Shop Cheap

Sharing the best prices on groceries and other stuff in the Sacramento region.

February 25, 2009
Shop Cheap has recipes to match

Recipe researcher Sheila Kern has been hard at work in the Shop Cheap kitchen and she's come up with some tasty meals to go with what's on sale this week. Enjoy!

Foster Farms ground turkey is BOGO  at Safeway. Here are two recipes!

Turkey Meatballs

Recipe courtesy of Paulina, Oprah's house manager


Makes 15-20 meatballs

If Oprah's craving a healthy, protein-packed meal, she requests these turkey meatballs, which can be served with the tomato sauce of your choice.


2 pounds ground turkey

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 eggs

1 Tbsp. bread crumbs

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground pepper

Olive oil or vegetable oil

Heat oil in large skillet (use enough oil to cover just the bottom of skillet). Add onion and stir briefly, until it's almost yellow. Add red pepper, green pepper and fry for 2 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 2 minutes, then remove from stove to cool. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Place flour on a large plate (for ease in creating the balls). With a wooden spoon, mix together turkey, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, sauted onions and peppers, and bread crumbs. Form a tablespoon size of the turkey mixture in the shape of ball. Place each meatball in skillet and cook until slightly brown. Slightly press the center of each meatball to make sure the center cooks.

Arrange on serving platter. Sprinkle ground pepper over top of each.


 Baked Ziti with Turkey Meatballs


Servings: 8


1 pound Foster Farms Fresh Ground Turkey


3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup finely diced onion

3 tablespoons chopped, toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta

1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 cup grated Romano cheese

6 cups tomato sauce

1 pint part-skim ricotta cheese

1 clove garlic, minced


1. In a bowl, stir together turkey, garlic, bread crumbs, onion, pine nuts, parsley, egg, salt and pepper. Form into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter.

2. In a large heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Cook half of meatballs, shaking skillet, until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer meatballs to paper towels to drain. Brown remaining meatballs in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in same manner.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a 3 to 4 quart gratin dish.

4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook until just al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain.

5. In a small bowl, toss together mozzarella and Romano cheese.

6. Spoon about 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce and half the meatballs into prepared dish, and spoon half the pasta on top. Spread half remaining sauce and half cheese mixture over pasta. Top with remaining meatballs, and drop dollops of ricotta over meatballs. Spread remaining pasta over ricotta, and top with remaining sauce and cheese mixture. Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Here's a casserole that's just as good at dinnertime.

Sausage and Potato Breakfast Casserole

Bon Appetit | November 1997


Serves 6


1 pound bulk breakfast sausage

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)

1 1-pound package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes

4 green onions, finely chopped

1 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Cook sausage in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until brown, breaking into small pieces with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Mix in flour, then milk. Cook until mixture thickens and comes to boil, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Arrange potatoes in prepared dish. Top with 1/3 of green onions, 1 cup cheese, 1/3 of green onions, sausage mixture and remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

Bake casserole until potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining green onions and serve.

If you're fown for the $5 Friday special at Safeway this week (roasted chicken), here's a great side dish.

Carrot Souffle


Serves 8


2 pounds carrots, cut in chunks

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs, beaten

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon pinch cinnamon


Cook carrots in boiling salted water until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes; drain well and mash. Combine mashed carrots with remaining ingredients; pour into a buttered, 2-quart souffle dish. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake 45 minutes longer.

February 25, 2009
Want to save $20 on groceries?

That big, red $20 off coupon is back - and it couldn't come at a better time.

Grab your Wednesday Sac Bee, go to the Raley's ad on page A11 and start clipping.

Or, go to the Raley's website www.raley' and click on the coupon. You'll have to print it out but it works just the same.

Two reminders: You must spend at least $100 to get the $20 off and the coupon is valid through Saturday.

February 24, 2009
Coupons, $1 days, breakfast specials

Hi shoppers. It's time to sharpen the scissors and think inside the blog because there are deals to be had at the grocery store. If you haven't noticed there's, real competition out there. Take this week for example:

At Safeway, $1 days; coupons for $10 off your purchase of $50 or more; free liters of Pepsi and a pound of butter or a box of cereal for 99-cents. Shop on Saturday or Sunday and the deals are sweeter: A dozen eggs for 97-cents; Campbell's Select Harvest soups for 88-cents a can and a 10-pound bag of potatoes for $1.97. 

At Raley's, breakfast is on sale, including two boxes of pancake mix and a free container of maple syrup for $4. Their 99-cent specials include 28 items from frozen dinners to fresh broccoli to crisp apples.

