A Home Cooked Meal Every Night of the Week

 

What’s for dinner tonight? I’ve get a great suggestion: How about a yummy, creamy, casserole? Come on. You know that sounds just perfect, because now that the weather is getting chilly who doesn’t want to come home to the sight and smell of a delicious meal  that’s hot and ready to serve.

Salad

Thankfully, our friends over at eMeals just sent over this recipe for me to share with you. It’s from the eMeals Classic menu and I promise that even your pickiest eaters are going to love it. I’m going to pair this with a green salad with fruit and cheese for dessert.

Note: While this is a freezable meal that can make ahead, you can easily adapt the instructions to make it for dinner tonight.

Green Chile Chicken and Rice Casserole

  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts, skinned
  • 1 (6.9 ounce) box chicken-flavored rice and vermicelli mix (like Rice-a-Roni)
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 (8 ounce) package pepper Jack cheese, shredded

 

  1. Place chicken breasts in a large saucepan; add water to cover.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes or until done.
  3. Cool; shred meat and discard bones.
  4.  Prepare rice mix according to package directions.
  5. Line a 13×9-inch baking dish with heavy-duty nonstick aluminum foil, allowing several inches of foil to extend over sides.
  6. Spread rice in prepared dish.
  7. Combine shredded chicken, soup, water chestnuts, green chiles, and sour cream in a large bowl; stir until blended.
  8. Pour soup mixture over rice; top evenly with cheese.
  9. Cover and freeze 2 to 3 hours or until firm.
  10. Remove from baking dish by holding edges of foil; fold foil over casserole.
  11.  Wrap in additional foil, making sure it is tightly sealed.
  12.  Freeze up to 1 month.
  13. To serve, thaw in refrigerator overnight.
  14. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  15. Place foil-wrapped casserole in a lightly greased 13×9-inch baking dish.
  16. Uncover top, and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

If you’d like to have recipes like this one all figured out for you every night of the week that call for items that are on sale this week in your your favorite supermarket, go to eMeals. Just choose a meal plan based on your eating style (there are 14 to choose from including Classic Meals, Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Low Carb and Slow Cooker), your family size and even your favorite grocery store.

For about a buck a week you will get a weekly email with your specific shopping list for your supermarket of choice, plus all of the recipes designed for your family. If you use coupon code debtproofliving you even get a special 20% discount on your membership.

If you’re struggling to stay out of the drive thru or popping into a restaurant way too often, eMeals could be the solution you’re looking for. Just imagine—home cooked, delicious meals, every night of the week. Kinda’ sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?

Will I Be Taxed on My Son’s Generosity?

 

Dear Mary: I am retired and my son wants to give me money to buy a house as a gift. Will I be taxed on the money? If so, are there ways to avoid or reduce the amount I will be taxed? Lucy, email

Dear Lucy: How lovely is this? And I have good news for you: Gifts between individuals are tax-free to the recipient. Only the gift giver—in this case, your generous son—is responsible for taxes. How much? Well, that depends on the size of the gift.

Your son will not likely have to pay taxes on his gift unless he has exhausted his lifetime gift-tax exemption. Under current law, each of us can give away or leave up to $5.25 million over our lifetimes without owing federal gift and estate tax.

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Your son will have to file a gift-tax return if the amount is more than the annual exemption limit ($14,000 in 2013). The amount of the gift that is over the limit will be deducted from his lifetime gift-tax exemption amount.

Only two states, Connecticut and Minnesota, impose their own gift tax. Connecticut gift tax is owed when the value of all taxable gifts made by a resident since 2005 (not counting out-of-state real estate) reaches $2 million. Minnesota has a $1 million gift tax exemption.

Tips to Avoid “Turkey Flu” this Holiday Season

 

For years, Liz Tarditi’s mother tried to kill her family with turkey. Not intentionally, of course, but invariably sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas someone in the family developed flu-like symptoms. Mother blamed it on the weather and whatever influenza was going around, but the truth is they suffered from mild food poisoning that required weeks to fully recover.

Tarditi, a professional personal chef, says the way to avoid “the flu” and make sure the holidays are as healthy as they are happy is to practice safe food handling techniques when preparing the Thanksgiving turkey.

Roast Turkey Dinner

Conquer the bacteria. Most poultry contain small amounts of salmonella bacteria that, when ingested, can result in a variety of afflictions all the way from slight illness to death. The way to kill the salmonella in food is with heat and on surfaces with an antibacterial agent.

