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:

deliciousness

Tune in tomorrow for Pasta with Canneloni Beans!

Baked Chicken with Pesto (and Bacon!) and some news

 I have some very exciting news for those of you who have been silently bemoaning how completely shitty my photography is. I (finally) got a Cannon DSLR! So now I can take pictures like this:

Honestly, I fell in love with this picture and didn't have any where else to put it.

Anyway…for the past few months, I have been searching high and low for the perfect pesto recipe. Last night, I found it. If you haven’t made Ina Garten’s (aka The Barefoot Contessa) Pesto, you need to. It is a religious experience. Words simply can not describe.

All you do, is take some basil, salt and pepper, nuts, cheese and garlic

 

And process them for a few mintes in ye-olde food processor.

After I made this wonderous dish, I thought to myself: “Self,” I thought, “you should throw some of that deliciousness down on some chicken.”

So I did

 And then I remembered something that everyone on the internet knows. Bacon is awesome, so I wrapped it all up in bacon and threw it in the oven.

And behold what I have wrought

Chicken with Pesto and Bacon:

  • 1 1/2 cups Basil, packed
  • 1tbs Walnuts
  • 1tbs Pine Nuts
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Grated Parmesean Cheese
  • 1 pinch each Salt and Pepper
  • 3 Chicken Breasts, halved
  • 1lb Bacon

For the Pesto:

Combine nuts in the food processor and process for 15 seconds. Add Garlic, Basil and Salt and Pepper. While processing, slowly add the Olive Oil and blend until the basil pieces get as small as they are going to. Add the Cheese and blend until combined. Makes 1 Cup.

For the Chicken:

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spread about 1tbs of Pesto over each piece of Chicken. Wrap in two to three strips of Bacon, and bake until bacon is browned and chicken is cooked (~45 minutes).

The Rest of Ramen Week:

Haha! I finally have time to write up the rest of my Ramen Week experiments.

For those of you who missed my last two posts, here are the rules for the week:

  1. Every day for one week, I must have at least one ramen based meal. 
  2. I refuse to use flavor packs 
  3. The meal must be healthy
  4. It must cost under $5.00 per serving
For the latter four meals of the week, I made 
  1. Ramen and Cheese
  2. Ramen Crusted Chicken
  3. Ramen Taco Salad
  4. Ramen with Beer Steamed Mussels
For the Ramen and Cheese:
Sadly, I was unable to get a picture of the beauty that was the gorgeous cheese sauce I made for my Ramen and cheese. Such is life.
This isn’t a huge meal but it would be perfect for a quick and filling lunch.
For two servings, you will need:
  • 1 cup Milk (lactaid for me): $0.30
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheese (I used half mozzarella and half cheddar, but, if you want to splurge, feta is fantastic):$1.33
  • 2 packages Ramen: $0.36
  • 3 Scallions $0.08
 Total price per serving: $1.04
Preheat the oven to 250F. In a medium sauce pan melt a pad of butter and mix in an equal part of flour to make a roux. Cook over medium heat until the flour is blonde colored. Add in milk and whisk until it begins to boil. Take off the heat and gradually melt in cheese while sitrring continuously. Once you have one homogeneous blob of creamy goodness, put on low heat and coarsely chop your scallions. Mix in along with any seasonings you fancy and then add in cooked ramen. Transfer to a oven proof container and place in the oven until the cheese begins to bubble (about ten minutes). Serve hot.
For the Ramen Crusted Chicken:

Doesn’t that look fantastic!
For two servings:
  • 4 Chicken Tenders: $1.32
  • 1 package Ramen: $0.18
  • 1 egg: $0.18
Total price per serving: $0.84
Remove the ramen from its packaging and crush it into a powder (it won’t be very fine, don’t kill yourself) and mix into it garlic and onion powders and salt and pepper. Crack the egg into a bowl and beat a little to break up the yolk. Carefully and completely dry off the chicken. Take a pan and add some oil or butter and heat. Coat the chicken first in egg and then in your ramen mixture and put directly into the pan. Cook fully on medium heat until the chicken is cooked through and the ramen is golden brown on both sides.
The Chicken and Ramen and Cheese together on one plate


For the Ramen Taco Salad:

Better than it looks
This erm…delicacy is a variation of one of my favorite dishes. 
For four servings you need:
  • 1 pound of Ground Beef: $3.32
  • 1 jar Medium Salsa: $1.79
  • 1 can Black Beans $0.79
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Cheese: $0.67
  • 2 packages Ramen: $0.36
Price per serving: $1.73
In a medium sacuepan, cook the ground beef with any seasonings you prefer until it is cooked through. Add in drained black beans and salsa. Remove the ramen from its packaging and break it into nacho sized pieces. Add the ramen and coat with cheddar. Mix it all together and serve immediately, before the ramen has time to soften. Top with more cheese.
For the Ramen with Beer Steamed Mussles

I am always looking for recipes that incorporate beer because I have yet to find anything that will give the same hearty and rich flavor to a dish. So I decided to try one for the last day of Ramen Week.
For two servings you will need:
  • 15 Mussles: $3.25
  • 1 bottle of your Beer of Choice (I used Yuengling Black and Tan): $0.84
  • 1 Onion, chopped coarsely: $0.80
  • 2 packages Ramen: $0.36
Price per serving: $2.63
First off, clean the mussels by scrubbing with a lousy/old toothbrush under running water. Throw away any that open before or during cleaning. When they are all cleaned, loosely chop your onion (~1″ pieces). Boil beer over medium heat (Note: boiling comes significantly after simmering. The boozahol needs to boil off some.) Add your onion into the pot and let sit, stirring occasionally until the onions have softened. Add mussels and uncooked ramen and cover until the mussels have all opened and the ramen is soft. Serve with the beer you cooked with. Because it is delicious, that’s why.
So, that concludes my annual Ramen Week. If you have any comprehensive ideas for my next challenge (I’m looking at you mystikraven) leave me a comment below and I’ll think about it.

Ramen Week Days Two and Three: Beef Stir Fry and a Midnight Snack

Apparently, making commitments and time to cook every day will not prevent life from keeping you from blogging about it. So, you lucky people get two recipes in one post!
A quick reminder about the Rules of Ramen Week:
  1. Every day for one week, I must have at least one ramen based meal. 
  2. I refuse to use flavor packs 
  3. The meal must be healthy
  4. It must cost under $5.00 per serving

No real noodles were harmed in the making of these meals

The second day’smeal was a beef and veggie ramen stir fry:

Price for four meals:

  • Beef (I got it on sale and it was in my freezer): ~$3.00
  • Six Baby Carrots (assuming 50 to a bag): $0.20
  • Half bag of Snap Peas: $2.00
  • One onion: $0.80
  • One green pepper: $0.85
  • Three packages Ramen: $0.54

Price per serving: $1.84

Alright, this may not be the healthiest thing I have ever cooked, but it was cheap, delicious and filling.

If you have never made stir fry before this wikipedia article provides some useful guidance.

This does involve a good deal of prep work. Before you even pull out your pan, cut your beef into bite sized portions and breifly marinade in teryaki sauce (or worchester sauce with a drop of tobasco will work beautifuly if you have no teryaki) and dice your onion and pepper, slice your carrots and boil your Ramen. You will also want to prepare a end sauce. Mine consisted of a mix of teryaki and oyster sauces but any thick sauce will do.

Take out your wok (or, if you don’t have one a frying pan will work just fine) and dress it with sesame oil. Add whichever spices you prefer in your stir fry (I use garlic and ginger with just a hint of ground mustard seed). When the pan is hot enough, throw in your beef and sear it.

Beautiful. Just beautiful.
When the beef is cooked through, remove it to another plate and throw in your vegetables with a little more sesame oil.  Cook them on high until the vegetables have softened.
So healthy, right?

 As soon as the veggies are cooked throw in your sauce and the ramen and beef and mix together.

Maybe not…

 Enjoy piping hot.

For day three, I made a evening snack out of Ramen noodles and two eggs.

For two snacks:

  • One Ramen Pack: $0.18
  • Two eggs: $0.33
Price per serving: $0.26
This is a really simple snack that is so easy to make. 
Take your ramen before it is cooked and crush it into tiny pieces.
Apparently a bag of crushed ramen looks just like a while bag of ramen

Cook it as normal. While the water is boiling, take two eggs and beat them with basil and garlic and onion powders and salt and pepper.

Protein! 

When the ramen is just shy of being cooked, drain it and deposit it directly into a pan with a little butter over medium heat. Add in eggs and stir until the eggs are completely cooked.

