OK you asked for it so here it is….Bobbi on a Budget TADA (and the crowd goes wild)! Ahem….OK let me reel myself back in and be a bit serious here. I was very happy when the votes came in and I saw that people wanted a budget post on a regular basis. With the economy the way it is and so many people out of work, it just makes sense that many of us can not afford to cook whatever we want whenever we want it. The dilemma? Trying to cook healthy (or at least healthiER) on a limited budget. That is something I struggle with all of the time. I love to use fresh produce and fresh herbs and, let’s admit, that isn’t “budget” cooking.
I am realizing that sale fliers are a wonderful thing (Ya, I know, who knew?). I have been so bad about just making a menu plan and shopping without even looking to see what was on sale. Now I am getting the hang of checking the sale fliers to the 3 local grocery stores and finding what meat, produce, etc. is on sale for that week.
A suggestion, look for things like canned tomatoes, tomato paste, stocks, beans, etc. All of things that are staples in your pantry. If you use dried spices a lot (I use a lot of cumin and coriander) grab those when they are on sale too. Again, probably not something you didn’t know but something I am having to learn quickly.
For the budget meals segment I will be trying to stay as close to $10 for a 4 serving meal as possible.
I took a little help from Melissa d’Arabian for my first post to get me started and in the swing of things. I have to admit I thought there was no way I could feed my 3 hungry guys for $10 but I was shocked and pleasantly proven wrong. With the white beans they end up being quite filling. They all loved this meal and there was enough for everyone. I was lucky enough to have the O Olive Oils that I won in the eRecipecards.com challenge, so I used the Tahitian Lime oil for this recipe. But regular olive oil is just as good.
Oh, the meal? Ah yes, the reason we are all here. I guess I should post the recipe so you can all enjoy!!
- 1 lime, zested and juiced, plus lime wedges for garnish
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for baking sheet
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound white fish fillets, (I used Tilapia) cut into finger-sized pieces
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
- Sauteed White Beans, recipe follows
- 1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage
- Pineapple and Avocado Salsa, recipe follows
- Sour cream, for garnish
Sauteed White Beans:
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 white or yellow onion, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- 2 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
- 1 tablespoon dried Mexican Oregano
- Freshly ground black pepper
Pineapple and Avocado Salsa:
- 1 (14-ounce) can sliced pineapple in juice, drained and juices reserved
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small jalapenos, seeds removed and diced (You can just use one if you don’t like much heat)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium avocado, halved, pitted and flesh cubed
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
Everyone in this house loves pasta. It is the one thing I know I can make that EVERYONE will be happy to see it on the plate. I will say, I am pretty lucky because the people that I cook for are appreciative of every meal that I make. Kevin’s son Dylan said the other day “Bobbi your dinners are like a 5 star meal every night”! OK well you know that is the quickest way to my heart right? Flattery will get you EVERYWHERE (except out of the dishes).
I knew I wanted to do something with fennel. I have developed a love for the flavor of fennel over the last few years. Roasted, raw, sauteed, you name it, I want it. I had seen a recipe Rachael Ray had done along these lines and decided it would give me another way of sneaking chicken in on Kevin without him feeling beef deprived. I mean if I can pack a ton of flavor into a chicken dish he won’t miss beef right? One can only hope.
This dish is takes a bit of time, but most of it is spent poaching the chicken. We got it going and then hopped in the hot tub for a while to pass the time. The only problem is I was really good about taking pictures up until things started to get really busy and then *POOF* taking pictures went right out of my head. Until the finished dish THEN I smacked myself for missing some of the steps. I promise I will get much better with my photography. 30 lashes with a wet noodle to me!!
I can tell you that not one bit of this meal went to waste. I think my son actually licked the leftover container clean!
OK I know that is a mouthful (and a tasty one at that, trust me) but really it is just fancy talk for cod cooked in parchment paper with a truck load of vegetables and a yummy herb salad on top of it all. But I figured that wouldn’t fit as a title so I went with the foo foo wording.
