Thursday, August 30, 2012

Week Three Recipes

We've almost reached the end of August, and it has been a busy week!  Hence the lateness of this post. Last week was a little tricky too.  I planned on making the chicken, but something came up, and well, truth be told, I forgot to defrost it. It was okay though because we had tons of leftovers and parents came to visit us.  Needless to say, we'll be having chicken this week.  And so, here are the recipes for this week.

MondayFettuccine with Sausage & Leeks; Cucumber Salad

  • Since I forgot to defrost the chicken, I had the leeks and cucumbers.
  • I bought fettuccine ($2), parsley ($2) and sausage ($2.50).
  • I made the Italian Salad Dressing --- oh my goodness this is so easy.  I usually buy a packet because my grandma always did.  Well, I thought I had some mix, but I did not.  I found this recipe, and it tastes exactly the same except there are limited ingredients and I can pronounce them.  It is literally as easy as the packet.  Just slice up the cucumber, and pour the dressing on top.
  • Meal for two, plus two lunches = $6.50... and may I say this tasted fantastic.

Tuesday: Spaghetti Squash with Kale and Kidney Beans

  • I bought a spaghetti squash ($3), garlic (.50) and kale ($2).
  • I had a can of kidney beans so I used those instead.
  • I had olive oil, red pepper, salt and parmesan.
  • Meal for two, plus two lunches = $5.50. (Another delicious choice).

Wednesday: CG - Coca-Cola Cake.... Cracker Barrel Style

  • I bought buttermilk($1) and coke ($1).
  • I had everything else.
  • We had 1/4 of the sheet cake left after group, so that means we get dessert!! ($2)

Thursday: Roast Chicken or Roast Chicken, Purple Cabbage and Carrots

  • I bought cabbage ($2) and carrots ($2).  Add some butter, seasoned salt and sauté for a tasty vegetable medley. 
  • I had the chicken and seasoning.
  • Dinner plus leftovers = $4.

Friday: Bubble and Squeak (Please try this.... it is true comfort food!)

  • I bought bacon ($4), jalepeno cheese ($3), and 2 large potatoes ($1).
  • I had cabbage and carrots.
  • Meal plus two lunches = $8.

Saturday: White Bean Chili

  • I bought an onion ($1) and a jalepeno (.50), and a bag of dried white beans ($2).
  • I had carrots, I made the chicken stock, and had all of the other spices.
  • Dinner plus two more dinners to freeze = ($3.50)

Sunday: Leftovers

  • Already paid for!
Dinner for the Week = $29.50

Friday, August 24, 2012

Homemade Croissants

There are few things that I love more than a delicious pastry, but I have lacked the courage to try to make them until recently.  I was looking around, and I came across this recipe for authentic croissants.  The reviews talked about how delicious they were and how surprisingly easy they were to make.  So, I decided to give the recipe a shot and figured at worst case, I could still do something with the dough.  Well, to my delight, they turned out splendidly.  They were beautifully colored, had the trademark layers of a croissant and they were so light and fluffy.  

The croissants were everything that I had hoped they would be!  Now for the recipe.  Please do not be scared away by how "long" they take.  While the recipe does require three days for you to wait, it does not require three days of work.  On the first day you simply mix the ingredients.  On the second day, you just roll the dough, and on the third day you do one more rolling and you bake.  Within moments on that third day is when you will realize that all of the "work" was worth it.

I really hope you try these; you won't be disappointed if you do!  Since the directions are a little longer, please find the recipe here, at Fine Cooking.  It has very detailed pictures, directions and even a powerpoint in case some of the wording is confusing... it's very fool proof!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Week Two Recipes

Last week's recipes went really well!  As I hoped, I used up almost everything that I had purchased, and all left overs were eaten.  But I also acquired new items and had a few things left.  Here are my dinners for this week, and how I'm going to use up all those remaining items.

