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!

Chicken Bowtie Soup

So, I’m at the supermarket, lamenting the lack of good brussels sprouts when I get a text from my awesome boyfriend: “Ugh, feeling sick…”

For many that would have been a call to sympathy but to me it was a call to action. I needed to make him chicken soup! I quickly dropped my forlorn tomatoes and scurried around the store in a newly energized frenzy! Four hours later, the end result was quite tasty.

Mmm. Wholesome

For Chicken Soup:

  • 1 lb Bone in Chicken Parts (I use just legs, but you can use any cut you want)
  • 2 Carrots (Trimmed, peeled, halved and sliced)
  • 4 Celery Stalks (Rinsed, trimmed and sliced)
  • 8 oz (1/2 box) Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 med Onion, halved and quartared
  • 1 med Zuccini (Rinsed, trimmed and sliced)
  • The green part of 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 1 sprig Parsle
  • Leaves from 1 sprig Rosemary
  • 4-5 Basil leaves
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 tbs Salt (I thought it ended up being too salty, but Will loved it so YMMV)
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 box Bow Tie Pasta (not used until way later)

The salt and pepper are hidden by the parsley

Now here comes the part that requires finesse. Put everything EXCEPT the pasta in a 4 quart pot and add in 3 quarts of water. Put it on high heat and allow to simmer for about an hour.

You sure you got that? I can go back over it…

After an hour, fish out the chicken (tongs are useful here) and put it on a cutting board. Once it is cool enough to be handled (but not more than 5 minutes or so to avoid it cooling too much) pull the meat off the bones (should be easy) and gently shred. (Vegans may want to skip over the next picture.

Some veggies got caught in the cross fire

(A note to vegans and vegetarians, this soup would be equally delicious sans chicken).

Cook for as long as you have, but at least for another hour. About 30 minutes before serving, put on water to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to box instructions and ladle soup and broth over the top. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer until they become freezer burned.

Butter-free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn’t love cookies? Me, after my remarkably brief stint with Group-Free Weight-Watchers. The amount of calories involved was mortifying. Add to that my natural distaste for butter and you have a good recipe for me looking for alternates. That is, until I found this Oatmeal Chocolate Chip recipe over at All Recipes.

Some more extensive research and some wild guesses lead me to the most delicious cookie I have ever tasted:

I swoon at the memory

They may not be much to look at but by replacing the butter with equal parts applesauce and peanut butter, I took a pretty good cookie and turned it into (with all due modesty, of course) a masterpiece.

First thing’s first, a quick glance at my mise en place. The seasoned baker will notice that I have no white sugar out. There is a very simple explanation for this: I ran out of white sugar. I am also never going back, just try and make me. Besides it is one less white powder to worry about keeping straight (And as someone who has accidentally substituted salt for sugar the fewer similar looking ingredients, the better).

Those little bowls are the best kitchen purchase I have ever made

For those unfamiliar with the term, a mise en place is simply a laying out of all of the materials that will be needed as well as prepping all necessary equipment (ie, getting mixing bowls out and ready, preheating the oven, etc). When you are setting this up it will feel like a massive waste of time (Why can’t I just get the flour out when I need it?) but once you get started, it will make your life a million times easier. Doing it for a cookie recipe is like showing your work in third grade math. Yes, the teacher knows how you got there but you really need to be able to do it well once you get to differential equations. Think of it as practice for Boeuf Bourguignon.

Anyway, back to cookies!

For Delicious Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/2 cup Smooth Peanut Butter
  • 1 1/2 (or 3/2 if you don’t mind improper fractions) cups Packed Brown Sugar (Or 1 cup Packed Brown and 1/2 cup White)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 tbs Vanilla
  • 1 3/4 (7/4) cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3 cups Instant Oats
  • 1 cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 cup Dark Chocolate Morsels
Pre-heat the oven to 325F

Take two bowls: a big one and a small one. Put the flour, salt and baking soda in the small one and gently mix them a little bit. I don’t have a picture of this because it looks remarkably like a large bowl of cocaine and I do not need to go through that again. Besides, its less interesting than the other bowl, which gets the applesauce, peanut butter and brown sugar (and white sugar if you insist).

