Legume Week Day 2-Bowties with White Beans and Carrots

Hello, and welcome to day two of my semi-annual Week on the Cheap! This year the ingredient is Legumes!

The Rules:

  1. Each meal must come in at under $3 a serving
  2. Each meal must be bean based
  3. Each meal must be healthy (This one is easier with beans than it was with Ramen.)

Today’s adventure is Bowties with White Beans and Carrots at $0.60 a serving. This is a fast recipe because I had all of an hour to get home from class, cook, eat and get back to class. At the same time, it would be a great lunch for kids because the beans give it a nice buttery texture and the carrots give it a nice sweetness.

For Bowties with White Beans and Carrots:

  • 1/2 Box of Farfarelle (Bowtie) Pasta-$0.88
  • 1 Carrot, peeled and diced-$0.15
  • 1 Can White Beans, drained-$0.75
  • 1 tbs Olive Oil, and a pinch each of garlic powder and salt-$0.2

Look at all those ingredients

Total cost for 3 Servings-$1.80

Difficulty Level-Junior High Student

Time required-20 minutes

Start boiling water for pasta. Put the white beans in a pot with some salt, olive oil and garlic powder and heat over medium heat. In a microwave safe container, nuke the carrot bits for 5 minutes or until tender. Add the carrots to the beans and allow to cook until the pasta is finished.

Eat quickly and run to class.

Tune in tomorrow for Day 3-(Almost) Vegan Chili


Legume Week Day 1-Lentil Barley Soup

So as some of you are aware, I am a college student. Finals week has just passed. This means, for those of you who don’t remember, that I have spent the entire last week eating at pizza and burger joints. because studying had left me with neither the time nor the energy to cook. That means that this week, I am a poor college student! That’s right kiddies, it’s my Week on the Cheap. Last semester I did Ramen Week. This time, it’s Legume Week!

For those of you who don’t remember, I have 3 rules:

  1. Each meal must come in at under $3 a serving
  2. Each meal must be bean based
  3. Each meal must be healthy (This one is easier with beans than it was with Ramen.)

My first foray (my warm-up, if you will) was a delicious and hearty Lentil Barley Soup coming in at a whomping $0.75 a serving.

Cheap and Satisfying

For Lentil Barley Soup:

1 cup Lentil Beans-$0.60

1 cup Barley-$0.50

1 (large) can Spiced Crushed Tomatoes-$1.79

2 Carrots-$0.30

1 Small Onion-$0.35

3 Celery Stalks-$0.20

3 Sodium-Free Beef Boullion Packets-$0.75

Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder and Red Pepper Flakes-~$0.02

Get them

Total Cost for 6 Servings: $4.50

Difficulty Level-College Student

Time Required-60 minutes

In the heaviest pot you have, heat 2 tbs Olive Oil and as much of each of the spices as your little heart can bear over medium heat.

Now chop up those vegetables

Like so

By the time you finish chopping, those spices should be turning a nice golden brown. Throw them veggies in on top. While you are waiting for them to cook, boil some water for your barley.

This is a good time to read the barley package for cooking instructions

Go back to your veggies, are they soft yet? Awesome. Throw some canned tomatoes and about two cups of water all up in there.

Starting to look like some goddam soup

Let that come to a gentle simmer. Then add not one, not two but three whole beef boullion packets. and mix that shit in.

Oh the beefy goodness

Meanwhile, look: your water is boiling! Measure yourself a cup of barley, dump it in, cover it, turn it to low and go do something else for 20 minutes.

Back? Good.

Now measure yourself a cup of lentils and dump that in to the soup. Go ahead, don’t be shy, mix it in! Now go back to what you were doing for another 20 minutes.

Once you are drawn back by the tantalizing scents coming from your kitchen, throw the barley in the soup and suddenly:


Tune in tomorrow for Pasta with Canneloni Beans!

Roasted Red Peppers

Everyone has a list of things that they simply will not pay for. If roasted red peppers aren’t on your list then they should be. You can pay up to $10 for a bottle of them OR you can make them yourself for the cost of red peppers (~$1/lb around me). Your call.



For Roasted Red Peppers:

  • 2-6 Red Bell Peppers
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 3 tbs Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 450F. Place rinsed and dried peppers a hot, dry pan on high heat and cover. Turn every 5 minutes or so until peppers are evenly blackened (about 20 minutes). Place the peppers on an aluminum lined cookie sheet in the oven for one hour.

Do Laundry or some other productive thing (I watched Myth Busters).

Remove the peppers from the oven and place in a brown paper bag until they are cool enough to handle. This allows them to steam a little bit (yay residual heat). Once they have cooled, remove the skin by gently rolling the pepper between your hands and peeling it off (similar to a hard boiled egg).  Pull the pepper apart into strips and carefully remove any seeds. Put finished strips in a bowl with olive oil and garlic. Refrigerate until ready to eat. Will keep, refrigerated, indefinitely (I don’t actually know how long they keep because I usually eat them all right away).


