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Strawberry Salad with Creamy Poppy seed Dressing

8 Jun

Strawberry Salad from EatinontheCheap.com

As we box up all of our belongings and throw our lives into a little more disarray, the world outside marches into my favorite time of year. The landscape is lush, the flowers are blooming, and strawberries are finally in season.

What a delicious time of year we are in. Gardens are beginning to bring forth the bounty that we country folk crave. Asparagus, lettuce, spinach, strawberries and peas, are ready for harvest right about now, sweeping away the last remnants of winter.  This year, I am without a garden. I miss it. It’s a calming place to be, surrounded by plants that I’ve started from seed and then continue to watch grow and prosper or (in the case of my squash plants every year) shrivel and die without much fanfare.

I have managed to grow a little lettuce and spinach. Thankfully, they don’t take much attention since I don’t have much to give. I have enjoyed being able to grab a handful or two of fresh greens before I head out to work in the morning and throw together a quick salad for lunch. This particular salad I have made more times than I can count. It was my best seller when I still sold lunches to the masses and it’s one of my favorites, too.

Strawberry Salad with Creamy Poppy seed Dressing

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 large salads and 2 cups of dressing

Tip: To toast pecans (or any nut) simply throw them into a dry skillet and cook over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until they begin to smell nutty.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of mixed leafy lettuce
  • 1 cup of sliced strawberries
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • ½ cup toasted pecans
  • Dressing:
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ t. Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 t. poppy seeds

Instructions

  1. In two large serving bowls or plates, divide the lettuce equally between the two. Top with strawberries, blue cheese, and toasted pecans.
  2. In a blender combine the oil, vinegar and mustard and pulse to create an emulsion. Add in the sugar, sour cream, salt and poppy seeds and blend until everything is well combined. Taste the dressing and add more sugar if not sweet enough, or more oil if too tangy.
  3. Drizzle some dressing on top of each salad and serve! The dressing will keep in the fridge for two weeks.
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Teriyaki Turkey Meatball Stir-fry

13 Jan

TurkeyMeatballStirfry

I’m sure that I have mentioned this before, but I LOVE Asian food. Not only do I love how fast and fresh most Asian food can be, but I also love all of the sauces and condiments that go along with it. The Asian pantry is teeming with sauces, pastes, oils and vinegars that can be confusing to the average Southern girl wandering the aisles of the grocery store.
Well, I want to encourage you to not be afraid of the Asian aisle.
A few years ago, my husband and I were on vacation and worked up the nerve to walk into an Asian grocery store. I don’t know why I was so nervous about it, I shouldn’t have been. I guess because everything was so…foreign to me. It was the most interesting store I have ever been into. There were rows full of soy sauce, rice vinegar, fish sauces, and chili pastes. The shelves were groaning with bags of different kinds of rice and seaweed. The refrigerators were full of vegetables and fish I had never seen before. It was exciting! It was almost as much fun as traveling to a new country. We went up and down each aisle grabbing bottles and bags of anything we had ever seen on TV or read about in a cookbook. We came to the register with two armfuls of Asian supplies and a dumb grin on our face. As the man behind the counter rang up our selection (and helped us decipher the Chinese on a couple bottles) we braced for the damage – $21. Not too shabby for what has proved to be about a year’s worth of every Asian ingredient we ever needed (and a few we haven’t used yet).
There may not be an Asian grocery in your area but many grocery stores have their own Asian section were you can find the most popular Asian supplies.

Thanks to Budget Bytes for the inspiration!

Teriyaki Turkey Meatball Stir-fry

Ingredients

    Meatballs:
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp soy sauce
  • 2 whole green onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp. chili paste
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • Stirfry:
  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 2 cups Jasmine rice
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • Teriyaki Glaze:
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 T chili paste or sriracha
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the meatball ingredients with your hands until mixed well. Roll spoonfuls of the meatball mixture into balls the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Place meatballs onto prepared baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until meatballs register 170 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine the rice and 3 cups of water over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. In a wok or large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat until almost smoking. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 30 seconds. Add in the remaining vegetables and stir to coat in oil. Saute for about 3 minutes then add the remaining ½ cup of water to the wok and cover to steam the vegetables until they are tender, about 3 minutes.
  4. While vegetables are steaming, whisk together the teriyaki ingredients until well combined.
  5. Add the meatballs to the vegetables and then stir in the teriyaki glaze, stirring constantly until sauce becomes thick and glossy. Remove from the heat. Fluff the rice with a fork and divide onto 4 plates and top with stirfry. Add more sesame seeds for garnish.
  6. Tip: To make this dinner even faster, prepare meatballs ahead of time and store in the fridge until ready to use. Reheat in the microwave before adding them to the veggies.
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Stuffed Flatbreads

7 Jan

Stuffed Flatbread

A few months ago we were swimming in little puppies. A gift from a stray who wandered up to the house, the seven adorable spotted noses running around our carport pretty much consumed our life. Every morning we were greeted by tiny little canine barks and growls and little puppy paws chasing the laces of our shoes. Any walk outside became an obstacle course of puppy tails under your feet. The amount of cuteness in my yard at any given time was almost unbearable. It is amazing that we got anything done around here.


My daughter was the most attached. Being the bossy little girl that she is, she would spend all afternoon trying to convince the puppies that the princess palace she had built out of sticks and construction paper is the perfect place for them to play. The puppies weren’t buying it, but they loved all of the attention.


We were fortunate enough to find homes for all of the puppies without a trip to the Walmart parking lot. And as we enjoyed the last few days of puppy playtime we didn’t want to spend too much time on dinner. So these stuffed flatbreads with homemade dough were born, they are perfect for holding a puppy in one hand and eating dinner in the other.

Stuffed Flatbreads

Ingredients

    Dough:
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 – 5 oz. container plain Greek Yogurt
  • ¼ - ½ cup water
  • Oil for frying
  • Filling #1 :
  • 1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 T sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
  • Filling #2:
  • 24 slices pepperoni
  • ½ cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Filling #3:
  • 1 c. diced ham
  • 1 c. coleslaw mix
  • ½ cup diced apple
  • ½ t. caraway seeds
  • ½ t. dill
  • ¼ t. ground mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar
  • Saute ingredients together until soft. Stir in cheese. Set aside to cool.

Instructions

  1. Mix dough ingredients together until a soft, sticky dough forms. Knead for 5 minutes on a floured board until smooth and elastic. Let rest, covered, for 15 minutes in an oiled bowl. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces and stretch out to about a 6 inch round. Fill with your choice of filling, leaving a ½ border. Fold dough over the filling and seal edges. Fry in hot oil for 1-2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
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Southwest Rice Bowls

1 Jan

SWRiceBowl

Some would say that lunch is my life. Ok, maybe no one would say that, but sometimes I certainly think it. For the last year and a half I have been catering lunch to the fine folks of my small town and this has really forced me to explore the possibilities of the midday meal (it has also made me develop an unhealthy obsession with take-out containers that only someone who delivers lunch to people on a regular basis could understand). In this year and a half, I have made hundreds (maybe thousands) of salads, sandwiches and soups. I have tried my best to think outside the box by putting lunch in a box fit for adult appetites. Let me tell you, a creative lunch is harder than you think.
I realize that the majority of people in the world are perfectly happy eating the same lunch every day with no change in routine. It takes the guess work out of it; simplicity is the “happy place” of a busy life. But I love to try different things and a fresh and exciting lunch break is sometimes exactly the change of pace I need.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about “gluten-free”. Not because I particularly want to follow a gluten-free lifestyle, but because there are so many people out there that have to and I think that they are probably ready for something different to eat that isn’t just a salad or some strange medley of lunchmeat and hard-boiled eggs. This thinking led me to rice and what I could put on top of it. Let me tell you that there are a million possibilities and I am eager to explore each one. This one is a crazy-delicious start that I hope you give a try.

Southwest Rice Bowls

Ingredients

  • 2 limes
  • ¼-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 1 t. honey
  • ½ t. chili powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • ½ t. kosher salt
  • ½ t. pepper
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen kernel corn
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
  • ½ c. light sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 cups hot, cooked brown rice
  • Shredded romaine lettuce, to serve
  • Diced avocado, to serve
  • Sliced jalapeno, to serve
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, add the juice of both limes, ¼ cup olive oil, cilantro, honey, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and whisk until emulsified. Taste to see if more oil is needed. Add half of the vinaigrette to the shredded chicken and toss to combine. Heat the chicken for 1 minute on HIGH in the microwave, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the beans, corn, tomato and green chilies and toss with the remaining vinaigrette. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes until the corn is hot. Toss again and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, a squeeze of lime juice ( you should be able to get a little more from those used limes) and the chipotles. Stir well and set aside.
  4. To assemble: Spoon 1 cup of hot rice into a shallow bowl. Arrange ½ cup shredded romaine on top of the rice. Top with ½ cup of the black bean salad and top with ½ cup of shredded chicken. Add diced avocado and a couple of spoonfuls of the chipotle cream and enjoy!
  5. Tip: Substitute cooked quinoa for the brown rice for a little extra protein!
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Creamy Lentil Soup

31 Dec

LentilSoup

Every New Year brings with it a slew of new “resolutions” to our lips.
“I’m going to lose weight.”
“I’m going to save more money.”
“I’m going to try more new things.”
Any variety of these common promises can be heard throughout the country and I am here to offer you a food than can help you achieve all of your goals for the New Year; the lentil.
I am a lentil-lover. It’s a hard confession to make, especially here in the South where lentils aren’t exactly one of the most popular legumes consumed. Lentils and cornbread isn’t a common dish on the Southern table. Some folks have no idea what a lentil is or maybe they have only read about them in the Bible or seen them in passing in the grocery store. Well, I am here to tell you, the lentil is a wonder bean.
Lentils have been around for several thousand years. Nutritionally, they are the third most protein-rich bean with a huge amount of fiber and iron to boot. They are the perfect food for vegetarians, dieters, diabetics, and everyone in between.
Unlike most beans, cooking lentils requires no forethought. They take no soaking or long-winded cook times. Most varieties are done in 20-30 minutes (red varieties take even less time). The taste and texture of lentils is not what you would expect either. They are earthy and creamy, with a smooth texture. The common brown variety is great for soups and stews while the green and red varieties are perfect for main and side dishes since they hold their shape better.
The cherry on the lentil is the fact that they are cheap; really cheap. A pound of lentils is less than $2 and can provide as many meals as a pound of regular beans (without all of the cooking!).
So, be brave! Eat some lentils.

Creamy Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 bacon slices, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • ½ cup dry white wine (i.e. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc)(optional)
  • 1 quart low sodium, fat free chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of thyme or 1 t. dried thyme
  • ½ cup half & half

Instructions

  1. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to drain and reserve about 2 tablespoons of drippings in the pan. To the drippings add the onion and cook until just beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic, potatoes, carrots and lentils and cook for a couple of minutes. Add in the wine and cook until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Pour in the stock, bay leaf and thyme, cover and simmer for one hour or until the vegetables are very tender.
  2. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender or food processor (or if you have an immersion or stick blender use it) and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the half & half. Reheat over low heat. Serve with bacon on top.
  3. Tip: Need more meat? Thinly slice and sauté smoked sausage to serve on top.
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Lentilsoup2

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Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeno Slaw

28 Apr

shrimp tacos 015

Right now, in my mind, I am on vacation. I am not actually on vacation, I am somewhere towards the beginning of what will eventually turn into the busiest, most stressful, and exhausting month of my life.

The month of May has now been dubbed Hell Month.

Do you ever have one of those months? Where you just stare at your calendar in disbelief and wonder how all of this got so out of control?

I can’t complain too much. I will be busy making money, which is good. I have goals for crying out loud! And we are about to hit one of those goals this week! The hubby and I have been doing Dave Ramsey since about August, and although we fell off the wagon in December (poor planning on our part) and couldn’t hop back on until last month ( tornadoes and thefts will do that to you), we have managed to (nearly) complete Baby Step #3 of the Total Money Makeover! That is 3 months of salary worth of savings for those of you not familiar. WooHoo! Go us!

But anyway, back to vacation.

