Saturday, February 28, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Filet the pork loin lengthwise until you have a smooth, even sheet about 1/2" thick. Next, cut the sheet of pork into strips about 2" wide. Take one strip of the pork loin and arrange about 4-5 spinach leaves on top. Then add a few of the red pepper strips, followed by a few sprinkles of crumbled feta cheese. Roll the pork loin with stuffing into a tight spiral and fasten with a toothpick. Continue this procedure until all of your pork strips have been stuffed.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I was pretty pleased with how well this turned out; it's always fun to see and taste a dish come out the way you envision it. If I'd had fresh ginger at my disposal I would have definitely used some, since I know it would have revved up the dish. Still, ground ginger works just fine and with a some good soy sauce, it flavors the beef beautifully. The snow peas are a nice departure from the standard broccoli that accompanies beef, and using rice noodles as opposed to a thicker, heavier noodle like chow mein complements their delicate texture. This dish is very quick & easy to make too, so it's a perfect weeknight meal. The longest you'll spend with any one ingredient will be the 10-15 minutes it takes to soak the rice noodles. Finally, at about $1.70/person for 3 servings, you can be sure that both your palate and your pocketbook will enjoy making this. Now, on with the show!
Ginger Beef, Snow Pea, and Rice Noodle Stir Fry (Serves 2-3; total cost per person: ~ $1.70)
~ 3/4 lb round tip beef strips (or any other lean cut of beef)
10-15 snow pea pods
3 oz. rice noodles
1/4 c plus 3 T low-sodium soy sauce
1 t plus 1/4 t ground ginger
2 T honey
1 T rice vinegar
1/2 t crushed garlic
1/2 t crushed red chilies
Couple glugs of cooking oil
2 chopped scallions (optional)
Prepare the beef marinade with 1/4 c of soy sauce and 1 t ground ginger in a medium bowl. Add the beef strips and make sure the marinade completely coats all the beef. Cover and set aside. While the the meat is marinating, soak the rice noodles in a large bowl of cold water for about 10-15 minutes. Be sure to completely submerge the noodles so that you don't end up with any random crispy ones.
In the meantime, prepare the dressing by combining the rest of the soy sauce, ginger, honey, and rice vinegar and whisking together until completely smooth. You can also use this time to rinse the snow peas and snip off the ends if desired (they can sometimes be a bit tough and cumbersome). Once the rice noodles have softened, drain completely and set aside.
In a medium skillet heat a tablespoon or two of cooking oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and heat for about 15-20 seconds: just enough to heat it through but not enough to scorch it. Add the beef strips with as little marinade as possible and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Since the meat is cut so thin, this will cook very quickly. Add the snow peas and stir fry for another 2 minutes or until they just begin to soften. In a larger skillet, heat another tablespoon of cooking oil over medium high to high heat and add the drained noodles. Add the beef and snow peas with all the juices and toss together until everything is combined. Cook for about 3 more minutes and remove from heat.
Arrange a nice portion of the stir fry onto a dish and drizzle generously with the soy, ginger, and honey dressing. Top with chopped green onions and crushed red chilies, and enjoy!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Though Safeway is largely considered one of the more pricey major chain grocery stores in this area, I like to shop there on occasion for a few different reasons: I prefer their atmosphere and selection to their competitors', they usually offer better prices on my cat supplies, and I'm a fan of their Club Card specials. They can't match my beloved TJ's, but they offer great opportunities to save on national brand and comparable store brand products. One way to get wind of these new specials is to check out the weekly circulars that come in the mail. I ignore most of them because they're for stores I don't frequent due to distance, but I do check out the ones for stores I visit. If I've tossed it before viewing it, I try to hop online and sort through the store items by their Club Card specials first. And if I'm just rushing there after work because I'd forgotten to purchase something I needed, I try to take a quick walk through the aisles I frequent to see what's on sale, when the sales end, and make a mental note of it for later. Because I was on assignment, I also came prepared with a few coupons I'd printed online from their site.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Caprese Omelette (Serves 1-2, depending on appetite; Total Cost per Omelette: about $2)
3 eggs 1-2 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese 1 medium tomato
Friday, February 6, 2009
I wanted to stay away from more traditional pork recipes that tend to pair the meat with apples. Though it’s a perfect pairing because the sweetness of the apples enhances the flavor of the pork, I wanted to try something new. I’m currently obsessed with making glazes and thought one with balsamic vinegar and honey would complement the pork beautifully. I also wanted to cook the potatoes differently, and though I’m not too keen on fried foods, I figured making some shredded potato pancakes would be a nice change. I’d been craving some really crispy potatoes so this seemed perfect.
