Tofu for Two

A couple years ago I spent a couple months on a pescetarian diet.  Inspired by my yoga training, it was an interesting experiment to see if I could eventually transition to a vegetarian diet.  It was hard, and I gave in a couple times along the way (pulled pork - who can resist?).  Eventually I knew my body wanted MEAT or, at the least, more protein.  Plus I was really struggling to balance eating only fish and feeding a family who was not.

Despite my failed attempt to clean up my carnivore diet, I did learn something along the way - a little bit of self-deprivation is good for the soul.  Denying myself delicious things taught me a lot about my mind-body connection.  It felt empowering to be in control.  It was a truly spiritual connection.  In fact, self denial is a reoccurring them throughout many religions.  Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the desert fasting (and then tempted by Satan).   The Buddha fasted for 49 days during his quest for enlightenment.  In Judaism, Yom Kippur is used as a day of fasting and meditation.  Considered one of the most holy days of the year, it’s a day for prayer and penance.  By removing food, you remove distraction and are forced to focus deeper on your spiritual pursuits.

It sounds like I’m going to fast, huh? Well, I’m not.  I find it an amazing and noble cause, but it’s not for me - at least not this stage in the game.  But, what I am going to do, is try to cut out meat again.  This time, however, I’ve got Chris on board.   First we’re going to eat down our supply of meat in the deep freezer, which shouldn’t take too long, and try our best to make vegetarian choices at lunch.  It won’t be easy, especially since we eat out most weekday lunches, but should be a good challenge for our will power.  I’m looking forward to feeling both powerful and frustrated at the same time.  Here’s hoping!

With that said - anyone have any good tofu recipes?

That Was the Point

This morning I noticed that a couple of the broccoli plants in my garden were bolting.  I had completely neglected them while outside, focusing primarily on the peas and hoeing the garden.  Plus we got our first CSA box from Real Food Farms so our household veggies needs had been met.  When I went outside to cut the stalk, I felt overwhelmed.  How was I ever going to cook and serve all these vegetables? But then I remembered, the whole point to growing a garden and subscribing to a CSA was to put away organic, healthy foods for the fall and winter.  I spent the rest of my morning blanching broccoli and flash freezing it in the deep freezer.  After I got back from lunch with the girls, I tossed the frozen broccoli in freezer bags and put it in the deep freezer.  I have the feeling future Kelly will be rather grateful.  Hopefully she doesn’t mind the yellow parts that were a day or so away from blooming.


Scrub A Dub Dub

Oh man. I hate letting things go to waste, especially stuff that holds so much potential.  I’m usually pretty good about throwing leftovers into the freezer before they go bad, but there’s some stuff that gets ignored, such as baking supplies.  If found a use for stale whole wheat flour - Canine Crack Cookies.  Luckily Lucy doesn’t mind stale flour as long as it’s baked with chicken broth.  But a couple weeks ago, I realized my rolled and quick oatmeal was stale.  Thankfully I had just read an article in a magazine on making homemade body scrub with stuff found around the house.

Coffee Oatmeal Body Scrub

  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1/4-1/2 cup coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • fresh grated ginger
  • 2-4 tbsp honey
  • olive oil (not extra virgin)

Make sure to chop the oatmeal in a food processor (so it won’t clog your drain).  Add honey & oil to desired consistency.  Some people like it oily.  Personally I like it a bit thicker.  It will get watered down in the shower, and I don’t want too much oil on the bottom of my tub!  After mixing it up, I store the batch in a Ball jar in the fridge and put a little in a Tupperware container in the shower.

Just a warning, you might smell a little like coffee.  In my opinion, that’s a good thing! Also, you’ll probably have coffee granules around your shower.  Happy Scrubbing!
body scrub

Snow Day, Take 2

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Like most of the south, we’re getting hit again with snow.  Well, this time we’re actually getting snow instead of just a dusting - 6″ so far and more to come! I did a little baking last night and today: cornbread, hamburger buns, and chocolate pecan oatmeal cookies.  I know several of you guys have asked me about the burger buns, but alas, I don’t have that tutorial for you.  It requires some pictures, and it’s hard to get the step-by-step when I’m the only parent in the house.  However, this cornbread won’t disappoint.


I inherited this recipe from Chris’s mom.  She got it from her Aunt Edith.  It’s truly fantastic.  Now there’s some folks that will complain that it’s not true cornbread because it has flour.  Other people will complain because it has sugar in it (which is more of a Northern trait).  I say, “Shut up and eat your bread.”

