please leave your comments, criticisms, recipe ratings & requests or input for future posts! comment or email me at with any of the above.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

holiday break

i'm taking a break from healthy and budgeted cooking for the next week and a half and i think you should too! (i'm also taking a break from posting. i'll be back after the holidays.) here are some of the not-so-healthy, but oh-so-delicious things i'll be cooking.
  • peach melba pie
  • swedish apple pie
  • creamed corn (yes, this will involve whole cream... yikes...)
  • funeral potatoes with lots of cheese, butter and sour cream
mmm... i'm getting a tummy ache already, but it's going to be so yummy! :)

what are you making for your holiday feast?

merry christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2008

recipe of the week: pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

i totally have a thing for pumpkin this time of year! i don't know what it is, but i crave pumpkin everything during the holidays! and since i'm kind of muffin crazy, here's a fun butter-less, oil-less recipe with no white flour. mmm....

pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
18 muffins

8 oz (fat free or low fat) vanilla yogurt (generic brands are often 8 oz)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup oat flour (run oats through your blender!)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chocolate chips (you could leave these out, but they are pretty yummy!)

1. cream butter,vanilla and sugar. add eggs and pumpkin and whip until combined.
2. add all dry ingredients and stir until combined.
3. stir in 1/2 cup water until combined. then stir in chocolate chips.
4. pour batter into 18 greased muffin tin spots.
5. bake at 350 about 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

this is my cute daughter eating dinner and posing with the muffins. i love that face!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

making "healthy" desserts

i realize "healthy dessert" is an oxy moron, but there are some things you can do to make your desserts lots healthier than they start out. here are a few quick tricks, some of which i've discussed before and some of which may be new!
  • make friends with your dessert. this may seem like a strange part of this list, but one of the best ways to make dessert healthier is to eat less of it! duh! get your fix in and then give lots away to your friends and neighbors. they'll appreciate it and you'll be glad you didn't get sick on your cookie dough. (i did this last week, so i would know. it was soooo yummy though... i just needed to make the cookies and get them out the door faster.
  • never use oil. if a recipe calls for oil, use applesauce or yogurt instead. 1:1 ratio works great.
  • avoid recipes with lots of butter. you may often be able to find a recipe that is similar that uses oil instead of butter and then you can substitute it.
  • sneak in some non-white flour. it drives my husband crazy when he knows i do this, but if he doesn't know, he often loves is and then i tell him what i did! ha! i like to use part wheat or part oat flour (put some oats in your blender for this!). i made this apple cake from elise's a few weeks back with part wheat flour and it was fabulous!
  • add wheat germ or flax seed in place of some of the flour. these are extra, super healthy for you and a little bit goes a long way. i wouldn't substitute more than 1/4 to 1/3 of the flour for these.
  • cut back the sugar. this doesn't always work, but some recipes call for way too much sugar and it tastes better with less. just taste your batter to make sure you didn't take too much out. honey is expensive, but you can also use some honey instead of sugar - it's better for you!
  • use fat free ingredients, even if you're usually opposed. baking is a great time to use fat free cream cheese, sour cream, milk, etc. because however much you think they taste different, it's hard to taste the difference when they're baked into things.
  • make recipes that include a fruit or veggie. i love apple cake, carrot cake and zucchini bread. mmmm....

the applesauce for oil substitution will work in any recipe. try the flour and sugar ones. if it isn't yummy in one recipe try it in another!

i wanted to use some of the homemade baby food my daughter is no longer eating so i decided to create these carrot cake bars. (have no fear, you can simply steam some carrots and run them through your blender with some water. 4 oz is about 4 ice cube sized blocks). they have no white flour, no oil or butter, lots of carrots and even the un-frosting has no butter and has less than a cup of powdered sugar instead of like 4-5 cups like normal frosting. i brought them to a church thing and people couldn't believe what wasn't in them. you can see how good they were from the picture. :)

no-guilt carrot cake bars with cream cheese un-frosting

makes 1 jelly roll pan-full

3/4 cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups applesauce
3 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup oat flour
1 cup wheat flour
½ cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 (4 ounce) jar carrot baby food (or homemade baby food, see note above)
1 cup shredded carrots (or more if you'd like!)
½ cup un sweetened shredded coconut (optional), soaked in water for 20 minutes

1. cream sugar, brown sugar and applesauce. add vanilla and eggs and cream again.

2. add oat flour, wheat flour, wheat germ, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. mix until combined. add carrot baby food and mix again until combined.

3. stir in shredded carrots and coconut.

4. bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes in a jelly roll pan. done when toothpick comes out clean.

cream cheese un-frosting

whip 1 block 1/3 less fat cream cheese (softened). then add 4 tablespoons milk and ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons powdered sugar and whip until combined. spread over carrot cake bars.

recipe of the week: black bean burgers and oven fries

only someone who really loves food would crave a burger and fries the monday after thanksgiving weekend. i'm crazy, but i just can't help myself. the only problems - it was meatless monday and i was less than thrilled about using a whole package of my ground turkey to make a few turkey burgers. so i jumped on and found these delicious little babies and they were fabulous (and so cheap and easy to make)!! and the fries were the best oven fries i've ever had! (this recipe had the trick to make them crispy like real fries - sugar! i know, weird, but try it! the fries aren't sweet, just crispy and oh so good.)

mini black bean burgers
8 mini burgers or 4 regular-size burgers

1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 egg
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon thai chili sauce or hot sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs

1. if grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. if baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees f, and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. in a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
3. in a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
4. in a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
5. stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. divide mixture into four patties. place on baking sheet and refridgerate until ready to cook to help them hold together better. (i had mine in the fridge for about 1/2 of the day and they didn't fall apart)
6. if grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.
serve on whole wheat hamburger buns or rolls with your favorite hamburger toppings.

oven fries
about 4-6 servings

2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
black pepper to liking (i added this - you don't have to!)

1. preheat oven to 450 degrees f. line a baking sheet with foil, and coat well with cooking spray. scrub potatoes well and cut into 1/2 inch thick fries.
2. in a large mixing bowl, toss potatoes with oil, sugar, salt and cayenne pepper. spread on baking sheet in one layer. cook immediately and don't let them sit.
3. bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until potatoes are tender and browned. serve immediately.
oven fries from

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

spicing up hot cereal

so back when i started this blog i wrote a lengthy diatribe about the benefits of eating hot cereal for breakfast (cheap, healthy, more money for the rest of the day's food, etc. click the link to read more). sometimes hot cereal gets boring, so we've tried to switch it up at our house lately. here are a two hot cereals we've been gobbling up and looking for more. the first is my spin on a tradition in my husband's house growing up and the second is my version of a classic.

corn meal mush and toast (we call it "cornlaw", my mother-in-law called it "gruel and toast" and my sister-in-law calls it "grandma's special corn meal breakfast" - you pick!)
2 servings

1 ½ cup water
½ cup water (or milk if you prefer - i'm allergic so i use water!)
½ cup corn meal
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 – ¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons white sugar

2 slice of your favorite bread, toasted
toast toppings of your choice (i do a tiny bit of butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, my husband does no cinnamon and sugar and just drenches the whole thing in butter. ewww.)

1. bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. add 1/2 cup water from the tap then turn heat to low. slowly stir/whisk in 1/2 cup corn meal, a little bit at a time to avoid clumps.
2. when all corn meal is added, add salt, sugar and vanilla and stir thouroughly. either let simmer on very low heat until thick or turn off heat if it seems to be thickening quickly.
3. break your toast, prepared with desired toppings, into small pieces into the bottom of a bowl. top with corn meal mush and eat!

apple cinnamon oatmeal
2 servings

1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced into small pieces
½ tablespoon butter
½ tablespoon white sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup oats (quick or regular)
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

1. melt butter in a sauce pan. sautee sliced apples in the butter 4-5 minutes or until a little bit soft and then add white sugar and cinnamon. stir until completely combined.
2. while sauteeing the apples, bring 2 cups water and the salt to a boil. add oats, stir and reduce heat to low. when it is about half way done, add sauteed apples, brown sugar and vanilla. continue simmering until desired thickness is reached. eat and enjoy!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

recipe of the week: pasta pie

does anyone else get bored of their normal fall-back plan for a quick dinner? i do. one of my usual fall backs is pasta and red sauce. it's quick, it's healthy and it always tastes good, but sometimes it gets boring. i had a flashback to a delicious dish of my past - the "pasta pie" - from metro pizza back home and decided to recreate it to spice up my usual pasta and red sauce. it's definitely a carbo-load so balance out the rest of your day with lots of lean protein and veggies.

pasta pie
8 servings

1/2 recipe easy pizza dough from here

16 oz penne pasta, cooked as per directions

your favorite pasta sauce

1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

grated cheese (i used mozerella and a little bit of parmesan)

meat optional - (like ground turkey or some chicken)

1. when done rising, split in half and roll out each half thin and into the shape of a 13x9 in glass baking dish.

