Turkey and Spinach Meatballs

16 05 2014

I’m BACK!  It’s almost the summer and I’m finally starting to recover from my spring theater season (directed a musical at my elementary school that happened in February, and then produced and stage managed a play at The Summit Playhouse that happened in late April/May).  

I recently signed up for a CSA box with Dreyer Farms in Cranford, NJ – unfortunately the FreshBox program I did last year with Alan’s Orchard doesn’t exist anymore, but I’m really excited to be getting a CSA from Dreyer Farms.  I’ve purchased the “healthy family” option, which is meant for a family of 4-5 but we’ll be splitting it between two couples this year.  We get our first box next week and I’m so excited to see what this program has to offer!

But in the meanwhile, I’ve gotten back on the meal planning train and have been trying to cook healthier and cost-friendly meals for me and my boyfriend that we can have for both lunch and dinner.  Last week I bought two and a half pounds of ground turkey.  I took half of it and put it in the crockpot to make this turkey chili recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.  It was actually my first time making chili (ever!) and I think it turned out alright.  Next time I’ll add more spices and then go from there. 

The other half of the ground turkey I used to make turkey florentine meatballs from Rachael Ray.  Instead of the sauce suggested in the recipe, I made some tomato sauce using crushed tomatoes and some paprika, herbes de provence, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  The meal was intended to be a freezer meal we could save for a week or two from now, so we wouldn’t have to be eating all turkey all week.  Half of it made it into the freezer and the other half we had for dinner the other night.  I heated up the meatballs in the tomato sauce and cooked up half a box of veggie penne (Barilla) then put some parmesan romano cheese on top.  Voila, a healthy and tasty meal!

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Happy eating! 





Hibernation.

4 01 2014

I have a bunch of posts and pictures backlogged – but let’s start with this one.

One weekend in November, I began cooking on a Saturday afternoon and didn’t stop until the wee hours of Sunday morning.  I certainly didn’t plan to be cooking as much as I did, but I just kept cooking and cooking and cooking!  So by Sunday evening, I began playing tetris in my freezer to be able to fit everything in my freezer.

Reasons for my cooking spree?  December and January are really hectic months between school and running the musical, and I didn’t want to have to be thinking about food as much or preparing my lunches for school on Sundays so I could focus on other things.  So while I was making beef stew on the stove, I had chicken tikka masala in the oven and a beef barley soup in the crockpot. And after the chicken tikka masala, I roasted a pumpkin and made a puree out of that.  More posts to come in the future of these cooking adventures.

Here is what my freezer looked like after a lot of rearranging: (Can you see the row of tupperware behind the soups? That’s beef stew.)

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And since I didn’t label any of my containers before putting in them in the freezer (silly me…), I made myself a list of what’s in the freezer.

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So how will I decide what to eat?  It’s pretty much whatever I can take out of the freezer first without making anything else fall down.  I’m looking forward to a month full of not cooking [as much] and eating out of the freezer.  It definitely takes a load off while I have so many other things on my mind.

Happy eating!





…and, we’re back!

21 07 2011

Friends,

I apologize for not posting in SO long.  It’s been a while, I know.  Between the end of the semester, packing to move, moving, living without a stove for two weeks, and then working 50-70 hours a week and taking class, I’ve barely had time to even stop and cook, let alone discover any new recipes.

For the past month or two I’ve recycled recipes that I’ve already posted on this blog, because I’m so comfortable with the recipes now.  I’ve made chicken marsala, lots and lots of pasta salad, and most recently, beef stew.  This week I think I’ll be working on some salmon teriyaki, and then next week I think I’ll work on chicken teriyaki or maybe this pasta dish.  All good choices.

I’ve also been doing some baking, and will hopefully have a new blog post up by the end of the week from my most recent munchies endeavor.  Just two weeks ago I made a batch of mint chocolate chip cookies, and a few dozen bacon chocolate chip cookies, as gifts to dancers in Philadelphia.  They were all well received and I absolutely love both cookies so it was a nice treat.

So, until next time, and I promise August is going to filled with organizing, planning, dancing, and most of all, cooking and blogging!

Happy eating!





