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Another NSD & a change in my menu with ideas needed

January 9th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I got off work at 1 and came straight home. I haven't spent a penny today! I didn't buy any coffee or tea at work, no food, nada! Unless I have to go out for some reason I should be at home the rest of the day, not spending money. Smile

I took a breakfast sandwich and ate it when I got a couple minutes. I sure am glad I took it, too, because I got very hungry and would have bought something if I hadn't had that sandwich.

So now I'm at home. The other package of boneless ribs the boss and I bought is thawing. She's requested some cooked in a way other than how we had them for New Years so I'll do something with them this evening. I'd like to use the slow cooker and am considering marinating them in Dale's then sprinkling them with garlic powder and pan frying them a bit before putting them in the slow cooker for the night.

I'm open to other ideas on how to prepare them but whatever I do it needs to be done tonight as I have to be at work at 7:30 in the morning.

2 NSDs, cooking for one, odds & ends

January 8th, 2012 at 09:42 am

Wednesday was a no spend day and yesterday was another. Awesome! I can't recall the last time I managed that but hope I have many more in the future. Smile

Today was destined to not be one because of the laundry. I went to the washateria this morning but it was closed. I needed to burn about 20 minutes until it opened so I drove to Albertson's and am glad I did. They had boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.79 lb so I got 2 packages of those. They also had boneless sirloin steak for $2.99 a lb so I got a few of those. When I got home I divided it all into one serving portions, used the vacuum sealer, and now have plenty of meat in the freezer again. I hadn't planned on spending that $20 but my supply of meat was getting very low and I don't pass up a good deal on meat, especially when I'm so low on it.

When I got home I put the clothes away (by the way, I spent $2.50 on the laundry) and ended up getting sidetracked by canvas bags. Yes, canvas bags. I had several in the closet and they all had stuff in them and for some reason it was bothering me to not know what all was in them so I cleaned them all out, threw away the old trash, gum wrappers and whatnot, put away other items, etc. and now I have them all hanging together on one hanger. In the process of going through them I found my iPod headphones I thought I'd lost, several small bottles of bath/shower gel, and 15 cents. It was almost like Christmas! Wink

I spent some time yesterday looking at "cooking for one" sites and am dismayed how few helpful ones there are. I found a lot of sites saying that's their purpose but they don't give a lot of practical information or actual recipes. Contrary to what one would think, it isn't always as easy as cutting a recipe in half or thirds or whatever. Yes, it often works that way but not every time. I did find a few sites with helpful information and recipes, though, and will spend time today pillaging and plundering.

Tonight's dinner will be the turkey ham and cabbage from my menu but I'm going to change it a little. I have about 3 ounces of chicken broth languishing in the fridge so I'm going to use that with a bit of butter and olive oil to fry the cabbage, onion, sweet potato, and turkey ham all together. I might pass on the green beans but am not sure about that yet.

I work tomorrow but it's a fairly short shift and I don't get a meal break so I shouldn't need to take lunch or buy anything there. I might even be able to make it a NSD!

Menu for January 8th - 14th & a new goal

January 7th, 2012 at 07:16 am

I know that menu planning helps me stay within my food budget and eat better so I'm returning to that and am going to work hard to take it seriously. It might seem silly for a household of 1 but it is what it is and I need to take whatever actions necessary to keep the food budget under control and still eat nutritious meals.

Since my very recent epiphany that I love to cook but don't necessarily love to eat after I've cooked, I've decided to concentrate on cooking very small amounts of food and not preparing a new dish unless I have no leftovers or the ones I have are planned for in another meal. Over the last year or so my skill (to me it really IS a skill to cook for one and not a horde or even just two if that's what one is accustomed to) in those has improved but as evidenced by the containers in my fridge I'm not yet proficient and improving that area of my kitchen life has become a goal for 2012.

Breakfast today was the last of the mexican stew (I think I hear a choir of angels singing in the background!) and I get the feeling fried cabbage and onions might be in my future for this evening!

