Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Plan Update

This was an interesting week for me. I went to a birthday dinner, and got an $11 entree (and water). I figured this was going to put me way over budget, giving me grocery money of $8.88 for the next week (from the 12 cents of last week plus the dollar over the $10). But as an awesome matter of circumstance, I didn't actually pay for my meal. It was kind of neat eating out at a restaurant. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed doing stuff like that. One negative byproduct of doing a highly restrictive food budget is that unless you exempt eating out (which I don't), it's very isolating. Most of the time when my friends want to go out for dinner or do something that ultimately winds up resulting in eating out (such as going to the movies; because really, who goes to the movie and doesn't get popcorn?) I can't go. Well, I could, but then I couldn't buy food that week. It's a downside that anyone on a restrictive food budget is aware of, and I'm not convinced that outside circumstances of necessity (i.e., you really only CAN afford to eat for the week on a highly restrictive budget), it's a good way to go. It's not part of my rules currently, but I think the next time I do a challenge of this sort, I might allow myself two meals a month of eating out. That way I could do fun things with my friends too. Anyway, I had these amazing chimichangas. My plate came with 2 (who can eat two?) of them, once with a spicy-ish chipotle sauce and one with a tangy green sauce. I enjoyed them both, but I liked the green one better. Everyone I convinced to sample my food seemed to enjoy it as well (also with a preference for the green one). Had we not been going bar-hopping directly following the meal, I would have taken my leftovers home with me. You all know how much I hate wasting food. I also enjoyed most of the foods I sampled from other people's plates as well. All in all, it was a great time and it totally would have been worth it to go way over budget to participate in the birthday festivities.

You saw all the things I went through last week, and since I've been making food faster than I can post it (since I so dislike making more than one post per day), your viewing of my eating is actually a little bit behind. So, where we're at right now is that for the most part, what you see one week is actually what I ate the previous week. Unless I start subsisting on frozen shells and things I've posted in the past, it'll probably be like that for a little while. Hope you guys don't mind.

In terms of freezer progress, I've eaten some of the shells in the freezer and added some cheese breads to it (uncooked - freeze the dough and cook it from frozen). The mangoes I thawed went back into the freezer and then later into a smoothie (my blender is back from vacation!!!!!!!) and I really enjoyed it. That also used up the remainder of the almond milk in the fridge.

I took the Velveeta (gross; how is it I had that to begin with, when I know I don't even like "processed cheese food?") out of the freezer in order to make queso (not gross) and made pita chips to dip in it. This queso is my pedestrian recreation of Magnolia's Mud. It worked out pretty well, though it wasn't exactly the same.

I still haven't made the cocktail onions I intended to use the whole, frozen onions for, so I guess it's a good thing I've yet to thaw them. I'll get to it eventually, I'm sure. And, I still have corn and peas. Oh yeah, also about 4 cups of pumpkin mash. I might just thaw some and eat it (with Francis) plain. In terms of fruit, nothing has really changed in this area. The orange juice is still in the freezer, so I haven't needed that. I'm still torn as to whether I want to use that bag of mixed fruits to make a pie (which has the side benefit of using up the frozen pie crust), for smoothies or just to eat by itself. I portioned out some of the curd and froze it. I'm strongly considering adding it to a modified pancake batter and making pancakes. It's so delicious, but so gross to look at. For meats, I used a chicken breast. I think I have 4 or 5 left. Still got the sausage, some bacon (though I used some of that), the salt pork and the tilapia.

I've still got 3 kinds of pickles left: slices, klaussen halves and the Arabic pickles. I haven't eaten up all the olives yet, nor the makdous (isn't my restraint impressive?). I am, however, going through those pickled banana peppers like wildfire. They seem to be on my shopping list nearly every week. I can't stop eating them. I guess that's not too bad, since there's a massive amount of flavour to be added to everything imaginable, for the low-low cost of $1.39. Not bad at all, really.

I think I've reached the point in my freezer purging where everything is going to disappear in the span of a week or two, or where I move along at a snail's pace. I'm just not pulling things from it quickly anymore. I'm not sure if that's because I'm not particularly interested in what's left in there, or because I'm preserving it. It's hard to say, since it's most likely a combination of the two possibilities. I'm just not self-aware enough to know for sure. Additionally, I seem to be adding leftovers to the freezer which is less than optimal. I mean, it's great for days I don't feel like cooking, but it's not great for purging the freezer.

Anyway, that's my progress. On to the spending!

It occurred to me that sometimes my grocery store purchases seem really disjointed and random. A wonderful benefit of having been a long term food storer (hoarder?), and one that really is necessary for making a highly restrictive food budget work, is that I am really good at looking ahead. I know pretty much all the time what food is in my house (well, at least the part I'm allowed to use), and I also know what I'm getting low on but don't really need at the moment. So if I have room in the budget, I buy the things that I know will be needed around the bend so I don't put myself in a situation where I didn't shop "because I didn't need anything," only later to go over my budget because I ran out of a bunch of stuff at once. That's pretty much what happened this week. Aside from some sort of snack food (and probably more banana peppers), I didn't need a single thing. So I decided to get things I knew I'd be out of in the relatively near future. I only had enough matzot to get me through this week, and maybe (but unlikely) next week, so that went on the list. I only had 5 cans of tuna left (I don't know why there were five since I mostly use tuna in pairs of cans, not singles), so that went on the list too. And I've only got enough bread flour left for either a large batch of bread or a batch of pizza crust (I think we all know what I'll use it on). So that was on the list too.

When I got to the store, I could've bought matzot and bread flour, bread flour and a snack item (Triscuits, in this particular case), or matzot and a snack item. In the end, I decided that since I've probably got 3-4 pounds of all-purpose flour left, and I've been replacing some of my normal flour with whole wheat, that I may as well just leave the flour for another week. So that's what I did.

This week I spent:

Banana peppers: $1.39
Avocado: $0.50
Tuna (2): $1.24
Matzot: $3.69
Triscuits: $2.75

Total: $9.57

That puts me completely back on track, so I'll actually get the full $10 next week. I was curious how much I've actually spent on food since I started this challenge (because I figured I should've spent $90, if I'm correct on how long I've been doing this), so I tallied it up for us. I think I'll do this weekly now, so we have an accurate measure of what's happening here.

Total spending during challenge: $92.24/$88.24

That total includes the $4 kraut mishap, and I think we decided to leave that off since I didn't know Wal-Mart would fix it next time I came in. So really, the spending total is $88.24. So I'm a little under budget. I might see if I can make up the $2.24 just in the interest of curiousity, but if I don't, so be it. I'm not going to sweat it since according to the rules, I'm really $1.76 under budget for the time being.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

BPT Sandwich

You have no idea what that is, do you? Don't feel bad. I didn't either, until I made it up. It's a bacon, pita and tuna sandwich. If you think bacon with tuna salad is weird, you are not alone. Everyone seems to think it's weird until they eat it. But really, they're perfect together. Anyway, I have all this "new" pita, so I didn't see the point in taking normal bread out of the freezer when I could just make a tasty wrap instead. So that's what I did. Hope you enjoy!

