If your food budget is feeling the strain of the down-turned economy, making cost-conscious meals is a top priority - a necessity, even. To help you in your quest for delicious dishes that are budget-friendly, Sandra Lee, star of Semi-Homemade Cooking on the Food Network and author of Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Money Saving Meals, shares three of her delectable dinners that are made with a creative - and economical - combination of fresh ingredients and ready-made products from your local supermarket. Shopping lists are included.
Creamy Penne Pesto Bake
Nonstick cooking spray
8 ounces penne pasta
1-1/2 cups Alfredo sauce
1 (5-ounce) jar pesto sauce
1 (13.75-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed
2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
2 (6 ounces each) packets grilled chicken strips
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a 2-1/2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 1 minute less than directed on package. Drain and set aside. For creamy pesto, in a medium bowl, stir together Alfredo sauce and pesto sauce and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, toss to combine artichoke hearts, Italian cheese blend, chicken and roasted red peppers. Add cooked pasta and creamy pesto. Using a rubber spatula, fold together until well mixed. Transfer to prepared casserole dish.
4. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan and oil and sprinkle over pasta. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.
Italian cheese blend
Grilled chicken strips