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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

accepting pumpkin donations: toasted pumpkin seeds

are you carving pumpkins this year? are you throwing out your seeds? please don't. give them to me. i will toast them and enjoy them instead of letting them go to waste. see method below (thanks to elise at simply recipes with a few minor modifications of course).

my cute husband and daughter getting ready to carve our pumpkin

toasted pumpkin seeds
modified from simply recipes

one medium sized pumpkin
cooking spray

1. preheat oven to 400°F. cut open the pumpkin and use a strong metal spoon to scoop out the insides. separate the seeds from the stringy core. rinse the seeds.

2. in a small saucepan, add the seeds to water, about 2 cups of water to every half cup of seeds. add a half tablespoon of salt for every cup of water (more if you like your seeds saltier). bring to a boil. let simmer for 10 minutes. remove from heat and drain.

3. spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. spread the seeds out over the roasting pan, all in one layer, then spray the top with cooking spray. sprinkle with a bit more salt (i used sea salt). bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 10-20 minutes. when browned to your satisfaction, remove from the oven and let the pan cool on a rack. let the seeds cool all the way down before eating. enjoy!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

delicious pitas ala mom and a baby

i'm back. i have a beautiful baby boy and i'm feeling great. here he is. i love him.

my mom was here all week spoiling us and playing with my daughter while we were at the hospital. she was amazing. she spoiled me with feta cheese the other night with the most delicious pitas. they were fabulous, so here's the [approximate] recipe. they are a little on the pricey side, so have a splurge night! i should have taken a picture, but i ate them too fast.

sun dried tomato pesto and veggie pitas

whole wheat pita breads
sun dried tomato pesto (the classico brand at my wal-mart is $1.96)
fresh spinach
portabello mushrooms, sliced
roma tomatoes, sliced
sliced black olives
feta cheese
parmesan cheese

spread the pesto on the pitas. cover with spinach and then the other veggies. top with the cheeses. heat in the oven at 350 until veggies cook flat, cheese melts and pita is slightly crispy.

i definitely loved my return to eating feta after being pregnant. thanks for the treat mom!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

recipe of the week: fusilli alla caprese

okay, this was ridiculously good and ridiculously easy. i made a few changes to make it cheaper and less greasy and it was still fabulous. i used whole wheat pasta, too (since i got it for $0.20 a box last week, thank you coupons). try it soon!

fusilli alla caprese
4 servings
modified from giada de laurentiis (found on my kitchen cafe)

i used mozzarella like the original recipe the night i made it, but when i ate it for lunch the next day i used parmesan and liked it lots better!

1 pound fusilli pasta (i used a little less than a pound of rotini)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chopped roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves (grow your own!), chopped (or about 5 tablespoons dried basil - this seems like a lot, so maybe add it a little bit at a time)
fresh parmesan cheese, for topping

cook pasta as directed.

in a medium skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute. add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. as the tomatoes cook and soften, smash them. continue to cook until the tomatoes make a chunky style sauce, about 4 minutes. transfer the tomato sauce to the bowl with the pasta. toss to combine. add the basil leaves (if you're using dry, i'd add them to the tomatoes in the skillet) and stir to combine. serve topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

what's in my post-partum freezer?

yes, i realize this is a strange name for a post, but i've been sooooo in over my head with freezer meals this week i had to post something about it. for those of you who maybe didn't know, i'm having a baby boy soon! i'm due in less than 2 weeks, but we're saying that he'll be here "some time in october" so when he doesn't make it until the 25th we aren't disappointed. here's my belly about two weeks ago:

i'd say i look about the same today - though maybe my belly is a bit bigger. i can say this with some assurance because apparently i haven't gained any weight in the last 2 weeks - despite the fact that i'm eating dessert every night. oops. definitely different than with my daughter - i steadily gained over a pound a week right up to delivery with her. then again, this pregnancy has been completely different in every way, so why not with weight gain too??

on to the freezer meals! so nice to have on those days after having a baby when you look at the clock and think - "it's 6:30? oh crud." i'm making my favorites (links to recipes provided), regardless of healthiness and even slightly disregarded budget on one. but it's my favorite. and YES, i'll give you the recipe. just don't make it once a week, okay??

what's in my post-partum freezer:
beef stroganoff
my family's recipe - the best!
4 servings

1-2 lbs round steak, cut into cubes or strips (bite size) (1 lb is plenty for 1 batch - 2 lbs or a little more for 2 batches works great!)
flour, salt and pepper (about 1 cup flour is enough)
1 medium onion, chopped
olive oil
1 can tomato soup
2 cups sour cream (the real stuff - no fat free)
1 overflowing tablespoon worchestershire sauce
6 drops tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
garlic salt to taste (1-2 teaspoons)

put flour, salt and pepper in a baggie; add the meat a little at a time to cover with flour mixture. brown the meat in hot oil in batches small enough to fit in a skillet and be able to turn to brown on both sides. as the meat gets done, you can put it on paper towels while you do the next batch. when all the meat is browned, saute the onion in the same skillet. in a separate bowl, mix soup, sour cream, worchestershire, tabasco, salt, pepper and garlic salt. put meat, sauce and onions in a skillet or dutch oven large enough to hold it all. bring to a boil. turn down heat and simmer slowly for 3-4 hours, stirring frequently so it will not stick or burn.

note: if you like mushrooms, you can add canned or sauteed! (i prefer it without)

serve over egg noodles or rice.

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!