Monday, July 27, 2009

Meatless Monday - Instant Mid East Medley

The Menu: Falafel in pita, yogurt sauce, hummus & tabouli.

Falafel: Buy instant mix, some stores offer it cheaper from bulk bins. Follow directions.
Pita: From your favorite store - almost everyplace has this these days! If you're gluten-free like me, use lettuce leaves to wrap your falafel instead.
Tabouli: Also as a mix, or you can buy ingredients* & make it yourself!


1 can chickpeas (drained & rinsed)
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons sesame seeds (you can also use sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds or pine nuts)
olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon (slice the rest up for garnish!)

In food processor: process seeds or nuts, garlic, lemon juice and enough olive oil to grind smoothly. When this mixture is a paste, add the chickpeas and process to the consistency you prefer (I like mine a tiny bit chunky).

Yogurt Sauce:

1 pint plain yogurt
1/2 cucumber (shredded or chopped small)
1 carrot, shredded
juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic

In a bowl, mix yogurt, cucumber, carrot, lemon juice and salt & pepper. Use garlic press to add garlic. Mix well, add water if you want it to be more pourable.

Serve this meal with olives, sliced tomatoes drizzled w/olive oil, cucumber & lettuce. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and lemon slices. Iced mint tea is an especially nice accompaniment.

*Tabouli ingredients are pretty basic. Grain (I've seen bulgur, couscous and quinoa used), parsley and/or mint, diced tomato, lemon juice and olive oil. Try this recipe or this gluten-free quinoa recipe as guidelines if you're making it yourself.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Meatless Monday - Garden Omelets

There are three types of omelets to be found in the world: the frittata sort, the filled, foldover sort, and the very messy sort, or scrambled eggs. :)

Start with 3 eggs per person. This may seem like a lot, especially for kids, but unless you're already very comfortable making omelets, a three-egg omelet is the easiest. Plus, they make great leftovers, either simply reheated or served in a sandwich. If you're completely new to omelet making, I recommend mixing and cooking each one separately.

So. I'll write the recipe for a single omelet.

3 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon grated parmesan
1 cup chopped raw veggies of your choice (onions, asparagas, bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant)
fresh herbs to taste
1 teaspoon butter (you can use nonstick spray for this, but the butter adds great flavor)
Salt & pepper to taste

In medium size bowl, thoroughly blend eggs, milk, Parmesan, pepper, and salt. You can use an electric mixer or a fork for this.

If you're going to make a frittata-type omelet (easiest, I think), heat 8-10 inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter to pan and melt. Add veggies & fresh herbs to pan and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour egg mixture into pan and stir with heat-proof spatula. Lower heat to medium-low. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the egg mixture has set on the bottom and begins to set up on top. Flip and cook another 3 minutes. If you'd like melted cheese, add now, turn off the heat, and let sit, covered, for about a minute.

For a filled, foldover-type omelet, remove veggies & herbs from pan after sauteeing for 2-3 minutes. Set aside in a covered bowl (to retain the heat). Once your egg mixture has begun to set, add veggie mixture to one side, and gently flip the other side over the veggies. Cook, covered for another 2-4 minutes, or until egg is no longer gooey in the center.

Serve with fresh sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, cucumber or three-bean salad, or a small leafy side salad, and toasted french bread.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Meatless Monday - Stuffed Roasted Poblano Peppers

Near my home is a wonderful little produce market, with some of the freshest, nicest veggies around. Always beckoning to me are the deep green, glossy poblano peppers, which I mostly use as an ingredient in other dishes. This meal, though is all about the poblano:

Plan on two sizeable peppers per person.

First, there is the roasting: After washing the peppers, put them on a broiler pan under your broiler (though fairly far away). You'll want to roast these things until they are a rich, dark brown, but not burnt - so don't even think about doing anything else in the meantime. Turn them as necessary to make sure they are roasting evenly. When they have finished, put them in a zip-top bag and seal; set aside.