Pasta Salad (for the week)

12 04 2011

I have a show coming up at the end of the week (I’m a piano accompanist) at the end of the week, so apologies for the lack of posts recently.  Since I’m booked with rehearsals and a bunch of other obligations (class, tutoring, teaching SAT class, meetings, etc etc) all week, here’s what I’m living on for the week:

Lunches:

  • Sun-dried tomato basil wraps with sun-dried tomato hummus, bacon, turkey
  • Bologna sandwiches on wheat bread (with mayo or hummus)
  • Chips Ahoy, Cheez Its, and Chocolate-covered cranberries

Dinners:

  • Orzo with roasted butternut squash, cranberries, and spinach (blog to follow later on, once I have more time)
  • Pasta salad

My mom used to make this pasta salad each year when I did Relay for Life in high school.  It’s pretty simple and I used a lot of pre-made ingredients, so total time of preparing everything was done within the time it took me to boil water and then cook the pasta.

It’s simple and cost-effective, since it made 5 servings that I can grab and eat on the go all week.  It’s got many layers of flavor, too – tri-color rotini pasta, diced ham (I bought pre-made ham steak), diced chicken (pre-made diced chicken, Perdue short cuts), one can of cannelini beans, and mushrooms that I sauteed in butter and balsamic vinaigrette.  I used the same dressing to sautee the mushrooms that I used for the dressing on the pasta salad and the flavors all worked really well together. Here it is:

Happy eating!





How I Get By: Milk

15 01 2011

In this series of posts, I’ll take you past the food that I can eat and that I make, and a little more in depth into my life and how I get by.  I have a few topics to write about, so stay tuned for more!

Milk is one of the things that I miss the most.  I used drink a gallon a week by myself when I was younger, up until I became lactose intolerant as soon as I went to college.  Here’s a few things that I do to get by.

As far as milk goes, I’ve found that most lactose-free milks are a good substitute.  I’ve always liked whole milk, so I normally buy the whole milk, but can sometimes have the 2% lactose free milk.  Coupons.com normally has come coupons for Lactaid brand milk so if I’m at ShopRite I’ll get that, but lately I go to Halo Farms, the local market, and buy their lactose-free milk there.  It’s cheaper than Lactaid and I love supporting the local economy.  They have whole, 2%, and skim versions.  I use lactose-free milk as a substitute in baking as well .. as far as I can see, it hasn’t changed the consistency of anything I make, but I still have a lot of discovering to do.

My most recent discovery has been the brand SO Delicious. It was recommended to me by a colleague who has a son with multiple food allergies.  The difficulty that I often run into is that I’m allergic to milk and soy, and many milk substitutes are soy.  SO Delicious offers a few yogurts that are made with coconut milk, and after a few trials and errors, I found three flavors that I like – raspberry, strawberry, and strawberry banana.  They taste pretty good and although they run a little more than traditional yogurt ($1.99/ea. at Whole Foods), the ability to eat yogurt again like a ‘real person’ is really great.

The last thing I do is carry these Lactaid pills with me everywhere.  You can never be too careful, and sometimes my body is much more intolerant of milk.  I think it is very possible to live a dairy-free lifestyle and don’t like to rely on medicine to be able to eat.  However, I keep these pills on me just in case, because sometimes I just can’t resist a great slice of pizza.  Lactaid pills aren’t foolproof, though; sometimes I’ll take a pill and still get sick, which is why I normally air on the side of staying away from all dairy.

Overall, I still miss milk a lot, and there are still some substitutes that don’t exist, like regular yogurt, cream, and some really good gouda cheese (my favorite).  Life is all about adjustments, though, and maybe one day I’ll be able to enjoy milk again!

Happy eating!





How I Get By: Budgets

6 01 2011

In this series of posts, I’ll take you past the food that I can eat and that I make, and a little more in depth into my life and how I get by.  I have a few topics to write about, so stay tuned for more!

Budgeting is really important in my life, and here are some of the ways that I continue to cut corners.

