Thursday, July 30, 2009

Steak Week

So on the theme of eating well on a budget, even though it was a few weeks ago, I divulge my secrets. Well, not really.

I really like steak, but I am on a pretty tight budget. So what's a girl to do? 1. Wait for a sale. 2. Stretch the steak. I bought and Eye Round Steak when it was on sale, cooked it on Sunday and had steak salad and steak tacos for the next few meals.

Steak tacos: tomatoes, onions, avacado, purple cabbage and steak on a corn tortilla.

Steak salad: tomatoes, onions, avacado, cilantro, and steak on romaine lettuce with a dressing made from chilis in adobo sauce, lime juice, cumin, cilantro, honey, and olive oil. I didn't really like the smokey flavor of the adobo sauce.

So the two dishes were kind of similar, but definitely satisfied my steak craving while still being healthy and relatively cheap. I'm actively working to incorporate more vegetables into my diet, and did pretty well during steak week.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A better ratatouille

So I attempted ratatouille last fall and it was okay, but it made a lot and I got sick of I finished it off. Also, I'm not a huge fan of squash/zucchini/eggplant (haha, which is what ratatouille is) unless they are sliced very thinly so you don't notice their texture. Or at least that's what I learned when I made ratatouille last fall.

So I followed this recipe because Smitten Kitchen does everything well.

But I made obvious grad student changes, for instance, I don't have an oval pan. So I put it in an 8x8, which was too small so I layered a layer of tomato puree (with a little olive oil, the chopped onion and thinly sliced garlic mixed in), then the extremely thinly sliced eggplant, zucchini, squash, and red pepper rings. So I put another layer of puree with some salt and pepper, rosemary, and thyme (I used powdered thyme before remembering that my roommate had leftover fresh thyme), another layer of veggies and topped with fresh thyme. Baked for about 45 minutes and yay! I will only eat it if all the veggies are covered with tomato sauce though so I just kind of mushed it up and serve it on quinoa. A nice healthy dinner, which of course, merits dessert :)

I made peach cookies for the class I TA today. They were more like cake than cookies, so that might be looking into making a peach cake in the future. Then again, I always say this, but never repeat a recipe to make it better, I just stick to my classics when I actually need to serve it to people, which is the only time I make most of these bigger things like cake or pans of brownies. Man, I wish I saw my friends often enough (and could afford) to make all this food.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Meringue fail, Jam success

So I tried making Brown Sugar Meringues, but apparently when it says to beat until soft peaks form, it means until firm peaks form. There were definitely peaks, but the batter was certainly too soupy. I thought they would rise, but they didn't. Fortunately, I have the equivalent of 6 more egg whites and I can try again. I am however out of almonds, so they will just have brown sugar or will I add almond extract? Ah, well, I'll eat the goop anyway.

I did however make peach "jam" for the Daring Baker's Bakewell Tart I'll be making tomorrow. I needed a cup, so I cut up 3 peaches, with maybe 1/8 cup brown sugar (it was to taste, I didn't measure) and a squirt of lemon juice. I cooked until the peaches were soft and mushed them. So it's not real jam, but I think it will work for the fruit layer of the tart. I'll fill you in on that tomorrow. I also made the tart tonight, so yeah, it was a busy night. Tomorrow morning will also be.

Birthday Bread

So I have this friend who doesn't like bananas, but likes banana bread. But she really likes oranges, so she likes the idea of orange bread (I also know she likes the nutmeg, cloves, allspice, etc flavors). Knowing her birthday was coming, I've been keeping oranges in the fridge so I could make orange bread at the drop of a hat. This is the recipe I found: Orange Bread. Cheap, easy, and tasty if you like those flavors. No pictures, I mean it looks like bread, though the batter was (obviously) orange. Oh, but I threw the zest of the orange in too to add a little extra kick.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Last Week's Meals

So none of last week's meals were particularly complicated, but they were tasty! I bought a few magazines on summer healthy cooking, and they made all the difference. Lots of citrus and mint flavors, which were used in ways I wouldn't think to and made everything a lot tastier.

Chicken Pasta Salad with Almonds
Basically chicken salad on whole wheat penne rather than bread. Also, it uses fat free plain yogurt rather than mayo to give it creaminess without the fat (and for those of us who have plain yogurt but not mayo in the fridge, it works well), with a little lemon zest to add some kick. Also, mint helps with adding a little extra freshness. I added grapes because I like grapes in my chicken salad. It also had mint for freshness and almonds for crunch. Oh, and parsley, but I substituted cilantro. Talk about a well organized description :-P

Stuffed Turkey Burgers
Use 1 1/4 pound of ground turkey, shredded mozz cheese, roasted red peppers cut into small pieces. Pack the turkey into 8 (I made 10) small patties and put shredded mozzerella, and a few red peppers on half paties. Place remaining on top and seal in the cheese and red peppers, sprinkle with ground pepper and sea salt, then grill until brown. These are super tasty with sprouts :). I also added cilantro, but couldn't taste it. Also, make sure you seal them complely, that's probably pretty obvious, but I thought I did a good job but most of the cheese oozed out. Actually, I probably didn't add enough cheese, you can probably fit a whole tablespoon in, I was worried it wouldn't fit so just put a pinch in.

