Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Lately, I've become particularly addicted to hummus (especially the red pepper variety). I've always been a fan, but the past few weeks I've bought it because it's been in my budget and can't get enough! For as long as I can remember, I've had a pretty unhealthy habit of eating before bedtime (usually in bed, usually junk food - lately it's been Cadbury Mini Eggs... oh no! What can I say? We all make mistakes.) I thought I'd finally kicked the habit a few months ago but DUN DUN DUN.... it's back :( So in order to wean myself off of this bad habit, I'm trying to choose healthier things (like hummus and triscuits) to satisfy my late-night cravings instead of sugary treats that will only stop me from falling asleep at a normal time. But I don't know... I downed this party size tub of hummus in only two days! You see, you have to eat a lot of hummus in order for it to be equivalent to chocolate eggs.... breaking habits is hard!!
In some upcoming posts, I'm going to do a little overview on what I do to save money on a college budget. Living paycheck-to-paycheck can be really overwhelming sometimes, but I have a lot of tips for staying within your budget.
Basically, I have my overall budget for each month, including money towards next semester's tuition, rent, groceries, gas, other needs (like paper towels, etc.), and a little allowance towards fun stuff (like movies and dinner out with the boyfriend every once in a while). I try really hard not to go over budget, but it's pretty hard to stay under the $50/week I give myself for food. It's important that I don't get too hard on myself, though, because I can calculate in my head that I will sacrifice a new tube of mascara for the organic milk that I love.
Because I work at CVS, sometimes it's hard to curb impulse shopping especially if there's a good deal. What I try to do (sometimes successful, sometimes not), is I wait for a week where there is a TON of great deals that I want to score on and shop at CVS that one week, and try not to buy too much else for the rest of the month.
One of the great things that you can do to save money is clip coupons. I buy the Sunday paper every week and get tons of coupons for things that I'm always buying (just make sure not to clip coupons for stuff you don't normally buy, because you'll end up spending more). I also go to sites like Coupons.com and print out coupons (although that wastes my expensive ink, so I don't do that TOO much).
CVS itself is also a good supplier for coupons. They have the coupon printing machines in every store, and every time you scan your CVS card it'll print out coupons. Coupons also print out on your receipt when you use your CVS card and those are usually geared towards the stuff you normally buy so they're pretty good. You can also get lucky and get one of those $4 off $20 purchase or $5 off a $25 purchase that I don't get anymore because I buy stuff there too much, ha ha! I also use my Green Bag Tag every time I work when I buy a Diet Mt. Dew because every fourth time I scan it, I get $1 Extra Care Buck. I save up all my Extra Bucks and use them for that one big purchase I make every month (and try to buy stuff that will give even more Extra Bucks to use on my next purchase).
Anyway, this month's buy was CRAZY! Look at what I got...
Two boxes of FiberOne cereal...
Two boxes of Triscuits...
One box of Truvia sweetener packets...
A boatload of beauty supplies (and a chocolate-covered Peep... oops!)...
And the grand total came to $10.42!!! Plus $2 Extra Bucks on my receipt. I'm not kidding, ha ha! I used a bunch of coupons and Extra Bucks plus one Raincheck for the cereal (make sure to get a raincheck if your store is out of something on sale... it will come in handy, and CVS rainchecks last forever! One lady bought Cascade detergent the other day with a raincheck from 2002 and got it for $1.50... what a deal!).
Lately I've been really digging this nutrient-packed & delicious soup that takes almost no time at all to make! I forgot to take a picture of it, so you get a picture of my leftovers in some tupperware... I promise the real-life version looks a bit tastier.
Spinach and Chickpea Soup
- 1 box frozen whole-leaf spinach
- 1 can chickpeas
- Some sort of hot sauce (to taste)
- 1 medium-sized onion
- 2 cans (4 cups) reduced fat & sodium chicken broth
- Salt (to taste)
- Dice onion and sweat in pan in olive oil for five minutes on low-medium heat
- Add chickpeas, broth, salt, and hot sauce and simmer for 5 minutes
- Microwave frozen spinach until warm and add to pot. Simmer for another 3 minutes.
- Done! (Makes about 4 servings)
Yesterday Brent came over and I surprised him with Cupcakes for Two. So delish!!! I could've definitely eaten both, ha ha! After the cupcakes cooled, I whipped up some frosted with some neon pink food coloring I found at Stop&Shop to give them a neat kick :) They were the perfect dessert.
Oops! We might have had dessert first...! Well, Brent had already eaten (He hates onions so he can't eat anything I cook with onions in it. So he doesn't end up eating my food too often! Ha ha.) but the Thai Chicken Soup I made was still cooling, so I had my treat early.