And mixy mixy mixy

Thoroughly mix the three together and add the two eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Then mix in the vanilla extract.

Or, if you are me, Generic Brand Genuine Artificial Vanilla Extract Substitute

A bit at a time (because, believe me, the last thing you want is for the cops to barge in on you when you have what you swear is flour all down your front) add the dry mix, making sure that all of the flour is combined before moving on to the next bit.

Peanut butter does make this harder to mix than normal butter.

Fold in the nuts, chocolate and oats.

Arm workout ahoy!

Drop that into vaguely cookie like shapes and cook for 10-12 minutes or until just browned. And suddenly,

Cookies!

 

What substitutions have worked for you? Have any not worked? Let me know in that pretty comment section!

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).

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.

Image

 

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).

 

Cooking Styles and Flavor

When I first moved into my apartment (and out of dorms!) my sophmore year, I was thrilled to finally have a kitchen. So, of course, I started looking for recipes. The first thing that I ever learned to make by heart was Salsified Chicken, which I affectionately dubbed my “White Trash Casserole” because, well, if you make it you’ll see why. (When you take off the lid you are confronted with a sheet of lumpy melted cheese. Less than appetizing…)

It was cheap, tasty and I was even able to trick myself into thinking that it was not horrible for me. There was only one problem. From the flavor to the texture, the entire thing was completely homogenous. Every bite tasted the same. Don’t get me wrong, the taste was quite good, but it was boring. The reason? Everything gets cooked together in eachothers juices. There is no room for individual flavors (or any texture other than “mushy”) to develop. Paula Dean would be proud.

I decided to challenge that. Using the same basic ingredients (chicken, rice, beans, tomato, cheese and onion-yes, I know that the beans aren’t in the origonal recipe. A girl’s not allowed to be creative?) but cooking them seperately and combining them at the end resulted in an interesting, multi flavored, multi textured culinary experience. Since I didn’t want to completely lose the gastronomical tie between the flavors, I decided to insert lemon as a unifying ingredient.

Black and white makes it a better picture, right?

 For White Trash Casserole:

  • 1lb Chicken Breast cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 container Chicken Broth
  • A Splash of Orange Juice
  • One small container Salsa
  • 2 Cups of Instant Rice
  • 1/2 Bag of Shredded Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Cook the chicken in a pan. Add Broth, Juice and Salsa. Bring to a boil. Mix in Rice, salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Sprinkle Cheese over top. Let sit until rice is cooked and cheese is melted.

You can see why it was easy to memorize…

For Something a Little Tastier:

  • 1 Cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 Cup dry black beans
  • 1 Lemon
  • Lemon Juice
  • Lemon Pepper
  • 1 lb Chicken Breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Feta Cheese as desired
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 1 Med. Onion

Combine chicken, rice, beans and sauce (recipes below) in a pot. Sprinkle Feta on top and serve.

For Beans:

Soak beans overnight or bring to a boil in two cups of water for three minutes and let soak for 1 hour. Rinse beans thoroughly. Cover with water and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cook until beans are tender (about one hour) then add lemon juice to taste.

For Chicken:

Place chicken in a shallow bowl and just cover with lemon juice. Let marinate for 1/2 hour to overnight. Thoroughly dry the chicken with a paper towel and dry rub with salt and pepper. Cook in a dry pan until just browned. Set aside.

For Rice:

Combine rice with two cups of water and 1tbs zest from the lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring water to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 20 minutes and remove from heat until all water is absorbed.

For Sauce:

Roughly chop tomatoes and onion. Place in food processor with lemon-pepper. Process until blended. Pour mixture into sauce pot and bring to a simmer. let cook until onion begins to turn sweet, about 15 minutes.

 

Go ahead and try both. What did you think? What kind of technique changes have you made to enhance your food?