Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lunch: Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli & Chicken

Since the weather is getting cooler, I have been more inclined to make microwaveable dishes to take in for lunch. I made a chicken & broccoli mac & cheese last fall and made this based on some previous learnings, adapted from a recipe I found on Epicurious. I even had a package of whole wheat macaroni to use up, so that saved some costs on this particular dish this week.

Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli & Chicken
makes 4 servings

1 1/4 cup dry whole wheat macaroni
1 large chicken breast
1 package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup half and half (or whipping cream, but half and half has less fat)
.75 cup shredded Asiago cheese
.75 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Cook macaroni for about 12 minutes, then drain.

As water is coming to a boil, in a sautée pan, heat a small amount of olive oil (about 1 tsp). Sautée chicken breast til cooked through and remove from heat. When the chicken has cooled for a while, dice.

In a saucepan, melt butter and add flour. Cook for about 2 minutes to create a roux. Slowly whisk in half-and-half, then stir as adding cheese. It creates a luscious, gooey sauce.

In the saucepan or a large mixing bowl, combine pasta, chopped broccoli florets, chicken and sauce. Add salt and pepper as necessary.


Chicken breast $2.19
Cheddar cheese $3.15
Asiago cheese $4.67
Half and half $1.50
Broccoli $1.39

Total costs: $12.90
Cost per meal: $3.23

Lunch: Fresh Linguine with Sausage and Savoy Cabbage

I found this recipe on Shape's website and should have followed it to a T, but instead I opted to try another route to their suggestion of cornstarch and ended up making some kind of a balsamic reduction sauce which worked out nicely. Here's Shape's recipe verbatim. This whole meal was super cheap since I had half of a savoy cabbage from the preceeding week's borscht as well as 2 chicken sausages from another meal made a while back.

Fresh Linguine with Sausage and Savoy Cabbage
serves 4

2 chicken sausages (about 5 ounces total)
1 small red onion
1/2 wedge savoy cabbage
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground
black pepper
1 12-ounce package fresh linguine

Bring a large covered pot of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce to low and simmer covered until ready to cook pasta. Meanwhile, cut sausage into diagonal pieces, slice onion to make 1/2 cup, and shred cabbage. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and cornstarch.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add sausage, reduce heat to medium, and cook 1 minute. Turn sausage and cook another minute. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, onion, and cabbage and sautée 1 minute. Add broth and 1/4 cup cold water; bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in cornstarch mixture and pepper. Cook, stirring, until liquid is a little glossy, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

Return pasta water to a boil over high heat. Add linguine and cook uncovered according to package directions, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander. Add drained pasta to sausage and sauce in skillet and toss gently to combine. Divide among four plates and serve immediately.

Fettucine $2.79
Red onion $.46
Chicken broth $1.35
Sausage $3 for 2 (from a previously purchased package)

Total: $7.60
Cost per meal: $1.90

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lunch: Borscht Soup

I was inspired to make this about a month ago when I was reminded of its existence at a Polish restaurant down the street from my house. Why had I never ventured to make this particular soup before, as I have tried to make virtually every other soup that I enjoy, I wondered. So I did some research, and settled upon trying this recipe from a soup cookbook my aunt gave me a few years ago for Christmas, as it was one of the few I found that didn't require procuring a cut of beef from a butcher. I have no doubt that using beef shank would make an amazingly richer, more heavy soup, but this one turned out amazingly well -- a clear, delicate, bright purple broth (both in colour and flavour), with a hearty amount of vegetables to balance the flavour of the beets. I can't wait to try it again, next time with the aforementioned beef shank.

makes 5 large, lunch appropriate servings

3 beets
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 large onion, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 celery stalk, cut into matchsticks
1 leek, sliced
1/2 savoy cabbage, sliced
1 1/2 quart chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups reserved beet juice (from boiling the beets)
3 beets, parboiled, peeled and diced (wear gloves!)
1 teaspoon marjoram
4 parsley stalks, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup fresh dill (or about 1 tablespoon dried, which is what I used)
pepper to taste
red wine vinegar to taste (about 1 tablespoon)
sour cream for garnish

In a large saucepan, cover beets with water and bring to boil. Boil for 12 - 15 minutes, until beets are partially cooked. Strain, reserving liquid from beets. Allow beets to cool. Return liquid to saucepan and simmer until it's needed later on in the recipe (this will allow the liquid to reduce some and concentrate its flavour).

