"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." - La Rochefoucauld


Friday, April 30, 2010

Herb Burgers

These burgers are juicy, and the vegetables and seasoning make it a more interesting meal! If you want to change it up even more, you can top the burgers with Monterey Jack cheese and sour cream.

I wasn't not really sure what to call the recipe. Herb Burger doesn't really cover it, but it's the best I could come up with. Any ideas for a better recipe title? I'd love to hear it!

Herb Burgers

Servings: 4
Total Cost: $6 - 8
Reheat Factor: 3/5 -- Like most burgers, it's better the first day.
Freezer Factor: Unknown. I've never frozen a burger.

(1 Not in Pantry)

1 pound ground beef (I use ground sirloin.)
1 medium tomato diced
1/2 cup black olives diced
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
4 hamburger buns

1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Form mixture into 4 patties.
3. Grill about 4 minutes per side.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Breaded Italian Chicken

I don't think I have ever come across a simpler, more delicious recipe than Breaded Italian Chicken. A friend passed it along in college, and I've been making it ever since. It's great to eat on its own or chopped up in a salad or creamy pasta.

Breaded Italian Chicken

Servings: 5
Total Cost: $5 - 8
Reheat Factor: 4/5 -- It definitely is best the first day, but it reheats alright.
Freezer Factor: 2/5 -- The recipe is so easy that I wouldn't recommend it.
More about the Ratings.

(3 Not in Pantry)

1. Put the chicken breast in a plastic bag. Cover with Italian dressing until it is well-coated.
2. Put it in the fridge and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. (You can also do this overnight.)
3. When you are ready to cook it, coat the breasts with breadcrumbs. To do this, you can either throw it in a plastic bag with breadcrumbs and shake it. Or you can pour breadcrumbs onto a plate and lay the chicken in the breadcrumbs. Then turn it over to coat the other side.
4. Put it in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes at 375 degrees or until juice runs clear.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Food Finds: Week of April 24th

Here are a few recipes I discovered this week that are worth checking out!

Healthy Nachos from Angie's Healthy Living Blog
A really easy way to make this Mexican snack healthier!

Tri-Color Vegetable Risotto from Kitchen Daily
Portobello mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil? Yummy.

Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadilla from Lisa's Kitchen
The ingredient list is long, but the prep seems like it would be pretty easy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Avocado Frappe -- Why Won't These Damn Things Ripen?

Last week, my husband and I bought some avocados from the Farmer's Market in order to make fresh guacamole for an event happening a few days later. Wow, what a stupid idea. The avocados were still as hard as a rock by the time the event rolled around, so we had to run to the grocery store to buy ripe avocados for the gathering.

Since we were left with three avocados and no plan for them, I scoured the internet for an interesting avocado recipe, discovered Avocado Frappe, and made a few changes. We have all the ingredients required already, so it was really easy to throw together.

Avocado Frappe

Servings: 5
Total Cost: $3 - 4
Reheat Factor: N/A -- Served cold!
Freezer Factor: 3/5 -- I'm sure it freezes alright, but part of what makes it so delicious is how fresh it tastes.
More about the Ratings.

(2 Not in Pantry)

2 avocados
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch salt
3 cups milk
1 tbsp sugar

Peel avocados and remove the pits. Cut flesh into chunks.
Put all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.
Pour into dish, cover, and refrigerate. Serve chilled. Garnish with avocado slices if desired.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quick Tip: Save Money and Time for Ground Meat Recipes

The next time you're in the store and see a sale on extra lean ground meat, purchase several pounds. 

Cook up all the ground meat and drain it. Then divide it into several freezer containers and freeze.

Then, when you're ready to cook a recipe that calls for ground meat, simply unthaw in the microwave for a faster, cheaper meal.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dipping Sauces for French Fries

My husband is a HUGE french fry fan, so we decided to make our own healthier version at home. One of our favorite preprepared fries to buy is the Chipotle Ranch BBQ fries at Trader Joes, so I scoured the internet for a comparable recipe. We weren't sure if it would taste the same, but we're gave it a go.  It was pretty different but delicious! So was the honey mustard recipe we tried. (The French Fry recipes were not that great, so I won't share those.)

