Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Adult Eats - Pretty Penne Ham Skillet

I had a mental shift recently. The whole adulting thing is hitting me pretty hard, and although nutrition will always be a concern to me, cost has become a much larger factor in my decision-making a the grocery store. That means shopping at cheaper stores, using coupons, and eating in a whole lot more. 

It also means I'm less likely to choose recipes with fancy ingredients I don't have, and more likely to just use what I've got in the pantry. This may be why I have been blogging a lot less - because my meals are so run of the mill and don't always seem worth sharing. But I have an ever-growing pile of recipes that I have carefully annotated.When that pile gets too large, I find myself wanting preserve all that work so I can continue to make my cooking better.

Ironically, my grocery bill is 1/3 to 1/2 of what it used to be since I started being more budget conscious, but my restaurant spending is right in line with the typical millenial. According to one source (http://www.eater.com/2015/6/5/8737197/millennials-spend-more-money-dining-out-than-non-millennials), the average millenial spends $174/month on eating out at restaurants. I clocked in at $168 last month. I guess I have more work to do...

1/2 package (16 ounces) penne pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
2.5 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 large sweet red pepper, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add ham, red pepper and onion; cook and stir 4-6 minutes or until ham is browned and vegetables are tender. Add garlic and herbs; cook 1-2 minutes longer.

2. Stir in broth and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 10-15 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add pasta; toss to combine. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield: 6 servings.

Allergens: wheat, soy (chicken broth), milk
Nutrition (1/6 recipe, no cheese): 390 calories, 16 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 33 mg cholesterol, 903 mg sodium, 500 mg potassium, 42 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g fiber, 3.5 g sugar, 17 g protein, 6% vitamin C, 0% vitamin A, 14% iron, 3% calcium, 9% vitamin B-12, 11% vitamin B-6, 20% niacin, 10% riboflavin, 33% thiamin, 14% selenium, 17% phosphorous
Cost (1/6 recipe, no cheese): $1.63

Adapted from: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pretty-penne-ham-skillet/print#

Monday, July 25, 2016

Fairytale Vegetables, Magical Flavors

EatingWell Roasted Eggplant Dip

I am a lucky dietitian. I now have a farm truck coming to my work every Wednesday morning in addition to the cute farm co-op down the street. They are just the gentle nudge I need to increase my variety of fruits and vegetables. This week, I tried Fairytale Eggplant (see picture above). It cooked up into a delicious dip along with fresh mint from my roommate's herb garden. My only complaint is that I didn't make more of it! 
It also worked out very well that today is Meatless Monday, and we got to promote it our webpage at work! I love when things work out that way. 

1 large head garlic
1 eggplant (1 1/4 lb), cut in half lengthwise
1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 ripe tomato, cored, sliced in half and seeded
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

1. Set oven racks at the two lowest levels; preheat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel as much of the papery skin from the garlic as possible and wrap loosely in foil. Bake until the garlic is soft, 30-40 minutes. Let cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place eggplant halves on the prepared baking sheet, cut-side down. Roast for 10 minutes. Add onion slices and tomato halves to the baking sheet and roast until all the vegetables are soft, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let cool slightly.
3. Separate the garlic cloves and squeeze the soft pulp into a medium bowl. Mash with the back of a spoon, or use a garlic press, if necessary. Slip skins from the eggplant and tomatoes; coarsely chop. Finely chop the onion. Add the chopped vegetables to the garlic pulp and stir in the lemon juice, mint, oil, salt and pepper.

Allergens: none
Nutrition (1/2 recipe): 197 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 5 g monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 608 mg sodium, 907 mg potassium, 31 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 5 g protein, 13% vitamin A, 49 % vitamin C, 8% iron, 6% calcium, 28% vitamin B-6, 5% vitamin E, 14% copper, 18% folate, 39% manganese, 11% niacin, 10% pantothenic acid, 12% phosphorous, 9% riboflavin, 6% selenium, 16% thiamine, 5% zinc 
Cost (1 recipe): $6.64 

From: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/roasted_eggplant_dip.html

Saturday, February 20, 2016

S'mores with Homemade Graham Crackers

During Snowzilla, there wasn't much to do except roll around in the snow and bake, a lot. However, only a combination of boredom and a graham cracker shortage at the corner store would cause me to bake graham crackers. That, and the promise of s'mores over a fire pit in a backyard full of more than 2 feet of snow. I don't know if I would make them again (except under similarly desperate circumstances), but it's nice to know that I can.

