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Archive for October, 2012

Froms Night

One of my favorite nights when I was growing up was Sunday night which my parents aptly named Froms Night. Throughout the week whether dinner was made at home, ordered in or eaten out we always had leftovers. By Sunday night our fridge was full of leftovers, so we had Froms night. We pulled out all the leftovers from Monday, from Tuesday, from Wednesday and so on and you got to choose your favorite or take a little of everything. Thus Froms night was born.

This is a great way to clean out your fridge once a week so you don’t end up with something furry floating around the back of your fridge. It is also a great money saver, you save the cost of a 7th dinner every week. Personally I feel a lot better doing this too because I never end up throwing away extras that got lost in the fridge when I know there are starving people out there.

Most of this food would have gotten thrown away anyway because we never seem to have enough leftovers for a whole meal for everyone. By Sunday night it’s all odds and ends in that fridge. Sometimes even all those odds and ends wont feed everyone depending on how much is left, a quick fix to this is to pull something out of the freezer like a bag of frozen veggies; you throw them in a sauté pan with some butter and garlic and there a way to fill it out for less than $.50 a serving. Or if you have a bag of those frozen French fries you bought 6 months ago on a whim but never actually ate, throw them on a cookie sheet and bake them up. This is the night to use up things that will have to be thrown away if not eaten. Pick a night, it doesn’t have to be Sunday, and try this and tell me how it works for you.

Thanks for reading and Happy Cooking!

 

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Lentil Tacos

Growing up my mom used to make homemade tacos a few times each month, it was a go to dinner for us, especially with 7 people in a house. Homemade tacos are a great cheap dinner that can satisfy everyone because each person can add what they want. This dish is very simple and will take in total less than about 45 min to make.

Here’s what you need:

Lentils

Taco bell seasoning

Whole wheat flour tortillas (or whatever your choice is)

The rest is up to you. I add:

Onions, lettuce, cheese, olives, tomatoes, and if I’m being bad some sour cream 🙂

Salsa and or hot sauce

Here’s what you do:

Boil the lentils for 25-30 min

Drain lentils and set aside.

In a pan sauté the onions with a little butter or oil then add the cooked and drained lentils. Add the taco seasoning, to desired amount and a spoonful or two of water. The water helps create a paste with the seasoning and stick to the lentils. Stir together.

I warm/ cook the tortilla over the open flame on my gas oven.

Then assemble your tacos.

If you want this to be a full meal you can make some Spanish rice by either buying Rice-a-Roni’s whole grain Spanish rice or make rice like you normally would and add a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies and flavoring in it.  Also warm up a can of vegetarian refried beans and voila! You have a full meal.

Thanks for reading and Happy Cooking!

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Lentil Stew

Hi guys! The weather is starting to get cold (where I am at least lol) and that means that the cold and flu will be running rampant! When I was younger I used to ADORE chicken soup when I was sick, of course now I know that the chicken we used, pumped full of hormones, probably made me sicker lol. Now my go to soup when I am sick, or just need something to warm me up and make me feel wonderful is this lentil stew from Alicia Silverstone’s amazing book “The Kind Diet”. No need to worry about any diet as this recipe is vegan and lentils are gluten free J  if you are looking for a great book with lots of info about being healthy and being good to the world definitely check out Alicia’s books, it’s AMAZING!

Here’s what you need:

½ tsp garlic powder                                2 celery stalks, diced

½ tsp paprika                                           1 carrot, sliced

½ tsp fine sea salt                                    1 potato, cut into chunks

¼ tsp ground cumin                                ¼ cup soy sauce

¼ tsp dried oregano                                 5 cups veggie broth

½ tsp dried basil                                        3 tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks

2 tbsp olive                                                   1 ½ cup lentils

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped                 2 large onions, cut into chunks

Combine the seasonings in a small bowl. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat, and add the garlic, onion, celery, carrot and potato. Stir in half the seasoning mixture and the soy sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, for 7 minutes or until the onions are tender.

