Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Meatball Soup

This is one of those recipes I made and then after everyone ate it and loved it, my husband said, "That dinner was way better than it sounded." It's a pretty common phrase in these parts because if I try anything new (and I try LOTS of new things), it is always suspect.

But this was so delicious. So so delicious.

Before summer comes upon us in all her glory you should make this divine, cheap, veggie-filled comfort food.

P.S.I should note that the above pictures were taken the day after I made this. A lot of the saucy/soupy stuff got sucked into the noodles. The day I made it, I took pictures, but they didn't come out very well (nighttime lighting and all). Nevertheless, here's a picture to show what it looks like the first day.

Meatball Soup
serve 6
prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Cost: $6.00
beef: 3.50, bread: .05, egg: .10, other stuff: .10, onion: .10. carrots: .20, Italian diced tomatoes: .70, tomato paste: .30, beef broth: .30 (from cubes), spinach: .35, pasta: .30

For the meatballs:

1 lb ground beef
3/4-1 C bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp milk
1 egg (optional--once I forgot it and I actually thought these tasted even better, BUT they didn't hold together as well)

For soup:

Olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped (or blended if you've got onion haters in your midst)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1-2 carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, diced (didn't have so skipped this and all was still well)
1 14-oz can Italian diced tomatoes
1/2 C plain, smooth tomato sauce, or 3 oz. tomato paste
5 C beef broth
2 C chopped spinach leaves
1 -1 1/2 C small pasta (such as ditalini)
salt and pepper if needed
Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
a bit of cream for creaminess (optional)

For meatballs:

Put everything into a bowl and smoosh it all together. Roll into balls and cook in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Note: If you don't have bread crumbs, put a crust in a small blender and blend.

When they're ready, take them out of the pot, but leave the grease (unless there's a crazy amount; then just leave some of the grease)

For the soup:

Put onion, zucchini, and carrot into this grease (add a bit of olive oil if you need some). Cook for a few minutes until they begin to get tender. Add Italian seasoning and stire. Add either tomato sauce or tomato paste and stir for about 30 seconds. Add Italian diced tomatoes. Add beef broth. Stir everything together. Bring to boiling. Add pasta and cook for 10-15 minutes or until they're close to al dente (we used a thick pasta so this took longer than a thinner pasta would have). Add more water if necessary.

When the pasta is almost cooked, add the meatballs back in and add the chopped spinach.

Cook for 4-5 more minutes. Taste and adjust for seasonings. You might want a bit more salt or basil or Italian seasoning.

Serve alone or add some Parmesan or cream.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Creamy Chicken with Spinach

Sometimes I get so tired, I just want to lie my head down and cry on things. There's nothing really to cry about. I'm just so so tired. Today was one of those days.

Because in this house, there are two busy seasons. One is pre-Christmas. And one is coming up--that end of school crush of finale. I feel it. I'm trying to prepare for it, but just not succeeding.

Because of this we've been making lots of quick, easy dinners. This is one. But it stands out because instead of being, say, scrambled eggs, it's a delectable, restaurant quality dish that has meat and vegetables. And cream. Because some nights you need cream.

Eat it over rice or pasta or potatoes. Of just spoon it out of the pan if that's your way. I won't judge you.

Creamy Chicken with Spinach
adapted from The Recipe Critic
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6
Cost: $6.00
chicken: 4.00, cream: 1.00, tomato sauce: .15, Parmesan cheese: .50, spinach: .25. other stuff: .10

4-6 small chicken breasts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 C heavy cream
1/4-1/2 C tomato sauce (smooth)
1 tsp garlic powder (or a fat clove)
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
1-2 C spinach, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until browned on both sides and cooked through.

Remove from pan and add cream, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Whisk together. Add in Parmesan cheese and whisk until it's melted and thickened.

Add chicken back to the pan. Simmer gently for a few minutes.

Add spinach and cook until wilted.

Serve over pasta, rice, potatoes, or whatever.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Vegetable Lo Mein

So yesterday was Pi Day, the most wonderful, delightful fake holiday ever. And I made the most wonderful, delightful not-fake strawberry pie that I was dying to share with you. Except that when I cut into it after a very long day, the part that was supposed to have set up oozed all over the pan and the plate and everything. Oh, it was still delicious. But it wasn't quite pie. More like oozy strawberry tart (no complaints there, I guess). But I think I know the one thing that will fix it and I'm going to try it this spring and make another pie that hopefully will not ooze so I can post it to this blog. 