So, this month (I mean May) I will be running the crap out of my new catering business with no less than 3 special events,  4 weekly deliveries, 1 dessert buffet, and a couple of new on-site events that I am pretty excited about. Besides the catering, the winery’s new wine club is due for it’s second shipment and I cannot believe the astounding success we have had so far! As of today, I will be putting together nearly 60 shipments for our loyal customers! With the winery, there is also of course our Summer Events that are starting up; movie night, happy hour, Blues & Wine music series and a county wide tour called Hickman County Arts & Ag Tour that is now in it’s second year. And as if that wasn’t enough, one of the newspapers I write for has asked me to do 4 extra articles on top of the weekly column that I already write for them and that is all due by May 10th.

Oh! And our 9th wedding anniversary is May 29th (Happy Anniversary babe!).

And then…vacation.

I have never longed for a condo in Hot Springs, Arkansas so badly in all of my life. Thanks to my mother-in-law for allowing us to tag along all of these years. I have pretty much decided that vacation is less about where you go and all about who is there to help you watch the kids. Vacation is also about quick and easy dinners and, if you are close to the water, seafood.

Shrimp is a favorite of mine and I have totally been on this shrimp/fish taco kick lately. I can’t seem to get enough. So I whipped up this simple recipe and imagined that I was sitting on a balcony, overlooking the water with a cocktail in one hand and a shrimp taco in the other.

June can’t get here soon enough.

shrimp tacos 022

Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeno Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 t. cumin
  • ½ lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 T butter
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • avocado for serving
  • Jalapeno slaw (recipe follows)
  • Jalapeno Slaw
  • ½ green or red cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 2 T chopped green chilies
  • ½ t. dry dill
  • 1 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 t. grated onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 t. cumin
  • ½ t. cayenne
  • 1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine shrimp, cumin, juice of lemon, and salt and toss to combine. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the butter to the pan. Once the butter is melted, add the shrimp to the pan and cook, stirring often, until the shrimp and pink and just cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Remove to a bowl to keep warm. Wipe the skillet clean, and warm each tortilla in the skillet according to package directions.
  2. For slaw: In a large bowl, place the shredded cabbage and set aside. In a blender, blend together the remaining ingredients. Pour half of the dressing over the cabbage and mix well. Add more if needed or set aside the remaining dressing for extra sauce. Refrigerate for up to one week.
  3. To serve, place a spoonful of slaw into each tortilla and top with 3-4 shrimp and a slice of avocado.
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Chickens and Eggs

18 Mar

Chicks!

 

A few weeks ago I was looking back through some old posts and came across one about what I hoped to have one day (and stuffed artichokes which by the way are delicious and I should totally make this again soon). The very first line of that post is:

“My dream is to one day move out of suburbia and back into the country. I would like to have a few acres of land for the kids to run around on freely, I would like some chickens, maybe a goat, a clothes line to hang out laundry and a nice, big garden.”

As I read this post from 3 years ago I realized that I have everything I ever wanted right now. Everything…including chickens!

A few weeks ago, the kids and I went to the feed store in town for 6 baby chicks. We came home with 8 and everything we needed to keep them alive until a chicken coop could be erected to house our new little bundles of joy and poop.

Speaking of coops, my husband has taken it upon himself to build the chicks the most awesome chicken coop on this side of the Mississippi.

This may not seem like much to those of you out there who are married to a very skilled carpenter, but my hubby is a restaurant manager and building anything has not been included in his skill set. Until now! He has really gotten into it (and maybe over-engineered it just a little) and I couldn’t be prouder.

Once it is all said and done our new girls will be housed in high style. Hopefully it will be soon because these birds aren’t getting any smaller.

So, in preparation for the overwhelming mass of eggs that we won’t have until sometime in August I am working on egg dishes. This one is easy and perfect for Easter!

deviledeggs

P.S. Thanks to April’s Attic for letting me borrow some super cute dishes!!

Horseradish Dill Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 3 t. prepared horseradish
  • 1 t. spicy brown mustard
  • ½ t. dried dill
  • ½ T sweet pickle relish
  • ¼ cup light mayo
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • Pinch of paprika

Instructions

  1. Peel eggs and cut in half. Remove yolks to a bowl and mash lightly with a fork. Stir in horseradish, Dijon, dill, mayo, pickle relish and salt and pepper. Whip until creamy. Scoop the filling into a small plastic bag and cut out one corner to make a piping bag. Fill each egg half with filling and then top with a sprinkle of paprika. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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Chinese Lettuce Cups

21 Feb

Lettuce Cups

My guilty pleasure is Asian cuisine. More specifically, Chinese takeout. Back when we lived in Atlanta, I kept the local Chinese restaurant very busy, especially after the twins were born. I ordered so often that the delivery guy began to comment on how big the kids were getting and would notice when I didn’t call in an order for a while. They even recognized my voice when I called. If we would have stayed there any longer, I would probably start getting Christmas cards from them.

Needless to say, there are not many Chinese takeout spots way out here in the country. This is a good thing since there have been plenty of nights when I would have happily called in my order for General Tso’s chicken, crab wontons, Pepper Steak, and some Sweet and Sour Chicken for the kids.

Besides being expensive, Chinese takeout isn’t very figure friendly (and I’ve got high hopes for a smaller swimsuit this year). So, as I roamed the aisles of the new discount grocery in town, I found nearly all of the makings of some very yummy lettuce cups. Healthy and tasty. It’s the best of both worlds.

Chinese Lettuce Cups

Ingredients

  • 16 lettuce leaves (use Bibb, Boston, or Iceburg)
  • 1 pound of lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T minced pickled ginger
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 (8oz) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 2 t. dark Sesame oil
  • Sriracha (optional)

Instructions

  1. Rinse lettuce leaves and gently pat dry. Set aside to dry.
  2. In a medium skillet over high heat, add the oil and brown the beef until cooked through. Drain and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium, in the same pan cook the onion until just softened. Add in the garlic, hoisin, soy sauce, ginger, and vinegar. Stir to combine. Toss in the water chestnuts, sesame oil, green onions and beef and stir until coated in sauce. Cook until heated through.
  3. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter and fill each one with the beef mixture. Top with Sriracha sauce if you want and eat like a burrito!
  4. Tip: You can find all of these items in you store's Asian aisle. Pickled ginger is the pink stuff you find next to your sushi. It comes in a jar and is very refreshing. Substitute 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger if you like.
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A New Year,a Spicy Salad and a Pantry Challenge

1 Jan

Happy New Year!! 2013 has arrived despite all of the Mayan prophecies and many people are making all of the usual promises to themselves. I don’t know why we feel compelled to make all of these changes on the first day of the year. We could just as easily do it on a Tuesday in the middle of August. Nevertheless, here we are with grand intentions of bettering ourselves by this time next year and I am no different.

Top of the list is the always present “Lose X pounds”. I’m changing this up a little this year. It’s more like ” Get your butt off the couch and exercise 5 days a week. And quit eating like a teenager and drinking like a frat boy.” As my 31st birthday looms ever closer (3 weeks away. eeck!) I’m going to have to accept that I no longer have the metabolism of a perky waitress in a dive bar in Memphis. It’s my last hold-out and it’s days are numbered. I figure if I can stick to this, then the weight will gradually fall away.

My next, and probably easiest, resolution is to get back on the Dave Ramsey wagon. We started back in August and did really great up until December. December was (and always is) an expensive month. We didn’t lose any money but we didn’t save any either. So back on the budget we go and that’s okay with me.

This last one is something that I really didn’t think about until yesterday and it fits right into the budgeting goal. It’s a Pantry Challenge and I came across it over at Good Cheap Eats. Ya’ll…I need this. I have so many random things in my pantry that I really need to use. I don’t want to throw it away, but I am tired of moving them around. I have tons of dried beans, pasta, canned squash, relishes, and pickles. I also have lots of off-the-wall things; rice noodles, fish sauce, canned sardines, and Irish oatmeal (what makes it Irish anyway?). With the gardening season coming up, it’s time to make a little room. Oh! And we bought a side of beef, so I need to make room for that too.

So, this recipe is kind of a combo of all of these things. It’s very healthy and filling and the creamy dressing used quite a bit of ingredients in the fridge and spice cabinet. Hooray for me! The salad is enough for one, but the dressing makes enough for four. It’ll last 3-4 days in the fridge. It would also be great as a dip for grilled chicken or raw veggies.