Aunt Edith’s Cornbread

  •  1 cup self-rising cornmeal
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 oil

Cook in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

Okay, let’s take a minute and talk about pans.  Yesterday was my first successful attempt at cooking cornbread in an iron skillet.  Previously, I’ve cooked it in a greased stoneware mini-loaf pan.  (I inherited it from Aunt Edith - I think she’d be proud!)  Stoneware is great because it cooks evenly, and the shortening guarantees that it’s crispy.  I wanted to avoid the extra fat and calories so this time I preheated the skillet with the oven and sprayed it with cooking spray before pouring in the batter.  It didn’t make it crispy, but it did give it a nice brownie edge like bottom.  Chris really liked it, but I’m pretty sure my dad would hate it.  (Well, my dad would hate this recipe because it has sugar in it anyway.  Phooey!)  It’s my understanding that you can get a nice crispy bottom if you preheat the pan with some butter before pouring in your batter.  If you do that, make sure you keep a good watch on the pan so the butter doesn’t burn.

What’s your favorite cornbread recipe?  Does your cornbread have sugar or salt? What’s your pan of choice?

Pancake Supper

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057 copy

I know I’ve mentioned several times that I have a couple meat-free go-to recipes.  I love stocking up on meat when it goes on sale, but I still have the hardest time remembering to pull it out of the deep freezer the night before.  Thank goodness for tofu, black bean burritos, and brinner (breakfast for dinner). Thankfully those options are pretty healthy and cost friendly.

Today was one of those days - I forgot pull out the meat. (That’s what she said.)  We’ve been eating out a lot lately, and in order to avoid doing that again, I mixed up a batch of pancakes and waited for Chris to come home.  I waited for two reasons: 1. I wanted the pancakes to be warm when we ate them. 2. After many failed attempts and burnt flapjacks by me, Chris is the official hotcake flipper.  I also mixed up a batch of blueberry topping.  The photo above is an old one, and I’ve gotten much better at making blueberry “syrup”.

I do believe I have one of the best pancake (from a mix) recipes ever, and I’m going to share it with you because I love you.

Awesome Pancakes

  • 2 cups Bisquick mix
  • 1 cup applesauce (unsweetened is best)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I use pumpkin pie spice)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (If you only have sweetened applesauce, skip it. I usually use Splenda Brown Sugar blend)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Cook as usual.  They’re delicious and sweet.  Be sure to taste them before you pour on maple syrup because they may not need as much as you’re use to.  If you want to top them with blueberries, this is how I make mine:
Blueberry “Syrup”

  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 1-2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Microwave blueberries and brown sugar for three minutes or until thawed.  Stir in cornstarch and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir.  If it’s not thick enough, microwave a bit longer.
I can’t tell you the exact cost on the pancakes or their calorie count.   These are things that I usually buy in bulk at Costco or on sale with a coupon.  The calorie count will vary depending on the type of milk and applesauce.  Regardless, it’s much cheaper and healthier than running through a fast food drive-thru.  Plus, the leftover pancakes will freeze well and will make a great quick breakfast!

“Snow Day”

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banana bread
We had a “snow day” today.  I say “snow day” because they canceled local school last night before a single flake fell from the sky.  In fact, it didn’t start snowing until 9am and stopped by 2pm.  A week ago, they were predicting 2-4″‘; last night, they said only 1″.  However, we may have gotten a whopping quarter inch.  It was lackluster to say the least.

Regardless to the quantity, there’s something about snow that makes me want to bake.  Maybe it’s because bread compliments the soup that’s cooking on the stove.  Maybe it’s the way that fresh baking bread makes the whole house feel warm.  Or maybe it’s the extra heat the oven generates.   Whatever the reason, it was a great way to use up some of my pantry extra (I hoard baking supplies year around), and it provided free entertainment.

Before the day was over, I made a huge pot of bean soup, two 2lb loaves of yeast bread, and a loaf of banana nut bread.  I also washed three loads of laundry.  A pretty productive snow day!  However, I just couldn’t seem to get out of my pajamas.
beer bread

Black Bean Burrito Bake Nutrition & Cost

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This really is a jackpot of a recipe.  You can make it ahead, it’s delicious, and it’s inexpensive. Here’s the cost & nutritional information.