I was really excited to cook fish again because it gave me the opportunity to use some of my O Olive Oils. Remember I won the O Olive Oil and eRecipecards.com recipe challenge a while back? Well they sent me some of the olive oils I won and they have been staring at me from my counter saying “use me, use me!!” I didn’t marinade in the oil, which afterward I thought “dangit why didn’t I marinade?” but I did give the veggies and fish a good dousing of their Myer Lemon Olive Oil. I can’t say enough about their oils. The crush process they go through just gives the oils a fresh clean flavor. You can actually taste the fresh fruit in them sooooo yummy!!
I also got to break out the new Cuisinart food processor Kevin bought me for Christmas. He was disappointed because he thought he bought the one with the wide feed tube, but I am happy with it. I can chop the bigger stuff if needed. It sure made quick work of my zucchini I can tell you that!
But enough about my toys and gadgets. Lets talk about the food. I have to admit, this recipe looks a lot harder than it really is. The hardest part is slicing all the veg (unless you have a food processor…or a sous chef hehe). Once you get the fish in that paper the oven does all of the work. No worrying that you have overcooked the fish or wondering if you should flip it over yet. Bing, bam, boom, fish done. Top it with the herb salad and you have a wonderfully healthy and tasty meal that the family, at least my family, will gobble up in no time flat! We had 2 pounds of fish for 4 people and I only eat small portions because of my surgery. So I will say that between the 3 of them they consumed 1 3/4 pounds of fish in mere minutes!
Even if you aren’t a big vegetable person (this has eggplant which I know some people will say eeewwww to right off the bat) the veggies are sliced so thin and they cook in the oilive oil, butter, and white wine which gives them an amazing flavor. A great way to get your vegetables without having to eat plain boring ones.
Oh, little side note, my parchment paper was not wide enough to wrap completely around the fish so I topped it with another sheet and folded up the sides. I even secured them with paper clips just to make sure it stayed sealed so all of the yummy steam and juices properly cooked the fish and veggies.
I know the dish looks a bit “rustic” but it is oohhhh sooooo yummy!!
With the holidays, my father’s passing, and my daughter leaving to go off to school, I haven’t been on the ball like usual with my planning meals and cooking. It seems like forever since I posted a Rachael Ray Wednesday recipe or a Food Star Friday. So yesterday, as I was scanning my email, I read one from my subscription to the Rachael Ray Show mailing. It was for a pork roast. BING the light bulb went of in my head…I have a pork roast in my freezer!!
Yay I found a recipe for my Rachael Ray Wednesday post!! All I needed were the peppers and I was good to go. So I asked Kevin to pick peppers up for me on the way home from work. It was funny how excited I was to make this meal. Like I said I am easily amused at times and it was a nice feeling to be so happy about cooking again.
Once I got down to the business of cooking I started to realize that I wanted to change a few things up in the recipe (of course) so this isn’t Rachael’s recipe as it was written. I am sure it would have been fantastic without the changes, but I can tell you that with the changes I made it was so good! My kitchen smelled amazing, the kids kept asking when dinner was going to be done because it smelled so good. It took 40 minutes to cook so Kevin and I went in the hot tub while we were waiting. The fan for the stove blows right out by the hot tub and we were both watching the timer because it was making our tummies rumble.
Once the roast was out and sliced I had people hovering around waiting for me to take pictures so they could dive in. Having a food blogger in the house can be a pain at times. I think this would have made wonderful leftovers but it never made it that far. The plate was clear in about 15 minutes! There was left over pepper sauce so Kevin sliced up some sausage and mixed it in to have a lunch for today. The pepper sauce is fantastic over rice too.
I was trying to come up with a recipe to use a pork loin roast I had in my freezer. It was the beginning of fall and the temperatures had just started to drop. The time of year I love the most because it is cool enough for me to make and enjoy soups and stews, something I love but not it’s not so cold that I freeze my toes off. I love the fall…not so fond of the winter.
