Friday, December 30, 2011

Lunch at work

I am trying to be both a) healthy and b) budget conscious when it comes to what I eat at work. We have been doing a lot of dinners that make enough for me to prepare one or two lunches from them. So far, it's worked out pretty well!

That said, this picture is far from the best, but this was actually a decent recipe. True, the original called for the much larger sea scallops ($15 per pound!), but the bay scallops ($ 6 per pound) worked just as well. It made enough for dinner for 2 people plus leftovers for 2 lunches.

The jasmine rice under the scallops was actually leftover from dinner the night before, too.

Oh, and the champagne was leftover from Christmas morning mimosas.

Scallops with champagne sauce

1 lb bay scallops
1/2 - 3/4 c (or so) leftover champagne
Whatever green onions you have in the house. Again - leftovers from quiche from Christmas Eve
Chopped mushrooms, about 3/4 c - more leftovers from the quiche making
Sour cream to taste

Saute the scallops quickly. Should only take a minute or two.

While those are sauteing, mix together the champagne, onions and mushrooms. Add to the scallops. Bring to a boil and simmer about 2 - 3 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in about 1/4 - 1/2 c sour cream.

Serve over rice.

Super fast and really good!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Chicken is my friend

Eating a lot more chicken lately! It's cheaper than beef and fairly versatile.

I worked late tonight, and Midalah had class, so a quick baked chicken breast dish worked just fine.

Chicken breasts were on sale this past week.

For 3 servings, the total was $ 6.30 ($ 2.10 per serving).

Chicken: 3.92
Dressing to cook the chicken in: .15
Couscous: .68
Bouillon: .10
Beets: 1.45

I drizzled an Italian/red pepper dressing over the breasts and baked them. The couscous soaked in chicken broth.

Until recently, I had only eaten beets cold and in salads. Recently, we've been eating them heated up, something Midalah has done in the past. I found them surprisingly good that way!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Eating in Erie

Penn State Erie's parents' weekend was this past week. So, I loaded my car with winter clothes, snowboard, food and a care package from Midalah to take up to Roo.

First, the care package:

I'm sure I've mentioned a time or three how much I adore Bon Appétit in downtown Lancaster. Roo has been missing the wonderful goodness from there and from Bonbonniere. Midalah decided to rectify that situation and made up a heavenly care package full of all sorts of wonderful treats. From cocoa dusted goat cheese to chocolates of all kinds to lavender syrup with which to make lavender soda, there was quite a bit to take up.

Roo was teary. "Food!" she exclaimed. "REAL food!" She laid it all out lovingly on her bed and took pictures.

Dinner that night was a quick meal at Steak ‘n Shake, since neither of us had been to one before. Not exactly something exciting and different, but it was good. It was getting late, we were tired and hungry and she wanted to get back for a birthday cake for a friend and a rugby party. Besides, there was guacamole on my burger. I was happy!

The next day was spent running all over Erie, taking care of errands and such. Before I dropped Roo off at the theater to meet up with her friends to watch Paranormal Activity 3, we headed for Sushi and Asian Cuisine. My daughter loves sushi and misses it terribly.

Sushi and Asian Cuisine is not a restaurant to go to if you are in a hurry. The atmosphere and the service are both very relaxed. Unfortunately, another table in the restaurant didn’t quite get that and we were treated to the impressive display of an adult male giving his best darn spoiled-rotten-two-year-old impression. The food here seems to be all cooked to order. Do not go here if you have a fast-food, want-it-now mentality. You will be disappointed.

But if you are willing to wait and enjoy the company of those you are with, you’ll enjoy some very tasty dishes. The seared tuna was melt-in-your-mouth perfection. The young coconut soup was different in a good way, and far more filling than I expected it to be. The crunchy roll was just plain fun.

The prices were far more reasonable than a lot of sushi restaurants I have been to. Between the price and the quality of the food, the wait was more than worth it.

Sunday, it was time to head home. So off to The Breakfast Place it was. What a fun place! The food was filling, inexpensive and plentiful. The coffee left something to be desired, but there were many opportunities to have the cup refilled. Roo’s hot chocolate came with a refill, too, something I’ve not heard of in any other restaurants before.