Grilled Veggie Wrap
Cut 2 zucchini in thin strips lengthwise and grill until translucent and tender. Cut two roasted red peppers in quarters (or chop in little pieces because you are just using leftover from your turkey burgers). Toast a quarter cup pine nuts. Cut 1/4-1/2 a red onion into thin slices. Chop a little mint and spinach. Take whole wheat wraps (I just used tortillas) and spread your favorite hummus on them, sprinkle with pine nuts and put 3 strips of zucchini (well, a fourth of what you have, this is supposed to serve 4, I just ate one every day and prepared them in the morning), two red pepper pieces, a few onion slices, spinach and mint. Then wrap and eat! I used alphalfa sprouts again for this, in place of spinach because I had another spinach recipe in mind:

Cumin Chickpea and Spinach Salad
This was my favorite meal of the week.
One can chickpeas (or 2/3 cup dried and prepared), 2 tbsp parsley (again, I subbed cilantro!), 1/4 cup diced red onion
Mix above.
Dressing: 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1/4 tsp finely ground lemon zest, 3/4 tsp (or more if you are me!), cumin, pinch cayenne. Freshly ground salt and pepper. Mix these and pour over chickpea mixture
Yogurt sauce: 1 tbsp orange juice, 1/4 finely grated orange zest, 1/4 tsp honey, 3 tbsp plain yogurt.

Serve chickpea mixture over spinach garnish with mint and yogurt dressing.
So tasty! Extremely refreshing and it tastes like summer!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

A few months ago, I made Chocolate Banana Oatmeal cookies that turned out okay, but tasted like they were missing something. Well this time I had Skippy Natural Peanut Butter which has a little too much salt for my taste, so I figured it would be tasty for baking while just leaving out the salt (which is probably something you aren't supposed to do, but I thought it worked pretty well in this case) and a bruised, but not too overripe banana, which I thought would be perfect for making something peanut butter/banana-y. So I looked up my old recipe and found some places to make modifications. With all the extra peanut butter, it required a lot more oatmeal, but I think they turned out great! Plus, they are decently healthy, at least for a recovery after run snack. Again, I approximated, but it went something like this:
1 mashed banana
1/2-3/4 c peanut butter
1 egg
2 tbsp butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 c cocoa powder
~1 c oatmeal
Chocolate chips/chunks to taste

Beat mashed banana, peanut butter, egg, butter, brown sugar until smooth. Add in vanilla and continue beating. Add cinnamon, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa. Blend well. Then slowly add oatmeal until it reaches the desired consistency. Add chocolate chips if desired.

Bake for about 10 minutes at 350.

Yield about 24 cookies.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cake

I've been slacking, and I apologize. The heat has made me unmotivated to both cook and write about it. But I did have a birthday cake that I made. And none of my friends are huge cake fans, like actually cake. Plus it's hot out. So clearly ice cream cake was the way to go. My mom usually makes the "Peanut Buster Parfait," but I have friends allergic to peanuts, so that was out of the question. Plus my friend Shelley's favorite kind of ice cream is cookie dough... so a cookie dough cake seemed fitting. So it's a pretty basic concept: cookie crust, cookie dough ice cream, covered in hot fudge and cookies on top. And I used the classic (and my favorite) Nestle Tollhouse cookie dough recipe. But it was exactly what she wanted, though maybe a little too sweet... :P

I made two half batches of cookies, one with egg to be the crust and cookies on top, one without egg to go in the ice cream

Cake (divide everything in two, except the egg):
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I love the ones from Whole Foods, they are cheaper, yes that's right cheaper, and tastier than regular ones)
  • Half gallon vanilla ice cream
  • Hot fudge (recipe below) cooled
Preheat oven to 375
half of each: flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl in two separate bowls. Beat half of the butter butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy in two bowls. Add egg to one and beat well. Gradually beat one flour mixture into each butter mixture (one without egg, one with egg). Stir in morsels.
Pack down the dough with egg to the bottom of a greased 9 1/2 springform pan to make the crust. Drop the remaining dough by rounded teaspoons onto a cookie sheet. Bake the crust for about 20 minutes until golden and the cookies 9-11 minutes. Let both cool completely before proceeding.

Allow the ice cream to soften slightly, then fold in the non-egg dough by small pieces at a time. Alternately, you could use cookie dough ice cream, but where's the fun in that? Allow this to refreeze while the crust cools.

Once the crust is cool, cover it with ice cream so it does not go over the top of the pan. Pour hot fudge over. Freeze overnight

Top with cookies before serving.

Hot fudge:
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/ c. cocoa (Hershey's)
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp butter
3/4 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla (added later)
In a saucepan - mix dry ingredients. Add butter and water. Bring to a boil, and continue boiling for 10 minutes, or slightly longer. Remove from heat and add vanilla.