We all have our own opinions of hidden/hiding vegetables…but we can agree these are just yummy! Whether you advertize the addition of carrot or don’t even mention it, they’re simply scrumptious and a great way to add a fruit and veg to snacktime, breakfast, dessert, whenever.
We got some amazing news this week: The results from my dad’s first bone marrow biopsy post-transplant shows NO remaining cancer!!! Apart from the birth of my child, this is the closest I’ve ever been to a real live miracle.
Also, my little monkey had her first ballet class this week. I swear—is there anything cuter than a toddler in a ballet outfit? I’m not sure there is!
It’s Bittman’s “vegan ’til 6pm” plan, in which the veteran food writer didn’t give up his foodie lifestyle of eating out, testing recipes, and reviewing restaurants, but rather made it a rule that he eats mostly vegan (a little milk in coffee or butter in a recipe is OK) during the day, and then eats “normally” at night.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Chocolate Glaze — I made this beauty as a Valentine’s gift for my hubby. It went over pretty well. Super grateful for this! Not hard, but lots of steps! The key to a cheesecake that doesn’t crack: have all your ingredients at room temperature when you start.
Eggplant Couscous Salad — Eggplant’s on sale this week in my neck of the woods, and I wanted something different from my traditional ratatouille or Chinese eggplant.
Chicken and Spinach Casserole — This was our Valentine’s Day supper (had to save room for that cheesecake!). It was very creamy—and you could easily substitute fat-free half and half to cut the calories—but I agree with one of the comments on the recipe that was a tiny bit bland. I might add red pepper flakes next time.
So what’s up in your world? What are you eating or reading or doing? What are you grateful for? I’d love to hear about it!!
Kale, Italian Sausage, & White Bean Soup. Collard Greens, Andouille, and Kidney Bean Soup. Spinach, Chicken Sausage, and White Bean Soup. Get it? Sound good? A very easy and budget-friendly dinner option.
I thought about titling this “quick & cheap,” but greens have such a reputation to uphold these days! Any variation featuring this health foodie darling du jour will run you just about $1.30 per serving depending on how many ingredients you get on sale, whether you go organic, if you use canned or dried beans, and if you use your own homemade chicken or vegetable broth. Once this recipe is in your toolkit you can just stock up on the ingredients as they go on sale and always have them on hand.
It takes only about 15 minutes start-to-finish if you chop the onion and garlic while the sausage browns. Then again, if you want to make it at 5pm and keep it on the stove til 7pm it holds up to that as well. This is such a winter go-to for us, and a freezer-filler-upper. Have some little grilled cheese sandwiches on the side, or just a plain old crusty loaf of bread!
Heat 2 glugs of olive oil in a soup pot or sauté pan (saute pans have high straight sides, I like to do the whole recipe in a large sauté pan).
Squeeze sausage out of casings if using links. Brown the sausage, and break it up into as big or small of chunks as you prefer - about 8-10 minutes.
Add the chopped/sliced onion & garlic, and any herbs or seasonings. Let them all get it on for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
Add broth – scrape/rub the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all that flavor.
Add the beans and greens.
Turn the heat down and let the whole mess marry for anywhere from 5 minutes to however long it takes for your dining companion to come home. If using barley or pasta don’t let them sit in the soup longer than their cooking time. For maximum flavor you could cook the pasta or barley in the soup so it absorbs the flavor - but then be sure not to overcook pasta in soup or it'll eventually dissolve. Of course you could cook them separately (or use leftovers) and add 5 minutes prior to eating so they have time to heat up and be incorporated.
For me this recipe amounted to 6 servings – we ate 2, then froze two bags of two servings for later enjoyment.
A few notes on sale prices:
Frozen organic kale is available at Whole foods for $2.69 per 16oz bag. I paid 99cents per 8oz fresh non-organic (inorganic?) kale while fresh organic kale bunches were on sale 2/$3 at Sprouts. So the 16oz frozen organic costs less than $3 for fresh organic kale on sale. All grocers carry frozen spinach, some better than others. Frozen collard greens can be found at major grocers, and frozen organic collard greens at Whole Foods. Using frozen greens? No prob – you don’t have to thaw them in advance, just drop ‘em in and give them time to reclaim their yumminess.
Around here chicken sausage goes on sale for $1.99, and pork sausage for $2.99 per pound. Use as much or as little sausage as your budget and palate dictate.
I routinely buy cans of beans on sale for about 60cents a can, you could potentially save more by using dried beans and soaking overnight ahead of time.
To stretch this recipe and make it even more economical consider adding pasta, barley, maybe even some rice. For me the beans are starch enough, but that’s just me. Don’t like beans? Skip them and substitute pasta, barley, etc. Make it work for you!
Random Note: My Dad gifted me a ground meat browning tool. It is by far the most ridiculous thing, I am loathe to recommend it. And yet…what tool do you suppose gets used at least once a week? Wouldn’tcha knowit?! I can’t even remember how I browned ground meat before. Honestly.
Found a better deal on any of these ingredients? Please post below to share with the community!
