• Personally speaking….

    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
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Day 7 of the menu plan: Spaghetti Pie

Today was the last day in the week of menu plans. As planned, I made Creamy Spaghetti Pie. I used to make spaghetti pie a bit when I was on Weight Watchers. I thought I’d try again with a meatless version.

Creamy Spaghetti Pie

It didn’t go very well, but tasted alright. I used low-fat cottage cheese instead of ricotta. That was fine. But it was all very runny. And it didn’t fit into my pie pan at all. Not sure what happened to cause all the excess water. I’m sure the leftovers are going to be amazing though.

Instead of serving it with the planned green beans, I served it with a salad so that I could try out a dressing.

Doing a menu plan for the week is nice but I need to focus on it more and read the recipes better. Maybe then I won’t end up cooking till late at night for that evening’s meal. This week is going to be a whirlwind anyway. This weekend is the conference where I present a 40-minute session on marketing to the younger generation. There’s also library board meeting, class, Toastmasters meeting, class team meeting, and more.

Then it calms down a little but not as much as it’ll calm down in December! (Right around the corner. See it? Hi! There it is.)

Exploration about town: Grey Goose Restaurant

I had a dinner meeting. Being a vegetarian before is no different now that I’m back on the wagon: I worry about dinner meetings! I abhor bell pepper. For some reason, most everything I get that is the result of checking the vegetarian box on an RSVP has bell pepper. Why! Why, oh bell pepper, must you vex me so?

Last night was no different. At least, though, I could remove it easily. I believe I amused those at my table.

Vegetarian entree
Grilled Vegetable Napoleon with Roasted Tomato Compote

The dinner was at The Grey Goose Restaurant which was a lovely place. (Gotta love a restaurant with a great website!) The food was delicious, though I didn’t like the pie as much as I thought I would so 3/4 of that was left behind. Oh, and, of course, the surgically removed roasted bell pepper was left with no apologies.

Grilled Vegetable Napoleon with Roasted Tomato Compote had zucchini, yellow squash, portabella mushroom, roasted red pepper, mashed potato, and roasted tomato sauce. The brown drizzle was… balsamic reduction/glaze? Rosemary sprig for garnish. It was hard to pick apart all the flavors. And I’m already feeling a lack of confidence in identifying flavors because I failed so miserably at the lunch on Monday!

Is it a Napoleon cause it is layered? Neat idea filed away into the inspiration box.

Chocolate fudge pie
Chocolate Fudge Pie

Menu Plan Monday

I’ve seen some others doing a menu plan on Monday and thought I’d give it a whirl. This week is pretty busy so there are a few nights off. For more menus, head over to Meal Plan Monday. I have classes on Monday and Wednesday at 6:30.

Monday: Sweet Potato and Kidney Bean Burrito (Froze 99% of them when I cooked them. Not sure how they’ll do from the freezer but we’ll see!)
Tuesday: Out to eat
Wednesday: Taco Soup but leaving out the meat, Bread
Thursday: Lasagna Spirals, Salad, Bread
Friday: C.O.R.N. (Clean Out Refrigerator Night)
Saturday: Out to eat
Sunday: Spaghetti Pie, Green Beans

Eggplant Experiment continues: Stirfry

I tried again to recreate the a side dish I ate a few months ago. I remember the cook saying she nuked it for 20 minutes to get the water out and then some time in the pan. 20 minutes seemed a long time.

I took an eggplant, sliced it into 1/3″ slices, salted, and put in a colander. This process I found in random googling. The salting process is supposed to get the water out. After 45 minutes, I rinsed the slices off and squeezed them as dry as I could. I even put them on a towel to help dry them more. I then chopped it up and added it to a pan that already had onion (1/2 chopped red), garlic (2 cloves) and olive oil (1 Tablespoon) going. I also added some pepper. I sauteed it a bit then covered it over low and cooked for about 10 minutes. I took the lid off and continued for a few minutes more till it was tender.

I served it with warmed pita bread, store-bought hummus, and leftover spaghetti.

Eggplant and spaghetti

I don’t know. It just wasn’t it and I’m not sure how to get it. Maybe she didn’t use onion and garlic? Or maybe the colander trick doesn’t work like I thought? Not sure. It was OK, but I will definitely experiment again.