1 pita
1 line of mustard (or I guess mayo if you're into that sort of thing)
3/4 cup tuna salad
1-3 slices of bacon (your call; I went with 1 slice this time, but sometimes I like as many as 3 slices of bacon per sammie)
handful banana peppers (optional)
cheese (optional)

Lay out the pita. Put the tuna salad along the middle. Top with the line of mustard, then add the bacon and banana peppers. Roll up, like a wrap or like a burrito. Eat. Serves 1.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuna and White Bean Salad

As I'd mentioned Saturday, I still had some beans left to eat, and that I intended to put them together with the tuna salad I wanted to make (the same salad, by the way, that caused me to go over budget). So, here we are. Makin' tuna salad. I did this one a little differently than I normally would, because I didn't want to lose the specialness of the beans in there. If that makes sense. I don't really know how better to express my thoughts on the whole, beans and tuna combination. Mostly, I excluded the majority of the spices I normally put into tuna salad, and swapped them out for the beloved za'atar blend. It perfectly accented the flavours in the salad. And, for those of you who don't think mayonnaise is disgusting and should only be used as a binder, feel free to increase the amount in there. Hope you enjoy!

2 cans tuna (I use water packed), drained
1 cup cooked white beans
1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 pickle, finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 tablespoon creole mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon za'atar seasoning
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all together. Chill, then eat on bread or with a spoon. Makes about 3 cups.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pão de Queijo

Okay, okay. I made the cheese breads. As promised. Here is the link to the recipe I used, but I will, of course, repost it here, as per usual (with my changes in italics, also as per usual). These things are just awesome. They chewy and happy and nutty and cheesy and just.. well, they just make me smile. Once they're baked, that is. Not while I'm making the dough. It's actually kind of difficult to stir the dough together, and I think the first time I made them I nearly had a bubble-over in the saucepan.

Anyway, you need to make these. They don't require any particularly hard-to-find ingredients, and it's totally acceptable to use the cheap, green can cheese. I've done it with high quality cheese and with cheap and it doesn't make a bit of difference. Hope you enjoy!

"1 cup each: water, milk (I used almond milk this time)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 package (450 grams) tapioca starch (Goya makes this and it's sold in the ethnic aisles of most stores)
2-3 eggs
200 grams parmesan cheese

Bring the water, milk, salt and oil to a boil. Remove from heat (do this! don't forget!) and add tapioca. Stir with a wooden spoon until fully integrated and let cool. Put it in a bowl, and add the eggs then knead the eggs in. Knead in the cheese, kneading until it's completely smooth. Roll 1 tablespoon of mixture into small balls. Tip: Grease your hands with oil before making the balls (she means this part pretty seriously too). Wash your hands once in a while if necessary. Place the balls on a baking tray greased with oil or lined with baking paper (I prefer to grease a mini muffin pan and put one ball in each muffin cup). Bake the cheese rolls in hot oven (350 degrees) for about 20 minutes or until golden brown (sometimes these don't get quite crispy enough on the outside, so sometimes I do them at 375; the insides should be soft and the outsides crispy-ish). Put the cheese rolls in a basket and serve them warm.

Remarks:

* This recipe makes about 70 small cheese rolls.
* Tapioca starch can be found in Asian grocery stores. It comes in a clear plastic bag and the standard pack has 450 grams. (The Goya brand is usually 650 grams or something like that, so you'll either want to buy this at an Asian grocer or break out your scale; I break out my scale)
* Brazilians usually knead the dough by hand. It’s really hard work. I prefer to use a mixer to knead the dough. I do it by hand but I understand completely why she uses a machine. It really is quite a pain to do by hand, though it's great exercise if you're into that sort of thing (which I am not).
* “Pão de queijo” can be served as an appetizer or snack. Or a meal by itself.
* “Pão de queijo” can be frozen and baked directly from the freezer. Tip: Place the cheese rolls on a tray lined with baking paper. Put the tray in the freezer. When the cheese rolls are frozen, put them in a plastic bag and put them back in the freezer. I do it this way. I bake about a dozen at a time, since they're tastiest fresh and I keep all the rest in the freezer until I'm ready to bake them.
* You can find "pão de queijo" mix (Yoki) in Brazilian supermarkets. It's very practical and convenient for those people who don't have time or don't like cooking. I have this, but I don't speak Portuguese, so I can't read the instructions. I'm told the mix is great though, by those who've used it. If anyone can translate the package for me, please say so and I will happily type it out for you.
* "Pão de queijo" is gluten-free."

Monday, July 26, 2010

White Bean Pizza

Oh, the last of the white beans. How did I want to use them? I had a lot of ideas, but I'd already made pizza crust which meant for two days I would be eating pizza. As you might guess, I am not complaining about this fact. I would've used canellini beans, but they're in the Cave so technically I don't own them right now. Instead, I used the last of the navy/great-notherns/what-ever-they-actually-are. Now I have to decide if I am going to buy more white beans, or forgo this in favour of the beans I already have in the kitchen. I've got appaloosa, Anasazi, lima, black, pinto, adzuki, pinto and cagamananto. Possibly some other kinds, but these are the ones I'm aware of having. So I probably shouldn't buy more white beans. But I still might.

Anyway, I digress. I used the same pizza dough recipe that's on the fridge - the one I normally tell you to use. But since P is gone, I swapped a third of the flour for whole wheat flour (see? I'm trying to use some of the flours in the freezer; I really am!) since there's no one to complain about whole wheat breads. Then of course sauce, and beans, and I added some pickles and the last of the feta to the mix. It seemed like a good match. Hope you enjoy!

1/2 recipe pizza dough
3/4 cup pizza sauce (or whatever sauce you like to use)
1 cup cooked white beans
1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts
2-3 sliced, rehydrated (or not) sun-dried tomatoes
1-ish cup pizza cheese
1/2 cup feta
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup caramelized onions
1/2 cup banana peppers (c'mon, did you think I'd leave 'em out?)