At Save Mart you can make sandwiches for the whole family for under $5. Bohemian Hearth bread is $1.99 a loaf; tuna is 49-cents a can and fresh iceberg lettuce is 69-cents a head.

The highlights:

Continuing with Save Mart, there's max pak tri-tip roasts for $2.49lb; fresh ground sirloin for $2.99lb and chicken breasts for $1.89lb. Crystal Geyser drinking water is $3.50 a case; Simply Orange juice is $2.50 a jug and Propel fitness water is $1. Marie Calendar's pasta sauce is $2.50 a bottle; Sunny Select pasta is $1.99 for 2 pounds and Celeste frozen pizza is $1. In produce, a 5lb-bag of apples is $2.99; Roma tomatoes are 99-cents a pound; radishes, green onions or cilantro are 3/99-cents. Fresh green beans are $1.49lb; bags of spinach are 2/$3 and seedless grapes are $1.69lb.

In addition to groceries, Save Mart has a couple of noteworthy household items. Arm&Hammer liquid laundry detergent is BOGO; Soft One bath tissue is 2/$3 and facial tissue is 99-cents a box.

At Raley's, be sure to check out the recipe for "Cheesy Mexican Bake." Chicken for the recipe is 99-cents a pound. Add a Fresh Express garden salad for 99-cents and tomato, also 99-cents a pound, and you have a meal for $11 and change. Their Nob Hill gourmet soups are on sale in the deli for $3.99. Pair the soup with a shrimp cocktail - salad shrimp is only $2.99 a pound - and a loaf of French bread for $1.39 and you have a meal for under $10.

And who says you have to have breakfast in the morning? Shake things up a little by serving it  for dinner. Here's the plan for another $10 meal: Morningstar Farms sausage 2/$7; large eggs $1.99 a dozen; and that pancake deal (see above). You can even splurge on  Simply Orange juice for $2.50 a jug.

Safeway has the coupons and the 48-hour sale this week. They also have whole roasted chickens for the $5 Friday meal. If you want something fishy this week, check out Tilapia fillets for $3.99 a pound; red snapper for $4.99 a pound and extra large cooked shrimp for $7.99 a pound. In the beef department, Rancher's Reserve cross rib or top blade roast is $1.99lb. Remember, there's lots you can do with a roast: Cut it up and make stew; chili; fajitas; or put it in the crock pot and make shredded beef.

Hormel bacon is BOGO and so is Foster Farms ground turkey breast. Red or green seedless grapes are 88-cents a pound.

The $1 items at Safeway are endless. There's ketchup and mustard; canned tomatoes and pasta; Artisan breads; Rosarita refries; Crystal Geyser water and Arizona Tea. There's also Angel Soft bath tissue. In produce the $1 days continue with crisp apples at $1 a pound; Roma tomatoes, navel oranges, too. BOGOs include Vlasic pickles, Quaker instant oatmeal and Pop-Secret microwave popcorn.

 Foods Co. has Crystal Geyser drinking water for $3.50 a case; Oscar Mayer bologna or cotto salami for $1 per package; Minute Maid fruit punch is 98-cents a carton. In produce there's Roma tomatoes 2 pounds/98-cents; fresh onions 4lbs/$1; limes 2lbs/98-cents and red bell pepper for $1.98 a pound.

If you're in the mood for seafood, Vic's in Folsom has salmon fillets for $4.99lb and Venus clams for $2.99lb. Fresh Express salad blends are BOGO and navel oranges are 49-cents a pound. Broccoli is 99-cents a bunch and 3lb. bags of apples are $2.49. Those Michelina's frozen entrees are 99-cents each and Pillsbury biscuits, breadsticks or pizza crust are $2 each.

Come back tomorrow for recipes from the Shop Cheap kitchen.


February 20, 2009
Sharing tips from readers

Hi shoppers. Readers shared some interesting tips this week. Here goes:

David from Red Bluff was excited about the Classico/Ronzoni deal at Raley's but wasn't too happy with me for not mentioning the price, which is pretty incredible. Buy two jars of Classico pasta sauce at 2/$4, and get a pound of Ronzoni pasta for free. 

 Here's what David had to say: "For a mere $4, I picked up two jars of pasta sauce and a 16oz package of pasta. If you're thinking Italian for the weekend, Raley's can help you out."


And Debbie, who is a true ice cream lover liked the "Herd of Laughter" ice cream joke but she doesn't much like the ice cream. Here's what Debbie had to say: " Pam, you recommended "Herd of Laughter" ice cream due to its price. I just have to say, the ice cream does not taste good. So even if the name is funny, the taste is not. I wouldn't buy it at any price."

Thanks for setting me straight, Debbie. I should have known when my own husband didn't get the joke.

I should have said: "No scoops for you!"