2. combine pasta, sauce and cheeses in a large bowl and stir until combined

3. lay one half of your pasta into the bottom of the baking dish (greased). lay the pasta/sauce/cheese mixture onto the dough and then top with the other half of the rolled out dough.

4. bake in the oven at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until crust is done.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

change up your grains

whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet and they are usually cheaper than the meat or veggie part of the meal so they are good "padding" for the cost of the meal too. i try to use some sort of grain in every dinner i cook. it is easy to get bored if you use the same grains in the same ways all of the time so here are some grain ideas from my kitchen:

  • brown rice - chewy and delicious and much healthier than white. it tastes better as a side dish with heartier meals. it's harder to cook than white, but here's the perfect ratio: 2 1/2 cups water to 1 cup brown rice - combine, salt water, bring to boil, turn down to low and simmer covered for 40-45 minutes (until water is gone). i like brown rice with black beans in enchiladas or on a mexican-sytle salad, too.
  • white rice - not as good for you as brown, but way yummier with asian cuisine like curry.
  • pasta - whole wheat is best, but its expensive, so make your choice here! pour your favorite sauce over it, bake it, put it in soup, make a cold salad out of it. mmm...
  • potatoes - i love red, but they are, again, more expensive, but ohhh so yummy! i buy whatever is cheapest usually. do a baked potato bar, make soup, mash them, turn them into oven fries or chop and bake them coated with a tiny bit of olive oil and a package of onion soup mix - that is one of my favorites!
  • bread - i love bread. i would be an atkins diet failure for sure. i like to do homemade wheat (or 1/2 white 1/2 wheat) rolls or breadsticks or use it as part of the main course and make pizza or calzones.
  • tortillas - again, go whole wheat. my husband rebels against whole wheat so we alternate white and wheat at our house. we love corn tortillas too. love these under a cafe rio style salad or in a mexi-casserole, make as a quesadilla, taco, enchiladas, burritos (try breakfast burritos for dinner some time!), etc, etc, etc. when i'm out of town my husband eats them with peanut butter and jelly.
  • quinoa - actually not one of my favorites, but it is a fun one to use once in a while if you're bored!
  • cous cous - a fun and different alternative to the typical grains. it's really yummy and makes a great side dish on a plate with meats and veggies. see a recipe below to try. i usually buy it in the bulk section of the whole foods market.

here's a yummy dinner i made last week. i love parmesan crusted chicken and this one was perfect.

parmesan crusted balsamic chicken and tomato florentine couscous

1 chicken breast and 1 1/2 cups couscous (about 3 servings - double all if you need more!)

parmesan crusted balsamic chicken
pound 1 chicken breast (or cut into thin peices) and marinate all day in:
1/4 cup italian dressing
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon oil

for coating, mix the following ingredients in a bowl:
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (chop smaller if you have the fresh, grated kind so it will stick to the chicken easier)
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
black pepper to your liking

simply pull the chicken out of the marinade and coat each side with the parmesan mixture.

bake at 350 in a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish for 15-20 minutes (may vary depending on the thickness of your chicken!)

tomato florentine couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups couscous
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 cups (or more, to your liking) fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 roma large tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion

bring broth to a boil. add couscous and spinach, stir then turn off heat and set lid in place. let stand 5 minutes. add dried herbs, tomatoes and onion and toss with fork.

have a happy turkey day everyone! i'm making my dad's stuffing this year. it's fabulous. i'm drooling just thinking about it! what is everyone else's favorite thanksgiving food?

Friday, November 21, 2008

recipe of the week: chicken and wild rice soup

again... no picture included, but i did get my camera back, so the return of pictures is coming!

i ate a soup like this a few weeks back and it was so yummy i decided i needed to create my own! mmm....

chicken and wild rice soup
6 servings

1 cup sliced carrots
1 clove garlic, minced
½ a medium onion, chopped
2 ½ cups chicken broth
2 cups skim milk
1 ½ cups water
1 cooked chicken breast, shredded (cut into pieces then boiled in 1 ½ cups broth, 1 clove garlic and 1 bay leaf, then shredded)
1 box rice a roni wild rice, cooked as per directions but with no butter ($0.98 @ my walmart)
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon garlic salt
2 cups chopped, fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup whole wheat flour, for thickening