Cupcakes for Two
- 1 egg white
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp milk
- Preheat oven to 350˚ and grease two spots on a muffin pan
- In a bowl, combine egg white and sugar.
- Add vanilla and melted butter, stir until smooth.
- Add flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Stir in milk.
- Divide batter equally for two cupcakes
- Bake at 350˚ for 10-12 minutes, or until cake is slightly golden brown on top and set
- Let cool, and frost! (I just used whatever vanilla frosting was on sale at Stop&Shop and added my food coloring to it)
This soup was SO good! I'm excited for leftovers.
I got the recipe from Food Network Magazine. It was nice because it didn't take too long to cook (well, part of that is probably because I already had pre-cooked chicken breast I use to put in my lunch salads) and I made the cupcakes while it was getting up to a boil (did I mention how super-fast that cupcake recipe is? It took me 5 minutes tops to get the cupcakes in the oven!). And since my all-time favorite food is anything Asian, this was a nice taste of it without the serious dose of calories... Two thumbs up! It tasted pretty good, but a little bland at first. I had Brent take a sniff and he suggested adding some paprika. Just that little pinch made ALL the difference and turned a good-but-blah soup into and AWESOME SUPER DUPER soup! :)
Thai Chicken Soup (adapted from Food Network Magazine's recipe)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons green curry paste (I used my favorite spicy sauce, Chili Garlic - I'll take a picture soon, it's awesome!)
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 can (13.5 fl.oz.)coconut milk
- 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 4 oz. thin rice noodles
- 2 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts thinly sliced
- 1 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon paprika (or to taste)
- Salt (to taste)
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent.
- Add garlic and spicy sauce and cook 1-2 minutes more.
- Add chicken broth and coconut milk, bring to a boil (this took a lot longer than I expected - maybe because of my piece-of-crap stove, though)
- Add bell peppers and noodles, simmer for about 3 minutes until noodles reach desired tenderness
- Stir in parsley, salt, and paprika
I just finished the book The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand, which was pretty good! Definitely a good beach read. Now I've switched to a slightly more literary novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender I borrowed from the library yesterday. I'm only 100 pages in but I would already seriously recommend it to anybody who likes to read. It's so good! And totally fitting with my food-themed life ;)
P.S. - Stay tuned in the next couple of days for a super awesome surprise!! :) Can't wait to show you guys!
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Even though today isn't Sunday, my normal grocery shopping day, I went anyway because tomorrow I have to work. Also, I had to wash some clothes at the laundromat, so it was perfect timing. The wash cycle is 27 minutes and the laundromat is right across from the grocery store. I definitely had to hurry more than usual, but I got back just in time with only 5 minutes left on my clothes.
And I did the impossible - I spent only $40 on groceries this week! The past three weeks I've been over my budget of $50 so I tried super hard this week not to go over. I was even able to buy red pepper hummus (one of my splurge items) and pantry supplies like peanut butter, bread, Triscuits, and chick peas (on sale 3/$1!!!) that weren't for specific recipes. Although I guess it makes sense because I didn't really buy anything for recipes this week. Since I'm working so much (25 hours this week! Usually I only get about 15) I only have two days to make myself dinner and since I have two leftover recipes I was going to make last week but didn't get around to doing, it just worked out.
Today was a good day... I even remembered my green bag! I almost always forget even though I hate using plastic :(
Look at this view of a beautiful sunset from the porch at Brent's house. It was awesome! Because it was so nice out today and I was feeling perky, after dinner we even went for a walk around the neighborhood. It was nice, we chatted a little bit but mostly just walked in silence. Sometimes it's nice just to be able to have quiet time together, especially on such a beautiful night :)
For dinner, Brent's dad made hamburgers. They were a little bit more well-done than I normally like them, but they were still delicious. And there were curly fries on the side. Yumm! Not especially healthy, but since I didn't have much to eat all day I was alright with pigging out a bit. Plus, I loaded mine with some healthy lettuce and tomatoes for an extra serving of veggies.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Sorry that it's been SO long! I actually lost my camera cord so while I've been cooking and taking pictures of all my recipes, I haven't been able to upload them! It's been a long two weeks without blogging... I'm so glad that I'm back. Just beware - this post is going to be pretty long. I have a lot of catching up to do.
One of the things I made a little while ago was a white bean dip to dip veggies or triscuits in as a healthier alternative to normal veggie dip (or even some prepackaged hummuses). I liked the recipe that I used, but I added some paprika and a lot more salt to the dip to make it a little bit tastier.
(I don't have the recipe with me... I'll update this post later with the recipe if you want to check back next week sometime for it).
