We've been trying to save money because things are tight right now. Partly because we have the added expense of homeschooling, but I know part of the reason we seem to always be broke is that I haven't been cooking as much as I should. Going out to eat, even at McDonalds, is expensive. For a family of five, we spend at least $30 for every meal we eat away from our table. That adds up pretty quickly.
When I finally get motivated to take action I create a menu for at least two weeks and sometimes as far out as a month in advance. Then we go grocery shopping. Inevitably, we find deals on things, such as a sale on ham or pork roast, or even hot dog buns. Then my menu has to change to make sure we eat the buns before they get moldy. It's not a deal if you don't eat it. It's just money thrown away. What I really need to do is make a menu, go shopping, then adjust the menu to what we bought. That might make a tighter, more easily followed schedule.
Also, I like to try different recipes to keep things from getting boring. I have several recipes that I'd consider regulars - spaghetti is easy, but I reserve that one for when I'm not going to be home to cook. It's easy for the girls to make and I am TIRED of spaghetti. We went through a spaghetti-every-few-days phase a few years back. I make sure to keep that one on the go to list, but don't allow it too often any more. I've gotten the frequency of spaghetti down low enough that I don't completely dread the sound of it and am enjoying it again.
All that being said, I was searching for a chicken recipe. We'd found a deal on boneless, skinless chicken breasts and I'd been aching to use it up. For me, chicken seems to be the easiest thing to try as a new recipe and have at least half of my family enjoy the meal.
In my search I found a recipe for chicken marsala. I once tried my cousin's plate of chicken marsala when we ate at Olive Garden. Sadly, I did not like it. But, the recipe I found called for asparagus. If you've been following me lately, you'll know we have some wild asparagus that grows on our land and we've been harvesting it. I have an abundance of asparagus right now. It's wonderful and if I can include it into a recipe I love it. I consider it as almost free food. Around here I've seen the prices of asparagus as high as $7.99 a pound, so I always feel rich when I eat asparagus. Then, when I think about how we obtained our asparagus (for a small fee of walking around, bending down, and cutting the stalks) I feel like I'm crafty and smart, as if I'm cheating the system somehow. It gives me a giggle. "Take that! I'm eating asparagus for FREE!" Yeah, I know. I'm weird. I'm okay with it.
I had to go do a little extra shopping for marsala wine and mushrooms, but I had everything else the recipe calls for. The wine was right at $14 but I only used 3/4 cup, so I have plenty for later recipes and the mushrooms were less than $2. I figure the recipe cost me about $15 to make, and I think I might have been estimating a little high. I've attached a picture of the finished product on my plate. I hadn't even thought about taking a picture until I tasted it. Then I immediately whipped out my phone. I wanted this documented! It was YUMMY!
The recipe called for chicken - I used the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. However, she states that she also uses chicken thighs. That would cost even less than the breasts. I don't know how much I used. I had taken a package, butterflied the breasts in half to make them thinner. I should have beat them up a little to thin them out a little more, but I didn't. I just coated them in flour with some salt and pepper and then fried them up in a hot skillet with olive oil.
While I cooked the chicken I roasted the asparagus. All I did for that was cut the asparagus into small pieces. Some of our asparagus is HUGE so I cut those down even more. Then I put it all on a tin foil lined cookie sheet with some olive oil and salt and pepper. I put them in the oven at 400° for twenty minutes.
When the chicken was done cooking I took it out of the pan and then added the mushrooms and a little bit of oil. I cooked the mushrooms until they were soft and then I added the garlic. I didn't cook that too long since I tend to burn garlic when I do this. The recipe calls for 2 cloves minced. I just eyeballed some from my HUGE stash of minced garlic I keep on hand at all times.
Then I added the 3/4 cup of marsala wine. It doesn't specify, but I used sweet marsala since that was the only kind my local grocery store had. I guess there is also a dry marsala wine and I might try that someday. I followed the recipe and let it cook on high for a bit to cook off some of the alcohol. Then I added the 3/4 cup of chicken broth. Actually, I added a full can of it. It was probably closer to a cup than to 3/4 cup and might have been more than a full cup.
I let that cook down for about ten minutes. While this was going on the asparagus finished roasting and I put it on the counter to wait. Then I started cooking the pasta.
When the sauce was done (the pasta wasn't done yet) I added the asparagus. I scraped it all into the sauce, trying to be sure to get some of that salt and pepper into the sauce with the asparagus. Then I let it sit until the pasta finished. I never did add the chicken into the sauce - I forgot. I did taste the sauce and added a little more salt and pepper. You may or may not want to do this, but I recommend tasting it first. Of course, I tasted it several times before dinner time.
Then I plated it - pasta, chicken, and then drizzled the sauce with mushrooms and asparagus over the top. The sauce was very thin and I felt like I wanted more, so I will probably double it next time. I might even double the mushrooms, garlic, and asparagus.
Something I just now thought of, the recipe also calls for parmesan cheese and I forgot to use it. Oops. Next time, because there WILL be a next time for this recipe.
I'm including a link to the site that has the recipe because I don't want to claim it as my own. It isn't. I found it on Vodka&Biscuits and I will definitely be frequenting that site.
Here is a link to the CHICKEN MARSALA WITH MUSHROOMS AND ASPARAGUS recipe. She also has prettier pictures of the dish.