Trying out recipes to pass on to you.

pay more than $2 for steak, trust me

Posted: July 9th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

sometimes…recipes are silly. they look good on paper. but during the execution a step might make you stop and say “why?” like buying chives or parsley only to realize it’s just to sprinkle on the top….no real flavor purpose.

i wanted to add a beef to my ‘cheap week’ and all i had to buy here was the steak and a can of diced tomatoes. and doesn’t “Pan-Seared Steak with Pizzaiola” sound….fun? apparently the pizzaiola is a type of red “sauce” but i don’t get how it added to this dish at all. strike 1.

this recipe called for a rib-eye but i took a hint from Clean Eating Magazine and bought eye of round cuts. VERY lean and about 150 calories per 4 oz serving it said. problem is less fat means less flavor and less juicy. strike 2.

looks purdy like the mag pic, yeah? well tasted like a magazine page. in case of emergency i also made (normally no fail) cheesy polenta. kind of like cheesy grits. i made them the way i always do and….they tasted like soap!? i added salt. more pepper. another hunk of butter. grated some cheddar in the with parm already mixed in. soap. strike 3.

you wins some, you lose some. here is the LINKto the full recipe in case you think you can improve this somehow.

Hubs meter: he dutifully chewed. and CHEWED. he might still be chewing. let’s save the embarrassment of asking and give this a 1 star rating.

Price meter: this is mostly spices, garlic and olive oil. your cut of meat will make a difference. $4.29 got me 3 nice sized eye of round steaks. a can of name brand dice tomatoes was$1.35. divide that by 3= $1.88. of course you will need to add one heck of a side dish or dessert to make up for this mess.

Health meter: we’ll go with “good.” a lean cut of meat is going to give you vitamins and protein without all the fat and cholesterol. and we know tomatoes are a super food. the lack of taste here will send you to the cupboard for cookies later…so it’s a toss up.

So what did we learn this week:

A) it’s fun to try new things

B) planning a menu ahead of time saves money and frustration. we’re talking $19 for 2 people to eat 4 meals this week. and 1 trip to the store. keep your pantry and fridge stocked with some basics. an inspirational (or “duh!”) article HERE:

and C) go with the flow. sometimes you’ll have a hit. sometimes you’ll have a flop. and there’s always pizza delivery. that’s my recovery plan :)

$3.50 Creamy Lemon Pasta w/ Veggies

Posted: July 8th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

sometimes even Bon App gets it….not right. maybe cause i halved it? or maybe it just needed a little more jooj.

the Tagliatelle with Baby Vegetables and Lemon-Parmesan Sauce looked promising and was….just fine. i would have added chopped garlic and sauteed it with the veggies. but i like garlic in everything. maybe a hunk of butter? i squeezed more lemon juice on it.  it needed to be richer and have a bit more depth.

that being said…see if it looks good to you and what you might do different. full recipe HERE.

Ingredients (full makes 4, i made half)

  • enough for 2 servings egg fettuccine, $3.45 plus leftovers
  • tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil$free, gotsit
  • 1/2 medium white onion, halved, thinly sliced $.40
  • oz baby zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise(i used 1/2 a regular sliced thinish) $free from mom garden. maybe $.75?
  • oz frozen tiny green beans (1/2 to 1cup), thawed (hubs hates gb, i used green peas) $.99
  • teaspoons finely grated lemon peel $.59
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus more for passing $free, had it! keep it around! but about $4.00)
  • 5 tablespoons cup heavy whipping cream $1.50
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice $(see peel)


  • Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain, reserving 2 cups cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and zucchini; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until zucchini is almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add beans and lemon peel. Toss 1 minute.
  • Scrape contents of skillet over pasta in pot. Add 1 1/4 cups Parmesan cheese, cream, lemon juice, and 1 cup reserved cooking liquid. Place over medium-high heat and toss until heated through and sauce coats pasta, adding more reserved pasta liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing additional cheese separately.

Hubs meter: he says 4 stars but he was starving. i wasn’t a fan. so we’ll give it 3. pasta scarfed. peas left in the bottom of the bowl.

Price meter:  about $3.50 per serving. maybe a bit more if you need to buy the parm. pasta = cheap good eats.

Health meter: cream and cheese and pasta? not great. but not terrible. high on fat. and needed even more to be stellar. Bon App says one serving contains the following: Calories 563. %Calories from Fat 43.7m, Fat (g) 27.4, Saturated Fat (g) 11.4. Cholesterol (mg) 104.8, Carbohydrates (g) 53.9, Dietary Fiber (g) 4.9, Total Sugars (g) 5.1, Net Carbs (g) 49.1, Protein (g) 26.6

and mine:

$2 Oven-Roasted Chicken w/Carrots and Yukon Gold Potatoes

Posted: July 7th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

I must say—this is more of a fall or cool weather dish than a summer dish. first, there is the substantial amount of oven time warming up your kitchen. there’s the root veggies. thyme and nutmeg. regardless, this is comfort food for shiz. it made the kitchen smell amazing. though i might lessen the amount of salt the other seasonings were spot on. the chicken thighs, something i don’t cook with ever, were juicy and the skin (thought i pulled mine off) was crispy. and the CARROTS! like candy when roasted.

the thighs are where you are saving your money here. a less popular cut of chicken than say, a boneless skinless breast or a leg.

follow the direction exactly. you can’t screw this up. i omitted chives. they were just for decoration. the full recipe for six is HERE. i halved it and there was plenty for two with leftovers for lunch. or later tonight…..

Oven-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Carrots and Yukon Gold Potatoes


1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, $free, gots it

3-4 large chicken thighs with skin and bones, $3.76 for pack of 4 thighs

1/2 tablespoon coarse kosher salt, $free

teaspoons dried thyme, $free (or cheap if you need to buy)

1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, $free

dash or two of ground nutmeg, $free (or cheap to buy)

pound unpeeled medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 2-inch-long, 1/2-inch-thick spears, $.99

1 pounds medium carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch-long, 1/2-inch-thick spears, $1.19


  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat large rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Place chicken on baking sheet. Turn to coat with oil and set skin side up. Mix salt, thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, and nutmeg in small bowl. Sprinkle half of mixture over chicken. Roast until chicken starts to brown and some fat has rendered, about 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine potatoes, carrots, 2 tablespoons oil, and remaining salt-thyme mixture in large bowl. Transfer thighs to medium bowl; set aside. Transfer potato-carrot mixture to same baking sheet; turn to coat with drippings. Roast until vegetables soften, 30 minutes. Place thighs on vegetables; pour accumulated juices from chicken over. Return sheet to oven. Roast until chicken is cooked and vegetables brown, 15 minutes longer.

Hubs meter: 4 stars! he didn’t clear his plate but he had also just come inside from mowing. the score is bumped higher because of all the “this is really good, baby” and “mmmmm” i heard.

Price meter: $5.94 for about 3 servings so…less than $2 per serving! add maybe $1 or $2 if you need to buy dried spices.

Health meter: Bon Ap didn’t include the nutrition info so i’m estimating a bit. chicken thighs have a bad wrap for being higher in fat and calories. looking online fat and cals are all over the place. we’ll estimate about 180 cals per thigh and 10 grams fat. take off the skin for lower cholesterol and calories. the olive oil adds some good fat and cals. carrots and taters low! i’ll estimate 580+ a serving. worth it!


$4 Asian Noodle Salad with Shrimp

Posted: July 6th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

To recap, I was looking to skim a few bucks off the grocery bill this week but didn’t want to skim on delectability.

I went through my 2009 Bon Appetit stash and chose four meals that were affordable, healthy but also looked delicious. I also haven’t made any of them before. Here goes!

The full recipe serves four but I was only cooking for two. For the full recipe click HERE.

Asian Noodle Salad with Shrimp


1/2 of a package rice stick noodles (you could easily sub white or brown rice or even spaghetti) $free, i used leftover noodles

2 1/4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 small lime or 1/2 a medium) $ .25

1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce*(didn’t have it, subbed soy sauce and one minced anchovy fillet. you can leave out the fishy!) $free, subbed

teaspoons chili-garlic sauce**(didn’t have. subbed 1 minced garlic clove and a few shakes of tobasco) $free, subbed

teaspoons sugar $free, had

1/2 pound peeled deveined cooked medium shrimp $4.94 for 16 med shrimp

1/2 cup thinly sliced Japanese cucumbers or Persian cucumbers***(i used one from my mom’s garden. a cheap plain one is fine) $free, had

1/2 8-ounce package sugar snap peas $1.75 from the freezer section

1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced  $.69

1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh mint leaves $free, had

1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh cilantro leaves $.40


  • Cook noodles in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain well. Using scissors, cut noodles into thirds.
  • Whisk lime juice, fish chili-garlic and sugar in small bowl until dissolves. Place shrimp in medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons dressing; toss to coat.
  • Divide noodles among bowls. Top with cucumber slices and all remaining ingredients. Spoon with dressing over, and drizzle with remaining dressing.

This was really tasty but I can envision 20 ways to change it up. Improvise on the sauce. Sub marinated tofu for the shrimp. Different veggies. Use what you have! I mentioned subbing rice for the noodles but why not go crazy and throw it all in a tortilla if that’s what you have around for east meets southwest!

Hubs meter: 4 stars being scraped the bowl and 1 star being mostly left to dump in the trash—this scored a 3 star rating. Only a few bites left in the bowl.

Price meter: Just over $4 per person (plus a bit of creativity) for a fresh and seasonal meal. May cost you another buck or two for the cucumber and mint. Keep things like soy sauce and brown rice around for all sorts of occasions like this.

Health meter: See for yourself. The fine folks at BA provided the rundown. One serving contains the following: Calories (kcal) 310.0, %Calories from Fat 3.1, Fat (g) 1.1, Saturated Fat (g) 0.3, Cholesterol (mg) 168.1, Carbohydrates (g) 49.9, Dietary Fiber (g) 4.5, Total Sugars (g) 5.4, Net Carbs (g) 45.5
Protein (g) 23.6

And my end result:

budget week

Posted: July 5th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | 1 Comment »

leftovers are my friend. they mean free lunch to take to work the next day. and while lunch at my desk means money in my pocket, it can lead to monotony and lack of social interaction be it a lunch out with co-workers or business done over a meal.

this week i made myself a pact–make lunch plans at LEAST twice this week. and i did! but the trade off was to be a bit more frugal in the grocery budget. i’m so happy with the results i plan to share it with you.

some guidelines i followed:

1- planed 4 meals (mon-thurs) for 2 people. fridays are for splurges.

2- had to be tasty! something i would make even not on a budget. we’re not talking corn bread and beans here (though i do love that combo). all four recipes i chose are from Bon Appetite 2009 issues. and by accident chicken, shrimp, beef and a non-meat item made the list. something for everyone!

3-had to be healthy. this may not be traditional “clean eating” but i’d say all the items are balenced with good veggie representation and lean proteins. for fun we’ll count the fat grams and calories.

4-i’m working with some basic pantry items that i didn’t have to buy and that i encourage you to keep.  olive oil, dried spices, and garlic come in to play often.

a sneak peak—thanks to some planning my grocery bill tonight for the week was $60! this never happens and i even got some more expensive items like almonds to snack on at work. for these meals you’re going to come WAY under that total.

check back for the tasty deals.