Friday, April 29, 2011


Last night, as I was cooking dinner I was already thinking about how I was going to post tomorrow how I went a full work week without eating out.  I mean, I cooked everyday and had plenty of leftovers for lunch the following day.  Today, I cracked.  I don't know if it was because it was Friday or if the office was quiet or what, but I totally sabotaged myself.  I broke down and instead of warming my balsamic glazed chicken, I went out and ate enchiladas!  Of course, they were tasty at first, but now I feel like crap and still have the chicken in my lunch bag.  I think it's punishing me.

I'll try again next week.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Menu Plan 05/02 -- 05/07

Yesterday, I posted about my food budget.  I budget $50 a week for food for two people.  I made my grocery list and menu plan last week and added up a tentative total.  $41.35.  Since I am under-budget, I'll either roll the difference over to next week or buy some of my wants, like more of that brie cheese!  :)

Dinner:  Spaghetti with marinara sauce

Dinner:  Pita bread stuffed with Greek salad (this is so simple, but so amazing!!! I crave this!!)

Dinner:  Asian style rice

Dinner:  Baked chimichangas

Dinner:  Tacos

Dinner:  Sheppard's Pie

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Food Budget

I have my monthly budget down to a science...kind of.  I always over-estimate the costs of utilities and other spending so my budget is not too tight.  For over four years, this is how we've done it and I can't believe how nonchalant I was with money before.

There was a time, when I would go to the grocery store without a list or a plan and buy whatever looked good to me.  I can't tell you how much food I would waste!!  Of course, when the time came to cook dinner, I had a fridge full of food but nothing to cook.  My grocery items didn't make sense.  For example, I would buy a loaf of bread, a frozen cake, and pasta. Huh????  I'd spend $100 on absolutely nothing!  So of course, B and I would go and eat out.  Then because we ate out and didn't have leftovers, we'd eat out for lunch.  It was a vicious cycle that cost us a TON of money.

Now every week, I go to two different grocery stores, Ralphs and Trader Joes.  I go through the Ralphs sales ads a week and see how those prices compare to those of  Trader Joes. )I don't use coupons unless they are staring right at me.  I know there are savings in there.  I just don't have the patience nor the time to do it all the time.) I make a menu plan and write out everything I need to make that dish.  I often go for dishes that I have at least some of the ingredients on hand already. After I make a list, I calculate everything on the list and it almost always runs up to about $50.  $50 a week is my food budget for two adults. Somedays it is a little higher if I decide to stock up on something that is on sale or if I'm making food for an event or something, but other than that it is always around $50.

This past Sunday, I veered a little from the list and bought several times that I just wanted.  Of course, I went over budget by $10.  The total amount of the things I bought not on the list?  $9.20.  

After all of this, our biggest money leak is eating out.  Although I do cook most nights, sometimes I don't feel like it or sometimes we go out after work and come home too late to cook.  It's a work in progress and I'm no longer fanatical about it.  We have room in our budgets for "fun" money and entertainment.  I just take it out of that and try to be better the following day.

I have the reputation in my family of being the one where money filters through my hands like sand.  I used to spend a lot on useless things and now I still spend money on my wants vs. needs, but I am just wiser about it.

Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Brie Cheese

Cheese is my life.  I love the stuff!!  I do most of my food shopping at Trader Joe's.  This place actually has a pretty good cheese selection.  Anyway, last week, I noticed my co-worker eating something out of a tiny container.  I couldn't make out what it was and since we were in a meeting, I couldn't yell and ask her.  Anyway, it was brie cheese.  It a two biter in a little container.  I loved it!  So today, she brought me a bag of them.  They are sold in a bag of five.  I just ate one and it is HEAVEN!  The Trader Joe's in my area doesn't carry it, but I will stalk all of them in a 10 mile radius for this cheese!!

