Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2/25/09 Baked Fish and Chips

This recipe is the Fish N Chips in the February Rachael Ray magazine...NOT the one on her is on page 72. For now, I am not going to type in the recipe, I am hoping they will add it to the website after this week so I can put the link here... if you are dying to try it leave a comment and I will get it to you somehow.

I couldn't get my sweet potatoes to look long and slender like in the magazine picture, but they still tasted good. I left out all parsely in this recipe, and it still tasted great!

This is a baked Fish n Chips instead of deep fried, and it cuts about 1000 calories or more out of it. How is that for healthy!

My husband hasn't come home yet, but I know he will like this. So this recipe gets 2 thumbs up!

Food Product Test- Archer Farms Apricot Currant

This is really a product test, not a recipe test...hey even perfect moms like me need a cooking break sometimes! >:)
I bought what I call a meal in a box at Target. It is one of the brands they carry, Archer Farms, and the meal is Apricot Currant with whole wheat couscous and chicken. It cost $4.99- what a deal right!
This meal was about as easy as it gets. Inside the box is a sauce packet, a can of chicken chunks, some dried fruit, and some couscous. You boil water, insert sauce, chicken, and fruit. Then you boil water and mix in the couscous.
Baby wouldn't touch this with a stick, but he has been that was about everything lately. We loved it and will probably continue trying these meals when we stop in at Target!

2/24/09 Spinach and Goat Cheese Pie

This is a recipe we have already eaten before, I am making it again. It is from THE GREENS cookbook:
1 recipe Tart Dough (or prepared tart crust)
1 bunch spinach
2 bunches scallions
3 T. butter
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T. fresh marjoram or 1/2 t. dried
1 T. parsley, chopped
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
5 oz goat cheese
1 c. milk
1 c. heavy cream
Remove stems from spinach and cut leaves into large pieces. Wash thoroughly in large bowl of water, using 2 chages of water if really dirty.
Trim the roots and most of the greens off the scallions, and thinly slice them. Melt the butter in a wide skillet, add scallions, garlic, marjoram, parsely and cook over med heat about 1 min. Gradually begin to add the spinach, handfuls at a time, as much as the pan will comfortably take. Let each batch of spinach begin to soften and wilt before adding the next. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and set aside.
Beat the eggs and yolks with half the cheese until they are fairly smooth. Then add the milk and cream, a scraping of nutmeg. 1/2 t. salt, and some milled black pepper.
(Prebake the tart dough as directions direct)
Preheat the oven to 375. Lay the spinach over the bottom of the partially baked crust and crumble the remaining cheese on top. Add the custard, then bake the pie until set and lightly browned, about 35-45 minutes. Let it rest 5 minutes before serving.

What can I say about this recipe- it is great! and healthy! I would serve it more as a breakfast or side instead of a main course though, not filling enough by itself to be a meal really. (yes, I would totally ruin a vegetarian item by pairing it with a bacon double-cheeseburger ha ha ha)
So...yes, we like it!

Update on Food Budget Saving

On 2/14 I posted:
"To get back on budget I am currently trying the following things:
buy less meat and cheese- more vegetarian meals
buy in bulk and divide the cost over the number of weeks it will last
get the Sunday paper for coupons (which I have yet to remember to take to the store)
buy all veggies and fruit at a low cost farmers market"
Here is my update:
-Our vegetarian experiment has failed...every time except one that I made it we are still hungry afterwards, and the leftovers never get eaten! I think our vegetarian will continue to be nice soup, salad, and crusty roll
-We are buying most of our meat and cheese at Sam's Club... it is expensive to get it all at once this way, but it usually lasts 3-4 weeks.
- I have saved a lot of coupons so far, and my mom even sent me some. But I am just not using them. I forget them at home, or I find a better deal buying something on sale or store brand. I am going to start looking into coupon websites to see if I can find any better ones.
- Our farmers market keeps raising their prices. They are still a little cheaper on the veggies, fruit and meat/fish, but not as much as they used to be. My husband wants to find another market to shop at, but I like the one we go to :(. So don't know what to do there.
Another update will come in a week or two!

