Posts Tagged ‘what’s for dinner’

What’s For Dinner: Easy Ravioli With Sausage And Tomatoes

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

I was going to call this “What’s For Dinner: Stuff I Bought At Target” but my friend Amy pointed out some Targets don’t have as much food as others. Maybe your Target doesn’t have a frozen food section, or dried herbs, or the specific brand of tomatoes I like, or any sausage. I don’t want to get angry emails saying “I TRIED TO MAKE YOUR RECIPE BUT THEY DIDN’T HAVE RAVIOLI AT MY TARGET SO MY LIFE IS RUINED.”

You wouldn’t think people could get so mad over a problem easily solved (try the grocery store! Or even Walmart!), but then you’d remember this is the internet.  The most hateful comments I’ve ever gotten were about a tutu.

But back to food, since food is pretty much all I have left to enjoy at 32 weeks pregnant. Delicious, cheesy food.

Ravioli with Sausage and Tomatoes @bebehblog

A recipe that only takes a handful of ingredients that I can keep on hand AND children eat is the Holy Grail of dinners around here. I don’t even consider frozen ravioli cheating when it comes to “homemade” – if I didn’t get it from a drive-thru, we’re doing really well. (Have I mentioned I just discovered the joys of frozen meatballs and rotisserie chickens from the grocery store too???) Both kids ate the noodles, Caroline ate a ton of sausage and Evan pushed the tomatoes around on his plate. I added lots of red pepper flakes for my helping, but if you made it for grown ups you could use spicy sausage for even better flavor – the package I used was “garlic and cheese”.

Ravioli With Sausage And Tomatoes

1 24 oz bag frozen ravioli (cheese, spinach & cheese, whatever)
1 28 oz can Tuttorosso diced tomatoes
16 oz Italian sausage (whatever kind you like – if you buy precooked chicken sausage this would be even faster)
1 TBS dried basil
1 TBS dried oregano
Parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes
Salt

Cook the ravioli according to package directions. Most of the time that involves boiling a pot of water and just tossing them in for a few minutes. In the mean time, cut the sausage into small/medium sized pieces and brown it in a skillet until fully cooked. Drain the sausage of most of the fat. Open the tomato can and drain about 3/4 of the liquid (If you want saucier tomatoes you can skip that step. Saucy!) then throw them in the pan with the sausage. Add basil and oregano, then salt to taste. Simmer the sauce for just a few minutes to let the sausage soak up some of the tomatoes. Drain the ravioli and you’re ready to serve! Top with cheese and red pepper to taste.

Ravioli with Sausage and Tomatoes @bebehblog

It almost seems too easy, but I promise the tomatoes + sausage make a delicious combination. I’m a big fan of the Tuttorosso brand (they actually sent me a few cans, but I already had a dozen in my pantry) and they’re easy to find – look for the green and yellow labels. Technically this should serve 4, but if you are hungry or pregnant I’d say only 2 grown ups plus 2 kids.

Although right now I am fully confident I could eat the entire thing entirely by myself.

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Easy Addictive Radish Dip

What’s For Dinner? Volume 12

Friday, April 26th, 2013

It’s What’s for Dinner! I’m hoping resurrecting this feature will encourage me to cook more. I like cooking. It’s better for me and my family than the pizza/fast food/frozen stuff cycle we’ve been on while E’s schedule was totally crazy. Even if I’m not making intentionally diet-friendly recipes there are definitely more vegetables in these than in a #2 from McDonalds (large size, with a Diet Coke). So here’s what we’ve been eating for the past week:

1-Lightroom Edits1

Dragon Noodles – Budget Bytes (A++++ Will make again (and again and again and another million more times.) It’s too spicy for the kids so I have to make them something else but it is totally worth it.)
Pesto Shrimp Skewers and Malt Vinegar Oven Fries – SkinnyTaste and BabyBabyLemon (my fries were delicious but not photogenic)
Korean Beef – Lizzy Writes (I added sriracha, so of course it was delicious)
Baked Hummus and Spinach Dip and Homemade Whole Wheat Pitas – Naturally Ella and Budget Bytes (E had work so I was just feeding myself and the kids, so hummus was a perfect choice)

1-Lightroom Edits2

Cheeseburger Quesadillas – Skinny Taste (she made hers with buffalo meat, but I used my delicious grass-fed cow)
Greek Salad with Beef Kebabs – ripped out of Rachael Ray’s magazine (salad was delicious, kebabs were a little meh but BOTH kids ate a ton of meat and cucumbers)
Summer Vegetables with Sausage and Potatoes – Skinny Taste (yummy)
Crockpot Beef and Pepper Tacos  - I made this one up! See below for the recipe…

crockpot beef and pepper tacos

Crockpot Beef and Pepper Tacos
Serves at least 4, with leftovers

1 Beef roast, 2-3 lbs
Bell peppers, various colors, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped (or more, to taste)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 T chili powder
1 T garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 T salt
1 tsp paprika
Black pepper
Red pepper flakes, to taste
2 cups beef broth or stock

Mix the spices together in a small bowl and rub them all over the roast. Put the roast in the crockpot and surround it with the peppers, onion, jalapeno and garlic. And 2 cups beef broth (more or less, depending on the size of your crockpot – it should come up about half way on the roast) and then put the lid on. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or until the beef is fall-apart tender. Shred it up and put it on a plate for serving. Put the cooked beef and peppers in tortillas with lettuce, pico de gallo, and avocado. I put hot sauce on mine too, since it was good but a little boring – I love spicy! Caroline liked it though, so mild was definitely a good choice.

crockpot beef and pepper tacos

I made the pico de gallo too. I win at dinner this week.

So, have you tried any really great recipes recently?

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We Bought A Cow

Monday, March 4th, 2013

We bought a cow. Well, part of a cow. We split half a cow with some friends so we ended up with one-sixth of a cow. Well, one-sixth of a cow post-chopping up, so it’s not like I have a whole bunch of hooves in my downstairs freezer (although we did send my friend Erin home with a rather large bag of bones). The cow came from a very nice small family farm in rural Pennsylvania where she ate grass and wandered around fields and lived as happy of a cow life as she possibly could have until she came to live in my stomach instead.

I have very high hopes for my cow, although I’m sort of nervous to DO anything with the meat. Is it a crime to put stuff on it? Should I just barely cook the steaks and eat them straight up? Also, I’m going to need some ground beef recipes besides taco salad and spaghetti with meat sauce (although I’m pretty sure E would be fine with 30 nights of taco salad).

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Since my freezer is huge, this doesn’t look like an overwhelming amount of food but it is…a lot of meat. Really, I could use ANY recipe for beef, since I’ve never cooked/heard of some of these cuts before. It turns out when you’re getting a large part of a cow you get stuff like “farmer’s steak” which Google isn’t really helping me with although it looks sort of like a london broil? I’m just scared to ruin what should be REALLY GOOD FOOD.

I’ll let you know in 6 months when we eat it all if I think this was a good $400 investment, but I’m pretty sure the answer is already YES.

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Easy Addictive Radish Dip

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Today I present a recipe for super easy, super delicious radish dip. I ate an entire batch of it over the past two days which means a) I will smell like garlic for a week and b) I ate an entire block of cream cheese by myself. I’m not even sorry.

easy radish dip

My sister made this dip when she came to visit a zillion years ago. I was confused, because who uses radishes for anything?? They’re like the acid wash jeans of vegetables – they’re always AROUND and sometimes they’re trendy and maybe other people use them for stuff but for most people? No. Just no. Who knew they were actually delicious and spicy and perfect for a crunchy snack? Also, they’re perfect in this dip, which might be the easiest thing you ever eat way, way too much of in one sitting.

Easy Radish Dip

Ingredients:
1 block cream cheese (regular or light)
6-7 medium sized radishes
4 cloves of garlic, peeled

Directions:
Put everything in a food processor, blend until radishes and garlic are minced. Eat with crackers, carrots or more radishes cut into slices.

Add more garlic if you like things super garlicky. Add more radishes to make it a tiny bit healthier (less cream cheese per bite). Double it if you’re making it for a party. Enjoy!

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I Promise I’ll Never End Up On Extreme Couponers

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Do you ever start doing something and then think “Whoa, this is SO EASY and yet makes SUCH A DIFFERENCE I cannot believe I wasn’t doing it already!”? I suspect you have, since I do it at least once a week – chances are people smarter than myself do it occasionally.

Specifically, I have started putting some effort into reducing our grocery bill. We really need to get our finances in better shape (too much holiday spending, a car that needs replaced, other stuff that makes being an adult kind of suck, etc etc etc) but my previous all-or-nothing attempts have always ended with…nothing. I’m terrible at that approach.

This time I have been much more successful because I limited myself to two(ish)  particular changes. Let me tell you about them in great detail!

First, I stopped throwing away the grocery store circular they mail me each week in the free town paper. I don’t subscribe to the real newspaper paper and I don’t have to remember to go buy one on Sundays – this just shows up, with no cost or effort besides remembering not to toss it in the recycling bin. In the past I would save ALL the circulars and stare at them thinking “I should compare prices on stuff and make a chart and go to each store to buy specific things where they are the cheapest”. That never happened. I would end up at my regular grocery store with no idea what was on sale, buying things on impulse along with the things on my list.

