Posts Tagged ‘what’s for dinner’

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!

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)

What’s For Dinner: Primal/Paleo Edition

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

I’m going to talk about this paleo/primal thing for a minute. Feel free to skip to food pictures.

Short update: I love it. I eat so many eggs I’m afraid I might turn into a chicken. I’ve lost 5 pounds, eat real butter and real cream, and am shocked at how little I miss most of my old diet.

Long update, in bullet point form because I keep thinking of things to add:

1. I am not technically following a Paleo diet because I still eat cheese. It’s closer to the Primal Blueprint diet, but I’m not sure I’m even doing that correctly. I don’t actually care very much about whether or not a caveman would have eaten it – I care whether or not it’s going to give me a migraine or make me feel like I’m dying (both things that happen now if I eat the wrong stuff). Being sort of lax with the rules mean I’m not getting all that magical fat-melting the interwebs seemed to promise, but it also means I don’t want to jump off a bridge.

2. Once I got through a few days carb/added sugar/Diet Coke-free my cravings for said things dropped off the map almost entirely. It’s like all the willpower I’ve lacked my entire life just SHOWED UP. Oh hey, Willpower, nice to see you. I could have used you back when my pregnancy cravings had me eating McDonald’s fries twice a day but whatever. I’m really glad the desire is gone because I am NOT making the whole family stick to my diet. Caroline basically does it on her own – she’d rather have eggs for breakfast than cereal – but Evan would starve without carbs. Thanks to my new willpower when I bought the kids special treat donuts after the Fresh Beat Band concert, I managed to bring one home, look at it for a while, then leave it for E to eat. I NEVER could have done that before.

3. I’ve thrown out all the rules about breakfast, lunch and dinner. Steak at 10 am, eggs and bacon for dinner, and eating any time I feel hungry is the new plan. Since I can’t count on easy, instant food I also do a lot more cooking (and dishes) and eat a lot more leftovers. Also, eggs. All the time.

4. I sometimes get this weird burning in my nose, like I accidentally inhaled water. I have NO idea if my new diet is to blame but it happens 3-4 times a day and it’s something that has never happened to me before (unless I really did get water up my nose). Dr. Google seems to think it’s an unrelated sinus infection, but I swear I’m not sick and haven’t been for a while. It might be my face rebelling against my diet (although my skin and hair seems to like it.)

5. My exercise schedule has been pretty sad (or non-existent) since E’s schedule changed back in August. I stopped running and haven’t been going to Stroller Strides. Now that I’ve seen a little success with the diet change I’m more motivated to see if I can amp it up with some workouts. I think it would make a big difference in my shape/jeans size.

6. I’m going to stick with it. It’s not so much that it’s some sort of magical cure-all weight-loss miracle plan, but just that I like it. I like drinking my coffee with real cream and I like putting steak on top of my lunch salad and I like eating eggs – all things I WASN’T doing before because I thought I needed to eat low fat to lose (or even maintain) my weight. This is better.

7. Still no plans to turn this into a blog about paleo/primal stuff, but if you want to talk about it I’m more than happy to on email or Facebook. Thank you to people who emailed me suggestions and recipes and blogs to follow – it’s been SUPER helpful!

8. Who can tell me where to get coconut flour? Don’t say Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods – we don’t have those.

So, to answer the title question, here’s what’s for dinner (complete with a lot of Google-fu to find the recipes):

 

1. Thai-Inspired Scallop Soup – The Primal Blueprint Cookbook (I KNOW I found this recipe online somewhere but can’t re-find it. It was totally amazing, so I might remake it and blog it)
2. Turkish Eggs – Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals (basic recipe can also be found here)
3. Smoked Salmon, Egg and Asparagus Roll-ups – Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals (just what it sounds/looks like)
4. Bison Chili – The Primal Blueprint Cookbook (just basic chili, no beans)

5. Artichoke & Green Olive Dip – Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals (almost the same as this one)
6. Nut Crackers – The Primal Blueprint Cookbook (This one IS online – recipe #2 here.)
7. Deep Dish Pizza Casserole – A Girl Worth Saving
8. Meat sauce over roasted eggplant – I made spaghetti for everyone else and just threw some eggplant in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. It was better than noodles.