The trouble with having to catch up like this is that I can barely remember making these dishes, never mind which days I ate them or any specific details. I guess I must have made some yummy fruit salad with some about-to-go-bad fruit because that's what the next picture is, ha ha!
Like I've said before, I almost never have cereal for breakfast. But when I'm in a rush or am just craving the taste, my go-to cereal is Special K Fruit and Yogurt... so awesome!
This night, I had planned to make Brent a healthy version of our favorite cuisine (Chinese food) so I used a recipe for Orange Chicken Stir-fry from my Biggest Loser cookbook. But, of course, something went wrong. I didn't look closely at the recipe and when I got home from work at 7:30pm I realized I was supposed to have marinated the chicken overnight! Whoops! So instead I just made some regular chicken stir-fry and added my own orange-y sauce made from mandarin oranges and soy sauce blended together. It actually ended up coming out awesome... I was surprised!
I used the base recipe for the Whole Wheat Peach Muffins I made a few weeks ago and instead used frozen blueberries to make a healthy version of blueberry muffins. They were pretty good!
One night while Brent was busy studying on his own at his house, I decided to make myself a big batch of yummy Peanut Butter Chicken Stir-fry, a recipe that I made for the first time a couple of weeks ago.
Something Brent and I joke around about is that he loves to rate my food one a scale from 1-"beer bread" (this out-of-a-box bread I made him in January). He ate almost the whole loaf! Honestly, the beer bread is pretty good... but I hate being judged against a boxed recipe. Obviously real food made with love should always win, ha ha! BUT last week I made him these Turkey Meatballs with whole-wheat pasta that he absolutely LOVED! He said that they were even better than beer bread. Wow... what an accomplishment! ;)
One day I got home from school craving a big, stuffed-with-veggies omelette. Since I also needed to use up some eggs before they went bad, it was a good idea. It definitely hit the spot! :) It included mozzarella cheese, red bell pepper, mushroom, and onions.
Last Saturday I had a bunch of friends over since they were home for Spring Break. Since I finally have my own place, it was nice to have people over to celebrate the fact that I have enough independence to host my own get-together. Because I love to cook and was dying to try out this recipe from CookingLight.com, I made Caramel-Marshmallow Brownies. They were SO good! Definitely a recipe I'd try again. And of course, I didn't get around to taking a picture of them until the last one was left... which SOMEBODY *cough*cough*Brent*cough*cough* had taken a bite out of!
Caramel Marshmallow Brownies (from CookingLight.com)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup white-chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup mini-marshmallows
- 10 caramel candy cubes, unwrapped (I used caramel-filled Hershey's kisses)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream (I used light cream)
Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square metal baking pan with a 12-inch sheet of foil, then grease foil.
Melt butter and chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking lightly until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat.
Whisk in sugar and salt, then beat in eggs one at a time until well blended. Stir in vanilla extract, then flour. Scrape into prepared pan.
Bake brownies until set and slightly springy to touch, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and turn off heat. Sprinkle chocolate chips and marshmallows on top, return pan to oven for 2 minutes, then transfer pan to a rack to cool.
Combine caramels and cream in a small bowl and microwave on medium (50 percent) power for 1 1/2 minutes; stir with a fork until completely smooth. Drizzle caramel-cream over brownies, then let them cool completely.
When cool, remove brownies from tray by lifting out foil, then transfer them to a board. Cut brownies into four pieces, then cut each quarter into four individual pieces.
My favorite thing to eat for breakfast is french toast. But my favorite breakfast of ALL TIME would be the Big Apple Pancake served by a local Rhode Island restaurant Bickford's that sadly went out of business a few years ago. Basically, it's a baked pancake with apples and cinnamon sugar and maple syrup. Basically an apple pie, but for breakfast.
So in order to make a healthy version of this, I based it off a recipe I got from one of my new favorite blogs Healthy Tipping Point. Basically, I used frozen bread cut up into little pieces and poured a mixture of eggs, milk, cinnamon, and diced apples over it, then baked it for about 20 minutes. After it was done, I ended up having to add a little bit of Splenda to it because it wasn't sweet enough (next time I'll add Splenda before cooking it) and then poured a tiny bit of maple syrup over it. It was soooo good! Probably one of the best "healthy" versions of a ridiculously unhealthy recipe that I've ever had.
Big Apple Pancake Adaptation
- 4 slices of crusty whole wheat bread (crustier, the better)
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup almond milk (or your milk of choice)
- 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 peeled and chopped apples
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Chop bread into 1 – 2 inch strips. Place in small greased casserole dish (mine was an 8-inch round).
- Pour mixture over bread.
