Fall Colours

Cecilia & Leaves

A few thoughts:

  1. This picture is so pretty that I used British (or Canadian) spelling of color.
  2. Unlike most pictures, I did not edit Cecilia’s eyes.
  3. My sweet girl turned 16 months old this week!

Turkey Burgers & Roasted Delicata Squash

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turkey burger

I realize it’s been two weeks since I posted.  Things got busy.  Life got hectic.  I got food poisoning from Chili. Then I got 2 liters of fluids, morphine, and some Zofran from the ER.  (Well, first I got a very low blood pressure of 89/45 from all the retching and dehydration.)  Needless to say, it’s taken me a few days to get the energy to type, let alone type about food.  But I finally mustered up enough energy to cook dinner tonight and enough courage to eat meat again.  Yippee!

Of course it had to be something really easy and pretty quick to make.  For me, that usually means something Chris can grill with a microwave veggie on the side.  However, I decided to get a fancy and roast a veggie.  Also, if Chris fires up the grill, he usually throws some onion slices on it for good measure.

Turkey Burgers & Roasted Delicata Squash (and Grilled Onions) (3 servings)

Burger Ingredients

  • 1 lbs lean ground turkey $1.99
  • 1/2 dry ranch dressing package $0.50
  • couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • homemade hamburger buns $0.25 (maybe less)

Squash Ingredients

  • 2lbs delicata squash (other winter squash will do) $2.00
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil $0.10
  • salt (to taste)

Toss in olive oil. Sprinkle on salt. Roast in preheated 4oo degree oven until soft and golden.

Onions

  • 2 small onions $1.00 (maybe less)
  • olive oil (about 1/2 tbsp) $.05
  • salt (to taste)

Brush olive oil and sprinkle on salt.  Grill on direct heat until translucent with grill marks. 

Total cost = $5.89, or $1.9 per person.

Burger Nutrition (1/3lb burger w/ bun)

  • Calories: 400
  • Fat: 14 grams

Squash (1.5 cups)

  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 5 grams

Onions

  • Calories: 45
  • Fat: 1.25 grams

Totals: 595 calories, 20.25 grams of fat per serving.

I realize this isn’t the lowest fat meal, but it’s not bad for a burger!

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.


Nutrition
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.

Budget Cooking

A couple of days ago, I was talking to a good friend about the challenges of feeding a family on a budget.  She and her family having been eating in more, but that has created a new challenge - how do you make delicious, healthy, inexpensive meals for your family?  Overall, I think it’s easy to hit two of those three attributes, but sometimes getting all three can be hard.  Over the next few weeks, I’m going to feature some of the meals that I’ve been feeding our family.

There are a couple key elements in budget cooking -

1. Keep a full pantry, and stock it when things are on sale.  Even if you have 2 boxes of chicken broth on hand, go ahead and stock up when it’s on sale.  You usually can save a dollar or more when it’s on sale, and you won’t regret it later when you need it.  You can spend a lot of time and energy running to the store.

2. Invest in a deep freezer if you can.  They’re relatively inexpensive for an appliance (start around $100), and they allow you to buy meat in bulk.  For example, I bought 15lbs of ground turkey for Cecilia’s birthday party burgers two months early because it was on sale for $1.99/lb.  Regularly, it’s $2.99/lb. The same goes for boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I only buy it when it’s on sale for $1.99/lb.  I’m not sure what the regular price is, but it’s more than $2.99/lb.

3. Don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients.  If a recipe calls for red onion and you only have white, use it.  Fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables can often be interchangeable.  Recipe calls for walnuts, but you only have pecans? Fine!  It might change the flavor slightly, but it’s a lot cheaper to use what you have.

4. Freeze your leftovers.  That includes ingredients.  Not going to use all the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce? Freeze them in tablespoons.  Bananas turning brown before you can use them? Stick them in the freezer and make banana bread later.  (Or make the banana bread now and stick it in the freezer.)

5. Don’t buy ingredients you won’t use again unless you’ll use it completely.  A year ago, I bought star anise because I had a recipe I wanted to try that called for it.  The only problem is that I can’t find that recipe.  Now I have a bag of star anise sitting in my house (though it’s often found in various places because Cecilia loves toting it around).  If you really want to try a new item, look up several recipes that you can use it in, even if you have to freeze it.  (Interesting note - ginger root can be frozen.)