The rest of the week I'll have, in no particular order:

Stir fried chicken and vegetables with a small amount of brown rice (had this tonight)

Pan fried tilapia with 1/2 a baked sweet potato and salad

Large salad with chicken, tomato and plenty of cheese

Pan fried sliced turkey ham with baked cabbage, 1/2 a baked sweet potato, and green beans (had this)

Vegetable soup with homemade noodles

Tuna patties with salad and spinach

Whatever leftovers are in the fridge (had this)

Now, I think it's okay to change the plan a little. You know, I'm not in the mood for spinach so I have green beans with my tuna or I'm not in the mood for tuna so I have boiled eggs but I've decided it's not okay for me to decide I don't want tuna and prepare a five course meal including cornish game hen and scallops. Wink There's nothing wrong with a meal like that but I need to plan for it. I think that's a fairly reasonable request - does it seem so to you???

Saturday evening edit - I decided to have the stir fried chicken and vegetables tonight and succeeded in preparing just enough for one meal. I did make a little bit extra brown rice but it will get eaten tomorrow morning.

I paid close attention to how much of each ingredient I used to ensure I wasn't preparing too much and it worked well. I used one boneless skinless chicken breast, 1/3 of a yellow squash, 1/3 of a zucchini, a very small amount of chopped onion and chopped red bell pepper and a few baby carrots. That seemed to be the right amount of those ingredients for one good sized meal. I'll have to remember that because it seems to me that slightly smaller quantities with liquid and spices would be right for soup.

WANTED: Your favorite quick homemade meals

January 4th, 2012 at 08:51 pm

One of the budget busters for me is food. Not necessarily my daily food but eating out and 'convenience' foods bought because I'm tired, hungry and my cranky pants are just too darn tight. I have the eating out issue under control for the most part but still need ideas for quick homemade meals.

It would be great if they were also healthy but even if they're not I can probably play with the ingredients enough to make it healthy.

One of my favorites is what I had this afternoon before I headed to work: pan fried tilapia with mukimame. It takes less than 15 minutes to make and is so much tastier than a hamburger, not to mention a lot healthier, too!

So, what are some of your favorite quick homemade meals?

Orange Jello Salad gives me such a happy :)

January 4th, 2012 at 06:26 pm

I mentioned finding sugar free, splenda sweetened mandarin oranges today and being excited because it meant I could have one of my favorite desserts again. CCraw asked for the recipe for that dessert and here it is.

Orange Jello Salad

1 can mandarin oranges
1 sm. can crushed pineapples
1 lg. pkg. Orange Jello
2 lb. cottage cheese
1 container Cool Whip

Drain together mandarin oranges and pineapple. In large bowl, sprinkle Jello over cottage cheese. Let dissolve. Mix, then add fruit, mix again. Add container of Cool Whip. Mix.

I always preferred it without the pineapple and whipped cream, though, so today I just used about a third of a small package of sugar free orange jello (dry), somewhere around a cup and a half of cottage cheese, and about half the can of sugar free mandarin oranges. I don't use particular quantities - I just add and mix until it tastes right. Smile

I took some to work with me and had it on my break and I can't even tell you the happy it gave me!

January budget, using leftovers, & more boring stuff ;)

January 3rd, 2012 at 07:52 am

I need to pay rent and water today but other than that, there shouldn't be any spending. I hope! I need a lot of NSDs as January's budget is slim, indeed. My car and life insurances are up for renewal this month so I have a lot money going out and not much coming in!

