Saturday, May 26, 2012


This is a favorite of mine, made over the weekend.  I did the dough, hubby did the frying.  You can bake them too, but it was hot, and frying tastes better. :)  We had it with salad, and I made a corn salsa using TJ's frozen roasted corn, red pepper, onion, garlic...

Also, here's our first garden produce of the season (remember we were low on vegetables?)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What to do when you are REALLY low on vegetables

It's Tuesday.  Veggie day is Thursday.  Despite eating out one night, we are really low on vegetables.  One carrot, 2 cucumbers.  What's a FT working mom with no time to mid-week shop to do?  Well, here's what you can do when you are low on veggies:  remember what counts as vegetable.

1.  Scrounge in the freezer: I found 1/2 bag of frozen peas and 1/2 bag of frozen peppers and onions.  Plus some veggie burgers.
2.  Scrounge in the pantry: canned or dried beans (can count as a vegetable), boxed tomato and pepper soup, canned tomatoes, onions.

3.  Scrounge in the fridge: marinara, salsa
4.  Send your husband to the garden.  My garden is "plant it and see if it grows".  Very low maintenance. Behold!  About 8 radishes.  I could eat the tops too I think.  That's another serving.

With all of that, I think I can manage to get us through tomorrow (lunch and dinner) and Thursday lunch.  They will definitely be "low veggie" days.  I do have some fruit.  I could probably forage oranges and lemons too.

If all else fails and you have a no veggie day, don't beat yourself up. Whether it be because you don't want to shop, you are out of money until payday, or you don't have access to a grocery store, you can only do your best.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week - aka, Potluck recipes

This is teacher appreciation week at my son's school.  Each day, a different grade's parents are to bring food for a potluck to appreciate the staff and teachers.  I signed up for salad, but it didn't look like there were many signups.  So, last minute, I signed up for a couple more things. It wasn't clear if we were supposed to be there during the potluck or not (turns out, not).  We did drive down anyway because we'd forgotten to drop off a couple of items, and that gave us the time to say hi to our little guy at lunch and have lunch together anyway.

I apologize for not having any pictures, but it didn't occur to me.

The following is an example of  how you can feed people frugally - and the more work you are willing to put in, the cheaper it can be.  I made bean salad, turkey and ham sandwiches, and I took a veggie tray.  They asked for enough food for about 15 people.

The veggie tray: purchased at the store for $10 (last minute add-on).  Total cost to make it myself:
1 bunch celery: 0.89
1 lb carrots: 0.79
1 pint cherry tomatoes: 2.29
3/4 cup ranch dressing: 1.50
Total: $5.47 if you make yourself.  Can save $4.53, or 45%

The sandwiches: made from items from the store (last minute add-on).  If I had purchased pre-made sandwiches, they would have been $50-70.
13 sub rolls (from the day old bread rack, which is where I buy my bread too): $3.48
1.75 lb turkey and ham (at $9/lb):  15.75
1 head lettuce: 0.99
3 6-oz packages sliced cheese: 6.00
1 container mustard: 1.49
Total: $27.71 for 26 servings (each serving is 1/2 sandwich): $1.07 per sandwich.  In reality, I didn't know if they'd have enough, so I cut each sandwich into thirds so it would stretch farther.

Savings: $32.29 (assuming $60), or 54%

Further savings can be had in those expensive items.  By buying Costco meats and cheese, or cooking and slicing yourself, you can save big time. But the decision to do this was made with less than a day's notice, and I didn't feel like driving 12 miles to Costco to save a few bucks on meat and cheese.

The bean salad: this was the frugal item.  Could make more frugal mostly by using dried beans
2 cans black beans: 1.78
3/4 bag frozen roasted corn: 1.50
1/2 c. red quinoa (pre-cooked amount), cooked: 0.50
1/3 c. salsa: 0.50
3 cloves garlic: 0.15
1/2 pkg cherry tomatoes, halved: 1.25
3/4 of a red bell pepper, diced: 1.00
1/2 of a red onion, diced: 0.25
1/3 c. olive oil: 0.70
juice of 1 lime: 0.33
3 T. rice vinegar: 0.32
S&P to taste
Total:  $8.28 for 10 cups, or 20 1/2-c servings.  $0.41 per serving.

I don't know what you'd pay for this, but at a salad bar, it would be $6-7 a pound.  So 1/2 cup is about 4 oz (1/4 lb), or $1.50.  So maybe you're saving $1.09, or 73%.  But that's just a guess.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ode to Fairview Gardens

Tonight's dinner was an ode to Fairview Gardens.  I made our dinner with many of their ingredients.  This is our CSA farm (we've been members since 2001).

