Low Carb Meals ~ Breaded & Fried Pork Chops with Green Beans

Complex carbohydrates and dairy products have been dragging me down lately so I've been looking to reduce my intake of both. I've been interested in making some simple low carb lunches and dinners but am having a hard time coming up with some interesting combinations.

Here is one I tried!

I found a package of 2 boneless, thick-cut pork chops at Market Basket for $1.05. That price was too difficult to pass up so even though I wasn't sure what I would do with them, I went ahead and bought the chops.

I usually buy thin cut pork chops on the bone, salt and pepper them and broil them to death in the oven. A side of fried plantains always goes really well with them. I didn't want to broil these boneless thick-cut chops because I envisioned horrible, shriveled up blocks of hard pork. Euw.

I salted the chops, dipped them in an egg wash, breaded them and then fried them in light olive oil. The side was just steamed green beans. They came out pretty good! I think next time I'll try a smothered pork chop.

Do you have any good ideas for my next low carb dinner?

Apple-Picking Baking Madness ~ Caramel Apple Cake with Pecans

Saturday I went to Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, MA with a few friends to go Apple and Peach picking. It was lots of fun and I got some great fruit. I'm looking forward to eating and baking with my spoils!

Here I am apple-picking. Or pretending to apple pick!

I plan to do about 4 desserts with my apples and peaches. Caramel Apple Cake, Apple Turnovers, Apple Crisp and Peach Cobbler.

Food Network has the most amazing Caramel Apple Cake recipe. I make it every year without fail. This year I found myself in a quandary. It was late, I didn't have a bundt pan, I didn't have the time to make homemade caramel sauce and I didn't have enough flour to make a cake from scratch. I still wanted to make the Caramel Apple Cake so I made an altered version of it.

If you do make this cake, please try the original recipe! It's so much better. But if you are in a jam like I was or if you are new to baking or have baking issues, this simplified version may suit your needs.

Caramel Apple Cake with Pecans (Simplified)


4-5 Peeled and Sliced Apples
Lemon Juice
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
Sprinkle of cinammon

Vanilla Cake Mix
3 eggs, 1/3 cup oil and 1-1/4 cup water (for cake mix)
1/2 teaspoon of Cinammon
1/8 teaspoon of Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon of Ground Clove

Chopped Pecans
Caramel Sauce for Ice Cream

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Peel and slice your apples. The thinner the slices the better. Add several squeezes of lemon juice and set aside.

Add the dry vanilla cake mix to a bowl. Then add cinammon, nutmeg and ground clove and mix until thorough incorporated into the cake mix. Add wet ingredients and prepare according to cake mix instructions. If you don't have a hand mixer or standing mixer, you can always sift the dry ingredients first, then add the wet ingredients and mix by hand with a spatula.

Back to those apples. Add a sprinkle of cinammon and the brown sugar and mix into the apples.

Take a 13 X 9 baking dish and spray with baking spray. Add the apple mixture to the bottom of the dish and spread evenly. Then pour the cake batter over the apples. Give a little shake to settle the batter and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the

Let the cake cool. Cut a sliver off the top to make the top of the cake flatter (if you don't do this you'll get a crack in your cake like in my picture above). Loosen up the sides with a flat spatula then flip over your cake onto a cutting board. Move carefully back into the baking dish or onto whatever platter you may have.

Drizzle some caramel sauce all over the cake with a big spoon. Add a generous amount of chopped pecans then drizzle more caramel sauce over that.

Enjoy responsibly.

Fully Stocked Fridge & Pantry

After the experiment I did to clear out my fridge and pantry (read the chronicles here), I realized how much stuff I buy that I don't want to eat! I fill my fridge and pantry with things like frozen gnocchi, artichoke salad and chocolate pudding cups but when it comes to eating any of these things I avoid them like the plague. I came to the conclusion that I was avoiding purchasing certain foods because I knew I would eat them. That seems counterintuitive but in my mind it made sense. If it was available, I would cave into temptation and eat that whole 4-pack of flan cups. Or that entire bag of sea-salt bagel chips. But in avoiding I was also avoiding purchasing key staples that could be building blocks to future meals. It was also making me purchase those foods I didn't really want to eat anyways. Then what would happen is by Wednesday or Thursday, the food in my fridge and pantry would discuss me and I'd spend more money on take-out, which is probably much worse in caloric intake than the grocery store temptations that I was avoiding.

I also came to the conclusion that I really need to beef up my supply of staples. Comparing my staples to those of the commenters on my Staples post (read the post here), my list was sorely lacking. Everyone else's list made it seem that they kept a mini-grocery store in their home. Lots of meals could be born out of things that are constantly in their kitchen.