1. in a large pot, sautee carrots, onion and garlic until onions are tender.
2. add milk, water, chicken broth, and seasonings. bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. whisk in flour very slowly, a little bit at a time so it doesn't get clumpy. use less than 1/4 cup if you like it thinner.
4. add wild rice, chicken and spinach and cook 5 more minutes (or long enough to heat chicken and rice through if you made them in advance and they are cold).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

planning a weekly menu

i got to speak to some girls in my ward tonight about cooking healthy on a budget. they are all low-budget (preferred descriptor to poor!) student types like i am, so it was really fun to hear all of their ideas and their experiences. thanks, girls, for hearing me out and for your contributions!

one of the things i shared with them was something i thought i should publish here in the skinny bovine’s kitchen as well. so, here it is!!!

make a weekly menu – why plan ahead?
here are some basic reasons:
  • planning a menu for the week allows you to make a shopping list
  • when you have a shopping list you can get through the grocery store quicker because you don't have to wander up and down the aisles trying to think of something to make for dinner
  • if you don't have a list, you often forget things and then you have to go back to the grocery store again that week to get them (this = more time and money and gas wasted!)
  • if you have a list you don't buy as many bad things (like chips, soda, candy or weird expensive things you "might" use)

want to save even more money? plan according to sales.

  • stop throwing away your junk mail - your weekly sale ads for local grocery stores are priceless!
  • plan your meals by what is on sale. example - last week cabbage was on sale so i made the delicious veggie soup recipe found below for our meatless monday. if avacados are on sale (i only buy them when i can find them once or twice a year 4 for $1), make some guacamole and go mexican!
  • also from your sale adds, buy things in bulk that you know you will use. i bought a case of black beans from smiths a few months ago at $0.44/can and we've already used a good portion of them because we love black beans!

and here's that veggie soup recipe (compliments of my friend holley) i just mentioned. sorry no pics, my good camera is broken and my back up was otherwise occupied. i made whole wheat breadsticks to go with this soup from here and it was delicious, fast, healthy and cheap meal!

garden veggie soup (4 servings)

1 1/3 cup sliced carrots

1 cup diced onion

3-4 cloves garlic, diced (depends on how big!)

6 cups broth (chicken, beef, veggie)

3 cups diced green cabbage

1 can green beans, drained

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup diced zucchini

1. spray pan and sautee carrots, onions and garlic for 5 minutes

2. add broth, cabbage, beans, tomato paste, basil, oregano and salt. bring to a boil.

3. reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. stir in zucchini and heat 3 to 4 more minutes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

recipe of the week: pumpkin choc-oat chip bites

mmm... i love these little pumpkin cookies! i always get in the mood for them around halloween and thanksgiving. pumpkin is just so fall! and what's better than a cookie with no butter, oil or shortening in it? this is about as healthy as cookies come. this is a pretty common recipe, but a skinny bovine addition of oats makes it so one cake mix can make double the cookies! (if you don't buy oats in bulk then it may be cheaper for you to use the whole cake mix and no oats, but the oats make them yummer, i promise!)

pumpkin choc-oat chip bites
24 bites

2 cups oats
½ large can pumpkin
½ a spice cake mix
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

spoon ball shaped bites onto large greased cookie sheet. bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

snack time

i'm sure i'm not the only bovine who is getting hungry between meals so let's talk about snacks. there are definitely good and bad things to snack on, so what is the difference:

bad snacks:
  • anything full of bad carbs - this can be store-bought granola bars, cereals, chips, etc., etc., etc.
  • anything with lots of sugar - as much as we love it, we all know that snacking on leftover dessert from sunday night is a bad idea
  • anything full of bad fat - anything fried like chips and anything with lots of butter like almost all crackers (sadly this includes our favorites like ritz, chicken in a biscuit, etc. even saltines aren't very good! ahhh!)

good snacks:

  • fruit - keep lots of it around. shoot for 2-3 a day. it isn't hard - eat a banana with or after breakfast and an apple after lunch. don't want it plain? put a little bit of peanut butter on your apple and you may change your mind. this is still better than snacking on the apple cake you made last night (i made one last night... i'm trying to remind myself of this too...). a glass of orange juice is even a pretty decent snack
  • veggies (with some fat free/low-fat salad dressing if you don't like to eat them plain)
  • homemade granola bars (i'll post mine some time)
  • yogurt - healthy and a great way to sneak in a serving of dairy
  • nuts (sometimes they are expensive, but if you watch for sales these are good snacks!)
  • hard boiled eggs (read more on eggs)
  • whole-grain, low-sugar cereals (by the handful - i'm not talking about a bowl of cereal). i like to munch on my daughter's cheerios on occasion.
  • and a good snack i've discovered will often quell my insatiable sweet tooth... muffins and quick breads made (made with no oil or butter and packed with good flour, fruits and veggies and with some added nutrition through wheat germ and flax seed)

you're probably noticing a trend - things are generally more healthy and less expensive when you make them yourself! this is something that we all know, but sometimes it's good to get a refresher!