This recipe is a prime example of how to make something that looks like expensive restaurant fare right at home for a very low price. Though this looks like something you could get at a restaurant that charges about $15/entrée, this recipe literally costs about $3/person for 4 servings. As one of my favorite college professors used to say all the time, presentation is everything. This definitely applies to food. Sure, mashed potatoes are incredibly tasty, but these little potato pancakes are a lot prettier. These are also fun to make and you can get your older kids involved in peeling & shredding the potatoes. Now, on with this super easy, but very tasty recipe!
Pork Loin Medallions with Balsamic Honey Glaze over New Potato Pancakes (serves 4; Total Cost: $3/person)
1 lb lean pork loin
10-15 new potatoes (any potato will do in a pinch)
1 egg white
½ c honey
¼ c balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
½ c vegetable oil for frying
¼ t salt
1/8 t ground pepper
Extra pinches of salt & pepper (for potatoes)
Parsley or cilantro for garnish
Make the glaze by combining the balsamic vinegar and honey in a bowl and mixing together well until completely smooth. Set aside.
Peel and shred the potatoes into a large bowl. Since the shredding process will extract quite a bit of liquid from the potatoes, you may need to drain them in a colander. Some moisture is okay, but you want to make sure that they’re as dry as possible. Season with a couple pinches of salt & pepper. Lightly beat the egg white and add to the shredded potatoes, mixing together until completely coated. This will act as a binder to make sure they stay together during the frying process. In a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat until it becomes iridescent. You can test the oil’s heat by flicking a couple drops of water (carefully!) and if it starts to pop, you're good to go. Take a small handful of the potato mixture and arrange into a “pancake” about 3” in diameter. Gently place the pancake into the oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side or until both sides are a nice golden brown (like hash browns). Once cooked, remove from oil and place on a plate with plenty of paper towels for draining excess oil. Depending on the size of your pan, you can probably make 3 or 4 of these at a time.
Cut the pork loin into medallions about ¾” in size. Season both sides of each medallion lightly with salt & pepper. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When pan is heated, add a couple of pork medallions and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until the meat is no longer pink on the inside. Do not overcook! When all the pork is cooked, add about half the glaze to the pan and scrape up any brown bits. If you like, you can place the pork back in the pan with hot glaze to coat lightly for extra flavor.
Arrange 3 or 4 potato pancakes on a plate. Top with 3 pork medallions, drizzle dish with remaining glaze, garnish with parsley or cilantro, and enjoy!
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I’ve adapted this recipe from my favorite salad at a local restaurant here in Midtown. The first time I had this I thought I’d reached some sort of superfood nirvana, hence the name. Quinoa, berries, pepitas, beets, fresh greens, acai berry dressing…… I doubt I’d gotten this giddy over a superfood dish since that macrobiotic plate of deliciousness that I had at the Monterey Music Summit in 2007. Instead of acai berry dressing, I decided to make more of a winter berry vinaigrette with strawberries & blueberries and a little bit of acai berry juice. I added sliced kiwifruit for color and zip, and not finding pepitas anywhere, I’ve thrown in sunflower seeds. This is not a conventional salad but still really tasty.
You’re probably wondering how something so healthy with all sorts of quirky ingredients could possibly be affordable. I’m sure many of you have noticed that the food industry is good at marking up health food and keeping most junk reasonably priced, making it easier to eat fattening, processed foods (which a huge contributing factor to the nation's obesity epidemic, but again, I digress. Sorry, I woke up on the socially conscious side of the bed today!). However, it is extremely easy to get affordable, healthy produce at your local farmer’s market, and that’s exactly what I did to make this salad for about $4 per person, versus the $9 I’ve had to pay for my own serving. Might seem a bit high for a salad, but keep in mind that this is meant to be an entrée, not a side.
