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Friday, October 29, 2010

five ingredient fridays: your perfect halloween sidedish

tomorrow night i'm hosting a small halloween harvest dinner. here's our very orange menu:
  • jamaican chicken breasts (not festive, but we needed a main dish - i'll post these soon as they are amazing!)
  • sweet potato fries
  • bones and blood (bone-shaped breadsticks and marinara - idea from our best bites)
  • amazing orange jello (again, recipe to come)
  • pumpkin and bat sugar cookies cut and decorated by my 2 year old
  • carrot puree
okay... the carrot puree sounds scary, right? let me tell you right now, it's not. my friend carole served it at a fabulous lunch at her house last month and we're all still drooling. and it's the star of five ingredient fridays because it's sooooo easy!

carrot puree
from martha stewart
picture from martha stewart

2 pounds carrots, cut into 2-inch lengths
coarse ground salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1. cover carrots with water by 1 inch in a sauce pan. add salt. bring to a boil and then simmer for 25-30 minutes or until carrots are very tender.
2. drain carrots and transfer to a food processor or blender. add butter and sour cream. season with salt and pepper. process until smooth, scraping the bowl/blender when needed. serve.

are you doing a festive dinner? what are you serving?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

don't be afraid to create!

do you ever have a million random ingredients in your fridge/cabinets and don't know what to make for dinner? i know that happens to me pretty frequently.

these are the instances you should never be afraid to get creative! there are some ingredients that, when combined, you really can't go wrong. here are a few things i like to get creative with when i'm in a bind for dinner or i have random leftovers coming out my ears. i can't tell you how many leftovers have been saved from going bad with this simple dinners. no recipe needed - just get creative!

"kitchen sink" enchiladas - because i throw everything in them but the kitchen sink. possible ingredients (as many or as few as you'd like):
  • leftover or frozen shredded chicken, ground meat of various varieties
  • flour/corn tortillas
  • red/green/white/yellow onions
  • garlic
  • beans - black, pinto, whatever you have laying around
  • rice - leftover white/brown (am i the only one that is always making too much), mexican rice (this makes a huge amount so i always have leftovers)
  • sauce - homemade red enchilada sauce, leftover canned green enchilada sauce, the last of your salsa, sour cream, cream cheese, cafe rio-style cilantro lime ranch dressing (this is soooo good just thrown into the filling - yum!), plain ranch dressing, the sky is the limit!
  • fresh/frozen spinach
  • leftover canned tomatoes (do you ever make something that calls for 1/2 a can! argh!) or fresh tomatoes that need to be used
  • peppers that need to get used - bell, jalapeno, serrano
  • cheese - whatever you've got
  • spices - if you're mixture is feeling a little bland toss in some garlic salt, cumin and chili powder
combine all ingredients. roll up in tortillas. top with sauce and cheese. bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

goulash - basically meat and beans and tomatoes with pasta
  • pasta - any variety
  • tomatoes - canned or fresh, or tomato sauce
  • onions - any kind, and garlic
  • meat of some sort (ground is best)
  • beans - kidney or pinto are my favorite here
  • bell peppers
  • spinach - fresh or frozen
  • hot sauce
  • cheese
  • sour cream
  • spices - season with garlic, chili powder and salt and pepper
saute veggies/onions/garlic dash of olive oil. add meat and brown. stir in "sauce" (tomato sauce/canned tomatoes/fresh tomatoes) and simmer for 10 minutes. stir in cooked pasta. top with cheese/sour cream/hot sauce to serve.

veggie pasta skillet/bake - use whatever you have!
  • pasta of any variety
  • jar of cheap pasta sauce
  • garlic, black pepper and crushed red pepper
  • whatever veggies you need to use up! i.e....
  • broccoli
  • eggplant
  • peppers
  • onions
  • zucchini
  • yellow squash
  • mushrooms
  • carrots
  • cheese
saute some garlic and a dash of crushed red pepper in a dash of olive oil. add pasta sauce - heat through and add some black pepper (makes it taste more like homemade pasta sauce!). in a separate skillet, saute veggies in a dash of olive oil til tender. season with salt and pepper. combine sauce, cooked pasta and sauteed veggies in large bowl and serve as is or put in 13x9 inch baking dish, top with cheese and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

do you have any meals like this? please share!! we all need quick fixes like these in our dinner arsenals. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

sour cream chicken enchiladas

last night i tried a different white enchilada recipe - just for fun. i got it from another food blog i really like. sometimes it's fun to make a different version of a classic meal, right?

well, we were disappointed. they just weren't as good as my normal recipe. i guess i'm happy to say, then, that mine are lots better than the alternative we tried! :) i posted this deliciousness over 2 years ago. it's so good it's time for a repost. attribution to my bff who basically taught me to cook, with a few modifications by me, of course.

sour cream chicken enchiladas
6-8 servings

3 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced/cubed (i pan fry it in a tiny bit of oil, lime juice and sprinkled with garlic, pepper and cumin)
1 cup fat-free or reduced fat sour cream
1/4 cup green enchilada sauce
1 can green chilis
1 cup grated cheese
8-10 flour tortillas (depends on how packed you like your enchiladas, whole wheat are good with these)

1/2 can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
1/4-1/2 cup enchilada sauce
milk (for thinning the sauce for the top)
more cheese!!

1. combine cooked chicken, sour cream, 1/4 cup enchilada sauce, green chilis and 1 cup cheese in a large bowl. spoon mixture into tortillas and pack into 13"x9" pan.
2. make sauce for top by combining 1/2 can of cream of chicken soup, 1/4-1/2 cup enchilada sauce (add until it tastes right to you!) and milk if you'd like your sauce thinner.
3. spread sauce over the enchiladas and top with desired amount of cheese.
4. bake in oven at 350 F for 30-35 min.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


have you ever been behind one of those crazy couponing ladies at the grocery store. you probably found yourself really irritated - "why is she doing so many transactions?", "is she seriously buying 16 boxes of cereal and 16 boxes of granola bars?", "how many coupons are in that stack?". then remember how her total went down and down and down... and then you felt jealous instead of irritated?

i'm one of those crazy couponing ladies. i'm not going to try and convince you that everyone should coupon, but i figure if i can make you a little jealous you might at least think about trying it. :) one of the greatest highs (natural only... no idea what an unnatural one feels like but i promise you this is much better) i've ever had is getting food for free or ridiculously cheap.

what i paid for the above items (per item) at albertsons (keep in mind some of this isn't a usual purchase for me - but poptarts, hot dogs and capri suns are great camping food and we went camping a few times recently!):

item regular price sale price i paid
kelloggs fruit loops $ 3.69 $ 2.00 $ 1.00
kelloggs frosted mini wheats $ 3.49 $ 2.50 $ 1.00
oscar meyer franks $ 3.99 $ 1.50 nothing
cool whip $ 2.19 $ 1.00 nothing
nutrigrain bars $ 3.69 $ 2.50 $ 1.00
poptarts $ 3.49 $ 2.50 $ 1.16
kraft salad dressing $ 3.49 $ 1.99 $ 0.50
kraft 8oz cheese (block & shredded) $ 4.99 $ 2.00 nothing

i paid $28 for over $270 worth of groceries! that's over 90% savings!

do i have your attention now? here's the idea:
  • buy things that are on sale with the coupons available
  • use a website like to match coupons with sales in your area
it isn't brain surgery. the website does it for you! it's definitely the easiest way i can think of to obtain 30 free bags/blocks of cheese. :)

happy... happier shopping is in your future! give it a try!

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!