Wednesday, April 18, 2012

.:eating well for cheap:.

i have always enjoyed cooking and watching Food Network. i could spend hours watching Paula Deen, Emeril Lagasse, and maybe Rachel Ray (if it's not early in the morning--too perky for me). i will admit, i am the person at the gym who has the TV turned to Food Network (but will act like i don't care if you change it while cringing inside).

let's face it, it's fun to watch them make the food, but running to print off the recipe (FYI: they can easily be located under the scheduled time of the TV show on, then to the grocery store and trying to re-enact it, with perfect hair, makeup and smile, isn't as easy as they make it look. plus, most of the recipes call for crazy ingredients or spices that have to be bought in bulk and will never be used before it goes bad. not good for the storage in the kitchen (or lack thereof) or for my budget!

while i do appreciate the time and effort these professionals take for each detail of these recipes, i am not that tedious nor do the MF or i really take note of all the spice differences which is why i take the recipes that i see online or on TV and make them simple, affordable and maybe a bit more healthy!

i can thank my father for showing me as a little girl, that you can essentially throw anything on to a skillet, combined with the right things and VOILA, a meal is served at a low cost and most likely with leftovers! while i may be a little more picky with my food than my father (read: a lot more picky), his concept makes sense whether you have odd ends that need to be used up or you went to the grocery without a list or plan (epic mistake for me).

while struggling with outgoing bills outweighing incoming paychecks, the first thing i had to cut down was my grocery bill! as all of you may know, eating healthy, clean and fresh is EXPENSIVE even without going organic! i was willing to compromise (read: forced) a little on the healthy and fresh side in order to stay within budget, so i created a few traditional inexpensive dishes with a healthy boost.

BAM! (Emeril, anyone? anyone?)

frozen chicken breast (made stovetop, not ideal) glazed with buffalo sauce with steamed veggies on the side topped with (a little) butter and Parmesan cheese. i am a HUGE fan of steamed veggies because they are essentially effortless with the help of a steamer basket and it is a great way to get rid of veggies that may be getting old soon!

this happens to be brussel sprouts and asparagus (fresh) with broccoli and cauliflower (frozen).

not pictured: petite side of ranch. sorry, i'm not sorry. :)

bring Chipotle home to you! chances are, with a little effort put in to the cooking, this homemade option is going to be healthier than the chain version. this was the MF's idea, so i give him all the credit here. in this pile of goodness, there is cilantro whole grain rice (literally, minute whole grain rice with cut up cilantro), fajita veggies, black beans, tomatoes, salsa, chicken and steak (grilled), cheese, lettuce and yes, there is sour cream!

it may not have had the 'authentic Chipotle' taste, but it tasted fresh and awesome in it's own way!

 ok, this one is a little more complicated then the rest:.

Mexican Quinoa Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups black beans
  • 1 cup corn, thawed
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 avocado, diced

in a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, tomato and red onion. in a blender or food processor, combine lime juice, garlic, cilantro, olive oil, honey or agave nectar and sea salt. process until mixture is smooth. toss with quinoa mixture.

this quinoa may be a little more intensive, but it tastes good served hot, cold, with chips or on it's own! you can't go wrong! tip:. make a large batch, it will last for about 5-7 days refrigerated--leave the perishable veggies out until you are ready to eat it (avocado, tomato).

i feel like this dish should have a cool name, but honestly, this picture is saved to my desktop as 'veggie pasta'. lame.

however, this pasta is far from lame! (shameful pitch)
let's face it, carbs are cheap, but throwing in some veggies can make it less carb-dense. i started buying whole grain or quinoa pasta to feel less bad about eating pasta 2 times a week to cut down on the grocery bill. for this particular meal, i steamed veggies: peppers, asparagus, zucchini, onions and mushrooms to put on top whole grain pasta with red vodka sauce. i try to stray away from white sauces and use more red sauces that are less cream based.

who doesn't love chili, for reals? this was thrown together last minute last night when the MF and i decided we felt like comfort food and here is how we did it:.
he browned the ground beef while i combined in a big pot:.
-1 big can tomato puree
-1 big can diced tomatoes
-1 big can corn
-6 red potatoes cubed
-1 can kidney beans
-carton of baby portabella mushrooms
-1/4 onion diced
-2 green peppers diced
-1 red pepper diced
-packet of Chili seasoning

we ate what happened to warm up in a 1/2 hour and put the rest in a crockpot overnight to let it finished simmering (the potatoes needed to finish cooking). you could literally change this recipe up any way that you want to and it would work well!

ok, so to be honest with you guys, i really do try hard to eat healthy most of the time, but i do have a sweet tooth!

behold, my dessert plate from a brunch on sunday.....

picture courtesy of the MF

yes, that is a chocolate dipped oreo, wafer and rice krispie and yes, there is a waffle underneath all that whipped cream....somewhere. 

is all about balance, right?

always striving for more,
dee b.

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