Shoe String Living

Having a Creative and Fun Frugal Life

Prepping for the Storm October 15, 2010

Filed under: Cooking — trntm @ 1:22 am

No, there isn’t a hurricane or tornado barreling towards us-not that I know of. I mean the storm of the “busy” season for my doctoral program. Within the next 30 days, I have two papers, two mid-terms, two class presentations, an out-of-town wedding, hubby’s birthday, and an out-of-town friend arriving.  Needless to say I will be rather busy.

To help with the “busy” season, I decided to cook a bunch of meals in advance. Well, a bunch of meal components in advance.  Since I have to worry about breakfasts, lunches, and dinners I had quite a few meals to make.

meal (number of servings)

Kulu chicken breasts (4)

Turnip Greens (2)

Chowder Peas (2)

Brown Rice (4)

Wine Soaked Roast (2)

Chicken and Dumplings (4)

Thai Chicken & Rice Soup (2), umm it was 4 servings, but I ate it while waiting on the other soup ^_^

Grilled Steak (4)

Rosemary Roast (2)

Biscuits (4)

I’m not done cooking, in fact I still have quite a few meals planned to cook:

Spring Rolls (8)

Apple Muffins (8)

Couscous Paella (4)

Peanut Thai Chicken (4)

Shrimp Noodle Bowl (4)

Hopefully this will allow me additional time to focus on school during the busy month.

 

Update on Eating Goal February 25, 2010

Filed under: Cooking,Healthy Me — trntm @ 3:02 am

Ok, I knew that I had to combat my candy habit and drink more water. I found a low sugar detox diet that also might explain my sweet tooth. It will hurt-a lot-like I will cry-and cry some more.

I know I can make improvements, but I can’t cut out ALL the foods that this diet listed. By the way, I hate the word diet. I’m in pursuit of a lifestyle change not a diet. All the more reason for the tears.

Back to this detox diet. A LOT of my favorite foods are on the list-cheese, fruit, juice, alcohol and mushrooms. Aghh! I can’t avoid ALL those items. I LOVE cheese and I LOVE fruit and I LOVE juice and I LOVE my margaritas and I LOVE mushrooms. I can’t avoid them forever.

I decided to see what I could eliminate and could not and what compromises I could do.

Aged Cheese: I snack on cheese. I adore cheese. I stand in the supermarket and drool at the sight of cheese. Cheese is a vice. I thought it was a healthy vice, but apparently according to this diet they are hurting me and making me have a sweet tooth. I don’t understand how something I love so dearly could be hurting me. I’m still in denial. Maybe there are some non-aged cheeses I could eat, but what will I be missing from my aged cheese friends?

  • Bleu. I like this in my salads and for snacking. I don’t eat it very often since it’s a bit strong. I could eliminate this for 6 months.
  • Cheddar. I snack on this all the time, nothing like a piece of cheddar and a glass of red wine. I would go through withdrawal after a month or two. Perhaps I could eliminate this for 1-2 months and then re-introduce it in smaller snacking quantities.
  • Feta. I eat this on salads, but again, not an everyday cheese. I could eliminate this for 6 months.
  • Gouda. I ‘heart’ smoked gouda. Smoked gouda is my first love. I could eliminate this for 2 months.

Additives & Preservatives: Ok, I can’t do this. This is in like EVERYTHING I eat and I’m not ready to go totally organic. Neither is my husband. I’ve been trying to get him to eat more vegetables-forget about eliminating this.

Alcohol: So what do I sip on at the party? Depending on if I get pregnant or not, this might be easier to do. Hey, isn’t it true that pregnant women can still have the occasional glass of wine?

Caffeine: I medically can’t have this anyway. Does this still count as being on the diet?

Chocolate: Not the biggest fan until around my period and then I want chocolate striped shortbread cookies…or Reese’s. I could monitor this a bit more carefully to determine how much I actually eat of this. I doubt it’s a lot. I won’t eliminate this, since the occasional chocolate striped shortbread cookie shouldn’t kill me and it falls under the caffeine section as well, so I have to limit my intake anyway.

Fruit: Who are we kidding. I eat fruit so I won’t turn to candy. I don’t think this is healthy for me at this point in spite the high sugar content.

Glutenous Foods: Basically anything made with wheat, rye, oats or barley. That includes wheat bread, rye bread and pasta. So it seems like this will be a low carb diet. I don’t eat a ton of bread, but I do enjoy pasta. So maybe just eliminate bread at the house for me, but keep my cereal (oats) and pasta dishes. Poor hubby. My mom just told him that carbs go straight to your butt and he’s been encouraging me to eat more bread. Can you guess which body part is his favorite?