And lastly, three tips from Lorraine: "The 99-cent stores (they are the ones painted purple and green) have an amazing amount of fresh produce and refrigerator items. They often  have a dozen eggs for 99-cents. The Dollar Tree has refrigerated items at some of its stores but it's a really good source for canned goods. The Grocery Outlet also has good vegetables and some amazing deals on exotic cheeses like Brie and blue cheese crumbles."

 Thanks to David, Debbie and Lorraine. We love to share tips from readers.

February 18, 2009
Low-cost, high-quality recipes

 Fresh whole chickens are a bargain this week at 77-cents a pound. Albacore tuna is $1 a can and asparagus is $1.48 a pound -max. With prices like those, recipe researcher Sheila Kern came up with low-cost, high-quality ideas that will help you stretch your shopping dollars.

Roast Chicken With Orange Mustard Glaze


Serves 6

Serve this tasty roast chicken with rice and your favorite steamed veggies for a delicious family dinner.


1 roasting chicken, about 4 to 5 pounds

2 tablespoons cold butter

1 clove garlic, finely minced

Salt and pepper

Fresh basil leaves

Sprigs and leaves of fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, and basil, optional


2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon melted butter


Heat oven to 350°. Wash chicken and pat dry.

Line a roasting pan with foil or spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Put a rack in the pan or set 4 3-inch ribs of celery in the pan to make a simple rack.

Sprinkle the chicken and cavity with salt and pepper. Using fingers to slide under the skin, gently loosen skin over the chicken breasts and legs. Mix butter with garlic; spread butter evenly under the skin, then tuck whole basil leaves under the skin. If desired put other herb leaves under skin. Put some herb sprigs and leaves in the cavity of the chicken, if desired. Place the chicken on the rack or celery in the roasting pan.

In another bowl, combine the orange juice concentrate with mustard, brown sugar, and melted butter. Set aside.

Roast the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes per pound, or until chicken registers about 165° when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. Brush the chicken with the orange glaze mixture and continue roasting for 10 minutes longer, brushing a few more times with glaze.

Let chicken rest for 10 minutes before slicing.



Recipe by Brian Johnson Awesome Chef Recipes

Serves 2 - 3 adults

1 whole roasting chicken

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon freshly ground course black pepper

zest and juice from one fresh lemon

1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dry thyme

1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dry rosemary

1 teaspoon fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse chicken and set aside.

Prepare the marinade. Zest the lemon, mince the zest placing it in a medium size stainless steel bowl. Once the lemon has been zested you may juice the lemon, placing the juice in the bowl with the zest. Prepare all of the herbs, mince all and add them to the bowl with all remaining ingredients. Mix all ingredients well and reserve.

Place the chicken in a large stainless steal bowl. Slightly pull the skin from the breast section and place a bit of the Provencal marinade between the breast meat and the skin.

Pour the remaining marinade over the entire chicken making sure that the entire chicken is coated well.

Place a chicken roaster in a roasting pan, place the chicken upright on the roaster and place in the preheated oven for 50 minutes or until the chicken has reached 165 degrees.

Finish this meal with rosemary roasted potatoes, or mashed potatoes and some fresh vegetables for a special Sunday meal.

Bow Tie Pasta Salad



1 lb Bow tie or Shell pasta

3 oz. capers

1 small onion

4 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup Kalamata olives

1/4 cup parsley

1 lemon

2 cans of Albacore tuna

Olive Oil

Finely chop capers, onion, garlic and parsley. Set aside in bowl. Cook pasta until al dente, and drain. Toss in your mixed ingredients, and add Kalamata olives and albacore. Top with the juice of 1 lemon and olive oil to taste. Crack fresh ground pepper. Garnish with few sprigs of parsley. Eat hot or cold.

Albacore Appetizers



2 cans of Albacore tuna

1 8oz. soft cream cheese

1 onion finely chopped

Chopped jalapenos or Serrano peppers

1-2tbs. of mayonnaise to taste

1 cucumber sliced

Crackers of your choice

Mix albacore, cream cheese, onions and peppers. Spread on cucumber slices or crackers.

Asparagus Fettuccine


Serves 4 to 6

To trim asparagus, you can cut off the dry, coarse-looking base or simply break off the tough end of each spear by bending it gently until it snaps. It will break at the point where the tender part ends and the tough part begins.


1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1⁄4 cup dry white wine

4 Tbs. (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter

Zest of 2 lemons

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 lb. fettuccine

1⁄4 cup chopped fresh chives

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


In an asparagus pot or steamer filled halfway with boiling salted water, add the asparagus, tips up. Cover and cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Cut the asparagus into 1 1⁄2-inch lengths; set aside.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the wine, bring to a boil and cook until almost evaporated. Add the asparagus, butter and lemon zest, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the butter melts. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot two-thirds full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.

Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl. Add the asparagus sauce and chives and toss to coat. Add the reserved cooking water if the pasta seems dry. Pass the cheese at the table.

Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Thyme


Bon Appetit | April 2008

Makes 4 servings


1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5 large fresh thyme sprigs

1 1/4 pounds slender asparagus spears, trimmed

Fleur de sel or coarse kosher salt


Melt butter with oil and thyme sprigs in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus in single layer; using tongs, toss to coat. Saute, turning often, until crisp-tender and beginning to brown in spots, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper and serve.


February 17, 2009
If you shop cheap, you'll save

From BOGO items to deals under $1, grocery stores are feeling our pain and they are making an effort to make shopping more affordable. You really need to shop the ads and know when to stock up. Here's this week's advice. Hope it helps!

SAFEWAY is advertising 'under $1 deals." They include items (all 99-cents) that will help you stretch your grocery dollars, including: Bumble Bee solid white Albacore tuna; Safeway apple juice; Ragu pasta sauce and Hormel chili. For 99-cents a pound, you can get Texas red grapefruit, Hass avocado and large hot house tomatoes.

Reasonable meals can be found, too. Foster Farms whole chickens are 77-cents a pound; fresh asparagus is $1.48lb and two gallons of milk is $3.98. If you drink bottled water, both Arrowhead and Refreshe is $3.77 a case. Tropicana OJ is BOGO.

If you are looking for real meal deals, check out the $5 soup and salad sale. Progresso soup is $1.25 a can; Fresh Express salads are $1 a bag and artisan French bread is $1.25 a loaf. The $5 Friday special is back this week with BBQ combo plates. You can choose between chicken and ribs; chicken and pulled pork or ribs and pulled pork. Also in the deli Primo Taglio pan roasted turkey or Black Forest ham is $4.99 a pound.

RALEY'S is getting into the savings game with an offer to slice your ground beef into patties, cut pork loin into chops and cut whole rib eye into steaks. The incentive: buy whole and save a whole lot. Fresh ground beef is $1.69 when you buy 10lbs; whole rib eye is $3.99lb and boneless pork loin is $1.79lb. You just buy it and the butcher will do the rest.

Raley's also has asparagus at $1.47lb - one penny cheaper than Safeway. Elsewhere in produce, Fingerling, red or Yukon gold potatoes are 2lbs/$5; spinach is 99-cents a bunch and a 4-pound bag of organic oranges is $3.49.

If you're stocking up in the meat dept., check out the Knorr-Lipton sides at $1 each; Michelina's budget gourmet meals are also $1 each and a dozen eggs are $2.

Raley's BOGOs are definitely worth a look. They include: Fresh Express salads; Celeste Pizza for one; Raley's sliced cheese; Mission soft taco flour tortillas; Quaker Life cereal; gallon jugs of Crystal Geyser spring water; Emerald nuts and Herbal Essences shampoo or conditioner. These aren't quite BOGO, but good just the same: Buy 2 Classico pasta sauces and get a free pound of Ronzoni pasta; buy 3 cans of Campbell's Select harvest soups and get 2 free and buy two packs of bakery muffins and get one free.

A case of Crystal Geyser spring water is $3.50 and fresh bakery baguettes are 99-cents a loaf.

 SAVEMART: We really do need cheering up and thanks to Savemart we all can head to the store for a pint of "Herd of Laughter" ice cream. The name alone - not to mention the price at $1.99 a pint - will get me to buy some.

In the serious shopping category, Savemart has boneless cross rib roast for $1.88 a pound and those asparagus are popping up here, too. Best price yet at $1.29 a pound. In produce, extra large oranges are 48-cents a pound; Driscoll's berries are $2.50 a carton; avocado is $1 each and baby carrots in the bag are 99-cents.

Sunnyside whole chickens are 99-cents a pound; cooked shrimp meat is $4.99 a pound and large eggs - 18 count - are $3. Yogurt is 50-cents a container or 79-cents for a smoothie. Michelina's frozen meals are $1; Knoor-Lipton sides are $1, too. Small cans of tomato sauce are 28-cents each. A case of Arrowhead drinking water is $3.99.

FOODS CO. always has good prices on produce. This week's deals include Braeburn apples 2lbs/98 cents; seedless green grapes for 97-cents a pound and fresh spinach for 58-cents a bunch. Bargains in the bakery include a twin pack of Layton Farms bread for $1.98; Van de Kamp's bread for 98-cents and English muffins at 98 cents for 10. Fresh chicken breasts are 97-cents a pound and Jennie-O ground turkey is 2 packs for $5. Ocean Spray cranberry juice cocktail is $1.77 a jug; fresh bakery baguettes are 98-cents each and Spring! drinking water is $3.50 a case.