i created these yummy snack loaved the other day for a number of reasons. 1 - i had brown bananas i didn't want to waste! :) 2 - i wanted a little bit of a sweet snack with no oil, butter or white flour in it. 3 - traditional sized loaves seem to get dry on the outside while the inside is waiting to cook, so these snack loaves are moist all the way through. yum. and 4 - a piece of a normal sized-loaf is often too much if i just need a tiny snack to hold me over.

my husband definitely prefers bread like this with white flour in it but he loved this one! it's light, moist and pretty good on the healthy snack scale! hope your health-resistant husband likes it too!

cinnamon banana snack loaf
2 snack loaves

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 smaller bananas for me!)
*1 cup oat flour (stick some oats in the blender)
*1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup warm water
*for an extra healthy touch decrease oat flour and wheat flour to 3/4 cup and add 1/4 cup each of wheat germ and milled flax seed

1. beat together sugar and applesauce. add vanilla and eggs and beat well.
2. stir in bananas and mix well again.
3. add all dry ingredients and combine until moist throughout.
4. add water and mix again until combined.
5. pour equal amounts into 2 large, greased loaf pans and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees (check frequently!). (the "snack loaves" will fill about 1/2 of a large loaf pan, but you could make small loaves if you have the pans.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

recipe of the week: cilantro lime chicken and black bean pizza with salsa fresca

a spin on traditional pizza, you'll feel like you brought california pizza chicken home! but it's not CPK, it's SBK!!!

cliantro lime chicken and black bean pizza with salsa fresca
makes 1 large pizza
1 chicken breast, cut into small pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
combine all ingredients and marinate all day or overnight. cook chicken in marinade in a saucepan sprayed with cooking spray. sprinkle with cumin and black pepper while cooking.
pizza sauce:
3/4 cup fat free sour cream
5-6 tablespoons cilantro, tightly packed
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
2 tablespoons green enchilada sauce
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped (no need to chop it finely - it will get that way in the blender!)
1/4 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
combine all ingredients in blender. blend until smooth.
putting the pizza together:
after rolling out pizza crust on a large cookie sheet, spread all of prepared sauce onto the crust. spread cooked chicken and 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained) onto the crust. top with cheese (i used mozzerella and a little bit of cheddar jack), salsa fresca (aka fresh salsa ala skinny bovine - click here!) and extra cilantro if desired.
mmm... i really felt like i was sitting at CPK on this one. soooo yummy! and definitely eat it piping hot.
what are your favorite toppings for homemade pizza? mary l. called me yesterday to say that she made delicious bbq chicken pizza with the sbk crust! that made my day - thanks, mary! what do you love on your pizza?
i'll be back soon to talk about snacks!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

spent your food budget a little too early? me too.

i have a confession to make - i somehow managed to spend all of my food budget by the 17th of the month in october. argh. after a brief stint of major self-disappointment, i decided to take the opportunity to really get creative and use what i have in my kitchen already.

luckily, i like to keep lots of food around and my friend kimberly taught me the coolest trick with bell peppers a while back, so i even had some "fresh" produce on hand. i bought a bunch of bell peppers when they were 3 for $1 and froze them for later use. here's kimberly's trick. it's amazing.

how to prep and freeze bell peppers
  1. buy lots of bell peppers when they are cheap, cheap, cheap!
  2. chop them into small pieces.
  3. spread them onto a cookie sheet and place (uncovered) in freezer for a few hours. a thinner layer is better - don't let them heap over the edge of the cookie sheet.
  4. when frozen, remove from cookie sheet and place into freezer bag.

i usually just throw them into things frozen, but they do defrost quickly in case you're putting them on/in something where the extra water would be bad (i.e. pizza).

here's a recipe to try after you freeze some yummy bell peppers. when i realized i was out of money in my food budget, i started brain storming and almost immediately started dreaming of these yummy enchiladas. enjoy!

shredded chicken enchiladas with homemade red sauce

12 enchiladas

2 chicken breasts, cut in half

¼ teaspoon onion salt

¼ teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 bay leaf

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chicken broth

1 can petit diced tomatoes, drained

½ cup green peppers, diced super tiny or put in small food processor or blender

more seasoning to taste (taco seasoning, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt – whatever you like! get creative!)