So yesterday I did something completely different. I shelled out about $100 and bought a lot of food that I wanted to eat! Foods that I enjoyed and that could be building blocks for future meals. I also bought snacks for work and for outings in case my blood sugar gets low. This one big shopping trip should provide me with food for a month and all I'll need to do on a weekly basis is supplement my pantry with fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, milk, eggs, bread, etc.

Here is what I purchased:

Artichoke Hearts
Bagel Chips
Biscuits - Pillsbury
Canned Fruit
Chicken Breasts to freeze
Cinammon Rolls - Pillsbury
Corn Cakes - Thomas English
Corned Beef Hash (Canned)
Crescent Rolls - Pillsbury
Frozen Meals (that I enjoy eating!)
Frozen Peaches
Frozen Ravioli
Goya Rice
Grapefruit Juice
Ground Beef to freeze
Ground Turkey Meat to freeze
Kidney Beans, White Beans and Black Beans
Marinara Sauce
Refried Beans
Sour Cream
Sweetened Condensed Milk (in a bottle!)
Tomatoes (Canned)
Tortilla Chips
Vanilla Pudding

I know that this sounds like a lot of frozen and canned products but I'm also on a budget and these foods need to last a long time. I do intend to pair a lot of things with fresh produce. And althought this list isn't perfect, it's at least a start.

When I got home and put all my groceries away and saw how much wonderful food I had in my kitchen, a warm fuzzy feeling came over me. Now let's hope the beau doesn't eat it all by himself!

Eating Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment ~ Day 15 (Final)

Today is the last day of my experiment. I did have to go grocery shopping yesterday to make Sloppy Joes that night. I haven't made Sloppy Joes in eons but somehow I instinctively knew how to make it. I made enough for the beau and I. I ate two small Sloppy Joes he ate 5! It was surprising how quickly I was able to make it too. In about 20 minutes we were scorching our mouths with hot sloppy joe sandwiches.

Quick Sloppy Joe recipe

half chopped onion
half chopped cubanelle pepper (or green pepper)
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
2 lbs of ground beef
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
1-1/2 14 oz. cans of plain tomato sauce
Worcestershire Sauce to taste (or 1 tablespoon)
Onion Powder

Season ground beef with salt, pepper and onion powder. Set aside. Sautee onion and cubanelle pepper in olive oil until the form begins to give. Add minced garlic and ground beef to the pot to brown the beef. Once the beef is cooked, add the tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and onion powder to taste. Don't skimp on any of the ingredients. The onion powder adds a great flavor and there is a fine balance between the acidity and sweetness that the tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce give to the sloppy joe mix. Cook on high heat until thick. Spoon onto toasted hamburger buns. You can add some grated cheddar cheese on top as well. This sloppy joe recipe works beautifully with egg noodles or macaroni. Mmmm....

So ends my experiment. I learned a lot, I did a lot and I failed a lot. I'm glad I did it in the end and the best thing I got out of the experience was a little wisdom on how to spend money on food.

Eating Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment ~ Day 14

Today on the eve of the end of my experiment, I don't feel so much like a failure even though I had not accomplish as much as I had hoped to. I feel that I learned a lot from this experiment, things that I could apply elsewhere to my life. And even though I'll have to keep working on clearing out my fridge & pantry for the rest of the week, I have come a long way and I will be a more efficient shopper/consumer/cook/baker in the future.

General Things I've Learned

I don't need to feed the world ~ I should tap into my need to feed on special ocassions for friends and try to keep it to loved ones like my beau and my family. Being a giving person is a good thing but there is such a thing as being too giving.

Effiency is next to godliness ~ I need to be a more efficient shopper and eater. I can't cave into cravings but I also need to keep stock food I want to eat. Buying food I don't really want, only to throw it out later when it expires, is the equivalent of flushing money down the toilet.

Stick to the basics and simplify ~ I purchased a jar of Artichoke Salad, didn't know what to do with it and looked at it with disgust for months until I finall threw it out. A can of artichoke hearts packed in water would have been much more practical and chances are it wouldn't have lasted more than a week in my pantry. If I stick to the basics, I can build meals from there.

Food-Specific Things I've Learned

The incredible, edible egg ~ Eggs are incredibly versatile. They make for a quick dinner, are essential in many desserts and can transform a breakfast. I should always have a full carton of eggs on hand in my fridge and build meals around it.

Look through my pantry & fridge weekly ~ Taking a weekly inventory of all the contents of my pantry and fridge will help me use what I already have and when I do go grocery shopping I can keep in mind those foods that would complement what I already have.