Monday: Fettuccini Alfredo

  • I used the other half of the pasta that I bought last week.
  • I used heavy cream that I bought last week to make caramel sauce.
  • I had parmesan cheese.
  • I made honey dijon dressing for our salad.
  • I bought spinach from the salad bar because we usually don't use the whole bag. 
  • Dinner = $1, plus 1 lunch and half of the alfredo sauce left.  I froze it to use at a later date!
Tuesday: Adobo Pulled Pork with Poblano Peppers, Sweet Potatoes and Cilantro Lime Rice
  • I bought the pork.  This recipe has onions (I had), orange juice (I bought), chipotle peppers (I had), lime juice (I bought), and a variety of spices (I had).
  • I bought two sweet potatoes.
  • I bought two poblano peppers.  (I just dice the sweet potatoes and poblanos.  Sauté the potatoes on the stove top in a little oil for about 15 minutes, then add the peppers for about 5 minutes.
  • I had rice, but I bought cilantro.
  • Dinner = $15
Wednesday: CG Dinner - I am taking a strawberry mozzarella salad. *This was a splurge... I love this, and I wanted to make it while strawberries were still in season!
  • I bought strawberries, mozzarella, mint and almonds.
  • I had olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Dinner = $10
Thursday: Pork Tacos with Pickled Onions and Black Beans  I added lots of seasoning to this recipe... cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, and chili pepper.
  • I used the pork from Tuesday (free), got some taco shells (bought), pickled some onions (free), and chopped up cilantro for the tacos.
  • I'm using the leftover rice from Tuesday tonight.
  • I bought a bag of dried black beans (cheaper than buying a can). 
  • I'm also going to freeze any remaining cilantro in a touch of olive oil to use later. 
  • Dinner = $3
Friday: Roast Chicken and Quinoa Salad  I still have some left over pork, so I am adding that to some sweet potato and black bean soup that I had in the freezer.  I'm also going to add any remaining sweet potatoes, black beans and rice.
  • I bought a whole chicken.  I had the butter and herbs to season it.
  • I bought a container of blueberries, a cucumber and a mango.
  • I had the quinoa.
  • Dinner = $14.50
Saturday: Spinach Artichoke Soup - find this recipe in a post next week.  Roast Chicken
  • I am using yesterdays chicken for this (free).
  • I am making chicken broth from the chicken bones (free).
  • I am buying a container of spinach and a leek.
  • I am buying a bag of frozen artichokes.
  • Dinner = $6, plus 2 containers to freeze for leftovers later!
Sunday: Eat Leftovers!  Spinach Artichoke Soup
  • I'm not sure what will be left, but I know that there will be some in the fridge... take advantage of resting on Sunday and simply reheat what you already have.
That's a whole week's worth of meals plus lunches and 3 full frozen meals for later for just $50.  Please note that my meat was bought local, so your costs will probably be lower if you purchase them at a grocery.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Week of Recipes

Happy Monday friends!  As you saw in my last post I have been on a serious reading kick.  One of the new books that I am reading is called The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn.  In one of the chapters of the book, it challenges its readers to avoid waste and to use up everything that is in the fridge.  Flinn examined her fridge and was shocked to see that waste that she had accumulated in a week, and so I decided to do the same.  I thought I had been doing a pretty good job, but I still found the remnants of some lettuce, half a container of sour cream, a little cream cheese, a bean burrito, a dish of rice and a few green beans.  All of these were past their expiration, and while I can take heart that my fridge is now clean, I had to ask myself, why did I just throw away money!  Beyond that, it was just simply wasteful.  

I recently read a statistic that American families throw away 14% of the groceries that they buy each week.  For example, if you spend $100 on groceries each week, $14 is thrown into the trash.  That is almost $60 a month!  It may not look like a lot either... it could show up as some bananas that are past their prime or 4 slices of bread that got stale before you ate them, but when you total it up, it is a lot.  

So I created a plan to start using up everything and to have nothing left in my fridge by the time Sunday rolls around.  I am certainly not an expert, but here is what I came up with for one week:

Monday:  Pecan Crusted Chicken with honey mustard sauce, Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli

  • I bought a package of chicken that had three 1/2 breasts and three tenderloins.  Today I used 2 of the breasts and reserved the rest. 
  • I had the pecans already.  Chop them up really well.  Coat the chicken in flour, dip in egg, then dip in pecans.  I usually cook it in olive oil until brown on both sides then stick it in a 350 oven until I'm finished with the vegetables.
  • Make mashed potatoes as normal, but leftover cream cheese instead of butter.
  • I just steam the broccoli- add salt and pepper... maybe some lemon juice if you have that hanging around.
  • I bet you have have honey and mustard hanging around your house.... voila honey mustard.
  • For this meal, I bought chicken ($9) and broccoli ($2) for a total of $11.
Tuesday: Summer Vegetable Tart
  • Here is an example recipe: Ratatouille Tart
  • I had pre-made pie dough, a squash, one ear of corn, a red onion and a basil plant.
  • I bought a zucchini and fresh, local mozzarella cheese for a total of $6.
  • Meal's total = $6, plus lunch for two.
Wednesday: Spaghetti and Meatballs
  • I bought spaghetti, but only used half. 
  • I bought ground beef, sausage, an onion and bread.
  • I made the sauce... I had all of the ingredients thanks to my mother in laws tomato plants!  See the recipe here.
  • I had ten meatballs left over... so I am definitely having lunch tomorrow.
  • This meal's total was $12.

