egg nog ($2.19) — I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I treat myself to this once a year and cut my morning lattes with itsweet potatoes ($3.52)
napa cabbage ($1.25)
yellow onions ($2.11)
fresh cranberries ($7.98)
Brussel sprouts ($1.25)
fresh herbs ($0.57)
italian parsley ($1.29)
frozen strawberries ($3.00)
ground turkey ($2.94) — I know, why buy this the week of Thanksgiving?! For some reason this and the napa cabbage wouldn’t stop calling to me. We’re going to see what a little cumin and jerk spices can do…
gruyere cheese ($5.76)
REMAINING FOR THE MONTH: $36.09
This was an iron chef kind of meal. Nothing in mind to make for dinner, but a green pepper and gargantuan eggplant that needed to be used up.
Sometimes I like to chop up eggplant into little chunks and use it in a sauce, or puree it and make babaghanoush, but tonight I was in the mood for something meatier, like thick roasted slices of eggplant, mushy but charred at the same time.
I sliced the eggplant, and lined them up on a baking sheet before spreading them with olive oil, and sprinkling them with chopped garlic, salt, and nutritional yeast. I covered them with another layer of foil and baked at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, and then to crispen the tops, broiled for about two minutes with the foil off.
Simply sauteeing the pepper would have made this meal too bland — there needed to be some red in there. I found the letovers from a large can of juicy diced tomatoes in the freezer, which was precisely what this meal needed.
Prep-wise, all I had to do was chop half a yellow onion and the green pepper into small squares, and saute this in my small soup pot with some olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, and the fresh herbs that I had on hand — oregano and marjoram (I don’t even chop these, just flake them off the stem straight into the pot).
To that I added the frozen brick of tomatoes and a little water, and covered on high-medium heat until it had all melted into a rich, bubbling sauce. Then I added some leftover red wine that I had in the fridge to give it a smokier flavor, and let it bubble for awhile with the lid off, to reduce.
Last but not least, the quick and easy protein was a package of Trader Joe’s ahi tuna steaks.
I just spent 5 days in Orlando and Miami, having a much-needed girls’ vacation weekend and visiting family, and while I got to spend two solid days basking in this
- 1 red onion ($0.72)
- spring greens ($1.96)
- 3 carrots ($0.97)
- fresh herbs ($0.57)
- 1 jalapeno pepper ($0.45)
- ginger root ($0.36)
- 2 yellow onions ($2.11)
- 1 green bell pepper ($1.73)
- dozen eggs ($1.99) — these are the New Seasons brand: cage free, antiobiotic/hormone free, locally grown, and still this cheap?? I don’t get it.
- almond milk ($2.49)
- heavy whipping cream ($2.99) — time to make a new batch of butter soon!
- half & half ($2.29)
- 1 grapefruit ($1.43)
- 1 Fuji apple ($1.06)
- 1 bunch cilantro ($1.49)
- 1 bunch purple kale ($2.29)
- 1 bunch broccoli ($3.50)
- 1 huge eggplant ($3.93)
- 1 bulbs garlic ($1.80)
- 1 Haas avocado ($0.99)
I was contemplating what to make for dinner tonight while I was biking home from work — something quick, basic, and green. After last night’s Supper Club, I needed something a little more cleansing to offset the comfort food.
I knew the only veggie I had left in my fridge was a monster head of kale, so this meal came together pretty effortlessly.
Remember all those lasagne noodles I made the other night? Well, they’re still around and need to be used, so I flash boiled them in a frying pan (this is going to be a one-pan meal, btw) so soften them up again — I was lazy and just left them in my fridge in the colander so they were a little clumpy and dried out by this point. Three minutes in shallow boiling water softened them right back up.
No longer in lasagne mode, I was picturing more of a warm pasta salad, so I rolled the long lasagne noodles up into little squares and sliced them into strips.
I drained these and dumped them into a big salad bowl and tossed them with my favorite olive oil to keep them nice and slippery, then added salt and cracked pepper.