Beef up my staples ~ I should start taking note of those foods that I love, that have multiple-purposes and that I use regularly. These are things I should stock up on. The fancy ingredients that are once-in-a-while kind of foods, should just be purchased once-in-a-while.

Eating Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment ~ Day 13

My need to feed? I get it from my mom, for sure. My mother had made some nice locrio for me yesterday evening. For those of you not familiar with it, locrio is a Dominican dish which is comprised of seasoned rice and some form of meat. The most common versions are Locrio de camarones (with shrimp) and Locrio de pollo (with chicken). My mom usually adds pork for Locrio de cerdo.

So after eating way too much locrio for dinner, I wrote a status update on Facebook that read "Raquelle just ate way too much of her mother's homemade locrio. Mmmmm." The following day my beau Carlos calls me up and asks, what is this lorico that your mom makes. I explained to him what locrio (not lorico) was and he said he really wanted to try some. I made the mistake of telling my mom this and she declared that she would make some locrio for my boyfriend.

This was the end result...

After telling numerous times of telling her that she didn't have to make locrio, she made a mountain of Locrio de salchicha, cerdo, y pollo. That's sausage, porkc chops and chicken. She adds peas to the mix too. Holy moly it is good and my boyfriend quite enjoyed it.

I cook for my boyfriend, my mom cooks for my boyfriend... he is one lucky man.

And I continue to fail this project. Let's hope the beau can eat most of this otherwise I'll be dining on locrio for the next week.

Eating Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment ~ Day 12

Still feeling like a failure! I was thawing one frozen chicken breast but now it's no good. I'll have to throw it away. Now I will only have 1 chicken breast for Chicken Piccata. I'm almost at the full 15 days of this experiment but I still managed to have loads of food in my refrigerator. I'm not sure how this happened. Too many donations? Too many slips? Too much food in the pantry & fridge to conceivably eat in 15 days?! I don't know what is going wrong but it seems like I will have to continue the experiment for a few additional days so I can really clear out my kitchen.

I keep finding more stuff to throw away. How often do you purge your pantry & fridge? I think I do this at least once a month because I'm finding things that went bad in 2007 and 2008!

Breakfast - Carlos had two scrambled eggs and cinammon raisin toast with peanut butter. I had plain cereal. Sometimes you make sacrifices for the one you love. I was content eating the cereal and watching Carlos dive in on his luxurious breakfast. And I was really happy that I could provide him with such a breakfast. There is something very satisfying about feeding a man.

Lunch - Leftover Lentil Gratin (see recipe in my previous post) and the remaining cantaloupe and strawberries.

Snacks - OMG. I'm so sick of peanut butter cookies. Someone give me an oatmeal raisin cookie STAT! Lucky for me, this is the last of the cookies. I'll be eating Lorna Doone shortbread 100 Calorie packs next week.

Dinner - I will be fed. I don't need to go into details but the feeding will happen.

I was very naughty yesterday. I took a bit of cream from another employee's container for my coffee. The coffee was absolutely delicious with the stolen cream. Mmmm... I don't feel bad one jot, considering this person has stolen cream from me before. This is an office full of cream-thiefs!

Jonas' Lentil Gratin (or my version anyways)

I finally made my friend Jonas' (of All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! fame) Lentil Gratin. It was a very simple recipe that turned out quite delicious, although you can't quite tell by my poorly lit and out-of-focus photographs. This made good use of my half-bag of lentils in my pantry. By the time I made this, it was so late into the evening that I ate most of it before it finished cooking in the oven. It was still delicious though!

Jonas' Lentil Gratin (or my version anyways)

This recipe requires three different smaller recipes that combine into one final casserole!


8 oz. of lentils

- Cook to package instructions. Make sure you pick through the lentils for stones, bad lentils and other random bits and bobs that are not edible. Then cook in salted water, vegetable broth or chicken broth until the lentils absorb all the water. Set the lentils aside.

- I did this the night before and refrigerated the lentils. This saved me so much time!

Sauteed Onion & Garlic
- Sautee some chopped onions and garlic in olive oil. I didn't have garlic so I stuck with the onions. Once the onions are soft, set aside.

Bechamel Sauce
- Making Bechamel Sauce is a bit of a science. I use the basic formula of 1 tablespoon flour + 1 tablespoon milk + 1 cup of milk. Halve, double or triple to suit your needs.
- You need to start with a Roux which is the fat and the flour cooked together. I put 1 tablespoon of flour in a pan wil the the butter. While the butter melts, mix the flour in to cook it a bit.