Thursday: Lentil Soup with Cornbread
  • I had the soup in the freezer = free!
  • I bought a box of cornbread... which I will never do again. $3... whaa waa.
  • Dinner for 2, plus 2 lunches = $3.

Friday: Poached Chicken with Green Beans and Cornbread Dressing
  • Remember that initial chicken?  Now it's free!  I simply took some garlic and some fresh herbs and rubbed it all over the chicken.  (I have herb plants and had the garlic.)  I poured in the chicken broth and some lemon juice.  Let it cook for 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
  • And that cornbread with yesterday's soup?... It's going to be cornbread dressing.
  • I added cranberries (had those) and celery ($3) and chicken broth from the fridge.  Here's the recipe.
  • I bought green beans ($1).
  • Dinner for 2 = $3.   Celery becomes a snack... just separate what you need for the recipe and eat the rest in the afternoon with late half empty jar of peanut butter lurking in your cabinet or the close to expiration cream cheese. 

Saturday: Meatball Subs
  • Remember those leftover meatballs?  I am using 4, so I still have 8.  Those are getting frozen, and I will see them in the future!
  • I am using up that tasty mozzarella that I bought.
  • I bought a loaf of Italian bread for $3.  (I'm only using half, so the other half is getting frozen as well.)
  • Dinner for two = $3.

Sunday: The Fridge is Empty ... treat yourself to dinner and head to the grocery.  Time to start planning again.

Total Spent on Dinner Groceries this week: $38*
Total Wasted on Groceries: $0! Whoo hoo!

Please note that almost all meat, vegetables, cheese and pasta were either local or organic.  If that's not important to you, you could probably cut my total in half.

Okay, so there you have it.  I know that I have things that you may not have and that as you use up items that you'll have to replace them.  I also know that this list doesn't include things like breakfast foods and milk, but this is definitely a start, and I was pretty excited.

Feel free to use these ideas, and please share how you make the most of your leftovers!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer Reading

Good Morning Friends!  Hallelujah; it's August!  July was a tricky month.  Whoever said medical school was tough clearly drowned out the first month of their residency.  Scott worked in the ICU, and we were on different hours.  He worked some days and some nights, so when he was home, he was asleep.  August brings a new rotation though, a clinic, and with it normal hours.  I'm really excited!

During July though, I took to reading.  I don't really have an excuse for not being an avid reader before, but with a surplus of time and books lying around that I had yet to read, I picked one up... and I didn't stop. I just wanted to share some with you because they were so enjoyable.  So if you have a few spare moments, here are some books to keep you busy!

This one doesn't really need an explanation.  This series is so popular with youth and adults alike.  As a middle school teacher, my kids continually begged me to read the book series.  I was leery because I have never really been interested in kid's reading fads like Twilight or Harry Potter, but for some reason I gave in on this one, and I'm glad I did.  I read the first, The Hunger Games, in June, but I've been trying to ration out the remaining books because there are only three.

My mother-in-law let me borrow this book.  It was so cute!  I love books that are true and this one was just a fun read.  It chronicles Ree Drummond's love story with her cowboy.  The story also shares her humorous transition from city life to the life of a ranch wife.

I am just finishing this book, and it too is an easy read.  Obviously, I like food, and this story documents Kathleen Flinn's adventures in Paris.  Flinn loses her job at a powerful company, and she decides to follow her dreams to pursue a culinary degree from the Le Cordon Bleu.  During some of her recollections, you can almost picture yourself working in the classroom next to her.  It also provides a fun and realistic picture of Paris.

This is a book that my mom let me borrow.  It is a true feel good story.  The setting is New York City in the late 80s and early 90s.  This is a story about a successful business woman (Laura) that befriends a  11 year old boy (Maurice) that is panhandling for money.  Maurice has a family, but they are in and out of his life.  Laura invests in Maurice's life, and the two come to rely on each other.  This is also a true story.

This are my favorite summer reads.  What are some of the books that you have been reading?