Thursday, January 27, 2011

Week of January 28, 2011

Black bean burgers
Spinach, Bacon, & Mushroom Quiche 
Potatoes and peas in red curry sauce (crockpot)
Taco soup (crockpot)
Chicken soft tacos
Spaghetti with spaghetti sauce (crockpot)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Week of January 21, 2011

Shaun makes lasagna
Sriracha honey buffalo wings
Sloppy joes (crockpot)
Cowboy beans (crockpot)

Chocolate chip cookies

Nutritious chicken nuggets

These are such a hit in our household. Our preschooler calls them "nutritious chicken nuggets," to differentiate them from McD's chicken nuggests. I would guess she probably prefers McD's. If I were four, I probably would too.

This is an easy meal to make that only requires about 30 minutes from start to finish. The only reason I don't make this meal more often is because chicken breast gets expensive. And because I don't really like to handle raw meat. 

Here is the original recipe. I found it because I was looking for dairy and soy-free breadcrumbs. I do like the taste and texture of Panko. I would probably start using it even if I weren't dairy and soy-free.

Here is my lazy adaptation of the recipe:
  • Heat the oven to broil. Close bedroom doors so the smoke alarm doesn't get all uppity. 
  • Cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces
  • Mix 3 big globs (~ 1 cup) of mayonnaise with a glob (~1/3 cup) of dijon mustard. Pour in a fair amount of agave syrup (~1/3 cup). Shake in several shakes of hot sauce (~2-3 TB). 
  • Pour the panko into a second bowl
  • Dip chicken into mayo into panko and place on a cookie sheet
  • Broil ~8-10 minutes on each side. I monitor them chicken closely and flip and/or remove when browned. I want the chicken to be well cooked but I don't want to burn
Serve with baked potatoes and frozen veggies for a well-rounded meal.

Note: I have run out of agave syrup and don't want to make a special grocery trip for it. I now use maple syrup, which I also like.

ETA: I should have also said that I really like this meal a lot. The chicken is juicy with a crunch (if that makes sense) and there is a wonderful sweet and sassy taste.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chocolate pancakes. Or, chocolate cake in pancake form

I woke up with the intention of making healthy oatmeal pancakes and decided on a whim to make chocolate pancakes. After all, cocoa powder has some nutritive value ... right ...?

Here is the recipe I used. I suppose adding fruit would be nutritious, but I did not have any on hand.

Essentially, you mix
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk. I used two cups of coconut milk. 
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil. I used canola. 
Place 1/4 cup on a hot griddle. Flip after 3-5 minutes, or when the underside is firm. Cook an additional 3-5 minutes.

Yup. That's cake. In pancake form.  It was pretty good. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Inside-out stuffed peppers

We really, really liked this meal. I have always been a fan of stuffed peppers but it always seems like so much work. On the evening of this meal,  our groceries were delivered at 6 pm and I wanted to get supper on the table. This is what I did:
  • Brown 1-1.5 lbs of ground beef. Drain fat
  • Add one diced onion, a diced green pepper and 8 ounces frozen corn kernels and cook until soft
  • I added a couple of handfuls of cooked navy and garbanzo beans because they were sitting in the fridge. I think they added some nice texture and substance, but I wouldn't go out of my way to add them
  • Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning and oregano
  • When the onions and corn are soft, add a can of diced tomatoes. It's a plus if they are seasoned as well. I used a 14 oz can, but a 28 oz can will do nicely if you like tomatoes
  • Stir occasionally and serve when heated through
This is an easy, hearty dish. We ate them with baked potato slices. I told S that next time I will add more frozen vegetables and he gave me the stink eye. I may keep this as a primarily beef meal but I think it would be good with more veggies.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Homemade falafel and pita bread

I originally did not to post these recipes because I did not alter them to make them my own. They were easy, solid, nutritious, cheap recipes but definitely Budget Bytes's recipe. However, I decided to share them because they truly are wonderful to have in the recipe repertoire. 
Here a recipe for homemade falafel. Here is a recipe for homemade pita. Aside from the tomato and cucumber, the rest of the ingredients were in my pantry. It was truly a cheap meal.

I baked navy and garbanzo beans in the crockpot overnight on low for 8 hours. Look at the steam!