Heat your oven to the hottest temperature possible. Shape dough (i.e., roll out or press out w/ hands), then top with garlic and sauce. Add beans, pizza cheese, tomatoes, artichokes, banana peppers and feta (I was going to mention to layer them all on in that order, but then I forgot to do it myself). Bake 5 minutes, then turn 180 degrees, then bake another 5 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting. Serves 2.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Plan Update

This week was pretty good for me, in terms of using things up. I used up the blueberries (as you saw), and so my frozen fruit supply is dwindling. That's good; it means I'm making lots of progress there. I've still got the cranberries, the mango (which I just thawed, either to eat by itself or for mango muffins for my study group this afternoon), the mixed fruit bag, bananas and lemon rinds. I feel pretty comfortable with the way this has gone. However, it turned out I have quite a lot of canned fruit (I had completely forgotten how delicious canned pineapple is, by the way). Which I'm fine with, since I probably will not buy tons of fresh fruit as a result. Totally different animals, but that's okay. I put some fruit in the freezer, in the form of the grapefruit curd and blueberries. There's so much of it that there's no way I'll eat it all before it goes bad. So I portioned it out and froze the portions, leaving enough in the fridge for me to munch on during this coming week.

In terms of the frozen veggies, I have plans for the whole onions this week (but as per usual, we'll see how my motivation levels look later on), and so I have pumpkin, peas and corn left to use. Not bad, not bad.

I used some whole wheat flour, which you saw already, and I made the dough for the Brazilian breads, though I haven't actually baked any yet. The flour "stared" at me every time I walked in the kitchen because I finally measured out what I needed, so there was an open bowl of flour on the counter. Isn't that lovely? Turned out I had the exact amount of tapioca for two batches of the breads, but I only make one.

I cooked up the last of the white beans, so that's something. I have a bit of them left to eat, so I think they'll go into a tuna salad. I'm still good on other kinds of beans, lentils, and assorted grains. I don't have any millet, which I really wish I had, but that's okay. Why I'm craving millet is beyond me.

I also used up all of the egg whites in the freezer, so that's good (my intention was to make something nice with them, but in reality I put some in my matzot brei and I fried the rest since it occurred to me I like fried egg whites with salt and pepper). Also, the hot dogs got thawed and eaten (which you already know). I haven't used any of the other meats, but that's quite alright. Oh, and I used the last of the frozen pizza sauce. So there's that. Additionally, one of the two jars of yeast in the freezer is nearly empty, which means I've been baking, at least a little bit. So that's good too. And all the hamburger buns in the freezer have now been used up. Some with hot dogs, and some eaten by Francis in the form of his beloved peanut butter sandwiches. I still have about a half loaf of bread to eat that's in there. Additionally, some of the pitas I bought this week will probably make it into the freezer in the next day or two, since it appears they'll go bad before I'm actually done eating them.

This week was by far the most difficult for me, in terms of shopping. I was out of olives, so I decided I'd do my weekly shopping at Phoenicia this time. Scary. Normally I can't make it out of there for under $60, especially when faced with the olive bar. However, I knew they sell cans of those delicious, buttery Israeli olives, and I wanted them. Also, I wanted some more pita bread. Or another kind of Arabic bread. I didn't really care which, and my choice was going to be made based on which one I could get the most of for the least amount of money, since they always make all the breads fresh there, I wasn't constrained by flavour/staleness issues. I want to be able to make more pita nachos, makdous sandwiches and other assorted treats of that type. Plus, I was thinking the upcoming tuna-bean salad would be good as a wrap. But still. This place is like a treasure trove of everything I could possibly have a food fantasy about. Everything. It's pretty easy to stick to a budget when there's nothing to be surprised and delighted by the presence of. There, they have all my favourite dried fruits, fresh fruits, veggies, breads, pastries, cheeses, yogurt, drinks, olives, beans, grains, canned delights... Everything. I could live in that store for years without ever yearning for daylight.

So, anyway. You can see why I was a little nervous about going. I simply didn't trust myself in this store, and it's fair not to have trusted myself. It took an iron will to get out of there without spending the budget for the rest of the summer. But I was pretty good. I had a list, and I aimed to stick to it. I did touch everything in the store, and I spent a really long time peering at the lamb hearts, but ultimately I passed them by (seriously, when I'm looking at organ meat with extreme longing, I really do need to focus on increasing the fat in my diet). I also paused at the olive bar, but the smell was overwhelmingly delightful so I wandered off before I broke down and bought everything.

This week, it finally happened. I managed to go a full 8 (?) weeks without going over budget, but this week did me in. Had I not made that rule that I didn't get to carry forward any unspent monies from week to week (which is not a rule I'd have if I truly could only afford $10/week instead of doing this as a pantry/freezer cleaning exercise and means of conserving savings), I wouldn't have gone over. Not by a long shot. But because I have that rule, I did. Basically what happened is that I went to Phoenicia, bought my groceries, left, traveled through the rivers that used to be roads (I mean that literally; the streets were SO flooded when I did my shopping), and remembered I'd forgotten I needed a bell pepper. But I only have $0.38 left to spend. So, I went to Fiesta and got one, and it put me over. By 12 cents. That is lame. I think if I was going to fail a week, I should've failed it big (i.e., with the addition of junk food), not by a few pennies. But, it still means I only get $9.88 for next week. On the plus side, I didn't buy any junk food this week.

So here's what I spent:

Phoenicia:

20 ounce can of olives - $1.99
23 ounce can of pickles - $1.89
Celery - $0.69
Red onions (2) - $0.56
Ginger root (.59 pound; I wanted to make crystallised ginger and ginger ale-ish drink, which I actually managed to do with half the ginger) - $0.88
Ricotta salata (0.5288 pounds) - $2.11
9 loaves large pita - $1.50

Total: $9.62

Fiesta:

1 bell pepper - $0.50

Total $0.50

Grand total: $10.12

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Grapefruit and Blueberry Bowls

You guys wondered what was going to happen with that grapefruit curd, didn't you? I fretted for a while over what to do with it, but happily, curd lasts ages in the fridge so you have time to think about it. Initially, I was going to make little mini tarts with it. But the texture was off a little and I thought it'd be rude to serve those to people. Bringing oddly textured curd to class isn't going to be helping my grade any, I'm quite sure. ;)

At the end of the day, I decided to pretend it was yogurt. It doesn't have the same texture as yogurt, so that's not why. But what it does have, is breakfast appeal. I figured I could load myself up on curd in the morning before class, and then I might not be sleepy (thank you, sugar high) by the time class was over. Which means I'd get my studying done a lot sooner in the day than I previously had been. As I mentioned before, I thawed out all those yummy blueberries. Since they're in season, you should use fresh berries in your curd if it's within budget. But they're not in my budget, and I'm trying to use up the frozen fruit (did I mention I discovered a massive stock of canned fruit in the fruit bin of the fridge? Something else to think about). So frozen it was for me. Anyway, this is a pretty simple breakfast meal, and it follows the same principle as stirring some fruit into your yogurt. Hope you enjoy!

1 recipe grapefruit curd
1 1/2 - 2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries

Stir the berries into the curd. Put into little bowls for individual servings, or keep in one big bowl to serve family style. Serves 4-8.