I ordered the chicken fried steak with eggs and hashbrowns. I couldn’t eat more than 1/3 of the dish! Roo’s hash and eggs seemed to go on forever. She, who had spent the weekend happily tucking into dish after dish, admitted defeat after less than half of the plate was gone.

After a quick run to the market for a few more supplies, it was time to say goodbye so I could head home and she could focus on homework and on organizing all that had been brought up to her.

She heads home in November. There will definitely be a stock-up run to Bon Appétit and Central Market before she heads back to school!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More eating in on a budget

Tonight’s dinner features finds from Central Market and from Sharp Shopper.

Chicken from Sharp Shopper: 5 pre-marinated breasts for $ 2.50. - .50 a serving
Broccoflower from Central Market: $ 3.00 a head (6 servings) - .50 a serving
Couscous from the local supermarket: $ 6.00 per canister (we’re nearing the end of this one): .34 a serving
Total per serving: $ 1.34

The leftover broccoflower will be served with tomorrow night’s dinner.

Leftover chicken and couscous will be popped into lunch containers and popped into the freezer.

The biggest splurge is probably the paper plate! And even those are only purchased when on sale. I’m feeling poorly tonight and Midalah is busy sewing and doing homework, so the fewer dishes, the better!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Time to tally

Okay, time to figure out tonight’s dinner on a per person basis:

Turkey sausage: 1.25 per person
Fresh, still on the stalk, Brussels sprouts: 1.00 per person
Bread: harder to figure out, since there will be a LOT left over for snacks and breakfasts: Let’s say .30 per person when you figure out how many slices there are
Pumpkin soup: This was nice. All it cost was the pumpkin and a head of garlic. I don’t figure out spices. And there are at least 6 servings (leftovers – yay!): .55 per person

Total: $ 3.10 per serving

Total purchase price, which covers tonight’s dinner, a couple breakfasts and lunches at work? $ 11.00

That’s $ 7.90 for breakfasts/snacks/lunch. I could easily spend that much in 1 day for breakfast/lunch. I think we did good!

Oh, and the broccoflower? That will be served tomorrow night with wine/herb marinated chicken breasts and couscous.

(I am so not counting dessert, which was a splurge at $ 2.50 a slice!)

Today has been one of those gorgeous autumn days. Couldn’t ask for a better one. Windy and cool, but not cold. The kind of day that makes you want to go and do, and not stay at home.

For those who don’t know, Midalah moved into my house back in July. With Roo leaving for college, and both of us experiencing some serious financial upsets, it made sense.

Unfortunately for Midalah, that means she also has to deal with a housemate who gets hit with the autumn bug. “Let’s go!” is a common echo around the house on days like today.

So we went. There have been serious fall-induced pumpkin cravings, so Lancaster’s Central Market seemed like a logical destination.

Off we went. As we pulled into the parking lot, Midalah asked me if I had remembered a market bag. Oh, yes, I remembered it. I remembered leaving it at home. Oops! And I am not in a position to drop $ 20 on a new bag, so… plastic it was.

We ended up with more sausage from The Turkey Lady. This time, we have Sicilian lemon and orange turkey sausage. We’ll remove those from the casings to make patties. The last time we had turkey sausage, we grilled it. It was very good, but very dry. Hopefully, making patties will keep both flavor and moisture.

There will also be broccoflower and roasted Brussels sprouts, cut right from the stalk. There is also apricot/cranberry bread from Ric's Bread (the woman there today was very nice!). Oh, and roasted pumpkin and garlic soup!

For dessert: pumpkin roll with cream cheese icing. Yay for pumpkins!

Tonight, we feast in full fall fashion!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hunger Challenge

I did absolutely horrible during the Hunger Challenge (I signed up under my now defunct Hiking to Health blog). So I decided to try today, to see what we could do to keep food costs under the $ 4.72 daily allowance.