Make it yourself. Every kitchen needs an effective antibacterial solution. But don’t spend $6 for a 12-ounce bottle of cleaner. Make it yourself: One gallon of 70 F (cool) water plus one teaspoon of liquid bleach. Any warmer and the bleach evaporates; more bleach will harm some surfaces and fabrics. Don’t get obsessive, just measure carefully and stick with this perfect, dirt-cheap recipe that will not harm wood, paint, marble or fabric.

A Perfect Homemade Holiday Gift

 

Every year about this time I start scrambling for gift ideas for my long list of friends, neighbors and colleagues. I have criteria. The gift has to be homemade and easily mass produced. It needs to be consumable, attractive and appeal to a wide range of tastes. And above all, it needs to be affordable.

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The purpose of these gifts is to deliver my love and best wishes for the Holiday Season (you know, Christmas, Chanukah, New Years, Kwanzaa, Festivus). And if I can weave into these messengers a small Wow! factor, well that’s a bonus.

Saving Coins Can Be a Pain

 

I am not one to spend coins. And I don’t like carrying them around in my wallet, either. Every night both my husband and I dump the day’s accumulation into a container to save for a trip or to buy something special. One year we saved $1,100 in coins, but I have to admit the logistics can be a royal pain.

Banks and credit unions have strict rules about loose coins. Some require it to be rolled, wrapped and labeled before depositing. Others won’t accept wrapped coins. Either way, most these days charge a fee.

Coins in a jar

I don’t know what happened to me last weekend. I guess I was suffering from a severe case of TMC (too many coins). In a fit of frustration I dumped the jars into a big bag and drove to the supermarket. I knew it would cost me 10.9% to use the Coinstar machine located in the store, but it seemed reasonable. After a few minutes of shoveling, out popped a voucher for $383.52. My heart sunk once I realized that I’d walked in with $431.57. Big Green clobbered me with a $47.05 fee!

Karl Hartkopf whose website is devoted to coin rolling techniques advocates cheap or free counting machines. But, he points out, it is not always possible. So, if you can’t find a bank or credit to count your coins free, should you pay the fee or should you wrap your own coins? Well, that all depends.

Better Than Fast Food, Cheaper Than Eating Out

 

If you find it’s too expensive to eat out but you don’t have time to cook at home, a simple technique might is a fabulous way to combine the best of those two worlds. We call it “semi fast food” combining quick-service food with home cooking. Let me explain …

Pizza
The take-out pizza store in my neighborhood sells ready-to-roll pizza dough. I can buy a large ball of dough for $2.50, which makes a sixteen-inch pizza. That’s more than it costs me to make my own pizza dough from scratch. But when time is of the essence, this is a fast, cheap, reliable alternative.

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Using my own sauce and toppings, I can have really great pizza on the table in no time at all. I do rely on this option quite often, particularly when we have last-minute guests. It is impressive to turn out such a high-quality delicious pizza so quickly. It is my little secret.

The Rules of Regifting

 

Seventy-two days until Christmas. That’s right, I said it. Start thinking it over. And while you’re doing that, allow me to whisper just one word in your ear: Regifting.

The act of regifting–passing on as new a gift someone else gave you–is controversial but only because of those who do a noticeably bad job of it. After all, if every act of regifting were carried out flawlessly, no one would have the occasion to find it distasteful. And that brings me to the first Rule of Regifting:

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1. Never admit to regifting. If your friends know you’re a regifter, you’ll find yourself in the unpleasant situation of explaining why regifting is different from not caring. Worse, they will be suspicious of the gifts you give them. It’s best to keep regifting completely to yourself.

Fresh Produce 101

 

Psssst! Could you use an extra $300? You might want to take a look in your garbage.

A survey conducted by The Garbage Project and Glad, the food storage people, revealed that the average household throws away 150 pounds of rotten produce each year. At a conservative estimate of $2 a pound, each household is losing about $300 by tossing out produce that’s become more suitable for a biology project than human consumption.

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In a survey of 1,000 households, Glad found that while 83 percent considered themselves knowledgeable about the best ways to store produce, only 32 percent knew the proper way to store apples; 38 percent the best way to store strawberries.

And so my Dear Readers, in an effort to raise our collective PIQ (produce intelligence quotient) what follows is a crash course in the proper care and storage of fresh fruits and vegetables: