Saturday, March 31, 2012


In case you were wondering, this is what I do at work. It's a little different from my home cooking.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Purple Cow reopens

Last night our favorite ice cream shop had its spring reopening. So by 4 p.m. (after dismissal from school) my whole family headed to The Purple Cow Creamery where we stuffed ourselves with lots of ice cream.

And had no room for dinner. So dinner became rice with a touch of V8 broccoli soup as sauce and snow peas.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Recycled spinach pasta

My daughter made my famous hot spinach dip for dinner last night-- with the organic fresh spinach we got on clearance at Target.

Tonight we mixed that with some plain tomato sauce and poured it over Barilla Plus noodles.

Quick shopping

We did a quick Target run yesterday since I worked 12:30-5. We spent more money than I wanted to, and the cashier screwed up about $2 worth: missing our reusable bag discount (20 cents), charging for a second bag of brussel sprouts when we only bought one ($1.37), and mixing up our canteloupe with a honeydew (charging us $2.49 vs $1.99).

We spent $63.77

We bought:
-3 5-ounce containers of fresh organic spinach, on clearance for $1.49 each (regular price $3.99)
- Bolthouse smoothies, 2 at $2.09 and 2 at $3.29 (regular price $2.99 and $3.99)
- celery, on sale for $1.19 (regularly $1.84)
- Smuckers Organic apricot jam, on clearance for $2.17
- honey, $3.44
- red pepper and onion relish, on clearance for $1.98
- habanero and roasted pineapple dip, on clearance for $2.44
- single serving of market pantry Mac and cheese, free with coupon
- Archer Farm Thai chicken lemongrass soup, 4 at $2.29
- Archer Farm chicken noodle soup, $2.29
- Campbell's V8 broccoli soup, $2.79
- pasta, 2 at $1 each
- Barilla plus pasta, 2 at $2 each
- chocolate syrup, $1.49 (sigh-- can't get my husband off this chemical laden stuff)
- 1 pound strawberries, $1.79 (regular price $2.79)
- bananas, 8 at 24 cents, $1.92
- "honeydew" $2.49
- frozen brussel sprouts, 2 at 1.37 even though I only bought one
- unsweetened silk, $2.99
- very vanilla silk, $2.99
- half and half, four quarts, $1.99each
- Dannon yogurt parfait, $1.99 - 50 cent coupon

Total: $74.52
Team member discount: $7.48
RedCard discount: $3.35
Tax: 8 cents
Total: $63.77

Sunday, March 25, 2012


This is one of those catch-all kind of entries. It's been an odd couple of days. I have a slight cold (as does the child) so Friday I left husband in charge of dinner.

He came home with a Pizza d'Oro Sicilian with sausage and broccoli, caesar salad and black cherry soda.

Yesterday I used the pint of local exotic plums I canned last summer to throw together a tarte tartin. And I mean throw together. I didn't even measure much and I substituted lots of ingredients-- heavy whipping cream for sour cream, applesauce for eggs.

My mom has undertaken a radical change in diet. Her blood pressure and cholesterol are very high. Her sugar is out-of-whack. Her thyroid isn't working. AND she's gained weight. So, I'm helping her with that.

Meanwhile, it's spring and I have little garden plants growing in egg cartons on the sun porch, planted last weekend from seed. We have tomato, lettuce, green beans and flowers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cheater veggie stir fry noodles

-Simply Asia sesame noodles
- 1/2 bag frozen stirfry veggies
- 1/2 cup pineapple chunks and juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- dehydrated peas
- unsalted cashews

Boil water. Add the Simply Asia noodles.

In a skillet, combine 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil and the canola oil. Add the vegetables and the pineapple (I always cook my frozen veggies halfway in the microwave).

Cook until veggies are hot. Add the sesame seeds from the Simply Asia kit. Sauté on high about two minutes. Reduce heat and add the Simply Asia sauce.

When noodles are done, mix them into the vegetable skillet.

Put on plate and top with a small handful of cashews and dehydrated peas.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I like Brussel sprouts

For dinner tonight I maxed out our family's sodium content but we certainly got our colors...

I haven't tried Brussel sprouts in a few years and since Target had the Green Giant variety in butter sauce on sale so I thought it might be a good time to try a formerly disliked taste.

I liked them! Ate 2/3 of the box.

Except for the butter sauce, this dinner was vegan.

I made Gardein vegetarian beef tips by sautéeing them in canola oil, a pinch of minced garlic and a hearty shaking of ras el hanout. Served in zaatar bread for a Middle Eastern style sandwich.

