Another day, another dollar (per serving)

June 6, 2009

The only night this week that we didn’t eat something that could be referred to in some way as a salad was last night, when I worked later than expected and we ended up meeting at Planet Sub for dinner. Matt had a free sub card so it still ended up fitting vaguely in with the theme of the month.

Tonight was salad again, although I 85% promise that I’ll make something outside of the salad family next time I post. I just can’t help it. It’s hot and salads are cheap and easy. Just the way I like it.

Tonight’s orzo and zucchini salad was based on another recipe from Vegan Italiano, though a recipe is hardly needed. I really just borrowed the better part of the ingredient list and their clever method of putting the diced squash in a colander in the sink and draining the orzo over it, which warms it up without really cooking it or compromising its comforting summery crunch.

this + orzo + basil + spices + lemon juice + olive oil

this + orzo + basil + spices + lemon juice + olive oil

So very easy, and, once garnished with a few shavings of Parmesan (really, any cheese would work), a good lunch or light dinner for a hot day. Only 6 minutes of stovetop cooking is hard to beat.

the finished product, once again de-veganized

the finished product, once again de-veganized

the breakdown:

1/2 lb orzo = $1.00
1.28 lb squash @ 1.49/lb = $1.91
2T lemon juice = $.10 (estimate)
a few leaves of basil = $.75
a few shavings of Parmesan = $.25 (also an estimate, and a fairly high one)
and some pantry staples (olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper)

grand total = $4.01

And that’s for four servings, so the price per person breakdown is $1.00. Much better than we would have done if we’d given in and gone out for Mexican. Also, I don’t feel nearly as gross this way. Extra points for that. Enough extra points to go buy a pint of ice cream so that I can buy a little bit of that feeling? I’m going with yes.


Suffering succotash

April 19, 2009

This week was a little too heavy on the pain and fatigue for my taste, but I’m pretty proud of myself for actually managing to cook some easy meals that were healthy, too. It’s easy for me to lose focus when I’m fatigued, to go out to eat (usually not something balanced or even healthy) or to just eat peanut butter and ice cream for dinner because it’s so easy (and, let’s face it, delicious). But I try to remind myself that eating real meals with actual vegetables and proteins and  grains is almost guaranteed to make me feel better, even if it takes effort.

orzo succotash

orzo succotash salad

The “succotash” is kind of controversial because I used black beans instead of limas, but, what can I say? I like to think outside the box. And we didn’t have limas. And I wanted it to be kind of Mexican themed. I made this Wednesday night, which was probably the peak of my fatigue, when I came home and sat down and didn’t think I’d be able to get up again, ever. There may have been some tears of frustration. But I’m strong-willed, so I pushed myself up and made this dinner in about 7 minutes. All I did was cook 1/2 cup of orzo and then add it to a can of black beans, a can of corn (both drained and rinsed), and a half a pint of grape tomatoes, which I quartered. I wanted to make a nice lime dressing for it, but the bottled lime juice I had is past its date. So I tried to just spice it up with some cumin and cayenne, but it was still bland  and emotionally unfulfilling. I had to follow it up with a bowl of cereal.

stir fry salad

stir fry salad

This one was inspired by a wakame rice salad recipe from Clean Eating. But that one takes two hours, and requires wakame. This one took about 20 minutes and required whatever I had on hand. Basically just brown rice mixed with stir fried tofu and veggies (peppers, onions, carrots, mushrooms) and dressed with a tasty soy sauce/rice vinegar/oil/ginger combo, the only part of the recipe I actually followed.

Last night we got ice cream at the campus dairy bar at 5:30 and when I was finally hungry again, all I wanted were sweet potatoes, so dinner ended up being peppermint ice cream, roasted sweet potatoes, and some random roasted tomatoes. Very fancy.

Tonight, I made something else from the Tropical Vegan Kitchen.

spicy bolivian-style lentils over quinoa

spicy bolivian-style lentils over quinoa

It was supposed to be over rice, but, as you know, we just had rice. And I like to shake things up.

This meal took a little longer, but I had some energy from the gym so I went for it. Totally worth it. What makes the lentils “Bolivian-style”? Chipotle puree! This was so easy. All you do is take a 7 oz can of chipotles in adobo and puree them in the food processor until smooth. I only used a teaspoon of puree here, but it was enough to add a ton of awesome flavor and smokiness to the whole dish. And I have a ziploc bag full of it in the refrigerator, so I need to brainstorm other uses. Any ideas?

We hit up the Tulip Festival in Wamego today, so I think I’m going to go enjoy some of the cookies and wine we brought back. Dessert of champions.

Beans and greens

February 2, 2009

So, the whole experience of eating animal flesh again after a month off was kind of anti-climactic. I secretly expected to bite into a little shrimp and keel over, but I didn’t. And I’m happy to report that shrimp fajitas are still good. They probably would have been even better if I hadn’t ruined the experience by eating fried ice cream for the first time in three years, bolstered by a sense of accomplishment from doing a super intense 75-minute power yoga session. Anyway, I ordered the ice cream, which was sizable enough to prompt a little girl to say “Is it her birthday? It’s someone’s birthday!” loudly enough for the four other people in our entire town who weren’t watching the super bowl to hear. And then I ate it. That’s when I keeled over. The shrimp seemed to have very little to do with it.

After all that, it was kind of nice to go back to a comfortable, low-maintenance, and meatless diet today. Tonight was another PDQ meal.