This is not even remotely pretty, but it tastes good.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hot Dog Pizza

You can use proper sausage for this, and it might be better than what I made. I just didn't want to thaw my sausage and be left with no sausage for the rest of my summer budget stuff. Plus, the hot dogs were already thawed and I had one left. Woo! Anyway, most of the time I make pizzas that are a little more traditionally American in their style: sauce, extra cheese, etc. This is kind of a weird thing, but I was trying to stretch out the one remaining hot dog in the house. I thought about all the things I love about hot dogs: mustard, kraut, banana peppers, onions! Then I decided to put them all on a pizza because I knew it'd feed me for two meals (not to mention using some of the dough I'd made). It was either going to be really amazing, or really disgusting. It turned out far better than I thought it would. And it's super cheap to make. I really enjoyed how some of the mustard baked into the crust while other parts of the mustard stayed really soft. The dog drooled all over the floor while I was eating it, but as I told him, "onions." My only regret is that I didn't try hot dogs this way sooner. Hope you enjoy!

1/2 pizza dough recipe
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
1 hot dog, sliced
1/2 cup kraut
1 diced shallot (use onion if you actually have these)
1/4 cup banana peppers
sprinkle celery salt

Preheat the oven to the hottest temperature possible. Press/roll out your dough, then spread with the mustard. Top with hot dog slices, kraut, banana peppers and shallot. Sprinkle celery salt on top. Bake 5 minutes, then turn 180 degrees and bake another 5 minutes. Let rest 5-10 minutes before cutting. Serves 2.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pickled Foods and Feta Relish

I think I might have mentioned before that I have a lot of pickled foods in the house. I remembered that one of the things I have is a large jar of lupini beans. I love these things, but if you buy them in a jar, make sure you rinse them (or they taste a little funny). The bulk aisle prepared lupini always taste fine without rinsing them though. They always come with little membrane skins, so you'll want to take those off so you don't have to pull the skins out of your mouth as you're eating. Eventually you'll get a rhythm down and you'll stop seeing beans go flying all over the kitchen. Anyway, I wanted to mix some of these things up and put some cheese on them, for a "one stop shopping" kind of way to eat my pickles. Not only is this easy, but it also works really well on a hot summer day. It can be eaten as a salad, or works well to top other items with, when eaten as a relish. I ate it by itself, on top of hot dogs, and even as an accompaniment to the shells. As with everything, be flexible and let this work for you. If you're not a pickled beans kind of person, use something else. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup lupini beans, rinsed and skinned
1/2 cup olives (any kind, preferably pitted)
1 refrigerator-style pickle, chopped (I used Klaussen's here)
1/4 cup each: chopped banana peppers, artichoke hearts
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 tablespoon each: oil from artichoke hearts, brine from whichever of your pickles you find most flavourful
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon za'atar spice or any other bread dipping spice (optional)

Combine all the pickles and cheese. Whisk together oil, brine, salt, pepper and spice (if using). Fold into other ingredients, chill and eat by itself or use to top other things with. Makes approximately 2 or so cups.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Three Sisters Stuff Shells

As you all knew, I have a bunch of pumpkin in the freezer from last winter. I think in the future I might cut the pumpkin into cubes and store it that way, so it's a little more versatile than mashed pumpkin (which of course I could later mash if so inclined). I think I wind up hanging onto mash a lot longer than I would cubes because I really only use it for dog treats, muffins and shells/ravioli. I'm still working through that massive bag of corn, but I bought some ricotta as well (mainly because I knew I have a lot of pumpkin), so it seemed like maybe a little corn might be nice for texture. Which of course led me to beans, so I could have a 3 sisters shell. Since there was some cream cheese I knew was going to get wasted (since I haven't been buying or making bagels), I thought I'd toss that in too. Worked really well. You could make this into a full box of shells batch if you don't stuff them as much as I do. And, of course, I got to use up another bottle of pasta sauce. So all in all, it worked out well for me since the only thing in this meal that I had to buy for it was the ricotta. Also, it had the side benefit of ensuring I'd be able to participate this week in Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Janet at The Taste Space! Hope you enjoy!

8 ounces cream cheese
15 ounces ricotta
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon each: dried basil, aleppo pepper, sumac, salt, pepper
1 cup each: corn kernels (I used frozen), white beans (I cooked these until they were especially soft but still had a bit of bite left)
1/2 package jumbo shells
1 jar pasta sauce (I used fire roasted tomato and garlic)

Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to package directions and let cool enough to handle. Mix together cream cheese and pumpkin, then add ricotta and spices and mix thoroughly. Stir in corn and beans, then stuff mixture into the shells and put in an oil sprayed 13x9 pan. Pour sauce over and bake 1 hour. Serves 4-7.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chicago

I promised to tell you guys about what I ate in Chicago, but then I got caught up with homework and I totally forgot. So now I'll do so, though probably with less detail than if I'd done it immediately. I will, however, make sure to give you links to all the restaurants we ate at, where available.

When I first got there, my flight had been delayed several (yes, several) hours, so we went and dropped off my things then went to have Thai food at Star of Siam. The Mee Krob was amazing, the sauce being lighter than normal. I also had the #16, which was delicious and had just the right amount of spice. P had the #32, I believe, and it was also quite delicious, though it needed a touch more spice. Later, we swung by iCream and got custom-made ice creams. P had the green-tea and pear, with blackberries and blueberries in it, and I had the mango sorbet with blackberries and gummy bears. Their set-up is pretty neat, because you basically decide what you want, then using liquid nitrogen, they make it on the spot. P was entranced by the liquid nitrogen, I was entranced by their stool chairs, which may be the most perfect chair I have ever sat on in my entire life. I really, really want some of those for the house. I have never been so comfortable as I was in that chair. Want.

The next day, we went to Taste of Chicago. I ate a lot there, but my favourite things were some unusually cake-like beignets, a hot wing, an African stewed goat with a jambalaya-like side, and an African hisbiscus sorbet. Of those, the sorbet was the best and P didn't get to eat much of it. He was kind enough to encourage me to hog most of it. :) I would like to go to there, again and again. That sorbet was pure divinity. That being said, we ate so much stuff there that I honestly have forgotten the majority of it. We went through 60 tickets. In one day.

We also ate at a place called Marai for dinner. Hands down, this was the best sushi I've ever eaten, in any city. The focus was really on highlighting the beauty of each fish. And with each dish that was served, the waitress told us what the chef's preference was regarding how we ate it (most notably, no soy). I don't really know how to describe the food there, and honestly I believe that any attempt to do so would not do it justice, so please just go there if you're in Chicago.