Sides were sweet potato fries and Brussel sprouts. And home-brewed sweetened ice tea.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Baked mashed sweet potatoes and omelets

Since we have an extremely tight budget as of late, we're using the last of our roasted asparagus and spinach for yet another meal. That means I've made three meals from one box of frozen spinach and one sale bunch (12 ounces) of asparagus.

For three people, I used six eggs, a touch of half and half and a pile of spinach and asparagus for the omelet. Once the omelet got fairly solid, I added a thin layer of extra sharp cheddar.

As an unusual side dish, I mashed some sweet potatoes and baked them at 375 for about thirty minutes. Here are the ingredients I used (and it turned out fabulous):

- one egg
- about 3/4 cup brown sugar
- about 1 cup Very Vanilla soy milk
- 29 ounces canned sweet potatoes, syrup drained
I beat that until smooth and added:
- one handful regular raisins
- one handful golden raisins

Friday, March 16, 2012

Roasted Asparagus French Bread Pizza

I made homemade bread today, something I've blogged about many times before. AND I roasted the rest of the asparagus just like I did a couple days ago.

Then for dinner, I sliced some bread and prepared garlic bread/white veggie French bread pizzas.

- French bread
- butter
- minced garlic
- spinach
- broccoli
- roasted asparagus
- black olives
- ranch dressing

Preheat oven to 450.
Slice bread and arrange on cookie sheet.
Combine butter and minced garlic. Spread evenly over bread. Toast bread about five minutes in oven.
Combine broccoli, spinach and enough ranch to get the veggies wet.
Remove bread from oven. Pile on ranch mixture, top with cheese. Add some asparagus.
Put in oven about five minutes to get cheese melty.
Remove from oven. Add move asparagus, black olives and more cheese.
Return to oven. Cook until hot and melted.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

OMG Roasted Asparagus

I have mixed feelings about asparagus. I love good asparagus. But poor asparagus is stringy, bitter and can trigger my gag reflex.

I didn't have the highest expectations of this fresh asparagus, it came from Target after all. On sale $1.59 for 12 ounces. Grown in Mexico.

I sliced the asparagus down the middle, not straight through, just enough to let the butter in. A small cut. I used my pastry brush to coat the asparagus with the scallion butter I made earlier. (See previous post)

I roasted for ten minutes at 450, sprinkled with fresh ground black pepper and some fresh ground sea salt.

Return to the oven five more minutes and voilà! Best. Asparagus. Ever.

Wild scallion butter sauce

My daughter has taken an interest in the wild scallions that grow in the yard so I decided we would try and pick one.

We did.

And now I'm going to chop it, mix it with about one teaspoon each of extra virgin olive oil and butter and brush it over the fresh asparagus before we roast it.

I also checked our perennial herb garden. The sorrel is back in full force, the parsley has reseeded itself, the oregano and chives have fresh growth.

Post MFA interview shopping

This morning turned out crazy, and awesome, as our family overslept by about 80 minutes.

Not I haven't been blogging our food purchases since we've been so short on cash it's been the grab-exactly-what-we-need-to-survive mode. And use everything in the cupboards.

I mean everything. Soon we'll be eating the fruit I canned last summer for breakfast.

Now, I needed the car today for my MFA interview at Cedar Crest College. That meant getting everyone up and out of the house in twenty minutes. I could have dropped a Quaker Oatmeal bar in everyone's hands since I bought a box over the weekend or one of the chocolate chip Clif bars I bought on sale a while ago.

That wouldn't provide quick coffee. So we zoomed out of the house in 15 minutes so we could save 5 minutes to stop at Wawa. Husband and I got egg sandwiches and coffee. Daughter got a tuna wrap. For breakfast.

I tried to pay with my Wegmans shoppers club card. Got my visa and paid the $11 tab.

My interview went well, got to chat writing and sit in the sun. Wondering if I'll end up with a sunburn... It was noon.

Stopped at Target for a few things and only a few since I only have $50 left in my checkbook. It's Étienne's 53rd birthday today and I'd like to bake him a cake. Since I normally torture him (he's a protagonist from my manuscripts) I thought it'd be nice of me to... well... be nice.

At Target, I bought:
- asparagus, fresh, 12 ounces, $1.59 (yes, I put it in a cup of water after I trimmed the ends)
- blueberry breakfast bread, $3.79
- 3 large cans tuna, $2.19 each
- Archer Farm multigrain bread (I have to start baking my own again) $2.50
- canola oil, $3.39
- big bag of sliced almonds, $4.49 (seriously? Sigh.)
- old orchard 100% juice frozen concentrate apple raspberry, two at $1.59
- Silk PureAlmond vanilla, $3
- silk unsweetened soy milk, $2.99
- quart of heavy whipping cream (for the imaginary frenchman's cake) $3.99
- 8 ounces of extra sharp cheddar
- Hostess strawberry cupcakes, in case I don't bake the cake $2.50

Subtotal: $40.48
Team member discount: -4.06
RedCard discount: - 1.82
Total: $34.60

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mystery pasta dinner

I intended to make a reduced dairy mac and cheese for my daughter, but instead I made some copious amounts of baked pasta.