In a soup pot, cook bacon until crisp, over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add carrot, parsnip, celery, leek and cabbage. Cook about 5 minutes, then add cabbage. Cover pot and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, allowing cabbage to wilt. Add stock. Using gloves, peel and prepare beets. Add beets, then add 2 cups of simmering beet liquid. Add marjoram, parsley, garlic cloves and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Remove garlic clove and bay leaves, add dill, pepper, salt (if needed) and red wine vinegar. Cook for a few more minutes, then serve, with a dollop of sour cream.

One of the better dishes I've made in a long time. Now to find a butcher so I can try this with beef.


Beets $2.59
Cabbage $2.62
Vegetable broth (can) $1.39
Chicken broth (carton) $3.49
Red wine vinegar $3.79
Onion $1.10
Parsnip $.75
Carrot $.73
Leek $1.08
Garlic $.51

Total $18.05
Total per serving $3.61

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lunch: Farfalle with Summer Squash, Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper and Chicken Sausage

I was planning for this week to be this big borscht experience, but when I got to the grocery store after the gym, I realised I'd forgotten the recipe. So I improvised and threw this together, knowing that I had plenty of farfalle pasta on hand already, plus some parmesan cheese, half an onion, and a wee bit of heavy cream that needed to be used up. Thankfully, this dish turned out delicious (thanks no doubt to the cream).

Farfalle with Summer Squash, Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper, and Chicken Sausage
(4 lunches)

2 cups dry rainbow farfalle pasta
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 yellow summer squash, sliced
1/2 zucchini, sliced
2 chicken sausages (I bought some made with spinach and feta cheese -- all that was left when I did my shopping)
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. dried basil
dash of dried thyme
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Cook farfalle according to package directions; cool. While pasta begins cooking, sautée white onion in olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add red bell pepper and sautée for about 5 minutes. As red bell pepper cooks, heat a small frying pan and begin to cook sausages. Add summer squash and zucchini to red bell pepper and onion and cook, about 10 minutes. When sausages are finished, removed from heat and allow to cool. Add tomato sauce to pepper and squash mixture and simmer for about a minute, then add cream. Add salt, pepper, basil, and thyme. Slice sausages and add to vegetables. Stir well, then remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine pasta and sauce, then add parmesan and toss a few times to coat. And voilà. A delicious pasta that will heat up well for lunch.


Red bell pepper $1.75
Yellow squash $1.67
Zucchini $1.71
Tomato Sauce $.70
Sausages $3 for 2 ($6 for 4)

Total cost: $8.83
Cost per meal: $2.21

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Potato Leek Soup (Vichyssoise)

I couldn't believe summer is nearly over and I haven't prepared two of my favourite summertime soups, Gazpacho and Vichyssoise. Both are soups I got good at making while living abroad -- Gazpacho in Madrid, and Vichyssoise in Hamburg. In part because in both apartments I had access to an immersion blender, a truly wonderful invention that is fun to use. In Spain I was constantly experimenting with sauces (a particularly decadent red bell pepper pasta sauce comes to mind) and in Hamburg, I tended to use the blender more for soup. Here's my recipe for a delicious vichyssoise -- its rich, delicious taste deceives how simple and easy it is to prepare.

Potato Leek Soup (Vichyssoise)
makes 5 servings

1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 white onion
6 leeks, white and pale green part, thinly sliced
3 baking potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large pot over low heat, add onion, butter and olive oil. When onion begins to sweat, add leeks and continue to sweat until the leeks and onions are limp and translucent. Add potatoes and cook for about a minute, then add chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for about 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, add cream and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Add freshly cracked pepper and remove from heat. Allow to cool for about an hour, then purée with a blender (handheld or upright).


Leeks $2.93
Onion $1.01
Potatoes $2.52
Chicken Broth $3.99
Cream $1.39

Total: $11.84
Cost per meal: $2.37

Nutritional Information: 206 calories, 6g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 472mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 2g sugar, 6g protein, 4% vitamin A, 26% vitamin C, 8% calcium, 14% iron. Also a good source of magnanese.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lunch: Summery Pasta Salad

I saw this recipe in a recent issue of Shape and decided to modify it slightly to use up a few ingredients I had on hand from last week's lunch. It's loaded with vegetables and I added some chicken breast to it to give it some added protein.

