Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lost my mind

The last few days have been full of quick meals like vegetarian chili, food from the freezer, tuna sandwiches and homemade French fries.

Some really yummy scrambled egg wraps with raspberry salsa and Morningstar vegetarian sausage.

Child has an ear infection again so we're limiting dairy.

Today we ventured out to use a discount coupon for 6 Dunkin donuts for $3.

We ate them all.

Today is partially a celebration since we did fabulously with the September grocery budget. We spent about $120 on dining out, which included my husband's birthday dinner and several highly discounted Starbucks drinks.

We got pizza once and maybe steak sandwiches once.

Grocery budget will come out to less than $150. But the freezer is totally empty, the garden depleted and a friend recently brought fresh broccoli, cauliflower and green beans. And crackers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Packing Wednesday

Today's school lunch is whole grain mini chicken corn dog nuggets.

Um, no.

I packed my daughter popcorn for snack, butter bread, unsalted cashews and vanilla roasted almonds, homemade fruit salad with gala apples, white grapes, strawberries and mango nectar/raw local honey sauce, and a V-8 fusion strawberry lemonade (a treat)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Crôque monsieur Américain

My daughter has been hungry for "French grilled cheese" as she calls crôque monsieur, but since I don't have cream, or fancy ham, or an extra $15 to buy good gruyere... I whipped up an Americanized version that satisfied about 90% as much as the original.

Now, if you need measurements, I'm sorry because I don't have a clue.

I started with two tablespoons butter in my small Le Creuset saucepan. I mixed in about two tablespoons flour and melded them together over medium high heat with a rubber spatula.

I splashed in soy milk and half and half, and then cheddar, provolone, Romano and Parmesan until smooth.i added a large pinch of nutmeg and some fresh ground black pepper.

I ended up with about 2 cups cheese sauce.

In a cake pan, i toasted 6 slices of bakery bread, placed 1/3 slice gouda on each, topped with two teaspoons tuna, and then topped each with two teaspoons sauce. I added a slice of cheddar to each. Another two teaspoons cheese sauce. Put lid on.

Then I sprinkled fresh cauliflower and garden peppers into the bottom of the pan. I covered each sandwich with sauce then doused the vegetables lightly.

Baked 10 minutes at 475, then broiled until bubbly.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Child makes ravioli

Child made ravioli tonight. Her father needs to be the instructor chef because he claims I don't let the water boil well enough.

Spinach ravioli in red sauce.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sausage and apple vegetarian waffles

I promised my family a pancake breakfast. I told the family they could pick the variety. They picked waffles. My husband suggested the funky French sausage waffles. When I started to gather the ingredients, I noticed something horrible.

We had one tablespoon of butter in the house.


So, we walked to Bottom Dollar and bought 4 pounds of butter at $2.09 a pound.

The waffle recipe is based on this:

But since there is a universal law that I cannot make the same meal twice, here is the new version.

Keep in mind this is based on a French gaufre recipe and I think gaufre might be French for "dripping with butter."

- 1 egg
- 1 single serving applesauce
- parsley
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
- 1 cup unbleached white flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup oats
- 1-2 cup diced apple
- 3 Morningstar vegetarian breakfast patties, broken into tiny pieces
- 1-2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar

I think that's everything.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Forgotten blogging

Last night I made a scrumptious dinner of sirloin steak, cooked in the cast iron skillet with some butter and fresh ground black pepper. Our vegetable was store-bought jalapeño poppers.

For breakfast we ate the last of the sweet potato/ pumpkin casserole.

Lunch was Lebanon bologna.

Snack was popcorn.

And now a dinner of tuna quesadilla and our homemade corn salsa with organic yellow corn tortilla chips.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Healthy Snacks

During a breakfast of open-faced Morningstar breakfast patties on half an English muffin with a sprinkle of cheese and a big glass of almond milk, my daughter looked at me and said, "I asked my teacher about the granola bars."

Now let me set the stage for this. Third grade in our little community-based elementary school (urban setting and the kids theoretically walk to school), the third graders move to what I imagine is the last lunch. 12:05.

Unlike when I was in school, they get a snack break at 10:20. The state of Pennsylvania has mandated that each school pass a wellness policy.

Bottom line: snacks must be healthy.

Granola bars, Go-gurt and pretzels appear to be the most popular choice. According to my daughter, that is.

We take carrot sticks. Or homemade corn salsa and organic blue corn tortilla chips with flax, or fruit, or goldfish pretzels with dried cranberries, or graham crackers.


The teacher has deemed the oatmeal "breakfast cookies" inappropriate because it smells, looks, tastes, sounds and quacks like a cookie.

My daughter wants to fit in. So she wants granola bars.

I make granola bars, homemade, but sometimes they look like cookies.

So I warned daughter that our granola bars might not work for school.

She asked the teacher.

Teacher replied that if *I* said it was healthy, it was healthy.

Yeah, me!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicken quesadilla

We made some quesadilla tonight.

- diced chicken
- equal amounts mayo and ranch dressing

Flop tortilla into pan.
Sprinkle with cheese of choice to serve as glue.
Add pile of fresh spinach.
Add chicken.
More cheese for glue.
Top with another tortilla.
Heat carefully until gooey.

I added buffalo red hot to mine.

Random updates

School lunch today was "chicken rings" and school lunch yesterday was pork sausage on a whole wheat roll so my daughter packed.

Yesterday it was the last of the vegetarian baked beans and vegetarian hot dogs, applesauce with cinnamon, and broccoli with ranch to dip and carrot sticks.

Today I had a small flour tortilla and some organic corn chips packed with raspberry salsa, the leftover taco beans-meat-corn-garden peppers mixture in her thermal bowl, and fruit cocktail. Then she asked for carrot sticks.

How can you say no?

Meanwhile, I took a piece of lebanon bologna and put some horseradish on it and piled it high with fresh spinach. I rolled it like a wrap and ate it for breakfast because I was starving.

Daughter saw this and responded with "that looks good." I have promised to make her one (without horseradish) after school.

I have an appt with the periodontist today to see if my dental implant had properly matured. Not that it matters to me, since I can't afford the tooth for it.

I made myself a gorgeous taco salad for lunch: a bed of fresh spinach, a little white rice, the taco mix child took for lunch, raspberry salsa and then a few crumbs from the bottom of the bag of organic blue corn chips with flax seed.

Now I can brave the 20+ miles to the dentist. In the new-to-us car. On the highway. In a storm that may include high winds, torrential downpours and tornados.


To have someone poke around at my gums.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sweet potato pumpkin crunch

I made a crazy sweet potato casserole today with an inside custard of 2 eggs, 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, one can evaporated milk, cinnamon, one large can yams and one small can pumpkin.

Topped with crumbs of almonds, dried cranberries, flour and brown sugar.

Poured butter on it and baked at 375 for 35 minutes and 15 minutes at 350.

Served with a side of roast beef and spinach roll ups. Or Lebanon bologna.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Child soft tacos

We're reinstating the child-makes-one-meal-per-week policy and she opted for soft tacos.

In the skillet, she combined:
- water
- about 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 finely diced garlic clove
- 1 pinch Indian chili powder
- 1 pinch Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

- 1 lb ground beef
- about 16 ounces corn
- about 16 ounces beans
- 1 bell pepper from the garden, diced
Cover with water and boil at medium to medium high for one hour, adding more water and stirring every 15 minutes

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Post Aldi sandwiches

Sometimes, my hormones go crazy and I want greasy junk. Today it was pizza and cheesesteaks. Yes, I wanted both.

Instead, I went to Aldi. Why should I spend $30 for take out if I can find something just as appealing (and junky) in the grocery store?

My daughter had a craving for sandwiches and while I'm not an advocate of cold cuts, I thought roast beef slices could satisfy both of us.

I bought some staples and the replacement for our pizza and cheesesteaks. This wasn't meant to be healthy, or unprocessed, just healthier and less processed than cheesesteaks and pizza. And cheaper!

I spent $48.75.

My haul:
- three 15 ounce cans of pumpkin, 99 cents each
- can of pineapple chunks, 89 cents
- big bottle of canola oil, $2.69
- jalapeño kettle chips, $1.79
- dates, $1.99
- canned diced chicken breast, $1.79
- jar of mayo, 1.99
- chunk tuna in oil, 79 cents (oops. Wrong one)
- chunk tuna in water, 3 cans at 64 cents each
- Lebanon bologna, $3.29
- roast beef lunch meat, $2.49
- wavy potato chips, $1.39
- sweet potato chips, $1.99 (very impressed with the vitamin A content)
- dozen eggs 78 cents
- 20 count 6" tortillas, 2 bags $1.49 each
- mini croissants, $2.49
- fresh spinach, $1.69
- English muffins, 99 cents
- sliced Gouda and sliced havarti, $2.49 each
- 3 zucchini in a box, $1.69
- jalapeño poppers, $2.49
- oats, $2.19
- half gallon of vanilla almond milk, $2.49

Mixed hot lunch

Used the leftover baked beans to make a hot lunch for my daughter and I. Mixed in one vegetarian hot dog and crumbled in a vegetarian breakfast/sausage patty. Side of unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon and drink of decaf chai tea-- hot with local raw honey for little miss and iced for me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Early Mom dinner

One of my most frequent "mistakes" is to not eat enough or enough good food. After my struggles with gestational diabetes and anemia, I know I have to be super vigilant about food.

Today I did not make that mistake. Made a fried vegetarian hot dog and piled that sucker on a potato roll with a dill pickle, brown mustard and horseradish. My side dish was Bush's vegetarian baked beans.

And a glass of Aspirine UPSA to drink. My head has been foggy thanks to the change of seasons and allergies so I thought my French effervescent aspirin might help.

And a big dose of vitamins today. C. Iron. And my multi.

Asian flair chicken salad

This smells incredible.

I started with a few steady drops of sesame oil in my cast iron skillet adding:
- ginger
- pinch curry
- garlic pepper
- lots of parsley
- diced candied ginger

Added a diced pear and 6 ounces diced chicken. Sautéed together adding more sesame oil and low sodium soy sauce.

Added tiny bits of broccoli and grated carrot.

Chilled it. Added 2 teaspoons mayo and 2 teaspoons horseradish sauce.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Eggplant sandwiches

I hoped to make more eggplant parm but ran out of crumbs.

I breaded the eggplant and fried it in oil and fresh basil from the garden.

Then I piled it on hot dog buns (potato rolls) and topped it with spring mix and salad dressing.

Except for mine. Mine got horseradish sauce.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chicken white chili in the crock pot

I adapted this from a recipe on

The original:

In the crock pot, on high, about four hours:
- one can chicken noodle soup
- three cans water
- one box Archer Farms butternut squash soup
(I didn't have chicken stock)
- about 2 cups diced leftover chicken
- 2 really big cloves garlic, minced
- 3 peppers from my garden, diced (one green, one jalapeño, and one spicy green)
- about 45 ounces white beans
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano from my garden
- 1/2 teaspoon country herb seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

At 2:30 (about 80 minutes after I set the crockpot up), I tasted the broth and found the peppers had kick but the broth was a tad plain and runny and I saw way more chicken than beans.

So I went into my freezer and added another bag of beans. Each bag is roughly 15 ounces/1 can. Then I added maybe a 1/2-3/4 teaspoon more cumin and about 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.

Then I still wasn't happy so I added a can of creamed corn for more body. Might add fresh broccoli later.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Crazy bagels

It's cold and rainy. My husband wanted sandwiches. I wanted broccoli.

We made sandwiches and store-bought soup.

The sandwiches were open faced tuna melts on half of a bagel. My daughter and I split halves-- 1/4 each of salt and poppy with tuna, then cooked broccoli and finally extra sharp cheddar melted on top.

Yup, you read that correctly. Cooked broccoli. It was a fabulous addition. I think I may be adding broccoli to my sandwiches all the time...

But next time I'm doubling the amount of broccoli.

Coffee cake and hibiscus tea

My husband and daughter made me a coffee cake while I was in class, which I am enjoying with hibiscus tea diluted with bubbles.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Early dinners

Since I've worked all weekend, and closing shift, we've had hot meals earlier in the day to get "real food" into me before I head to Target café.

Yesterday we had an early lunch of leftovers, including eggplant, green beans and vegetarian piggies in the blanket. For dinner, at 4 before I headed off, my husband made spaghetti and meatballs.

We froze some meatballs for later use.

Today, at noon, we're enjoying vegetarian and gluten free channa dal from a package to which I added loads of spinach and hearty brown rice. The beverage was Very Vanilla Silk.

Speaking of Target, I finished my work on time last night for the first time in ages. The dishwasher has been broken for about a month and washing piles of dirty cast iron pizza pans has been fun to say the least.

But last night I got done on time and could buy some household items. Sadly Target had no more canning lids.

But I did pick up the following:
- ocean spray 64 ounce bottle of cran-raspberry juice, on sale for $2.39
- Market Pantry pasta sauce, one traditional and one garden vegetable. $1.32 each. I have no intention of eating them. I don't use jarred sauce. They are for my father-in-law who read in Consumer Reports that the Target brand is the best spaghetti sauce. After he told me this four times, I'm buying him some.
- archer farms organic hibiscus tea, $2.99
- Tazo decaf chai tea bags, $2.99
- archer farms sea salt caramel hot chocolate mix, $4.49 (splurge but the child has to have something yummy for the occasional crisp fall morning)
- sugar, $2.69
- Silk vanilla almond milk, $3.19
- Silk very vanilla soy milk, $2.99
- Breyers waffle cone burst ice cream, 2 cartons on clearance for $3.07 each

Total: $30.51
Minus team member discount: -3.06
RedCard: -1.37
Tax: 12 cents
New total: $26.20

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lemony pickles

We started making pickles today with a new recipe and I noticed it called for fermenting the cukes first.

That's not happening.

So while trying to find another recipe for my salted cukes, I was reminded that a pickling brined is equal parts water and whatever vinegar you like.

Based on my recipe research, I sliced my seven small pickling cucumbers into coins and added sliced lemon.

I boiled a mix of sugar, apple cider vinegar, water, strawberry basil balsamic vinegar, garlic pepper and lemon thyme from my garden.