On to the kale. In case you didn’t know, kale is my favorite vegetable. Usually I can’t go more than five or six days without an intense craving for perfectly wilted kale, and I’ve been known to devour an entire bunch of it in one sitting. I mean, it cooks down small, but still. I make it pretty much the same way every time, with spices being the only variable, depending on the context:
- Slice the bunch of kale from head to toe, into strips
- Heat olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt, and “spices” (tonight: mustard seeds) over medium-high heat.
- When the spices are toasted (or in mustard seed’s case, when they start to pop!), dump the entire bunch of kale into the pan
- This will seem ridiculous/impossible, because there’s no way an entire bunch of kale can fit in a saucepan, but just force it. It cooks down so much, you’ll feel silly using your wok. Literally just force it in with your hands, and after a few seconds you’ll feel the leaves start to wilt and shrink down
- Just when you think the bottom layer is about to burn, you pull out the big guns:
- Give a good four or five squirts of lemon juice over the leaves, and it will simultaneously act as a mini steaming agent, while giving the kale a nice tanginess.
- Now you can feasibly stir the kale with a wooden spoon, but don’t do it for too long! You want to remove it from the heat just as soon as it becomes manageable, so you don’t overcook it. I like it when the leaves still have some texture, and the stems still have some crunch.
Into the bowl it goes.
And then finally, my go-to protein. I always have roasted chicken in my freezer, that I can quickly brown in this same sautee pan, with just a little salt and nutritional yeast to make the outside taste crunchy and glazed.
That got diced up and thrown in with the rest, and then I added just a single tablespoon of this:
I love having a few key Trader Joe’s tapenades in the fridge, for an occasion such as this.
My day began with a morning trip to the southeast before I could start my work, because I had left an incredibly necessary component at the store this weekend. I’m not a big fan of going in to work on my days off, but at least it meant I got to swing my new favorite grocery store while I was down there!
1 package lasagna noodles ($2.49)
half gallon milk ($2.99)
feta cheese ($3.59)
1 honeycrisp apple ($0.82) — in case you haven’t noticed, wintertime is for veggies, summertime is for fruit
bag of red quinoa ($8.99) — planning a red quinoa salad for later this week
pound+ crimini mushrooms ($5.54) — you’ll see why soon!
1 red onion ($0.63)
bag of mixed greens ($2.31)
bunch of kale ($2.29)
1 acorn squash ($1.41) — roasted and chopped up in the sesame quinoa salad!
hunk of Parmesan ($3.85)
Remaining for the month: $115.09
Sometimes when I’m reading food blogs I’ll bookmark particularly yummy looking posts and tag them with “recipes totry” in Delicious, then on days like today when I actually have time to think about what I want to eat before I go grocery shopping, I’ll pick out ingredients on purpose.
This meant cooking the pasta first — the key to consolidating dishes is to move your way to least to most dirty cooking processes. Boiling pasta is basically just like cleaning the pot, right?
So I cooked an entire box of lasagna noodles in salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil. An entire box is definitely more than is necessary, but when are you ever going to use half a box of lasagna? I’ll use the leftovers to make some sort of roll-ups to take to work later in the week. Maybe chicken-pesto-mixed-greens?
Once I drained the pasta and set it aside to cool, I was back to an empty pot. So I took these guys and sauteed them up in a few tablespoons of butter, olive oil, and a little salt (the liquid doesn’t evaporate as well in this deep a pot so I had to drain them before using them in the lasagna).
With those out of the picture, now I could make the bechamel sauce and dirty up the pot for real. Bechamel is a super simple cream sauce, that always starts with equal-ish parts flour and butter — in this case I started with about half a stick of butter and half a cup of flour.
Melt the butter, then add the flour and stir it around until it forms a paste. Now you can add the milk in slowly, and as you stir, the flour will thicken the sauce without it clumping. This is how I start my cheese sauce, and usually here I’ll toss in some fresh rosemary or sage, but this sauce has a really great garlic flavor and I didn’t want to obscure that, so instead I threw in three huge cloves of chopped garlic, about a teaspoon of grated fresh nutmeg, 1.5 teaspoons of salt, and a bunch of ground black pepper.
After this sauce thickened I started layering in the Pyrex — noodles, sauce, mushrooms, and grated parmesan cheese, ad infinitum until I ran out of the first ingredient (mushrooms).