- It starts to turn a golden color like this. Don't over cook it or let it get to brown.

- Slowly incorporate the 1 cup of milk and constantly whisk to get out the lumps. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to the mixture and cook over a medium flame. Keep stirring the mixture until it gets thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.
- If you have some good cheese handy, add a half cup of shredded cheese to the bechamel sauce to make a cheese sauce. Yum!

Mix the Lentils, Sauteed Onions & Garlic and the Bechamel Sauce altogether and put in a baking pan.

- Take some dry breadcrumbs and moisten with olive oil (or melted butter). Sprinkle over the casserole.
-Bake at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until crispy and bubbly.
Lentils on Foodista

Eating Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment ~ Day 11

Today I feel like a failure... Like I really haven't made that significant of a dent in my fridge and pantry and I'm already on day 11! Eek!

I went through and threw out a whole bunch of things from my pantry. I had some old coffee grounds, baking mixes, cereal boxes, etc. but I didn't make that big of a dent. So the catharsis I was expecting didn't really happen. I'm going to go through my fridge tonight to purge. Maybe a double-purge will make me feel better.

I cooked my half-bag of lentils in my pantry last night and put the cooked lentils in the fridge. I'm going to make my friend Jonas' recipe for Lentil Gratin. I hope to put the full recipe

Breakfast - I had the blueberry crisp for breakfast... Not a good idea. It was too sweet to have as a complete meal and I couldn't eat much of it without getting a sugar high. A basic cereal would have gone down much better. I made Recessionista Brewed Coffee again.

Snack - I had 4 peanut butter cookies. 2 for a mid-morning snack and 2 for a mid-afternoon snack. I ate one, then another, then another, then the last one until I realized there were no more left. Damn!

Lunch - This is one of the reasons I feel like a failure. I had to spend $12 on a lunch that I didn't even really want. It was a triple birthday celebration in my department. We went to an American-Italian restaurant where I had a Chicken Caesar salad with no beverage. It's $6.95 plus tax and tip. I wish I had gotten the Chicken Parm sandwich that came with a salad which was $5.25 and looked delicious (my boss had it). We split the whole bill evenly so I had to kick in extra for people's more expensive plates and for their beverages. I really shouldn't be complaining because on birthday outings usually everyone pays for their meal plus part of the birthday boy or girl's meal. This time because we grouped the 3 birthdays into one, everyone paid on their own. This is quite nice. But I wish we had celebrated on the 15th when I would have money. Good grief, if I penny pinch anymore I'll kill the nerves on the tips of my fingers.

Dinner - Lentil Gratin! Stay tuned...

Eating Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment ~ Day 10

With so many donations, I'm never going to make it through my fridge and pantry!!!

Kevin brought over fresh-picked Vermont blueberries and while he told me all the important things that have been going on in his life (it's been a big week for him) I got to making use of those blueberries. With the two pie shells, I made a blueberry tart and 5 blueberry turnovers. I also made blueberry crisp which was probably my favorite out of the three recipes. The blueberries were so plump and fresh and they turned into the most beautiful color when they baked in the crisp. I was flabbergasted. Kevin and I shared 1 blueberry turnover to taste test, of course. I sent him home with 2 turnovers, half the crisp and the whole blueberry tart. I gave my 2 turnovers to my beau Carlos and the rest of the blueberry crisp is all mine :: evil laugh::.

However, in Facebook-land it seems like most people were lusting after my Creme De Menthe Brownies. I gave them out to a few co-workers who were having birthdays and I hope they enjoy them. This time, I baked the brownies in a smaller pan to get thicker and more moist brownies. The Creme De Menthe chips literally disappear into the brownies and what you get is minty-chocolatey-wonderfulness in return.

Breakfast - I should have had that blueberry crisp for breakfast! Oh well. There is always tomorrow. Instead I had cereal and Recessionista Brewed Coffee.

Lunch - My wonderful friend Lisa made 2 Artichoke & Spinach Lasagnas for a potluck and had a lot leftover. She gave me a whole bunch of slices and I had some of them for lunch. Nom nom nom. Lisa got the recipe from All Recipes.com : http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Artichoke-Spinach-Lasagna/Detail.aspx

Snacks & Vices - I did break down for the second day in a row and got a Starbucks Espresso drink. ::sigh:: I feel like this experiment is a bit of a failure. However, the peanut butter cookies are working beautifully. I make sure to have no more than 2 at a time. I only had 1 solitary bite of the 1 leftover Creme De Menthe Brownie I allowed myself to keep. In some areas I have lots of willpower and in others I have none.