Eat immediately

Up next: Ramen and Cheese

Ramen Week Day One: Ramen with Spinach and Tomato Sauce

Whelp, it’s that time of the semester again. Midterms have forced me into a temporary hiatus from blogging. So, now I’m back, sick of engineering optimization, heat transfer theory, differential equations and applied motion. Time for cooking!
Unfortunately, eating out and ordering in while I was studying for all of my tests has cut a pretty deep gouge into my budget. You know what that means. It’s my semesterly Ramen Week! 
Yay?

 Here are the rules:

  1. Every day for one week, I must have at least one ramen based meal. 
  2. I refuse to use flavor packs 
  3. The meal must be healthy
  4. It must cost under $5.00 per serving
Today I made Ramen with Spinach and Tomato Sauce
My price list, for two lunches:
  • 1/2 Package of Spinach (The other half to be used for a salad for dinner): $1.25
  • 4 Chicken Tenders (From a package of 22 purchased for $7.26): $0.70
  • 1 Can of Chopped Tomatoes: $1.25
  • 2 Packages of Ramen: $0.36
Total: $4.26 for two meals (One for me and one for boyfriend)

First thing’s first. Put a pot on to boil for your ramen packets.

While you are waiting for that, steam your spinach by putting a large amount of it in a pan over medium heat and cover it tightly until the spinach is thoroughly wilted.

Actually yay. I love spinach.

Once that is achieved, put in to the pan a healthy dollop of olive oil and the can of tomatoes and season with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, a touch of lemon juice and, if you are a fan of spicy, some red pepper flakes and sriracha (rooster) sauce.

Easy? Yes. Delicious? Abso-freaking-lutely.

Bring that to a boil and then bring it down to a simmer until the rest of the meal is complete. While that is happening and you are waiting for the ramen to cook, pull out another pan and throw in some chicken with olive oil. Once that and ramen are finished, throw everything in a bow and enjoy!

Pretty colors, shitty presentation.

Tomorrow: Ramen and Steak Stir Fry

Peanut Sauce for reddit

I put out an offer on reddit last week to create a blog post based on any requests that redditors had to offer. The first response was  from user nicksterluv:

What about a (cheap) peanut sauce? My favorite thing to order at the local Thai restaurant is a vegetable curry with peanut sauce, but I don’t get to eat it as often as I’d like since it’s expensive

Well, nicksterluv, your wish is my command.

Unfortunately, I had never before cooked anything even remotely Thai, so my next few days were spent in frantic searches for online recipes to get a general idea of what the hell goes into peanut sauce. Since the first order of business for this sauce was inexpensive, I was forced to immediately discard almost all of the websites I glanced at. (So much coconut milk!) In the end, I pretty much had to completely invent a recipe from scratch based on the two or three times in my life I have ever had peanut sauce. On the plus side, it gave me an excuse to go to a delightful little Thai hole-in-the-wall in the Village.

Ultimately, I tried to use only things that I had in my pantry. The full ingredient list ended up reading as follows:

  • peanut butter
  • ginger powder
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • cinnamon
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil 
  • white wine vinegar

As it turned out, I had to buy the first three ingredients on that list, but, thanks to Shop Rite, I only spent about $8 on the whole lot and now have enough ginger and cumin to last me a good while.

To make the sauce, I created a double boiler set-up with two pots. (For those to whom that meant nothing: If you nest your ingredients pot inside a pot of just simmering water, you can heat the ingredients more evenly and keep the peanut butter from burning. This is also useful whenever a recipe calls for melted chocolate, which burns like a California wildlife preserve.)

Melt two hefty scoops of peanut butter in the upper pot and add just enough oil so that it could be considered whisk-able and then about two to three shots of vinegar (it was the only measure I had handy…). Then, tasting after each addition, drop in some cumin, garlic, ginger, pepper, salt and the slightest bit of cinnamon. How much of each you add will depend strongly on your personal preference and, honestly, I tweaked the amounts so much during the adding of them, that I have no idea how much of each I ended up putting in.

When it is seasoned to your satisfaction, pour immediately into a bowl and serve hot. I sauteed some chicken breasts and shrimp and set out some pita and humus.

So…if you are reading this from reddit, or even not from reddit, shoot me an email, pm, text, comment, reply or smoke signal about what you want me to cook next!