I did a one-pot italian rice and vegetables.  I used to make these kinds of things in a nonstick skillet.  I recently replaced my skillet with a "green" ceramic one.  I love it, but it's curved wall not straight wall, and I lost a lot of volume.  So instead, I've been making things in the Dutch oven, but it holds heat so well, stuff sticks.  So, I'm still learning how to get it right.

Today's rice was good, but it did stick, and some of it was still crunchy.  Hopefully it will soften in the microwave tomorrow.

Sausage and Rice and Vegetable meal (you could sub beans for the sausage).
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 small sausages (I used chicken-apple-chardonnay), diced
1 medium onion, chopped (from CSA)
1 medium zucchini, chopped (from CSA)
1 bunch chard - destemmed.  Chop the stems and leaves separately (from CSA)
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups diced tomatoes/ marinara (from CSA - they canned them!)
1.5 cups white rice
1 to 2 cups water (I was experimenting here - it depends on the pot and how thick your tomatoes/sauce are).
handful fresh basil, chopped (from CSA)

Saute the sausage, onion, zucchini, chard stems in olive oil until softened and well cooked.  Add the garlic and saute 1 minute.

Add the rice, oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper and stir to coat rice with the oil.  Cook a few minutes to brown it a bit, if that's even possible in your pot full of veggies.  Add the chard and 1 cup water, reduce heat and cover to steam the chard a bit.  Add the marinara and the rest of the water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover.  Cook, stirring, until rice is cooked (about 20 min).

Toss with fresh basil.

I served this with kale chips from...FG!  And guacamole made with salsa I canned last year with FG tomatoes and peppers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Grillin' and Patio Eatin' and organizing

Today was another banner cooking day...1/2 hour of cooking, 15 mins of sitting and folding laundry.  Repeat.  The day started out weirdly.  We went out for bagels for breakfast.  I thought it would be a great idea to take my car, then we could get groceries on the way home and put gas in my car.  Except it wouldn't start.  Dead battery.  Either there is something wrong with my interior light or I accidentally bump it when I get all of my stuff out of the passenger seat.  So, we took spouse's car.

The weekend was pretty busy with us nesting.  We headed to Ventura for a birthday party, and stopped by Target while we were there.  We are short on storage space for upcoming baby.  In general, we prefer to have my husband actually MAKE our furniture - it's much nicer and more functional, (and cheaper) than buying it.  We had a little argument about it this time when I said "but how long will it take you to FINISH it?"  Which was not meant to be an insult on his ability to "finish" was meant as a "I know you can get it done in a weekend, but when am I going to be willing to give you a whole weekend to do it in the next 8 weeks?"

So we compromised and bought some cubbies for hallway storage and decided that he's still going to have to redo the hall closet with shelves, hooks, framing, and a real door.  Which will take several weekends.

That all meant that mother's day weekend wasn't very relaxing, what with putting together cubbies and attaching them to the wall so they are secure, plus doing some purging (the sheer amount of cheap plastic shit that my son comes home with is astounding).  Next weekend will have to be more organizing/ closet purging.  I tend to have a policy that when something new comes into the house, something has to leave.  A necessity with a small house.  Well, a family member recently made a comment about that when I said I needed to purge to make some room for the baby with "don't you already have a policy that you get rid of something when something new comes in?  Shouldn't you already have space?"  Well, yeah, but I'm getting a new person, so I'm not getting rid of the old kid to make room for the new kid.

In between all this work I made a black bean/corn/barley salad for a potluck at the school tomorrow (kindergarten teacher appreciation day).  I also made black bean soup.  I decided we should grill today, and my son thought it would be a great idea to eat outside (which we never do), so we did.

Grilled shrimp, salad, corn

Black bean soup

Banana chocolate chip cookies- GF and vegan, no added sugar (except the chips)

I enjoyed a little swim today but still my dogs are BARKING.  Time to enjoy a cookie and some milk, then read my kindle a bit before bed.  If you have a kindle, you have to go to this site.  Lots of free books!

Also, do you Pinterest?  I have to admit, I love this site.  I have been using it to bookmark crafts and recipes that I want to try or have's awesome!  I still print them out though, when I actually go to make them.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lack of Meal Plan and some pics

Well, after all that cooking for the week, I didn't really make much of a meal plan more than a couple of days out.  But then - surprise - I got one day's notice of spouse's trip to El Paso. So, I didn't really need a meal plan.  There are enough leftovers of the beef and frittata to last me the week.  Last night I made Trader Joe's turkey burgers with steamed artichokes and stir fried baby bok choy.  It was awesome.  My camera battery was dead.  Sorry!

Since it's the "get on the scale" week, I am going with a few days of low carb.  Helps make sure I'm not retaining a lot of water.  Breakfast today was cottage cheese, strawberries, and breakfast cookies (almond butter, eggs, coconut, dried fruit, nuts).

