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Friday, August 27, 2010

five ingredient fridays: pesto bowties with feta and tomatoes

the heat doesn't seem to be subsiding at all where we are. except for last night when it rained - for 5 minutes. wow. i'm heading to utah next month for 10 days where it does start to cool off this time of year.

wherever you are and whatever the temperature, pasta salad is such a great thing to eat (especially when it's hot). it's even better with only 5 ingredients!

this one is fun since it combines two of my favorite ingredients - pesto and feta cheese. i can't live without either of them - money and health aside. i love them. what ingredients can you not live without?

pesto bowties with feta and tomatoes
from the pioneer woman here
6 servings
1 lb pasta (i used rotini)
1 cup basil pesto (i used more like 3/4 cup) - try the classico brand - $2.08 at my wal-mart. not bad!
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (got mine at the 99cents only store - more on this later)
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled (did you know they make low fat feta? not quite as good, but if your really trying to watch what you eat try it!)
salt and freshly ground pepper

cook the pasta according to package directions in a large pot of salted water. drain the pasta and run it under cold water just until it cools slightly. drain the pasta well.

transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. stir in the pesto and gently mix until the pasta is coated. season with salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon each). add the halved tomatoes and feta cheese. toss to combine.

cover the pasta and refrigerate up to an hour before serving. if the pasta seems at all dry before serving, you can stir in additional olive oil to moisten the pasta (i didn't!).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

sweet and sour pineapple chicken

remember my not-so-fried orange chicken? this is a sweet and sour version of that. i really like asian food, but i really don't like how greasy it is. this version is delicious with almost no oil... it doesn't just taste good, but it will make you feel good too.

sweet and sour pineapple chicken
4+ large servings

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

stir fry in:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons pineapple juice (from the can of pineapple)
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ginger
rest of the juice from the can of pineapple (minus the above 2 tablespoons)

1 20 oz can chunk pineapple
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, sliced thin
2 carrots, julienned
1-2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow squashed, thinly sliced


1. combine flour, salt and pepper in a bag. add chicken pieces and mix them around to coat.
2. combine 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoons pineapple juice (from the can of pineapple) and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in large skillet or wok. heat for a minute.
3. add flour-coated chicken to skillet/wok. stir to coat with sauce. let chicken brown on one side, then stir and let brown again. repeat until chicken is almost done inside. add the pineapple, garlic, green pepper, carrots, onions and squash. stir to coat then cover and let steam for 2-3 minutes.
4. combine all sauce ingredients (ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, pineapple juice) and pour over contents of skillet/wok. let sauce get hot and help finish cooking the veggies until they are crisp-tender.
5. add cornstarch a little at a time to thicken sauce.
6. serve with steamed white rice.

Friday, August 20, 2010

five ingredient fridays: traditional taco salad

there are those traditional meals that just always taste good. taco salad is one of those for me. i like it just the way we've all always made it. and it's a great summer meal - fast and cool!

traditional taco salad
romaine lettuce
1/2 to 1 lb lean ground beef - cooked and seasoned with taco seasoning (or garlic, cumin and chili powder)
black olives
light ranch dressing (i love kroger brand at Smith's -super cheap too!)

other delicious, but optional ingredients: cheese, tortilla chips, avocado, hearts of palm, anything else that sounds good to you!!

top shredded lettuce with taco meat, tomatoes, olives, dressing and any other topping of your choice. easy as that!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

just reposted....

the thai chicken wraps below... i forgot the soy sauce in the sauce in the original post. ahhhh!!!! i'm so sorry to anyone who made these. they are fabulous... i promise. with the soy sauce though!

Friday, August 13, 2010

five ingredient fridays: make-ahead lunch wraps

happy friday! and happy blogging. summer is too much fun to find time to blog much. i'm sorry for abandoning you so much!

i've recently ventured into the land of crisped wraps. they are great for summer since they require minimal cooking. the thing i like best about these, though, is that i can freeze them and they make a perfect lunch to-go for my hubby for work.

here is a 5-ingredient variation first and then another that we liked. the possibilities are endless with these. combine some of your favorite ingredients and i'm sure they'll be a winner at your house too!
make-ahead lunch wraps

4 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis
cooked brown rice (amount suggested - 2 cups rice cooked in 5 cups water for 45 minutes)

cheese and tortillas

1. combine beans, corn tomatoes, rice and desired amount of cheese. may season with chili powder, cumin or garlic if desired. roll up in tortillas and crisp on both sides in pan on stove to seal ingredients inside.
2. let cool. wrap in plastic wrap and then tin foil. store in freezer. reheat in microwave. serve with salsa, sour cream.... or ketchup if you're ridiculous like my husband.
here's another recipe we love at our house. these freeze pretty well, too, but they are extra yummy fresh!! i made them for while i was gone this last week and my husband was in heaven every day for lunch!

crispy southwest chicken wraps

see recipe at mel's kitchen cafe

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!