12 corn tortillas

shredded cheese

1 recipe "red enchilada sauce" (i'm obsessed with this enchilada sauce - it is so yummy! use 1 or 1 1/4 cups water instead of 1 1/2 cups and for the salsa part i make easy fresh salsa ala skinny bovine)

fat free sour cream

1. place all ingredients (except chicken and extra seasoning) into crockpot and stir.
2. add chicken. cook on high for 4 hours (or on low for 6-8 hours).
3. make enchilada sauce.
4. when chicken is done, remove bay leaf and shred chicken with a fork - it should basically just fall apart.
5. add extra seasoning as desired to make your chicken extra yummy! you be the chef!
6. use a fork (so extra liquid drains off) to scoop chicken mixture into corn tortillas. fit into pan - 10 across and then 2 along the bottom. top with all of the enchilada sauce and cheese to your liking. serve with fat free sour cream.

my good camera broke, so my pictures look miserable. sorry! they are lots yummier than they look!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

recipe of the week: crock pot chicken tortilla soup

i must be on a soup kick... and there is only one word to describe this soup - fabulous! oh my gosh, it was so good. i love chicken tortilla soup and this one is better than any i've had in restaurants even! can't claim the credit for it - i found it on (here's the original), made a few skinny bovine modifications and viola! best part - the crock pot does most of the work.
crock pot chicken tortilla soup
8 servings

1 chicken breast (yes, raw - let it cook with the soup and shred it at the end!)
1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 recipe "red enchilada sauce" (i'm obsessed with this enchilada sauce - it is so yummy! for the salsa part i make easy fresh salsa ala skinny bovine)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can black beans
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilis
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 can corn corn
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro (or more if you'd like!)

1. place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker. pour in chicken broth and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. stir in corn. cover, and cook on low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours. shred chicken and stir in cilantro shortly before serving.
serve with crushed corn tortilla chips, sour cream and cheese. mmm....

Monday, October 27, 2008

don't let me catch you with this in your kitchen!

each of you raise your right hand and say - "after reading this post, i promise the skinny bovine that i will rid myself of any and all vegetable oil in my kitchen! yuck!!!"

you promised, now here are the reasons why:
  • it has no redeeming nutrional value. it is terrible for you. we all know oil has fat, but vegetable oil has all of the wrong kind of fat.
  • you can use olive oil instead for cooking. despite the extra cost, your arteries will thank you later.
  • you can use substitutes in baking too. does your brownie, cake or muffin recipe call for 1 cup of oil? be honest with yourself - that is gross. use yogurt or applesauce instead. and yes, your baked goods will still turn out moist and delicious!! if you're one of those who can "taste" applesauce and are opposed to it in baked goods, try yogurt and you won't taste it! i usually use plain, non-fat yogurt, but you could also use vanilla yogurt and use a bit less sugar in your recipe.

i've been on a muffin kick lately - or i guess i should say my husband is on one. my freezer is full of muffins he can take to school with him to snack on. so, here's a yummy one to try - its one of my favorites because it sneaks in a few veggies too!

zucchini carrot muffins

24 muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup oat flour (put oats in the blender and voila! oat flour!)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup white sugar (or brown or 1/2 brown, 1/2 white - whatever you prefer!)
3/4 cup honey (if honey is a budget buster right now, use more brown sugar instead)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees. lightly grease 24 muffin cups.
2. In a bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, oat flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. in a separate bowl, beat together eggs, applesauce, yogurt, sugar, honey, and vanilla. mix the flour mixture into the egg mixture. fold in the zucchini and carrots. scoop into the prepared muffin cups.
3. bake 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

zucchini carrot muffins modified from "zucchini yogurt multigrain muffins" from

Monday, October 20, 2008

feeling green: more on eating meatless

after i posted about reasons to eat meatless, someone from the meatless monday campaign left a comment and reminded me of another good reason to eat meatless -it reduces your carbon footprint. she sent a great article so here it is if you want to read more! i'm convinced and want to do my part, so we started today with our own meatless monday! the meatless monday website has great recipes, too. we tried the great northern white chili and it was mmm, mmm, good!

great northern white chili
8 servings

1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 (15-ounce) cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, drained
1 (14-ounce) can white sweet corn, drained