For the filling:

1 medium onion (diced)
3 cups cooked medium grain rice (this is a little more sticky than regular, long-grain rice)
1 can (or 1 1/2 Cups cooked, if you cook your own) beans. You can use your favorite beans here: black beans, red beans, white beans, or even something fancy, like adzuki beans.
2 Tablespoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1-3 teaspoons powdered chipotle chile (depending on how spicy you like it)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice of one lime
1 Tablespoon oil
salt to taste

2 cups mild cheese (asadero is best, but mozzarella will do in a pinch)

In a sautee pan over medium heat, gently cook the onions with the spices (except the cilantro) until onion is clear. Stir in the beans, turn off the heat, and cover.

Mix remaining ingredients (except cheese) thoroughly in a large bowl. Once the onion/bean mixture has cooled, blend it in as well.

Now it's time to ready the peppers. Now that they've roasted and rested, the skins should slide right off. Rinse in cool water. Remove the tops, slit down the side, and remove the skin and membrane from the inside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay peppers in an oiled baking dish, slit side up, and fill with the mixture from the bowl.

Scatter the cheese over the tops of the stuffed peppers, and bake the whole thng until heated through (about 20-30 minutes).

Serve with: fried plantains, chutney, slices of ripe mango, cucumber salad, plain yogurt or raita.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Meatless Monday - Curried Lentil Patties

Once upon a time, I was a very, very poor woman, living in Tucson and working for a cooperative, natural foods warehouse. When warehouse items were broken open, employees had first dibs on whatever the item was, and one summer, a 50 lb bag of lentils broke. We all had pounds and pounds of lentils (it was a small company). I had my first lentil patties soon after the infamous bag break, and frequently thereafter...and not just because it was cheap food, it was delicious! I bring my recipe to you:

3 cups water
1 cup lentils, washed
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup flax meal
1 med chopped onon
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 large egg
2 teaspoons of your favorite curry blend. Garam masala is particularly nice for these.
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for sauteing

Put water, lentils, rice and 1 tsp salt in saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and let stand a few minutes. Leave in the cooking water, and mash (I find a stick blender works GREAT for this - but you could also blend it in a food processor, or just mash by hand). Stir in flax meal, onion, carrot, spices and egg. Allow to stand 5-8 minutes so the flax meal can soak up any excess water. Shape into patties. Saute in olive oil, serve hot with lots of condiments.

These patties can also be made from chickpeas, or black beans, or any legume, really. Seasonings can be changed to suit individual tastes (the black beans work especially well with cilantro, chipotle and sour cream).

Enjoy, and please let me know your favorite combos in the comments!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Meatless Monday - Veggie DIY Pizza

I'm sorry for the delay in this post - it's migraine season for me, and it slows me down a LOT. Better late than never, though...On to today's meal!

I love, LOVE pizza. Since being diagnosed with celiac disease a few years ago, it's been something I sorely missed. The only decent GF frozen pizza I found was Foods By George cheese pizza, and they were nearly $6 for a single serving size!

Recently, though, I discovered Whole Foods GF Bakehouse frozen pizza crust, and it's delicious! So I've been catching up on my pizza cravings. For those who don't need their pizza to be gluten-free, a Boboli or other pizza crust will do just fine - I've even seen some places that carry the raw dough!

- 1 pizza crust - I heat mine through once before putting toppings on - makes it less likely to be soggy.

- sauce of choice - I'm making a white pizza today; instead of a red sauce (which I normally buy in a can), I'm just starting with a brush of olive oil and some crushed garlic across the crust.

-veggies! Possibilities include green and yellow squash, eggplant, olives, onions, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, pine nuts, pineapple, broccoli, cauliflower. If you want a meat substitute, try scrambling some firm tofu with sausage seasonings: fennel, oregano, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes.

Top with plenty of cheese (or cheese substitute), and bake according to crust directions.

Tip: Make sure that all veggies are well-drained before using as a pizza topping. For eggplant, salting to expel water, rinsing and patting dry may be appropriate.

We'd love to read any pizza-making stories you care to leave in the comments!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Meatless Monday - Butter Beans, Greens & Cornbread

This is such a simple meal to be so satisfying and delicious. It's one of my favorites.

Note: butter beans are another name for fava beans.

