Project Food Budget: Week 10

31 03 2011

Nothing huge to note this week, however, Mother of 2Chili did report that she quite enjoyed the Veggie Yakisoba leftovers while she was housesitting for our recent vacation. “Grams,” as our dog and cat call her, never knows what she may find in the fridge when she’s here for a visit. Luckily, this time, she found something quite tasty.

I am still not caught back up on my life from being gone for a few days, so, this week I took the easy way out and just ordered from Amazon Fresh. When you are behind in everything and working around the clock, a little extra cost for home delivery is worth it. I have been glued to my desk chair for what seems like three solid days, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Life should be back on track on time for the weekend!

Here’s this week’s damage:

Goal: $75
Actual: $68.20

Amazon Fresh Qty. Extended Price ($)
Organic Valley Milk, Fat Free, Pasteurized, Gallon 1 $6.19
Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice with Calcium and Vitamin D, No Pulp, 128 oz 1 $6.79
Chiquita Bananas, 5 Count Bunch, Green (Ecuador) 1 $2.09
Chiquita Bananas, 3 Count Bunch, Ripe (Ecuador) 1 $1.29
Bob’s Red Mill, Wheat Germ, 16 oz 1 $2.89
Bob’s Red Mill, Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats, 32 oz 1 $4.99
C&H Pure Cane Sugar Golden Brown, 2 lb 1 $3.09
Heinz Vinegar, Apple Cider, 16 oz 1 $1.59
Fiesta Lentils, 16 oz 1 $1.29
Yellow Onion, Organic, 1 Onion (United States)@0.99ea  1 $0.99

CSA Box – $37


Menu for the Week:

  • Monday: Egg Scramble with Kale, barley, carrots, and mushrooms (no 2Chili for dinner as he was still driving home…poor guy).
  • Tuesday: OMG Onion Rings and Tuna  Melt for 2Chili (I had onion rings and then cereal. Really. I was so flabbergasted from the onion rings I couldn’t think of what else to make. Tip: Do not eat onion rings and chase with cereal. Blech.)
  • Wednesday: Refried Bean Burritos
  • Thursday: Some Sort of Pasta with Red Sauce and Snow Peas
  • Friday: Lentil Loaf and Mashed Potatoes
  • Saturday: Butternut Squash Orzo
  • Sunday: Veggie Chili

Budget Buddies, Represent!


Test Kitchen Tuesday: OMG Oven Baked Onion Rings

30 03 2011

2ChiliBreadBowl loves onion rings. Personally, I could take them or leave them (well, mostly leave them). But, for his TKT this week, I wanted to make something special to make up for him having to drive to and from Tahoe for our vacation. So, I figured a tuna melt and onion rings would do the trick.

I have never tried to make baked onion rings before, but 2Chili famously tried about five or six years ago. I say “famously” because it was a disaster. By the time he had them “breaded” he was frazzled, and the onions were basically just haphazardly covered in clumped up batter. I think it’s possible that an entire roll of paper towels was used in the process, and I know that was the last time I remember 2Chili cooking something. I also know I laughed a lot. Whoopsie. What is that saying my grandma used to point out? Oh yeah:

What goes around comes around.

Tonight, my fingers covered in batter mixture and my onions most definitely not wanting the breadcrumbs to stick, I could so relate to him.  I don’t think that it was the recipe’s fault in this case. We must both be inept when it comes to making baked onion rings. This attempt was not quite a disaster, but, it was not that good. My onion rings looked nothing like the originals, so I blew it somewhere. You win some, you lose some. Tonight, the onions won.


OMG Oven Baked Onion Rings

Recipe Source: Post Punk Kitchen

Skill Level (Out of 5): PlatePlatePlate

2Chili’s Taster Rating (Out of 5): StarStar

He did note that these were much better than his failed attempt, which would have had a negative score.

The Cook’s Taster Rating (Out of 5): StarStarStar

While ugly, I thought these were pretty tasty. But, then again, I am no onion ring connoisseur. I didn’t intend to have any, but ended up eating quite a few.

Nutrition: The nutrition info is provided in the original recipe, so I’m not going to calculate it out here separately. It’s really pretty good, as far as onion rings go.

The Verdict: Since these tasted good, I will probably try making them again. The biggest issue was that the breadcrumbs kept getting clumped up due to the batter that inevitably leaked into the crumb bowl, so I may try more of a sprinkle technique instead of actually putting the dipped onions into the breadcrumb bowl.

My backseat driver barstool chef kept saying that Guy Fieri insists the batter must be very cold, but both my onions and batter mixture were very cold, so I don’t think that was the issue. Lastly, I think it may work better with panko breadcrumbs, so I might try that as well.