Coupons – I’ve always been a coupon cutter, because my mom was one. When she stopped cutting coupons, I would do it for her and give her the coupons for things that I wanted from the store that week (this was back in high school).  These days I still find a lot of satisfaction from physically cutting coupons, but most of my coupon cutting occurs online.  I utilize a few sites such as coupons.com, redplum.com, smartsource.com, and couponmom.com to find the best coupons.  What’s better is I can choose which coupons I want and most of them are plentiful and available most weeks, so I can cut coupons for things that I actually need.
I keep a coupon file with me when I shop – but the most important thing is to pull coupons that I’m definitely going to be using before I shop so I don’t get too flustered with all the coupons (there are a lot).  Here are coupons I’ve cut online too.

Buying on sale When I grocery shop, I only buy things that are on sale, or if not, the cheapest price.  Store brands are definitely okay, and it certainly pays off to take the time to look at unit prices to bargain shop for the best price.  The two grocery stores that I frequent the most are Shop Rite and Stop and Shop, and both of these stores feature an online weekly circular.  This way I can plan on my shopping trip before I even get to the store to save myself time.  Both stores, actually, also have an ‘online shopping cart’ where you can click links from the online circular, and the site will print out a shopping list for you – it’s even categorized to optimize your trip to the store!  This has certainly helped me in money AND time saving efforts.

Stocking up There is always something at the grocery store that I need in my pantry and will need later.  Chocolate chips, flour, sugar, chicken broth, pasta, butter, bacon .. when these things go on sale, I will normally buy more than I need, so that I don’t have to run out to get it later, and because a lot of dishes I use need ingredients such as these.  By stocking up my pantry with frequently used items, it ensures that I won’t have to rush out to the store and end up spending more money because I didn’t plan ahead.

Keeping track of where the money goes – I budget $150-200 a month for groceries, and for the past two months have fallen under $150.  I use mint.com to keep track of all my finances, and keep close track of where my money goes each week and each month.  Also, I’ve found it really helpful (a little time consuming, but helpful) to go through my shopping list while I’m shopping and keep an estimate of how much money I am spending.  I tend to do one big grocery trip a month (and spend $80-100) and then have small shopping trips after that.  This way I know the bulk of my money is going towards that one trip, and when I plan out my grocery list, I plan accordingly.

Lists! I wouldn’t be able to survive with lists and grocery lists are no different.  Even yesterday I walked into Wegmann’s (which I’ve only been in a handful of times) and completely forgot why I was there because I was so distracted by the complexity of the store.  I ended up wandering for about half an hour before I really had to focus myself to do what I was there to do.  (I didn’t even find what I was looking for, so it was just a waste of time.)  I make grocery lists and bring a pen with me so I can cross off things I found, and only put things on my grocery list that I will use for a meal that I’ve planned for (more on meal planning next week).

Along with using canvas bags (they help the environment AND they save you a tiny bit of money), I cut corners wherever possible.  It’s really rewarding when there’s a “total savings” box at the bottom of your receipts – here are a few of mine:

These are just receipts that I had laying around, too!  I saved $30 in one trip by shopping with my frequent buyers card (which everyone should have) and with coupons.  Think of what this could all do for you!

Happy eating, all!





How I Get By: Nutrients

30 12 2010

In this series of posts, I’ll take you past the food that I can eat and that I make, and a little more in depth into my life and how I get by.  I have a few topics to write about, so stay tuned for more!

When people learn of my food allergies, the most common question I get is whether or not I can successfully eat healthy, and if I get all the nutrients that I need to sustain myself.  The simple answer: no.  I was taking a few vitamins before I went to see my new doctor (including a multi-vitamin) and after some blood tests, it was recommended that I take a few more vitamins.

So for the moment, I take: calcium supplements (Viactiv), One-A-Day Multivitamin, Vitamin B-Complex, Vitamin E, Vitamin D3, and Vitamin C.  We [my mom and I] thought the multivitamin would take care of stuff I was missing, but since I did the blood tests while I was regularly taking the calcium, multi-vitamin, and vitamin E, it’s obvious I wasn’t getting the nutrients I needed.

So here’s the daily dessert to my lunch or dinner.

And here’s the amount of supplements that I have sitting on my dresser.

Happy eating!