Monday, January 25, 2016

Photo Update--Pumpkin Spice Scones

I have so many half-written posts for you guys--things I can't complete because some picture or idea or whatever is still missing. So this week I decided to catch up on an old project and add some extra pictures to our favorite pumpkin scones. I hope this makes it easier to get your pumpkin on one of these crazy snow days. So have a look at the original recipe HERE.

See, doesn't that make you want to bake something warm and spicy and simple and quick.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Basic (5-Minute) Thai Coconut Broth

Maybe this seems like a weird sort of post. I mean, who wants just a Thai broth. Um, you do. Because it's amazing. Honestly, it's loaded with plenty of healthy stuff (coconut, tumeric, ginger) and could be delicious on its own. But it's the perfect canvas for whatever you want to throw in it. We had it with some shredded chicken thrown in, but it'd also be the perfect background for any leftover veggies you've got hanging around or some rice (or regular) noodles. Heck, my kids ate it with corn bread dipped in (fusion, people, fusion).

What I like about this recipe the most is that it's quite simple. There are plenty of delicious Thai soups/broths out there. On this site I've got one that I adore, but this simple little broth is nice because it takes 5 minutes to throw together. There are no lime leaves or coriander root or lemongrass stalks (though those things are amazing). There are just basic ingredients that can (each and every one) be found in the Asian aisle at Walmart. It's Thai broth for the common man. Or the time-pressed woman. Or the person with a bunch of random veggies and noodles sitting in her fridge who wants to make them awesome. Here you go.

Basic 5-Minute Thai Coconut Broth
serves 4
adapted from What a Girl Eats
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Cost: $4.00
coconut milk: 3.00, ginger: .15, fish sauce: .20, lime juice: .50, seasonings: .15

2 cans coconut milk
2 C water (or chicken broth)
2 T minced ginger (or 2 t ground ginger)
4 T fish sauce (I usually do more like 3-3 1/2T)
4 Tbsp lime juice (fresh is best, but any will do)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp tumeric
salt if desired

Combine everything together and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Yup, that's it. I should say that sometimes I want more salt or another tablespoon of lime juice. Sometimes I like to use part chicken broth instead of all water. It's all delicious.

Sip it on a cold day or add veggies and/or chicken and/or rice noodles for a comforting Asian soup.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fruit and Vegetable Cost Breakdowns Per Serving

I know you can do this math yourself, but I also know that most people won't and that it's sometimes interesting to think of our food in terms of how much one piece costs. It puts it in perspective and helps us realize how much we're actually spending/saving on certain foods. At this diet-y time of year, I hope it will help people realize that their healthy food choices aren't necessarily as expensive as we're sometimes led to believe. In fact, if you're wise (or even just a little not dumb) you can often get a full day's fruits and veggies for the cost of a cup of Starbucks coffee.

You guys know that one of my biggest cheapskate pet peeves is when people talk about how much cheaper junk food is than healthy food. While this may be true calorie by calorie (that snack cake or serving of mac and cheese is higher in calories than your bananas or spoonful of peanut butter), I do not always find that junkie foods are particularly more filling than their healthier counterparts and I find them considerably less satisfying. Today we're talking about fruits and veggies. Maybe they don't make a meal, but as a snack they can certainly tide us over just as well as a handful of chips.

I'd like to note that I'm using Walmart pricing here. It's cheap, but not the cheapest. If you have access to stores like Aldi and Ruler foods, you will generally get these foods for 15-30% less. That adds up. These prices are for non-organic foods. Yeah, organic's great, but Kraft mac and cheese isn't organic either so let's compare apples to apples (or non-organic apples to non-organic Kraft mac and cheese as it were).

I'd also like to note that some foods like strawberries and peppers tend to vary hugely in price depending on season (all fruits and vegetables do, but some do a LOT). Generally I haven't included those foods on this list.

1. Oranges. 3 pounds for $3. (Often in season at cheap stores like Aldi and Ruler foods, I can even find 3 pounds for $2). My bag of oranges came with 12 oranges. That's $.25/orange.

2. Bananas. 3 pound for $1.50. Bananas are the classic cheapskate fruit--filling, healthy, very cheap. I ate one every day in college. My bunch came to me with about 8 bananas. That's about $.19/banana.

3. Carrots. 1 pound for $1. My bag comes to me with 8-10 carrots. That's about $10/carrot. Again--I ate one of these every single day of my college life. I didn't bother peeling them or anything. In fact, friends would tease me because every day a carrot would be there--sticking out of one of the outer mesh pockets of my backpack. Seriously, these little nutrition sticks kept me from premature death.

4. Broccoli. 1 pound for $1.50. Let's break it into 3 servings for easy math. That's a lot of broccoli and it's only $.50.