- 2 cans precooked butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium head of collard greens
- greens from approximately 4 beets
- red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 cloves of garlic (sliced thin)
- freshly ground nutmeg
- 6-10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
- salt & pepper to taste

- cornbread recipe or mix of your choice (I use Whole Foods 365 Gluten Free mix, omitting the sugar and adding 2 teaspoons molasses)

Get your cornbread cooking first. Then, in a skillet or saute pan on medium heat, put the butter, the butter beans, and the basil. Cook until the butter starts to bubble, then cover and remove from heat. Just before serving, add several grinds of fresh nutmeg and a couple of black pepper.

Clean the greens and cut into ribbons. In a skillet on medium heat, sweat the garlic in olive oil until garlic is mostly cooked. If you find it is getting toasted, turn down the heat. When the garlic is mostly done, add the greens and cover with lid. Give them a few minutes to mush down, then remove the lid and stir, coating the greens thoroughly with the garlicky oil. When they have reduced to about 1/3 of the original volume, remove from heat, sprinkle with the red wine vinegar and salt lightly.

Serve with a nice chianti. :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Freebie Friday - Music & more!

In Philly, the Meat Puppets will be playing a free concert at WXPN, part of WXPN's Free at Noon concert series.

In Michigan, drivers can get tires inspected at Discount Tire for National Tire Safety Week.

And for everyone on the web: get a free bottle of Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Book of the Week - Sharing the Harvest

This week, I'm exploring (mostly online) how Community Supported Agriculture works, and what its benefits are. In keeping with that theme, this week's book is

Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen's Guide to Community Supported Agriculture, Revised & Expanded

I haven't had a chance to read it yet myself, but it looks interesting, and I'd love to hear from any of you who have.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Meatless Monday - Giant Dinner Salad

One of my favorite summer meals is a big summer salad, made from fresh local produce. If I'm really lucky this summer, my later ones will include tomatoes from my own backyard garden.

Start with your favorite lettuce blend. I'm partial to a combo of iceberg & romaine, but you can add mesclun, dandelion, or whatever your local market and budget allow.

The fresh produce:

Whatever is in season that you like; tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, squash, carrots, thin-sliced red onion or scallion, celery, sliced fennel bulb, jicama, radishes, mushrooms.

The canned:

Chickpeas! Sliced black olives! Miniature corn! Water chestnuts!


I don't personally care for boiled eggs, but if you like them in salad, go for it! Shredded cheese can be good, too, croutons if you like 'em. Fresh herbs: basil, mint, parsley, cilantro - all are great flavor-boosters.

Delicious with garlic toast.

I prefer my dressings to be simple, and I often make them myself. For this salad, I think I'm going to try out this recipe. I'm also partial to a simple lemon juice/olive oil dressing, with a little salt & freshly ground pepper.

Enjoy, and please feel free to report back with any suggestions or improvements!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Freebie Friday - Movies!

Regal Entertainment's Family Film Festival offers free movies for the summer:

Between 6/23 and 8/18, Regal will show G and PG rated movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:00am. Tickets on first come, first served basis, to capacity. Check for your local schedule here:

Regal's Family Film Festival

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Meatless Monday - Broccoli & Walnut Quiche

Ah, quiche. One of the most wonderful applications of custard. I'm going to start by giving you a basic quiche formula, that will serve you in good stead for many, many recipes. It will also make it easier for you to adjust your recipe to the size of pan that you have available.

The magic formula is:

1/3 Cup milk product per 1 egg.

My pie pans are fairly deep, and I make my quiche crustless (for gluten, carb and laziness reasons), so my recipe uses 6 eggs, and a cup and two-thirds milk item. Like many of my recipes, this one is very versatile, and you can mix and match ingredients to your own taste preferences.

6 eggs
1 2/3 cups milk product (this can be actual milk, cream, sour cream, plain yogurt, or any combination thereof.
2 cups shredded or chunked cheese (if you do chunks, they should be small)
2 cups broccoli pieces(raw or frozen, but if you use frozen, be sure to thaw and drain completely)
1/2 lb walnut pieces
1/4 tsp thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

If you prefer a crust for your quiche, you're on your own. Back when I could eat gluten, I usually bought the ready made ones. So we pick up at the filling the pan point.

Start by putting a thin layer of cheese on the bottom of the pie pan. It doesn't have to completely obscure the pan bottom, just get a good, even coat. Next lay in the broccoli and walnut pieces evenly in the pan, and add another layer of cheese over the top.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add your preferred milk item (I like to use a combination of 4% milk and plain yogurt), and the seasonings, and blend thoroughly (this does not require an electric mixer of any kind - a whisk or even a briskly wielded fork works just fine). Pour gently over the mixture in the pan, and top with another thinnish layer of cheese.