But here are the dipping sauces:

Chipotle Ranch BBQ Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup barbeque sauce, whatever's left at the bottom of the jar
1/4 cup ranch dressing (eyeball it)
1 chipotle in adobo, seeded and chopped (optional)

Source: RachaelRay.com

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup prepared Dijon-style mustard
1/2 cup honey

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Food Finds: Week of April 17th

Cheese is the unintentional theme of my food finds this week!

Meyer Lemon Pesto and Feta Cheese Pasta with Shrimp from Closet Cooking
Pesto, shrimp, and feta cheese -- how can this not be delicious? I'm not sure what a meyer lemon is, but I'm willing to find out in order to make this recipe.

Veggie Frittata from Hey, What's for Dinner, Mom
Another recipe with feta! With only two ingredients not in my pantry, this meatless recipe seems like a quick, easy, and delicious dinner.

Mexican Pizza from For the Love of Cooking
This recipe looks like a yummier, and way healthier version of the Taco Bell treat.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Green Bean Casserole (without Canned Soup!)

For Easter, I ALMOST made green bean casserole, but I thought the recipes I wanted to try might be too heavy along with my planned multiple-course meal. During my casserole journey, I found an interesting history of the traditional cream of mushroom soup version of this dish on Random Musing of a Deco Lady that's worth a read. I also found a recipe on Frugal Gourmom that intrigued me, so I decided to give it a go as a meal this week! We forgot to purchase the bacon, but it was still absolutely delicious! I highly recommend it.

I'll post the ingredients here and my usual ratings, just so you're hooked, but you'll have to go to her blog to get the full recipe.

Not Your Mama's Green Bean Casserole

Servings: 8 (We halved it.)
Total Cost: $6 - 8
Reheat Factor: 5/5 - Just as good the next day!
Freezer Factor: Unknown
More about the Ratings.

(6 not in Pantry)

2 bags of frozen green beans (I used fresh green beans.)
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 hefty tbsp of kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 small sweet onion, diced finely
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups of 2% milk
1 lb of crispy bacon, cooked & drained
1 bag/container of French Fried Onions
1 cup of shredded mozzarella
1 cup of shredded colby/jack

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Black Bean and Salsa Soup

Like the Pineapple Chicken recipe, this is great because there is no prep work and all the ingredients are easy to store in your pantry until you need a quick meal. When you buy the salsa, I recommend that you look at the label to find one without High Fructose Corn Syrup.

On occasion, we've added crunched tortilla chips on top or even eaten it a little like a bean dip.

Black Bean and Salsa Soup

Servings: 4
Total Cost: $4
Reheat Factor: 5/5 - Just as good the next day!
Freezer Factor: 4/5 - But the recipe is so fast to make, I don't recommend it.

(3 Not in Pantry)

2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup chunky salsa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion (optional)

1. In a food processor or blender, combine beans, broth, salsa, and cumin.
2. Blend until fairly smooth.
3. Heat the bean mixture in a saucepan over medium heat until thoroughly heated.
4. Ladle soup into bowls, and top each bowl with 1 tablespoon of the sour cream (and 1/2 tablespoon green onion if you have them.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Split Pea Soup -- Great for Easter Ham Leftovers!

Not a huge fan of green peas? Me either. But that doesn't stop me from LOVING split pea soup. It's more like a bean soup than a pea soup. In fact, "split peas" look very different from the normal round green peas that come to mind.

Split Pea Soup

Servings: 8
Total Cost: $4 - 10 (depending on if you have leftover ham or not)

Reheat Factor: 5/5
Freezer Factor: 5/5 - You may want to add a little water before reheating.

(4 Not in Pantry)

1 package (16 oz) green split peas
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 small carrots, chopped
1/2 cube chicken bouillon (or a can of chicken broth)
Leftover Easter ham
Salt and pepper

1. Sort and rinse the split peas.
2. In a large pot, add the chopped onion, minced garlic clove, and c and one crushed
garlic, and the carrots.
3. Cook for a minute, and the add the peas.
4. Cover with 6 to 8 cups of water. Add 1/2 cube of chicken bouillon. (Alternately, you can use 2 cups of chicken broth -- just reduce the amount of water.)
5. Add the leftover ham in one piece.
6. Bring the water to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Salt and pepper to taste.
8. Remove ham from pot and cut into small pieces.
9. Return the ham to pot and cook for another 2 minutes.
10. Add more water if necessary.

