Barbecue Chicken and Twice-Baked Potatoes (remember, this serves 2 adults and 2 children dinner AND lunch the next day!)

1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast ($1.88)
1 small bottle barbecue sauce ($0.39)
6 baking potatoes ($1.60)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar ($0.62)
1/2 cup sour cream ($0.25)
1/4 cup margarine ($0.05)
Canola or Olive oil

Place chicken in slow cooker, pour barbecue sauce over chicken, and cook on low for 8 hours. You can pull it apart with a fork after several hours, just to make sure the sauce cooks into all the chicken, but this isn’t necessary…the chicken will be falling apart after 8 hours anyway!

Preheat oven to 450. Coat baking potatoes in oil and sprinkle with salt; use a small knife to poke several holes in each potato to allow steam to release during baking. Place on a large broiler pan and bake for an hour to an hour-and-a-half, depending on size of potatoes. You want the skin to be crispy, and the inside cooked through. Remove potatoes from oven, slice open and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Scoop out the inside of the potatoes and place in a large mixer bowl. Add cheese, sour cream, and margarine; mix with mixer as if you’re making mashed potatoes – HIGH speed for fluffy potatoes!! Take mashed potato mixture and place in a gallon-sized zipper bag. Snip off one corner of the bag, and pipe into potato skins. Place in oven at 350 degrees for around 20 minutes. Because twice-baked potatoes are so labor intensive, I usually do a HUGE batch and freeze them…they can be baked from frozen at 350 in about 45 minutes.

Serve with salad or frozen broccoli for a little green. Tonight we’re having bagged salad – they were on sale at Kroger for $1.50 per bag!

Total cost, before green veggies:


Sloppy Joes, Roasted Potatoes, and Green Beans ($5.10)

1lb ground beef ($1.50)
1 can Hunt’s Manwich sauce ($1)
5 Kroger Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns ($0.50)
5 medium potatoes ($0.50)
1 large can Del Monte Cut Green Beans (I use fresh during the summer, canned during the winter) ($1.50)
2T Olive or Canola Oil (olive oil is healthier, but canola is cheaper) ($0.10)
salt and pepper
1t sugar
Magic Seasoning Salt

Preheat oven to 425. Coat a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Cut potatoes into cubes (don’t peel them! This is the only time I can get my kids to eat potatoes with the peel on…) and place in baking dish. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of oil over the potatoes; add pepper and seasoning salt (as much as you like…my hubby likes a lot of pepper, so I go heavy on the pepper and do a light covering of seasoning salt). Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

While potatoes are baking, place green beans (do not drain) in medium sauce pan. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and a dash of salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat until liquid is gone.

While potatoes are baking and green beans are simmering, brown ground beef. Lean ground beef is more expensive than the fattier beef, so here’s a trick to reduce the fat content: after browning your beef, place in a strainer over a large pot. Heat several cups of water in the microwave until almost boiling. Pour water slowly over the beef, and watch the fat drain into the pot! Discard water and fat and return meat to skillet. Add Manwich mix, reduce heat, and simmer.

Place hamburger buns on baking sheet and heat on the lower rack of oven for the last five minutes as potatoes are cooking.

A yummy way to eat the leftover potatoes is to add a layer of cheese and heat at 350. Add a little more seasoning salt and they taste like those delicious yet terribly unhealthy cheese fries from Charley’s Steakery!

My family loves this chicken so much, I usually make 1.5-2lbs of chicken rather than my usual pound!

Apple Chicken and Brown Rice ($4.48 for two meals, not counting veggies)

1.5lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast ($2.82)
2 medium apples ($0.50)
1 medium onion, sliced ($0.10)
1.5 cups apple juice ($0.31)
1T lemon juice ($0.13)
1t cinnamon ($0.09)
1 cup brown rice ($0.53)

Slice chicken into smaller pieces – my family generally likes smaller, “tender-size” strips – and place in crock pot. Slice onion and place in crock pot with chicken. Slice apples and coat with lemon juice and cinnamon; layer over chicken and onions. Pour apple juice in crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. (I actually forgot to coat my apples with lemon juice and cinnamon this morning…I’ll let you know how it turns out!)

Cook brown rice according to package directions. If you’re not used to brown rice, keep in mind that it takes longer to cook than white rice. I prefer rice that isn’t overly done, but it still takes around 30 minutes for brown rice to cook to my liking.

Tonight I think we’ll have either green beans or sweet potatoes as our veggie, but we’ve also done broccoli, carrots, and corn.


An easy and inexpensive dinner!

Jama’s Soup Beans (or Pinto Beans, for those not familiar with the Southern term)

Total cost for meal: $2.34 for dinner and lunch for a family of four. Not kidding!!

16oz of dried pinto beans (I buy the 4lb bag and divide it into 4 portions – it’s cheaper!) ($0.87)
1 med. onion, chopped ($0.10)
4 slices turkey bacon, chopped ($0.62)
salt and pepper

The night before, put dried beans in a large bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight. Recover with water in the morning. We have dinner at 6pm, so I pour off the excess water at around 2:45pm, put the beans in a large pot, add chopped onion and bacon, and fill about 3/4 full with water (you want a lot of water in the pot, because they’re going to be cooking for several hours!), and place on the stove over medium heat at around 3pm. Simmer for approximately 2.5 hours, and add a pinch of salt once beans are tender. Continue cooking until soup is thick.