Put in the oven on a middle rack and bake for 50 minutes. Take out and allow to cool for at least 1/2 hour before cutting and serving.

Pair it with a nice salad or some rice (or both), and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Meatless Monday - Chickpea & Vegetable Curry


2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
1 small zuchini, peeled & diced
1 medium diced tomato
2 large onions, diced
2 dried red chiles
1/4 lb fresh ginger, peeled & diced small
3 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (fresh ground, if you have it)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter

If this turns out to be spicier than you'd like, try adding 1 cup of plain yogurt and simmering for another 5 minutes. Don't forget to temper it first, so that the yogurt doesn't curdle.

Serve over rice.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Freebie Friday - 16 Harlequin Romance novels

In celebration of their 60th anniversary, Harlequin Romance has made 16 of their romance novels available for download through Barnes and Noble.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Book of the Week - $3 Meals

One of the best ways to save money is by knowing how to save money! Books are one of the best ways to learn how. And so I'm introducing the Book of the Week concept here.

This week's book:

$3 Meals: Feed Your Family Delicious, Healthy Meals for Less Than the Cost of a Gallon of Milk

Also: $3 Meals in Minutes, $3 Low-calorie Meals, and $3 Slow-cooked Meals

Links are to Powell's Books, and Sensible Dollars receives a kickback if you buy there, so please do! :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Meatless Monday - The Fast Food Edition

Even on a budget, sometimes you just need to eat out to treat yourself! I've got some cheap, meatless options for you below (prices and items on value menus can vary from region to region). Skip the soda, grab an iced tea or water at home.

Taco Bell
: While most fast food places have a dollar menu these days, Taco Bell does it better: 79, 89 & 99 cent items! Try the Cheese Rollup (79 ), the Triple Layer Nachos (79 ), or the Bean Burrito (99 ). You can even get dessert cheap here: Cinnamon Twists (79 ), or Caramel Apple Empanada (99 ). If you're feeling extra splurgy, go for the 7 Layer Burrito, the 1/2 lb Cheesy Beans & Rice Burrito, or a Tostada! Many other menu items can be ordered without meat, too, like the Mexican Pizza (spendy, for our purposes, but yummy!)

If you're like me, and have food sensitivities, you can check here to see what's safe for you. And to add to Taco Bell's budget-worthiness, you can download free music from their site! Really, the most economical fast-food choice, all around.

McDonalds: The Dollar Menu. Unless you can make a meal of fries, a side salad, or the fruit & yogurt parfait, McDonalds isn't really going to be adequate for Meatless Monday dinner. Good place to snag dessert though - 2 apple pies for $1!

: Two words for you: Baked Potatoes! Which makes them one step ahead of McD's, IMO, since a baked potato can easily make a meal for me. Add a side salad for rounding things out. And there's always the yummy Frosty.

Burger King: Offers a veggie burger, but not on the value menu. Veggie value items: fries, onion rings, side salad, apple pie. As with McD's, it's doable, but far from optimal.

That mostly covers it - Hardee's doesn't post a value menu on their website, and there isn't one near me...Arby's has remarkably few veggie options. Let me know if you think I've missed any major chains/items here!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Freebie Friday - Coldplay's LeftRightLeftRightLeft album

Free legal download from the band Coldplay, of their live album LeftRightLeftRightLeft.

Download Link

If the download link doesn't work at first, please try later - it's a demand issue!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Story of Stuff

Saving money can have some nifty consequences, like helping your heath, or helping the planet, or even helping build a healthier economy! It can change not only your life, but the WORLD!

Check out The Story of Stuff to give you even more reasons to buy less or used stuff instead of feeding the consumerism monster!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Meatless Monday - Cuban Rice & Beans w/ Fried Plantains

If you've never had fried ripe plantains, you're in for a treat! I love these things, and often buy them frozen (already cooked) for snacks and the occasional dessert!