Here’s the breakdown on the ingredients: The greens cost $1.99/bag at Trader Joe’s and the frozen blueberries $2.29, also at TJ’s. The beets were about $1/can. I buy my quinoa in bulk and that usually translates into roughly $0.75/cup of cooked quinoa. I also purchased my sunflower and flax seeds in bulk and paid about $0.50 & $0.75/quarter pound, respectively. From the farmer's market I got strawberries, $3.50/basket; kiwis, $1/bag of 10 (!!!); the acai berry juice was about $2.50 at the co-op; vinegars & oil were free since they were already in my pantry. You can see that even if you were to use every ingredient in the amount you purchased, you would still come up with an inexpensive meal.
Some things to note: If you can’t find kiwis right now you can omit them; I know it can sometimes be hard to find exotic fruits in certain areas. The same thing goes for the berries (even I had trouble finding fresh blueberries); you can definitely do this with frozen berries, though the texture will be a little different. I was lucky enough to find some acai berry juice for the dressing at the Sac Foods Co-op, and would assume stores like Whole Foods sell this hip juice du jour. But if you can’t find it, you should be okay using some sort of berry juice (blueberry, strawberry, etc). Lastly for all you moms & dads, this might be a great way to start introducing more veggies & fruits into your kids’ diets. The bright colors and delicious combination of fruits will make this a lot more fun than the average salad. Here’s the recipe!
Superfood Nirvana Salad (serves 4; total cost per person: around $4)
6 c mixed greens (baby lettuce mix, herb salad, etc)
2 c cooked quinoa
1 c strawberries, sliced
1 c blueberries
3 kiwis, peeled & sliced
1 can diced beets
½ c sunflower seeds (hulled)
¼ c golden flax seeds
Berry Vinaigrette Dressing:
½ c olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c white wine vinegar
1/3 c acai berry juice
¼ c blueberries
1/3 c strawberries
Couple pinches of salt
Freshly ground pepper
Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients into a bowl and pureeing with a hand blender until completely smooth. Set aside. (FYI, this will be a thick dressing due to the amount of fruits.)
In a large salad bowl gently toss together the greens, beets, and blueberries. Place equal amounts on 4 plates or bowls and top each with about ½ c of quinoa. Arrange kiwi and strawberry slices on top, sprinkle the sunflower seeds and flax seeds on top, drizzle each plate generously with the dressing, and enjoy!
(For added flavor, take about a third of the quinoa, combine with a couple tablespoons of dressing, then add to the rest of the quinoa and mix well. This gives it an extra bit of pizzazz.)
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I was very excited about it and have received some tremendous exposure as a result. In fact, many of my new readers found me through that link! I want to welcome you and let you know that I'm very grateful for all of the positive feedback and comments I've received so far, and look forward to bringing all of you some great tips and delicious recipes.
But the CNN fun did not stop there.
I was also asked to do a phone interview for CNN Radio regarding my economic survival strategies last Thursday. I spoke with Martha Dalton and was pleased to know I could offer so much help. We touched upon ways to cut back on different types of spending, how to stay away from credit cards & other things that put you into debt, and of course, food. I was then asked to do a second interview over the weekend that focused solely on eating on a budget. I covered a lot of the tips I’ve already written about here and offered a couple of new tips that I will be featuring in the next few weeks. As soon as the CNN folks send me the mp3 clips of what was used on the air I’ll post them here (I’m curious to hear what they used anyway!).
All in all this has been a great ride. I definitely don’t expect superstardom from this (everyone at work is calling me a “celebrity”, lol), but I’m really happy to know that people are enjoying what they are reading here and that I can be a resource to those who are having a hard time adjusting to these difficult times. If anything else happens, I’ll definitely post about it! For now, stay tuned for the February edition of What’s In Store and of course, more yummy food.