2/23/09- Greek Baked Pasta

When it is time for something different, I grab a food magazine. So here is one from FOOD AND WINE... called Greek Baked Pasta. The recipe can be found at:
I learned three things (again) making this:
1) don't skimp on things like marinara sauce when it makes up 50% or more of the recipe
2) don't get the husband to buy said marinara sauce, he will always buy the cheapest
3) don't get husband to go to store for a few extra items when he has his mind on "more important things"
I know this is kind of a blog about cooking cheaper, but come on. You want that sauce in your baked pasta to taste good right? My husband bought Kroger brand sauce, and I have to diss Kroger this time...sorry your sauce did not taste good.
And I will admit, my husband bought buffalo meat instead of lamb because Kroger was not selling any ground lamb that day. People, ground buffalo is nothing more than expensive ground beef. So if you can't get the lamb, first of all I wouldn't cook this recipe (unless you want to improvise with more spices). But if you do, use the ground beef! It is $3-4 cheaper!
Therefore this recipe was ok, but we gave it two thumbs down. Feel free to try it anyways with a mid-high range priced sauce and the right kind of meat because it would probably make a HUGE amount of difference.

Monday, February 23, 2009

2/22- $10 Rachael Ray- why it didn't work

I am not the type that usually likes recipes with fewer than 6 or 7 ingredients. But since I am on a budget and eating vegetarian lately, I thought I would try Rachael Ray's Baked Nestled Eggs recipe found on page 61 in the February Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine.
I am not going to post the recipe here, but it is basically red bell peppers stuffed with rice, onion, fennel, butternut squash, and cream with an egg on top. Baked.
Here are the reasons why we didn't like this recipe:
1) afterwards we were still hungry and went to Arby's- we don't know if we want to continue eating vegetarian or not since this always happens
2) the rice was not cooked evenly, or some of it was crispy for some reason
3) had to bake longer than recommended to get the egg to set
So this recipe got 2 thumbs down from 2 adults.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

2/18/09 Vegetarian Rachael Ray

I wasn't sure how much Rachael Ray knew abuot vegetarian since most days she is whipping up steak or some other meat. Plus, when I first started cooking I had a very bad result in a bean burger recipe, so this recipe for Sloppy Veg-Head Joe made me nervous. But you know me, I decided to try it. Here is the link:
This recipe was SO easy to make, and it made a ton. It most definitely serves four. I used serrano peppers instead of jalapenos thinking it would be mild enough for me to eat, but they were still hot for me.
I did manage to find some fire-roasted tomatoes, but I couldn't tell if they really made a huge difference. Crushed prolly would have been cheaper.
This recipe got 2 huge thumbs from my husband and one from me, so I guess that is 3 thumbs from 2 people lol.

2/18/09 Leftover Indian with Tofu Recipe

I needed something to do with all the leftover Indian vegetables from the past few days. So I found this recipe for Indian tofu at:
Basically did everything it says except I leave anything that says "red hot" out of my cooking. Sorry husband!
Two thumbs up from 2 adults.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

2/17/09 Low Cost egg/hash recipe

I chose this recipe because everyone says eggs are a cheap staple to make, and we are trying our best to save some money. Plus I always have some kielbasa or sausage lying around. This is another Rachael Ray recipe, so please don't hate on me for loving Rachael. Somtimes I get on a kick with a certain cookbook or website, and will cook from it for a month before I get tired of it. This seems to be the case with the Rachael Ray website and myself.
Here is the recipe for Campfire hash:
This was really easy to make. The only problem I had was that even with occasional stirring, everything was sticking to the bottom of the pan. I was using a dutch oven instead of a skillet; that may have had something to do with it (I don't know). But since I couldn't let anything sit for too long without the sticky going on, I had to make the eggs scrambled inside the mix instead of cooking them over easy. Big Deal.
This got one thumbs up from me, my husband didn't like the sausage I used (Ukraine or German I forget, but it wasn't kielbasa). Otherwise I think he would have liked it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

2/16/09- Indian Vegetarian

I really hate having the same type of thing within one or two days, but I had planned on making this vegetarian stew over a week ago. My vegetables were starting to cry out from the refrigerator, "Use me already!" So it is Indian again folks, really sorry about that.

First let me start with saying this is not a Rachael Ray recipe, so it is going to take a little longer to make. It took me around an hour to make this recipe from a cookbook called THE GREENS it is:

Indian Vegetable Stew with Yellow Dal

The Dal:

3/4 c. yellow split peas (I used green)

1 T. fresh ginger, peeled and minced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopper

1/2 t. turmeric

2 serrano chilies or 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped

Sort through the peas, rinse them well, then cover them with water and leav them to soak at least 2 hours ahead. Pour off soaking water, add 3 c. fresh water and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the peas are completely soft and have fallen apart, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly, then blend to make a smooth puree. Measure the amount of puree and add water to bring it up to 3-1/2 c.

