Last Sunday I was driving back from my last ski trip of the year to Mammoth, when all of a sudden I had an idea for an easy chicken meal. I test cooked my stuffed chicken breast meal last night, and both “She Who Must Be Obeyed” and our youngest son thought it was great. So I think this is a low cost family cooking style meal that you will enjoy too.
2 Whole skinless chicken breast filets separated into 4 halves
8 – oz bag of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 -4 oz can Green chiles diced
1 – 10 oz can Enchilada sauce
24 cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro for chicken (and a little extra for sauce)
2 cloves garlic chopped
8 oz chicken stock
1/2 White onion cut into wedges
1 – 15 oz can Refried beans
Loosely wrap plastic wrap around each half chicken breast so there is room for chicken to expand, and flatten with a rolling pin until about 1/4″ thick.
On each flattened chicken breast apply a few tablespoons of enchilada sauce, add shreded cheese (not too much as chicken has to be able to roll up later), equal parts cilantro, garlic, and green chiles.
Roll the chicken breast up and secure each breast with 2 toothpicks. Place rolled up chicken breast on an oven dish lightly oiled with olive oil. Place in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Heat chicken broth in sauce pan.
Remove oven dish and add chicken broth, cherry tomatoes, onion, and extra cilantro around the rolled up chicken breasts. Place oven dish back into the oven for an additional 30 minutes, basting the chicken breasts every now and then. Check temperature of chicken and when done remove from oven and cover with foil.
Heat refried beans.
Plate a chicken roll on each plate, next to it place a few cherry tomatoes, onion, and spoon or two of sauce. Next add refried beans covered with a little mozzarella cheese.
For an added treat, consider making Spanish rice per package instructions.
And there you go, you just made a killer stuffed chicken dinner with only two pans to wash!
Here we go again. Gas prices are over $4.00 a gallon! Just like back in 2008 when the price of gas rose to an average of $4.11 everyone is talking about purchasing brand new itsy bitsy more fuel efficient cars. So, I wondered if I should dump my 2006 Highlander and purchase a more fuel efficient vehicle.
My Toyota Highlander has a six cylinder engine, automatic transmission, and air conditioning. My SUV gets about 17 MPG city and 23 MPG on the highway. It easily transports 5 people and all their gear for skiing, golfing, or going on a picnic. I can go to Costco and load “a truck load” of bulk household supplies into my SUV.
The SUV has about 60,000 miles on it, and assuming it continues to receive regularly scheduled maintenance, it being a Toyota, it should have more than 60,000 miles to go before any major mechanical issues arise. The loan on my SUV is paid, so my monthly cost to operate the vehicle for the next 5 years will be limited to the cost of gas, oil/service, and tires.
On the other hand, because of the pain I experience every time I fill my SUV up with $4.00 or more per gallon of gas, I think about how nice it would be to reduce the pain at the pump by purchasing a more efficient car. I did a little research and calculating to see just how much pain could be erased at the pump by such a purchase.
A mid-range priced Honda Civic costs about $21,000.00. The Civic gets 28 MPG city and 39 MPG highway. The monthly payment for the new Civic would be around $396.00 ($21,000 loan for 5 years at 5%). In addition to the monthly car payment, operation costs would include gas, oil/service, and tires.
The new car is smaller and less useful, but it does get 37% more MPG in the city then does my SUV! So, that would effectively reduce the cost of travel from $4.00 a gallon to $2.52, thus putting $1.48 per gallon back in the my wallet.
But, if my math is correct, savings on the new fuel efficient car would not kick in until after I purchased 267 gallons of gas each month ($1.48 savings per gallon x 267 gallons = approximately the $396 monthly car payment). And as the new fuel efficient car can travel 7,476 miles around town on 267 gallons of gas (28 MPG x 267 gallons), that would mean a whole lot of driving before I actually saved any money . I don’t drive that much, and as much as I love cars, I hope I never drive 7,476 miles per month!
So considering the fact that I own an old, but paid off, Highlander it does not seem to make economic sense to go out and buy an itsy bitsy car to “save money” on gas when I would have to buy tons more gas to actually pay for the cost of the efficient car.
No, instead of spending lots of money to save a little money, I think I will keep the old SUV and just drive smarter. Instead of making a trip every time I think of something I need to do, I will try to avoid single purpose trips. My goal will be to plan multiple purpose trips prior to firing up the “monster truck”. So now, rather than simply going to the grocery store, I will plan multipurpose outings, such as going to the bank on the way to the dry cleaners and then hitting the grocery store on the way home. Without doing the calculations, I have to believe that one trip with multiple stops uses a lot less gas than leaving the house multiple times on single purpose trips.
I also am trying to save gas by leaving the “tank” in the garage and walking to nearby stores and restaurants. My goal is to eliminate, to the extent comfortably possible, miles traveled in my SUV, to save on the time I have to feed the one armed bandit, (gas pump, not slot machine).
If my plan works, I will effectively get the benefit of a more fuel efficient car without incurring a new monthly car payment!
I’ll bet that while you are sitting with family and friends enjoying my Stuffed Chicken Breast dinner you can come up with other easy ways to save on gas!
Good Eating and Table Talk,