Add 5 cups of water, the broth, tomatoes, and lentils. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer with the lid askew for 30 minutes. Add the remaining seasoning mixture, and cook for 20 minutes longer or until the lentils are soft.

Ladle stew into bowls and serve with your favorite bread.

This stew is amazing and will help you feel better in no time! If you like this recipe and check out her book also look at the sweet potato lentil stew. It is so different and so yummy! And of course sweet potatoes are in season right now and oh so good for you!

Comment and tell me what you think.

Thanks for reading and Happy Cooking!

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Risotto

Hi guys! I hope you all had a great weekend. Today’s tidbit for you is Risotto! I love risotto, it is so yummy. A lot of people think that risotto is a lot harder to make than it actually is. Yes, it takes a little bit of time but in my opinion it is well worth the time because it is so good. One of the things I love about risotto is that you can make it whatever you want; you can add anything you want to it.

The only ingredient that you must have is the Arborio rice.

After that you need a liquid, I use vegetable broth and a little bit of wine 🙂

Most risottos have onions in it but that’s completely up to you.

The basic directions for risotto are:

Melt some butter and sauté onions in it.

Add the amount of risotto you desire and stir

Add the liquid you chose

Boil and stir until the liquid is mostly adsorbed, then add more liquid and continue to stir until absorbed. You will have to repeat this process a few times. After the third or fourth time start eating a grain or two and test if it’s ready.

Up to this point the recipe is vegan (as long as you used non-dairy butter), to keep it vegan don’t add the cheese. When the risotto is soft you can add cheese and mix it until it melts. You can put any cheese you like in the risotto, the most common is parmesan cheese but you can throw in anything, tonight I used string cheese ha-ha!

This is a basic risotto:

After the basics you can add anything you like, sometimes I throw in some balsamic vinegar, mushrooms are really popular, green onions are great in risotto. Once I made a great asparagus and mushroom risotto.

If you add anything to your risotto you can add it just before it’s done cooking so it cooks a bit but is still fresh.

Now it’s your turn! Pick a kind of risotto, make it and tell me how it goes!

Thanks for reading and happy cooking!

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Keep it Simple!

Hi Guys! Sorry it’s been so long since I posted but life got a little crazy! So last week we did cheap, today we are going to do easy. I will start by saying I LOVE hamburgers but I used to eat all the wrong kinds. I am talking crappy fast food where I have no idea what is in the meat I was eating which left you with a crappy feeling after you ate it. Now I eat and have some serious love for garden burgers, Boca burgers are my favorite ones, but to each their own. Here is the thing though, how can a garden burger that never changes compare with all of the new burgers that fast food places and restaurants come out with every year? This is where you come in, switch it up a little! Making a garden burger takes no effort at all and little to no planning so spice it up! My absolute favorite is to grill a pineapple slice with my burger, then for assembly I put a slice of cheese and pineapple on the burger and sprinkle some teriyaki sauce on the bun and voila! Yummy teriyaki burger.

Another favorite of people is a chili cheese burger; you can find great vegetarian chili at any grocery store these days, then add some onions and a little cheese and you have a fabulous treat that you can still feel good about. The best thing about this idea is you can change it to fit the tastes of everyone in your family; each person can have exactly what they desire in about 10 min.

Some other popular flavors are mushroom Swiss, BBQ and so much more.

Comment and tell me your favorite!

Thanks for reading and happy cooking!

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Cooking on the Cheap

Hi! Thanks for joining me for what will hopefully be another great post.

So before we go any further I want to talk about keeping things a little cheaper for you. These are just a few things that will help you save in the overall.