VICS in FOLSOM has fresh asparagus for $1.49 a pound and a recipe for Bella Asparagus, too.  Iceberg lettuce is 99-cents a head; avocado 99-cents each; large eggs are $2.99 for 18-count and Crystal yogurt is 50-cents a container. Pork chops in the family pack are $1.97 a pound; cube steaks are $3.99 a pound and roast is $2.99lb.

There's also a Target ad in the weekly inserts. Items worth mentioning include $1.99 for 64oz OJ;  and $2.22 for apple juice. Pantene products are $3.33 each; Cascade is $4 for 75-oz. size and Bounty napkins are $2.50 for 200-count.

Come back tomorrow for recipes to go with the whole chickens; canned tuna and asparagus.


February 11, 2009
Sweetheart recipes

 Today's recipes are all designed for you and your sweetie. Recipe researcher Sheila Kern put her heart into the search and came up with Valentine-themed meals and desserts to match. Enjoy!

Valentine Pizzas


Makes 4 pizzas


1 can (13.8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated classic pizza crust or 1 can (11 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated thin pizza crust

1 can (8 oz) pizza sauce

24 slices turkey pepperoni with 70% less fat

3/4cup shredded mozzarella cheese (3 oz)


1.If using classic crust: Heat oven to 425°F. Lightly spray or grease large cookie sheet. If using thin crust: Heat oven to 400 F. Spray or grease 15x10-inch or larger dark or nonstick cookie sheet.

2.Unroll dough on work surface. With sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 4 rectangles. Place rectangles on cookie sheet. Cut 1-inch slit in center of wide edge of each dough portion; on opposite wide edge across from slit, pinch dough together to shape point of heart. Slightly separate each cut slit, and gently press dough into a 6x5-inch heart, creating slight rim on edge of dough.

3.Divide pizza sauce evenly onto hearts, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edges. Top each with 6 slices pepperoni and 3 tablespoons cheese.

4.Bake classic crust 13 to 16 minutes, thin crust 9 to 13 minutes, or until crust edges are golden brown and cheese is melted.

Tip if using classic crust: For a crispier crust, prebake crusts 5 minutes, then add toppings; bake pizzas 7 to 9 minutes.

Feeling tropical? Substitute pineapple tidbits and thin-sliced deli ham, and bake as directed.

Be bold! Substitute a thin layer of barbecue sauce in lieu of red sauce, top with your choice of meat and cheese, and bake as directed. Or coat chicken chunks in spicy barbecue sauce for quick and zesty buffalo pizza!

 From cute to cuter: Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter or paring knife to cut pepperoni slices into hearts to adorn your pizza.


Marmalade Chicken for Two


Makes 2 servings


1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

1 tablespoon orange marmalade

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

8 ounces chicken tenders

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

â…› teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 large shallot, minced

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

1. Whisk broth, vinegar, marmalade, mustard and cornstarch in a medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

3. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and shallot to the pan and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 30 seconds. Whisk the broth mixture and add it to the pan. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; cook until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Add the chicken; return to a simmer. Cook, turning once, until the chicken is heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in orange zest.

Chocolate-Dipped Heart Cookies


Makes 2 dozen cookies


1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookies

1/4 to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon shortening

Colored sugar


1.Heat oven to 350°F. Remove half of cookie dough from wrapper; refrigerate remaining dough until needed. Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of the flour onto work surface; coat sides of half of dough with flour. With rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness, adding additional flour as needed to prevent sticking.

2.With floured 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out hearts. Gently brush excess flour from hearts; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining half of dough.

3.Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

4.In 1-quart saucepan, heat chocolate chips and shortening over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Dip half of each cookie into melted chocolate, allowing excess chocolate to drip off; place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle with colored sugar.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


Serves: 24 frosted cupcakes


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 tablespoons red food coloring

1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 pound cream cheese, softened

2 sticks butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Chopped pecans and fresh raspberries or strawberries, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Garnish with chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry.

February 11, 2009
Check your email for a chocolate Nugget

If you subscribe to the Nugget Market's newsletter, be sure to check your inbox. I just received a coupon good for a free package of Fran's Chocolates (7 pieces) with the purchase of $20 in groceries.

Fran's has three retail outlets in Washington state and an extensive website at The coupon is good today-Saturday at Nugget Markets. Don't forget to share!