Summery Pasta Salad
(makes 5 servings)

2 cups dry tri-colore fusilli or bowtie pasta
2 chicken breasts, sautéed, cooled and diced
1/4 onion
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup green beans, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 cup sugar snap peas, cut into small pieces
1 yellow squash
4 scallions
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 - 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 - 2 tsp. dried basil

Bring water to a boil. Cook 2 cups dry pasta until ready (approximately 12 minutes). Drain and cool.

As pasta cooks, sautée onion in 1 tbsp. olive oil for about one minute. Add broccoli and cauliflower and sautée, for about 5 minutes. Add red bell pepper, green beans, sugar snap peas, and garlic; cook for about 5 minutes. Add squash and cook for about 5 minutes more. Chop scallions and set aside.

In a large bowl, add 1 tbsp. olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, sherry vinegar, garlic, parsley, and basil and mix well. When the vegetable mixture is finished cooking through, add pasta, vegetables and raw scallions to the bowl and mix well. Grate parmesan over mixture and toss, adjusting salt, pepper and other seasonings to your desired taste.


Yellow squash $.91
Basil $3.69
Parmesan $7.58
Pasta $2.89
Green beans $.92
Scallions $.50
Broccoli & cauliflower florets $3.04
Chicken breasts (2) $2.67
Red bell pepper $1.28

Total: $23.48
Cost per meal: $4.70

These costs are slightly misleading as I used about a quarter of the parmesan cheese, a quarter of the box of pasta, and have green beans, sugar snap peas (which I can't find on the receipt for some reason), scallions, broccoli and cauliflower florets, and half a red bell pepper to use up in some other meal this week (probably will do a stir fry).

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lunch: Mediterranean Salad

I was struck with a desire to do something this week that had mozzarella in it. So I did a little research and came upon this recipe for a Mediterranean Orzo Salad with mozzarella, cannellini beans, and all sorts of other good-for-you components, tossed together with a lovely dressing. I had to restrain myself from devouring the entire bowl so that I'd have enough for 4 servings to take to lunch this week.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Mozzarella and Cannellini Beans
(makes 4 - 5 servings)

1 cup orzo
1 1/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, peeled, halved and sliced
4 scallions, finely sliced
20 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
10 - 15 mozzarella balls, quartered
1 jar (6.5 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and halved
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained


1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. red wine (or sherry vinegar)
1 tbsp. parsley
1 tbsp. basil (I left this out and just used oil from the mozzarella balls that was loaded with basil instead)
1 tsp. dried marjoram
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare orzo by bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the orzo slowly, stir, and bring back to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, drain, and cool.

In a large bowl, combine cucumber, tomato, scallions, olives, mozzarella, artichokes and cannellini. Combine, then add orzo once cooled. Prepare dressing and toss thoroughly to coat.


Cucumber $.99
Tomatoes $2.50 (I used about 3/4 of the package, so I have some for another meal)
Cannellini beans $.79
Mozzarella $5.99 (I used all but 5 balls, so I can use those in future salads or meals)
Scallions $.89
Lemon $.50
Parsley $.99
Orzo $7.99 (for a huge tub of it, I have enough now to make this recipe like 5 more times)

Total cost: $5.16

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lunch: Lentil Salad with Bell Pepper and Goat Cheese

Inspired to use up some dried lentils I've had on my shelf for quite a few months, I looked up some lentil salad recipes and put this together for lunch, adding some chicken so it will be as filled with protein as it is with fiber. It's quite tasty already and I think the ingredients will meld together nicely over the next few days in the fridge.

Lentil Salad with Bell Pepper and Goat Cheese
makes 3 - 4 servings


1 cup lentils, rinsed
1/2 carrot, fined diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 chicken bouillon cube


1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
4 thin chicken cutlets, cooked, cooled and cubed
3 oz. goat cheese


1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sherry or red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced

In a pot, combine rinsed lentils, celery, carrot, garlic, bouillon cube and enough water to cover by about a 1/2 inch. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Check halfway and add more water to cover if necessary. Around 35 minutes, remove cover and continue simmering for about 10 minutes, til most of the water has evaporated. Cool and drain excess water through a sieve.