4 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 ripe plantain, sliced at a slight diagonal
1 cup brown rice
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped (or hotter pepper, if you want it spicy)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups water
1 Tbsp. vegetable bouillon
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a nonstick skillet or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and cook plantain, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until golden. Remove to paper towels; season lightly with salt.

- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in same skillet over medium-high heat and cook rice, onion and green pepper, stirring frequently, 4 minutes or until rice is golden. Add water and veggie bouillon and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered until rice is done. Stir in beans and parsley and heat through. Serve with the plantains and perhaps some fat, juicy, fresh tomato slices.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Freebie Friday - Fire and Fonts

Web Fonts

Candle Samples

For more freebies and great deals throughout the week, be sure to follow our Twitter feed!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Meatless Monday - Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera is one of the most versatile dishes on the planet. You can make it with any sort of pasta, you can use whatever vegetables you have available, it can be made with or without a sauce, and it can be served hot or cold. The vegetables can be raw, sauteed, roasted, dried, or any combination.

1 lb pasta
5 cups (raw) assorted veggies
1/2 C olive oil
fresh basil, rosemary, thyme & parsley
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 C parmesan and/or romano cheese

The pasta primavera that I'm having this week will be served hot, and made with (mostly) roasted vegetables. I'll be using Tinkyada (gluten free) vegetable & brown rice spirals because they're so colorful, and this is a great, colorful summer dish.

Start by choosing your veggies. Some suggestions: zucchini & summer squash, fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, jicama, mushrooms, bell peppers of all colors, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans (cut small), olives, carrots, onions & garlic. You'll want around 5 cups of veggies total.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Start pasta cooking (follow directions on package or your own inclination).

Chop the veggies you want to cook into bite sized pieces, or strips. For me this will be zucchini & squash, broccoli, carrots, onions, garlic and cherry tomatoes. Place in a baking dish with a sprinkling of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Stir to combine/coat. Put in the oven. Let roast for about 20 minutes, while the pasta cooks. Check & stir occasionally if necessary.

Meanwhile, chop the other veggies you want to put in (I find that more delicate veggies like jicama, bell peppers & mushrooms do better if put in fresh). Chiffonade (cut into thin strips) the fresh herbs you're using.

When the roasting veggies come out of the oven, add them to the herbs and fresh veggies. Now would also be the time to add in things like olives and sun dried tomatoes, if you're using them. Mix the whole thing into the pasta, adding the remaining olive oil, salt & pepper.

Finally, add the parmesan/romano cheese, and serve! Goes nicely with a light wine or iced tea. Garlic bread if you're feeling especially elaborate. Delicious, nutritious, colorful & quick!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Freebie Friday, A Day Late - Comics!

Today (May 2) is Free Comic Book Day! Check out the link below to find participating comic shops in your area!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cook Once, Eat All Week!

When I was a wee lass of only tween years, my mom and dad divorced. Mom worked two jobs (real estate by day, factory by night) in order to support herself, my younger brother, and me. Fabulous mom that she is, she wanted to make sure that even though we were often home for dinner without her, that we had good food to eat.

With that in mind, she took every Sunday off both jobs. Every Sunday, she and I cooked, otherwise prepared and froze food for the coming week.

I had, at that point in my cooking career, mastered the my job was to create several of them, which were then integrated with small rolls or english muffins, a slice of cheese and sometimes ham, for quick, nukeable breakfast sandwiches. I cooked spaghetti and Mom made sauce. We baked potatoes and stuffed 'em, and other stuff I'm probably forgetting (it's about 30 years later, after all). We packaged everything up in single servings or meals - we used compartmentalized styrofoam plates - and packed it into the big freezer. My brother and I had wonderful, home-cooked meals all week, regardless of whether or not Mom was available that night to cook them. It was great for us, and great for Mom. Not only did we have great food, but dishwashing was minimized during the hectic week, and I'm certain that cooking once a week saved us money - both on energy and because we bought stuff in bulk. I had great fun and learned a lot about cooking in the process, too!

Now that summer is here, and I'm writing this blog, this experience from my youth is becoming especially pertinent.

Our freezer isn't that big, but fortunately, we're only a two-person household. Most of the stuff I freeze is meat purchased on sale and frozen veggies, the same. But I do tend toward cooking only once a week - and I suspect this will be a very hot summer, which will encourage me to do that even more.

