{Award-Winning} Spicy Chicken Fiesta & A $250 Gift Card GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to a new week! A weekend with almost no set plans sure can be refreshing and I’m ready to rock this week. 
Like I told you on Friday, I participated in Food Lion’s Frugal Cook-Off and was the co-winner of the competition. My partner Valerie and I created a spicy Mexican meal consisting of seasoned and lightly sauteed chicken breasts with a yogurt sauce, simple rice and red beans, and a vegetable saute of corn, onion and bell pepper. 
Without further ado, here are the recipes for our meal…(hint: you have to scroll all the way to the bottom for the giveaway!)
{Award-Winning} Spicy Chicken Fiesta

Created exclusively for Food Lion’s Frugal Cook-Off Charleston 2014

Makes 4 large servings
Cost of meal: (not including chicken and spices) $12.98

For the Spicy Chicken Breasts
1 pound chicken breast
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons pepper
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, additional lemon slices for serving if desired
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped scallions 

Add olive oil to a large skillet and heat on stovetop over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, add seasonings to a small or medium bowl and stir to combine. One at a time lay chicken breasts in the bowl to coat evenly with the seasonings. Flip to coat both sides. When oil in skillet is hot, add all chicken breasts in the skillet in an even layer. Cook about 6-8 minutes on medium heat. Turn over and continue cooking another 6-8 minutes or until cooked through. Lightly squeeze half of the lemon over top of the chicken breasts. 

Remove chicken from heat and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle each piece of chicken with about 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Place in oven heated to 300 degrees for 2-4 minutes or until cheese just starts to melt. Remove from oven and serve overtop of rice and beans, along with spicy Greek yogurt (recipes below). Garnish each piece of chicken with about 2 tablespoons of the chopped scallions. 

For the Rice and Beans
3 cups dry white rice
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoon cayenne pepper

Prepare rice on stovetop according to package directions. When almost finished cooking, add kidney beans and seasonings to the pan. Stir well. Cook on low for another 5-6 minutes, until heated through. Remove from heat and serve. 

For the Vegetable Sauté
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 10-ounce bag frozen corn kernels 
1 medium yellow onion, sliced and roughly chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, sliced and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Add olive oil to a large skillet and place on stovetop over medium heat. Once hot, add all ingredients and stir to combine. Stir occasionally while letting cook for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables become tender and start turning brown. Remove from heat and serve. 

For the Spicy Greek Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well to combine. Serve alongside or on top of Spicy Chicken Breasts. 
*Optional: serve the meal with chopped romaine and a lemon wedge for garnish


Food Lion was so generous and awarded me with two $250 gift cards! One for me and one for YOU! I very much wanted to put this to the best use. I was thinking for a long time how I could give this gift card to someone who truly needed it. However, I wanted to do something nice for you as well. I ultimately came up with a compromise and decided to do a regular giveaway for you, then pay if forward with the other card. After going through the check-out line with groceries for Greg and I, I handed the card to the person in line behind us so she could use the balance for herself. 

Whoever wins, I hope you will consider doing the same, or using the card in a way that will impact others. However, it is completely up to you how you use it.

Enter the giveaway by doing the actions below: 

**Giveaway ends Sunday, March 2nd at 12:00am**Winner will be announced Monday, March 3rd**

Spicy Cajun Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese, ma-mac and cheese. Uh! Can I have some please?
Please tell me you know what I’m talking about. You know, that Verizon commercial? I don’t see it on much anymore, but that song was my jam back in the summer. 
I could sing that song all day long while eating (or even just dreaming) about a bowl of this.

Super spicy. Super creamy. Super delicious. Need I say more?
Well I’m going to anyway. You need to make this. And if you have never made homemade mac and cheese before, just do it. (I’m a Nike rep now by the way….ok not really). But this was my first homemade mac and cheese experience too and I promise it’s easy peasey, nice and cheesey! 

I know I’m all over the place today. Sorry. I don’t know if it’s the Christmas music making me giddy, or the taste of this mac and cheese still lingering on my tongue. Probably a combination of both. 
I’m just going to stop while I’m ahead. Here’s the recipe…Enjoy! 

Spicy Cajun Mac and Cheese
(Adapted from Eat.Live.Run)

Makes 3-4 servings

2 1/4 cup dry pasta (I used spirals)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
3/4 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup milk (I used original unsweetened almond milk)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon all purpose flour
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chachere’s Original Creole)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic. Cook about 4-5 minutes or until vegetables become tender and begin to brown. Add milk and bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally. Add flour and continue whisking for about 3 minutes. Add cheese to pot and stir until completely melted. Turn heat to low and allow to simmer. Add remaining seasonings. Pour cooked pasta into the pot and toss everything to coat the noodles. Serve immediately.

Spicy Trees

No. It’s not what your thinking. Unless you still have the mind of a little kid and call broccoli “trees”.

You might have figured out already that I love sales. When it comes to grocery shopping, it is rare that I buy something not on sale. When I ran to the store to pick up food for dinner, I had broccoli in mind. But the frozen kind. When I saw that these fresh green broccoli heads were cheaper than the frozen variety, I knew it was meant to be. 
I was watching the Food Network show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” awhile back and one lady talked about spicy broccoli. I like broccoli. I like spicy. And two rights make an extra-right. Right? 
I’ve had the idea in my head ever since and finally I would get to make it for myself. Well, not just myself, but Greg, Brooke and my mom. 
So fresh and so green, green. Ok, I’m a loser. 

I never thought I would say this, but I love vegetables. I even had a veggie sandwich for lunch. I might just turn into a vegetable. Wait….that doesn’t sound good. I take that back.
From what I remember seeing on the show about spicy broccoli, there were many more ingredients than this recipe required. For the sake of time, I stuck with the first recipe I found. It turned out to be much simpler than I was expecting, but also not quite as spicy as I would have liked.

The broccoli was only a small part of this family dinner though. I also made marinated chicken breasts. I would share the recipe for that, but honestly I have no idea what I did. I had about ten minutes to spare during my lunch break today and threw something together. It was something like olive oil, soy sauce, fresh garlic, onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Greg made some buttermilk mashed potatoes too. I was a bit nervous letting him take over, but they turned out great. 
The best part of finishing a homemade dinner like that though?
Thinking about this for dessert the entire time…
Don’t worry, I didn’t make this. My mom and Brooke picked this up today from Cupcake. It was every bit as good as it looks. Maybe you can’t tell, but this cupcake is GIANT. We all had big slices and there is still almost half left over. Which is nice, because I might need more in about….eh, fifteen minutes?
Spicy Broccoli
(Adapted from Food Network)
Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 small broccoli heads, cut into florets
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat
2. Add crushed red pepper flakes and stir 
3. Add broccoli florets and mix to coat with oil and pepper flakes
4. Saute broccoli over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes, or until it begins to brown
5. Add salt and pepper as desired. Pour water into skillet, stir, and cover. 
6. Turn heat to low and steam for about 1-2 minutes
7. Remove from heat and serve while still hot