Cost is per person:

Potatoes, sausage, peppers and scrambled eggs
Total: $ 1.41

Potato corn soup
Total: $ .83

Bacon wrapped filet, rice and green beans
Total: $ 2.13

Total for the day: $ 4.36

Not bad, right? The only problem is that all of it, except for the coffee, rice and beans, was pre-packaged or from a mix.

I stopped at a grocery outlet on the way home from work the other night and stocked up. Yes, very inexpensive foods, but I am wondering how much sodium we have ingested so far today and how much more will be in tonight’s dinner? A lot of water is going to be needed to offset all of that!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Eating in on a budget, part whatever - plus Angel Food Ministries

With my daughter away at school, it's just me and my housemate, Midalah. Which means more leftovers for lunch!

So I just spent some time looking through the (rapidly dwindling!) pantry, fridge and freezer.

Tonight was leftover couscous mixed with the last of the farmer's market peppers, garlic and a bag of tiny shrimp of indeterminate age. Actually, it was fairly good.

Mashed potatoes
Green beans

Whole chicken in the crockpot
Some sort of vegetable from the freezer

Casserole made from chicken leftovers

Spaghetti and meatballs

Steak (got an awesome deal a while ago and am using it out of the freezer - yay)
Baked potatoes
Grilled asparagus

I am thinking... pancakes and turkey blueberry sausage for dinner

Black bean soup, maybe? Or chili. Haven't really thought that far ahead.

As an aside... I went to the Angel Food Ministries website today and was very surprised to see they have suspended operations for the month of September. They have not given a restart date, either.

It's a sad commentary on our lives today when the organizations out there to help those having a hard time cannot stay afloat. Yes, I know AFM has had some issues in recent years, but now what? There are many who depend on them for inexpensive groceries each month.

I am blessed to live in an area where I have my pick of farmer's markets and inexpensive grocery/seconds stores. For me, AFM is actually not a great deal. I do check the site now and then to get an idea of what they are offering, but have not used the service. Still, how many are in areas where the cost of local groceries are twice what they have been paying with AFM?

And what will those people do now?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eating (mostly) locally - and cheaply!

Here in the East Coast, we are all hunkered down, waiting for Irene's approach.

We live inland, in the middle of Amish Country, PA. For us, this will bring lots of rain and wind, but not the mess those down the shore will have to deal with. So, instead of intense hurricane preparations, Midalah and I headed into the city to Central Market for some provisions.

After a very nice haul of vegetables and some blueberry sausage from The Turkey Lady, we headed out to get the propane tank filled for the grill I bought at the beginning of the season. I've lived in this house almost 20 years and have gotten used to power going out at the slightest provocation, so we're not taking any chances!

Tonight's dinner consists of vegetables from the market, some leftover steak and rice:

Vegetables: green beans, peppers, zucchini, garlic - approximately 2.50
Rice: about .30 cents worth of the $ 1.00 bag
Leftover steak: I had found a nice 1 lb steak for 2.48 last week. We grilled and ate about half and used the rest tonight, so... 1.25

Total: $ 4.05 for 2 people, with leftovers

If the power does go out, cold rice might be the base for tomorrow morning's breakfast!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Graduation party time

So, Roo graduated – yay! And the family gathered yesterday at my parents’ house to celebrate this fact. Of course, there was food. Lots and lots and lots of food. So much food that we’re all going back to Mom and Dad’s to separate the leftovers and see what goes in whose freezer.

Mom made way too much food. If I can get them from her today, I’ll be putting up recipes for her calico bean salad and her sausage and peppers.

Of course, I brought food, too! But a lot of it had to be grilled, so there are no recipes for that. My potato salad “recipe” is at the end of this post.

My aunt made lamb chops marinated in a mint sauce. It was so good, Roo has asked her for the recipe as soon as the lamb ran out.

Midalah made Lemon Lavender Poundcake. She did learn that 1 oz of dried lavender is enough to make about 20 cakes! Her apartment must smell really good right now. I know the cake did!

The best part of the day was spending it sitting under the big tree at my parents’ home, eating, laughing and talking with family. Now, in 4 years, when she graduates from Penn State, we’ll do it all over again!