In a big bowl, combine remaining ingredients, add lentils and dressing and toss well. If you've got parsley on hand (I didn't), it would be a nice herb to add, along with freshly cracked black pepper and a dash of salt. Otherwise you could add a little oregano.


Red onion $.43
Dijon mustard $3.19
Red bell pepper $.46 (the girl at the supermarket accidentally rang it up as a red onion! Yay!)
Tomato $.86
Goat cheese $3.49
Chicken cutlets $2.90
Carrot $.76

Total: $12.09
Cost per lunch: $3.02

Nutritional Information: 364 calories per serving, 10g fat, 4g saturated, 46mg cholesterol, 552mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate, 14g dietary fiber, 7g sugars, 32g protein, 56% vitamin A, 83% vitamin C, 11% calcium, 36% iron. Also a very good source of vitamin K (48%), niacin (42%), vitamin B6 (39%), phosphorus (46%), manganese (47%), and folate (78%).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lunch: Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

I made this salad last summer and I remember it being so delicious! So delicious in fact that I have been eagerly anticipating summer just so I could make it.

Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette
makes 4 servings
adapted from

Romaine lettuce (about 8 leaves)
2 chicken breasts
1 can (15.5 oz.) black beans, rinsed and well-drained
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
3/4 cup canned corn
2 small radishes, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 oz. feta cheese (the original recipe calls for fat-free, but I opt for the cheapest option at the supermarket which is full-fat)
1/2 red onion (the prettiest way to go, but I improvised and used up what I had in the fridge -- 1/4 white onion and 2 scallions)


2 limes (1/4 cup juice)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 - 2 tsp. finely chopped jalapeño (I used a little less than half)

Cook chicken breast for about 10 minutes in a small amount of oil, until cooked through. Set aside and cool.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients for salad except the lettuce and avocado. Mix a few times to bring the ingredients together. Prepare the dressing and pour about half over the salad mixture. Divide into containers for lunch. Chop the romaine and add on top of the divided salad mixture. Pour the remaining dressing equally over the four salads. Each day, add 1/4 of the avocado to the salad before eating.


Red bell pepper $2.79
Jalapeño pepper $.18
Romaine lettuce $2.15
Corn $1.69
Black beans $1.09
Cilantro $1.39
Feta cheese $2.60
Tomatoes $3.19 (for three)
Avocado $1.99
Chicken breast $5.39 (for two)

Total: $22.46
Cost per meal: $5.62

Nutritional info: 536 calories, 19g fat, 6g saturated, 98mg cholesterol, 52g carbohydrate, 14g fiber, 14g sugar, 43g protein, 86% vitamin A, 99% vitamin C, 22% calcium, 26% iron. Also a good source of vitamin K (101%), niacin (72%) and folate (65%).

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fried Rice

I made this last week for a dinner and two lunches, to use up some rice I'd cooked last week for fajitas.

Fried Rice
makes 3 servings
(you can easily adjust the ingredients to make more servings)
adapted from
Bowl Food

1 egg
approximately 1/2 tsp. butter
1 - 2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced into 1" strips
1/2 carrot, thinly sliced
1 stalk broccoli (I just used the florets)
2 handfuls snow peas, rinsed and trimmed (can substitute 1/2 cup frozen peas)
1 clove garlic, minced
.25 lb pork sausage
2 cups cold, cooked white rice
1/4 cup canned corn, rinsed
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 - 3 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

In a small pan, coat a pan with a small amount of butter (less than 1/2 tsp.). Whisk egg in a bowl and add to the pan. Gently move pan to coat bottom with egg and let cook over medium heat until small bubbles appear. Flip the egg and cook through to the other side. Remove from heat and let cool on a plate.

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in wok or large frying pan. Add red bell pepper and carrot. Allow to cook for a minute, then add broccoli, snow peas and garlic. After a minute, add pork sausage. (I cooked the pork sausage whole until it browned on both sides, then removed, allowed to cool, sliced, and added back to the mixture.) Cook for about five minutes, add a small amount of oil, and add rice. Incorporate the rice well, breaking up any lumps the rice may have formed. After the rice has fried for about a minute, add the corn and scallions, mixing frequently.