Cost (4 servings)

  • 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (one pepper from can) $0.50
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream$0.35
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained, and divided$1.00
  • 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed$1.00
  • 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas$1.50
  • 1 cup bottled salsa$1.00
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese$0.50

I usually serve vegetables with the burritos. Kroger has a Mexican vegetable blend that’s usually $1.25 or less. It serves about 2 hungry folks so we’ll double that for the four servings.

Burrito Nutritional Information

  • Calories: 365 (29% from fat)
  • Fat: 11.7g (sat 5.8g,mono 2.8g,poly 0.8g)
  • Protein: 15.7g
  • Carbohydrate: 55.3g
  • Fiber: 7.2g
  • Cholesterol: 28mg
  • Iron: 3.5mg
  • Sodium: 893mg
  • Calcium: 311mg

The Mexican vegetable blend has 90 calories and 0 grams of fat for 1 1/2 cups. (We like our veggies and eat BIG portions.)

Totals: $8.35, or $2.09 per person. 455 calories & 11 grams of fat per plate.

FRS - Cooking Light Weeknight - Black Bean Burrito Bake

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I found this old post as I was editing and writing some newer ones. It’s leftover from my Favorite Recipe Search (which is currently on hold). I’ll update with nutritional info & cost soon. In the mean time, ENJOY! This is a regular recipe in our rotation.

When my sister sent me an Amazon gift card for my birthday last August, I took the opportunity to buy several Cooking Light cookbooks, including Weeknights. This recipe, along with all the recipes in their cookbooks, is available on their site, (Please be aware that it includes recipes from their other publications and are not all healthy choices!) Even though I could view their site for free, there is something about holding a cookbook. Plus there is a lot fewer options to dig through.

Since it’s published on the internet, I’m going to post the recipe on my site. It’s also available here. They even have a pretty video of someone making it, which makes my post about it seem that much sillier….

* 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
* 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
* 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
* 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
* 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
* Cooking spray
* 1 cup bottled salsa
* 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese


Clearly I have a couple of substitutions. First, the cheese. I always buy 2%, and it’s not available in Monterey Jack. The Mexican four cheese includes the Monterey, but it also has some milder cheeses. Second, wheat tortillas. If I can up the fiber content of something, I do it. Of course, since there’s beans in this recipe, it’s not really necessary. It’s just my knee-jerk reaction when standing at the tortilla section in the store.

If you guys hop over to the original recipe, you can follow along with the directions.

Here’s the chopped pepper, adobo sauce, and sour cream melding into deliciousness.


Speaking of the adobo sauce, what are you supposed to do with it? The recipe only calls for one pepper, but there are several in the can. It’s too expensive to throw away. Simple. Chop up the remainder and freeze them in tablespoon portions. I actually used some leftovers for this recipe.


Here’s the bean and corn mixture. I actually chopped more than the recipe calls for. I like my burrito guts extra sticky. If you prefer more texture, follow their recommendations.


The guts. I don’t have anything to say about it, except YUM!


Back to those wheat tortillas. In my experience, the wheat ones tend to tear more than their white flour counterparts. One way to counteract this is to nuke them in a wet towel in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. They’ll come out nice and pliable and much more accommodating.


Before baking. This is usually the time that Chris comes in and says, “Oooh!”


And after.


Final verdict: My favorite recipe. Period. It’s my favorite from this book, my favorite of my reviews, my favorite. Amen.

I’m going to continue trying others from Weeknights, but this has already made it into our regular rotation. Basically, I make it anytime I forget to thaw meat. (You see, if you buy your meat in bulk and put it your deep freezer, you have to plan your meals in advance. If you don’t, you’ll have rock hard meat-sicles, and you’ll be forced to order pizza or make a vegetarian meal.) However, both Chris and I love it. Plus, as an added bonus, skipping meat for a day is great for the environment. I never thought I’d get Chris behind that cause, but I think he’s willing to join as long as the burritos are involved.

Smoked Paprika Pork Chops with Bell Pepper & Corn Relish

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paprika pork

Like most health conscious people, we’ve found ourselves in the boneless, skinless chicken rut.  For a few years, it seemed like all I ate was a rotation of chicken, lean beef, and canned tuna.  I knew I needed to find some new recipes once Chris and I were married and I was cooking for someone else.  Thankfully I discovered that you can buy pork at a reasonable price, and it can be trimmed down to be a leaner meat.