If you have any tips for making baked onion rings, do tell!

Tuesday Tip and Can Top Poll Results

29 03 2011

We go through a lot of carrots around here. I don’t know why.


But, even though we are big carrot consumers, sometimes, I’m lazy and toss a bunch of carrots into the crisper straight from the produce box without preparing them (i.e., peeling and storing in an airtight container). This results in limp, lifeless carrots. But, there is a solution!

TIP: To bring limp carrots back to life, peel them, chop in halves (or quarters), and place them in a reusable container with a about 1/2 inch of water on the bottom. Place them in the fridge, and within a few hours, you’ll have crispy, crunchy carrots once again. This should be used on carrots that are still “good,” meaning, they are not rotting, but are just limp and in need of rehydration.

Now, on to the results from the Canned Goods Poll. I am pleasantly surprised to see that more than 40% of you always wash your can tops. That makes me less weird than I thought! “I never thought of this before” came in a close second with 33% of the votes, and “No, a little dust never hurt anyone” rounded it out with almost 26% of the votes.


This was a fun poll for me to observe, so thank you for your votes!

For those that hadn’t thought of this before, will you be washing your can tops now?

The Best Thing About Vacation…

28 03 2011

…is going home! As I write this, I am sitting at the airport, drinking the hottest cup of coffee known to man and getting ready to go back home to Seattle, and to these girls:


2Chili knows me well, and so for this vacation, he drove ahead of me in our truck with our skis, boots, and other gear, while I had the luxury of flying with nothing more than my backpack and computer. It works out well that way. He likes the journey and I’m all about the destination. My impending two hour flight is nothing compared to his 12+ hour drive from Tahoe to Seattle, so I am planning something he’ll like for tomorrow’s Test Kitchen Tuesday that will make it up to him.

As I mentioned in my Project Food Budget write-up last week, we were winging it on restaurant food for the trip. There were quite a few trips to the Whole Foods hot bar, but we had some pretty good restaurant luck as well, particularly on Saturday.

We couldn’t ski on Saturday because the resorts were still crippled from all the snow, so we just puttered around with no real agenda. We hit up Burger Me in Truckee for lunch (veggie burger and sweet potato fries), which was once featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Their veggie burgers are really delicious, but more importantly, they source all their beef and other ingredients locally, and they make sure they are chemical- and hormone-free, which I feel good about supporting.

After lunch, we hit up the ski consignment shops (we have a “usual suspects” list of gear stores we visit), and at one of the shops, I smelled waffles through the walls. I am a sucker for a waffle, so we had to try it out. I wish I had taken a picture. It was the best waffle ever!


If you are ever in Lake Tahoe, stop by Poppy’s Frozen Yogurt & Waffle Shop in Tahoe City. YUM!

Tomorrow I’ll be back with the results from the “Wash or Don’t Wash” Can Top Poll.

Weekly Roundup: 3.26.11

26 03 2011


I can’t believe it’s the end of March and I’ve been in the middle of a huge blizzard in Lake Tahoe. At the end of March!

Usually, when 2Chili and I roll into town, the skies dry up and the snow turns to sheet ice. This time, we had the opposite effect: so much snow that most of the ski areas actually closed on Thursday and Friday.

Happily, we managed to get in some good fun at one of the few areas that was open yesterday. It dumped snow all day, and I was schooled by the very swift and light-on-his feet 2Chili. Nevertheless, I managed to float my way through 3 feet of fresh powder mostly unscathed! What a day!

Skiing aside, here are some interesting links from the past week:

  • Tips for New BloggersChoosing Raw. I thought this was a great write up about things to keep in mind for new bloggers. While this blog is new, I have written my “Angela’s Random Musings” blog for about five-and-a-half years, but have been reading blogs for longer than that. I have to admit, Gena nailed one of my number one pet peeve of bloggers:  poor spelling and grammar. If I read a blog and there are clear errors (not just innocent typos which happen to everyone), I usually just move along.
  • Soaking Whole GrainsGood Food Health. We all know we should eat whole grains (and no, “whole grain” Trix or Fruit Loops do not count!), but, I honestly didn’t know that whole grains really require soaking to be best digested. This is from the blog of our CSA, Full Circle Farm.
  • DIY Cooking HandbookNew York Times. This handbook could maybe could be called “DIY Handbook to making your own sauces, spreads, and unique condiments,” but it’s pretty interesting. I’m probably not going to make Kimchi or Tesa, but perhaps chocolate-hazelnut paste or maple vinegar might be on my list…
  • HELP: 10 Tips for Picky EatersZestyCook. This one hits home! Like Zesty’s son, 2Chili is also very fond of Kraft Dinner (and ketchup on said mac ‘n cheese, of course). These tips from Zesty are good, and many of them I have already employed around our house. The biggest one I could add is simply to serve what you want to serve. All I ask from 2Chili is he try whatever it is I’m serving. If he genuinely doesn’t like it, out comes the Kraft Dinner. It’s an agreement that works for us!