For the plate: Red

How can I plan a meal for presentation? I don’t see me making little radish roses but I could see nestling in a grape tomato for a splash of red. I’ll list what I’ve found even if I don’t eat it. Tastes change, etc.

Red

photo by mollyali
Beet
Can be eaten raw, but are more typically cooked or pickled. [more…]
photo by cursedthing
Blood orange
Raw. Less acidic in flavor than regular oranges. [more…]
photo by bonnieshulman
Cherry
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by mjlaflaca
Cranberry
Cook or it’s too tart. [more…]

Guava
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by fabiocosta
Papaya
Raw. [more…]
photo by niznoz
Pomegranate
Raw. [more…]
photo by calliope
Pink grapefruit
Raw. [more…]
photo by jenmaiser
Radish
Raw or cooked. Hot peppery flavor. [more…]
photo by marko k
Raspberry
Raw or cooked. Sweet, slightly tart.[more…]
photo by funadium
Red apple
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by docman
Red bell pepper
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by chubbybat
Red chili pepper
Mild to hot. [more…]
photo by princess of llyr
Red currant
Cook or it’s too tart. [more…]
photo by farlane
Red grape
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by ethomsen
Red onion
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by fortinbras
Red potato
Cooked. [more…]
photo by pipstar
Rhubarb
Cooked. [more…]
photo by anushruti
Strawberry
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by svenwerk
Tomato
Raw or cooked. [more…]
Photo by darwinbell
Watermelon
Raw. [more…]

Images are from Flickr Creative Commons-licensed content. Clicking on each image will take you to the photographer’s album.

Saving by menu planning


Image: Daniel Y. Go

I tried The Grocery Game for a $1 trial. Pretty neat idea. If I actually visited the site and did what she said to do, I can definitely see how I’d save in the long run. But I tend to shop at one store, with maybe a quick stop at a couple on the way home if they have a really good deal on meat or produce.

I have a subscription to E-mealz but haven’t really been keeping up with that either. The Walmart menu has prices on it and they say they make up menus based on sales. I get a generic points one.

Finding the circulars online
I usually visit the stores’ sites directly. Also, there’s: Sunday Saver. Unfortunately, some stores don’t list grocery sales in their online ads. For example, Walmart.

Update the price sheet
I have a price sheet in Google docs’ spreadsheet. I input prices that look low to me and keep them categorically.

Date Store Category Item Total weight Units Price Price per Weight unit Price a pound Notes
4/22/2008 Food Lion Meat Chicken breast, frozen 2.5 pound 6.99 2.80 pound

I also have a notes column and an extra column for pound. Like when cans of green beans are on sale, they are X per ounce. I then take the X and multiply it by 16 so I can see price per pound. I do this on frozen meals and canned vegetables mostly.

Before I started this, I thought that those big bags of flash frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts were always a better deal. Nope. Especially now that I’ve learned how to freeze stuff better.

Highlight the good deals
If there’s a great meat deal based on the previous prices, then I stock up a bit. Not too much since I am cooking for one or two max. If there’s a great produce deal, I use that as inspiration.

Farmers’ Markets
I had previous plans Saturday so missed out on the local market but hopefully I can hit it up next weekend. I bought less veggies this last grocery shopping trip because I knew we’ve got lots of local seasonal produce to purchase and use!

Coupons
This is a major weakness of mine that I hope to improve upon. I clip coupons from the paper when I get it, file them and forget them. I haven’t utilized the plethora of online coupon sites but should. It’s a really kick in the pants when I get home to find that there was a $1 (or more!) coupon for something I just bought. Here’s some great tips on coupons (that I hope to do m’self!): So where can you find the coupons?

Thursday

I am stressed. Like so stressed that my shoulders have been in pain since this morning. You’ve been there, I know. I won’t list the laundry list of things that got me here. Though, I guess, it boils down to just one thing—me. I got myself here. I agreed to do this, that and the other thing. Y’know? Right. Ok. Must just concentrate on one thing at a time.

Toastmasters tonight at 6:45 p.m. so dinner had to be quick but I—of course—didn’t plan ahead for it. I got into a fight going there so that just helped end a great day. Toastmasters went really well though. I filled in for the secretary and was also in charge of turning people into animals. Found out someone in the group is on WordPress! I ❤ you, WordPress. It’s nice to see others share in the love without my needing to sing your praises.