Cooking Light has lots of healthy pork recipes on their site, and their Smoked Paprika Pork Chops with Bell Pepper and Corn Relish is a great example.

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil $0.10
  • 1/2 cup prechopped red onion $.50
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced fresh ginger $.25
  • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper $0.15*
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can no salt-added whole kernel corn, drained $0.70
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika $0.10**
  • 4 (4-ounce) center-cut boneless pork loin chops, trimmed $2.99 (sale)
  • Cooking spray

Total Cost: $4.69 (plus spices)

Note: I’m not calculating the cost of spices into the total cost.  I cook often, and a jar of spices usually last me quite a while.  Unless noted, the cost is so small that it’s not it’s weight in salt.  (Har har.) In all honesty, it’s not worth calculating.

*Aldi had stoplight pepper packages (red, yellow, green) on sale for $0.99.  I realize this is a fantastic sale, and if you don’t have access to an Aldi, this price doesn’t apply to you.  However, the recipe only needs about half of a pepper, and red peppers are usually around $1.50.  You’ll have to increase your total cost by $0.60.
**Smoked Sweet Paprika, also known as Pimenton de la Vera, is a Spanish paprika. It has a deep smokey flavor, and it’s a great substitute for regular paprika in taco seasoning and chili.

Calories: 263 (30% from fat)
Fat: 8.9g (sat 2.5g,mono 4.5g,poly 1.2g)
Protein: 27.2g
Carbohydrate: 19.8g
Fiber: 1.4g
Cholesterol: 62mg
Iron: 1.6mg
Sodium: 508mg
Calcium: 39mg

I served it with roasted parsnips and carrots, which cost approximately $4 and 200 calories, but it can be served with any side vegetables. The total cost for this meal was around $9 for 4 servings, or $2.25 and 463 calories per serving.

Pantry Raid, Final Frontier

Categories: cooking | 3 Comments

I broke down and went to the grocery store today.  We were getting low on frozen veggies, and I was really hankering a fresh green salad.  I kept my budget low (only $100), and that included stocking up on cereal.  (Cheerios were on sale, and I had lots of coupons. Score!)

Here’s the meals that rounded out the my grocery shopping diet. I can’t remember the exact days that we ate what.  There were several duplicates since we have no problems with leftovers.  We also ordered in a couple times. As you’ll see, I did two big crock pot meals and used those several times throughout the week.

Sunday, August 23rd:

Pork chop with apricot bbq glaze, garlicky Parmesan peas, new potatoes, and sauteed garden squash.

Wednesday, August 26th:
whole chicken 1

Chicken breast (from a whole chicken cooked in the crock pot) with whole grains salad (grains, dried cranberries, garlic, onions) and sauteed squash.

Thursday, August 27th:
whole chicken 2

Chicken stir fry (with chicken from the whole chicken) over brown rice.

Friday, August 28th:
whole chicken 3

Pesto chicken whole wheat pasta. Again, chicken from the whole chicken from the crock pot, and pesto made with basil from the garden.

Sunday, August 30th:
turkey vegetable soup

Ground turkey vegetable soup. I used ground turkey leftover from Cecilia’s birthday party and a soup mix that we received for Christmas. I threw in a couple different frozen bag veggies (just what I had on hand). I froze the leftovers for future lunches for Chris.

Monday, August 31st:
pork loin 1

Pork loin with apricot bbq glaze (cooked in the crock pot), new potatoes, and fresh garden lemon cucumbers.

Tuesday, September 1st:
pork loin 2

Pulled pork sandwich topped with Caribbean Jerk sauce on homemade bun (left over from Cecilia’s birthday bash), mixed vegetables, and new potatoes.

Wednesday, September 2nd:
pork loin 3

Pulled pork sandwich, sauteed squash, and wheat berries salad (wheat berries, dried cranberries, feta, garlic, onion, cucumber, and choyote squash).

Friday, September 4th:
black bean burrito

Black Bean Burrito Bake with fruit salad.

Saturday, September 5th:
“Red Beans” and rice. It was actually Cannellini beans (white kidney beans) with mirepoix, tomatoes, brown rice, green peppers, and spices.
No picture - it was too tasty to wait!

Thanks for coming on this tasty journey with me.  If you have any questions about recipes, please email me.  I’m happy to share!  I’m going to keep trying to save money and use ingredients in my pantry stockpile.  Let me know if you’d like to see more posts like these!