February 10, 2009
Sweetheart deals

Love is in the ads this week. You won't be at a loss for something to cook for your sweetie. There's everything from the extravagant (lobster tails for $7.99lb at Safeway) to beefy (Sutter sirloin steak with red wine berry sauce at Raley's) to sweet berries (blueberries, strawberries at Save Mart, Safeway and Raley's).

Flowers - from tulips assorted bouquets - will be in abundance at your local grocery store. Prices range from reasonable to red roses. 

The Valentine (and beyond) highlights:

Raley's Valentine special includes Sutter sirloin steak for $2.97lb plus a recipe for the red wine berry sauce. The bakery has lots of yummy cakes - a six-inch chocolate for $7.99 and chocolate strawberry kiss for $17.99. If you are signed up for cookies at the class party, check out the 25-count heart shaped sugar cookies for $3.59.

Other items include Fuji apples for 97-cents a pound; strawberries $3 a pound; and blueberries or blackberries 2/$5. Large artichokes are 97-cents each. Aquafina drinking water is $3.99 a case; San Luis sliced sourdough is $3 a loaf ;  and if you're looking for a quick meal, classic lasagne in the deli is $6.99 (includes free garlic bread).

A General Mills "super sale" boasts buy 10 items and save $5. With the discount, you'll pay $1.50 for Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, Bisquick, Progresso light soups and El Paso salsa.

Over at Safeway, there's a 4-day President's Day sale. Items include 9-inch apple/cherry pie for $3.99; Safeway Select ice cream for $2.49 and a 3lb bag of Fuji or Braeburn apples for 99-cents. Aquafina is the featured water this week at $3.99 a case.

Valentine items include those lobster tails for $7.99 each; Boston cream cakes for $8.99 and a dozen holiday cupcakes for $5.99.

Organic blueberries are $1.88 a carton; seedless red or green grapes are 88-cents a pound and strawberries are $3 a pound.

Safeway has some nice coupons inside including: Safeway bath tissue or paper towels for $4.99; Listerine mouthwash for $1.99 and Arm&Hammer detergent 2/$7. On the food side, coupons include Safeway variety breads for $1.49 a loaf; Hillshire Farm lunchmeat 3/$8; Mission tortilla chips for 99-cents a bag and Signature Cafe soup for $3.99. If you like Safeway Clear sparkling beverage, it's 49-cents with coupon.

Save Mart has boneless skinless chicken breasts or pork loin roast for your sweetie at $1.99 a pound. Decorated cupcakes are $4.99 a dozen, Driscolls strawberries are BOGO and red seedless grapes are 99-cents a pound. C&H granulated sugar is $1.88 for a 5-pound bag and Coke products are 99-cents for a two-liter bottle.

Family favorite Michelina's frozen entrees are $1 each; Skinny Cow ice cream bars are $3.99 and Sunnyside Farms butter is 2/$5. Moran's 96% lean ground beef is $3.99lb. Sunny Select water is $3.33 a case; Nabisco snacks are $1.88 and Mission flour tortillas are $1.89 a pack.

In produce you'll find Beefsteak tomatoes for 99-cents a pound; Fresh Express salads are 2/$4 and leaf lettuce is 99-cents each.

Hope your Valentine likes milk because at Foods Co. it's $1.97 a gallon (when you buy two). Fuji apples are 2lbs/98 cents;  Oscar Mayer Lunchables are $1 each and a case of Arrowhead drinking water is $3.98. In produce, oranges are 2lbs./98 cents; fresh cilantro is 25-cents a bunch; and fresh bell peppers are 2/98 cents. In the bakery, Valentine cupcakes are $4.98 a dozen and heart cakes are $3.98 each. Western Hearth bread is $1.77 a loaf.

Walmart has an insert this week with all things sweet. There's everything from a Skittles plastic heart for $1 to a Russell Stover Velvet heart for $12.96.

Come back tomorrow for some special Valentine recipes.


February 6, 2009
Weekend update

If you are out shopping this weekend, you might want to check out the Fountains in Roseville where one of our correspondents says that there are good deals at the Willo Aveda spa. Here's the skinny: New clients get 50 percent off their first service and 20 percent off a service during their second visit. If you sign up for email alerts, there is a coupon for coloring.

Every Monday, they send out an email with all their open slots for the week where you can get a pedicure for $25 (normal price is $40).

We also hear that the soon-to-be-opened McCormick & Schmick's (Monday is the grand opening) has a great happy hour menu with items costing $1.95-$4.95 from 3:30 p.m-6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. until close.

And be sure to check out the Sunday Bee because Safeway has some clip-worthy coupons. Betty Crocker brownie mix for 69-cents; party size Stouffer's lasagne for $8.99; Nabisco honey graham crackers or Fig Newtons for $1.99; packs of Sun Maid seedless raisins for 99-cents and a Signature Cafe sandwich for $3.99

Over at Walmart, you can get fresh bagged spinach for $1.88, ready to bake cookies for $2.50 and Pillsbury cinnamon rolls for $1.54. Pillsbury cake mix is 88-cents; brownie mix is $1.