Waiting till late afternoon to start water is silly. But when I switch from caffeinated beverages to water, I miss the jolt of caffeine. I switched at lunch today but I got more tired than usual by the 3:00 bump.

I took pictures but the USB reader is throwing a tantrum again. I really gotta buy a better one.

Weekly goal status: 1/5 breakfasts and 0/1 lunches brought in from home.

Breakfast (8:45 a.m.)
Hot link, one: 7~
Potatoes, wedges, 1/2 cup: 3~
Diet Dr. Pepper, 24 oz: 0

Lunch (12:15 p.m.)
Another $6 salad. Sigh.

Black olives, romaine lettuce, spinach, corn, rice wine vinegar, tomato, cucumber: 1
Cottage cheese, orange slices, ~5 dried cranberries: 4.5
Water, 24 oz: 0

Snack
Kitkat: 10
Water, 24 oz: 0

Dinner
Cheerios, 2 cups: 3.5
Milk, 1%, 1 cup: 2
Pepsi, Diet, 1 restaurant glass: 0

On the way home, I stopped off at the grocery store and impulsed. I bought on the perimeter of the store. Not sure what I’ll do with it all but since I keep not planning, it’s time to just throw stuff together!

The haul:

  • Cottage cheese, fat-free
  • Light cheese sticks
  • Organic strawberries
  • Organic apples
  • Eggplant
  • Light Laughing Cow cheese
  • Organic Greek Yogurt, fat-free
  • Jello cups, sugar-free
  • I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray
  • Diet Dew cans — yes, this was on the perimeter too!

I have a group meeting tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. so won’t have a lot of time to play in the kitchen. Maybe I’ll just toss together some leftovers before the marathon session.

Somebody saaaaave me (oh and a couple of dinners)

I think I mentioned my crazy course load this semester. Well, I knew it would be time consuming so planned for it. This means very little time for anything else, unfortunately. That means I missed hitting some local markets, planning meals based on sales and sleep. Ok, I did sleep a little.
Taco soup
Dinner: Taco Soup

  • I love this recipe. I’ve been doing it for a few years now with some experimentation with ingredients here and there. All this is cooked for about as long as I want to wait. I guess it takes about 20 minutes to heat everything over medium.
    • 1ish pound of meat (or not). If ground something, it’s browned with the onion and garlic. If it’s leftover something, then I brown the onion first so that I don’t overcook the leftover something. If I’m vegetarian, then I up the bean count by one can.
    • Garlic and onion. I prefer chopped red onion. I add about 2-4 teaspoons of minced garlic. If I’m cooking without meat, then I brown them together in some heated olive oil.
    • 1-2 cans (rinsed and drained) pinto/black/kidney beans. My favorite combination is two beans. I like the difference in look. I believe this time I had one can of pinto and another of kidney.
    • corn for color. I guess I put in about 1-2 cups. If frozen, then I just have to keep that in mind when cooking. Just cook it a little longer. If canned, drained.
    • Rotel diced tomatoes with chile. Usually run about 2 cans of this. I add it with all its juice. It can get a little spicy but I like spicy. I’ve tried with other diced tomatoes with chile and keep coming back to Rotel.
    • Taco seasoning. I use a packet of low-sodium. I used to have my own taco seasoning mix mixed up but need to get a new jar of it going.
    • Ranch seasoning packet. I only use half of a packet because it’s so salty and stuff. I don’t think it needs a full packet and can save the rest for the next soup.

    With this, I had some homemade tortilla chips. I quartered some corn tortillas and placed them on a baking sheet. I sprayed them with Pam and put them in a 350 oven for about 13 minutes. They got too brown though so maybe 350 for 9 minutes?

Sticky chicken
Dinner: “Sticky” dump chicken, rice and squash

  • Sticky dump chicken: I love the idea of dump chicken but this combination was not good to me. Way too gloppy and the smell as it was cooking was unpleasant. I love peanut butter but this wasn’t what I thought it would be.
  • Brown rice: I used instant brown rice in the bag. I thought I’d have sauce from the dump chicken but didn’t 😦 So I added pepper to it and a pat of butter to moisten it.
  • Squash and onion sauté: Again with the random makeups. I had a half bag of frozen squash in the freezer and wanted it. Over medium, I heated extra-virgin olive oil, added leftover chopped up red onion (probably about half an onion), and stirred it around till the onion started to soften. I then added the frozen squash and covered it for about 10 minutes or more. I took the lid off and added pepper and a little salt. With the lid off, the squash lost a little of the squishy look but not too much.
  • Note: Obviously, the chicken isn’t happening again. But overall, the look was bleh. I was hoping for more punch. Ah well.

