Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More Pasta, Bean Burgers, Stir-fry, Ah...tomatoes

Sorry to group so many meals together, but life with a full time job, training for a tri, swim lessons for a 4-year old, and physical therapy leaves me with little time for blogging.

First up: Pinto Bean Burgers. Had the neighbors over for dinner on Saturday. Cooked up some of the leftover tri-tip from the freezer ("reheated") and grilled some chicken. Made homemade corn tortillas, homemade refried beans, guacamole, and some veggies.

The beans were tasty but dry. Enter: the bean burger. They were perfect to just shape into patties and fry up for lunch the next day. And vegan! Until I added the cheese on top.

Next up: stir-fry from the leftover meat, with frozen mixed veggies from Costco. I think these were about $8 for 5 lbs, but I'm not exactly sure. They are quite good for frozen veggies, with carrot, red pepper, water chestnuts, sugar snap peas, green beans, snow peas, broccoli, onion, and mushrooms. Served this over a mixture of brown rice and red quinoa.

Which leads me to tomatoes: finally getting them from the CSA, this was my breakfast one morning. That's goat cheese under the 'mater.

And on to...more pasta. This with pesto, meatballs, asparagus, and zucchini. Delicious!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pasta with Zucchini, Bruschetta, Pesto

This pasta was something I threw together earlier in the week (Wednesday?) It had:

Pasta with Zucchini
3/4 pound penne, cooked: 0.75
3 leeks: 1.50
1 large zucchini, diced: 0 (Thanks Lori!)
8 homemade meatballs: 0.60
2 Tbsp olive oil: 0.22
2 cubes homemade pesto: 0.50
1/2 c. pasta cooking water
1/2 c. parmesan: 0.40
Total: $3.97 for about 6 servings, or $0.66 per serving.

Also on the menu this week was bruschetta, from the first CSA tomatoes (tomatoes, olive oil, salt, basil, garlic) and homemade pesto from a very large bunch of basil.

This very large bunch of basil (1.00), 3 cloves garlic (0.15), 1/2 c. parmesan (0.40), 2 Tbsp olive oil (0.22) and some leftover lemon only really makes 7 "cubes" (about 0.25 each). Sometimes I put nuts in my pesto (usually almonds), but not this time.

The other thing I did this week (yes, I'm crazy), is buy up a big bunch (3 lbs) of broccoli on sale, and start blanching and freezing. Work has been crazy, and I just know that there's going to be a lot of microwaved veggies in my future. And I also bought 10 lbs of frozen veg at Costco.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Massaged kale salad and shell bean gratin

I've been reading/seeing massaged kale salad all over the blogosphere of late, especially the blogs that I read. So, I've been meaning to try it. I've been in a "kale chip" rut lately with the kale that we get from the farm. The 4-year old will chow on kale that way (the salad? not so much).

Today was the day. The only way I had time (because I had a track night) was to do it this morning and let it sit in the fridge all day. Boy, it took a lot of work. Curly kale, local, organic = lots of dirt and bugs to wash off.

But it was DELICIOUS. I used this recipe, left out the gorgonzola (I KNOW! Me! But I didn't have any), used raisins instead of currants, cut the salt in half, and cut the oil it half. Still, delicious!

Massaged Kale Salad
1 bunch kale, washed, stemmed, and sliced into ribbons: $1.50
1/2 apple, diced: 0.30
1/4 c. red onion, chopped: 0.20
1/3 c. toasted sunflower seeds: 0.25
2 T. cider vinegar: 0.05
2.5 T. olive oil: 0.32
1/3 c. raisins: 0.19
1/2 tsp sea salt: 0.02
Total: $2.83 for 4 large servings salad: $0.71 per serving

So, I massaged the kale with the salt and 1/2 Tbsp or less of olive oil, then mixed everything else together.

Shell bean gratin. This recipe came from a CSA newsletter (it origination with Chez Panisse Vegetables, I think) a few years ago, and we LOVED it, and never made it again. Until now. Wow.

Shell bean gratin
2 lbs. fresh shell beans, shelled: 3.00
4 Tbs olive oil: 0.88
1/2 onion, diced: 0.20
4 cloves garlic, pressed: 0.20
2 medium tomatoes, diced: 2.00 (I bought local, organic, heirlooms)
1 tsp sage: 0.10
1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs: 0
1 cup frozen chopped spinach: 0.33
salt and pepper to taste
Total: $6.71 for 4 pretty generous servings: $1.68 per serving

Put the beans in a pot and add enough water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer (covered), about 30 mins. Cool. Save the cooking water.

Saute onion, garlic, sage, and spinach in 2T oil until soft. Add tomatoes and cook another 2 min, until tomatoes break down. Add beans (WITOUT LIQUID) and salt and pepper, mix well.