6. Flip through all your area grocery store ads - even Aldi’s.  Don’t be afraid to stop at more than one store.  Of course, don’t waste money by making an extra trip, but if you’re already going that way, stop on your way home.  For example, pork loins are $1.99/lb at Kroger this week, and I’m going to stock up.  Aldi has stoplight pepper packs on sale for $.99, and  it’s next to our YMCA.  Also, compare your coupons to the sales.  You’ll be surprised how often you can get cereal and other staples for nearly nothing.  And if there’s something you know you’re going to buy, regardless of the price, see if you can download a coupon.  It only takes a second to do, and it can save you a lot of cash!

7. Go meatless one night a week.  I know there are wives rolling their eyes right now.  They just can’t see their husbands going without meat.  I realize that your spouse may not be a tofu fan.  (Mine is, and for $2.50 for a package of tofu, I’m glad.)  However, there are other meat-free options.  For example, make pancakes for brinner (breakfast for dinner).  No dude would ever be disappointed with a big pile of flapjacks.  Trust me.

8. Remember that cheaper isn’t always better.  Lean meats are better for you than fatty meats, even if they cost a couple dollars more.  Generic canned fruit sometimes has more syrup (just know your brands).  Cheap coffee sucks and is a poor substitute for Starbucks.  (However $10/lb bulk coffee from the bins is awesome, and it’s still quite a bit cheaper than Starbucks.)  Budgets are about balancing.  We budget so we can spend wisely.

ELL-I-OT

Categories: Cecilia | 3 Comments

Apparently I picked the wrong Halloween costume for Cecilia this year.  I think she wants to be ET.

Cecilia ET

Dirty Mouth

Categories: Cecilia , mommyhood | 1 Comment

Several women have told me that I don’t act like a first time mom.  I don’t know if that’s a good, a bad thing, or a lazy thing.  In general, I just don’t overreact when Cecilia gets into stuff or falls down.  I figure that’s part of growing up, and if she’s in danger or starts to cry, I’m right there.  It’s just really important to me to teach her independence and resiliency.  Of course, things can get a bit messy when your let your daughter explore freely and do things like eat dirt.
11-months-flower-pot
11-months-dirty-face

Cecilia the Conquerer

Categories: Cecilia | 1 Comment

sept 09 027

When Chris was 6 years old, he packed a few belongings and left his parents a note saying, “I’ve gone on my travels. Don’t worry.  I will be back.”  He had planned to sneak out one night, but he was delayed by a day because his father had fallen asleep in the living room near the front door.  The next day his plans were foiled when his grandmother came searching for her crock pot, which Chris had taken for cooking while on his journey.

Chris’s mom still has that note stashed away in a forgotten safe place, and once she finds it, I’m going to have it professionally mounted and framed because it sums him up perfectly.  He’s an adventurer.  He’s not afraid of challenge or failure.  It’s one of the things I’ve always admired about him.  And it’s a trait that he’s passed on to our daughter.

Cecilia is an adventurer.  She has this innate need to explore, and she’s not afraid of anything.  If she’s awake, she wants to go, go, go.  And she fights the need to sleep because she’d rather be exploring.  (Unfortunately, she got my sleeping genes.)  My days are filled with chasing her around, redirecting her attention so that I can hide the breakables, and picking her up and moving her out of harm’s way.  I don’t dare go inside stores, and on the rare occasion that I have to go to Target, I strap her in my backpack carrier because she climbs out of shop cart seats.

Needless to say, most days I collapse into the sofa after she goes to bed.  I try to muster up the energy to pick up the toys that are scattered all over the living room floor, but I often struggle to do that because I know the toy box will explode all over again in the morning (and usually by 6am).   I have managed to get out of the house at least once a week with my Stay at Home Moms group.  Those ladies have been a real sanity saver (in addition to all the wine we usually drink at our events).  But if you notice a lag in my activity, it’s probably because I’ve checked out for the night and I don’t have energy to do anything beyond watching an episode of Law and Order (bump bump).

Oct 09