3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon

8 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp honey

1. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon into a bowl
2. Melt together the butter and honey. Pour this into the dry ingredients.
3. Mix with a fork, then push the dough together with your hands Don't knead or over-mix. Place the dough on a lightly-floured surface, and roll with a floured rolling pin to 1/8" thick. Cut into rectangles approximately 1 1/4" x 3" in size with a knife, and prick them with a fork. Place on a lightly-greased baking tray, and bake for just 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Cool on a rack.

Allergens: wheat, gluten, milk
Nutrition (1/12 recipe): 228 calories, 8 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 120 mg sodium, 12 mg potassium, 38 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 4 g protein, 6% vitamin A, 0% vitamin C, 2% calcium, 1% iron
Cost (1 recipe): $6.02 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Spanish Rice/ Arroz Espanol

Since I started working full-time last September, I have relied heavily on leftovers to save me money and keep me eating healthy during the work week. This was one of the best leftover meals I have made so far. When combined with a 4-pack of chicken sausage, this recipe made about 4 1/2 meals for me last week. The flavors of the Spanish rice meld together making it more rich every extra day it hangs out in the fridge. That being said, I still want to experiment with adding other spices and perfect this dish which is sure to be a favorite. Future additions might include chili powder, oregano, garlic, fresh cilantro, hot sauce, or lime juice. I will keep you posted!


1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 bell peppers, seeded, ribs removed, and diced
2 ribs celery, finely chopped (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin


Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, then add the onions, green peppers, and celery and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute while stirring. Add the rice and stir together to mix. Add the diced tomatoes and the water carefully. Season with the salt and pepper, and add the cumin. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, until the rice is done, stirring once or twice.

Adapted from: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spanish-rice-109084

Allergens: none
Nutrition (no meat): 184 calories, 13 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 80 mg sodium, 149 mg potassium, 17 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 2 g protein, 20% vitamin A, 109% vitamin C, 3% iron, 2% calcium, 24% manganese
Nutrition (with 1 chicken sausage link): 324 calories, 19 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 550 mg sodium, 148 mg potassium, 21 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 17 g protein, 30% vitamin A, 134% vitamin C, 7% iron, 4% calcium, 24% manganese
Cost (no meat): $1.80/ serving
Cost (with 4 chicken sausage links/ recipe): $3.20
Calculations are based on 4.5 servings per recipe.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Shakshuka Light

This recipe calls for a "fiery" tomato sauce, but I left out the green chiles for a more mild (but still flavorful) version.


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bell pepper, diced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp mild red pepper flakes, or more to taste
2 Tbsp tomato paste
28 oz canned chopped tomatoes, with their juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Fresh black pepper, to taste
6 large eggs
2-4 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over low-medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, and saute for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and red bell pepper, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the cumin, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Mix well, and let the spices cook for 30 seconds. Next, add the tomato paste, and stir that into the mixture.

Finally, add the chopped tomatoes. Reduce heat to simmer. and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until the sauce comes together and reduces. When most of the liquid has evaporated, remove the pan from the heat. At this point, you could let all of the sauce cool completely, and refrigerate or freeze it in airtight containers.

Transfer half of the sauce into a smaller nonstick frying pan. Make 3 small indentations in the sauce. Crack each egg into a bowl and gently slide it into an indentation, one by one. Cover the pan, and cook until the eggs are as runny, or firm, as you like them (about 10 minutes).

Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve right away.

Adapted from: http://www.theperfectpantry.com/2014/07/recipe-shakshuka-eggs-in-tomato-sauce-vegetarian-gluten-free.html

Allergens: egg
Nutrition (1/3 recipe): 385 calories, 29 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 372 mg cholesterol, 649 mg sodium, 862 mg potassium, 20 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 15 g protein, 62% vitamin A, 180% vitamin C, 16% iron, 11% calcium, 16% vitamin B-12, 23% vitamin B-6, 20% vitamin D, 13% copper, 18% folate, 21% manganese, 26% phosphorous, 25% riboflavin, 11% zinc
Cost (1/3 recipe): $3.30

P.S. The original recipe recommended one egg portion per person, but I think you probably want at least 2 eggs to feel satisfied.
P.P.S. You can freeze the leftover sauce (or share it with a friend).