Pasta Carbonara

I like to think of pasta carbonara as a kind of macaroni omelet.  Yes it is as delicious as it sounds.

It’s pasta AND eggs?
This recipe has been a family favorite for years.  My mother has perfected it to an art. However this was my first experience making it. 
To make it you will need some pig product (ham, prosciutto, speck, taylor, etc.), eggs, grated cheese and cooked spaghetti. Make sure that you cook the pasta in advance because the recipe really cannot progress past step one if you are waiting on the pasta.

The trick to this meal is how fast it has to be cooked. So you need to have everything ready when you start.

Begin by taking some eggs (half a dozen is enough for a pound of pasta, or, as I learned, four is not quite enough) and separating them.

Three balls of sunshine and one massive disappointment

Next take your ham product and cut or tear it into small strips.

Fry them. Fry them all!



The next few steps must happen in quick succession and require both hands so I have no pictures for them.


In rapid succession, while stirring and in this order add:

  1. Pasta
  2. Oil
  3. Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder
  4. Egg Whites
  5. Cheese
Let that cook while stirring constantly. Once the egg whites are fully cooked, add the yolks and mix in thoroughly. Once they are cooked, take the pan off the burner immediately.

Serve right away because this will tend to congeal after a few minutes.

Well worth the effort.

Midnight Snack

Between getting home and going out, I had almost no time to cook today.  So I took the moment when the rest of the house was silent and made myself a quick midnight snack: Bananas and Peanut Butter.

You will need a banana and some peanut butter

Apparently I am incapable of spelling banana right the first time

Cut up the banana and place it on a plate with a sizable dollop of peanut butter. Eat with fingers (and a handy napkin).

This one required meticulous planning

Baked Ziti

Today we will be making the pizza party classic: Baked Ziti
This recipe is as Italian as apple pie. But its delicious so, there’s that.
For this recipe, you will need: a large can of tomato puree, a bag of shredded mozzarella, a medium sized container of ricotta, a box of ziti and a pound of ground beef. 

Put a pot on for the ziti (ie boil water). I’ll wait until your finished.



Now it’s time to make the sauce. I have discovered that the trick to decent marinara sauce is to put a can of puree into a pot, add salt, pepper, basil, garlic and onion powder and just let it simmer for a while. Don’t touch it, no matter how hard that seems.

Pictured: Sauce cooking without being harassed.

While you are pretending that you don’t want to play with the sauce, you can distract yourself by cooking the beef. Because of the high fat content of the level of ground beef I use (read: cheap) there was enough fat just in there that I didn’t even need to use oil or butter.

Kinda gross when you think about it

Cook it until it looks done.

Brown and yummy

Add the meat to the sauce and mix it in.  I did everything in my power to avoid getting the fat that got cooked out into the sauce, however it will be more flavorful if you don’t

Dump in the container of ricotta and mix it in thoroughly

It should be the color of baby food when you’re done

 Go ahead and let that simmer until the pasta is cooked. When you are ready to add it, take a glass pan (or if you are smart and don’t care about the environment, a tin foil pan that can be thrown out when you are done) and coat the bottom with sauce and then dump your pasta on top.

Pour the rest of your sauce over the remaining pasta and mix in so that all of the pasta is coated in cheesy, meaty goodness.

Above: Cheesy meaty goodness

Cover with a thick coating of shredded mozzarella and bake on 450 until the cheese is browned

Serve piping hot.

Moar Hot Pockets

Here is a slightly different take on the classy hot pockets that I made the other day.

I am going to make two variations on a kind of meat pie, the easy one and the slightly more easy one.

For the easy version, you will need an onion and some beef. For the easier version, you will need pre-cooked chicken tenders and a tomato.  For both recipes you will need a container of Pillsbury crescent roll dough (or a knock-off thereof).

First thing’s first, preheat your oven to whatever it says on the dough container.

America’s Choice Chicken Tenders: Just heat up!

Prep your veggies and your cutting board

Chop away.

I have yet to find an anti-crying onion trick that actually works for me. 
Put the tomato into a bowl with some chicken tenders and season well with salt, pepper and garlic and some oil. Set that aside. If you are only doing the very easy ones, skip ahead a bit. If you are trying to gain XP and up your cooking skillz, put the onion in a pan with some oil, and turn that sucker up to medium heat.  

Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.  While you are doing all of that, you can cut your meat into edible chunks.

Note the separate cutting board

Once the onions are cooked:

They are cooked!

Throw in your meat.

Steak and onions!

And saute it until the meat is cooked through. There is no picture because I have faith in your ability to tell raw meat from cooked.

Once you have your two fillings ready, lay out your crecent dough and rip it into fourths. Since the dough comes pre-torn into eighths, you may need to squish it together at the seams a little bit. Place a pile of filling on one half of the dough,  and fold it over into a pocket.

As a note, this is the chicken and tomato filling.  If your beef looks like that,  it is probably not cooked and I revoke my previous statement.

 Follow the baking instructions on the dough container.

Meat biscuits!

 Et voila! you have easy and delicious meat pies!

Steak on the left and chicken on the right.