Anyway, beef stew is one thing I chomp at the bit every year to make. As soon as the temperature dips I am off to the store to get the required goodies to make my treasured meal. But what to do with this pork? Kevin and I had gone shopping at Costco and they had a deal on the pork roasts. You got 4 roasts in one pack. I like doing that from time to time just to test myself to come up with new recipes and meal ideas.
I decided that if I couldn’t make my beef stew I would twist the recipe into a pork stew. Thereby killing two birds with one stone (hopefully) coming up with a meal to use the pork in and enjoying a nice bowl of stew.
One of the things I love in my beef stew recipe is, I use an entire bottle of red wine. Have I mentioned I love wine? If you look at my ingredients list for the recipes I have posted you will see red and white wine listed quite a bit. So it only seemed logical that I use a entire bottle of white wine in the pork stew.
OK, recipe written and off to the store I go to grab a few things I needed. Now I am standing in the wine area wondering what white wine to use. I know what I like to drink, and normally you should use a wine you enjoy the flavor of because cooking with it will concentrate the flavor. But I realized that my favorite white wine, a pinot grigio, would not be complimentary to the flavors in the recipe. Now I am looking in the chardonnays. I knew I wanted a good dry white wine, the problem, I am not a huge chardonnay fan so I really don’t know much about them. Lucky for me the wine guy was there and he pointed me in the direction of Kendal Jackson. He said it was one of the top selling chardonnays and it was not that expensive. I took his word and bought two bottles, one for the stew one for me (hey the cooks gotta have fun too!).
I have to say that I was very pleased with how this stew came out. Everyone was tasting the broth before it was ready and the chorus of yummmm, mmmmmmm, WOW this is good, made me a very happy little camper. Now I have two stew recipes to look forward to every fall!
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for frying, plus more to drizzle
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 to 3 pounds pork loin roast, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bottle good quality dry white wine (recommended: Chardonnay)
- 8 fresh thyme sprigs
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 9 small gold potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut in 1/2
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 3 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Toasted French Bread, recipe follows, for serving
Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the oil and butter.While the pan is heating, arrange the flour on a large dish. Season the cubed pork with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then toss in the flour to coat. Shake off the excess flour and add the pork chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to over crowd the pan, you might have to work in batches. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all the tasty browned bits. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat, thyme, garlic, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste, bay leaves and vegetable stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.
After 2 hours add halved potatoes, sliced carrots, onions and celery. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Season with salt and pepper and remove the thyme sprigs.
Toasted Peasant Bread:
- 1 loaf French bread, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, halved
- Chopped parsley leaves
For Food Star Friday this week I decided to go a bit small, as in appetizer small. With my household being huge football and Nascar fans, it is nice to whip up a few nibbles to have around so when the mood strikes you there is something tasty to put in your tummy. Football + beer + good food = the perfect Sunday right? To all my non football friends out there, don’t worry I am not obsessed with any other sport so once football season is done I will be back to normal, well normal for ME hehe.
There are so many great appetizer recipes out there by all of our favorite food stars I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to make. Then I ran across these babies by Ina Garten. I love stuffed mushrooms and haven’t had them in forever. The last couple of times I made them with crab and cream cheese. I liked the whole sausage idea and the fact that she used mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese. I am really becoming quite the fan of mascarpone cheese VS cream cheese. Oh I am not hating on the cream cheese or anything, I just like the change of pace. It is lighter and a bit sweet, can be used in sweet and savory dishes, just a nice new taste.
The only downside is that you get to taste that yummy stuffing and then it goes into the mushrooms and has to bake for 50 minutes! Aaahhh I must have been in the bathroom when they were handing out patience when it comes to food I swear. But they are worth the wait. Kevin and I went to work on them as soon as they were cool enough to bite, actually even before then. I burned my tongue a bit, like I said, no patience.
The only thing I would change about this recipe is the olive oil. Of course mushrooms themselves carry a lot of moisture, but I felt it really didn’t add anything to the recipe and made the mushrooms kind of wet. I would however still drizzle the mushroom caps with the Marsala wine. You don’t want to cut out ANY of the flavor for these bad boys!