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"Very Involved" Ziti with Eggplant and Tomatoes

Last week, a good friend of mine texted me, "I just made a very involved pasta salad". At the time, I thought, "hmm, okay cool... random, send me the recipe." But now after having made said pasta salad, I realize how much that is the understatement of the year. "Very involved" is exactly how I would describe it. Don't believe the New York Times' estimated prep time of forty-five minutes - it took me closer to an hour and a half or two hours to make.

But it is pretty delicious. And a ton of food. 

2 lb ripe campari tomatoes, cut in wedges
5 Tbsp Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 or 3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped (optional)
2 medium eggplants, about 1 pound
12 oz whole wheat ziti or other short pasta
6 oz mild feta
1 small bunch of basil, for garnish

1. Heat broiler. Put tomato wedges in a shallow baking dish in one layer. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Broil tomatoes about 2 inches from heat until softened and lightly charred, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside until cool, and then add garlic, and red pepper flakes and capers, if desired. Stir gently to distribute.

2. Slice eggplant into long strips about 1/4-inch thick. Paint the top of eggplant strips with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees and roast eggplant for 10-15 minutes, or until soft.

3. Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse briefly, and blot dry. Put the pasta in a wide serving bowl, and add tomato mixture and eggplant. Toss gently to distribute. Taste for salt and hot pepper and adjust.

4. Crumble cheese over top. Drizzle with tomato juices leftover in the pan, and garnish with chopped basil. 

Adapted from: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016647-cool-ziti-with-eggplant-and-tomatoes

Allergens: wheat, milk
Nutrition (1/6 recipe): 330 calories, 19 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 338 mg sodium, 786 mg potassium, 34 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 10 g protein, 25% vitamin A, 32% vitamin C, 17% calcium, 11% iron 23% vitamin B-6, 10% vitamin E, 16% copper, 16% copper, 18% folate, 17% magnesium, 61% manganese, 14% niacin, 14% pantothenic acid, 23% phosphorous, 24% riboflavin, 29% selenium, 20% thiamin, 11% zinc
Cost (1/6 recipe): $3.08

P.S. The quality of the pasta salad was decreased by about the fourth day - especially the eggplant. So, unless you are making it for a party or a group, you probably want to cut the recipe in half to make sure it gets eaten.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Nostalgia thy name is Curry Chicken Salad

Some of my best memories involve sharing a meal, a drink or a sweet. But it is funny how foods that are not memorable at the time become a source of nostalgia later on. For example, when I was studying at the school of public health, the daily grind had curry chicken salad sandwiches for sale. I ate them, just like I ate many things on-the-go, in between classes or to get me through a study session. At the time, it was just a sandwich, but now I have fond memories of eating them. So today, I embraced that nostalgia, and made me some chicken salad... a heavily adapted version of the Pioneer Woman's recipe.
1 1/4 pounds Chicken, cooked and diced
4 whole ribs of celery, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds
3 Tbsp light mayonnaise
3 Tbsp light sour cream
1/3 cup So Delicious almond milk creamer
1 Tbsp curry powder
Salt & pepper, to taste


Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, almond milk creamer, and curry powder until well combined.

Combine chicken, celery, and almonds in a large bowl, Pour curry dressing over the top. Fold together with a rubber spatula. Make sure it's all combined, then add more of whatever it needs. 

Chill for several hours. Serve on lettuce, or with juicy grapes on the side. Makes 5 entree-size portions, but portions are likely smaller on a sandwich or on a bed of lettuce.

Adapted from: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/curried-chicken-pasta-salad/

Allergens: Nuts (almonds), milk, egg
Nutrition (1/5 recipe): 270 calories, 15 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 76 mg cholesterol, 722 mg sodium, 196 mg potassium, 7 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 28 g protein, 3% vitamin A, 6% vitamin C, 5% calcium, 8% iron
Cost (1/5 recipe): $2.16

P.S. This chicken salad has been delicious on a bed of lettuce, on a bagel, or by itself. But, next time, it would be interesting to substitute some of the sour cream or mayonnaise for greek yogurt.