Thinly slice the egg and add to the mixture. Toss well, add sesame oil and soy sauce, stir again and remove from heat. Allow a few minutes to let the mixture's flavours incorporate. And voilà. An American girl's version of Fried Rice.


Broccoli $2.29
Corn $.89
Snow Peas $2.58
Pork Sausage $2.28
Carrot $.78
Red Bell Pepper $1.56
Scallions $.89

Cost per meal: $3 I had a lot of the pricier ingredients on hand, including the sesame oil. I put the other half of sausage in the freezer, used 1/4 of the red bell pepper in a salad I took with me on a bus ride on Thursday, and used the remaining vegetable ingredients tonight in a stir fry with a bit of chicken and some whole wheat noodles. The other half of the stir fry is tomorrow's lunch. And the rest of the week's lunches will fall out of tomorrow's dinner.

So, for just an additional $1.69 for noodles and 2 chicken thighs (4 for $4.61, two are now in the freezer), that's 5 meals for just $3.50 each (not to mention some sausage and chicken in the freezer for future meals). Not bad!

Nutritional Information: 496 calories, 23g fat, 6g saturated fat, 20% sodium, 55g carbohydrate, 8g dietary fiber, 8g sugar, 20g protein, 96% vitamin A, 262% vitamin C, 12% calcium, 30% iron. Also a good source of Folate (59%) and Vitamin K (247%). (Note: I couldn't find soy sauce on Nutrition Data so this is an estimation and probably contains more sodium than these figures.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Christine's Easy Peasy Chocolate Cake

I asked friends to contribute their delicious recipes for cheap eating, and Christine sent me back this delicious recipe for cake. Yum, cake. Perhaps over the weekend I can prepare one of these.

Says Christine, "If you splurge on the Kahlúa, it costs a bit more..but I don't think I have ever spent more than $20 on this cake ... maybe less."

Easy Peasy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix with pudding
1 cup mayo (full fat or low fat; I use Best Foods or Vegenaise)
1 cup Liquid (it can be water, soy milk, whatever you like. I sometimes put a cup of regular coffee or Kahlúa for a little kick)
3 eggs (you may also substitute egg beaters or applesauce for vegans)
2-3 cups chocolate chip mini chips

Dump cake mix, mayo, liquid, and eggs in mixer. Beat until smooth. Then turn off mixer and with a spatula, fold in chocolate chips. VERY IMPORTANT that you do this. I warned you. Carry on.

Coat pan (furiously) with Pam and bake in a deep round pan. Just something big enough that you can fill 3/4 of the way full but not small enough that it will overflow. If you use a long pan you'll have to adjust (shorter time) the cooking time. This ain't brownies folks.

You can also use two (or three!) smaller pans and layer the cake with jam (seedless strawberry jam and fresh blueberries are great) or frosting (I use a yummy Peanut Butter one that is to die for) in the middle. It's also good just by itself with a little dusting of powder sugar on top.

Bake for 30-40 min at 350 degrees or until you stick a toothpick (or knife) in the middle and it comes out dry. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30-40 min or until cool. Cut and serve.

Super rich and delish! This cake will make you look like the queen (king) of the party.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Flank Steak

In order to make this week's lunch, I needed to prepare the meat. I bought a .83 lb flank steak and tried out my mom's amazing marinade, which requires a good 24 hours soak in the fridge before broiling (or grilling). It's a large recipe, but my mom said she freezes it after using it and reuses it about 3 times.

Flank Steak Marinade

1 cup soy sauce (I used low-sodium)
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
1/2 cup sugar (my mom said she uses a little bit less)
1 jigger gin or vodka (I went without since I didn't have any on hand)
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
3 - 4 green onions, thinly diced
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. fresh ginger (I probably used closer to 3)

Combine all the ingredients and let the steak marinade over night in the fridge for at least 12 hours. I prepared my steak by broiling it for about 5 - 7 minutes on each side. Doing this on a warm, humid New York night was probably not the wisest of decisions, but it makes your kitchen smells divine and gives the meat a delicious crust on the outside.


Sesame seeds $2.49
Kikkoman Lite Soy Sauce (large bottle) $3.49
Ginger root $.72

Total: $6.70
approximate cost per use: $2.24 (if you use it 4 times total -- you should also have plenty of soy sauce, ginger and sesame seeds left over for other meals)

Lunch: Steak Salad

I have been wanting to make a steak salad for a long time now, and when I had delicious flank steak at my parents' a few weeks ago while visiting them in Marin, I decided to finally go for it. At the very least, I'd learn my mom's recipe for the marinade (see above). After eating a couple slices tonight for dinner, I sliced the rest of the meat and combined the following ingredients.