Can you come up with another combination? Let us know so we can share the yum!
I have a big problem whenever I’m faced with the idea of going on a “diet:”
I’m just not willing to give up entire food groups.
For a long time, I thought this was a flaw in my personality. I thought that I just didn’t have the willpower to want to give up brownies, or sugar, or gluten, or butter, or meat, or whatever. I thought there was something basically wrong with me that I didn’t want to eat fake “replacement” foods like banana “ice cream” or healthy cookies.
Then, after my daughter was born, I decided that I was going to try to lose weight and still eat all my favorite foods. And I did it. I lost 36 pounds on Weight Watchers eating butter and chocolate chip cookies and reviewing restaurants by watching my portions and exercising.
And then a lot of stuff happened in my life. It got easier to slip back into old habits than to count points. And I’ve gained back about 8 pounds.
Not the end of the world, but enough that I found myself, once again, looking at diets.
You know those weeks when you are adrift in the meal-planning doldrums? When it just seems so far out and unimaginable that people actually make dinner every night? Asking yourself: What do people eat?? Wait, I’m a person, I should know this one…
I have those weeks, but thankfully this isn’t one of them! In case you find yourself in the doldrums this week, peruse my menu and see if it puts some wind in your sails.
Rotisserie Chicken (store-bought) and Warm Sweet Potato Salad (save the carcass and scraps to make your own chicken broth!)
Pad Thai (yum!) with tofu and leftover chicken bits (I used the recipe on the back of the box of noodles, with the addition of diced red jalapeño pepper, julienned mini peppers, and julienned carrots).
Steak Fajitas (I found a bag of pepper and beef strips I had squirreled away in the freezer – score!)
Cheese Ravioli (store-bought, on sale – woot!) with Homemade Pesto (made fresh from the garden this summer then frozen) and Chicken Basil Sausages
Pizza with Kale and Caramelized Onions (sorry no recipe to link for this one, got it from a cookbook many moons ago)
If for some reason none of those appeal I’ve always got Indian food on hand in the freezer and in those shelf-stable packets. I don’t tend to assign a day to each meal, I just buy the stuff and text the hubs in the afternoon to see what is sounding tasty that day. If all else fails there’s that half a green cabbage in the crisper, queso fresco in the freezer, black beans in the pantry and the undeniability of Crispy Black Bean Tacos (I do q fresco over feta, and generally always have a lime on hand).
Poetry is inherently inspirational, right? So here’s a bit o that since now I’m daydreaming not just of dinner but also about sailing…sigh!
“The sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet
so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and
Are you sticking to your New Year, New You resolution? Good for you, we’ll see you next week! Keep on keeping on.
…..OK, good, it’s just us now, right? So, if on the other hand you’re ready to say (with me) New Years, Schmoo Years! Resolutions Schmezolutions! You’re in the right place. These cookies are in no way good for you, and yet they are so good! So throw resolution to the wind…or just pin this to make at a later, less-virtuous time of year.
Last Friday of the month, and it has been a good month! I ran my first ever e-course through my Ghostblogger business, which was a MAJOR learning experience, but so good. It’s made me really excited to do a bigger course soon! (Tangent: Would you like to see a course from Laughing Lemon Pie? If so, tell me what you’d like to learn in the comments below.)
Feeling inspired this morning, so I thought I’d do a round-up post of what I’ve been doing/loving/grateful for lately. Turns out, there’s a lot!!
Two weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of giving a talk on meal planning to my own MOPS group here in Colorado. We talked about all KINDS of stuff from picking recipes to shopping on a budget, and one question that came up was what do I buy at Costco to make the annual fee worth it.
Getting the most from a Costco membership when you shop organic
When my husband and I were first debating whether or not to purchase a Costco membership, we were very much on the fence. We were definitely on a budget, and definitely committed to buying organics—would there be enough stuff there that we would buy to make it worth it?
Two days later, I made this tasty soup from the leftovers. This recipe uses up the leftover chicken AND the leftover half-bag of broccoli slaw. (I also saved the chicken broth from poaching the chicken in the crock pot, which became the base for this soup.) But you can use any leftover chicken—Buffalo-style or otherwise! Also, if you use regular cabbage coleslaw, the cabbage would work just as well in this soup for a slightly different taste.
This recipe makes an ab fab winter salad of roots, greens, & nuts — a very versatile all-in-one side for any cold night or pretty enough for a special occasion. It could even be a stand-alone dinner, depending on your tastes and how much bacon you add. Warm Sweet Potato Spinach Salad is even paleo if you swing that way. It could be vegan, and/or a great Meatless Mondays main. Like I said…super variable. A solid outline — you fill in the blanks and make it work for you!
At the start it’s a sweet potato & spinach salad, but in the end you’ll see you could choose practically any root, any green, any nuts, any tasty meaty bits, and any other add-ons that please your palate. Plenty of ideas and examples follow the recipe, so read on. Start with this base recipe, then switch it up next time with whatever you like or have on hand and…Enjoy.