Dinner - God I feel fat. I have already eaten so much today that I don't feel like having anything for dinner. But I did anyways. At work someone cooked popcorn then at the subway station there is a popcorn stand, so guess what I had for dinner? I made sure to eat some fruit (cantelope and strawberries) to balance it out. It did make good use of my Newman's Own Popcorn stash!

Tonight I'm going to purge some expired foods from my pantry and fridge. I think it will make me feel better about this experiment. Even though I didn't eat these foods, at least I got rid of them.

Eating Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment ~ Day 9

If I ever had children, I am certain that I would be a good mother. That is, if the definition of a "good mother" would be cooking and baking and stuffing her children silly with all sorts of food. That I could do! I have this overwhelming maternal instinct to feed people and I get more enjoyment out of watching them scarf down my creations than I do eating my own cooking. I have a need to feed.

My friend Kevin is coming over to my place tonight and he's bringing freshly-picked blueberries and in return I'm going to cook and bake for him. For dinner, I'm going to put to use the Kashi Frozen Pizza - Roasted Vegetable I have in the freezer. Also, using some of my iceberg lettuce, tomato and a cucumber that my mother forced on me, I'll make a salad to go along with the pizza.

I'm wondering what I should do with Kevin's blueberries? I have 2 Mrs. Smith's Pie Crusts in the freezer. I put them out to thaw. Depending on how many blueberries Kevin has I could make a blueberry pie or blueberry turnovers. I can always make the standard blueberry crumble. I really wish I had some nectarines to make a nectarine-blueberry pie!!!

Also, 3 people out of my 7-person department at work have birthdays. So I used my Betty Crocker-Hershey's Original Supreme Brownie Mix (my favorite standby) and the Andes Creme De Menthe baking chips I had in my pantry and fridge to make Creme De Menthe chip Brownies. I expect marriage proposals upon consumption. I have made these brownies before and they have been a success. Just make the brownies according to the box instructions but add the Creme De Minthe chips (about 1-1/2 cups or so) to the dry mix and toss to coat before adding wet ingredients. This prevents the chips from sinking to the bottom of the brownies.

Here is what I had earlier:

Breakfast - Cereal and Recessionista Brewed Coffee. I have to say that Frosted Mini Wheats are NOT budget friendly. They absorb a lot of milk and it takes a lot of milk to drown them because of their bulky size. You can easily go through a quart of milk in a few days eating this cereal! I am going to experiment tomorrow eating them in a shallow bowl to use less milk as I'm really dependent on the milk I have to last me until Monday.

Lunch - This week I'll be working through my frozen foods. Today it's Swanson's Mexican Style Fiesta. I also chopped up a whole Cantaloupe yesterday and will be eating portions of it throughout the week with some whole strawberries thrown in.

New Use for a Coffee Press

Remember how I said in my blog post Recessionta Brewed Coffee that I own a coffee press from Ikea but don't like to use it?

The beau had brought me flowers (in addition to the pineapple) and I didn't have a vase to put them in. So I used my coffee press! It looks quite lovely and puts to good use a device that was just collecting dust in my kitchen.

Eating Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment ~ Day 8

I really want to make Chicken Piccata but since chicken will be a special treat I'm going to save it until the mushrooms in the fridge can't hold on much longer. So 2-3 more days? I keep mushrooms in the fridge in a paper bag, slightly opened to let air in. Plastic bags are no-nos because of all the moisture that gets trapped in there which causes them to rot more rapidly. However, the mushrooms still seem to go bad fairly quickly even with the paper bag method.

My mother gave me cinammon raisin bread on Saturday and it's Monday and half the loaf has already been consumed. Partly due to the beau's raving hunger and partly due to the fact that toasted cinammon raisin bread with butter is one of my major weakness. I'm going to try to save the loaf for when I run out of milk.

Breakfast - Cereal and some cinammon raisin bread.

Lunch - Leftovers from yesterday. Which wasn't much, because the beau ate a whole lot of my food. At least he didn't eat all my chips.

Dinner - In my pantry I have a can of Corned Beef Hash. I'm going to sautee it in some olive oil so it gets really crispy, then I will add cooked onion and cubanelle pepper, some thawed (previously frozen) corn kernels and beaten eggs. Delicious! One of my favorite dinners. Having a can of Corned Beef Hash handy was smart and I'll continue to do that in the future.

Snacks for the week - I took advantage of my day off today (Labor Day in the States) to use my Peanut Butter Cookie mix that was in my pantry and make a whole mess of cookies. I can easily store them in the fridge and bring them to work as mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks to get my sugar up.

