Saturday, February 28, 2009

Grocery update

Jan goal: $160, actual: $159.77
Feb goal: $320, actual: $297.92
March goal: $160.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spaghetti Amatriciana

Here's a shout out to my old buddy Marco from Rome. He used to make this for us occasionally.

Spaghetti Amatriciana
8 oz whole wheat spaghetti: 0.65
1 T. olive oil: 0.11
1 onion, diced: 0.60
4 oz diced ham, Canadian bacon, or proscuitto: 1.09
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 c. canned tomatoes, chopped: 0.56
pepper to taste
Total: $3.01 for 4 servings, or $0.75 per serving.

Cook spaghetti to al dente.

Heat oil in nonstick skillet. Saute onion until almost brown. Add ham and continue to saute until ham is browning. Stir in red pepper flakes and tomatoes. Toss with cooked spaghetti. Season with pepper

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Refried Beans

Yep, I made three different dishes for tonight. But I made a ton of beans, and even froze some cooked pintos for next month (when the grocery budget is a bit smaller).

Refried beans:
1 lb dry pinto beans, cooked: 0.67
3 cloves garlic, pressed: 0.15
1 small onion, diced: 0.30
salt, pepper, chili powder to taste
2 T canola oil: 0.08
Total: $1.20 for 5 cups, or $0.12 per half cup serving.

I cooked the pintos in the pressure cooker.

Sweat the onion on low heat, covered, until very soft. Remove lid, increase heat, and saute until golden brown.

Add garlic and chili powder and saute one minute.

Add beans and mash with a potato masher, stirring. Add salt and pepper. Continue to cook beans, letting the bottom get dry and crispy, then turning. Cook until desired consistency, add water if necessary.

Roasted Cauliflower

Okay, I used Emeril's recipe:

It was delicious, and I even forgot the garlic (I KNOW! How could I forget the garlic!!)

Roasted Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower: 2.00
1/4 c. olive oil: 0.44
juice of 1 lemon: 0.50
2 cloves garlic: 0.10
salt and pepper
2 T. parmesan cheese: 0.20
Total: $3.34 for about 6 1/2 cup servings. $0.57 per serving. In reality, we only had about 3/4 cup left for lunch leftovers.

I took the advice of some of the comments in the recipe. I steamed the cauliflower for 2 min in the microwave first. Then I only roasted it at 400F, because that's what the enchiladas were at.

Chicken and Vegetable Enchiladas

These were yummy! The green chiles made it a little too spicy for my toddler.

Chicken and Vegetable Enchiladas:
8 oz chicken breast: 1.00
1 T canola oil: 0.04
1 c. frozen corn kernels from last year's bounty: 0.25
1/2 16 oz-bag frozen mixed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, corn, peppers): 0.50
1 large onion: 0.66
1/4 c. roasted anaheim or poblano chiles (from last year): 0.25
8 oz light cream cheese: 1.00
salt and pepper to taste
10 whole wheat tortillas: 1.90
5 oz shredded cheddar cheese: 0.68
14 oz enchilada sauce (I prefer La Victoria when I'm too lazy to make my own): 1.00
Total: $7.28 for 10 enchiladas, or $0.73 each

Saute chicken breast until cooked through. Cool and cut into cubes.

Steam frozen vegetables and chop finely.

Chop onion. Saute in canola oil until soft. Add chicken, mixed veggies, salt and pepper. Stir until warmed through. Add cream cheese in chunks and stir until well blended.

Spread a little bit of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan (I needed an additional small pan). Lay a line of filling down the center of a tortilla and roll up. Place seam side down in the pan. When done, pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and top with shredded cheese.

Bake at 400F for 20 min.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Potato Chicken Lunch Casserole

This falls in the category of "use up some stuff". It's a holiday. I'm home alone with my toddler. It's raining. Which pretty much kills most of our "day off" plans, like the park or the zoo. The plan to meet at a friend's house for brunch was killed by both her toddler's pink-eye and my lingering cough.

So there's been a lot of coloring, stickers, puzzles, cars...

And I was realizing as my husband rearranged the freezer, that I need to continue to plan my meals based on freezer stuff. Things like roasted pumpkin and squash, or roasted anaheim peppers (all from the farm, frozen to keep fresh). A couple years worth of pesto, bread crumbs, lemon juice, homemade stock...actually, it gets easier to use this stuff up in the "odd" months (Jan, March...) because I've set that arbitrary budget of $160/month. Makes me eat what's in my pantry. On another note, milk and cheese prices are way down. I'm happy (milk at $1.79/gallon and cheddar at $2.15 a pound! That's a 33% decrease since last year.)