The next day, we started with breakfast at Orange. P got the pancake flight, which is a set of 16 silver dollar sized pancakes, four in each flavour. Since I was there over 4th of July, they were in a red, white and blue them. I tasted some of the cream on one of his and it was awesome. When you order bacon there, they ask if you want it crispy or floppy. That's a nice touch I really appreciated. I had the #6 omelet, which was delicious. The only thing I didn't like about it was that the balsamic reduction was a touch too sweet for me, so I scraped most of it off. They make a pretty wide variety of customisable freshly squeezed juices. I got just plain watermelon juice. P got some other kind of juice that I no longer recall. I think he had 2-3 juices in his glass. The only downside of this place is that they have no cream cheese for your English muffins. But all in all, I'm willing to sacrifice a little cheese for a good quality breakfast/brunch. Later, we went to a pub called Hopleaf and had the CB&J sandwich, a wedge salad and the fish stew. Everyone, and I mean everyone, should eat that sandwich. I don't see why it'd be challenging to make at home (given a larger budget than mine, of course), and it's just wonderful. Their mac 'n' cheese was really good too. I'm not a huge mac 'n' cheese person, but I think I ate more of it than P did. The fish stew was really, really good. I would definitely eat it again. They'll keep bringing you bread if you want to keep mopping up the broth, too. And they have a pretty vast beer selection.

The last day, we went on a massive hunt for Italian beef sandwiches. The original intention was to eat at Al's Beef and at Mr. Beef. We ate at Al's, and while the sandwich was good, I thought the gardiniera could've had a little more kick to it. For some reason, it's really, really difficult to get spicy food in Chicago. I may have lived in Texas too long. We walked over to Mr. Beef, and they were CLOSED!! But then, on a recommendation of one of P's friends, we went to another place, far, far away called Buona's and had their sandwich (and a salad). It was by the far the best of the two and I would probably be really, really fat if they put one of those restaurants here in Houston. I could happily eat there every day. I might see about getting their sammies shipped to me. They ship them, though they're way out of my price range. Maybe someone will get me their sammies for my birthday next year. Or, just because. Next door to Buona's was a little Italian ice shop (who we'd sampled at Taste), Gina's. They make this phenomenal lemon ice where it's basically frozen lemonade but in the middle of it are chunks of lemons (with rinds). It was awesome contrasting the bitterness of the rind with the sweetness of the actual ice. We also tried the cherry one, but agreed it wasn't quite as good. For dinner, we went to Lou Malnati's for Chicago-style pizza, which is always full of win. We got the normal one (with sausage on it), but added garlic and mushrooms. We also had a salad there, which was good but not as good as the one we had earlier in the day. Small tip: if you get there and there's a wait (which it appears there will be), go ahead and order your pizza during the wait. They take 30 minutes to cook so you want to make sure you've ordered before you've been sat so the wait isn't a full hour.

I think that's everything we ate, though it's possible I missed something. One thing I noticed that I thought was really bizarre was that whenever we went out (like, out out, not just food out), you got one of two things: awesome service, or ... well, ignored. Like, standing at the bar with a twenty visibly in your hand and the bartender helps everyone but you ignored. It was bizarre. I'm so used to the Southern politeness it kind of blew me away. Thankfully, this only happened at 2 bars and so we left and simply took our monies over to people who wanted them instead.

It was a great trip, and my belly is still happy from all the things I filled it with.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Plan Update

I wound up with 9, count 'em, 9 Extra Care dollars this week. Which, naturally, I did not use to buy real food. Instead, I spent them ALL on junk food. Hopefully that'll last me a while. Because really, it's a lot. New rule: Even when I have lots of CVS monies, I am only allowed to buy one junk food item per week. Period. My junk food addiction is getting out of hand, and I might actually be eating more junk than real food, so limiting it is the newest change to my rules.

There wasn't anything I could think of off the top of my head that I needed to buy, so I decided to replace some things I was out of or running low on, this week. Naturally, I forgot I needed onions, so that's on my list for next week. Even though I had 40 cents to spare, you just never know with onions so I put it off. I found a couple shallots in the pantry, and I also have dried onions (not to mention some frozen whole onions) so I figured those could make up for the missing fresh ones. I'm also nearly out of celery, so that goes on next week's list. You guys know to wrap and store your celery in foil, right? It keeps it from getting limp for a really long time.

In terms of my progress, I think I've done pretty well. I used up some of the frozen fruit, mainly by eating it by itself. I have plans to make some tart(s) that will make use of the remaining frozen blueberries. We'll see if that really happens, but I did pull the blueberries from the freezer (the "we'll see" really comes down to how much self-control I have which might keep me from eating them by themselves). That leaves me, basically, with a little bit of frozen mango, a bag of frozen mixed fruit (which is delightful by itself once thawed), some frozen bananas and many, many bags of cranberries. Still. I'm not really sweating the cranberry thing, since I had a lot and I don't see any reason to be in a rush to go through those this far before Thanksgiving (when they're always on sale). Oh, and the lemon rinds. Of course. I always have lemon rinds in the freezer, it seems.

In terms of veggies in the freezer, I'm down to half a bag of corn, and half a bag of peas. I also have half a bag of whole onions. Plus a whole bunch (5 cups, I think) of pumpkin. Since I bought some ricotta, I'll make some pumpkin shells to use up some of that, which is always nice. There might be some cream cheese I can add to that as well, but I'll have to double-check.

In terms of meat, I have a sausage link left, a package of Hebrew Nationals (how I want to eat them now), bacon, salt pork, chicken and a couple filets of tilapia (which I realised the other day I've been misspelling for years. How embarrassing). The dogs bones, of course, are in the freezer too, but those belong to Francis and not me so I can't really count them. Oh yeah, plus the chorizo and the hamburger meat; I forgot about those since I didn't buy them for me. So I'm looking good on meat. For some reason, I want to eat it all, today. All the meat. I'm not really sure what the deal with that is, since I normally only have meat 1-2 times a week. But whatever.

I took the tapioca starch out of the freezer. Now I just need to convince myself to do the work involved in making those little breads. Did I post that recipe before? I can't remember. But I'll look, and if not I'll post it when I make it. It's not my recipe but it's most definitely worth making (despite all the work it is). The starch is on my counter, but I also have a big test on Monday, so... we'll see how it all works out. :) I still have all the special (including whole wheat) flours in the freezer, but I added brown rice to it. I ran out last week, but thought I should go ahead and grab that at the store and get it in there so if I want brown rice later I won't be out of it.

There's some miscellaneous stuff I'd like to use up soon. I have a whole bunch of egg whites, and I think I might make some meringues, but I don't know. It's always possible, of course, that I'll get tired of looking at them and make some weird egg white (mixed with real egg so it has flavour) omelet or something. With bacon. I need some more fat in my diet. I have a lot of lard and tallow in the fridge, which I haven't been using but which I will start using if I don't stop craving fat soon. I feel like I could eat a stick of butter by itself. Have you guys had this problem before? Even after I ate the sausage earlier in the week I still was craving it. Perhaps I need to wean myself off the chips so I can stop craving fat all the time. I have no idea, really.