1. coat a large pot with nonstick cooking spray, then sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until tender. Stir frequently so vegetables don't stick.
2. empty one can of the great northern beans into a food processoror blender and process with one cup of the vegetable broth until smooth.
3. add everything to the pot: the pureed bean mixture, the second can of great northern beans,the garbanzo beans, the remaining 3 cups of vegetable broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano, green chiles, and corn.
4. bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes.
i added a bit more of each spice and garnished with sour cream and fresh salsa. i also made some mini quesadillas with corn tortillas and cheese to dip in it. mmm....
easy fresh salsa ala skinny bovine:
1 large roma tomato
1 small jalapeno pepper
1 thin slice onion
1 small clove garlic (optional)
cilantro to liking (or none if you happen to be out, like me tonight!!)
a few squirts of lime juice
salt to taste
put all ingredients in a small electric food chopper/processor/blender. turn on and off until ingredients are chopped and mixed, but not pureed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

recipe of the week: quick cream cheese spinach penne with chicken

mmmm... i love this pasta. it's a classic in our house inspired by a yummy dish my mother-in-law makes. work the veggie in this one and add as much spinach as you can handle!

quick cream cheese spinach penne with chicken
4+ servings

1 package penne pasta (16 oz)
1 chicken breast, cut into small pieces
garlic salt and black pepper
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fat free italian dressing
1 block 1/3 less fat cream cheese
½ cup skim milk
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ tsp worchestershire sauce
2 ½ to 3 cups spinach or 1 bunch spinach (cut off stems if you use bunch)
parmesan cheese (optional)

1. cook pasta according to directions.
2. while pasta is cooking, combine oil, italian dressing and chicken in large skillet. season with garlic salt and a little bit of black pepper. cook until done.
3. when chicken is done, add block of cream cheese and ¼ cup of the milk. stir constantly until cream cheese is melted. add soy sauce and worchestershire sauce. add more garlic salt to taste if needed. add more milk to thin sauce as desired.
4. add spinach last and cook until spinach is no longer crunchy.
5. toss pasta and sauce together in large bowl and parmesan cheese if desired.

Friday, October 10, 2008

go fancy: the art of recipe modification

i used to find myself getting discouraged because i'd see fancy meals that looked soooo delicious in magazines, online or even in restaurants that were just too fancy for me to make for any number of reasons. then i started dappling in the art of recipe modification and realized - "i can cook fancy, exotic things too!". the consequence is that now i'm not capable of following a recipe exactly (which is sometimes good and sometimes...), but here are some basic reasons the skinny bovine modifies recipes and how i work around them (if this post is too long for your taste, skip down to the "total savings for all 6 servings" near the bottom and you may be convinced it is worth your time!):
  • the ingredient is too expensive. this obviously happens a lot on my budget. some examples are fancy cheeses, nuts, fresh herbs, etc.
  • the ingredient is obscure or strange. do you ever read a recipe and think - "what the heck is that and where would i even buy it?"
  • the ingredient is the most unhealthy thing you could possibly eat. that might be extreme, but you know what i mean. example - a whole cup of oil in a cake recipe. barf. how young do you want to die?
  • you don't like the ingredient.

work arounds:

  • leave it out: you obviously can't leave out a main ingredient or something that will drastically change the taste of a recipe, but there are many things you can leave out. example: my banana nut muffins are still fabulous without the expensive nuts.
  • cut it down: if there is something expensive, maybe just use a tiny bit of it. if it is something unhealthy, see if you can use less - it is often just as good with less! example: almost every recipe calls for more oil than is actually needed. cut it way down or you can often leave it out (see example below).
  • search out a substitute: so brie cheese or fresh herbs won't fit in your budget either? you want to make a pasta sauce with cooking wine but you don't buy wine? a cake recipe call for 1 cup of oil (barf)? use google or a cookbook in your kitchen to find a substitute. example: chicken broth is a good sub for some kinds of wine in recipes. sub applesauce or plain yogurt for oil. (see an herb example below.)
  • use a different ingredient than the undesirable one and then use extra of something else (spices, another ingredient, etc.) to compensate. this takes a little bit of practice, but try it and you'll be surprised how creative you are! (i did this with the spaghetti squash and red sauce - added more of the veggies i like and left out the ones i don't. i also do it in the example below.)
my sweet friend jenny brought me dinner right after i had my daughter and what she brought was sooooo yummy i just had to get the recipe. i was slightly disappointed when i saw all of the fancy ingredients, but have since modified this fancy, exotic recipe to be totally doable, even for a healthy-eating, money saving skinny bovine. it illustrates all of the above modifiying techniques also, so it helps illustrate my point! it also uses some of that coriander i told you to buy when i posted creamy herbed chicken and homemade mashed potatoes!
rachel ray's "moroccan chili and 10,000 grains of sand"
6 servings