- 16 extra-large white mushrooms ( I used creminis)
- 5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
- 2 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine or medium sherry
- 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casings
- 6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2/3 cup panko crumbs
- 5 ounces mascarpone cheese, preferably from Italy
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
I picked up last night where we left off with the Italian Style Garlic Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes and Thin Spaghetti (remember I didn’t have all the ingredients to make it the other day?). I have to admit I was a bit nervous that I would over cook the shrimp. I have done all kinds of fish, clams, muscles, scallops, but for whatever reason I get nervous when I cook shrimp. I know that if you overcook it they are rubbery and awful, so I just was a bit worried. But this is a recipe that, if you follow the directions, you can’t mess it up. It was great! My nerves gave way to a very hungry tummy as I was cooking.
I had a houseful last night. Kevin, Jessi, Seth, and Melissa were all here for dinner. Everyone gave this recipe their seal of approval, even Jessi, my pickiest eater. My Dad just doesn’t like seafood so he was out of this one. All of us, except Jessi of course, thought the addition of some red pepper flakes would be fantastic in this. But as it stands it is still a terrific meal. You know we just like things a bit hot in this house.
I actually followed the recipe very closely, believe it or not. Like I said I was nervous so no going crazy for me this time. The only things I did were, used two pounds of shrimp instead of one. Which if you do make sure and double the lemon zest and juice. I also used grape tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes because I think they are sweeter. I think I have told you that I am not the biggest fan of tomatoes, at least raw tomatoes, but grape tomatoes are great.
So in my wrap up here I will say MAKE THIS RECIPE!! This was a master recipe too and the variations sound just as yummy, Spanish Style Garlic Shrimp, and Greek Style Garlic Shrimp……stay tuned for those, I know I am excited!
Oh, and I know that you are not supposed to use cheese with seafood, but I sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on mine and it was fabulous!
- 1 pound thin spaghetti
- 1 pound small shrimp, deveined and peeled, tails removed
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest plus the juice of 1/4 lemon
- 1/4 cup EVOO (4 times around the pan)
- 6 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 4 scallions
- 1/4 cup white vermouth or 1/3 cup dry white wine (eyeball it)
- 2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 20 fresh basil leaves, torn or shredded
- course black pepper
Heat a large pot of water for the pasta, when the water boils, salt it and cook the pasta al dente.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with the lemon zest, lemon juice, and a little salt. Add the EVOO to the the hot pan and then the shrimp. Cook for a minute, then add the garlic, tomatoes, and scallions and toss, cooking for another minute or two until the shrimp are firm and pink. Add the white vermouth and the herbs. Turn off the heat. Drain the pasta well and add to the sauce. Toss and combine the sauce with the pasta and season with salt and black pepper.
Serves 4 (very very hungry people)
This recipe is such an easy one. But it looks so fancy it will make you look like a professional chef. I mean just the sound of it. Fish en Papillote. Really it is just the French way to say “wrapped in parchment”. But it sounds much more romantic in French right? This is a perfect date night meal. The fish and veggies all cook together in their little parchment paper envelopes, it makes for a beautiful presentation. Just add some wine, candles, and WALA it’s a date!
I have made this recipe in different versions with different fish several times. I love the fact that the fish steams with the vegetables in one neat little package with whatever you chose to include. I used thyme as my herb, but you could do this with salmon and use dill, or chives, or tarragon they are all so good! You can also mix the vegetables up using asparagus, summer squash, etc..Then when you are done….clean up is easy peasy lemon squeezy!
You can use foil instead of parchment paper but you will have to leave out anything acidic such as lemon, wine, etc… they will react with the metal of the foil and make the meal taste awful. Parchment is supper easy once you get the hang of folding it into the “envelope” and pssstttttt don’t tell, but I cheat a bit by using a paper clip to seal the very end. Just make sure to use your hot pad holder to remove that hot clip when you take the fish out of the oven!