And if you shop Save Mart, check out the Pacific Coast Cafe's grand opening inside the stores. The "cafe kiosks" will serve premium coffee, tea, chocolate drinks, pastries, snacks and candy.

February 4, 2009
Colorful recipes to brighten your day

You can't have too many recipes for blueberries or a good chicken dish. That's what recipe researcher Sheila Kern is offering up this week. Plus, a pasta recipe that includes the bell pepper on sale for $1 a pound at Safeway.

 Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins


Copyright, 2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style

From: Barefoot Contessa Episode: Good Home Cooking

Yield 16 muffins


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream

1/4 cup milk

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 half-pints fresh blueberries, picked through for stems


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 16 paper liners in muffin pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup just over the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

Chicken Cacciatore & Pasta


Serves: 4

Chicken stock is the secret to creating a simmering tomato sauce that seasons the chicken, vegetables and pasta shells in this skillet supper.


1 tbsp. vegetable oil

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves OR 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

1 3/4 cups Swanson's Chicken Stock

1 tsp. dried oregano leaves, crushed

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes

1 small green pepper, cut into 2-inch-long strips (about 1 cup)

1 medium onion, cut into wedges

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

2 1/2 cups uncooked medium shell-shaped pasta


Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until it's well browned on both sides.

Stir the stock, oregano, garlic powder, tomatoes, green pepper, onion and black pepper in the skillet and heat to a boil. Stir in the pasta. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

Bell Pepper Pasta



1 tbsp. olive oil

1 each green, red and yellow bell peppers, cut into 1-inch dice

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

One 14 oz. can plum tomatoes, drained

2 tsp. spicy paprika

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 pound penne or other short pasta, cooked

1/2 cup goat cheese or mozzarella, in small dice

Step 1

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil and add the peppers, onion and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add the drained tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper and 2 tbsp. parsley. Cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Step 2

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Mix in the cheese and remaining parsley and serve before the cheese melts completely. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

February 3, 2009
Cart away the cereal savings this week

 Hope you stocked up on soda last week, because you won't find $2-12 packs this week. Instead, there's cereal at Save Mart and boneless/skinless chicken breasts at Raley's and Safeway.

Here are the highlights:

 Let's start with Save Mart because they have the best deals on fruit and cereal. If you love blueberries, check this out. But one carton, get two free. And Fuji apples are 69-cents a pound. February is National Grapefruit Month and Save Mart is featuring the Texas Ruby Red variety for 49-cents each. The ruby reds are sweet enough to slice and eat like an orange. In addition to the fruit, Roma or vine ripened tomatoes are 79-cents a pound; fresh assorted greens (collard, kale, mustard or red chard) are $1 a bunch. Asparagus is $1.99 a pound.

The cereal sale is a good one. Buy four boxes for $12 and get $6 off at checkout. (For those challenged in the math dept., that's $1.50 a box.) Varieties include Raisin Bran, Frosted Mini Wheats, Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops.

Foster Farms fresh chicken breasts are $1.17 a pound in the family pack. Their variety pack lunch meats are $1.99. Sunnyside Farms sliced cheese is $2.59 a pack.

If you eat a lot of eggs, Save Mart has a deal for you. 5 dozen Bayview Farms large eggs for $7.99. That's $1.60 a dozen! To go with those eggs, there's Ore-Ida potatoes for $3 a bag; Butcher's Block thick sliced bacon for $2.99 a pound and Sunnyside Farms split-top bread for $1.79 a loaf.

Save Mart has a second insert in Wednesday's Bee - stuff that's on sale from Feb. 3 -March 1. Notable items include Bohemian Hearth bread for $1.99 a loaf; Sunny Select drinking water for $3.33 a case; Knorr/Lipton sides for $1 each; Michelina's entrees for $1 each and a coupon for $1 off any El Monterey family meal.

Raley's is promoting a "Cleaning Sale." Those Super Bowl parties must have been messy! Items include Viva paper towels - package of 8 for $7.99; Windex, 409 or Clorox spray 2/$6 and Clorox wipes 2/$5.

The BOGOs this week include Nob Hill Co. freshly shredded cheese; Duncan Hines cake mix; Juicy Juice; large eggs; Hansen's soda; Freshchetta PizzAmore and Wrigley's gum.