I'm going to cut my grocery budget to $100 for this month. Considering that I can't eat enough of the high carb, low cost foods like rice, beans, and pasta to do much good it's definitely going to be a challenge. My diet is mainly meats and low carb vegetables with a tiny amount of the higher carb things thrown in once in awhile for variety. I'm going to have to make better use of the foods I already have on hand and really limit my trips to the grocery/food spending. I know I can do this but I might need a cheering section. Smile

In light of the above, I have a mexican stew simmering on the stove and will take that to work with me. My boss will most likely eat some as will some of the other folks hanging around. I've had a few people online and at work express the opinion that it's odd to take food for all to work but it isn't odd to me. I still struggle with cooking small quantities, leftovers seem to languish into oblivion in my fridge, and I'm not real big on food that's been cooked, frozen, and reheated so in addition to making very small quantities of food, I make larger quantities and share it. I call it Random Acts of Food Kindness, or RAOFK for short. Wink Some of the young people where I work don't have money, don't have much food, and absolutely love to dig in to whatever I bring. And I love cooking for others so it's a win win situation. It might look like I'm spending money on food for other people (which doesn't help my budget) but this stew is made entirely of leftovers and if I hadn't created it I'd have thrown it all out!



Not bad, huh?

Day 17 of not smoking, homemade noodles & more

January 2nd, 2012 at 03:06 pm

So today is my 17th day of not smoking. 144 pennies in the jar, each penny representing $1 not spent on cigarettes since December 16th, the day I quit. Pretty impressive, I think! I've had very few cravings for a cigarette and although I've had some rough moments it's been much easier than I anticipated. I'm not sure why that is but it is. I'm happy about it, though!



I think I might be sick with a bug so I've been resting on the couch all afternoon. I know I have to eat something, though, so I have 4 chicken thighs boiling and will use the meat for chicken and noodles, complete with homemade noodles. I have just a few store bought noodles so I made a tiny batch of homemade herb noodles to add to them. I really don't eat noodles often at all but gosh, I love them, and the homemade kind is the best!

Noodles aren't hard to make and they're absolutely delicious! I generally put some kind of fresh herb in them but cheese is fantastic, too. Try this, play with it, and make it your own.

Homemade Noodles

1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp milk
1 cup flour (I generally use a combination of soy and whole wheat flours)

Mix egg, salt and milk. Add enough flour to make stiff dough. Roll thin, let stand 20 minutes. Roll up and slice 1/8 inch thick. Spread to dry for about 2 hours. Drop in boiling broth and cook 10 minutes.

And that's it! Nothing to it, really, and they're so much tastier than the kind you buy. If you try this recipe, let me know how it works for you.

Tomorrow I pay rent and the water bill but that should be it for the day's spending. I have a special work project Wednesday and it involves spending money so that won't be a no spend day. Darn it! Perhaps Thursday! It seems as though finding those no spend days just gets harder and harder.

Using up the odds and ends

December 14th, 2011 at 08:27 am

I have a cornish hen thawing and will prepare that later today. Some will go to work with me tonight and the rest will be eaten later this week.



I also had an opened tiny bottle of white wine and some chicken stock leftover from when I made the saucy chicken a few days ago. In the fridge I found some woody asparagus stalks (I save those for soups and purees) and onion that needed to be used so I tossed the wine, broth, garlic and a bit of Glory beef base in a pan and let it boil then simmer and cook down a bit. I added the languishing vegetables and threw in some mushroom, green pepper, carrots, and mukimame. It's now simmering on the stove and smells absolutely great. I love soup on a cold day and since I work a long shift tonight and will be at Mom's tomorrow, having this soup ready will keep me out of drive thrus and/or eating turkey bacon and eggs again for dinner! It also uses up a few things that would have ended up being thrown out soon.

Menu plan for December 11th - December 17th

December 12th, 2011 at 04:49 am

Hopefully putting my menu plan here will help me remember to follow it! It worked before and surely it can work again.

I don't break the meals down by day since I know I might not want this dish or that one on any given day. I just have a rough idea of what's in the fridge and I prepare what sounds good to me at that time and if there are leftovers and I work the next day, they go with me.