Simple Potato Salad “Recipe”
All measurements are approximate. I just tossed this together and it seemed to go over well.

5 lbs potatoes, skin on
1 – 2 Tbl Dijon mustard
½ c chopped celery
½ c – ¾ c sweet pickle relish
2 tsp garlic salt
1 ½ c – 2 c mayo, depending on how creamy you want the salad to be.

Scrub potatoes, leaving them whole.

Put potatoes in a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Boil 15 minutes. Drain and cool.

While the potatoes are cooling, mix remaining ingredients, except for the mayo.

Chop potatoes into approximately ½ - 1 inch chunks and put into large bowl. Add in the mixed dressing ingredients, then add mayo, mixing until you reach the desired consistency.

Chill overnight so the flavors have a chance to meld.

I don’t use a lot of extra salt, but you may want to add salt and pepper to taste, too.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Planning ahead for the week

I do love lazy Sunday mornings.

Right now, I am waiting for my lawn shoes to come out of the wash. They had gotten left out on the porch during all of the rain we’ve had recently. I don’t really care to put my toes into something quite so wet and squishy, so into the wash they went!

While waiting for the shoes to wash and dry, I decided to be semi-productive. Last night’s whole grilled chicken leftovers needed to be taken care of, and I had found a nice little sauce recipe to use with a beef roast.

First, I removed what breast meat I could from the chicken and set it aside for use in a salad tonight. I froze the drumsticks for a snack for Roo and her boyfriend. The rest of the chicken has been tossed into the Dutch oven with some spices and water and vegetables to cook down for broth for soup, and to get the rest of the meat off the bones to be used in a casserole.

I mixed up a quick barbecue sauce and added onions to it. The roast and sauce are now sitting in the crockpot, cooking away happily. I’ll shred the meat and serve it on buns with a green salad and maybe some sweet potato oven fries this week.

This week will be a busy one at work, but I still want to get myself to the gym and not find myself stopping for fast food because I don’t have time to cook. I think I’ve gotten a good start here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Eating in on a budget

This week will be a bit of a challenge for me. I need to do some grocery shopping, but I need to keep things within a certain budget. With my daughter graduating and heading off to college, family visiting and even planning a weekend getaway to do some whale watching in lieu of a trip to Europe as a graduation gift, I need to keep a tight control on what I spend and where.

Oh, and I have to keep it healthy-ish, also! I am trying to lose weight so I'm not mistaken for one of the whales off the cape!

I see a lot of salads in our future. Good, hearty greens, with meat used as a seasoning and not the star of the dish. Salad Works has a salad that combines craisins, chicken, noodles and mandarin oranges. I make something similar at home for a lot less. That may be dinner Tuesday or Wednesday, since I still need to grill a few chicken breasts to add to meals this week.

What are your favorite cheap, fast and healthy meals?

Friday, May 06, 2011

Han Solo in Carbonite Cake

I had a moment of panic when looking for the pictures of the Han Solo cake Charm City Cakes did for me. My last desktop has died and gone to whatever tech heaven is reserved for overworked computers. I thought the photos were lost! Then I remembered I had posted them to my Facebook account.


This was a fantastic cake and was a lot of fun. It aired on an episode of Ace of Cakes in which I appeared as a great big grape, but a happy one!

Check out the lights at the bottom!

I adored the details added to this.

Up close and personal with Han.

Finally, one from my daughter's Facebook photos, since I didn't post any of me to my own:

Lobster Mac and Cheese from Carr's = Happiness on a plate

I have been in a funk lately. I needed something to perk myself up, since life in general has just not been going so well for me.

Today, I found that something in a happy little post from a Facebook friend. Kathlene had posted a photo of the lobster mac and cheese on display at Carr’s at Central Market. One of these had found its way home with her for a Mother’s Day dinner.