Happy New Year!!

Check out this recipe on the Shine Supper Club too!

Southwest Salad with Spicy Cilantro Dressing

Ingredients

    Salad:
  • 2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup kernel corn
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 oz. sliced grilled chicken breast (I used a Southwest seasoning on mine)
  • Dressing:
  • 1 - 6oz. container 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro
  • 2T mayo
  • 1/4 c fat free half and half
  • 1/2 t dry dill
  • 1/4 t cayenne
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/2 t sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine the salad ingredients and top with the grilled chicken.
  2. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  3. Top the salad with 1/4 of the dressing. Serve and enjoy!
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

21 Dec

The kids are finally out of school and the final days before Christmas are upon us.

The presents are piled under the tree, the twinkle lights are shining, Melvin the Elf is planning his escape, and the Christmas baking is well under way. Today we will be working on those last minute gifts for all of our friends and neighbors ( and we are fortunate to have so many). On days like this, a quick recipe that won’t take up oven space is a welcome addition and if it is made from peanut butter and chocolate it’s even better!

This is a great recipe to do with your kids. Feel free to substitute almond butter for the peanut butter and white chocolate for the semi-sweet!

Try not to eat them all before you give them away! Merry Christmas everyone!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • ½ cup crunchy peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 4 T softened butter, divided
  • 1 – 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, peanut butter, and 3 tablespoons butter until very well combined. Shape the mixture into 1 – inch size balls and place on a wax paper lined tray. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of butter over a double boiler or in a microwave safe bowl. Dip each ball into the melted chocolate, shake off the excess, and return to the wax paper to harden. Repeat with the remaining balls. Store in an airtight container. Makes 2 dozen
  2. Tip: Make your own double boiler by placing a glass or metal bowl on top of saucepan with 2 inches of water in the bottom. Heat the water until just boiling to create the gentle heat of a double boiler, but don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.
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Hot (Cocoa) for Teacher

6 Dec

My kids have some extraordinary teachers. They are kind-hearted, patient and have managed to make Kindergarten the most fun place to be for my babies. Honestly, my kids love Monday mornings because that means they get to go back to school! They come home with folders jam packed with construction paper and smiley faces and a look of pride that can’t be beat. I just hope that my kids hang on to this love of education for as long as possible.

So, for the two women who take care of and teach my children 5 days a week I wanted to make something very special. I also wanted something that the kids could help put together. Everyone loves hot cocoa and to make it over the top I even made some homemade marshmallows. Making marshmallows is not hard at all, and once they are set the kids can have a great time cutting out fun shapes with small cookie cutters.

This makes a great gift for teachers, bus drivers, hair stylists, neighbors, mail carriers, or anyone else who makes your daily life a little bit better.

 

Hot Cocoa Mix and Peppermint Marshmallows

Ingredients

    Cocoa Mix:
  • 2 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1 ½ cups dark or Dutch processed Cocoa
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • ¼ t. salt
  • Peppermint Marshmallows (adapted from My Baking Addiction)
  • 3/4 cup water, divided
  • 3 (1/4 ounce) packages unflavored gelatin
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • ¼ t. peppermint extract
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Instructions

  1. For Cocoa Mix: Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. To Serve: For each serving mix 3 heaping spoonfuls of the cocoa mix and 2 T cold milk or water in a mug and mix until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of hot milk or water and top with peppermint marshmallows. Makes 4 1/2 cups
  2. For Marshmallows: Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with plastic wrap and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Spray another piece of plastic wrap to cover the top, and set aside. In a stand mixer bowl with a whisk attachment, sprinkle the gelatin over ½ cup of water and let stand while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, mix ¼ cup of water, sugar, and corn syrup together. Bring to a hard boil and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Turn the mixer on low and slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin. Turn the mixer to high and whisk for 10-15 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add the peppermint extract and blend until incorporated.
  5. Pour the mixture into the lined pan and smooth the top with an oiled spatula. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow to set for 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Mix together the sugar and cornstarch in a pie plate. Remove the marshmallows from the pan and slice into cubes with an oiled knife. Toss in the cornstarch/sugar mixture to coat and store in an airtight container.
  7. Tip: I love the peppermint with the hot chocolate. It tastes like one of those chocolate candies you get on a hotel pillow, but substitute 1 T. vanilla extract for a more traditional mallow.
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How to Avoid a Turkey Sandwich

20 Nov

 The turkey sandwich is the iconic Day-after-Thanksgiving food for most Americans and our household is no exception. Members of our family have been known to nearly chase you around the house with a turkey sandwich like some kind of turkey sandwich hustler. As if the fate of the world depended upon that turkey being eaten…and soon! No one shall be allowed to go Black Friday shopping unless a turkey sandwich has been consumed. It’s pretty serious stuff.

