A gallery of cheap eats

June 19, 2009

I am seriously exhausted, but I also have anxiety issues, and these pictures piling up, plus all that math that isn’t going to do itself, well. It’s getting to me.

pesto vegetable soup, or, a rare moment of foresight

pesto vegetable soup, or, a rare moment of foresight

This seems a little pricey at $10.06 for the whole recipe, but it actually made 10-12 servings, which makes it around $1.01 per serving. And also very handy to have around when you’re too tired to cook.

matt's request: spring rolls

matt's request: spring rolls

Because the stupid organic shrimp that is so delicious we can’t quit it costs $8.75 for a half pound, these were on the pricey side. The total was about $11.39 for 14 spring rolls, which I’d call at least 4 servings, but, in the interest of full disclosure, I ate 3 and Matt ate 11. So I don’t know if I can call it 4 servings in good conscience. Although later, he did say something about them expanding in his stomach, so maybe that was a little much, even for him.

couscous/lentils/chickpeas/delicious things

couscous/lentils/chickpeas/delicious things

This one wins the cheap contest. I used this recipe and it came out to a total of $4.09 for 4 servings, for a total of $1.02 per serving. Also, I loved it, but Matt found it bland. I think maybe those spring rolls were still expanding in his stomach.

looks can be deceiving

looks can be deceiving

I know this looks like someone already ate it, but seriously. It was really good. I’ve never cooked with garam masala and it made everything smell good and taste even better. Plus, there are apples in there. I used a version of this recipe, which is an adaptation of another one. Also, they did the math for me. Which is great, because I lost some receipts and I also bought those red lentils about 6 months ago.

Tomorrow marks a year since we legitimized our union in the eyes of the state of Kansas, which is a great reason to go out for dinner and split a bottle of prosecco if there ever was one. After that, and some cake that I’m crossing my fingers isn’t too freezer-burned, it’s back to the frugal gourmet.


Return of the packets

May 2, 2009

Okay, technically these are flounder and vegetable parcels, but let’s get real: chicken packets without the chicken. I also didn’t use flounder, so I think I can call this recipe whatever I want.

cod and vegetable packets over couscous

cod and vegetable packets (de-packeted and served over couscous

I did not love this food. Matt seemed to, which is great, but I thought it was bland. This is entirely my fault for not following the directions to the recipe and for forgetting to buy a lemon. I honestly think the lemon would have made all the difference.

Part of the problem for me was that this is a recipe best undertaken in a larger kitchen. Or at least one that has counters and/or a sink near the stove. There was a lot of carrying fish, calling Matt to help me, etc. I think that made me even more disappointed when the whole thing basically tasted like nothing to me. Maybe it was the substitution of cod for flounder? I don’t know. The seafood counter at my grocery store didn’t have flounder, so I looked for another firm white fish that was wild-caught in the US. This was the only one that fit the bill.

At least I had a really awesome Post-Arthritis Walk lunch today and a breakfast cafe a few blocks from our house. Vegetable and feta omelet plus fruit. And a bite of Matt’s french toast with caramel cream cheese topping. Yes, it was just as good as you’d imagine.

I think all of that, and the Lake Champlain 70% dark chocolate truffle I had as an afternoon snack (really a reward for being brave and cutting off all of my hair) really made up for any lack of dinner flavor.

But I’m still going to try the lemon next time.

A detox is in order

March 20, 2009

Y’all. Don’t fret. I am back in the land of the blogging.

Seattle was awesome. I mean, rain and snow and hills and whatever, that place can still rock your face off. The conference was really good, we got to stay with an old friend, and I caught up with lots of my far-flung librarian posse. Good times were had by all. Especially by me, when Matt brought back a dozen cupcakes from Cupcake Royale after an outing in Ballard (Dayna, it was awesome to get your comment since we had totally eaten those and can confirm the rumors you’ve heard about how good they are). Since we were only there until Monday morning, there was a lot of creative cupcake consumption on my part, including cupcake oatmeal. It just felt right.

We also ate all kinds of other amazing non-cupcake food, like sushi from the place we loved last time we visited the city (with an entire television devoted to sumo wrestling), sandwiches from Pike Place Market, fancy crepes, and about four tons of fish. Each. Oh, and I tried Ethiopian for the first time. I’ve always avoided it because I thought it was heavy on the meat, but I split a vegetarian combo with a bunch of other people, and it was pretty much just lentils and vegetables. Oh, and bread. I could eat that every day. In fact, I basically do.

We got back home at 1 on Tuesday morning, and the rest of the week has been a blur. Oh, except that there were more cupcakes. My boss made chocolate stout cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day and I may have brought half a dozen of them home. So worth it.

Anyway, I walked a lot in Seattle, but I haven’t formally worked out in almost two weeks, and, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I’ve been eating a lot of cupcakes. So, I’ve been feeling kind of run down and I decided to remedy it by cleaning up my eating a little.

Last night, I did this by making an on-the-fly lentil and couscous dish.

looks pretty clean, right?

looks pretty clean, right?

This is the entire dish, not just my portion. If I had eaten this much, I wouldn’t be typing right now. I’d be in the hospital, in the exploded persons unit. There’s not really a recipe, but it goes like this. Cook some green lentils, make some whole wheat couscous, and throw in some chopped red pepper, white wine vinegar, olive oil, and black pepper. When I dished it up, I also added a generous serving of feta. The cleanest of cheeses.

Tonight, I made this Cajun Red Beans and Rice recipe, which I got from one of the four cooking magazines I bought to read on the plane. I made a few changes, most notably skipping the sausage. I made up for it a little extra mirepoix. And by eating more. I also realized while cooking that, not only do I not have any cajun spice mix, I actually have no idea what that means. So I just threw in a bunch of things that I know are spicy (crushed red pepper, a few generous shakes of chili powder, and a pinch of cayenne pepper) and it seemed to work out okay.

more like red beans and spice

more like red beans and spice

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to March Madness.