I have no idea why, since before this, the idea of lobster mac and cheese has never titillated my taste buds, but this looked so good that I just HAD to have it. After being home sick all day, Roo was heading for her boyfriend’s house so he could fuss and feed her soup, so I was on my own for dinner anyhow…

Carr’s at Central Market closes at 3 pm on Friday. I think I raced up to the counter at 2:55 or 2:56. I was asked if it had been recommended to me over Facebook. Seems a woman walking quickly through the Market as if there is a mission to be conquered is hard to miss!

Dinner has been had. This is a huge portion and would do well to be shared. I have had half and am quite happily content. The rest will be saved and savored.

A hit – I would definitely recommend this! Head to Carr’s at Central Market for a taste!

And if you’re around for dinner or would like to enjoy a sit down lunch after shopping, I highly recommend Carr’s, located right across the walkway from the market. I have enjoyed many meals here and have always been impressed with the service and the quality of the food. My brother’s wedding and small dinner reception were also held at Carr’s. The staff and food are top-notch!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Cake talk

I can't believe I didn't have Ace of Cakes on my Amazon favorites widget! Now that a little time has passed and the show has aired (and the series is ended), I'll post photos of the Han Solo in Carbonite cake that was on the show itself. The book has some of the other cakes Charm City Cakes has made for me over the last few years. If you get the book, look for the page that talks about me and Ro! It's under my married name, since I didn't go back to my maiden name until 2010.

Tonight, I'll post photos, since those are on the desktop and I am not firing that up when I should be getting ready for work.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Chicken cacciatore for the freezer

I have enjoyed reading and cooking from Family Feasts for $ 75 a Week . Of course, I make my own substitutions and changes, based on what I have on hand. This week, I made a version of the chicken cacciatore from the cookbook.

Total cost for 6 servings: $ 9.37 total, or approximately $ 1.51 per serving. I am using the 6 serving breakdown, though I think with the slight changes here and there, and our appetites, this will actually be 7 or 8 servings.

I used frozen onion and peppers, since I did not have any green peppers on hand.

Cost breakdown:
Chicken, approximately 1 ¼ lbs: $ 3.75
½ stick butter: $ .42
½ bag frozen onions/peppers: $ .50
2 ribs celery: $ .40
Minced garlic (I used about 1 Tbl or so from a jar I have on hand): $ .15
28 oz can crushed tomatoes: $ 1.00
8 oz mushrooms: $ 1.66
16 oz egg noodles: $ 1.49

Note: I do not include spices when I figure out the cost, simply because I don’t have the patience to sit and figure out how many ¼ teaspoon servings are in a jar of paprika or cumin.

Looks pretty good, no? Now I’m going to tuck it into the freezer for dinner later in the week. All I will have to do is make the noodles and heat the chicken and we will be good to go!

Yes, I am a messy, messy cook. Oops!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Grilling sausages

For some reason, I have not been able to perfect my ability to grill sausages of any kind. They tend to come out a little on the charred side.

If anyone has any recommendations that will help me achieve grilled sausage perfection, let me know!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

OMG - A post!

Wow, I'm not dead! Just lazy, apparently. Time to change that!

Quite often, weekends become leftover days. I spent most of today working in the basement, getting things cleaned up so we can do some painting. My sister-in-law is heading out this way for Roo's graduation and I would like the room where she sleeps to be nice!

So, I didn't want to spend much time in the kitchen. I did make pancakes and bacon for brunch for the two of us, during a break in the cleaning. Dinner had to be something fairly quick.

Earlier this week, I had grilled some sausage on my new grill (yay, new grill!). Had a couple left over, so I tossed them into the freezer to use this weekend.

I found a recipe online that I adjusted to fit what I had on hand. Very simple:

Olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 medium carrots, large dice
2 leftover hot Italian sausages, sliced
2 cups cooked short-grain rice
Can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and chili
Something green! I would have used fresh parsley or basil, but I was out.

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot (mine is ceramic clad cast iron). Add vegetables and cook until just this side of soft. Or softer, if you don't like your vegetables to have any crunch at all. Add sausages and rice, then add a can (or two, if you like it soupier) of Ro-Tel tomatoes. Heat through. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh herbs if you have them.

Tomorrow - leftover steak becomes fajitas!