But today, I had three lone potatoes from that 10-lb bag I bought 3 weeks ago. Or two weeks ago. I wrapped them in foil and baked them in the toaster oven. Then I made this concoction:

Potato Chicken Bake

3 potatoes, baked and diced: $0.15
1/3 of a can of diced chicken breast: $1.00
1/4 cup salsa: 0.25
1/4 c. cream (because I still have some of it): 0.38
1/4 lb. frozen mixed vegetables, microwaved 1 min and diced: 0.25
salt and pepper to taste
2 oz cheddar cheese, shredded: 0.27
Total: $2.30 for 4 servings, or $0.58 each

Mix everything except cheese. Spray pan with cooking spray. Add ingredients, top with cheese, bake at 350F for 15-20 min (just to heat through).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blueberry Oat Bars

These originated at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. I found an adjusted (non-vegan) version, and combined the two.

These were pretty good, and a nice alternative to nutri-grain type bars. They could use a tiny bit more sugar. But then they wouldn't be quite as healthy.
Blueberry oat bars
2 c. frozen or fresh blueberries: 2.99
1/4 c. maple syrup: 1.00
1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla: 0.08
2 T. cornstarch, mixed with cold water

1.5 c. rolled oats: 0.28
1.5 c. rolled oats, ground in blender: 0.28
1.5 tsp baking powder: 0.05
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon: 0.05
1/4 tsp ginger: 0.05
1/8 tsp nutmeg: 0.02

1/4 c. plain yogurt: 0.35
1/2 c. applesauce: 0.40
6 T. milk: 0.05
1 tsp vanilla: 0.16
3 T. maple syrup: 0.75
2 T. turbinado sugar: 0.10

Total: $6.59 for 12 bars, but I probably should have cut them into 16 (they were a little big): 0.41 per bar.

Next time I would add a bit more sugar, and probably use regular sugar instead of maple syrup. The maple syrup is to make the bars vegan, and I don't think the maple flavor adds much.

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9x9 pan.

Combine blueberries in small pot with water and sweetener. Boil, reduce heat, simmer for 10 min. Add cornstarch mixed with water, allow to thicken, remove from heat, stir in vanilla.

Combine rolled oats, ground oats, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Stir in applesauce, yogurt, sweetener, milk, and vanilla.

Spread half the batter in the bottom of the pan. Top with fruit mixture. Spread the rest of the batter on top of fruit. Sprinkle the crust with sugar. Bake 30 mins. Let stand 10 min before slicing.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Grocery summary

Jan Week1: $37.50
Jan Week 2: $36.29
Jan Week 3: $40.29
Jan Week 4: $45.69
Feb Week 1: $78.43
Feb Week 2: $79.79
Total: $317.99 plus CSA of $19.32/week (5 weeks) = $414.58

Stir-fried Bok Choy

This is a recipe from Perfect Vegetables (Yep, Cook's Illustrated again). We've made this many times, especially since we started getting bok choy from the CSA last year. I've also used a similar recipe for other Asian greens like tatsoi or yakuna savoy.

Sesame-Glazed Bok Choy
1 medium head bok choy
1 T canola oil
2 T soy sauce
2 T water
2 T rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 T minced fresh ginger
2 scallions, sliced
1 T sesame seeds, toasted (optional).

Trim the bottom inch of the boy choy. Wash and pat dry. Slice the leaves away from the stem. Cut the stems in half lengthwise and slice into 1/4 inch pieces. Set aside in a bowl.

Line up the leaves in a stack and slice into ribbons.

Mix the soy sauce, water, vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil in a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Cook the bok choy stalks for 5-7 mins or until soft. Add the greens and saute one min. Move the greens to the edge and add the garlic, ginger, and scallions. Stir these in the center for about one min, or until fragrant. Stir well.

Add the soy sauce mixture and continue to cook for about a minute. Top with sesame seeds. Serve.

I sometimes have issues with too much water...haven't figured out how to fix that. Sometimes it gets soggy and I have to cook longer to dry it out, which kinda defeats the purpose of Asian greens, which are really healthy (but shouldn't be overcooked, like just about any vegetable).

Skillet Ziti Bake

I'm about to start a flurry of posts...with my hubby traveling this week, a nasty cold, and a toddler...well, no time. So enjoy my 4! Valentine's posts.