Anyway, enough babble and onto the spending.

This week I spent:

At CVS:

1 bag cheese puffs: free
1 bag Doritos: free
1 bag Combos: free
1 box ACT microwave popcorn: free
1 box Junior Mints: free
1 box Lays cheese and chili flavour (NEW flavour!!!): free
1 bag Munchos: free

From Kroger:

18 eggs - $0.99
Banana peppers - $1.39
1 pound butter - $1.99
15-ounce container ricotta - $2.49
Orange juice - $1.15
2 pounds brown rice - $1.59

Total: $9.60

Friday, July 16, 2010

Food Waste Friday

I was poking about in my cheese drawer in the fridge, and I noticed something not good. As a result, this week I wasted:

1 small piece of cheese
1 serving of salad, which appears to have gone bad way before it was supposed to

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Grapefruit Curd

I managed to keep some grapefruits alive and well since... well, since they were in season. I accepted it was time to enjoy them, but I didn't want to just sit down and eat them. I wanted to make something more fun and delicious out of them, and it seemed to me that making a curd was the way to go with it. Plus, I could use that curd with those frozen blueberries and make some nice tarts out of them. That seemed really exciting to me! The upside of making curds is that when you have a lot of citrus, you can just make that and you can have some for now and save some for later. Which is what I did. It cans easily and isn't a lot of work to make, either. Hope you enjoy!

16 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
2-3 tablespoons finely grated zest
2 cups sugar
8 eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
16 tablespoons (1 cup) butter, cut into 1 tablespoon bits

Whisk all but butter into a saucepan. Begin to heat over medium low heat and add all the butter. Whisking periodically, cook until the whisk marks stay in the curd. Pack into sterilised jars (or you can just put this in a jar and put it in the fridge, if you don't want to can it) and process 15 minutes. Makes about 4 cups.

Mine came out looking really, really bizarre, so in lieu of taking a picture, I am just going to recycle a picture of another curd I've made (except this one is pinkish and not yellowish). :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sausage and Lima Beans

I found some lima beans in the pantry, which was a pleasant surprise. After cooking them, I figured I could eat them happily with the second half of the sausage link I had thawed out. It turned out that while I'd forgotten to buy onions, I did still have a couple shallots so I used one of those. If you have onion you can use that instead. Like always, this should be treated flexibly to accommodate what's in your house. Hope you enjoy!

1/2 cup each: sliced celery (with leaves), carrot, shallot
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon rosemary infused olive oil (or regular olive oil)

1/2 pounds sausage of your choice, sliced
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon each: garlic, pickle brine

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (or a cup of BBQ sauce, which I would've used if I'd remembered I had it)
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon each: marjoram, aleppo pepper (substitution: cayenne, though use less)
1 1/2 cups (or 1 can) lima beans

2 small mild flavoured pickles, chopped (optional)

In a saucepan, combine oil, celery, carrot, shallot, salt and pepper. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 6 minutes. Add sausage, honey, garlic and pickle brine, then cook another 6 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, reduce heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stir in chopped pickle (optional) and serve. Serves 2.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Almond and Date Brown Rice Pudding

I had some brown rice left over from the chorizo meal, and while I was tempted to eat it with piles of salsa mixed in, I was even more interested in eating that salsa with the tortilla chips in the pantry. So uh... yeah. I couldn't really think about what I wanted to do with the brown rice otherwise, since I didn't want to fry it up into rice balls (uses too much oil, and that stuff is expensive!) and I didn't want to use it for a fried rice or stir fry since I'm mostly limited on veggies right now (okay, that's only partly true, but it's true enough since I have some other things I'd like to see happen with those veggies). Which left me kind of confounded. Of course, I could just chow it down with the lemon like I like to do, but then once again I'd have nothing to tell you. And I've already had nothing to tell you, in terms of recipes, for a while because I forgot I was only one person when I made that ginormous casserole (which, by the way, you *will* be bored of by the 4th day and you *will* want to do nothing but eat chips if you don't mix in some other food to eat. So don't be dumb like me) and that's all I ate until Sunday, basically. Except, y'know.. chips. And rosemary Triscuits with pickled banana peppers. You should eat those. They're really addictive. Just so you know.

And then I remembered the almond milk. Oh man, I have milk! So that means I could make some rice pudding to eat for breakfast and then also to share with a friend. My friend Daniel is really into homemade sweets but doesn't make any so I like to share with him. I also remembered that I had a lot of almonds in the freezer, some of which I could slice for this (to make it double almond), and some dates in the pantry which could be chopped up. Since the dates are so very sweet, I decided I should limit the sugar added since no one likes food that's overly sweet. Okay, maybe some people do. But I don't. And here it all happened. Hope you enjoy!

2 cups leftover rice (mine was brown but you can use anything)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup sliced almonds (or just roughly chopped, if you're like me)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Proper directions: Heat the milk, sugar and cinnamon, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rice and cook until thick, stirring occasionally. Add almonds and dates and cook another couple minutes. Serves 2.

What I actually did: Pull saucepan of rice out of fridge. Add to it all the other ingredients and put it on the burner at pretty low heat. Stir it around, then add another splash of milk because there wasn't enough in there at the beginning. Heat while taking the dog out to potty, then come back and stir it. Then do a proof, and stir again. Sometime soon it'll be ready to eat, once it thickens up (which happens after another 2 proofs). Serves 2.

There's just no way to make rice pudding photogenic, I'm sorry to say:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summer Plan Update

As I mentioned in previous posts this week, I wound up with a whole lot of extra food I didn't expect to happen. I feel really badly that my friend was ill and as such, didn't eat. I prefer it when people who're in my house (staying or just visiting for a bit) get to eat well, and of the types of foods they prefer. That didn't happen this time, and as a result I feel like I inadvertently cheated on my budget plan. It obviously wasn't intentional (although believe me I am not sad about having chips and crackers!), but I feel like I need to do something to compensate for it. So what I ended up deciding was to eliminate my access to the pantry overflow room (which I will now start calling the Aladdin's Cave, since I like that term so much more than overflow room).