Now instead of setting my bar at “find the very lowest prices and drive to three different grocery stores to save money” I settle for “Look at the circular of the one store where I shop”. I specifically look at stuff I know we are running out of, proteins, and convenient foods for the kids like Goldfish and fruit snacks. I discovered that even organic fruit goes on sale sometimes, so I can get the fancy apples for less than the regular ones if I’m paying attention. (I also discovered fruit in general is a really cheap snack – plus the kids can help themselves. WIN-WIN!)

On top of the regular sales, my grocery store (Stop & Shop – it’s the same as Giant in other parts of the country) has a few coupons attached to their ad that can bring the sale prices of an item even lower. For example, cherry tomatoes are usually $3.99. They were on sale for $2.99. With the coupon on the circular they were $1.99. That’s totally worth the ten seconds it took me to cut it out. The idea of “couponing” as depicted on TV and the more intimidating parts of the internet is still so overwhelming my brain completely shuts down at the very thought. I do not scour the internet for coupons. I do not steal my neighbor’s papers to get coupons. I don’t buy stuff I never would have bought without a coupon and hoard it in my basement. But if I can buy something with the coupon that I KNOW I will need (last week it was butter, down from $3.49 to $1.99) I will buy it and freeze it. There are also sometimes coupons to get bonus gas points, which is literally free money. Saving 30+ cents a gallon adds up over the course of a few months.

The second thing I do is meal plan with specific foods in mind. I enjoy meal planning. It reduces the “What’s for dinner?” stress by 10000% and results in a lot fewer pizzas and fast-food runs. But until recently, all I did was pull out my cookbooks, binders, magazines and Pinterest board to see what sounded good. Then I’d make a list, buy ALL THE THINGS and make dinner for 4-5 nights in a row. Now I am looking at my store circular and making note of what main ingredients are on sale BEFORE I plan. Two weeks ago I had a coupon for chuck roast. Since I know I can make easy, delicious, left-over producing drip beef sandwiches with a chuck roast, drip beef went on the menu. Recently my friend Mae suggested I check out Budget Bytes for inexpensive recipes and I am really enjoying it. (Special shout out to the dragon noodles which I’ve already made twice!) The site has lots of interesting, quick, easy recipes without tons of fancy, one-off ingredients. Buying a whole bottle of safflower oil because a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon will blow your budget quickly. With this kind of focus at the grocery store, I get MUCH less distracted by the bright shiny sales on stuff I don’t need. My mind gets in a zone – Must! Find! Exact! Pork Loin! On! Sale! – and shopping takes LESS time than it used to.

The other part of my new meal plan (which is the “ish” part of saying I’ve only done two(ish) things to save money) is making things from scratch. So far I have made focaccia rolls, pita bread, pasta sauce and hummus – none of them were very difficult and all were cheaper than their store-bought versions. I realize not everyone wants to do that much cooking/baking – in fact MOST people don’t, which is why there are 400 different kinds of tomato sauce in jars – but I have the time and interest so I’m happy to be doing it.

The result is our grocery budget has been reduced by almost 50% ALREADY. On my first big shopping trip after I started being more mindful I saved 30% – around $40. My second smaller trip I saved 40%. My grocery store prints a running total of how much I’ve saved over the year at the bottom of my receipt and my goal is to get over $1200 by the end of 2013. That works out saving $100 a month with a food budget of around $350 a month, which includes breakfasts for me and the kids, lunch for me and the kids, lunch for E to take to work, dinner for all of us plus snacks, fruit and special treats. I’ve never tried to stick to a budget so closely before, so I’m not completely confident in my ability to do it but I am TRYING…which costs nothing.

As you can probably see from the list of stuff I’ve been making, I haven’t been keeping up with Paleo eating while I’ve been trying to reduce our costs. It’s hard to do both – grass-fed beef, coconut oil, nuts and organic produce add up quickly while flour and potatoes are cheap – but I’m hoping as I get better at it (and once our CSA starts up again) I can get back to my bacon diet. 

Since I’ve made these changes with so little effort I’m totally open to more ideas. What do you do to save money at the grocery store?

p.s.

regrowing green onions

Want to feel like MacGyver mixed with Laura Ingalls? Put the white part of your green onions in a glass of water and regrow them. BOOM! Money saving AND cool to watch. (Tip from The Kitchn via Homemade Serenity)

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