Steak Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
makes 4 lunches

cold, cooked steak, thinly sliced (about .75 lbs)
red leaf lettuce
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped (optional - I had one in the fridge I wanted to use up)
4 oz. parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. walnuts, toasted

Lemon Vinaigrette

juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1/4 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
1 clove garlic, grated
1/8 tsp. lemon zest

Combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, egg, walnuts and cheese. Divide into 4 containers, and top with some torn lettuce. Divide the sliced steak evenly between the containers, then place remaining lettuce on top. To prepare dressing, combine lemon juice, olive oil, sherry vinegar, mustard, honey and garlic, whisk well, then strain. On the day you're taking it to work, drizzle about a tablespoon of dressing into the container or over the dish if it's being plated.


Beef Flank Steak $9.44 (for .83 lb)
2 Tomatoes $2.49
Red Onion $.43
Cucumber $.99
Lemons $1.49

Cost per meal: $3.71 (this is slightly inflated since I ate part of the steak for dinner the first night, but it doesn't take into account the cost of the marinade)

Nutritional information per serving: 348 calories, 19g fat, 6g saturated fat, 13% sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 5g sugar, 35g protein, 90% vitamin A, 25% vitamin C, 23% calcium, 16% iron. Also a good source of Niacin (38%), Vitamin B6 (38%), Zinc (38%), and Selenium (52%).

Chicken Fajitas

One of my summer favourites, I prepared this to have on hand for the week's dinner. Usually chicken breast would be a more typical choice, but chicken thighs were at a very good price at the supermarket and I happened to have a fifth in my freezer, so it worked out well. Also a nice way to use up the 1/2 bell pepper I had in my fridge from last week's Three Bean Salad.

Cilantro Lime Marinade
makes enough for 4 - 5 pieces of chicken
adapted slightly from
The Joy of Cooking

2 limes (1/4 cup lime juice)
1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 scallions, chopped (if you don't have scallions, substitute with 1/2 small red onion, diced)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. anise (optional)

Last night I marinated one of the chicken thighs in the marinade while I prepared the rest of the ingredients for fajitas and meals for the rest of the week, placing the other four chicken thighs in a ziplock bag with the marinade once I began cooking the marinated thigh. They're sitting in the ziplock bag and I'll either cook them tonight in the stove or the oven. Another idea would be to cut chicken breast into strips and marinade or freeze so that the chicken pieces are ready to use at a later date. Thighs are not really typical fajita meat, but as I said before, they were very cheap so that trumped tradition.

I also prepared some rice (1/2 cup dry cooking with half a chicken bouillon cube), a can of low sodium black beans cooked with about a half cup good salsa), and 1/2 bell pepper and 1/4 white onion sautéed in a small amount of olive oil and a bit of the Cilantro Lime marinade. I made two fajitas using small, 6-inch whole wheat tortillas, topped with 1/2 chopped tomato, a bit of grated cheddar cheese and a dash of hot sauce.

Now I've got some good things waiting for me in the fridge for the week that I can use either separately or combine into other things -- I might turn two of the chicken thighs into meat for a chicken salad one night, or use the rice later on for fried rice. Vamos a ver, as the Spanish would say.

Cost of certain ingredients (other than what I had on hand):
4 Chicken Thighs $1.63
Cilantro $1.39
Green Bell Pepper $.46
Black beans $.99
3 Limes $.38
Scallions $.89 (also using this for this week's lunch recipe)

Total: $5.74

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cobb Salad

This week for dinner, I've been having Cobb Salad, which I threw together on kind of whim when I noticed that I had all the ingredients for it in my fridge after my weekly shopping trip (and particularly wanted to use up some bacon I had on hand). As I was preparing the first serving, I put the remaining amount of what I'd chopped into a tupperware container so that I'd have two more servings that could easily be added to lettuce, then adding freshly chopped tomato, avocado and blue cheese. There is a bit of prep work that goes into this, which is why it's nice to reserve two more servings to have on hand for two easy dinners without a lot of clean-up during the week. Also I had prepared the chicken for the Three Bean Salad as well, so I didn't deal with that part of the recipe.

