Friday, July 25, 2014

Kid, Finger and Budget Friendly Meals with Kraft

This shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Keeping a family of 5 full and happy seems to be my full-time job. Trying to balance hungry children and my wallet? That is the real challenge. The first and fifteenth of the month often leave us feeling the pinch right before payday. I am always on the look out for recipes that can be turned into budget friendly meals. Alongside the Back-to-School sales at my local Walmart I also found some great #RollIntoSavings deals on the products we already use and love. Combining those great products into one simple dinner seemed like the perfect mid-week Mom Challenge!

I don't know about your house, but finger foods are king around here. All three of my children would much rather eat with their fingers than a fork any old day, so sometimes I like to indulge them in a laid back family meal where we can all concentrate more on the conversation and less on perfect table manners.

Summer seems to be slipping away and I still want to share some great moments with my kids. So I challenged myself to create a menu for under $20 with items I knew they would love. We piled into the car and headed to our local Walmart.

I noticed the rollback deals on Kraft and Velveeta products as soon as I entered the store. Some were even part of a back-to-school promotional display. We grabbed several items that I will be using for other recipes later on in the week as well. There is nothing more frugal than multi-tasking an ingredient in multiple menu items.

These are just a few of the items on rollback right now. I know they helped me come under my $20 budget without losing flavor. While I was planning my menu I had all of my children in mind.

My youngest, Elliott is only 1, but he loves macaroni & cheese! Since he is all about finger foods and is still working on making sure some of it gets to his mouth, I wanted to make him a finger-friendly mac, well, finger-friendly for all of us. For my oldest son I wanted to make cheesy potato skins. He just loves potatoes. My daughter always picks out the bag of salad when we do our grocery shopping, so I wanted to make her a salad to remember with a sweet and delcious creamy barbeque dressing.

Let's get started with those potato skins.

Start by rolling each scrubbed spud in oil and sprinkling liberaly with Kosher salt. I baked them on a baking sheet for 45 minutes to an hour at 400 degrees. Time will vary depending on the size of your potatoes. The skins will start to crisp up and the potato will be soft and fluffy.

Let them cool for a while until I could safely pick them up. Cut in half, then scoop the filling out of each one. Reserve that for another purpose. Brush the inside of each hollowed out skin with barbeque sauce and turn it upside down on the sheet. Bake for another 7 or 8 minutes, or until the are nice and crisp.

Then turn them back over and stuff each one with a big pinch of shredded cheddar cheese. Mmmm... Stick them back into the oven until the cheese gets all melty. Drizzle with a little creamy barbeque dressing and ranch, top with a generous pinch of sliced green onions for a little added bite.

For the macaroni bites prepare the KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner as usual and add in a can of drained green chiles. Let that cool, then mix in one egg yolk and scoop the mixture into a mini muffin pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Press the pasta down into each well and then sprinkle with a little additional Velveeta Cheddar Shreds.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes. I let mine cool slightly in the pan before running a silicone spatula around the edges to loosen them from the pan. They popped out and were ready to dip in Kraft Ranch Dressing.

Now, isn't that a spread? This was one meal where I didn't hear one complaint from my kids. In fact, I didn't hear much of anything. They were too busy eating to complain or fight. It was lovely.

Now, want to see how easy it is to make these dishes for your family? Continue reading for all the recipes.

BBQ Potato Skins

You Will Need:
  • 8 small to medium russet potatos, scrubbed
  • vegetable or canola oil
  • Kosher salt
  • KRAFT Barbecue Sauce
  • VELVEETA Shredded Cheese
  • KRAFT Ranch Dressing
  • Green Onions, sliced thin
  • One recipe of Creamy Barbecue Dressing (see below)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rub each potato in canola oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Place on a baking try and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the skins are crisp.

Remove from the oven and as soon as you can handle them, cut each potato in half and scrape out most of the inside. Leave a thin ring around the peel so the potato retains its shape. Brush the inside of each skin with Kraft Barbecue Sauce. Place back on the baking tray skin side up, and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Turn them over and bake for 3-5 minutes more, or until the skins are nice and crisp.

Fill with Velveeta Shredded Cheese and return to the oven to melt the cheese. Drizzle with Kraft Ranch Dressing, creamy barbecue dressing and green onions. Serve immediately.

Creamy Barbecue Dressing

You Will Need:
  • 1/4 c. KRAFT Barbecue Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. KRAFT Mayo
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Milk to reach the desired consistency
Whisk together the Kraft Barbecue Sauce and Kraft Mayo. Add the milk, a tablespoon at a time, to achieve the desired consistency. Drizzle over a tossed salad or potato skins.

Baked Green Chili Macaroni and Cheese Bites

You Will Need:
  • KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 can of fire roasted mild green chilies
  • 1 egg yolk
  • VELVEETA Shredded Cheese
Prepare the KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner as directed on the package. Note, you will be using slightly less milk. Stir in green chilies and allow the macaroni to cool slightly. Stir in the egg yolk.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.

Using a cookie scoop, place a packed tablespoon of the macaroni mixture in each mini muffin well. Press down slightly and top with a little Velveeta Shredded Cheese. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops start to turn golden brown. Let them cool in the pan before taking out to serve. They will hold their shape better if they are room temperature or cooler.

Serve with a side of Kraft Ranch Dressing for dipping.

With these budget recipes I will still have enough money leftover to take the family to the roller skating rink. It is a big hit with my kids who have both mastered quads. The kid-friendly fun doesn't have to stop at the table and I can savor these final days of Summer vacation just a little longer.

Check out other great budget recipe ideas on the Kraft site.

What is your family's favorite budget friendly meal?

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