1) Stock your Pantry with the Staples. I am not saying you have to go out and do this today but slowly start building your pantry up. Whenever you see a staple item on sale, STOCK UP! Some of the staple items in my pantry that I use all the time or am very grateful for when I have had a long hard day and don’t really feel like cooking are: whole grain pasta, rice, canned tomatoes, canned beans (all kind and every kind), frozen veggies, flour, sugar, canned pasta sauce, and veggie stock (or make your own). This list barely scratches the surface but I don’t want to bore you so each post from now on all point out to you which items in the recipe I consider staples items so you can start stalking up on them.

 

2) Eat in Season. Eating in season will get you the best deals on food; you will be able to buy the freshest food for the smallest amount of money. Now I completely understand that nobody is going to remember what is in season, when, unless you are growing things yourself so here is a great website that has a link to a Google doc they created that tells you the months that each things is available.

Frugal for Life.

For example some things that are in season right now, that aren’t the obvious Thanksgiving ingredients,  that are going to be the cheapest, the tastiest, the healthiest and the greenest to eat (less carbon footprint) are artichokes, bell peppers, beets, broccolini, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery root, fennel, garlic, leeks, parsnips, radishes, spinach, wild mushrooms, almonds, chestnuts, limes,  plums, and pomegranates

3) Bulk cook. I do this at least twice a year. There are days when you just aren’t in the mood to cook or just plain don’t have the time, these are the times you make the bad decision to drive through a greasy fast food place that kills your diet you’ve been killing all week or gives you heart burn or just plain old makes you feel crappy; wouldn’t it be great if instead you could pull a healthy yummy dinner out of the freezer, reheat, serve and feel good about it? At this point in my life I have school, work, hw and a two-hour round trip commute so these freezer dinners are my best friend. I tend to do soups, stews and casseroles because it’s a whole meal in one, throw a salad and a piece of bread or fruit with it and you have a pretty balanced meal. There are two big ways you can do this, 1) Every time you make a meal, spend an extra $2 on ingredients, make a little extra, throw the leftovers in a Ziploc freezer bag, freeze and forget about it until you need it. Or 2) pick a weekend or two and make as many meals as you can manage and freeze it all! Option two is my favorite; I spend two weekends on a cooking binge, spend between $200-$300 on groceries and come out with upwards of 40 meals in the freezer to pull out over the 6 months to a year.

Comment and tell me if you like these ideas and like getting extra info as well as recipes so I know to keep it up or not. Thanks for reading and happy cooking!

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Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Hi everybody! I hope everyone is having a great weekend! Are you ready to cook?

Another food that is in abundance in my garden right now is tomatoes. Every few days I have another bowl full of them and I only have two plants! I love tomatoes because they can be incorporated into almost any recipe and can be paired with pretty much any food. Instead of giving you a recipe that included tomatoes I wanted to give you one for tomatoes themselves. Not only will this recipe give you something yummy you can add to a soup, pizza, sandwich and so much more but it will save you move too. This is the homemade version of those amazingly tasty but pricey sun dried tomatoes. I got the original recipe from that great book I told you about “Vegan on the Cheap” but I made some tweaks to it to add a bit more flavor. Here we go!

Here’s what you need:

6 ripe Roma Tomatoes, halved lengthwise (I about 20 used cherry tomatoes instead because that is what I have in my garden)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 garlic cloves

Fresh thyme (optional)

 

Here’s what you do:

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. Place the tomatoes on a large cookie sheet, cut side down, drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roughly chop the garlic cloves and spread over the tomatoes, if using the fresh thyme pull it off its stem and sprinkle all over the tomatoes.

Bake for about 5 hours if using Roma tomatoes and about 3.5 if using cherry tomatoes, until they have shrunk to about half their original size.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let cool for about 30 minutes. Use your hand to remove their skins. The tomatoes can be left whole and stored in a zip-lock bag or chopped and placed into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. If desired pour enough oil over the tomatoes to cover and close the lid tightly. Store the tomatoes in the refrigerator. Properly stored, the tomatoes will keep for several weeks.

Have fun trying it yourself, I hope to hear from you soon and happy cooking!

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