Mushrooms: I like these, but haven’t had them in a while, so I can eliminate them for another 6 months.

Nuts: Any nuts high in mould, like peanuts. I don’t eat a lot of peanuts…unless it’s in Thai cuisine.

Condiments: Condiments tend to be high in sugar. I understand that and if I want to cut down on sugar, then condiments should be on the list. This means ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, horseradish, Worcestershire and soy sauce. The only one I have an issue with is soy sauce…I eat a lot of asian cuisine and thus a fair amount of soy sauce. I can eliminate the others for 6 months (except for ketchup on my waffle fries during those rare visits to a favorite fast food place).  They also say salad dressings, including a simple balsamic vinegar dressing, are best avoided. Um, how about no?

Sugar: The ultimate beast, the entire reason for this diet. Basically any chemical ending in ‘ose’, like lactose, sucrose, fructose etc. Goodbye, my refined sugar 😦

Spices: What? Are they serious? How about no?

Vinegar: Um, another no.

So, I’m a bit of a rebel. Since this is a lifestyle change and not some three month diet, I can’t eliminate all those things and then binge on them afterwards.  So I’m writing my own diet rules. Well, I didn’t exactly make them up, they are simple healthy eating rules. I decided to chose a few to focus on this year.

  • Eat more foods high in complex carbohydrates and fiber.
    This means less simple carbohydrates like refined sugars. At least daily have some sort of complex carb. I will read the label and avoid foods that list sugar, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, white or “wheat” flour, at the top of the list. I will also look for foods that have not been highly processed or refined.  The “rawer” the better.
  • Drink more water.
    I like unsweetened hot herbal tea in the cool evenings, so I could increase this. Two large cups of hot tea in the morning and two cups at night. My go to thermos holds 2 cups of liquid, so four of those a day and I will have eight cups of water easily. Hmm, that was easy…almost too easy.
  • Limit sugary foods and refined-grain products.
    According to mypyramid.gov, I need ~265 calories of luxury food items. That includes bad fats and sugars. Let’s see, one favorite jelly bean is 4 calories. I like to pop 2-5 after each lunch and dinner for that sweet sensation. That’s 40 calories. Not bad, but my issue won’t be the candy-that’s easy.

    It’s the liquid golden sugar. Like wine, a 5 oz serving of red wine has about 100 calories. Thank goodness I don’t drink a full serving in one sitting. Usually I drink 5 oz over two cups of wine, so about 50 calories for my glass of wine. My margarita, yea…that’s 150 calories, pina colada another 245 calories.  Ugh, how will I ever win! Sugar is EVERYWHERE!

    Ok, breathe, no more crying. Get your plan together…ok, got it. Limit myself to one serving size of some sweet with added sugar a day. This will range from candy to my beloved birthday cake addiction. I can do this. Also, limit self to three liquid treats a week. This includes soda and adult beverages. I need to stock the fridge with unsweetened ice tea. Gross, is that possible? Makes my inner southern belle shiver in her petticoat. I better make it a fruit herbal tea.

 

Freezer Meals, Week One February 22, 2010

Filed under: Cooking,Healthy Me,Saving Money — trntm @ 1:49 am

Finally sat down and made some concrete plans about this freezer meal thing. Actually, I made one week of plans. Pizza Wednesday is because instead of $5, pizza is on sale for $3, a great day for pizza, don’t you think? 

I put some of my own recipes in the menu plan, but otherwise used supercooks for some recipes.

Monday B Goulash
L Steak Burrito with Avocado
D Garlicky Crab  and Salted Cod Pasta
Tuesday B Cinnamon Rolls
L Tomato Brie Bow Tie Pasta
D Szechwan Shrimp and Rice
Wednesday B Bacon and Eggs
L Pizza
D Pizza
Thursday B Cinnamon Rolls
L Steak Lettuce Wraps
D Spaghetti Squash with Garlic
Friday B Bacon and Eggs
L Lentils & Bacon
D Honey Ginger Shrimp
 

  

Cooking Plan 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with a fork, prick squash in several places. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until soft to the touch, about 1 hour.
  2. Chop bacon, potatoes, 4 garlic, steak, crab and salted cod, remove shrimp tails
  3. Add chopped bacon, lentils and water to pot. Boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes
  4. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add 2 servings of pasta, cook, drain.
  5. Heat 1 can of tomatoes over medium-high heat. Bring to a slow boil and stir in ¼ lb cubed brie cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir to melt cheese. Package sauce.
  6. Follow honey shrimp recipe, then SS, then lettuce wrap steak. Package.
  7. Add cinnamon rolls to oven
  8. Finish spaghetti squash recipe, package
  9. Finish lentil recipe, package