The sauce was:
- about two cups whole milk
- one cup soy milk
- three to four tablespoons butter (the sauce started as the butter mixed with a heaping teaspoon of floor cooked on medium)
- a teaspoon garlic powder
- a tablespoon dried basil

When that heated, I added three slices of provolone, about 3/4 cup Mexican blend of cheeses and about eight ounces of extra sharp cheddar.

I added one cup frozen peas and half a box of spinach.

I mixed in noodles. Poured it into two dishes (intended one but oops, too many noodles and too much sauce)

I topped with Parmesan and black olives.

Covered with foil and baked at 350 while we watched an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thai-inspired cheater stir fry

I started out this evening's dinner with Archer Farms Thai-inspired rice and broccoli seasoned vegetable blend.

I augmented it with extra stir fry vegetables and a can of water chestnuts.

In a skillet, I put two teaspoons of butter, a teaspoon of canola oil, a few sprinkles of sesame oil. I meant to add one teaspoon garlic powder, about two tablespoons lemon juice and a sprinkle of ginger.

I added the water chestnuts and extra vegetables and stir fried on high. Then I added the packaged veggies and mixed it all up.

Very pleased with the result.

Tiny grilled cheese on rye

Using up some leftovers

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Broiled grapefruit and dairy-free French toast

For the French toast:
- 3 eggs
- Very vanilla soy milk
- juice of one orange
- two slices blueberry bread
- one heel from a wheat loaf
- five large slices of multigrain
(the heel and the blueberry bread I sliced into French toast sticks so I could divide them evenly)

For the grapefruit:
- halve desired grapefruits and loosen segments
- sprinkle with a touch vanilla
- cover with brown sugar
Broil on low until hot and bubbly

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Make your own quesadilla night

The make-your-own quesadilla bar had the following items:

- chicken
- black beans
- cheese
- black olives
- fresh spinach
- buffalo blue cheese dip

For the top, a variety of salsas to choose from:
- Archer Farm raspberry
- tequila lime from Aldi
- mango salsa from Aldi

Monday, March 5, 2012

White veggie French bread pizzas

This is a family favorite.

- a crusty bread (today I'm using Archer Farms roasted garlic and herb baguette)
- butter
- vegetables (tonight I'm using California blend and extra broccoli, frozen, prepped in the microwave)
- Italian seasoning
- extra virgin olive oil
- provolone

- preheat oven to 400 or 424
- slice bread, spread with thin layer of butter
- place on cookie sheet and toast for about five minutes
- melt about one tablespoon butter, mix with one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil for about every four pieces of bread, about 6" long and 2" wide
- place desired veggies on bread, spoon olive oil butter sauce evenly over them
- sprinkle with Italian seasoning
- toast another five minutes
- cover each pizza with 1/2 slice provolone
- return to oven to melt cheese

I served with a side salad. Lots of veggies tonight!

Archer Farms Garlic Herb baguette

I recently told my family I had to start baking bread again. At the same time I had a craving for garlic bread.

So I tried this.

Less than $3, a fairly large baguette. And a nice amount of herb and garlic flavor. I'm serving with soup.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Daughter Cup Cakes

This is my daughter's attempt at the five minute microwave chocolate cake in coffee mug:

Mix in a mug and cook for 4 minutes in the microwave:
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tablespoons whisked egg
- 3 tablespoons vanilla almond milk
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- splash vanilla
- handful of chocolate chips

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ginger candy chicken and swimming cookies

After working on my economics homework for an hour and a half, I took a break to prepare dinner.

Once again I veered from the candy chicken recipe, but let's hope it works.

In the crockpot:
- 3 chicken breasts
- about 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- about 1/2 cup apple raspberry juice
- about 4 tablespoons spicy teriyaki sauce
- 2 tablespoons lemon lime soda syrup
- about 1 cup seltzer
- about 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon diced crystallized ginger
- about 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 small apples, cored and quartered

For the swimming cookies dessert:
In a glass casserole dish
Layer eight lemonade girl scout cookies
Prepare one package instant vanilla pudding with 1-and-a-half cups whole milk and pour over cookies. Chill.