5. Spinach. Remember this is everybody's favorite superfood. 1 pound for $1.50. Let's break it into 6 servings for easy math, (and because unless you're using this in smoothies or another dish), you'll be hard pressed to eat that much raw spinach in a serving. $.25/serving.

6. Apples. 3 pounds for $3 (and a little more out of season--I must admit). I usually get between 6-8 apples per bag. That's $.37-$.50/serving.

7. Cuties. These things aren't cheap, but they're so, well, adorable, and much loved by children, and a fruit children can actually peel and eat by themselves. That makes them valuable to me. They come in 2 pound bags for about $5. Each bag has a jillion (or 22-26). If you count 2 as a serving, that's still just $.38/serving.

8. Grapes. Again, not the cheapest fruit unless it's on sale, but still surprisingly not expensive per serving. $1.50 per pound. That's about $.50/serving.

9. Sweet potatoes. 2 pounds for $2 means about $.50/serving.

10. Peppers. These are another veggie powerhouse. They're not that cheap in the winter, but you can usually still find them for $1.50-$2.00 per pound. And at that price, a serving is still around $.50.

Bonus: Some less usual fruits and vegetables.

But those are all so boring you're saying. What if I want to go to Whole Foods and buy star fruit? Well, you certainly can and there's nothing wrong with that, though it's probably not your cheapest option. Here are some less expensive ways to break out of your rut.

-Kiwi fruit. I honestly haven't bought this at Walmart in years. But at Aldi, you can get 3 for $1.00. That's $.33/fruit.  I'd guess they're about $.50/fruit at Walmart.

-Pomegranates. Right now I can often find them for $1.00 at Aldi or about $2.00 at Walmart. That's $.50-$1.00/serving.

-Unusual greens (swiss chard, bok choy). At Walmart you can buy a HUGE bag of mixed baby greens for $3. It includes spinach, chard, bok choy. It's easily less than $.25/serving and delicious.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Taco Pasta

Dumb easy and delicious. That's what this meal is. Also, fusion. And we all know that fusion is trendy. So there you go.

I figured it would be good--I mean taco toppings mixed with pasta. But it was really really good. One of the best quick dinners we've had in a long time.

Taco Pasta
adapted from
Serves 4-6
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes
Cost: $6.30 ($1.00-1.50/serving)
pasta: .50, beef: 3.00, rotel: 1.00, onion: .05, cream cheese: .50, cheddar cheese: 1.25

8 oz pasta
1 lb ground beef
2 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 can Rotel (or if you don't like too much heat, just plain diced tomatoes)
1/2 onion, grated or diced small
1 garlic clove
4 oz cream cheese
2 C cheddar cheese

Get your water boiling. When it's boiling add the pasta. You can use any bite size variety you like.

In a skillet, add the beef. Begin browning it. While you do, chop or grate your onion. Add it to cook with your beef. Near the end of cooking time, add your onion. When the beef is browned, add the taco seasoning. I use homemade and don't need water. However, if you're using a store bought variety that calls for water, go ahead and add it (it likely has a thickener in it, so it shouldn't wind up runny). Mix all this together and if it has water, simmer it for several minutes. Add the can of Rotel(with juices). Cook for a minute. Add the cream cheese.

Now drain your pasta (it should be cooked to al dente). Add it to your beef mixture. Mix.

Then top with cheese, cover and let melt.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Grape Peach Spinach Smoothie

You're welcome.

I mean, I kind of owe it to you after last week. Happy New Year, friends. May you enjoy your resolutions as much as I enjoyed this smoothie.

P.S. One thing I love about this recipe is that it involves grapes (which many smoothies do not), making it the perfect use for any imperfect grapes you have. Surely I'm not the only one who's always getting sour-ish and/or thick-skinned grapes.

Grape Peach Spinach Smoothie
adapted from Simple Green Smoothies
Serves 4 (6 small portions, which is what we did; or 2 large ones)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cost: $5.00
grapes; 2.00, coconut water: 1.00, peaches: 1.50, spinach: .50 (Buying things on season, on sale will reduce the cost for this.)

Note on coconut water: It's expensive--a couple bucks for a couple cups. I've never bought it before, but I wanted to give it a try. I had a sip and it was very anti-climactic. It's good in this smoothie, but I think any mild juice like apple juice or white grape juice would be great too. Also, I'm not sure how healthy some pasteurized coconut water from Walmart is. That said, if you actually got it out of a a coconut I might buy into its superfood status a little more. And it might be a little less expensive if you were to use the whole coconut in other ways. If you wish to simplify this recipe, just use some juice or water.

2 C grapes (I used green)
1 C coconut water
2 C peaches (I used frozen)
2 C spinach or other greens (I used mixed baby greens)

Blend in a decent blender that blends things smooth. Enjoy.



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