I typically boil a bunch of eggs for my sweetheart to have for breakfast or lunch. Sometimes I make tuna salad for him for lunches. A large pot of rice or pasta (and if I'm feeling magnanimous, macaroni & cheese) is usually in the fridge. This week, I cooked a beef roast in the slow cooker (both of which I bought on sale, of course), and we've been nibbling at it in various formats ever since (tacos, mostly, because of the heat, and because we both love tacos). I'm really starting to realize what a useful and economic practice it is. If I worried about us getting bored with the same thing, I might have cooked a smaller roast, and grilled a few chicken breasts, and alternated those things with some vegetarian meals. If I were cooking for a bigger family, I might do a larger roast and several chicken breasts. Pasta or rice or microwave-baked potatoes and microwaved frozen veggies round it out. I buy a lot of produce in the summer, and mostly we eat it raw or lightly steamed...and it all means minimal cooking during the week.

Having a major cooking session one day a week, and reheating after that saves money, precious time, and leftovers. Plus, if you get your household involved in it, it's a great family activity. Give it a try, you'll see what I mean!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Meatless Monday - Tacos!

Heat waves suck. You still have to eat, but who wants to cook? Well, tonight we'll be falling back on my hot-weather standby: tacos.

Precooked shells heat in 3 minutes in the toaster oven(at 350 degrees). Going veggie means that the only other thing that needs to be heated is the refried beans: 3 minutes in the microwave.

I plan for 4 tacos per person.

Dinner for two:

8 taco shells
1 can refried beans
shredded cheese
shredded lettuce
diced tomatoes
diced red bell peppers (these are sweet, not hot)
salsa to taste

Most of the recipe is assembly. I find that heating the refried beans in a wide, shallow dish (covered, or it will spatter) makes it easy to use a butter knife for application to the taco shell.

-Fill the taco shell about 1/4 of the way with beans.
-Add vegetation and salsa to your own preferences.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Freebie Friday! Aveeno Samples

Try out Aveeno's new Nourish+ collection for free! Request your sample here:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Meatless Monday - Red Lentil and Rice Pilaf

I thought I'd go with something easy and quick for my first Meatless Monday. Here's the recipe I'll be using as a guideline:


* olive oil
* 6-8 garlic cloves -chopped small
* 1 medium onion -diced
* 1/2 cup brown rice (I use brown basmati)
* 1/2 cup red lentils ('cause they cook faster than the green/brown ones)
* 1-1/2 cups veggie broth (actually, today I'll be using chicken stock - not from a can, but from a chicken I cooked a week ago and needs to be used up - which counts as meatless for my purposes, since I'm mostly about the saving money thing)
* Assorted diced veggies - in this case, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, bell pepper and whatever else I pull out of the fridge

* garam masala
* curry powder
* salt and pepper

Start by sweating the veggies you want more done (carrots, onions, garlic, cauliflower)with a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.

When they're about halfway cooked, add the rice, and allow it to toast for about 10 minutes (don't scorch it though). The grains should start to look whitened.

Stir in seasoning, lentils other veggies (green beans only for me - I like my bell pepper crispy) and broth, reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for about 40 minutes (closer to 20 if you're using white rice). Don't stir during this time.

When the broth has all been absorbed and the rice is cooked, add veggies you want less cooked (bell peppers for me), fluff and serve!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Introducing Meatless Mondays

The whole point of this blog is to help people live less expensively, but still well. My primary source of information on how to do this is my own life, and I'm constantly making changes to make it more efficient and less expensive.

The latest change in my life is that I'm going to commit to Meatless Mondays. I've been trying for a while to integrate at least one vegetarian day into the week (see this post for how it relates to sensible spending), but I'm not very organized, so it's been sporadic. Part of my commitment to having meatless Mondays is to share one meatless dinner recipe here each week. Hopefully, that will increase the success and regularity of both my eating veggie once a week, and my posting here. Win=win!

Meatless Mondays have quite a history. In WWI, the FDA (US) introduced it as a way to encourage food conservation in order to support the war effort. More recently, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has combined with the Meatless Monday Campaign, in order to try to raise public awareness of the dangers of saturated fats (going one day a week without meat is purported to reduce saturated fat intake by about 15%), and reduce Americans' overall saturated fat intake.*

I got the idea from Whole Foods ad/magazine/newsletter, The Whole Deal (free at the checkout counter or customer service desk).