Put beans in a small baking dish. Add enough of the cooking liquid to almost cover the beans. Drizzle over other two Tbsp of oil. Top with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 45 min.

Add more bean water if it looks like it is drying out.

you could make it cheaper with dried beans and your own home grown tomatoes...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lunch...Today and Tomorrow

Well, not a lot of cooking this weekend due to a party yesterday and our anniversary dinner (out) tonight. But I did cook a couple of things today for lunches and dinners during the week. Especially since tomorrow's dinner I will be at the track (so they will need to start without me), and Tuesday I'm going out (again) with some mom friends to say a fond farewell to my friend Sarah, who is moving to Arizona.

Yes, my lunch today was an avocado and radish sandwich on Ezekial. Which is my new favorite bread. I was starting to realize how much sodium is in regular bread. At Trader Joe's today, I was perusing the breads and the helpful staff wondered what I was looking for and I said "low sodium". They had a 75 mg per slice and a zero. I went with the 75 mg. It's sprouted whole grains, so very very healthy. And tastes delicious, and the slices are small.

Lunch tomorrow, my favorite Shithi's lentils, and I *never* remember to make a double batch until it is too late!

Eggs and Veggies

Went to my hubby's company's big summer picnic yesterday, where I took a page from Dr. Fuhrman and ate corn on the cob, two big plates of salad, and some bean-filled chili. I had a few other things too, but mostly I stuffed myself with the good stuff.

For dinnertime, we weren't spectacularly hungry (at least I wasn't), so I cooked up some eggs with the last tomato, some frozen spinach, sauteed onion, and a little cheese on top.

Then we went to the movies. A drive-in double feature. But we left after the first one. So the entire family was away WAY too long last night. But of course, despite going to bed at 11:30 (2.5 hrs after my bedtime), I still woke up at 6 am. Boys are still sleeping.

I also packed popcorn for the drive-in, which we ate before the movie started. So we ended up buying some anyway. Still, about $20 is on the frugal side for movies. My son got in for free.

On another note, I survived my first ocean swim. Yikes. I have a LOT of work to do.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Last night I went out with my friend Kelly for a beer and some dinner (to celebrate our both turning the big 4-0).

I wanted to be good. Really I did. Because I'm trying to lose a few pounds. Just a few (okay, 4.5). I had it all planned out.

But the beer was so good. The problem wasn't the 2nd beer that I wasn't going to have. It was the lowering of the inhibitions with the second beer, that caused me to eat a big old burger.

At least it was a Niman Ranch beef burger. So I can feel good about the source. Anyway, I'll burn it off tomorrow, right?

After that I didn't sleep so well. One too many beers = not great sleep. Plus the heat. Plus the being 40. Plus the 4 year old who crawled into bed at 1 pm (meaning, more heat).

My plan today was detox. Bike into work. Lunch: big old veggie salad, peaches, and greek yogurt. Healthy snacks.

But then we got free pizza at work.

I still ate the salad (at 10:30 am...I was hungry). Green beans, scallions, tomato, radishes, olives, feta, garlic, vinegar. But I also had a couple of slices of pizza. And the peaches and yogurt got mixed with frozen strawberries and juice and ice to make a dinnertime smoothie.

Tomorrow's my big day - first ocean swim. Hope the wetsuit fits. Or at least stretches. I'm long-waisted. It's a problem.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Boy, it was a hot day. But I made dinner anyway. Sauteed some onion and leftover tri-tip from that birthday party.

Chopped up fresh tomatoes, garlic, green onion for a little pico de gallo.

Canned refried beans, light sour cream, salsa.

Wrap it in a tortilla.

We had it with green beans.

Here it is before the big wrap...

Sadly, my avocado had gone all brown on me :(

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Soup. And Eggs.

It almost seems like cheating to make soup in the Frugal Healthy Simple land. Because, well, duh, soup is frugal if you do it right.

So I made soup on Sunday. It's quite yummy, and I made a ton. Half is in the freezer for later. We've eaten the leftovers tonight and there will be more for lunch and dinner this week.

But before I give the "recipe" (and I use that word lightly...I just throw in whatever I have), I have to talk about the eggs. Oh, the eggs.

I buy eggs at the grocery store, usually. Sometimes regular, usually "cage free". At times, I've purchased them locally at the farmer's market with promises of how much more humanely the chickens are treated (which is very much true), and how much better the eggs taste. Truthfully, I never really noticed the eggs tasting all that much better.

But today. My friend Kelly brought eggs to work. Kelly has chickens. She and I went on a field trip to a coworker's to talk chickens and gardens a bit ago. I got three of her very fresh eggs. Alas, I didn't get the blue ones. But BOY did I taste the difference. These eggs were the best I've ever tasted. Each family member got one (spouse got one with 2 yolks!) Might have to try the farmer's market eggs again.