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Face it, the only reason to go to RL is for the biscuits. I don't have one near me and also I really don't like the restaurant either.  I now make the biscuits at home.  They are so simple, I wonder why I never made them before!

2 1/2 C of Bisquick
4 Tbsp of cold butter -- cut in pieces
3/4 C of whole milk
1 C of sharp cheddar cheese -- shredded
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbsp of butter
1 tsp of dried parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the Bisquick and cold butter. With your hands, kind of mush the butter into the flour mix.  Stop when the butter looks like peas in the flour.  Add the milk, garlic powder, salt, and cheese.  Mix until combined.

Drop the dough onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 17 minutes or until golden brown on top.

In the meantime, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter, parsley, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl.  Once the biscuits come out of the oven, brush the melted butter on top of each biscuit.  Really don't skimp here.  Serve!

Beef Stew

I love the idea of hearty one pot meals.  I have never made or even eaten beef stew before, I've just always liked the idea of it.  I made it this weekend and cannot wait to make it again!

2 lb of stew meat
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
2-3 celery stalks -- chopped
2 carrots -- peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic
3 C beef stock
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 russet potato -- diced in bite size pieces
2 Tbsp of cornstarch
2 Tbsp of water
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a dutch oven, heat oil and brown the meat.  You don't have to cook it, just give it some color.  You'll have to do it in batches as food doesn't brown in an overcrowded pan.

In the same pot, add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, and Worcestershire sauce.  Cook for a couple of minutes.  Stir in the meat and all the juices that may have accumulated on the plate.  Stir around for another couple of minutes.  Add the stock. Salt and pepper the mixture.  Cover and cook for 2 hours.  After 2 hours, stir in the carrots and celery.  Cover and cook for another 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, add the potato.  Again cover and cook for another 15 minutes.  Once the potatoes are tender, drop the heat to a slow simmer.  Stir the cornstarch in with the water.  Mix until smooth and stir into the stew.  Allow the mixture to boil and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Adjust seasonings and serve.

Menu Plan 04/25 - 04/30

I've been doing a menu plan for years.  I often enjoy it.  Lately, it's getting difficult to keep thinking of different things to make.  I'm going to try to incorporate a few new recipes a week and see if they'll be added to the rotation.

Dinner:  Asian style chicken with rice and potstickers

Dinner:  Grilled salmon with steamed broccoli

Dinner:  Meatloaf with buttered noodles

Dinner:  Chicken in a balsamic glaze and mashed potatoes

Dinner: Home made tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches

Dinner:  Chicken in a garlic gravy with rice

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Menu Plan 04/18 -- 04/23

Another week, another menu plan.

Dinner:  BBQ Chicken (won't be making as planned this week)

Dinner:  Chinese rice with potstickers

Dinner:  Date night out!

Dinner:  Lemon chicken with angel hair pasta

Dinner:  Homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches

Dinner:  Beef stew

Monday, April 11, 2011

Menu Plan 04/11 - 04/16

Yes, I posted that I'm going to watch my carbs.  Yes, I now posted a menu plan that is rich in the very thing I'm watching.  My plan is not to eat all the carbs, but to eat a green salad or something instead of.  We'll see how that goes....

There are also a lot of chicken dishes as I roasted a whole chicken on Friday and then no one ate it.  B came home late and ate out and then it was too late for me to eat.  I did pick at it as it cooled and it is delicious!

Dinner:  Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

Dinner:  Chicken salad sandwiches

Dinner:  Mahi Mahi and roasted broccoli

Dinner:  Burgers and potato salad

Dinner:  BBQ chicken with Mashed Potatoes

Dinner:  Buffalo chicken sandwiches with potato salad

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lettuce Wraps

B and I loved this dish!  He ate almost have of it for lunch and wanted more!!  It's really easy to put together and you'll have dinner finished in no time at all.