Last night I had the Saucy Chicken with asparagus. The leftovers will go to work with me today. I also have packed a low carb breakfast sandwich just in case I get hungry around 10 AM, low carb pudding and an avocado, half a lime and some homemade pico de gallo. On one break I'll have the pudding and on the other, I'll mash the avocado and mix it with the lime and pico. Voila, guacamole on the fly. I don't need chips with it - a spoon will do. Smile

Thursday I'll be at Mom's house most of the day and will probably have eggs and turkey bacon for dinner.

The rest of the week I'll have:

Broiled portobello mushroom, bacon, and cheese "burger" with 1/2 a small sweet potato or a green vegetable of some kind

Asparagus and bacon roll ups with a salad

Alice Springs Chicken - http://www.genaw.com/lowcarb/alice_springs_chicken.html, green beans, and salad

Leftover Alice Springs Chicken and mukimame salad

Southwestern Chicken and Corn chowder - http://www.bitchincamero.com/2011/04/southwestern-chicken-corn-chowder/ with adaptations made so that it's lower in carbs

And that's it for this week's menu. Hopefully this will help me stay on track with the budget and encourage me to eat the healthy food I need and not junk.

Holy cow, this is delicious! And pretty cheap ;)

December 11th, 2011 at 01:57 pm

I asked a group of online folks today for ideas on how to use 4 chicken thighs. I got some helpful responses and saved them for the next time I wonder what to do with chicken. I opted for trying the suggestion of a particular person because it used a novel, to me anyway, technique.

Well, that novelty didn't work out too well but I punted and the result is absolutely delicious! My plating and photography skills are sorely lacking but trust me, if you haven't tried something like this with chicken, you should.

Here's the recipe just as he shared it with me and my changes are below it.

Preheat your oven to 400 deg.

Season the the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Rub a few drops of lemon juice into them. Next, take a frying pan, with a lid. Cut your wax paper into a circle just bigger than the pan. Butter one side of the paper. Next put 3-4 tbs butter in your pan, heat it over med-high heat until it just stops foaming. Place chicken, skin-side down, into butter. Place wax paper on top of pan, butter-side down, and place lid on top. (paper should not be touching chicken)

Place in oven. Cook for 6 minutes. Test chicken with fingers. If the flesh is springy, and an indention made with the finger pops immediately back out, it is done, otherwise, put it back for a couple more minutes.

Remove chicken to a plate.

Add one 1/4th cup chicken or vegetable stock, and 1/4th cup wine to pan. Place over high heat, stirring until it reduces to nearly the consistency of syrup. Add 1 cup of heavy cream, and a few drops of lemon juice. Simmer to desired thickness. Remove from heat and stir in 1-2 tsp of parsely. Serve on top of chicken.

I'm not a fan of lemon so I used fresh lime juice on the chicken. I also chopped up about 1/3 of a portobello mushroom and cooked it with the chicken then removed it when it was done. I rocked along until I couldn't get the wax paper to cooperate. It curled and fell into the pan. Repeatedly. I finally gave up and found a very flat lid that would fit the pan and just buttered the under side of it. Then I realized my oven wasn't heating properly so I continued with the chicken cooking on the stove top. At the end, I added the cooked mushrooms to the sauce.

Really, this chicken is absolutely scrumptious. I ate it with fresh asparagus sauteed in butter and there's enough of both for my lunch tomorrow so I won't be tempted to buy lunch.

Cha ching!

Brrr! Bad weather coming - what's your favorite cold weather food?

January 3rd, 2010 at 08:37 pm

Some bad (for this area) weather is being predicted for later this week. Apparently we're going to have lows between 15 and 20 for a couple of days and the chance of light snow Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Brrr! I don't like that at all, especially when I'm trying to keep the thermostat set at 70! If I could just get the man person to wear his thermals we might be able to save a little on heating.

Weather like what is coming means comfort food is necessary so tonight when I made our menu for the week to post on my cooking blog I figured in some things like stuffed mushrooms and baked cabbage. Both are things that are so very good when the weather is very cold. And they're easy and not expensive at all.

What's your favorite cold weather food and do you have a recipe for it? I'm looking for some new things to try and it would be great if y'all would share with me!