Sunday, March 28, 2010

Giant trip

So far this month we've spent $120 on groceries and $120 on dining out. (Plus $40 on a bar tab at the GLVWG conference, but that's another tale and another category.) When I see that I've stayed that close to the budget, I have a tendency to refuse to go to the store no matter what.

But I only have two sticks of butter.

And I think I could make it until April with two sticks of butter but I was thinking about making those sausage-filled French waffles tomorrow for a friend. French requires butter.

My husband volunteered to go to the store. But my list was geared toward Aldi and he was going to Giant. So, I gave him the list and he said he'd do his best.

He spent $26.38 and got:
  • 12 ounces of honey, $2.29
  • 13 ounces of Giant coffee and 13 ounces of Giant decaf coffee, $2 each
  • 2 1 lb boxes of pasta plus 1 lb box of vermicelli, 89 cents each
  • 2 lbs bananas at 59 cents a pound, $1.20
  • 2 quarts of strawberries, buy one get one free, for a total of $4.49
  • 2 packaged Dole salads, $2.50 each
  • Silk soy milk, unsweetened, half gallon, plus one half-gallon silk soy milk, chocolate, $2.99 each plus 55 cents off each because of a coupon
  • 1/2 pound butter, $1.19 (butter prices are cheaper at Aldi, Wegmans used to be cheaper but their butter prices just went up. I believe Aldi's is $1.79 a pound and Wegmans is now $1.99)

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I steamed a pound of asparagus tonight. I forgot to store it in a small glass with an inch of water like they always recommend, but it was prime asparagus so it was salvageable. Heloise-- the syndicated columnist with the helpful household tips-- recommends rinsing the asparagus in cold water, then snapping the wooden ends off, by bending and letting the stalks naturally break wherever they break.

My husband will eat the woody pieces, so it's a waste for me.

I placed the pound of asparagus in the steamer for 15 minutes. Then, I heated a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in my Le Creuset skillet.

Then I placed the steamed asparagus in the skillet, sprinkled liberally with garlic powder, ground about 3/4 teaspoon four-color pepper and added less than 2 teaspoons butter. And sauteed for five minutes.

Great stuff! (Even the little one loved it!)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wegmans trip

We stopped at Wegmans today because I had some time to kill and we absolutely needed some things... Dryer sheets, deodorant for the hubby, conditioner, greens for the tortoise, pantyhose for the job interview tomorrow... Couldn't do a full order because I had no time to go home and put it in the fridge. The bill came to $36.55 and really I got nothing. But some of it was more "household" than groceries...

So what did I get?

  • small can half-caff coffee, $1.99
  • Whole wheat organic farfalle noodles, which I only got one box because I didn't think the unemployed woman should be paying that much money for noodles, $1.49
  • 80 count dryer sheets, $2.99
  • real maple syrup, $6.99 (this same bottle used to cost $4.99)
  • A dozen Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, $2.79
  • two bottles of conditioner and one bottle of shampoo, 77 cents each
  • 3 pairs pantyhose, $2.99, $2.99, and $4.99, obviously I didn't notice the one pair was $2 more
  • Mennen Speed Stick deodorant, 2 bottles, 66 cents each
  • Bagged salad, French blend, $2.50
  • 1.1 pounds fresh asparagus, $1.74

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pork Citrus Pasta/ Day's Meal Plan

For breakfast we had oatmeal with fresh blueberries.

For dinner I took the leftover chili with cornbread dumplings out of the freezer since I have class until 4, and a career fair after that.

For breakfast tomorrow, I took sticky buns out of the freezer. We have a bunch of errands to do in the a.m. and thought sticky buns would be fun.

For lunch today, there's not enough pork with vegetables from last night for everyone. So, I took the pork, and cut it into bitsize pieces and took another bag of the steam-in-bag spring vegetables in citrus sauce and made some multigrain rotini and served the whole thing over pasta.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pork and carrots

Since I had three pounds of cooked carrots... I gathered the following:
  • the carrots
  • one steam-in-bag of "spring vegetables in citrus sauce" from Aldi. (Carrots, snap peas, asparagus, tiny onions and tiny bits of roasted red pepper)
  • the last two one-inch thick boneless porkchops I got from Wegmans probably in December
  • butter
  • extra virgin olive oil
My husband sliced the pork into stir fry strips. I fried them in about 1.5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. When they were just about done, I added about one tablespoon butter and close to 1 pound of steamed baby carrots. Stirred it all thoroughly.