The thing about a turkey sandwich, though, is that they aren’t all that exciting. Bread, mayo, cheese lettuce, maybe some tomato. Sounds like the typical lunch box fare to me. I like to jazz things up a bit and the best jazz-in-a-bottle you can buy is Sriracha sauce.

Sriracha may be the best thing to ever come out of the Asian aisle in the grocery store. It’s a spicy ( but not too spicy) sauce that has a lingering heat that makes everything better. We put it on anything here; eggs, toast, fried chicken, stir fry, the list goes on and on. And it really does wonders for a turkey wrap especially paired up with the avocado. Make sure you get the big bottle of Sriracha. You are going to need it.

Spicy Turkey Wrap

Ingredients

  • 1 large burrito size flour tortilla
  • 1 T light mayo
  • 1 t. Sriracha Sauce ( or any hot chili sauce)
  • ½ cup chopped cooked turkey breast
  • ½ avocado, mashed
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar
  • ½ cup lettuce
  • ¼ cup sliced tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Lay tortilla out on a flat surface. In a small bowl mix together the mayo and Sriracha sauce. Spread the spicy mayo in a thin layer over one side of the tortilla. In a row down the middle place the turkey, avocado, cheese, lettuce and tomato. Roll up, burrito style, making sure to fold the ends in so that the filling won't fall out. Heat a dry skillet over medium high heat and place the wrap seam side down into the skillet. Place another skillet or heavy lid on top of the wrap to press it down ( think panini press) and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tortilla is browned, flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Slice down the middle and serve! Makes 1 wrap
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Salmon & Potato Chowder

11 Oct

Is it crazy to be wishing for a really cold winter? I feel like we got so jipped on last year’s unseasonably warm weather and this year I am craving cold followed by snow and joined by heaping bowls of soup. The last few mornings I have secretly enjoyed the sting of cold on my un-socked feet as I roll out of bed every morning. My morning cup of Joe ( or Johann – I love that commercial) is made even better when it warms my belly and my fingertips.

Maybe I just love the feeling of being warm and comforted. Not that that doesn’t happen in the Summer  but there is something about Fall and Winter that makes you want to snuggle close to your loved ones. And I do love to snuggle especially with my little monkeys.

Since the kids have started school, I have really started to notice just how big they are. Their little personalities are blossoming and their little faces are transforming into the  features that they will carry for the rest of their lives. If I look close enough, I can see the beautiful young woman my daughter will be and the handsome and fun-loving man my son will become. They will be tall and slender and full of life. They both will still have that little crinkle at the corner of their eyes when they smile and freckles will still grace their cute little noses. I’m sad for me and excited for them all at the same time. I guess that is the way it works for mothers.

Mothers also like to try to make everyone happy. So, when I came across this recipe in the now-defunct Gourmet Magazine cookbook, I thought it would be an easy sell to all parties concerned in our house. The result was simple and delicious and I will make it again even though my daughter only ate the potato soup and my son picked out all of the fish to eat. My husband and I thought it was perfect, so that must count for something.

P.S. Thanks again to April’s Attic for letting me borrow dishes. You guys are awesome.

P.P.S. If you are in the Dickson, TN area you can now read me in The Dickson Herald!

P.P.P.S. If you anywhere close to the middle Tennessee area you can come to a free cooking class that I will be putting on at Grinder’s Switch Winery on Oct 21st! Call to sign up!