I hope you’re having a good weekend! Happy Spring!

Project Food Budget: Week 9

24 03 2011

Nothing too exciting to report this week, unless you’re into TJ’s Frosted Flakes. 2Chili is thrilled because they have been out of Frosted Flakes for weeks at Trader Joe’s. We thought they had been discontinued, but alas, this week, they were available again. While not the best nutritionally, they are generally better than Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, and make him happy, so I obliged.

You’ll notice he also has a mini chocolate bar dependency. Speaking of mini, on a little mini vacation right now, so I used this week to stock up on a few things to set us up for next week.

Goal: $75
Actual: $75.56

Trader Joe’s Qty. Extended Price ($)
12 Grain Crackers 1 $1.99
TJ’s Mini Shredded Wheats 1 $2.99
TJ’s Frosted Flakes 2 $3.98
Olive Oil 1 $3.49
Organic Fat Free Milk Gallon 1 $5.69
Bananas 6 $1.14
Dark Roast Coffee 1 $4.49
Almond Butter Creamy Unsalted 1 $4.99
Mini Milk Chocolate Bars 2 $3.58
Mini Dark Chocolate Bars 1 $1.79
Dried Bing Cherries 1 $3.49
Dried Blueberries 1 $5.49
Jumbo Cage Free Eggs 1 $2.79
Medjool Dates 1 $3.79
Organic Strawberries 1 lb 1 $3.99
TJ’s Macaroni & Cheese Yellow Cheddar 1 $0.99
Fusili Pasta 1 $0.99
Amazon Fresh Qty. Extended Price ($)
Chicken of the Sea Chunk Light Tuna in Water 4 $3.96
Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Chips 1 $3.29
Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips 1 $2.69
Eden Soba Buckwheat Pasta 1 $4.49
Clabber Girl Baking Powder 1 $1.69
Pictsweet Premium Cut Corn Frozen 2 $3.78

Menu for the Week

Monday: Leftover Baked Ziti
Tuesday: Veggie Yakisoba
Wednesday – Sunday: We’re braving it in the restaurant world! Wednesday was the Whole Foods Market hot bar, who knows what the rest of the week will bring… 

Budget Buddies

Test Kitchen Tuesday For One: Veggie Yakisoba, and Café Flora Cookbook Winner

23 03 2011

Wow, that was a long title!

First and foremost, let’s get to the winner of the Café Flora Cookbook. As I mentioned, the odds in this contest were very, very good. In all, there were five comments (entries), but one was from my mom, who graciously opted herself out of the contest.

So the winner is…drumroll please…Joanna, who was the 2nd commenter! Congratulations! I have already connected with Joanna and her cookbook is on its way from my buds over at

image image

Now, to the dinner. This week’s Test Kitchen Tuesday was a one-fer, as 2Chili is off participating in adventures unknown. Truth be told, I have been kind of looking forward to this one, as I have had a recipe on the brain for a while that I have put off making until a time when it would just be for me.

Veggie Yakisoba is one of my favorite things to order at our local catch-all Thai-Japanese-Chinese restaurant. 2Chili prefers chicken teriyaki and not much else from the Asian cuisine, so I knew this one would be pushing it for him. After I saw Mark Bittman make this on TV, I realized this is a pretty easy, fast, and customizable dish for one.


Veggie Yakisoba

Original Recipe: Yakisoba with Pork and Cabbage, The Minimalist (New York Times)

I used what I had on hand: broccolini, carrots, mushrooms and buckwheat yakisoba noodles.

Time Required: 10 minutes (seriously)

Skill Level (out of 5): Plate

The Cook’s Taster Rating (out of 5): StarStarStarStar


There are so many ways you could make this. I’m providing the nutrition on my version, with the broccolini, carrots, mushrooms, and buckwheat noodles based on 2 oz of dry pasta. I used low sodium soy sauce, and you’ll notice, the sodium is still pretty high! That pesky soy sauce…too bad it’s so good!

image image

The Verdict:

This was so easy it was ridiculous! It was very tasty as well, though I probably  won’t make it often due to the unavoidable sodium content – it’ll more as a treat every now and then.