"Meatless Monday", I thought, "hmmm. Maybe that'll keep me on track!" And so we shall see. Meanwhile, I'll do my best to share meatless recipes and thoughts on a weekly basis. Comment to let me know what you think, or share your own ideas & recipes!

*High saturated fat intake is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several types of cancer - which is one of the other reasons that I'm trying to cut back on meat consumption; I am at risk for cancer for many different reasons, and while I could just not care what I eat and wait for it to happen, I prefer to try to improve my chances.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Freebie! Acuvue Contacts!

Acuvue contacts is offering a free set of contact lenses!

Go here, or visit a participating eye care professional.

Available by prescription only. An eye exam will determine if contact lenses are right for you. Professional exam and fitting fees are not included.

Expiration: None or unknown

Monday, March 2, 2009

Freebie! Quaker Rice Cakes!

Choose Chocolatey Drizzle or Cheddar Cheese Flavor

Requires name, email and mailing address.

Expires: None or Unknown

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Freebie! Arbie's Sandwich!

Printable Coupon

Arbie's wants everyone to try their new Roast Burger sandwich (roast beef sandwich with hamburger toppings), so they've put this coupon out in the world.

Coupon above required, regular price drink purchase required.

Expiration: March 9.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Going Vegetarian or Semi-Vegetarian as an Economic Strategy

A lot of people have strong feelings about vegetarianism - almost everyone has an opinion on the ethics, health and lifestyle aspects of eating or not eating meat.

My only opinion is that vegetables are cheaper than meat. It's a simple bit of math - when we buy meat we're paying for the veggies the animal in question eats, its housing, medical care, transportation to market, inspection process, etc., and so eating vegetarian all or some of the time is an important option in saving money. Add in the fact that the majority of Americans don't get enough veggies in their diet on a regular basis, and it really begins to make sense to change focus from meat to veggies in your menu planning.

It's not hard to incorporate vegetarianism into your lifestyle - try it out for just one day a week! You may realize that you don't miss meat as much as you might think.

Breakfast is easy, since many folks don't have meat for breakfast anyway. Your standard bagel w/cream cheese, cereal with milk, pancakes or waffles are all vegetarian to start with.

Lunches can be equally simple: PB&J is a classic old standby, and many soups and salads are or can be vegetarian.

The sticking point most folks have is with dinner...but it doesn't have to be a sticking point. Try some Indian dishes like saag paneer or channa masala, or Mexican dishes like cheese enchiladas or bean & cheese burritos! Want something a little less exotic? Try some quiche or meatless chili! You can find a whole world of vegetarian cookbooks on Amazon, here: Vegetarian & Vegan Cookbooks

Not ready to cut meat out of your diet, but still looking to save money on it? Here are a few ideas:

Spread It Out: A little bit of meat can go a long way. Try dishes like casseroles, where meats are usually used mostly as flavoring, or Pilafs & Paellas
, in which rice is the star ingredient, pasta dishes, or stir fry. Bacon & ham, with their strong, salty flavors, can be used as flavoring in hundreds of dishes, from twice-baked potatoes to a pot of beans, to salads or casseroles. People make fun of casseroles sometimes, but their simplicity and money-savings are no laughing matter. They're also incredibly satisfying and comforting.

Set a Price Point:

I've mentioned this idea here before, but it bears repeating. Study your local grocery flyers and determine what you can reasonably spend per pound to get a variety of meats. In my area, it's $2/lb. For that I can get (on sale) italian sausage, all cuts of chicken - from leg quarters to boneless, skinless breasts, london broil (aka top round), pork loin (in a 10-12 lb package, on sale), ham, stew meat, spare ribs, lean ground beef, ground turkey, and turkey breast. It's really important to shop the sales and create your menus around them! If your grocery store has a meat section called "manager's specials", check out their offerings as well - it's often premium meat that is nearing its sell-by date and is reduced for quick sale. This can be integrated right into that week's menu, or re-wrapped and frozen for later use.

Try it out for a day or a week, and you might be surprised not only at how much you'll save on groceries, but also by how much you enjoy the change of pace!