How to Chop a Pineapple

Yesterday, the beau brought a whole pineapple to contribute to that evening's dinner. For someone who doesn't know how to pick out produce, he managed to get the most excellent pineapple! It was at the perfect point of ripeness. Not too sweet, not too acidic and not too dry. I was in heaven eating it. What was his trick in picking out the perfect pineapple? He told me that he grabbed the one closest to him. Ha!

When I went to start chopping the pineapple, the beau suggested that I take pictures and do a tutorial online on my blog. He was already scoring lots of points with the perfect pineapple and this was a great idea too. I grabbed my camera and started shooting. Here is the result...

How to Chop a Pineapple:

Start off with a pineapple, a cutting board and a good knife.

Cut the bottom off the pineapple but leave the crown on.

Stand the pineapple up. The cut off bottom now provides stabilization. Cut the skin/spines of the pineapple by peel it off in sections with your knife. Hold on to the crown for more stabilization and to help you turn the pineapple as you go.

Once you go all the way around, do a once over to clean off any of the black seeds or parts of the skin you missed.

Once you have a nice clean pineapple, cut the crown off.

If you are really picky, you can do some more carving to make the pineapple body perfectly circular. I like the rustic look so mine was all uneven.

Stand up the body of the pineapple and cut it in half.

Then cut it in half the other way so you have 4 thick slices of pineapple.

With each of the four slices, stand up each slice and with your knife cut off the tough fibrous part in the middle. This is an important step many people miss. This part of the pineapple is not terribly edible (but you can gnaw on it for fun!).

Once you have removed the fibrous part of each of the 4 slices, halve each slice lengthwise.

Then chop each of the new slices into chunks.
Pineapple on Foodista

Eating Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment ~ Day 7

My mother is determined to sabotage this project! I have to go back and return all this unusable food she gave me "out of the goodness of her heart". I use that phrase in quotations because really my mom likes to correct my life or save me whenever she can. The only donations I'm accepting from her are milk, eggs, bread and juice. That's it! The rest I'm returning to her tomorrow.

I went grocery shopping this morning for produce with a $20 limit. I ended up only spending $15.18 and bought all of this.

1 lemon
2 plum tomatoes
2 small iceberg lettuce heads
Green beans
Wax beans
A whole Cantaloupe
1 pint of Strawberries
Small head of broccoli
Jar of salsa

I finally had the Zaftigs leftovers for lunch. Have to say that the potato latke and the brisket was much better hot and fresh than reheated. Bleh. But it's okay. It was a fulfilling lunch that I will work off with some hiking today.

Tonight I plan to make dinner for my beau and myself. I'm going to make a Mexican Plate using my box of Goya Yellow Rice, my bag of Tostitos chips, my 2 cans of Ortega Refried Beans, some of my leftover cheddar cheese and a few ingredients from this morning's shopping trip. It's going to be vegetarian as I don't have any meat. I'm hoping all the refried beans will make up for the otherwise lack of protein.

Eating Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment ~ Day 6

I don't want to talk about what I had for dinner last night. Let's just say I spent money to eat at a certain restaurant with squalid conditions. It's a wonder I didn't get food poisoning.

Today I'm visiting my parents who are generously offering me meals from their kitchen. I start my new game plan tomorrow.

Trip to Zaftigs

Before I started my Fridge & Pantry Experiment, I made clearance to spend some money on a trip to Zaftigs in Brookline, MA. I gave myself a limit of $20 and license to go crazy on some good Jewish deli food. On our last Summer friday, my co-worker/work spouse/good friend Lisa and I headed out for some yumminess and to start off the long weekend on a good note!

Here is the cool mural right outside Zaftigs.

Zaftigs is a hopping place. At 1:30pm it was pretty packed but we were quickly seated to a nice window-side table.

They bring out a nice plate of bagel chips and cream cheese dip to get you started. The bagel chips were poppy-seed ones. They were thick and crispy and delicious! The cream cheese was very unique and had a great tangy flavor. I asked the waitress what they put it in and she told me it had herbs and finely chopped black olives mixed in. Mmmm...

Lisa and I were both ordered the Lupo sandwich. Heck, we came to the restaurant already knowing that we were going to order it, but we still perused the enormous menu anyways.

You may be asking yourself, "what is the Lupo sandwich"? It's a big slice of heaven is what it is. Lupo is an open-faced sandwich that consists of two potato latkes and a heaping, helping of thinly sliced lean brisket. It's served with vegetable gravy, a side of horseradish and a pickle.