I couldn’t find my favorite cornmeal at the grocery store this time around, so I bought White Lily ($0.75 to make enough cornbread for 2 meals for a family of 4). Follow the package directions. I swear by cornbread baked in the oven in an iron skillet – it just doesn’t get any better! If you have an iron skillet, pour a bit of oil in the pan, and place in the oven to heat. Once the oil is thin and hot, pour your batter into the pan, and cook according to package directions. If you don’t have an iron skillet, you can always do corn muffins in a regular muffin pan!

This is the first of my “What’s For Dinner” posts. I’ve had several people ask for recipes that I use frequently – especially the healthy ones! – and I thought this would be a great place to direct folks when they want to know what the Olivers are eating for dinner. A lot of the recipes I’ll be posting are just things I’ve come up with on my own, and most will have the price I paid for the ingredients listed. All of my recipes make enough for dinner AND lunch the next day for two adults, a three-year-old, and a one-year old. We always have last night’s leftovers for lunch!

Jama’s Healthy Spaghetti
The only real downfall for this recipe is that I use canned sauce, which means that there’s more sodium than if I made my own sauce. I’ve found, though, that it’s not only easier to use the canned sauce, but it’s also a lot cheaper. I’m hoping to have enough tomatoes from my garden this summer to can and make my own sauce for practically nothing, but until then, Hunts it is!

1 lb. ground turkey ($1.50)
1 can Hunt’s Spaghetti Sauce ($1.00)
1 medium onion ($0.10)
1 bag Kroger crinkle cut carrots ($1.00)
Great Value Whole Wheat Rotini ($1.00)

Brown ground turkey and chopped onion. Add carrots and spaghetti sauce. Cover and simmer until sauce is thick and carrots are soft (they’re easier to smoosh and hide from the kids if they’re really soft!). Cook pasta according to package directions and mix into sauce mixture (I’ve found that mixing the pasta in with the sauce makes the sauce stretch farther. If I don’t mix it in, I end up with not enough sauce and lots of leftover pasta!)

I am in the process of changing the focus of For several years this was a political blog – a place for me to rant and rave about whatever political issue was on my mind at the moment. Over the last few years, however, the focus of my life has become my family – raising my children, taking care of my husband and my home, and becoming a more Godly woman. While I’m still interested in politics, I am much more interested in “being busy at home.”

So, over the next couple of weeks or so, I plan to revamp this site to reflect Jama Oliver as she is now. All of the political content will still be here, archived, for you to read and enjoy (or not enjoy!), but, for the most part, I’ll be posting recipes, stories about my family, pictures, and information on homemaking, child-rearing, and the general interests of a Reformed Christian woman.

For those of you that drop by for the political content, please keep in mind that this is a family site now. Be kind, keep your language clean, and try to enjoy a grown-up, calmer, mommy-fied Jama Oliver!

For someone who already isn’t all that fond of the government, one sure-fire way to fuel my hatred is to get the IRS on my case.

I always used to make fun of those commercials from tax attorneys who said, “Is the IRS after you? We can help!” I always thought to myself, “Pay your taxes, people, and this won’t be a problem!” Now I am having to eat my words (I”m getting really good at that).

Sometimes, honest, decent people who pay their taxes (through gritted teeth, of course, but we pay them nonetheless) get it up the tailpipe from the IRS. Now I’m one of them.

As I went to my mailbox earlier this week, I was hoping to get my final piece of paperwork so I could work on this year’s tax return. What I wasn’t expecting was a big, honking envelope from the IRS. As I opened it, I almost threw up in my driveway. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that our blessed government says that Mr. Oliver and I owe money. A lot of money. And they’re wrong.

So I make a frantic phone call to an accountant and beg – through tears – for them to fix it. I have an appointment tomorrow.

Here’s what I don’t understand.

1. That there are actually people out there who think that our tax system isn’t broken. The government loses our mail, and we think they’re doing a darn fine job of regulating our money? Come on.

2. Although I had a certain professor who would argue to the contrary, money in the hands of the government does not do the same thing for our economy as money in the hands of the people. Money in the hands of the people is a better stimulus to our economy, so why is our government trying to take my money in times of economic crisis? I had not cut down on my spending, despite the slow economy, until I got the infamous IRS Letter. This week, I’ve bought nothing but absolute necessities. Way to boost morale!

3. I may not be the smartest gal in any room, but I’m certainly not the dumbest, either. So, if I couldn’t figure out what in tarnation the IRS was talking about in their godforsaken letter, how in the world is Jim Bob down the road going to be able to understand such nonsense? Our government that was designed “by the people and for the people” has veered drastically off course, and is now a government “by the government, for the government.”

I’ll keep you posted on my goings-on with the IRS. And if anyone has any tips on how to go about dealing with them, I’m certainly open to suggestions…