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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!

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!