Then I prepared the steam-in-bag vegetables as the directions stated and poured that on top of the whole mixture. Squeezed out every drop of sauce and stirred it all up until it was hot and thoroughly mixed.

The carrots tasted delicious.


I have a 3-lb bag of baby carrots that has been in my fridge for 18 days.

I'm not a fan of baby carrots. I'm even less of a fan of cooked carrots.

But right now, I'm going to put half the bag in the steamer (the directions say 1 lb sliced carrots) and depending how they do, I'll cook the rest that way. I'll save some for dinner (parsleyed carrots? ginger carrots? orange carrots? maple carrots?) and freeze the rest. If I steam them, they should be relatively "stiff" and any loss of texture would probably still be edible. Wish me luck.

Iced tea and leftovers

Last week's green tea with berry turned awesome. This morning I'm making Stash vanilla nut cream decaf with a regular lipton bag, too. I forgot last week that I do have a glass jar to make sun tea. I bought it on clearance last summer at Wegmans.

For breakfast we had scrambled eggs and fresh blueberries.

For lunch we had leftover pasta from the restaurant last night (my dad took us out to dinner). Can you believe I ate pretty heartily last night, and still had enough of my meal leftover to split it three ways for the family for lunch.

That's when you know portion sizes are out of control.

New era

To my followers:
Thus far in March I have spent $100 on dining out and about $85 on groceries.

I have been lamenting for months that I would spend so much less if I could keep myself from eating out.

Well, if you've been curious what happens when I tighten the belt and remove some of the gourmet items from our cuisine... you may get your wish.

I am now unemployed.

So, the postings in this blog may change in character. And a new budget is in order...

Wish me luck.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mommy's PB&J sampler

The other day we were pressed for time so I made my daughter this PB&J sampler for lunch.

Bread: from the freezer, one of my homemade wheat baguettes.

  • one little sandwich was PB & grape smuckers
  • one little sandwich was PB & my mother-in-law's strawberry jam
  • the last little sandwich was PB & wegman's seedless red raspberry jam

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Papa John's Emmental Pasta

What the heck is that?

Our daughter went with Mimi... So, for lunch I'm blending:
  • leftover cooked rotini, plain
  • one container Papa John's Garlic sauce
  • two teaspoons basil
  • one teaspoon four color pepper
  • about three tablespoons shredded asiago from Aldi
  • about 1/4 cup French emmental cheese, leftover from crôque monsieur night

Sunshine and iced tea!

I'm brewing some tea to ice to go with this lovely sunny day. First day of spring. Haven't been to the backyard yet for a post-winter assessment but I bet my chives are growing.

I have a big mug with four tea bags in it, ready to make 2-3 quarts of iced tea. The mix today is 2 teabags organic green tea (purchased a long time ago from the warehouse club in a big, big pack), 1 tea bag Celestial Seasoning Sugar Plum Spice, and one Celestial Seasonings Wild Berry Zinger.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Peaches and goodies

I wish I could eat as well as my daughter.

She's eating peaches (canned in pear juice), my homemade oatmeal/dried fruit/granola-y buttery desserty nonsense from Tuesday, and chocolate soy milk.

Fruit (and orange fruit at that!), carbs with some nutritional value, and protein and calcium in the milk...

I hate peaches, I rarely drink milk in any form... I just wish I could make myself mimic the eating habits I taught her.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New and improved oatmeal bars...

Hi, my name is Angel and I can't follow a recipe to save my life.

This is the original oatmeal bar post:

This is what I combined and pressed into an 11 x 7 pyrex dish:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates
  • a handful homemade granola (leftover)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried strawberries, chopped
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
And then after I pressed it into the pan I trickled a stream of blackstrap molasses across the top.