1 lb of ground chicken, turkey, or beef
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp of minced garlic
1/2 C of cooked rice
2 1/2 C of vegetables (I used frozen, whatever I had in the freezer)

2 Tbsp of hoisen sauce
1 Tbsp of soy sauce
2 tsp of toasted sesame oil
2 tsp of rice wine vinegar (white wine vinegar works too)
a dash or two of cayenne pepper or hot sauce

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

Brown the meat in a hot skillet.  Once fully cooked, drain well.  Add the garlic and ginger and stir until you can smell it.  Add the cooked rice and vegetables.  Stir until warmed through and then add the sauce to the mixture.  Mix again until warm.  Remove from heat and serve in lettuce cups or leaves.  Enjoy!


I love gyros!  Although, this recipe is not authentic by any means, the taste is almost spot on!

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg yolk (optional, but it really helps to bind the burgers)
1 Tbsp of dried oregano
1 clove of garlic -- minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

6 pita bread, cut in half
a simple salad (shredded lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, whatever else you may want to use up)


1/2 C of sour cream (I used light)
1/4 C of milk (I used skim)
1 tsp garlic powder
dash of cayenne
1/4 tsp paprika
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix all the ingredients for the meat mixture and refrigerate for about an hour.
Mix all the ingredients of the sauce together and set aside.

"Separate" the pita half to create a pocket.  Set aside.

Pull the meat mixture from the fridge and form into patties.  I make mine pretty thin, but do whatever works for you.  In a hot skillet, place the patties and cook until completely done.  Remove onto a plate and let cool a bit. 

Place the separated pita halves into the oven and warm for approximately 6 minutes.   During this time, thinly slice the meat patties.  Remove pita from the oven and start stuffing with the salad, meat, and top with the sauce. 

When I first made these, I did not think they would taste like gyros.  You'd be amazed how close they taste to the real thing!  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Food Block

Every now and then I cannot come up with any food ideas.  I'm facing one of those times right now.  It's like writers block, but with food.  I sat down yesterday to plan next week's menu plan and I was drawing a complete blank!  I did finally come up with a few ideas, but I feel they are so redundant and boring for now.  Normally, I think of stuff all week and now I am coming up with absolutely nothing!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Menu Plan 04/04 -- 04/09

I'm watching my carbs....again.  I love carbs and am quite addicted to them.  I gave them up for like 8 days a couple of months ago and well, I missed them.  I'm not cutting them out completely, just really being aware of my carb intact.  At that same time B is trying to get in shape and watching how he is eating too.

Dinner:  Green Salad with grilled chicken

Dinner:  Grilled salmon with zucchini and asparagus

Dinner:  Lettuce Wraps

Dinner:  Gyros in pita

Dinner: Baked Whole Chicken with a salad

Dinner:  Baked potatoes with Tuna (per B's request.  I'll be going to a concert!)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bean and Cheese Burritos

I finally ate these last night!  They were really yummy, so yummy I had a mini one for breakfast today.  Who am I kidding?  I had a full sized one.

2 cans of beans -- drained and rinsed (I used one can of black and one of pinto.  It's what I had in the house)
1 tsp of olive oil
1 clove of garlic -- minced
1 small onion -- chopped finely
2 tsp of chili powder
1 tsp of ground cumin
dash of cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper
Water to thin the beans
Flour tortillas

In a skillet, warm the oil and add the chili powder, cumin, garlic, and cayenne.  Stir around until you can really smell the spice.  Stir in well drained beans and warm through.  Add about 1/4 C of water and simmer for ten minutes.  Mash the beans with a fork or spoon and simmer.  If the mixture gets too dry, add some water.  Once the beans are heated and the mixture has thickened, add the onions.  Stir around for a minute. 

Spoon some of mixture in the middle of a warmed tortilla.  Add some shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and/or salsa and sour cream.  Fold burrito-style and enjoy!

This really is good.  I'm sorry it took me forever to make it as it comes together so fast too!  I have more filling in the fridge and I'll probably have them again for dinner....or a snack! :)