  

Tomato Brie Bow Tie Pasta 

 
1/2 (12 ounce) package bow tie pasta1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes  1/4 pound Brie cheese, cubed1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat tomatoes over medium-high heat. Bring to a slow boil and stir in cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir to melt cheese.
3. Toss pasta with tomato sauce and top with chopped basil before serving
     

  

Spaghetti Squash with Garlic 

  • 2 spaghetti squash (2 pounds each)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, slivered
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a fork, prick squash in several places. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until soft to the touch, about 1 hour.
  2. When cool enough to handle, halve squash crosswise. Scoop out seeds; discard. Scrape flesh into strands.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over low heat. Add garlic; cook until fragrant and just starting to color, about 5 minutes. Add squash; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until squash is very hot, about 5 minutes.
Szechwan Shrimp  
1 tablespoon water1-1/2 teaspoons ketchup 

3/4 teaspoon soy sauce 

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch 

1/4 teaspoon honey 

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper 

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger3/4 teaspoon vegetable oil 

1 tablespoon sliced green onions 

1 clove garlic, minced 

3 ounces cooked shrimp, tails removed 

1. In a bowl, stir together water, ketchup, soy sauce, cornstarch, honey, crushed red pepper, and ground ginger. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in green onions and garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in shrimp, and toss to coat with oil. Stir in sauce. Cook and stir until sauce is bubbly and thickened
     
Honey Ginger Shrimp  
1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

1/4 teaspoon chopped garlic 

1/8 yellow onion, chopped 

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger1/4 teaspoon honey 

1/4 pound medium shrimp – peeled and 

deveined 

salt and pepper to taste 

Heat the olive oil and red pepper flakes in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and honey; cook and stir until fragrant. Add the shrimp, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring as needed, until shrimp are pink and opaque. Serve immediately

  

Lentils And Bacon  

  1 Pound Lentils6 Cups Water 

1 Pound Bacon — chopped 

3 Medium Potato — peeled and cubed 

1/2 Cup Vinegar 

1/4 Cup Sugar 

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 

2 Medium Onion — chopped 

2 Tablespoons Parsley — chopped 

combine lentils, water and bacon in saucepan. boil, reduce heat, cover, simmer 45 minutes. add potatoes and simmer 15 more minutes. stir in vinegar and sugar. In saute pan, saute onions and parsley in olive oil, until onions are transparent. stir onions into lentil mixture and serve.
Monday B Goulash
L Steak Burrito with Avocado
D Garlicky Crab  and Salted Cod Pasta
Tuesday B Cinnamon Rolls
L Tomato Brie Bow Tie Pasta
D Szechwan Shrimp and Rice
Wednesday B Bacon and Eggs
L Pizza
D Pizza
Thursday B Cinnamon Rolls
L Steak Lettuce Wraps
D Spaghetti Squash with Garlic
Friday B Bacon and Eggs
L Lentils & Bacon
D Honey Ginger Shrimp

  

Cooking Plan 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with a fork, prick squash in several places. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until soft to the touch, about 1 hour.
  2. Chop bacon, potatoes, 4 garlic, steak, crab and salted cod, remove shrimp tails
  3. Add chopped bacon, lentils and water to pot. Boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes
  4. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add 2 servings of pasta, cook, drain.
  5. Heat 1 can of tomatoes over medium-high heat. Bring to a slow boil and stir in ¼ lb cubed brie cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir to melt cheese. Package sauce.
  6. Follow honey shrimp recipe, then SS, then lettuce wrap steak. Package.
  7. Finish spaghetti squash recipe, package
  8. Finish lentil recipe, package
 

Freezer Cooking February 17, 2010

Filed under: Cooking,Saving Money — trntm @ 2:52 am

So freezer cooking is a concept where you prepare all the meals and then freeze then. It usually requires one full day of cooking. I’ve done variations of this in the past and the biggest hurdle for me is the clean-up. However, I want to try it again-this time including breakfast for me; lunches for hubby and I; and of course dinner for hubby and I. Instead of a month’s work of meals, I’ll just do two weeks of meals.

The steps seem easy enough.

  1. Decide what to cook. Plan around what’s on sale or what’s on hand.
  2. Gather recipes.
  3. Shop
  4. Cook! Broken down into preperation, cooking, assembling and freezing.