Chicken Vegetable Soup (makes about 20 cups)
1 Tbsp canola oil: 0.03
1 small onion, chopped: 0.20
4 tiny bunch onions, chopped: 0.25
3 large leeks, chopped and rinsed to remove sand: 3.00
2 cloves garlic, chopped: 0.10
3 large carrots, chopped: 0.45
1 cooked chicken breast, diced (leftover from my party): $1.50
1 large zucchini, diced: free (thank you Lori)
some leftover broccoli stalks that I found in the freezer: free
1 can cannellini beans, drained: 0.89
1 Tbsp dried basil: 0.10
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano: 0.05
1 tsp dried thyme: 0.05
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh pepper
1 cube homemade pesto: 0.25
2 cups homemade chicken stock: 0.20
1 veg bouillon cube: 0.38
1/2 can tomato paste: 0.17
a whole lotta water (enough to make 20 cups of soup)
4 oz alphabet pasta: 0.17
1/2 cup frozen peas: 0.20
handful of chopped kale and chard from the garden: 0.10

Total: $8.09 for 20 cups, or $0.40 per cup. About $0.60 per serving (we adults eat 1.5 cups)

The zucchini on the side came from this recipe. Also thanks to Lori at work (the zucchini). See, I'm trying to lose a few lbs (this time gained DURING vacation AND AFTER vacation), and I needed a zero point recipe. This fit the bill. A little salty, but still good.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ah, the scheduling pains of a mom

So, I don't know if I announced it on here, but I joined a triathlon training team (Moms in Motion). While I haven't actually registered for an event (I will do so after a few ocean swims under my point registering if I can't swim 500m in the ocean) - I am enjoying the training.

But boy. Does it make my head hurt.

I never realized how hard it would be to be a mom and schedule in exercise. Pre-kid days, my spouse and I could actually do things...together. And we did. Go to the gym, play volleyball, ride our bikes to work. Not so anymore.

My main training day is Saturday. This is okay, because it is the same time that I was doing my long runs. Except now, I have to drive to the start and home, and the workouts are a little longer. It's a bit tough on my spouse when I am gone for 3.5 hours on Sat. morning.

Like Sunday morning yoga - where the class is at 9, but my spouse plays tennis from 7:30 to 9, so I have to drop my son off with my spouse at the end of tennis and go to yoga - I think this training is turning into the same kinda thing.

I registered for this because I'm not a strong, confident swimmer. I am afraid of the water actually. I want to change that. The training is at difficult times:

Monday night track workout at 5:30 pm. My husband works until 5:30 pm. So I'll have to go pick up my child, go home and change, and take my son to the track with me until my husband gets there to pick him up. Somewhere in there, I have to prep dinner. I think I'll make it tonight and they can eat leftovers.

Thursday 10 am ocean swim: can't make this one.

This week, there is extra pool swim training (for a small fee) on Tues-Thurs from 8 to 9 am. Now, this is where my head hurts.

Tuesday/Thursday are my workout days. My normal work schedule is 7:30 to 4:15, give or take 15 mins on either end (7:15-7:45, 4 to 4:30). My schedule is flexible, however. If I wanted to, I could go swim, start work at 9:30. But then I'd have to work until 6 pm.

If I work until 6 pm, then my husband has to pick our child up at 4:30 pm. Which means he has to go to work at 7 am. Which means I have to do dropoff. At 8 am. And get to the pool by 8:30 see my problem.

So I think what I will do is get up at my normal time at 5 am on Tuesday/Thursday. Go to work at 6 am. Work until 7:30 am. Then go swim and be back at work at 9:30 am. Work until 4 pm.

Wait, I'm still short 1/2 hr if I take a lunch break. Geez. I guess I'll aim to get to work by 5:45 and not leave for the pool until 7:45 am.

My gym has a pool, and it's open 24 hrs, but the pool is only 12.5 yards long I think. I know that at some point, I will need to pay for time at a longer pool. The one local to my house is open from 7:00 to 8:00 am and from 7:15 to 8:15 pm. You see my problems just continue.

I am a walking advertisement for why you should work part time after having a child (if at all). I did so for 1.5 years and it was AWESOME. I left a job because they wanted me to return to full time before I was ready. My coworkers couldn't believe it. "It's only 5-10 hrs a week!" "Yeah, it's almost TWO HOURS PER DAY. Where is that two hours going to come from?" That made them think.

Alas, that is not my job reality right now, so we struggle through it. Actually, I brought a fair bit of work home this weekend, so maybe I will do some of it today, save up for later in the week. I know my bosses want me to work more hours (even suggested that I work at home in the evenings to get extra done, which would work if I didn't fall asleep the exact same time as my child), but generally this "extra" work I do ends up making up for missed time due to doctor's appt, school trips, and a sick kid.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sorta Pad Thai Tofu and Collard Slaw

No new recipes today, just variations on the theme.