- Bake for about 20 minutes.
Last week I also made some cauliflower Mac n' Cheese. Brent thought it was a disgusting idea, but I loved it! There was barely any cheese in it, but it came out delicious and tasted almost like real mac n' cheese.
Creamy Cauliflower Mac n' Cheese
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cauliflower, cored and cut into large pieces
- 8 ounces whole wheat macaroni (I used rotini)
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (I used mozzarella because that's my favorite)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard (I didn't have Dijon so I just used yellow and it tasted fine)
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- Salt (to taste)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- Heat oven to 400˚ and boil a pot of salted water
- In a saucepan, warm stock on medium-low heat for five minutes, turn off heat.
- Cook cauliflower in boiling water for 25 minutes. Put cauliflower in a food processor.
- Cook pasta in boiling water for five minutes, then drain.
- Put pasta in a greased, 9x9 baking dish.
- Process cauliflower with stock, cheese, oil, mustard, nutmeg, and salt, working in batches
- Pour sauce over pasta, toss, and spread evenly in dish. Top with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake 20 minutes.
Overnight oats, mmm! For a tasty twist, I added Cinnamon Chex to the oats to give it some kick and texture. It was pretty good! I thought it was a good idea, because I bought the chex months and months ago for a recipe that I never even ended up making. And I didn't really like them by themselves (and I don't really eat cereal), so adding them to the oatmeal was perfect.
Me in my car enjoying a sunny almost-spring day on my way home from school!
Mmmmm! I made a fruit salad for myself to bring to Brent's house for a snack, but after a few days passed and I still hadn't eaten it I decided to use it to make a smoothie. I added some almond milk and ice to the fruit and it came out soo good! Probably one of the best smoothies I've ever made myself. It had canteloupe, asian pear, and banana.
Thanks for bearing with me through that long post! I promise it'll be better now that I've got my new cord :)
Sunday, March 6, 2011
When I got home to visit my parents in Woonsocket after work I made myself some tuna fish for dinner. It was yummy! I also made my overnight oats for the next morning.
They were so good! I made myself my usual peanut butter and banana oatmeal, but this time I added some Grape Nuts my mom had to give it some crunch. It was pretty good!
The normal peanut butter I buy is the organic peanut butter that's basically the Stop and Shop version of Teddy peanut butter. The Stop and Shop I used to go to didn't have Teddie peanut butter, so I thought none of them did. But new one does! So I bought some to try it and.... it's amazing! I'm never buying another kind of peanut butter again, ha ha. Everybody should use this peanut butter.
Since I can't take my guinea pig to live with me while I'm at URI, my mom takes care of him in Woonsocket. So whenever I get to go home, I like to play with him because I don't get to see him a lot. His name is Wesley... isn't he cute?!? :)
While I was at home, I got to play around with my dad's awesome professional camera... I'm so jealous! That's why all these pictures are so much better than they are usually, ha ha! I really want to get a Canon Rebel for this coming Christmas. I'm so sick of my crappy point-and-shoot... I really need a better camera to take good pictures of my food.
This is a picture of my mom! I basically took a bunch of pictures of whatever I could while I could play around with it because I love taking pictures so much.
For dinner my parents made prime rib with this (bad for you but super awesome) horseradish sauce, these fry-like potato things from her Julia Child cookbook, and popovers! It was all delicious :)
Friday, March 4, 2011
Sorry I haven't posted in a while! Again, I have no internet at my new apartment so it's tough to find the time/place sometimes. Tuesday afternoon my new blender came in and I made myself a smoothie that night! It was so yummy :)
Banana Mango Smoothie
- 1 banana
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
- Handful of ice cubes
- 1/2 cup finely diced mango
The next morning I had peanut butter and banana overnight oats for breakfast Wednesday morning, mmmm.
Me with my new cat-eye sunglasses I got from Ebay in the car on the way home from school on Thursday.
Thursday night I had leftover stuffed peppers with a cheesy baked potato. They were still yummy a few nights later!
Last night I made avocado soup. I was expecting it to be amazing, because I LOVE avocados, but unfortunately it was pretty disgusting! I had a few spoonfuls and ended up throwing away the entire batch that I made. It was that gross! I should've known since it had yogurt in it, but I couldn't even taste the yogurt in the recipe. The soup is supposed to be served cold, but since I dislike cold soups and it tasted kind of bad, I decided microwaving it a little bit might make it a little better. I was wrong. It became so much more revolting.
