Ah, bliss. (Pantry Cooking Project, Day 5)

First weekend post-graduation. So nice to just putter around my house and relax!

It’s my first weekend as a college graduate, and it’s off to a wonderful start. Slept in a little bit (until 8am! yay!) and then delighted in a gorgeous breakfast James made us: morel omelettes, potatoes, V-8, and tea. Later, scarfed an entire pint of raspberries all by myself. Life is good.

Today’s food:

The aforementioned breakfast.

breakfast

Lunch was veggie burgers with homemade mayo (you may recall we ran out of store-bought pretty early) and oven fries. James made lunch, as well. He’s a really useful guy to have around.

lunch

(I made the mayo from this recipe from the Frugal Farm Wife, Elise New.)

mayo

For dinner, I thought I’d try my hand at making flour tortillas using my friend Koko’s instructions, but I ended up feeling less ambitious than that, so I just made “Spanish rice” instead, and served it with refried beans and a tomato-and-avocado salad.

dinner

(I haven’t been mentioning snacks. Today’s snacks were the aforementioned raspberries, some milk and cookies, and a couple of white peaches. Ah, summer!)

Money spent on groceries today: $0 (project total $39.61)
Money spent in restaurants today: $0 (project total $37.76)
Food gifts received today: $0 (project total $17)
Things we’ve run out of: Mayonnaise, ice cream, hamburger patties, pork chops

Easy Spanish rice
Author: 
Recipe type: Side dish
Cuisine: Pseudo-Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 small bell pepper (any color), finely diced
  • 1½ cups medium- or long-grained white rice
  • 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 2½ cups stock or water (I used a knorr beef tub in hot water)
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce, or diced tomatoes with the liquid)
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for a couple of minutes, until softened. Add pepper and rice and cook and stir 5-8 minutes, until rice starts to turn light brown. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  2. Add in broth and tomatoes. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Let simmer 20 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

 

My week in Bento

My new lunchbox thermos is making things more fun at lunchtime — and cheaper, too!

I’m saving money and having fun with my lunches by using my new bento thermos every weekday. I thought I’d share my lunchbox photos with you.

(Click through to enlarge and/or to see what was in each box; Flickr lets me tag each photo with little notes — I love that!)

Monday:

01bento-9-26-11

Tuesday:

02bento-9-27-11

Wednesday:

03bento-9-28-11

Thursday:

04bento-9-29-11

Friday:

05bento-09-30-2011

This post is linked up in this week’s Penny Worthy Project. Go check out the other thrifty-living posts there.

Brother Food: Caesar Salad

Caesar salad for slackers.

Caesar salad and slices of seedless watermelon

My two younger brothers are awesome. They were great kids, and now they’re great husbands and dads, with beautiful wives, and eleven kids between them.

Rick’s the older of the two. There was a few-year period, between when I graduated from high school and when he met his wife, when we were very close. We would stay up late at night and watch Carson and Letterman and Costas, and play our own Psychic version of Pictionary (mole-asses, hee!), and he would ask my advice on what to wear on dates. I taught him to tie a tie, and he helped me understand differential equations. Did I mention he’s a major genius? And that I really like him? I mourned some when he got married and I wasn’t his main family-hangout-friend any more, but I was young, and I’m over it. I love his wife and their eight marvelous kids, though we don’t see very much of each other.

This salad always makes me think of Rick, whose recipe was the first I ever used. It wasn’t authentic: a bottle of good store-bought Caesar dressing, a tub of shredded parmesan, some store-bought croutons, tossed with a bunch of chopped romaine. Still, I had never made a Caesar before, and it came really close to the ones I’d had in restaurants, so it’s what I did for many years.

Since then, I’ve made tons of Rick’s version. I’ve also made the real deal, with anchovies and coddled eggs and a rubbed garlic clove. Then one day, it occurred to me that egg + oil + acid (lemon juice) = mayonnaise, and I set out to make a Caesar dressing of my own that wouldn’t involve raw (or nearly raw) eggs. Nowadays, I don’t mind eating a raw egg or two now and then, but at the time, I was newly non-vegan, and I was squeamish.

Anyway, what I came up with was another one that’s decidedly not authentic, but it’s delicious, and it’s the second-most requested salad at my house. (The most requested salad is wheatberry salad, which is the kid’s current favorite of all the foods I make.)

Later, I’ll tell you a little bit about Mike, who is also way awesome. I am lucky to have two such wonderful siblings.

Caesar salad and slices of seedless watermelon

Shortcut Caesar Salad

1-2 heads romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces, washed, and dried
2-4 ounces (to taste) shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
a cup or two of homemade croutons (method follows, or use store-bought)

For the dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
1 garlic clove, crushed
Dash of salt
Plenty of freshly ground black and/or white pepper, to taste
2 flat anchovy fillets, minced, or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste

Whisk the dressing together. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve. I’m not sure I really had to tell you that part, but hey.

Homemade croutons

Cut up some bread (almost any kind) into about 2 cups of cubes. Toss with a crushed garlic clove, a dash of salt, and a good drizzle (2 tablespoons or so) of oil. Alternatively, butter the bread before cubing it. Place on a cookie sheet, with or without foil or parchment for easy cleanup, and pop into a 400°F oven (no need to preheat). Bake, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until golden brown. Let cool on the cookie sheet before using.

Dinner in 30: Falafel

Sometimes, we don’t make things from scratch around here.

I’ve been sick for days, so I don’t have the energy for either FFwD (even though it’s a SUPER-easy recipe this time), or a big long post.

So you have to settle for something we love, but that I rarely make myself: falafel, made from a boxed mix.

falafel with tahini sauce

Above, falafel with tahini sauce. Tahini sauce is made by taking tahini (try 1/4 cup to start) and adding the juice of a lemon and a pinch of salt. Mix well, then add a little water and mix well again. Keep adding water a little bit at a time until when you mix it, something magical happens and it turns from a tan paste to a lighter-colored sauce.

I have made falafel from scratch, and it’s much better than boxed, but boxed is good, and I lost the recipe and got lazy.

falafel with yogurt sauce

This one’s got yogurt sauce on it. I’d call it tzatziki, but there’s no cucumber. The yogurt sauce is drained whole-milk yogurt, a big handful each of finely chopped parsley and mint, a clove of minced fresh garlic, and a dash of salt.

Served both on whole-wheat pita with plenty of veggies. Good eatin’!