#1 Collard green slaw. I made this here, from Vegetarian Times. It was delicious, but had a bit too much sugar. This time I adjusted the sugar lower, skipped the red bell because I didn't have it. BUT, I also forgot that it's supposed to chill for 4 hours. So, the collards were pretty bitter. I think after "resting" and softening, they will taste better tomorrow.

#2 I love the vegan pad thai from Vegan with a Vengeance. This time, I used the sauce recipe, with a little less sugar and a little less chile paste and a little more lime juice. I cooked up some veggies (onions, garlic, carrots, edamame) and some tofu and used the sauce on that. With peanuts and cilantro at the end.

It seems kinda weird to eat tofu AND edamame in the same dish (repetitive, much?) But it was very good. See, that whole fridge-got-too-cold-and-froze-stuff episode made the tofu freeze. When tofu freezes, the water comes out, so you end up with tofu with alot of small holes in it. Which means it REALLY absorbs the sauce. Yum.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Some days, you get it right

My diet has been crap for awhile. At least, not as good as it could be. Today I did better and FELT better. Clearer head, more energy.

Breakfast: homemade bread, almond butter on half, smoked salmon and cream cheese on other half
Snack: banana
Lunch: baked beans with sauteed chard; sliced fresh cucumber, tomato, avocado "salad"; a peach
Snack: a plum
Dinner: will be pasta with marinara, homemade meatballs, fresh green beans, and carrot sticks

Finally lots of veggies back...

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

My buddy Kelly and I took a field trip this weekend to our coworker Mark's house. He lives up a canyon and has a little farm...chickens, goats, and quite an impressive array of raised garden beds. And fruit trees.

Kelly's got chickens and she was picking his brain. I've got some raised beds and was getting some tips. We came home with plantable garlic and some Rhubarb. Which I've eaten (growing up in PA), but never cooked.

On Monday I did a little web surfing and found this recipe. It looked pretty good, despite the large amount of sugar, so I gave it a shot.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
3 cups diced rhubarb: free (about three stalks)
1 pint strawberries, halved and hulled: $3.33 (from our local CSA farm, but I bought them)
1/2 cup sugar: 0.10 (no wonder people are addicted to sugar. Stuff's cheap)
2 tsp flour: 0.01
1 tsp lemon zest: ? (do I count the lemon cost in the juice or the zest?)

2/3 c. chopped walnuts: 0.83
1/4 c. melted butter or margarine: 0.31
1/2 c. flour: 0.08
1/3 c. brown sugar: 0.40
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon: 0.20
pinch salt

We used a 7x9 glass dish, baked it for 30 mins. About 8 servings.

Total: $5.26 for 8 servings, $0.66 each.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Food and Birthday and Cleaning

So, last week was my birthday. And we did some cleaning in prep before the party. One thing we spent a *very* small time on was cleaning glasses. Quick fact: did you know that Santa Barbara has close to the hardest water in the country? Take a look at our glasses.

So a quick google search told me that soaking in a 50% vinegar solution overnight would do the trick. Except that I started about 2 hrs before the party. Another option was just a scrub with baking soda. So I tried both. A few glasses got soaked in warm vinegar water for about 20 mins. Then I scrubbed a few with baking soda. Then on a few more, I tried baking soda only. (baking soda + vinegar = lots of bubbles!)

You can see in this photo that the vinegar, followed by the soda scrub, worked the best. The middle glass got soda only and the right is what most of our glasses still look like.

On other news, my spouse took my picture with the cake. Yes, he cut the cake into the shape of a "4" and a "0".

With so many leftovers this week, I haven't been cooking much. Of course, I've been feeling like crap because the leftovers are too rich for me, not enough veggies, and too much soda (also, leftover).

I did make a pasta dish with a tahini sauce: 1/3 cup tahini, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp bragg's, 1 clove garlic. It was...bland. Now, when you topped it with avocado and a little salt = MUCH better. I've almost finished the leftovers. And now I've hit the CSA and farmer's market, so I'm totally set on veggies and fruit.

And today, Whole Foods had ground beef on sale for $0.99/lb. $0.99!! Last time I found that price was 5 years ago and it was the CAFO junk (so, I pretty much stopped buying meat unless I could get local or organic or ... you get it.) Since I've had a bit too much meat this week (party leftovers), I made meatballs for the freezer. These babies will last awhile.

2 lb ground beef: $1.98
2 small onions, diced: 0.40
1 tsp each oregano, basil, garlic powder: 0.25
2 eggs: 0.40
1.5 cup bread crumbs: 0
1 tsp Worcestershire: 0.10
1 tsp salt: 0
1/2 tsp pepper: 0.02
Total: $3.15 for about 50 meatballs (didn't count them) - $0.06 each.

Mix ingredients, roll into 1 to 1.5 inch balls, bake at 400F for 20 min.