This morning I had the yummiest breakfast (which totally made me forget to eat lunch, so my stomach was growling like crazy at work by 2pm!). I bought a canteloupe at Stop and Shop on Sunday for I think $2.50 and finally cut it open today. It has been sitting on my table all week but I didn't ever have the time to eat it or anything to do with it. Adapted from a recipe in the Biggest Loser Family Cookbook I made a slice of canteloupe covered in warm blueberries (I microwaved about a quarter cup of frozen blueberries I got on sale for $2 at Stop and Shop last week).
Tonight I worked until 7 and afterwards went home to visit my parents in Woonsocket (*cough* *cough* ... do laundry... *cough* *cough*). I stopped at the grocery store on my way home and picked up some staples I don't have in Woonsocket to make myself overnight oats for tomorrow morning and a bread-less tuna fish sandwich for dinner tonight. It was yummy! I made it with English cucumbers because those were the ones on sale, which gave it a distinctively different flavor. It was pretty good, although I think I prefer the regular cucs.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Mmmm! Yummy yummy overnight oats :) Like I said in the last post, I got this idea from the blog Kath Eats Real Food because it's the perfect no-cook breakfast for mornings I leave from Brent's house. Since I didn't really know how much I was going to like it, I kind of threw everything but the kitchen sink in this one. I added 1 cup oats, 1/2 cup skim milk, and 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt. I also added vanilla, maple syrup, brown sugar, frozen peach slices, frozen raspberries, and some peanut butter! Probably not the healthiest idea, but I didn't know how it was going to turn out and I wanted to save myself from a gross breakfast.
The only thing I didn't end up liking about it was the yogurt. I've never been a yogurt fan and every time I try it again, I still hate it. I should really learn! I made some more for tomorrow, but this time I went a little bit of a healthier route...
Peanut-Butter & Banana Overnight Oats
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup skim milk
- 4 packets of Splenda
- 1 mashed banana
- 1/4 cup organic peanut butter
- Mix together
- Refrigerate overnight
- Reheat in the microwave for 1 minute, stir, microwave 1 more minute
For lunch I made myself a bread-less tunafish sandwich with a side of avocado.
Since my new apartment doesn't have laundry facilities, I had to go to my grandparents for a few hours today to do a load. When I got back around 7pm I was STARVING! I made myself some stuffed green peppers - a recipe I got from my Biggest Loser Family Cookbook.
The recipe was all-in-all pretty simple and healthy... I was done eating by 8:15pm.
Stuffed Green Peppers
- 2 green bell peppers
- 1 oz. feta cheese
- Olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 cups cooked rice (1 cup uncooked)
- 2 tomatoes, finely diced
- 1 lb. lean ground turkey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg whites
- Preheat oven to 375˚
- Cut stems off peppers and cut in half, top to bottom.
- Fill a large pot 2/3rds with water and boil peppers for 5 minutes.
- While peppers are boiling, cook turkey and garlic in pan with olive oil 3-5 minutes, breaking up turkey into bite-size pieces.
- Take peppers out of the pot, drain, and let cool.
- In a bowl, mix together turkey, feta, tomatoes, rice, eggs, and salt.
- Put peppers in an 8x8 glass baking dish and stuff peppers with turkey mixture (I had a bunch left over). Fill dish with about 1/4 inch of water.
- Place dish in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until peppers are golden brown and slightly crusting on top.
The peppers were really good! I did need to add some salt once it was on my plate, but I was really pleased with how it came out. The tomatoes were actually my own addition to the recipe. When looking at the stuffing mixture, I felt that something was missing. I remember my mom's stuffed pepper recipe and that she always cuts up some of the bell pepper to add to the mixture. Since I had already cooked mine and didn't have extras, I decided tomato would be a good substitute. It would definitely have been found lacking without the extra pizazz my lovely vine-ripened tomatoes added ;)
Along with my stuffed peppers, I decided to make use of another recipe I found in the Biggest Loser Family Cookbook... cheesy baked sweet potatoes. Unfortunately I just bought a bag of russet potatoes on sale the other week that I should be using up, so I had to go a little bit unhealthy for this. But I made up for it without all the butter and sour cream!
Cheesy Baked Sweet (or regular) Potatoes
- 1 potato
- 1 wedge Laughing Cow Lite Garlic and Herb cheese
- Scrub potato under warm water.
- Place potato in microwave safe bowl. Poke potato 5 times on each side with a fork.
- Place paper towel loosely over the bowl. Microwave 5 minutes on each side.
- Add cheese and salt.
I've always been skeptical of microwave-baked potatoes, but the oven just takes too darn long! I decided to try it just this once... and I really liked it. Huh! For a quick side dish... it was beyond my disgusting expectations. I have to admit that I added a LITTLE bit of margarine to my potato along with the cheese... but it was really good. And I love sour cream! This was totally worth it.