Source: My Mom

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Food Finds: Week of April 10th

Here are a few recipes I found this week while searching the food blogosphere that I found interesting:

Tomato and Feta Baked Egg from Closet Cooking
Eggs poached in a tomato feta sauce. How do you poach an egg? I have no idea, but this recipe looks so yummy that I might have to learn.

Fruity Sauteed Chicken from Within the Kitchen
This recipe was "kid-approved." That's always a good sign. I was also drawn to the recipe because it is SUPER easy to make with few ingredients.

Guilt-Free Potato Chips from Cooking from Scratch
Um, yes! I think the recipe title says it all.

I'd love to hear about any recipes you discovered on the internets this week and your favorite food blogs! Share in the comments.

Friday, April 9, 2010

How to Eat Seasonably - A Calendar!

If you eat fruits and veggies that are in season, you can save money, eat yummier food, and make less of a negative impact on the Earth.

The problem? Unless you're a farmer, who knows what's in season?

Enter the Eat Seasonably calendar! On the website, you can select a fruit or vegetable to see when its in season -- or you can download a poster for your records.

If that doesn't seem accurate for the food at your farmer's market, try looking for a harvest calendar for your area. I found this great list for Southern California and this map for the rest of the US.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Butter Sauce

I pretty much love eating anything that I can dip in butter, so artichoke is high on my preferred vegetables list. A bonus, these veggies are high in cynarin, which lowers cholesterol, promotes good digestion, and is great for the liver and gallbladder.

Steaming these veggies is an easy and healthy option. Since the cooking method involves little water, the artichoke retains more nutrients.

Today I think I'm going to try a simple lemon butter sauce to go with it, just for something a little different.

Steamed Artichokes

Servings: Depends on the number and size of the artichokes
Total Cost: $1 - 3
Reheat Factor: 0/0
Freezer Factor: 0/0

(1 Not in Pantry)

1 Clove of Garlic
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

1. Trim and rinse the artichoke. Cut the top of each artichoke leaf, cut off the base, and remove outer leaves if they look old.

2. In a large pot, add an inch or two of water, a clove of garlic, and lemon juice (or a slice of lemon.) Insert the steaming basket.

3. Place the artichokes in the steamer, tips up. Cover and cook for 25 - 40 minutes.

4. Make sure you can easily pull out the inside leaves, and cut into the base of each artichoke to check if they are soft. If not, cook them longer, checking about every 5 minutes or so.

5. Drain artichokes upside down on a paper towel.

6. Dip them in butter sauce and eat. (Not sure how to eat the leaves? Check this out.)

Simple Lemon Butter Sauce

(0 Not in Pantry)

1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp lemon juice
pepper to taste

1. Mix the ingredients together.
2. Serve!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Basil Appetizer (& How to Store Basil)

This is one of my favorite summer snacks! It's fast, light, inexpensive, and yummy.

Servings: 4
Total Cost: $3 - 4
Reheat Factor: 0/5
Freezer Factor: 0/5
More about the Ratings

(3 Not in Pantry)

8 oz. Mozzarella (fresh is best!)
2 Tomatoes
Fresh basil
Olive oil

1. Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes.
2. Wash the basil, and remove several big leaves.
3. Alternate slices of tomato, mozzarella, and the basil leaves.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Salt to taste.
4. Serve at room temperature.

Tip for Storing Fresh Basil -- for Weeks!

Don't store basil in the refrigerator, because it will spoil faster. If you've purchased freshly cut basil, treat it like you would a bouquet of flowers. Create a mini vase of sorts by filling a glass with water. Make sure only the stems are covered and change the water occasionally. Using this storage method, basil can sometimes last weeks -- it may even develop roots! Cutting the stem regularly can also help the basil to stay fresh longer.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Trial and Error: What To Do If You Don't Have a Grill

A few ago, my husband and I planned to make a pork recipe we hadn't tried before for dinner. We had all the ingredients out and were ready to go, when we realized that it needed to marinate for 6 hours before cooking. Doh!

So we made the marinade and put it away in the fridge for the next day. Instead, we had a really wonderful salad with fingerling potatoes, bacon, and an easy, homemade vinaigrette.

Then, the next night, we resumed the pork recipe's preparation... only to realize that it asked you to grill the tenderloin. We do have a grill in the pool area of our condo, but it seemed like way too much effort for the meal.

Instead, we broiled the seasoned tenderloin, which was cut in one inch cubes, for about 15 minutes. This seemed to work well, even though we ended up not being big fans of the marinade.