File under: fail

February 22, 2009

Ugh, tonight’s dinner literally fell apart, and I have no one to blame for it but Mark Bittman.

Okay, not really, but if I wasn’t reading his newest book and getting all fired up about it, I never would have thought that it would be a good idea to make bean and grain burgers after a very long Sunday, right before a very long week. I mean, really, I only started cooking the pot of beans at 3:30 and suddenly I was hungry and I had to soak the bulgur and mash the chickpeas and mix in the egg and then it was just crazy and my hands were super gross and eggy and I still couldn’t get the stupid things to form into patties. What did I do wrong? I had to omit the onion because, even though I went through all the trouble of dicing and grating it, it was too membraney and really kind of mushy and overly moist for me to use without feeling like I wanted to vomit. I tried to dress one up a little for the picture, but if you look carefully you might be able to tell that it’s broken in three pieces.

busted chickpea burgers with sweet potato fries and ketchup

busted chickpea burgers with sweet potato fries and ketchup

Matt’s sweet potato fries were good, at least. And, actually, the patties were fine, but only about half of them stayed together. A few also got a little extra crispy because I convinced myself that cooking them longer would make them stay together better. This did not turn out to be true. The recipe can also be made as a loaf, so I may try that next time. When I do this not on a Sunday.

On the bright side, I did a lot of food prep for this week – we’re currently worth our weight in bulgur and chickpeas.

Oh, and I actually cooked Friday and Saturday nights as well, against all odds.

whole wheat couscous with peas and artichoke hearts

whole wheat couscous with peas and artichoke hearts

I usually hate peas, but they were actually pretty good here. Or, it was 9pm and I was really hungry.

baked penne with asparagus

baked penne with asparagus

The market has had fresh asparagus pretty early this year for $1.99 a pound, so I’ve been trying to take advantage. It was good with the pasta. And, of course, so was all the cheese.

And now, I’m exhausted, so it’s time to clean the kitchen and get ready for my crazy week. I think I’m going to need a cupcake bowl.


February 5, 2009

I forgot to blog again. Sorry. I’ve been so preoccupied with getting sick (college towns are gross and germy) and then having to deal with the fact that my hair has crossed that incredibly fine line between just long enough and too long, and now it keeps getting stuck under the shoulder strap of my work bag and it’s just so annoying and I have to yank it from under the strap and it’s painful and time-consuming, etc.

Clearly, it is past my bedtime. But you know what I’m talking about with the hair thing, right?

Last night we had this soup, which I credit with my full recovery from whatever illness I picked up.

soup, salad, crackers

soup, salad, crackers

This made a lot of soup. A lot. I even took some to work for lunch today, which was A HORRIBLE MISTAKE as it semi-exploded in the microwave and I had to clean it up and then I burned the better part of my mouth, throat, and esophagus eating it. And then my spoon broke, but I was short on time and I was shoveling couscous soup in my mouth with the broken bowl of my spoon and… I should have had a peanut butter sandwich.

After work, we went shopping for dishes to round out our wedding registry set, courtesy of my awesome aunt who both shares and supports my dish habit (thanks again!).

While we were at the mall, I may or may not have also ruined my appetite shoving as many Trolli Strawberry Puffs in my mouth at one time as I could. Luckily, I have a lot of training in this kind of thing, so I soldiered on and made this tasty frittata with our leftover broccoli.

broccoli & cheddar frittata

broccoli & cheddar frittata

I was going to post the recipe, but, let’s face it: I’ve already stopped making sense. It’s pretty easy. I’ll try to post it another time.

But not tomorrow, because I’m going out.

Packet up

October 18, 2008

We love things cooked in packets here in the See Food household. Fish cooked in packets, sweet potatoes cooked in packets, chicken cooked in packets. If you could bake cakes in packets, I’d do that, too. But you can’t, and that’s why I don’t bake cakes.

Anyway, tonight we had chicken packets with whole wheat couscous and green beans from the farmer’s market.

For these particular chicken packets, I used a recipe I’ve tried a few times before – they have salt, black pepper, garlic, crushed red pepper, and orange slices.

I slept for 11 hours last night and I’m still feeling wrecked. Last week was pretty stressful, and next week is looking a little intense, too. So, I think I’ll take it easy tonight, especially since I did approximately zero things today, which means I’ll have to do lots of things tomorrow.

I really wish I hadn’t started talking about cake, because now I want some. And I don’t have any. I might be able to dig up some decaf creme brulee coffee, and if I close my eyes, maybe I can pretend it’s the real thing.

These are our salad days.

August 20, 2008

One of the best things about our trip to North Carolina was that it gave us a chance to spend time with old friends we haven’t seen in a long time. I spent a good bit of our first wedding party talking to my friend Karin about all things food. I told her about this blog and she diligently read it. Clearly, she got a good sense of what I like, because she sent me a link to this recipe.

I think we all know that I love a main dish salad, especially in the summer. Tonight’s attempt did not disappoint.

Really, how can you go wrong with a bunch of grains and some tasty protein? And then, of course, there’s the feta.

I’m having a bad day. I started the ball rolling with the name change process recently, and I complicated things for myself by keeping my middle name and adding my original last name as a second middle name. Now I’m plagued by self-doubt (What middle initial do I use on my taxes? How will I sign? What if the Middle name box on a form is too small?) and have worked myself into a frenzy that has literally lasted for three days. If you read this and have two middle names, now would be a great time to tell me how much you love it.

Anyway, at least the food was good.