Salmon & Potato Chowder ( adapted from Gourmet Today)

Ingredients

  • 5 slices Bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 salmon fillets, skinned ( about a pound)
  • 2 t. dried dill
  • 1 T butter

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy saucepan, fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp and then drain on paper towels. Reserve 2 T of fat in the pan and saute onions, celery and potatoes until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until the potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add milk to the pan, bring to a boil and simmer uncovered until potatoes are very tender, another 10 minutes. Using a stick blender or a food processor, blend the soup until it is creamy and only a few small chunks of potatoes remain. Stir in salmon, dill and butter and continue to simmer until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes.Serve in bowls topped with bacon ( and maybe a little cheddar cheese)
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Parmesan Popcorn

21 Aug

It’s been forever since I have posted recipes but in that time I have successfully gotten my two five year olds started in kindergarten. My pocketbook took a final huge sigh of relief as they climbed on the bus and headed toward a free education (goodbye daycare!)

Since then, lots of people have asked me if I cried their first day or if I am sad to see them growing up. I have to say that my answer to them is a pretty solid “no”. Although I got a little dewy that first morning at the crack of dawn before I had had any coffee, I am nothing but proud of my children. They are ready for this and so am I. Don’t get me wrong, I miss the new baby smell and those first recognizable words, but this age is my favorite. I love watching their little minds work out problems ( or in my son’s case, schemes), form opinions, and develop their individual personalities. It’s a chapter in our lives that we are all eager to start.

That being said, 6AM ain’t no joke. Packing lunches at 6AM is even less of a joke. I have been writing a series on healthy lunches in my hometown paper encouraging parents to pack at least 2 healthy lunches every week for their kids. Doing my best to practice what I preach, I have also been packing lunches for my kids ( whether they like it or not). School lunches here are $1.75 each (before ice cream). For two kids, that’s $70 a month. And it’s not like the food is all that great, nevertheless, my kids want to eat it. I’m sure there will be days that I send in my $4 for them to eat whatever the lunchroom is serving but until then I’m packing lunches.

So far the main dishes have been pretty easy, but since we live waayyy out of town we seem to run out of snacks and side food before the end of the week. Therefore, this Parmesan Popcorn is a great cheap, healthy and quick substitute for crackers or chips. The idea came from my friend Diana back in Georgia who served the kids and I up some of this for a snack one day. It was a big hit all around.

Parmesan Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of air-popped popcorn (or 1 bag of microwave popcorn, no salt)
  • 2 T light butter, melted
  • 2 T grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • ¼ t. garlic powder

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the popcorn and butter. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the popcorn. Toss to combine. Serve and enjoy!!
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Sauteed Swiss Chard and Summer Squash

31 May

The arrival of summer squash is a reason for celebration in our family. Everyone with the exception of my brother ( who has a limited palette anyway) loves fresh squash any way they can get it, and it’s a good thing too. In an attempt to beat the squash bugs to the punch I planted quite a few squash and zucchini plants thinking that the squash bugs would do as much damage as they did last year. Well my plan worked. The squash bugs have found the garden but I have managed to keep them at bay and the plants are so healthy that it would take a major infestation to kill them now. Of course, I now have 10 ( yes 10!) squash and zucchini plants that are pumping out 1 or 2 squashes each every day! Pair that with the Swiss Chard that is just as prolific and what you end up with is a woman trying her best to figure out what to do with all of this produce. I envision this happening a lot this Summer. Anyway, one of the dishes I have come up with uses both of my over zealous veggie varieties. If you can’t find Swiss Chard feel free to substitute spinach. Or just stop by my house and get some for yourself. Pull a few weeds while your there, will you?

Sauteed Swiss Chard and Summer Squash

Ingredients

  • 3 medium to large squash or zucchini, sliced
  • 1 lb Swiss Chard
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 T fresh oregano, minced
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. fresh black pepper

Instructions

  1. Roughly chop Swiss chard leaves and stems, keeping them separate. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add onion, chard stems and garlic to the pan. Cook for 3 minutes or until slightly softened. Add squash, chard leaves, oregano and salt and pepper to the pan. Toss the mixture until all of the veggies are coated with the oil. Continue to cook until the Swiss chard has wilted and the squash are cooked through, stirring occasionally. About 10 minutes. Remove the veggies from the pan and toss with crumbled feta cheese. Serve immediately.
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