Okay, so last time I thought I didn't use enough butter. So I stuck to the recipe in that regard this time and used all the butter. Now they turned out too buttery and still won't stick together, except for the corners that looked brown and overcooked. They stuck. Does that mean I have to leave it in the oven longer? Hmmm....

Now, they taste delicious but like butter candy or some sort of oatmeal fudge... Let me tell you, the strawberries are the best. Next time, I'm going to make oatmeal cookies loaded with extra oatmeal and lots of fruit. Because if I want them to stick together, let's use good old-fashioned flour and egg.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday at Aldi

So, my daughter has to donate a disney item for the PTA tricky tray. Those of you who know me know I deplore modern Disney. But after the reminder came in my daughter's folder I thought I had to swallow my principles and buy the dreaded Disney item.

We went to Dollar Tree first where we bought a Mickey Mouse coloring book and some Cars multiplication flash cards. We also need shampoo, so I bought 18 ounces of White Rain shampoo in the lavender vanilla. (Total: $3.18)

Then we went to Aldi. We're eating leftovers today. Dinner is leftover Mexican from the restaurant Saturday (a friend asked us to meet at MexTex Trio and I'm such a sucker). My husband and daughter split the nachos, which the proprietor tells us serves 4-6. I suppose it does because they had it for lunch and we'll put some fresh tortilla chips in it and eat the rest for dinner.

That's why we had to go to Aldi. We need tortilla chips.

We spent $10.02 at Aldi:
  • 3 containers of frozen apple juice concentrate
  • one half-gallon soy milk
  • one half-gallon chocolate soy milk
  • one container shredded Asiago cheese (impulse buy)
  • one bag white corn tortilla chips

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another batch of chili

So... It's raining. I'm making a batch of chili.

I started with one idea and due to my mistakes ended up with quite another.

I started with a partial teaspoon of olive oil, some garlic powder and some diced tomatoes. I added four color pepper, Italian seasoning, a pinch of cumin, a teaspoon of chili powder, and I meant to add a pinch of Indian chili seasoning but I ended up with closer to a teaspoon. Oops!

So I added almost two teaspoons of cocoa powder and another can of diced tomatoes, this one Italian style, and more garlic. Then I added a 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple. I boiled it for about 15 minutes, then simmered it for an hour and added two cans of no salt added dark red kidney beans, one can light kidney beans, and one can black beans.

I made the cornbread dumplings to go with the chili, and I didn't have enough milk, so I reduced the amount of milk, added some water (do-it-yourself skim milk) and a little extra canola oil.

VERDICT: The chili wasn't spicy and because I cooked the pineapple and tomatoes together for a couple hours, everything more or less melted into one flavor. And the flavor was very rich and despite the lack of spice still had taste.

Now the dumplings took over the pot, but they were yummy, even if it was hard to find the chili underneath.

Perhaps my best batch of chili ever.

Said to my husband, I probably won't be able to replicate it, but then he said I probably wouldn't try...

This is the link to only the three recipes I usually blend to make my chili:

All my chili-related recipes:

Friday, March 12, 2010


I bought tahini last night so now I'm excited to make hummus:

In the food processor:
  • one can chick peas, drained
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon four-color organic peppercorn
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • a drizzle sesame oil
  • 3 roasted garlic cloves
  • generous amounts of parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin

My previous hummus recipes:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shawarma Night

We went to Forks Mediterranean Deli tonight and got a large shawarma (half lamb and half chicken because they ran out of lamb) and a falafel. That was $11 worth of sandwiches that would have fed four people (we have some falafel left for lunch tomorrow).

While we were there, we also purchased (as groceries):

  • a Qaatar bread (is that what it's called or is it Kaatar?)
  • Mango nectar
  • 25 ounces of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • a large bag of hot wasabi bar mix
  • dried strawberries
  • dried ginger
  • a jar of tahini
For $38

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Italian Veggie "Pizza"

I took some of my homemade bread out of the freezer, plain today which means 50% wheat and 50% white. I made some Aldi Steam-in-bag Italian blend vegetables with herb sauce and I plan on making "French bread pizzas" out of them... probably with some garlic bread as the base and parmesan and cheddar on top. All broiled in the oven until bubbly.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Apple Sausage Waffles

For the gaufres:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
They suggest ham, roquefort & fresh parsley.