This recipe originated in The Best 30 Minute Recipe by America's Test Kitchen. I can't say enough about these folks and their cookbooks and magazine. In fact, every year, I just request Cook's Illustrated from my sister for Christmas.

After the potato leek soup of Sunday (which my child and I finished while my husband was out of town, yum!), I needed another recipe that called for cream, so as not to waste it. I remembered that several of the skillet pasta dishes in this cookbook called for cream (which is why I hadn't made them).

I perused the recipe and realized that I could make it with very few substitutions - diced tomatoes instead of crushed, dry basil instead of fresh, penne instead of ziti. I also get wigged out at the idea of putting my non-stick pans in the oven at 475F, even though they are rated for it. So we moved it to a casserole, which made it slightly more than 30 mins.

Also, I was ill so I got this started, hubby finished it.

Skillet Baked Penne
1 T olive oil: 0.11
5 cloves garlic, pressed: 0.25
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes, pureed: 1.12
3 cups water
12 oz whole wheat penne: 0.84
1/2 cup heavy cream: 0.75
1/2 cup grated parmesan: 0.69
1 T. dried basil: 0.05
1 cup shredded mozzarella: 0.63
Total: $4.44 for about 7 servings, or $0.63 per serving.

Preheat oven to 475F.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet. Saute garlic and pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 min.

Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, water, dried basil, and penne. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, about 15 to 20 min, until penne is tender and water is absorbed. You'll need to stir it every few minutes. Stir in parmesan and cream when done.

Transfer penne to greased casserole dish. Top with mozzarella. Bake in oven until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10 min.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Roasted Potato Leek Soup

I think that this recipe is everywhere right now, kinda of like the no-knead bread was at various times last year. I've seen it on news sites, in blogs, and on my CSA's newsletter. It's probably "out there" because I believe Ina Garten has a new cookbook out.

This recipe is from "Back to Basics". If you google it, you'll find a lot of people used it and adapted it. Here's one example:

That looks pretty good, and subbed milk for the cream the recipe called for. (I bought the cream. It was good. Maybe not healthy, but good.)

I, of course, adapted it based on what I had on hand. For one, I was cleaning out the fridge and tossed a few handfuls of slightly limp arugula...oops, recipe called for that. So I subbed some homemade parsley pesto (parsley, olive oil, parmesan, garlic). I only had two leeks, not four, so I added some roasted garlic. I used homemade turkey stock (from the Thanksgiving carcass).

Anyway, this was delicious. My son was so excited he could barely contain himself "SOUP!!" He loves soup. Our guests adored it, and went back for seconds. Luckily, there's still leftovers.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup
2 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice: 0.20
2 large leeks: $2.00 (just a guess, these were from CSA)
3 cloves garlic, roasted: 0.15
3 T olive oil: 0.33
salt and pepper
1 cube parsley pesto: 0.25
7 cups turkey stock: $0
3/4 c. heavy cream: 1.13
1/4 c. sour cream: 0.06
1/4 c. dry white wine: 0.20
1/4 c. parmesan cheese: 0.34
Total: $4.66 for about 10 cups (maybe 11), or about $0.47 per cup.

Chop the leeks and soak in a water batch to let the dirt fall to the bottom. Lay the potatoes and leeks in a sheet pan. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 400F for about 40 mins, stirring 3 times in between.

When roasted, remove from pan. Add the wine (I used Prosecco, which is sparkling, because that's what I had), and 1 cup of stock to deglaze the pan.

Move the veggies in batches into the food processor and puree. Add the pureed veggies to the rest of the stock and cook gently until blended. Add the roasted garlic and pesto cube. At this point, I used the immersion blender to smooth it out even more.

Slowly add the heavy cream and sour cream. Add 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and taste seasonings. Stir in parmesan cheese and serve.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A quinoa failure

I like quinoa. Mostly. I first had it in a cooking class...southwest quinoa salad. It was a good recipe. It's a very healthy grain, so I've been trying (off and on) to introduce it more into our diet.

Except it's not always successful. For example, I don't have a "go to" quinoa recipe that it just amazing. So I keep trying new ones.

I also like trying new cookbooks. I got a couple of new ones a year ago that were promising. One was "One Dish Meals" by the American Heart Association, and the other is "The New American Plate" by the American Institute for Cancer Research. These seemed like good ideas at the time (I ordered them when they were first out). I like healthy food.