3 medium tomatoes

2 Japanese eggplants or 1/2 globe eggplant

2 medium zuchinni

2 medium carrots

4 T. clarified butter

1 t. mustard seeds

1 t. cumin seeds

1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

1/2 small cauliflower, broken into florets

1 t. salt

fresh cilantro leaves for garnish, chopped

While the peas are cooking, prepare the veggies. Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for 10 seconds, then place them in a bowl of cold water. Remove the peels; then halve them and gently squeeze out the seeds. Cut them into large pieces. Cut the eggplant into 1-in cubes, and cut the zucchini and the carrots into sticks about 1-1/2 inches long. Whatever you make, keep them large enough to have a clear apperance on the plate.

When you are ready to cook the stew, have a lid handy in case the mustard seeds splatter and pop. Heat the clarified butter in a large wide skillet, and when it is hot, andd the mustard seeds. Cook a brief 5 secs until mustard seeds turn grayish and start to exlode. Then add the cumin seeds, and after another 5 secs the onion. Saute for one minute over high heat, then add the tomatoes and the eggplant. Cook 2-3 minutes before adding the cauliflower and the carrots. Stir everything together, then add the pureed yellow peas. Add the salt, stir and cook over med-high heat until tender, about 25 minutes. Add the zuchinni during the last 10 minutes, so that it will stay bright and somewhat firm.
Taste again for salt, and add more if necessary. Serve the vegetables and dal garnished with the cilantro.
Serves 4-6

There are plenty of people talented at chopping vegetables. I am not one of those people. My trick with stews, etc. is to take at least 1/2 of it when finished and slightly blend in the food processor. That way my husband doesn't complain about my choppy vegetable cutting. I also did not water down the puree, which made the stew thicker.
This was a very cheap recipe to make. The only thing that really cost anything was the clarified butter, which I opted to buy instead of make from scratch. It cost $8. I also had enough cauliflower left over to make something else this next week and leftovers.
Recipe got two thumbs up out of two adults.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

2/14/09 Indian Chicken

So after yesterday I decided to try ANOTHER Rachael Ray recipe...I am addicted to her website and don't mind saying so. Also, I thought the recipe for Indian Spiced Meat with Curried Potato Salad and Creamed Spinach might be a spicy little meal for Valentine's Day.
Here is the link to the recipe:
OK so what did I change about this recipe? Mainly how it was prepared...I rearranged the recipe just a tad. I cooked my potatoes first because I am notorious for undercooking things when I don't prepare. That gave me time to make the spice for the need to buy an expensive spice grinder, we use a Kroger brand coffee grinder. While the chicken was sitting I made the spinach as directed and the potato salad. This allowed me to use the same skillet for all three things, I simply wiped it out twice.
I was a little disappointed with the chicken. After cooking as the recipe directed, it was browned/blackened on the outside, but not cooked on the inside at all. So my husband put them in the microwave for one minute to finish them off.
I was also disappointed with the curry paste that my husband bought at the store. You know...the mysterious food item on your list in a foreign language you can't read. Well the kind we used tasted like it might have had seafood in it, which really didn't go well with the meal. So make sure you use a red curry paste, not a brown one.
To save money on the recipe I substituted mango salsa, which I already had for the chutney...not Indian at all but it worked.
My husband gives this recipe a thumbs up, I give it an ok. I enjoyed the vegetbles but skipped the chicken.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Our Struggle with a Grocery Budget

This is not a recipe test, but a short vent about our grocery budget. Since the beginning of the year, we have struggled with staying on our very small budget.
Before Daniel was eating solids, we were spending $60 a week for two adults. Now we have moved it up to $70-80 a week for three because Daniel eats so much. However, during most of January we were overbudget so I was beginning to wonder if this was reasonable.
To get back on budget I am currently trying the following things:
buy less meat and cheese- more vegetarian meals
buy in bulk and divide the cost over the number of weeks it will last
get the Sunday paper for coupons (which I have yet to remember to take to the store)
buy all veggies and fruit at a low cost farmers market

Any other ideas would be appreciated. Or post your frustrations here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

2/13/09 Lunch- a Rachael Ray patty melt recipe

Today for lunch I wanted to make something quick and simple. This is my day off, and I don't feel like standing on my feet cooking when my son isn't even here.
So, I tried making Sour Cream and Onion Turkey Patty Melts by Rachael Ray. The recipe can be found at:
I accidentally used onion rolls instead of the rye bread I had bought (they were out of pumpernickel), but they actually tasted great with the scallions and turkey.
Serve with a pear/spinach salad with blue cheese and dried cranberries. My husband ate his with a root beer.
2 thumbs up out of 2 adults