I know. But I just can’t help myself. I love it. Plus, I went to kickboxing after work and I really wanted to eat before midnight.


toasted barley and orzo salad with black-eyed peas

This was accompanied by some kale (double garlic greens from How to Cook Everything), because I just can’t separate black-eyed peas from greens in my mind. I loved both parts of this meal – garlicky greens just seem right no matter what, and the barley and orzo salad was really chewy and warm and filling.

Okay, time for the sleeps.

Pasta, two ways

November 8, 2008

It’s a good thing I decided to take a break from blogging, because there really hasn’t been a lot of cooking going on around here. On Thursday, I fought the urge to go out to eat and made a salmon/orzo salad inspired by this recipe instead.


I don’t remember the orzo looking that creepy in real life. I made a few modifications, like using canned wild salmon instead of fresh salmon (because it’s cheaper and we’re landlocked) and omitting olives (because of my intense hatred). It was good, but not very appropriate for a cold, windy day, so I think I’ll be tabling that one until summer.

Yesterday, Matt took me out after a monumentally frustrating doctor’s appointment and running around town trying to get a prescription filled. He’s nice.

Today I went to a craft fair with some friends to look for Christmas gifts, although I basically came home with a bunch of food from the bake sale and some earrings for myself. Oops. After that, I went out to lunch, then Matt and I went to the laundromat and did (I’m not kidding) ten loads of laundry. I can take credit for eight. How does that even happen? I’m not proud. Although it’s nice to have a pile in the laundry closet that is not taller than I am.

To reward us, I made some fancy macaroni and cheese, based on this recipe. Interestingly, I somehow read the “gorgonzola” in the recipe as “Gruyere” which, as you may know, is a totally different and much more expensive kind of cheese (though it does also start with a “G,” so you can understand the confusion). So I spent $8.79 on a block of Gruyere we didn’t even officially need, although I’m not sure it’s possible to not need Gruyere. Anyway, I used an ounce or so of that in place of the gorgonzola and it still worked. It turned out fairly well (especially in light of an ink stain incident that occurred during the sensitive sauce-whisking process), but – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – it was a little too cheesy for me. It may have been the combo of the Parm and the Gruyere, but it really had a bite to it. Matt liked it, though, so maybe I’m off base.


I also had some brussels sprouts, but you know what they look like. After I tried another method on one of the ink stain, I ate a peanut butter rice krispy treat from the bake sale today. It was gone before I could get a picture, but I think I may have to try to recreate it one of these days.

By the way, if you have any brilliant ideas for removing ink stains that are probably now nice and set in on our couch and a pair of Matt’s jeans, please feel free to share.

I love Saturdays

October 4, 2008

Sorry, I’ve been really busy. Wednesday night we had leftover gumbo (even better the next day), Thursday we went out before seeing The Laramie Project with my class, and yesterday I was at a conference in Lawrence all day and really wanted to go to La Fiesta for shrimp fajitas and a mango margarita when I got home. The shrimp fajitas were excellent, but the mango margarita tasted a little too “I am from a giant plastic bottle of margarita mix” for me.

I had a really long, draining week, so I decided to make today the perfect Saturday: I slept in until almost 9, played Lego Batman, did a few errands, read, took a nap, went for a walk/jog, went to the movies, went to Target, and finally cooked again. I’m considering going to the mall for some TCBY but I don’t know if I can handle that much goodness.

For dinner, I made a recipe from the Vegetarian Times Fast and Easy cookbook that Matt checked out for me a few weeks ago. This was Tuscan Vegetable Ragout:

Good stuff. I made some orzo to go with it. I wanted rice but I was too lazy. Plus, orzo seemed more Italian and, therefore, appropriate.

Okay, I think I’m going to go for another walk. Directly to TCBY.

Okay, what now?

April 23, 2008

It’s 6:03 and I’ve already made dinner, eaten dinner, and cleaned most of the dishes. Am I some kind of robot?

Here’s what we had tonight:

Chicken-Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese.

I love these Cooking Light 20 minute dinners. They’re awesome for Wednesdays when there’s a 30 minute window between my coming home from work and Matt leaving for work. I changed a few things up with this recipe – spinach instead of arugula, balsamic instead of red wine vinaigrette, cut down on the olive oil. But, I did follow their suggestion of serving it with pita wedges. Because I do what I’m told.

And now, I’m sitting here watching Work Out and they’re FREAKING ME OUT with all their talk of visceral fat and gross stuff like that. One of the reasons I ate dinner so early was that I was planning to go to this program on energy efficiency at the public library, but now it’s raining and windy and I feel really lazy, so I’m not sure. Is it wrong to drive 3 blocks to a program on greener living?

Maybe I’ll stay home and be energy efficient by not getting off the couch. I can pick some recipes from this awesome book Matt brought home from work for me.

I like how it looks like it’s suspended against the back of the couch. I’ve been afraid to tell you this, but I’m a magician

Simple minded

March 30, 2008

I’m ravenous today. Being less active seems to make me hungrier than usual. Which is counterintuitive, really.

So, we had leftovers that we could have eaten, but we also had a bunch of asparagus in the refrigerator that was looking kind of rough, so I resuscitated it for dinner – chicken and asparagus with orzo. I made this once last month after seeing it on Eat Like Me, but it came out much better this time.


So, there’s that. It was simple, it has different colors, we always have chicken and tomatoes, and it was warm.

And now, I’m going to lie down for the rest of the night. So, for the next 20 minutes until I fall asleep.