Since I’m still dealing with just me, I decided to experiment with two weeks worth of solo meals.

1. Decide what to cook. A quick look in the freezer pantry provided some clues of what needed to be cooked and fast.

  • Shrimp
  • Potatoes
  • Steak
  • Winter Squash

2. Gather recipes

3. Shop. No shopping needed, I have everything I need.

4. Cook

  • Thaw meats
  • Print recipes
  • Pre-chop as needed
  • Cook & Freeze
 

Pantry Challenge: Week One’s Results February 15, 2010

The Plan: I decided to start the first official week and eat all the perishables first. This included yogurt, brie, salted cod, tapenade, a cooked steak and some potatoes that were quickly growing into plants in the pantry.

The Plan for Week One.

The Results

Day 1
    Breakfast: “Goulash” (my former coworker named this). Yogurt & Cereal mixture
    Lunch: Peanut Butter and Tropical Fruit Sandwich on Wheat with Hot Blueberry Tea
    Dinner: Steak and California Veggies

Day 2
    Breakfast: Canned Tropical Fruit
    Lunch:  Lettuce Wraps
    Dinner: Lettuce Wraps

*I cheated and went grocery shopping-twice. I wanted some fresh fruits and vegetables and there were none in the house. I stocked up on fresh spinach, apples, lettuce and avocados. Then I spotted almonds on sale, imitation crab for some homemade sushi, balsamic vinaigrette on sale (note to self, plan on cheating more to stock up on the vinegar), my breakfast cereal on sale, pomegranate juice on sale and two types of yummy cheese, not on sale, but yummy.

Day 3
    Breakfast: bacon and eggs
    Lunch: olive garden with a friend
    Dinner:

Day 4
    Breakfast: apple
    Lunch: McDonald’s with a friend
    Dinner: boiled crab legs

Day 5
    Breakfast: Bacon and Eggs
    Lunch: cheese and apples
    Dinner: steak and veggies

Day 6
    Breakfast: apple
    Lunch: rice, cookie, bagel chips
    Dinner: Roasted Veggie Pasta

Day 7
    Breakfast: Eggs
    Lunch: Canned Soup
    Dinner: sushi

I noticed that I tend to snack through the day or do without meals. Why? Because I don’t want to exert the effort to cook the meal. To combat this, I will try the method of freezer cooking so I will always have meals to pull out and warm up with minimal effort. Also, I’ll actually eat something more than an apple!

Ugh, time for plan b!

 

Pantry Challenge: Week One’s Plan February 8, 2010

Filed under: Cooking,Eat From the Pantry Challenge,Saving Money — trntm @ 2:29 am

The Plan: I decided to start the first official week and eat all the perishables first. This included yogurt, brie, salted cod, tapenade, a cooked steak and some potatoes that were quickly growing into plants in the pantry.

The Plan for Week One.

Day 1
    Breakfast: “Goulash” (my former coworker named this). Yogurt & Cereal mixture
    Lunch: Peanut Butter and Tropical Fruit Sandwich on Wheat with Hot Blueberry Tea
    Dinner: Steak and California Veggies

Day 2
    Breakfast: Goulash
    Lunch:  Leftover Pasta
    Dinner: Captain Duarte’s Salt Cod Cakes

Day 3
    Breakfast: Tropical Strawberry Smoothie
    Lunch: Grilled Turkey Bacon Sandwich
    Dinner: Tomato Brie Bow Tie Pasta

Day 4
    Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls
    Lunch: Canned Soup
    Dinner: Frozen Stir Fry

Day 5
    Breakfast: Bacon and Eggs
    Lunch: Grilled Turkey and Tapenade Sandwich
    Dinner: Baked Chicken and Brie

Day 6
    Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls
    Lunch: Frozen Fried Rice
    Dinner: Roasted Veggie Pasta

Day 7
    Breakfast: Bacon and Eggs
    Lunch: Canned Soup
    Dinner: Seafood Boil (Smoked Sausage, Potatoes, Shrimp, Corn)

 

SuperCook February 6, 2010

Filed under: Cooking — trntm @ 10:37 pm

I stumbled upon a neat website called SuperCook, I decided to enlist its help in my Pantry Challenge which is going strong. 

I think I’ve found my new best friend. You enter in all your stock from your kitchen and it spits out all the recipes you can make-RIGHT NOW.

I added a few items from my kitchen and I got back over 500 recipes I could make right then. Yummy!

I guess that ends the “there’s nothing to cook for dinner” debate.