The way all my food storage is structured is that in the kitchen I have 2 large shelves that comprise my pantry. One shelf pretty much contains all that I might need for baking, home canned canned foods and some dried fruits and veggies. Plus a few other random items there isn't space for elsewhere. The other shelf holds all the daily use stuff, like rice (many kinds), pasta (many shapes), grains, junk food, soups, canned meats and other goods and so on. You know; the normal stuff you use a lot. On my counter there are rows of jars that hold beans and a couple jars with pasta. There's one cabinet that's full of spices and another cabinet that has extra vinegars, my massive "mother" jar of homemade vanilla extract, some extra oils and the like. Plus some chips for making cookies (butterscotch, chocolate, mint) and whatever 4 pound bag of sugar I'm currently working my way through. Aladdin's Cave contains approximately 100 pounds of pasta, surplus grains (other than rice), at least (but possibly more) 30 pounds of surplus beans (including many types not on the shelves currently), extra spices, marshmallows, 30-ish pounds of tea, dried seaweed, most of the dried mushrooms (and the largest variety; there are about 10 pounds of miscellaneous types of dried mushrooms in there, which would hydrate to roughly 80 pounds of mushrooms), 20+ pounds of sugar, extra baking supplies, etc. I don't actually have it all itemised, so I can't tell you everything that's in there. What I can tell you is that it's probably a year's worth of food for 2 people.

By eliminating my access to that room (I can only go in there if I need a container, canning jars or to get the dog more food), I feel like I've been adequately "punished" for my accidental cheating. There's enough food in the kitchen that I can't imagine that I could go though all the beans and grains without needing to start dieting, but if I do, I feel like it's appropriate that I should have to buy it. Also, I feel like it's appropriate that I made this rule without restocking things the kitchen was out of (so, that means no more pasta salad unless I plan on buying more ditalini, which I don't, and only one more tuna casserole without having to buy more egg noodles) thereby forcing me to start this modification to the rules with only what's in the kitchen. And interestingly, I hadn't actually restocked the kitchen or used anything in Aladdin's Cave up to this point, so not being able to restock first does actually affect me more than one might think. To me, this balances out what happened with the guest food. Naturally, I immediately started being a little sad about the things I was now missing that I'd really like to have, but tough cookies for me. I was out of regular sugar (there's over a gallon of vanilla sugar in the kitchen, but that's not ideal for all baking needs - and it is especially important that I have regular sugar since I'm praying some nice Scottish tablet might reduce the homework load a little), so it was the first thing to go on my list for what needed to be purchased this week.

In terms of the freezer status, I've been pretty good about working through some of the frozen veggies. I'm trying to remember to incorporate them in each meal, which is not only good for me but helps further my summer goals. I think I have only another week (two if I'm conservative with them) before I'm out and will need to start buying those again (particularly since I just lost a massive number of dried veggies). I added a little meat to the freezer, and though I am craving ham like nobody's business, I don't see how I could justify the massive cost of even a small amount of ham. Especially with all the meat I still have. I don't actually think I can justify buying ANY more meat for the rest of the summer (even though I want to). I do still have a good number of flours in the freezer of various types, and I'd like to try to remember that when I'm in the kitchen and start using some of them. I see some Brazilian cheese breads in my future. They're kind of a pain to make, but oh so worth it and an excellent use for at least one of the two bags of tapioca starch that's in there. Maybe if I motivate myself to make some rye bread, I will be able to justify buying meat that doesn't go in the freezer. In terms of fruit in the freezer, I am basically making no progress. I believe what I need to do is make some scones (which uses some of the lemon rinds and cranberries, not to mention being delicious) and maybe make a fruit pie. And if I don't get around to making a fruit pie, I might just thaw some of that fruit out and eat it plain. It's pretty good that way too. I've used over half the cheese and probably about half the nuts as well. I'm down to about 2 pounds of butter, which is not good so I'll need to start reserving a little of my food budget for that when I get down to 1 pound remaining.

In the fridge, I still have piles of pickled foods. I'm good on makdous and pickles, and also on marinated artichokes, banana peppers, kraut, lemons, etc. I'm not truly confident I have enough of these to last, but I'll fit that into the budget too. Definitely no chips on those weeks! There are still those two mangoes in the fridge from the guest spending, so I decided to focus most of my grocery money this week on fruit so I could make a massive fruit salad to eat for breakfast every day.

So, that's the progress and changes to my challenge. In an incredibly non-summarized form.

And here's what I spent:

Salad mix - $1.69
Orange juice - $1.15 (oh how I miss fresh juice)
Feta cheese - $1.99 (on sale, woo!)
1 pound strawberries - $1.39
3/4 pound nectatines - $0.58
Sugar, 4-pound bag - $2.19
1/8 watermelon - $1.00

Total: $9.98

I barely, barely made it under $10!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Food Waste Friday

This week, I wasted:

1 cup of orange juice that didn't get used up while I was out of town

And that's it!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Tomato and Artichoke Bake

Well, it seems like since I have so much tomato sauce, I should try to put at least some of it to use. Which might come in handy for people who buy pasta sauce and want something different to do with it. Additionally, by doing it this way, I have a convenient way to use up some of the other things that've been hanging out in the fridge and freezer. I'm doing really well with this freezer business.

Also, this worked out pretty well for me to be able to test out that new casserole dish from cookware.com. I have to say, they're pretty good at what they do. The day after my order was placed, it was shipped. Although the shipping email said it could take a couple weeks to get here, the dish was here before I got back from Chicago. Which means the maximum amount of time it could've taken to arrive is six days. Not bad at all! The company also makes sure to send you not only shipping information, but order verification. Some companies do one but not the other, and that annoys me. The entire time I waited for my order, I felt like they were really communicative and I didn't need to worry about it at all. The only gripe I have with the company, which I think most people wouldn't share with me, is that they do like to send some email updates with specials they're having. I think most people like that, but I personally am more into just going to the site in question when I want to investigate what deals they're offering. So that wasn't really a negative per se - just a negative for me personally. Oh, one other thing I noticed; although the casserole I got was much cheaper than it might've cost me in a store, it wasn't chipped or damaged in anyway. Sometimes when you buy really discounted stuff, you get the dregs of what the company makes, but that didn't happen here. Overall, I had a really good experience so I can recommend this website for painless, discounted buying of your favourite cookware.

The actually casserole dish is just awesome. It's exactly what I was looking for. The round shape makes it impractical for making baklava, since I'm just not the kind of talented that easily works around things like that. But it IS perfect for making sure that when I eat tuna casserole, every single serving will get some of the crusty top. Which also means I could do baked french toast or stratas without feeling like I'm sitting there eating piles of wet bread (which honestly makes me want to throw up). It'd be good for thinner lasagnas too. It has the neat advantage of being ovenproof, microwave proof and freezer safe. It's somewhat longer than I'd anticipated, so I'm losing a bit more storage space than I realised. However, since I have nothing that fits what this dish does, that loss of space is minimal when compared to how much more diversity I can produce in my cooking with just this one item. So thanks, cookware.com!