You get a choice of sides. Fries, coleslaw or potato salad. My friend Lisa told me that the potato salad at Zaftigs was exceptional so there was no question that I was going to get that!

I happily dug into my plate, knowing full well that one of the potato latkes and half the brisket would be another meal. It was a superb dish. The latkes were thick yet surprisingly crispy. The brisket was to die for. Extra lean, tender and delicious under the gravy. The vegetable gravy had mushrooms, onions, green beans and carrots. I could taste the white wine they used in it. I would love to try making that some day. I put a little horseradish on here and there. The meal was so rich that it was nice to bite into a fresh pickle every now and again to cleanse the palate. The potato salad was excellent but a bit heavy on the mayo. I like my salads very light.

Overall, I came out very happy with the experience. Next time I go, I'll have to try their breakfast options. Challah french toast? Yes please! They serve breakfast all day too!

As far as cost, this was very extravagant. The Lupo was $13.50 and with tax and tip, I shelled out $17 total. At least I could split it into two meals and had enough leftover from my $20 budget to get some iced tea. The caffeine was necessary because the food was so heavy it was threatening to knock me out until next Tuesday.

I enjoyed this experience but now its back to business...

Eating My Way Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment ~ Day 5

I've come to the conclusion that I will have to do some grocery shopping next week. I am in desperate need of fresh fruits and vegetables. What I will do is go to Wilson Farms and only buy produce. My budget will be a strict $20. I'm going to work on a meal plan for the next 9-10 days and look at my fridge and pantry inventory. My shopping list for produce will be to compliment my current food inventory and that's it!

Breakfast - Uh oh. I'm running low on Basic 4 cereal. It will probably last me 5-6 more days and then I'll be eating oatmeal. I made my Recessionista Brewed Coffee (see previous post).

Lunch - Jewish Deli Food!!! See my post tomorrow about my trek out to Zaftigs.

Dinner - I'm not sure what I'm going to do about this. I have leftover Jewish deli food but honestly I don't really want to eat it. I might just force myself too. Maybe the beau can give me a piece of fruit to go with it.

Tomorrow I go to my parent's house, which probably means my mother will try by any means possible to fill me with lots of junk. She usually does this anyways, however, now that she knows I'm broke until the 15th she really will want to lavish me with various subpar foods. I'm envisioning her pleading me to eat Snickers ice cream bars, strawberry jam cookies, yucky sweetened iced tea (bleh), stale chocolate chip cookies from D'Angelos and dollar store frozen meals. However, she has offered to give me milk, eggs and bread so I can't really complain.

Recessionista Brewed Coffee

I refuse to buy a coffee machine.

Reasons Why

1) I don't want to spend the money
2) I have no space for a coffee machine. The space I do have, I would like to fill with a nice food processor (yet to be purchased).
3) I shouldn't drink too much coffee anyways. A machine would facilitate more coffee drinking.

I have a French press I purchased from Ikea eons ago but I never use it. I feel that it makes the coffee super strong and a bit sludgy. I like my weak drip coffee thank you very much. So I devised a method of brewing coffee without the use of a press or a machine. I call it "Recessionista Brewing" since it was developed out of my scrappy, penny pinching nature.

You will need a tea kettle, coffee grounds, a spoon, a pasta strainer, a coffee filter and your favorite coffee mug.

While you are heating up your water in your tea kettle, position your pasta strainer over your favorite coffee mug.

Then scoop coffee grounds into your filter and place filter over the pasta strainer. This is a very delicate balancing act. Make sure the strainer is stable and that the filter sits squarely over it. You may need to do some clever maneuvering.

Pour hot water over the coffee grounds. Do this in several stages and not all at once to get the drip effect. The more stages you do, the stronger the coffee. If you pour all the water in at once, you are going to get some really week coffee. Basically you are trying to mimic what a coffee machine does, which is feed water slowing through the coffee grounds and the filter to drip below.

Voila! You have a nice cuppa drip coffee. Enjoy.

Eating My Way Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment Day #4

I have two frozen chicken breasts and I'm trying to figure out the best strategy to use them for two meals. Should I make one big meal to split out between a dinner and have leftovers be lunch the next day? Or should I make two separate meals? I could easily make chicken picatta with egg noodles and chicken parm with rotini pasta. I think for variety purposes I should try to do both!

The only other meat I have is frozen fish sticks and Weaver's Chicken Nuggets. The latter I'm sure has expired long ago. So I'm depending on these two chicken breasts for protein. Otherwise, I'm going mostly vegetarian until the 15th. If anything, this teaches me that I should have some more frozen meats available. It would have been helpful to have some frozen ground turkey or ground beef in the freezer.