Boneless/skinless chicken breasts are $1.97lb; asparagus is $1.97lb; and large oranges are 2lbs/$1. A 5lb bag of Idaho potatoes is $2.50 and for 50-cents you can get a bunch of green onion, radishes. Raley's brand of drinking water is $3.50 a case and Minute Maid premium OJ is $2.50 a carton. And if you love Milton's bread, it's $3 a loaf.

Raley's is also promoting it's "Ultimate Valentine's Day Dinner" for two. Click here for details: Order at and get $5 off.

 $1 goes a long way at Safeway this week. For $1 each or $1 per pound, you can get red, yellow or green bell peppers; Roma tomatoes; Cornish game hens; Fritos or Cheetos; artisan French bread and premium sliced breads. Dial liquid soap and Close-up toothpaste are both $1 each.

As mentioned above, a case of Refresh drinking water is $3.27; BOGOs include Safeway Select ice cream; Lucerne whipped topping and Arm & Hammer toothpaste. Also, if you buy two gallons of Lucerne milk, the price is $1.99 per gallon. A single gallon is $1 more. Kraft shredded cheese is $1.99.

Other items to cart away are boneless/skinless chicken breasts for $1.79lb; asparagus for $1.48lb and Kellogg's cereals foar $1.99 a box. A 5lb box of Celmentines is $4.88 and a 1lb bag of baby carrots is $1. A 10-pound bag of Russet potatoes is $2.99; and fresh blueberries or blackberries are $2.50 a carton.

Sad to report there is no $5 Friday special this week. But if you shop at the Fair Oaks store, check the front of your ad. There's a coupon for $10 off your next grocery purchase of $50 or more with your Club Card.

Foods Co. has whole Dungeness crab for $3.97 a pound; fresh chicken breasts for 97-cents a pound and pork spareribs for $1.88lb. In produce, there's seedless grapes for 97-cents a pound; fresh onions 5lbs/$1; fresh limes 10/$1 and green onions 4/$1. A twin pack of Van de Kamp's split top or Western Hearth bread is $2.98; Lofthouse Valentine cookies are 2/$5; Van de Kamp buns are $1.98 and Zacky Farms franks are 88-cents a package.

Vic's in Folsom has three clip-worthy coupons on the cover. IGA large eggs for 99-cents a dozen; Crystal butter $1.99 for 2lbs and Best Foods mayo for $2.99 a jar. Fresh Express garden salad is 99-cents a bag and Foster Farms chicken breasts are $1.49 a pound. Oranges are 59-cents a pound; a 10-pound bag of potatoes is $2.49 and zucchini is 99-cents a pound.

Come back tomorrow for chicken recipes and a lot more.


February 2, 2009
Treat your Valentine

Amy Davis from Raley's contacted us the other day to share an interesting idea for Valentine's Day. Raley's/BelAir is promoting a four-course dinner for two that they prepare but you heat up at home. It's just like what they offer during the holidays but this one is for you and your sweetie.

Here's the skinny: For $49.99 you get four courses, including.

1. Baked brie in pastry with fig preserves

2. Green salad with dried cranberries, feta and white balsamic vinaigrette

3. Filet mignon topped with Dungeness crab; mashed potatoes; asparagus and Parmesean cibatta for two.

4. Dessert is four chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Advance orders are recommended until Feb. 13. You pick up the meal at the store and it will take about 30-45 minutes to prepare. If you want to pay less than $49.99, place your order online at and print out the $5 off coupon, which you can redeem at the store.

The only drawback, babysitting is not included!


February 1, 2009
How I saved 58 percent on groceries....
...and got a free pizza on Super Bowl Sunday.

Let's just call it the "Shop Cheap" surprise when the checker announces your total ($65.08) and then says, "you saved $86.76."

 Want to know how? Just followed the "Shop Cheap" advice and used the Safeway coupons in the Sunday paper... including the one that gave shoppers a free pizza when they spent $25 on groceries.

There's still time to hop in the car and get the free pizza, 4-12 packs of soda for $7.99 (split it with a friend if you don't need all 48 cans); General Mills cereal for $1.99 a box and great coupons on Safeway disinfecting wipes, Glade candles, Palmolive dish soap and Kleenex. Campbell's chunky soups are 99-cents a can; Oroweat bread is $1.99 a loaf. And the biggie, a coupon for $10 off your next Safeway shopping trip (must spend $50 this time).

The 58 percent savings and the free pizza was even better than Springsteen at half-time because "Baby, We Were Born to Shop!"

About Shop Cheap

Pam Dinsmore is The Bee's Community Affairs Director. When she's not working, she's shopping. The goal of this blog is to help you save time and money at the grocery store. She's pretty good at it but she can't do it alone. That's where you come in, sharing your tips and secret methods for saving money. You can either respond to the blog or email her at

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