And now that brings me to the actual thing I christened the dish with. As I mentioned above, this extra food I didn't anticipate having is giving me the opportunity to branch out a little into things I wouldn't ordinarily make, and also gives people who do like to buy jars of pasta sauce and that kind of stuff an extra thing to do with it. I incorporated a good amount of the frozen veggies I also had, and of course some cheese. If you're a vegan, this is easily veganised either by deleting the cheese or by using some of that non-dairy cheese they make. If you're a vegetarian, this is already perfect for you. And if you like meat, I don't think you'll really notice it's missing, since it's a pretty hearty dish without it (though you could certainly use a meat sauce instead to add it in). Hope you enjoy!

1 pound penne or ziti, cooked according to package directions but about 2 minutes less
1 jar pasta sauce (I used mushroom and black olive)
1 cup each: frozen peas, frozen corn, frozen whole onions
7 ounces frozen cauliflower
1 can marinated (or not) artichoke crowns or hearts (if using crowns, quarter them)
1 - 1 1/2 cups cheese of your choice, shredded

Heat oven to 350F. Mix together pasta, sauce, peas, corn, onions, artichokes and cauliflower. Cover with foil and bake for one hour. Sprinkle cheese on top then bake another 15 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned. Serves 8.



Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo

I had a great time in Chicago. I didn't take a single picture the whole time I was there, but I remember everything I ate, and I'll tell you all about it in a future post. Future meaning if I ever finish these 57 analysis problems before they're due. The downside of my trip, other than the fact that it simply wasn't long enough, was that I had to be up at 3:30 in the morning to make my flight. Which got me out of the airport and in my car about an hour before my class started. Without any real amount of sleep. :( The upside of my trip is that I ate an amazing amount of awesome food, and it was really good to see P. I'm pretty tired after so much excitement though, so I decided to make something really, really easy for dinner (after all, I didn't want to blow my whole food budget on a cooking-avoidance meal). It turned out that my friend didn't... well, eat, while she was here. Not even the pie I made for her. I must say, I was quite surprised. I knew she started feeling ill about a day after I left, but I think she was much more ill than I'd thought, based on the total lack of food consumption. I hope she'll come over once she's back to 100% and let me make a dinner for her (with pie). All this extra food I didn't expect to have left me with the terrible temptation to spend the next 2 weeks subsisting on processed food (and chips!). But then I figured, if I'm going to eat something unhealthy, I might as well cook it myself. And that's what I did.

There were three links of chorizo in the fridge when I got home. I pulled out the smallest one (about 5") and put the other two in the freezer for later. Otherwise, I might spend the next two days eating queso flameado, which is delicious but which clogs your arteries in about five minutes. Then I thought I might like to have something green with it, so I got the remaining brussel sprouts from the freezer. I felt like all this fat and green needed some acid to go with it, and so that happened to. And then it turned out I actually did have some brown rice left over, so I thought it'd be best to serve it all over that. With some salsa on the side, perhaps. So that's what happened - hope you enjoy!

5" link of chorizo
7 ounces brussels sprouts (mine were frozen but you can use fresh if you like)
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons pickled banana peppers, minced

Crumble and fry (or fry and crumble, like me) the chorizo. Drain off some of the fat if you want to, but keep some of it in there. Add brussels sprouts and lime juice, then cover and cook until sprouts are tender. Add banana peppers and mix together then heat for another minute or so. Serve over brown (or other) rice and salsa on top, if you like it. Serves 2.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Summer Plan Update

Well, I'm actually in Chicago now. But I still wanted to let you know how things were going. I used up all the pita. Can you imagine? Despite the billion loaves that kept cropping up all over the freezer, I still managed to get through them all. Too bad so sad. I might need to get some more. There is some bread in there, though, so I probably won't get more pita until that's gone too (which means I'll likely be switching to odd grilled cheese type things instead of pita roll-ups).

Originally I hadn't intended to spend any money this week on groceries, since I really didn't need anything. My intention was to load up on junk food OR to treat myself to an inexpensive meal out. But instead, I realised that I have an entire $10 that I could use to buy things that aren't in my budget during normal weeks (because they take up the entire $10). So that's what I did. Instead of getting junk food. I didn't buy myself a single bag of chips all week. It was hard. It was even harder not eating the chips I got for my friend. You just have no idea how tough it is for me to see chips in the house and not eat them. It made for a sad, sad Allie. However, it seemed like a good plan since if I have money left over each week, it's just "gone" instead of carrying it over to the next week (it's a dumb rule I made for myself). Carry-overs only happen if I spend too much money on food; then it gets taken out of my next week's budget. You can see why I don't want to overspend on any given week. ;)

Anyway, I did really well on my spending this week (also on my junk food problem). This week, I spent:

Sausage (yeah, I'm addicted to sausage): $3.98 (I got 2 links which will make 4 meals)
Tortellini (the kind in a box): $5.98 (2 boxes; it wasn't on sale, but they also will make 4 meals)

Total spending: $9.96

Friday, July 02, 2010

Food Waste Friday

Well, I was surprised to have waste this week. My waste was caused by me having hidden a couple things for later. I think I hid them quite some time ago, but as my fridge becomes emptier and emptier of lots of excess, these things resurfaced.

This week I lost:

3 slices quick bread
1 small coconut yogurt

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Guest Spending

Well, it seemed to me that cooking toward the end of the time I'd be here wouldn't be very sound. Mainly because it meant I'd be saddling the friend who's caring for my house and "kids" with some leftovers she may or may not want. Didn't seem fair. So instead, I cooked enough food on Monday to last a couple days and decided to rely on pita roll-ups for the remainder of my dietary needs.

And so, that brings me to the purpose of this post. Since I obviously wasn't cooking anything, I really wasn't spending any money, either. Or was I?

Well, as it turns out, I was. I was spending money stocking up on things for my friend! She didn't really want much; just some Dr. Pepper and pasta sauce. I felt like maybe that wasn't enough, so I got some other things too. A lot of other things. I also made sure that I got enough for more than just her, since she mentioned she might have her brother come over to play rough with Francis. Playing rough is hard work, so I think he should be fed too. :)

Here's what I spent:

Dr. Pepper (12 pack cans) - $4.38
Pasta sauce (5 jars) - $9.60 (wow. Now I know why I usually make it myself)
Chips (you have no idea how hard it is not to eat these) - $4.48 (2 bags)
Pretzels and crackers (see temptation above) - $5.46 (1 bag, 3 boxes)
Meat - $3.35 (hamburger and chorizo)
Cheese - $5.86 (parmesan and string cheese)
Pasta (this sounds weird, but I got the shapes I didn't already have) - $5.28 (6 kinds)
Mangoes - $1.00 (they were 2/$1)
Salsa - $1.72
Coffee creamer - $3.18

So, with tax ($0.36), the total came out to $44.67.