Edited to add: I used dried beans and cooked them first. You can certainly use canned beans, but I like the lower price and lower salt content of dried beans.

 I did not have oil to fry or cumin. I baked the falafel balls on a cookie sheet, omitting the cumin. They were OK. I think next time I will shape smaller patties and definitely make sure I have all the ingredients.

The pita was a cinch to make. I rose the dough in the morning and then stored it in the fridge until supper time. I did not even try to cut the pita in half.I just folded it over tomato and cucumber. Drizzling the pita with tahini sauce was just perfect!

See the camera cord?

This is definitely on my list of cheap and nutritious eats.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beef, squash and tomatillo slow cooker dish

 Ok, stick with me on this one. It was so good, I was almost done with my second bowl before I remembered to take a picture. The recipe is based on a stewed pork and squash recipe.

  • Brown ground beef in a skillet. Drain fat. Add to crockpot.
  • Add one diced onion and eight medium-sized diced tomatillas to the beef. 
  • Peel and cube one butternut squash and add to the crockpot. This was the worst part, mostly because many of my knives are dulled.
  • Open a can of diced tomatoes (I used one flavored with onion and garlic) and add to the mixture
  • Stir together with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. 
Simmer on low for eight hours. The meat was tender and full of flavor. I loved the nutrients from the vegetables.  S liked the beef. We really liked this meal.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Easy taco salad and sauteed spinach

This is one of J and S's favorite suppers. Unfortunately, it is neither especially cheap nor healthy. I suppose it's healthier and cheaper than food we'd buy at a restaurant ...

I tried to healthy-up my supper. I microwaved a baked potato and sauteed spinach to eat along with the taco salad. And ate it on a monkey plate. The rest of the family did not want to join me in healthying-up their meal :)

Taco salad:
  • Brown 1-2 pounds of beef in a skillet. Add taco seasoning with water as directed. One of these months we will perfect our own taco seasoning
  •  Crunch mission chips onto a plate. Top with beef
  • Add tomatoes, black olives, canned diced chilies, diced onions, diced tomatoes, diced green pepper
  • Top with sour cream, cheddar/taco cheese, salsa

A child's hand reaching for the black olives.

Any ideas how to make the taco salad healthier? Cheaper?

For the spinach, I sauteed onions in tarragon vinegar. Added defrosted frozen spinach (catch that?). Sautee until cooked through. I'm trying to up my calcium intake and I think that regular spinach will help.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Easy breakfast oatmeal

This is not a glamorous breakfast, but it is hearty, cheap and easy to make. I do, however, limit this meal to one or two mornings.

To make this oatmeal:

  • Add 2-3 cups of milk to a saucepan on medium-high heat. I use coconut or rice milk.
  • Add an equal amount of oats. I love the Quaker Oats.
  • Add ~1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice. This is a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon, all spice and ginger.
  • Add a handful of raisins, a handful of dried cranberries or any other small, dried fruit.
  • Lower the heat to simmer once the milk is boiling and let simmer until the liquid is evaporated or you are ready to eat. 
The girls like this meal with locally-harvested maple syrup. I eat the oats plain. I find it flavorful enough as a stand-alone meal and I don't want the extra calories.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sausage and vegetable stir fry

 Herbivores and carnivores: UNITE

S made chili and it was DELICIOUS! So delicious that it disappeared before I could take pictures. We will try to document next time.

Tonight, I made a fantastic meat and veggie stir fry. The recipe is based on this recipe. I started with ground sausage, since it was just as cheap as hot dogs. Plus, I like sausage better.


  • Brown the sausage in a frying pan
  • Remove the sausage and cook vegetables. I use whatever veggies I have on hand. Tonight I used potatoes (cut up small to cook faster), carrots, frozen vegetable mix, leeks, onions and celery. The vegetables cook in the sausage juice, which adds so much flavor. I did end up adding a little olive oil to keep the potatoes from burning
  • Add the sausage back and let simmer for a few minutes 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve on a starch. In the past, we have put it on rice. Tonight, we put it on leftover mashed potatoes. 
Delicious! Easy, relatively inexpensive dish that packs a lot of nutrients and flavor. It's not the fastest recipe; the vegetables took about 20 minutes to cook. But, I was able to start the veggies cooking and continue working nearby.

We will definitely be making this often.