I'm adding:
  • dried parsley
  • 2 chicken sausages with apple
  • some cheddar (about a cup)
And tossing it in the waffle iron.

WOW! The best waffles ever! Cooked to a perfect golden brown in five minutes flat!

Converted from a French recipe:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hot Spinach Dip

I took a multi-grain baguette out of the freezer and starting working on a new batch of my hot spinach dip in the crockpot. This will be dinner.

This week's version started with:
  • 5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 + cup water reserved from cooking the chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon organic four color pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon pizza and pasta seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon organic ranch mix
Once that cooks on high for a while, I'll add one package of chopped spinach (after smashing the garlic). Then, when that cooks for at least an hour on high, I'll reduce heat and add the last of the roasted garlic cream cheese spread (one tablespoon), some cheddar, some monterey jack, some velveeta, and maybe some parmesan and maybe a 1/4 cup of salsa.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dill Peorogies

I had my big work event yesterday, and didn't get any food at the party, so my husband got me a couple of pizzas from Papa Johns. We had buy one get one free coupons.

We had pizza for breakfast, too.

For dinner tonight my daughter is having her leftover Mexican and a side of spinach feta peorogies from Wegmans. I'm going to fry them in oil with butter and fresh dill.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Crazy Vegan Burgers

I started with a teaspoon canola oil, a teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of fresh dill and 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce. I'm frying some vegan boca burgers. We're not eating them with a bun and if I don't mind corrupting my vegan meal, I may add some smoked gouda.

But then, my daughter wanted cottage cheese and apple butter with hers. And a side of blueberries, so that's a lot of cheese.

My husband raved about these. He said they were so good he had to read the blog to find out what I did to them!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Baked Pears

So, it wasn't an exciting food day here in this house.

We all had yogurt for breakfast. My husband had leftover pasta primavera for lunch, I had peanut butter crackers and my daughter had a grilled cheese sandwich, pickles and grapes (with her grandfather.)

We had nachos with cheddar cheese, sour cream, mango salsa and refried beans for dinner.

And I'm baking a poir tarte tatin for my critique group which meets tonight, which I will serve with a nice French wine (Vouvray).

BUT one of our members can't have wheat, so I took some of the pears and placed them in a dish, sprinkled about one teaspoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg on them and baked them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. I hope they're yummy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pasta Primavera with crôque monsieur sauce

We're taking the leftover cheese sauce from crôque monsieur last night and making a pasta primavera. Adding some california blend, peas, and extra cauliflower to the noodles and in terms of pasta I'm using about 8 ounces white wheels with about 6 ounces vegetable rotini.

I added parsley and extra grated swiss to the sauce.
But, while the noodles cooked I compared the labels. I thought I bought Giant wheat pasta, but it looks like I bought multigrain. Which means I have three types of noodles in my cupboard right now: 'regular' white, vegetable and multigrain.

The white pasta has a smaller serving size (1/2 cup versus 3/4 cup for the other 2) but it's the lowest in fat and the only one with no sodium or egg.
Per serving:
Carbs: white 14% RDA (42g), multigrain 13% (38g), vegetable 13% (40g)
Calories: white has 210, whereas the other 2 have 190
Protein: white 7g, multigrain 9, vegetable 7
Fiber: white 8% (2g), multigrain and vegetable 16% (4g)
while they all have the same enriched vitamins, the vegetable also has 25% vitamin A, 4% vitamin C and extra of the standard enriched vitamins. Does that make it worth the extra cost?

Tuna on Homemade Bread

We had boring tuna sandwiches on homemade bread for lunch, except my husband decided to jazz his up with black olives and cheddar cheese.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Four Cheese Vegetarian Crôque Monsieur

Ah... finally!

Adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris:
Angel's four cheese vegetarian crôque monsieur
  • 12 slices homemade wheat bread (each about half the size of store-bought bread)
  • six slices Morningstar vegetarian bacon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 2 cups hot heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground four color organic pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded swiss cheese (I got French Entremont)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • less than 1/4 parmesan (I ran out)
  • 1 cup shredded smoked gouda
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Melt the butter over low heat and add the flour all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon for two minutes (is it supposed to end up as a lump? Because mine does.) Slowly stir in all the milk (oops I did mine fast) and whisk until sauce thickens (mine did fine, even if I neglected the subtle nature of the instructions).

Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, nutmeg, parmesan, 1/4 cup cheddar, and 1/4 cup swiss.
Stir until melted and set aside.

Toast the bread about five minutes on each side in the oven.

On the bottom halves of the sandwiches, pile 1 tablespoon sauce, about a tablespoon shredded cheese (at this point I mix all remaining the cheeses together), one slice vegetarian bacon (folded), one more tablespoon cheese sauce, then the lid, one more tablespoon sauce, then a little pile of cheese.

Return sandwiches to the oven until bubbly and browned.

Prepare some frozen peas and cauliflower and top with leftover cheese sauce. The remaining cheese sauce can be refrigerated and used for a killer alfredo sauce, or more sandwiches, or a really decadent fondue.

Scrambled eggs for lunch

Because we're having vegetarian crôque monsieur for dinner, I opted for scrambled eggs and peaches for lunch.

I made three eggs for my daughter and I, which I scrambled and fried in a hot skillet that I had melted about one tablespoon butter and mixed 1/2 teaspoon organic four-color pepper and 1 teaspoon parsley.

Mini shopping trip

Yesterday I ate junk all day. With my daughter. We had a road trip. Wawa egg sandwiches for breakfast, with apple slices, and Irish food for a late lunch-- Shepherd's pie with lamb, too! Stuffed so full we never ate dinner!

This morning I stopped at Giant, motivated by desire for crôque monsieur and some need of bathroom supplies. I spent $37.92 and hopefully got enough stuff to last at least a week, if not two.

We upgraded our Quicken yesterday, so I can tell you at a glance that I spent $266 on groceries last month, and $177 on dining out. I'm not happy with that dining out figure. Until I examine it closer and realize about $125 of it is connected to one of the non-profit boards I serve that owes me a reimbursement of $115. The treasury did not attend the last meeting so I didn't get my check... Upon even closer examination Quicken is giving me totally different numbers. I don't think I can trust any of them.

Ah, well... Back to my shopping trip this morning.

  • Dove soap, 2 bars, $2.69 (the only soap my husband will use in the shower)
  • Sushi Chef Japanese sesame oil, $3.69 for 5 oz. (all the bottles were the same size, of the three brands, Sushi Chef was the cheapest. The most expensive was $4.99. A little bit of sesame oil in the frying pan or in a mix with ginger, garlic, water and soy sauce makes a very authentic Asian flavor. Avoiding the need for Chinese take-out upon a craving.)
  • Ronzoni vegetable rotini, 12 ounces, $1.45 (okay, almost twice the cost of plain 'white' noodles, but the Vitamin A content equals one serving of vegetables. Might be worth it for those hectic nights.)
  • Giant pasta wheels, 16 ounces, $.89 (yes, it's 'white' pasta, it's the wagon wheel shape and my kid asked for it. I can mix it with healthier pasta)
  • Giant wheat rotini, 14 ounces, 2 boxes at $1.34 (jury still out on whether wheat is worth the extra money)
  • Giant mac and cheese spirals instant dinner, 2 boxes at 49 cents (as far away from my principles as you can get, but everyone deserves a guilty pleasure)
  • Giant tomato sauce, no salt added, the tiny cans, 5 at 29 cents each
  • Entremont swiss cheese, $4.75 for a chunk
  • A pint of fresh blueberries, $2 (which my daughter is eating as I type)
  • Light and Lively cottage cheese, 2 at 3.49 (the big container). I got two because my daughter eats it all on me...
    (we had cottage cheese and apple butter for breakfast today)
  • half gallon of 2% milk, $1.71
  • Kotex ultra thin maxi pads, $2.99
  • 80 count multi-pack of Tampax, $5.49