Lunch was a little bit of quinoa/rice, topped with beef and a LOT of mushrooms and zucchini.  I'm a big snacker too, mostly fruit, nuts, cheese, yogurt.  Today was apple with cheese, and nuts with a piece of dark chocolate.

Dinner was frittata and raw vegetables with the peanut lime dip.  YUM!

Boy the baby's been moving like crazy today.  I hope he lets me sleep.  It's funny to watch the belly move.

I'm sad that I'm missing out on 3 workouts this week because of the travel (2 swims and an elliptical/lifting day).  But tomorrow is walk to school day, so I'll get in 1.5 miles of a walk over a BIG hill at least.  Friday I may try to swim in the evening instead of in the morning.  Thursday...probably out of luck unless I squeeze in a lunch time walk.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Peanut Lime Dipping Sauce

So, in the end I combined a couple of recipes.  It's very good.  I plan on dipping yellow and orange peppers, snap peas, cucumbers, and carrots for snacks and lunch during the week.

Peanut Lime Dipping Sauce
1/3 c. natural smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp dry ginger
1 T sesame oil (dark)
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 T soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
2 tsp sugar
1T rice vinegar
1/4 c. water

Mix all ingredients with a fork until smooth.  Lick the fork when done.  Yummy.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cooking and Prep for the Week

In general, I have been (in the past), a master of cooking and prep for the week.  I spend a few hours each day on the weekend cooking, baking, chopping, preparing 2-5 dishes so that lunches and dinners are taken care of, at least until about Wednesday.  Funny that as I keep in contact with friends from high  school, college, and all over via facebook, I've noticed that it's definitely a theme for the working parent.

Or just the working person in general - my sister (no kids) also does a lot of cooking on the weekend.  It's efficient.  I am constantly impressed by how Biz cooks and preps for the week - not only for herself, but also for others.  She's so organized!!  My neighbors (husband and wife team with 3 girls under 6) seem to seamlessly cook on Sundays for the entire week.

Enter pregnancy, work stress, and lack of sleep.  I still enjoy cooking on the weekend, but I tire more easily.  What I notice first is the aching feet, legs, and back.  I can only really stand to be on my feet for about an hour.  So that means my prep has suffered.  This means that I cook more often during the week, and by the time spouse gets home - dinner is ready, but I'm beat.

This weekend I'm trying something new.  I am still doing my cook and prep, but I will do it in 1 hour increments, then I will rest. 

Also, I walked 1 mile (up over a big hill) to the grocery store first (and back), then started cooking.  I left my shoes on when I got  home.  It seems to be helping.  I am up to 1.5 hours on my feet right now, and I'm still okay.  Maybe I need the cushion with the extra 32 lbs.  I'm not sure how much longer I can make that big hill.  But last weekend I sucked it up and bought a maternity swimsuit.  I have 9 weeks to go.  If I wear it 3x a week for the next 9 weeks, I can get it down to just over $1 per wear. :)

So here is what I am prepping for the week.  I am trying to go lower carb/ more paleo to stem this weight gain.  Hence the trip to the store for even MORE vegetables. 

I made this delicious beef roast in the crockpot yesterday (45 mins of prep - not "a dump and press go" recipe by any means).  I bought a large (6.5 lb?) roast (organic and free range) for $50 from my coworker "beef source" (she buys in bulk).  She recommended the crock pot.  The recipe came from my America's Test Kitchen Family cookbook, and was a southwestern roast recipe (in honor of Cinco de Mayo).  If you can't have a margarita, might as well make tacos, right?  The only thing the roast needed was more salt.  I used homemade stock, so my food is always under-salted.  2/3 of this went into the fridge, and the rest into the freezer for a later date.

Now, I know this soupy runny beef would taste GREAT over some rice.  But I want to limit my carbs a bit.  So I cooked up some white rice and red quinoa and put 1/2 cup in a container for lunch.  But I am also cooking up a bunch of zucchini and mushrooms, and will use that as the primary base for the lunch.

In summary:
Beef roast (tacos!)

White rice/ quinoa

Mushrooms and zucchini

Bacon, chard, beet green, turnip greean, onion, zucchini frittata (that's dinner, with a salad).

Peanut lime dipping sauce (for my carrots, snap peas, and colored peppers).  Or maybe this one.  Or a combo.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Oh, how I've missed you.  But it's spring, time for risotto.  So I made chard-onion-ham risotto for dinner last night.  I use the pressure cooker, which cooks "fast", but unfortunately, all the chopping, etc. means I was still on my feet for an hour.  Owee.

And I've been enjoying this heirloom tomato that grew from the tomato plant I grew last year.  It only grows one tomato at a time, but this was a doozy!