Breakfast - My milk supply is very limited until Saturday so I opted to eat one of my stashed cereal cups I had at work and to use the office milk for it. I had Lucky Charms for the first time in many years. It was so disgusting! My hands were stained from the food coloring of those horrible dry "marshmallows". It was completely unsatisfying and I felt like I had eaten cardboard drenched in milk rather than a proper breakfast.

Lunch - Leftovers! Eggplant Parm and Rotini pasta went over well today. I added some of my rapidly dwindling supply of honey dew melon.

Snacks - I have lots at work but they are not very good. I'm working through my nasty Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (which are 120 calories for a cookie that's 2 inches in diameter. That to me seems excessive). When I opened my bag of 100 Calorie Mister Salty Milk Chocolate Covered Pretzels, I saw that they were white. I think the milk fat was starting to separate from the chocolate. Bleh. This sort of thing happens when chocolate melts and then hardens. I tried to eat them but they were gross that I had to throw them away. Double bleh!

Dinner - I was too tired to cook anything proper. So I made a green & red tomato salad with balsamic vinegarette (bottled) and heated up half of the frozen french fries I had. Pretty lackluster but it did the job.

So far this project is working well. I've only spent $2.25 on food and that was from the scone I purchased on day #1. I'm holding strong but am also looking forward to tomorrow when I get to go out for Jewish deli food. Yum! I hope to get something substantial that will allow me to have leftovers.

Eating My Way Through My Fridge & Pantry Experiment ~ Day 3

This morning I was hurting for coffee (and the caffeine it provides) really bad. I went to make a coffee at home but realized my faux creamer expired. Drat! By the time I was almost out the door, I realized that last Friday I had purchased a highly coveted Silk Hazelnut Soy Creamer. I rarely find these and it's perfection with coffee. I poured a little into a container and brought it to work with me. I had some free, although normally gross, office coffee with the creamer and some Splenda packets I had also brought with me. I think I will do a short post on how I do my "Reccessionista Coffee Brewing". It's basically how I make do without a coffeemaker.

Last night, Kevin did end up treating me to dinner. He's so kind. When he purchases the condo of his dreams, I'll return the favor by treating him to dinner to celebrate. Thanks Kevin! I had a nice Steak Taco Salad. Mmmm.

I'm already getting bored with the food in my kitchen. I'm desperate for Saturday when I get some milk and eggs. My beau offered some grapefruit juice and anything else I needed for next week. It's almost cheating with all these donations but they do help and they are given with lots of love I'm sure.

Breakfast - Cereal, grapefruit juice, coffee. Pretty basic. Had my last Cherry Toaster Struedel as a mid-morning snack.

Lunch - The last can of soup. Today it's Campbell's Select Harvest Garden Recipes: Minestrone. More Wheat Thins and more Honey Dew Melon. Good thing this is the last day of this lunch as I'm already sick of it. However, I'm not looking forward to several frozen food lunches next week.

Desperation - Free Office food! Some tortilla chips helped balance out my lunch and I made sure to walk through the Sales department area to steal a few Hershey's Kisses from the share bowl. Hee hee.e

Dinner - I found a still-good baby eggplant so I made eggplant parm!

Eggplant Parm ala Raquelle

- I peeled, halved and sliced the one eggplant. I salted the slices and set them aside.

- To batter, you need eggs but I didn't have any. In a pinch, I use milk. It's viscous enough to wet the eggplant slices and make the breadcrumbs stick. So I dipped the slices in milk then breadcrumbs then pan fried them in light olive oil.

- I put the fried slices in a baking dish and spooned some of my leftover marinara sauce and the fresh mozzarella I had. I baked it in the oven at 350 degrees while I boiled some rotini pasta.

Voila! And I had made enough pasta that I could split this meal into two portions. One of them will be my lunch tomorrow. During this project, if for any reason I can make two meals out of one dish, I will definitely try as that is a great way to pinch a penny.

Photo Entry: What's in my Fridge and Pantry

I thought it would be neat to post some pictures of the contents of my fridge and pantry. It's a good way for me to show what my food inventory is plus it will be interesting to compare this to how my kitchen looks once my project is done.

See Kate Gabrielle! I have grapefruit juice!

The viability of this collection of frozen vegetables worries me.

I have lots of possibilities for meals in my freezer. I am trying desperately to figure out something I can do with those pie shells! Hmmm...

I will be dependent on these drawers as well. Salsa, tuna, beets, pineapple, soup, etc.

Here is where I keep the snacks, dessert mixes and egg noodles. This stuff will go very fast.

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