And I realize that Vegetable Lo Mein is kind of a sad consolation prize for !Strawberry Pie!  But don't be too too sad because (in theory) you have to eat something before your strawberry pie. And (I'm assuming) that after making pie you don't want that thing to be hard or stressful to make. Enter Vegetable Lo Mein. It's a 20 minute meal that's pretty and filling and mostly healthy. It's also a great way to use up leftovers or old vegetables (I personally used up two lonely salmon fillets and some wrinkly peppers and was pretty proud of myself). 

Vegetable Lo Mein
Serves 4
Prep and cook time: 20-30 minutes
Cost: $4.00
noodles: 1.00, vegetables: 2.00, meat: 1.00

1 lb spaghetti
2-3 C vegetables (whatever ones you want and have on hand. I used 1 onion, 3 carrots, sliced thin, 1 pepper. I wish I'd had some zucchini and mushrooms and broccoli--they would have been amazing)
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 T butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce
1/2 tsp ginger powder
salt to taste
sriracha to taste
meat if desired (we used 2 salmon fillets; any meat would go great.

Prepare pasta according to package instructions.

While it's cooking, slice your veggies, then put olive oil in a saucepan and add vegetables. Saute with salt.

If you're cooking meat, saute it along with the veggies.

When the veggies are cooked, add the chopped garlic. Saute another 30 seconds. Add soy sauce, sugar, Teriyaki sauce, ginger, and butter. Stir to combine.

Drain your spaghetti and add the noodles, stirring to coat.



Monday, March 6, 2017

How I Do Lazy Meal "Planning"

Yeah. You see those quotation marks around the word "planning." There's a reason for that. It's called "laziness." No, wait, it's just called laziness. 

We all know, if we happen to think about these types of things at all, that meal planning is very important for our budgets and to prevent food waste. The problem(s) with me and meal planning is(are) that I often find that on Tuesday when I'm supposed to be making lasagna, that I just don't want lasagna. Or that on Monday when I go to the store, the mushrooms for the stuffed mushrooms were way too expensive, but the kale was on sale. In short, I'm just too irresponsible impulsive and fun for traditional meal planning.

But then again, a proper cheapskate who gets bored eating the same four foods over and over must have some level of meal planning. Here is what I do.

When I do meal "planning" there are no calendars, no calculators, no fancy pants apps. There's just my Pinterest board and maybe a to-buy list if I remember that part. And this works for me. I hope that if you're feeling "lazy" lazy, it will work for you too.

1. I look on Pinterest for yummy things.
2. I pin them onto my board labeled "Recipes" and then, if they make the cut, I put them on my board labeled "This Week's Food" board.
3. I look at the ingredients if I remember.
4. I write the ingredients that I need on my to-buy list. If I remember.
5. I shop and buy those things unless they are really expensive. (If I remember to look at the list on my phone or the Pinterest board or anything at all.)
6. I make those meals. Sometimes. Maybe.

You will notice, if you look at my board labeled "This Week's Food" that there are too many recipes for one week. That's because I either forgot some key ingredient, or I didn't feel like making it. Or I totally ran out of time because I was procrastinating making dinner, so we had scrambled eggs on toast (again). #momwin.

But seriously, this little method actually helps me. It gives me an idea of what I'd like to feed us and what ingredients I'll need to do that. Once we've got the ingredients, I can make it sometime in the next couple weeks and call it good. And I usually do.

One other thing that kind of helps is the Walmart grocery site that you can use to order groceries and then have them brought right out to your car (#thejoy). One thing I like about this if it's available in your area is that you can add the things you need for recipes right into your cart as the week goes on (so you won't forget your list or to look at your list or whatever it is we forget when we forget stuff), And then when you're ready you can schedule a pick up and all your stuff is already there and you didn't have to remember what it was you remembered you needed last Tuesday. The other great thing for a cheapskate is that by not going into the store, you can save yourself from impulse purchasing (#notthatIever).

Happy "planning."


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