Lessons learned? Read -- or at least skim -- the whole recipe before you plan to make it. And if you need to use an alternate cooking method, check the internet for approximate cooking time.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Dinner Menu & Recipes

For big holiday meals, I like to throw away the idea of "cooking fast" and enjoy making the best meal I can. However, since I'm still learning how to juggle cooking multiple items at the same time, I like throwing some simple recipes into the mix, so I don't overload myself.

Here's my Easter Plan, including my shopping list, preparation plan, and all the recipes I'm attempting!

The Menu

Appetizer: Deviled Eggs
Main Meal: Ham
Sides: Carrot Patties, Strawberry & Spinach Salad
Dessert: Easter Egg Dipper Rice Crispy Treats

The Cooking Plan

Saturday Afternoon
- Go to the grocery store to pick up ingredients.
- Hard boil the eggs and store them in the fridge.
- Make Easter Egg Dipper Treats.

Sunday Morning
- Trip to the Farmers Market to pick up fresh veggies.
- Make the carrot patty batter.
- Make the ham glaze.
- Make the salad dressing.
- Devil the eggs.
- Wash the spinach.
- Wash and chop the strawberries.

Sunday Afternoon
- Cook spinach.
- Cook the ham.
- After I remove the ham from the oven, fry up the carrot patties.
- Eat!

Farmers Market Shopping List
1 pound carrots, grated
2 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
4 cups sliced strawberries

Grocery Store Shopping List
12 eggs
1 (10 ounce) package regular marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels or milk chocolate morsels
5 teaspoons shortening
Multi-colored sprinkles

Items I Already Have
bread crumbs
garlic cloves
all-purpose flour
poppy seeds
sesame seeds
vegetable oil
white wine vinegar
white sugar

The Recipes

Deviled Eggs

8 eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
1 tsp paprika
1 garlic clove, minced (This is the first time that I'm adding this! We'll see how it goes.)
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons water

To Hard Boil the Eggs:
1. Place eggs in large sauce pan, and cover them with about an inch of water.
2. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat.
3. Cover and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from hot water. Rinse eggs under cold running water to cool them faster.
5. Drain and peel the eggs.
6. Halve lengthwise

To Devil the Eggs:
1. Halve the eggs lengthwise and scoop out the yolks.
2. In a bowl, combine the yolks, mayo, mustard, paprika, and minced garlic clove.
3. If it isn't smooth, add 1 - tablespoons of water.
4. Enjoy!

Stuffed Baked Ham


5 lb boneless ham
5 oz. frozen, chopped spinach
Half of an onion, chopped
One clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Glaze Ingredients

1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp of dry ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
2. Cook the spinach according the to package. Add salt to taste. Drain well.
3. Fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add to spinach. Mix.
4. Using a sharp knife, slice two cavities into the top of the ham.
5. Press the spinach into the cavities to stuff the ham.
6. Put the ham in the oven for one hour.
7. Mix the glaze ingredients together. Set aside.
8. After the ham has cooked for an hour, remove it from the oven and baste with the glaze.
9. Put it back in the over for another 30 minutes.
10. Remove from the oven, and let the ham cool for 20 minutes.
11. Enjoy!

Source: My Mom

Carrot Patties


1 pound carrots, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup bread crumbs or matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the grated carrots, garlic, eggs, flour, bread crumbs, salt and black pepper; mix well.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
3. Make the mixture into patties, and fry until golden brown on each side.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad


2 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
4 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1. In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and strawberries.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds.
3. Pour over the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.

Easter Egg Dipper Treats


3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 (10 ounce) package regular marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels or milk chocolate morsels
5 teaspoons shortening
Multi-colored sprinkles


1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat.
2. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
3. Add Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until well coated.
4. Using 1/4-cup measuring cup coated with cooking spray divide warm cereal mixture into portions.
5. Using buttered hands shape each portion into 2 1/2- x 1 1/2-inch egg shapes. (Or, coat insides of plastic snap-apart Easter eggs with cooking spray. Press cereal mixture into eggs. Remove cereal mixture from plastic eggs.) Cool.
6. In small saucepan combine chocolate morsels and shortening.
7. Cook over low heat until melted, stirring constantly.
8. Dip bottoms of cereal eggs into chocolate. Decorate with sprinkles.
9. Place on wax-paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm.