Recipes to feed a family for under $20

November 17, 2009 10:30:44 AM PST
These days, we're all looking at ways to stretch out our dollars. Saving on the family food budget can help. Eating at home, instead of eating out is a big money saver. But few of us have extra time to spend in the kitchen. Steve Goodwin, executive chef and Culinary Vice President of Cheddar's Casual Cafe in Bolingbrook can help. He says you can make frugal, but fabulous family meals for under $20. And he says you can have dinner on the table in less than 25 minutes.

Goodwin knows what he's talking about. Consumer Reports recently rated 109 national restaurants in different categories including quality, value, service and atmosphere. Cheddars restaurant in Bolingbrook is #1 in the under $20 category for Casual Dining.

Goodwin, executive chef of Cheddar's Casual Cafes, has more than 25 years experience in the culinary industry. Originally from New York City, Goodwin received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Buffalo and attended the Culinary Institute of America (C.I.A). Goodwin began his culinary career by working at some of New York's finest establishments, including the Waldorf Astoria, Loews Summit, La Caravelle, La Mascotte and Mortimers. He then joined California Caf? Restaurant Corporation, where he served as regional chef from 1985-1989, when the company grew from three locations to 14. Goodwin served as corporate chef for The Pasta Company in St. Louis for four years, before returning to the California Caf? Restaurant Corporation in 1994 to help supervise several locations nationwide. Goodwin's experience also includes the prestigious position of opening chef for Mars 2112 in New York City, where he designed the menus, facility and oversaw training of more than 100 employees. In addition, he was corporate chef of Eerie World Entertainment (Jekyll and Hyde Clubs) from 1999-2000.

Goodwin has been executive chef of Cheddar's Casual Cafes since 2000. He is responsible for all back-of-house operations, including menu development, recipe implementation, management training classes, approval of all new ingredients, coordination with manufacturers and food vendors, facilities design, equipment purchasing and franchise visits. Goodwin also serves as distract manager for three Cheddar's restaurants and is overseeing the further expansion of a new seafood restaurant concept he developed.

You can try these hearty, budget friendly recipes at home or enjoy them at Cheddar's, 105 Remington Blvd., Bolingbrook, IL 60440. For reservations, call 630-378-5555.

Cheddar's Chicken Pot Pie
Serves 6

Three-quarters stick of butter, divided use
One-half cup flour
2 lbs. leftover cooked chicken, diced into one-half inch chunks
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream
1 cup diced carrots
One-half cup diced onions
1 tsp chopped garlic
One-half tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup frozen peas
2 sheets frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
1 egg, beaten well

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Melt one-quarter stick of butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook on low heat 2 minutes. Reserve this mixture.

3. Melt remaining one-quarter stick butter in 5 qt skillet on medium heat. Add garlic, onions and carrots. Cook on medium for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil. Whisk in the prepared roux (butter-flour mixture) and return filling to a boil until it thickens. Add reserved chicken and peas and remove from heat. You may cool and refrigerate for up to one day, if planning in advance.

4. Spoon filling into six 12 oz. baking dishes, filling until one-half inch from top.

5. Cut pastry in circles 1 inch larger than baking dishes. Place pastry on top on press around sides to seal.

6. Beat egg with a whisk until smooth. Brush each pot pie top with the beaten egg. Cut a small hole in center of pastry top to vent.

7. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until top is golden and filling is bubbling.

New Orleans Pasta
Courtesy of Cheddar's
Serves 4
1 lb. penne pasta
12 oz. chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
8 oz. smoked sausage, sliced into one-quarter-in. rounds
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
One-half cup onion, sliced thin
One-half cup green pepper, sliced thin
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. blackening spice
1 cup salsa (use your favorite, mild to hot, depending on your preference)
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
Alfredo Sauce (recipe follows)

Directions:

1. Cook penne according to package directions, drain and keep hot.

2. Prepare the Alfredo Sauce below.

3. Heat olive in a large skillet over medium heat. Add peppers and onions and saut? for 4 minutes until soft.

4. Add chicken and sausage to pan, cook for 5 more minutes until chicken has cooked through.

5. Add shrimp to pan and cook for 2 more minutes.

6. Add the prepared Alfredo Sauce to the pan, along with the salsa. Bring to a simmer. Remove the shrimp.

7. Add the cooked penne and toss with the sauce. Divide between 4 large plates or bowls. Top each serving with 4 shrimp and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Alfredo Sauce
4 oz. butter , unsalted
2 cups heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
One-half tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1. Place butter, cream and garlic in a 4-qt. saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn to a simmer and reduce by 20 percent.

2. Add cheese and whisk well until smooth.

3. Add salt and pepper.

Use sauce in above recipe. Can be made ahead and refrigerate

Spasagna
Courtesy of Cheddar's
Serves 6-8

1 1/2 lbs. spaghetti noodles, uncooked
2 lbs. mozzarella cheese
8 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1 and one-quarter C half-and half
One-half C grated parmesan cheese, divided use
1 tsp. dried leaf oregano
1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
One-half tsp. ground white pepper
1 tsp. chopped garlic
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 and one-half tsp. olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cook spaghetti al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water and drain. Place in large mixing bowl.

3. In another mixing bowl, stir together sour cream, ricotta, half-and-half, mozzarella, oregano, basil, white pepper, garlic, salt, and half the parmesan cheese.

4. Add above cheese mixture to the spaghetti. Using hands, mix gently until spaghetti is evenly coated with mixture.

5. Rub a 9x13 glass baking dish with the olive oil.

6. Gently place spaghetti mixture into prepared dish. Top with remaining parmesan cheese.

7. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.

8. Remove from oven, remove foil and place dish on cooling rack for 10 minutes.

9. Cut into six-eight squares and top with meat sauce below, or your favorite meat or marinara sauce.

Meat Sauce
1 24-oz. jar spaghetti sauce
12 oz. ground beef
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
1 C chopped onion
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dried leaf oregano
1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. granulated sugar
One-half C red wine
One-quarter C Romano cheese
Additional salt, pepper to taste

1. Heat a heavy saucepan on medium heat for five minutes. Add ground beef and stir to break up clumps. Cook till meat is browned well. Drain meat and set aside.

2. Add onions and garlic to saucepan and cook over medium heat for about five minutes, or until softened.

3. Return reserved meat to pan, along with spaghetti sauce, salt, oregano, basil, sugar, red wine and Romano cheese. Stir well to combine.

4. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

5. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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