DSCN2600 I can really tell when I have natural light in the photos. I held the bowl of soup up against my dining room window to shoot. The plate of squash and chicken was photographed on my dining table without outside light. I’ve included a shot of the squash cooking (at right) where there’s some window light coming in.

Fish, paprika potatoes, garlic green beans and orange slices

Fish, potatoes, green beans and orange slices

Dinner: May 19, 2008

  • Frozen potato flake crusted fish

    School started today so I need to do quick. And I still haven’t planned ahead well, yet. At least I didn’t have cereal 😉 This baked for about 20ish minutes. It was ok. A little greasier than I wanted since it was baked. I would rather have had spiced baked fish. Must add it to my shopping list!

  • Garlic green beans

    Still have a few cans left of green beans on sale. I love canned green beans. Another item I prefer canned is spinach unless it’s raw. These canned beans were cheaper per pound than fresh or frozen. I really stocked up. I had some garlic that wanted to be used (aka: getting old) so thinly sliced a few heads. After heating extra-virgin olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-ish, I added the garlic and lightly browned it. Then I added the drained can of green beans, some pepper and tossed it around till the green beans were hot. Tasted much better than plain ol’ nuked green beans but I should have used less olive oil. I didn’t use much but guess less next time. I probably used maybe 1 tablespoon.

  • Paprika potatoes

    Had a can of sliced potatoes. Drained. Melted a pat of butter in a skillet. Added potatoes. Sprinkled paprika on it with a heavy hand. Warmed it up. Nom! See a pattern here? Canned stuff. Frozen stuff. Yes, but it tasted good.

  • Orange slices

    My addition of fruit. I bought a couple of navel oranges this past weekend to make a spinach-orange salad. Since I had no fruit today — tsk tsk — I decided to add the orange to my meal. Since I was going to take a photo, I split it into sections. It was good. It seems I forgot how to peel an orange. 🙂 Practice I should!

Lasagna, Salad, Bread, Herb Dipping NomNom

Lasagna! Nom! For mother’s day, I made lasagna. I was given the choice to cook whatever so I started making the spaghetti sauce and then asked which is preferred. Neither. So, I took some sauce and froze it and made lasagna with the rest! Best of both worlds.

Also, I cut up some of the lasagna and froze it. I can’t wait to pull it out at a later date! I have no idea how to cook it but I’ll figure it out. 🙂 Sorry so late in posting my dinner but I got distracted.

Summer school is starting!

Dinner: May 11, 2008

  • Jo Mama’s World Famous Lasagna
    I don’t use many noodles… maybe 6. I’ve tried this a few ways and found that the wine wasn’t a deal breaker for me. It seemed such a waste to use just a little bit of a bottle and the bottle sit around unfinished forever. I also use more garlic… probably around double what’s called for. When I want it spicy, I use two pounds of Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage. When I want a little kick, I just use one and the rest can be homemade turkey sausage or mild. I’ve made this with just one pound of homemade turkey sausage and it was good. I went for the full hot kick for mother’s day.
  • Warmed loaf of bread
    I looked all over for a frozen loaf of bread that I would thaw and cook but couldn’t find one. I grabbed a fresh baked loaf from the deli. Near the end of the lasagna baking, I put the foil-wrapped loaf in the oven to warm up. Better than nothing!
  • Carrabba’s Bread Dipping Spice
    I love this stuff! I use barely any olive oil so it’s basically me dipping the bread into an herb mixture. 😉 Mom preferred butter. Fine with me! More herbs for me. I have found that fresh parsley is much better in this than dried. The rest of the herbs I use are dried. I just stir it some finely diced parsley in with the rest of the herbs. I don’t pulse it or anything. I also use more garlic than called for… of course. I’ve noticed how much the olive oil matters. I couldn’t find the kind I used before so went for a light one. Not the same. I think the one before was in a dark bottle and labeled for dipping.
  • Salad
    Bag o’ salad greens, cucumbers (had to peel cause she had the non-English one), roma tomato, etc. Balsamic dressing.