As a side note, the chicken breasts I bought this week were huge (and a little frightening), so if you're finding very tiny chicken breasts, firstly good for you, and secondly you might increase how many you use for this recipe.

Cobb Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
makes three servings

Red leaf lettuce (at least 12 large leafs)
1 large chicken breast, seasoned
2 tomatoes
2 eggs
1/2 red onion
1 avocado
3 oz. blue cheese
2 slices bacon

Balsamic Vinaigrette

3 tsp. balsamic vinegar
3 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. grainy dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. yellow french mustard
1 clove garlic, grated

In a sauté pan or skillet, cook seasoned chicken breast on both sides over medium heat until cooked through (approx 15 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Put 2 eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Place uncovered over high heat until water comes to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, cover with a lid, reduce to low heat, and cook for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, immediately drain and put in cold water.

While eggs are cooking, you can begin preparing the bacon. As bacon and eggs are cooking, chop onions, 1/2 tomato, and 1/4 avocado. Place lettuce on a plate and add ingredients. Remaining onions go into a tupperware container. When the chicken had cooled, chop and place about 1/3 on plate; remaining goes with onions in tupperware. When bacon is finished and has drained for about a minute on paper towels, chop, adding 1/3 to plate and remaining to tupperware. Once eggs have cooled entirely, peel, chop and add about 1/3 of chopped eggs to plate, and remaining to tupperware. (When preparing the salad the following nights, chop tomato and avocado then.) Add about 1 oz. of blue cheese, or less depending on preferences.

To make dressing, combine ingredients in a small glass bowl or measuring glass. Use about 1/3 on tonight's salad, the rest can be reserved in fridge for two following nights.

Chicken $1.66
Blue cheese $7.99 (for a glass container with blue cheese cubes marinated in peppercorns and olive oil)
Tomato $4.11 (for 3 total)
Red onion $.60
Eggs $1.89 (for 6)
Avocado $1.99

Total: $18.24

Cost per meal $6.08

Nutritional information per serving: 432 calories (246 fat calories), 28g total fat, 10g saturated fat, 11g carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 4g sugars, 35g protein, 125% vitamin A, 29% vitamin C, 21% calcium, 14% iron. Also a very good source of niacin (54%) and selenium (55%), and a good source of protein, vitamin A and vitamin K (141%).

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lunch: Three Bean Salad with Chicken

In order to really like this meal, you've got to already have an inclination for traditional three bean salad. This is a simple, light meal that gets better as the week goes on and the marinade has time to deepen. This recipe is a combination/alteration of various ones I saw doing research on this typical summer picnic dish.

Three Bean Salad with Chicken
makes 4 lunches

1/2 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 can (15 oz.) red kidney beans, well-rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, well-rinsed
2 radishes, thinly diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 chicken breast, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tbsp. fresh parsley
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Sherry vinegar (or red wine)
2 tsps. dijon mustard (I used a tsp each of a smooth yellow dijon and a grainy one)
1 1/2 tsps. sugar

Heat about 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan. When the oil has become heated, add the chicken. Cook through, approximately 10 minutes. Let cool for a long time, at least 1/2 hour.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add green beans and cook for about 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, immediately drain and wash in cold water to stop cooking.

In a mixing bowl, combine kidney beans, garbanzo beans, radishes, bell pepper, onion and parsley. Combine, then add cooled green beans. Combine again.

Make the vinaigrette by combining 1 tbsp olive oil with 2 tbsp Sherry vinegar, the two different mustards, and sugar. Whisk, then pour over salad and mix. Dice chicken and add, stirring again.

Green Beans $1.12
Garbanzo beans $.79
Red kidney beans $.79
Radishes $.79
Sherry vinegar $6.15
Red onion $.60 (I only used half)
Green pepper $1.13 (again, only used half)
Chicken breast $1.66

Total: $13.03

Cost per lunch: $3.26

Nutritional information per serving: 348 calories (59 fat calories), 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 46g total carbohydrate, 13g dietary fiber, 5g sugar, 25g protein, vitamin a (10%), vitamin c (40%), calcium (10%), iron (21%). Also a good source of vitamin B6 (46%) and Manganese (50%).