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

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.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

why eat meatless?

i am by no means a vegetarian, but do love to eat meatless, or at least make a dinner with no meat every now and then. as meat is a traditional part of american meals, you may face understandable skepticism or even protest from say, your meatier half, when placing a meatless dish on your dinner table. thanks to my friend stacey for asking me to post about this! here are a few skinny-bovine worthy arguments with which to combat this protest:

  • "eating meatless (at least occasionally) is cheaper than eating with meat." if you are married to an accountant like i am (or any other form of stingy, money-saving, male) this argument can definitely hold weight.
  • "eating meatless is really healthy." you can choose better calories by replacing a meat with a protein-rich non-meat or eliminate an unnecessary carb load by replacing it with a veggie.
  • "saving calories with less meat means more room for dessert." enough said.
  • "we can be more adventurous in our food choices by eating meatless." some of my favorite meatless recipes are curries, indian dishes, etc. these types of fun recipes keep me from getting bored cooking and my husband from getting bored eating. don't be afraid to try new things!

and of course if i'm going to try and convince you to eat meatless, i'd better give you a fun, meatless recipe. i made this one last night and was pleasantly surprised at how yummy it turned out... all of the veggies in the sauce were fabulous!! besides, it was really fun to make noodles out of squash. i felt so professional. thanks again, stacey, for passing it along!

spaghetti squash with red sauce

6 servings

1 medium spaghetti squash (about 4 pounds)

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1 cup diced green pepper

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup diced red onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons italian seasoning

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce

grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1. cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds. place squash, cut side down, on a microwave-safe plate. microwave, uncovered, on high for 14-16 minutes or until tender.

2. meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté tomatoes, mushrooms, green pepper, carrot, onion, garlic, italian seasoning and pepper in oil for 6-8 minutes or until tender. add tomato sauce; heat through.

3. when squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to separate strands (see pic below). place squash on a serving platter and top with sauce. sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.

i made a few changes of course - i was saving my fresh tomatoes for something else so i used a can of diced (drained) and i think mushrooms are yucky so i left them out.

here's my suggestion, try something meatless that is fabulous like no-cream pasta primavera or taco soup (vegetarian modification) and then sneak a meat substitute into something and see if your eaters like it (try tasty lentil taco meat in burritos or enchiladas or something!) your sneakiness will pay off! trust me.

click here for all of my meatless favorites!

recipe from

Thursday, October 2, 2008

recipe of the week: sweet and sour meatloaf... sort of...

my poor 9 month old has a little cold and she just went to bed for the night... and yes, it is 6 o'clock. maybe i should be posting this tomorrow morning at 4 am when she gets up... yikes. :)

okay, you may have thought i was crazy with lentils the 1st time around when i told you to fall in love with them and asked you to try lentil taco meat. if you did try this recipe, you know i'm not wacko. if you didn't you're probably going to think i've gone completely off my rocker now.
this week's recipe of the week is meatloaf... made out of lentils! it's so fabulous - i promise. and it is far cheaper, lower fat and generally healthier than traditional meatloaf. my husband, who i've asked to rate my cooking every night so i don't repeat a recipe he doesn't particularly like, gave this one a 9 out of 10. it's that good.

sweet and sour "lentloaf"
(that's lentil and meatloaf combined - it's what my husband calls it!)
6+ servings (it's really filling)

3/4 cup dry brown lentils
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
2 eggs
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 pinch dried thyme (use more you love the taste of thyme - i don't!)
1/2 teaspoon basil
a little less than 1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/3 cup crushed tomatoes (add a little more if yours seems dry)
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/3 cup shredded cheese (whatever kind you have)

1. preheat oven to 325 degrees F. cook lentils and brown rice according to package directions, but cook lentils in chicken broth instead of water.
2. in a large bowl, mash lentils. to the lentils add wheat germ, bread crumbs, brown rice, eggs, onion, spices, tomatoes, ketchup, soy sauce and cheese. mix well. pour into loaf pan.
3. bake, covered, for 1 hour.

sweet and sour sauce
1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (if you're using a big can (28oz) for the crushed tomatoes in lentloaf above, just approximate about 1/2 of your big can for the sauce)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons prepared mustard (or 1/2+ teaspoon ground mustard)
1. combine all ingredients in small sauce pan. stir.
2. bring to a boil and then let simmer for a few minutes.
3. pour over meatloaf before serving. (over the whole thing or over each individual piece)
if you have a favorite meatloaf sauce make it instead. and we love lentloaf with mashed potatoes, but serve it with whatever you prefer!
recipes adapted from "imitation meatloaf" and "sweet and sour meatloaf" from

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!