9. Coconut Almond Coleslaw – The Primal Blueprint Cookbook (I was most meh about this one)
10. Bacon & Mushroom Dip – Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals (online here)
11. Zucchini Carbonara – Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals (someone blogged it here)
12. Chicken & Artichokes With Garlic Sauce – Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals (REALLY good, really easy, I’ve made it twice. There’s a version online here, but I used anchovies instead of fish sauce.)

I’ve also eaten a lot of broccoli made with this recipe I found on the Girl’s Gone Child blog and successfully replaced rice with grated cauliflower in both fried rice and jambalaya. Plus eggs. Did I mention eggs yet?

(Links in this post are not sponsored or affiliate links, just stuff I’ve read or bought on my own.)

P.S. ALSO, I made Jalapeno Popper Quiche last night (minus the crust) and it was SO FREAKING GOOD I didn’t even take time to eat a picture before E and I ate it all.

What’s For Dinner? Volume 11

Monday, June 11th, 2012

More dinner ideas, right here! I’ve been on the hunt for dinners I can make for the kids and myself that E can easily take out of the fridge and/or reheat when he gets home from work at 9.

1. Lemon and Herb Pasta Salad – Rachel Ray
2. Spaghetti with Turkey-Pesto MeatballsParents Need To Eat Too (I LOVE this cookbook!)
3. Chicken Andouille & Shrimp Jambalaya – Rachel Ray
4. Thai Chicken Pizza  – Me! I was out of carrots so I used cucumber. Still delicious!

5. BLT Pasta Salad – The Big Book of Backyard Cooking
6. Grilled Nachos – I bought this tray at Williams-Sonoma with my Christmas gift card and it’s AMAZING.
7. Chicken Satay Naan – Rachel Ray
8. Mango Lime Couscous – Idea from the Weight Watchers Points Plus Cookbook, but I ignored most of the recipe. It’s just whole wheat couscous cooked in vegetable stock, mango, red onion, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice and a little olive oil, all to taste. I served it with baked Cajun chicken.

I’ve been working towards changing my attitude towards food – redefining “good” food and “bad” food and what I’m “allowed” to eat – so suddenly a whole new world of recipes are open to me and I’m pretty excited. My friend Erin might even have sold me a little on the whole Paleo thing. She sold it with promises of bacon. At this point I feel like I’ve tried every diet in the world and they all WORK…but only until I get bored. I need to figure out what to eat forever.

Baked Green Bean Fries

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

To be honest, I am not a huge fan of green beans. The only time I ever really like them is battered and deep fried but by that point they’re barely a vegetable any more and definitely not a health food. And although I’m sure some kids eat green beans willingly for breakfast, lunch and dinner, mine prefer french fries…and I do too.

So I made my green beans into fries. Sort of. Healthy ones!

Baked Green Bean Fries
Serves 4

12 oz green beans
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup egg substitute (or 1 egg)
Splash of water
1 cup Italian panko bread crumbs*
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and coat a rimmed cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

First you have to blanch the green beans, which sounds like a long, fancy, unnecessary step, but is easy and quick. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a little salt. Toss in the green beans and boil for 3 minutes. As soon as the time is up, drain the beans in a colander and then put them in a bowl of ice water for at least 3 more minutes. They should still be green and crunchy.

Drain the beans again and pat them dry. Put them into a dry bowl, pour the flour over them and toss until they’re all coated. Put your egg in a bowl with a splash of water and scramble it, then put your bread crumbs and salt in another bowl. This next part is a little tedious but I tried doing it other ways and they didn’t work as well. Working a couple beans at a time, dip them in the egg mixture, then roll them in the bread crumbs until they are well coated. Put them on the cookie sheet. Repeat until they are all coated and in a single layer on the sheet (use another cookie sheet if you run out of space). Bake for 18-20 minutes until the coating starts to brown.

Serve with your choice of dipping sauce for little fingers or something spicy for grown ups (I dipped mine in Kraft Horseradish Dijon Mayo but if you were REALLY fancy you could make your own).

*If you wanted to make them spicy, add cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to the bread crumbs. I was trying to keep them kid friendly for the picky 3 year old (the baby loves spicy stuff).

Caroline approved!

I calculated the Weight Watchers Points Plus and each serving is only 2 points – so feel free to eat most of them in 1 sitting. Or all of them you can keep away from the kids. Enjoy!