes or until ready to serve.
  4. Before serving, stir in toasted coconut.

The Frugality

Fish is often thought of as an expensive meal, however, it is possible to eat fish and not spend a ton of money. Tilapia is a very inexpensive fish, especially if it’s purchased frozen and in bulk. If you freeze fish, especially tilapia, it will keep for several months. Just be sure to thaw it completely, either in the fridge or under cold water, before cooking it!

This recipe costs around $14.60, or only $3.65 per serving! If you ordered fish tacos at a restaurant it would cost you somewhere between $10 and $20 for a plate. I can attest that these fish tacos are just as good as, if not better than any restaurant’s tacos.

Ali’s Burgers (a.k.a. Rosemary Brie Chicken Burgers)


I have to thank my dear friend Ali for these amazing chicken burgers.  Ali is my culinary friend who happens to share in my deep love for food.  She and I can talk about food for hours, and I can always rely on her for great recipes.  Last summer she made these oh-so-delicious burgers for me and my family, and ever since we have referred to them as “Ali’s Burgers.”  I will admit, this is not the most frugal recipe, but I just have to share it because it’s so good.





  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh snipped rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 oz Brie cheese, thinly sliced
  • 4 whole wheat buns


  1. In a small bowl, combine the chopped cranberries with enough hot water to cover them.  Let it stand for 10 minutes, then drain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cranberries, walnuts, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, rosemary, and ground chicken.
  3. Shape the mixture into 3/4 inch thick patties and place each patty on waxed paper.  Cover and chill for at least 2 hours to overnight.
  4. Grill the patties over medium-direct heat for about 8 minutes, flipping over half way through.  Top the patties with cheese, cover and cook for 2 more minutes.
  5. Grill the rolls, face down, for about 2 minutes or until lightly toasted.
  6. Serve the patties on the toasted rolls with mayo and lettuce.

Chicken Queso Burgers


I have returned home for the summer and that means I finally have access to a grill! Tonight my mom and I made one of our favorites, Chicken Queso Burgers.  These burgers are packed with flavor and practically melt in your mouth.  The original recipe came from Emeril Lagasse, however, we have made a few twists to bump up the flavor.


Sauté onions, olive oil and cumin to spread on the buns


Don’t forget to grill the buns after spreading the onion mixture on each half


I love to see those grill marks! You can make these burgers on the stove top, but it just isn’t the same



(makes 4 servings)

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup, shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4-ounce can minced green chiles, drained
  • 3 teaspoons Mrs. Renfros Green Salsa
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 + 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 lb ground lean chicken
  • 1/2 lb ground sirloin (my addition, this makes the burgers less sticky and makes grilling easier)
  • 1/3 cup fine unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped and divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 hamburger buns (we use onion buns, but whole grain buns work well too)
  • Tomato, sliced
  • Avocado, sliced (my addition, the avocado adds so much flavor and makes the burgers taste really fresh)
  • Light Mayonaise (as a condiment)


  1. In a large bowl, combine eggs, cheese, 1/3 of the chopped onions, chiles, oregano, 3/4 teaspoons chili powder, cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt.
  2. Add the ground chicken, sirloin, and breadcrumbs and mix until well blended.  (This recipe is good with just ground chicken, but it can make grilling difficult)
  3. Divide the mixture into 4 portions and shape into 1 inch patties.  Lay the patties on 4 individual pieces of waxed paper (this makes grilling easier so you can simply flip the patties one-by-one onto the grill).  Refrigerate patties until ready to cook
  4. Combine the rest of the onion, olive oil, 3/4 teaspoons chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a pan.  Sauté until the onions are soft.
  5. Brush onions on the insides of the buns.
  6. Grill the burgers over direct medium heat for 4 minutes per side.  Helpful hint: spray each side of the patties with cooking spray rather than the grill.  This helps a lot in preventing the burgers from sticking to the grill and falling apart.
  7. Grill the buns for about 2 minutes or until lightly toasted
  8. Prepare your burger! Spread mayo on one side of the bun and top the burger with avocado slices and a slice of tomato