(places where i made changes are purple - see list of changes and reasons below)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds ground lamb
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 bay leaf
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups chicken stock/broth
a handful golden raisins
4 apricots, chopped
1 1/2 cups couscous
3 to 4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
a handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
a handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
8 pita breads, cut into wedges for scooping

skinny bovine's "moroccan chili and 10,000 grains of sand"
6 servings

1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder + a bit more
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin + a little more
1 tablespoon ground coriander + a bit more
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon + an extra dash
1/2 teaspoon paprika + a little bit
1 bay leaf
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups couscous
1 teaspoon dried parsley
a handful fresh spinach leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
8 pita breads, cut into wedges for scooping (made from recipe here)

looks the same as rachel ray's, eh?

1. make pita bread and let rise.
2. heat skillet, add meat. season the meat with salt and pepper, to taste, chili powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and paprika. cook until browned.
3. add the bay leaf, onions, bell pepper and garlic to the pan. cook until onions are soft, 8 minutes. 4. add lemon juice and zest, worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce. stir and reduce heat to simmer.
5. bring butter and stock to a boil in a pot with tight fitting lid. add couscous, stir then turn off heat and set lid in place. let stand 5 minutes. add spinach and dried herbs and toss with fork.
6. cook pita bread and cut into wedges.
7. pile chili in bowls, top with "sand" and serve with pita wedges for scooping.

  • eliminated olive oil - there is enough grease in the meat that you don't need it and you're eliminating 28 grams of fat and 240 calories by leaving it out!
  • substituted 2 lbs ground lamb for 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey - who has ground lamb? and this makes it 36 grams of fat and 765 calories in 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey instead of 123 grams of fat and 1772 calories in 2 lbs ground lamb.
  • added a little bit more of each spice - ground turkey absorbs flavor and usually needs more. (read more.)
  • left out half the butter (just 1 tablespoon instead of 2) - saving 11 grams of fat and 100 calories.
  • left out apricots and raisins - i don't like apricots or raisins and they are just something else that adds cost to the meal.
  • left out pine nuts and mint - i once paid about $2 for 2 tablespoons of pine nuts. never again. these would obviously be a yummy addition, but the recipe is still wonderful without them! also, 3 tablespoons of pine nuts has 174 calories and 18 grams of fat)
  • substituted fresh parsley for 1 teaspoon dried - way cheaper!
  • added spinach - this way it is still pretty like if you used the fresh herbs and besides, you added a veggie! (read more on adding veggies)

total savings for all 6 servings:

  • fat grams eliminated: 144 (olive oil, turkey, butter, pine nuts)
  • calories eliminated: 1521 (olive oil, turkey, butter, pine nuts)
  • money saved: $12 (about $4 on turkey, $4 on fresh herbs, $1 on fruit, $3 on pine nuts)

okay - that is totally amazing!!!!!!!!! i don't usually obsessively break it down like that, but i'm even shocked now. that is real healthy and budgeted savings!

hope this post was as fun for you to read as it was for me to create! now, go to it - go mess with a recipe! take something out, add something yummy, make it better and make it your own!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

recipe of the week: skinnier choc-oat chip cookies

does a skinny bovine eat dessert? um, yeah! i'm actually cursed with an out-of-control sweet tooth ever since i had my daughter. i craved sweets like crazy when i was pregnant and it never went away. the term "pregnancy craving" has got to be a myth.

that's okay! my husband loves dessert so it doesn't bother him a bit that i make dessert all the time.

sometimes my dessert experiments run amuck because i'm trying to make them healthy, but not this one! they are "skinnier" because they have 1/2 the butter of regular cookies and they have oats and multigrain flake cereal instead of just flour. (they aren't healthy by any means, but they're an improvement on regular cookies!) and they also halted my biggest pet peeve about cookies... they aren't gross the 2nd day. i put them in a plastic bag overnight and they were so yummy and chewy today i couldn't stop eating them! enjoy!

skinnier choc-oat chip cookies
24 cookies

1/4 cup butter (1/2 a stick), almost melted
1/4 cup light or fat free sour cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs (or 3 egg whites if you want to get extra healthy!)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup oats
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup multigrain flake cereal (i used the wal-mart generic brand. corn flakes would work.)
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1. cream butter, sour cream and sugar. add vanilla and eggs. beat until creamy.
2. add flour, oats, salt and baking soda. mix well.
3. stir in chocolate chips and multigrain flakes.
4. bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes (depends on your oven - watch them close and error on the side of undercooking them. do not overcook. they are done when the edges start to get brown.)

healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!