But for some reason, I haven't tried any of the recipes. Maybe it's because they come from a more "meat-centric" standpoint - I think they are geared towards getting people eating the Standard American Diet to eat healthier. I liberally try recipes that are vegan and vegetarian.

Since I enjoy reading cookbooks, I pulled out "The New American Plate" this weekend and thumbed through it. I found a quinoa recipe with dried fruit that sounded promising. Now, in general, I'm not a big fan of fruit and grain dishes. But I decided to expand my horizons. Besides, the quote on the front of the book is from Mollie Katzen, whom I LOVE, so what could go wrong, right?

Well, it was just "meh". Actually, it was pretty gross - a complete, mushy, sticky mess, but then I added salt and pepper, and it got better. I'll eat the leftovers, but I won't repeat it. The quinoa got REALLY mushy. I'm not sure why. It was 2 cups water to one cup quinoa, which is in nearly every recipe that I try.

If I try a few more recipes and they are failures, I'll have to sell or donate the cookbook. And for now, I'll stick to salads for quinoa, and maybe soups.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Menu Plan

Menu Plan for the week:

Thursday: leftover chili, stir-fried tatsoi, garlic bread
Friday: leftover rice and chickpeas, radishes, and fresh peas
Saturday: quinoa with dried fruit and nuts, roasted kale
Sunday: roasted leek and potato soup, cabbage and carrot slaw
Monday: leftover quinoa, spinach salad
Tuesday: leftover soup and slaw
Wednesday: spaghetti and meatballs, maybe a frozen veggie, but probably leftover slaw
Thursday: TBD

Likely going to be a single parent for a couple of days AGAIN (3rd time in a month!), so we'll see how this all pans out. Leftovers last a lot longer this way.

February Week 1

$80 budget:

1/31 : Ralph's - $16.31 (3 bread, 2 crackers, 4 cream cheese, 2 salsa, 1 nuts)
1/31: TJ's - $18.13 (tortilla chips, cereal, dried fruit, guacamole, yogurt, eggs)
1/31: Tri County - $4.88 (2 onions, ginger, 1 pepper,3 carrots, parsley, 6 organic pears)
2/1: Rite Aid - $2.50 - dried apricots
2/4: Costco (stock up) - $29.36 (string cheese, 2 lb cheddar, 2 pk natural organic peanut butter, 6 pk frozen OJ) - most of this will last us 2 mos
2/5: Scolari's - $5.37 (42 oz oats, 2 gal milk)
2/5: Smart and Final (3 lb apples, 6 bananas)
Total: $78.43

CSA for the week: 1/4 lb tatsoi (Asian green), 1/4 lb spinach, 3/4 lb shelling peas, 1 bu kale, 1 head cabbage, 1 bu carrots, 1 lb mandarins, 2 leeks, 1 bu radishes

Aloo Gobi

I love this stuff. It recently occurred to me that I've never posted the recipe. So here it is:

It's from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey.

I got a 10-lb bag of potatoes 2 weeks ago for $0.99, so we've eaten this twice since then. Hmmm... I should check and see how those last few potatoes are doing.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

SUPER bowl Chili

Yes, I'm a Steelers fan.

1 c. dried kidney beans, cooked: 0.55
3/4 c. dried black beans, cooked: 0.21
1 c. dried pinto beans, cooked: 0.34
2 cans diced tomatoes, pureed: 1.20
1 green bell pepper, chopped: 0.79
2 onions, chopped: 0.80
1.5 lb ground beef: 3.00
2 T. pureed chipotle in adobo: 0.20
garlic powder, pepper, salt, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder to taste: 0.40
1 carrot, shredded: 0.13
1/3 6-oz can tomato paste: 0.11
Total: $7.73 for about 16 cups, or $0.48 per cup. Plus 0.10 for a little bit of cheese and sour cream.

I usually make it with less meat (about 1/2 lb total). I used more this time because we had meat-eating guests, but they didn't eat it anyway (too early for their dinner).

I cooked up the beans on Saturday in the pressure cooker (three separate batches). I used frozen chipotle (open a can, puree, freeze in ice cube trays. A little goes a long way.)

Today I just browned the meat, added the carrots, onion, pepper and cooked until soft. Then added spices and tomatoes and cooked a long time.

Spouse is on a business trip again this week, so lunches and dinners will be chili and corn muffins, plus tomorrow's dinner of Mediterranean chickpeas and rice. (Man I love that stuff.)

I also have brussels sprouts for tomorrow (from the CSA), and broccoli for Tuesday and Wednesday (also CSA).