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Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

Per request, here is the Easiest Strawberry Cake recipe:

Ingredients:
1 strawberry cake mix
1 tsp. strawberry extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 (3oz) box cheesecake pudding mix
16 oz sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

Directions:
Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray fluted bundt pan, whisk eggs and pudding mix together. Add remaining ingredients and blend together well. Bake it 50-75 minutes, depending on when it’s finished.

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Cooking Class!

On January 10th I went to a cooking class, given to me by Forest, the nicest blogger ever. (Read here how he bought me the class spontaneously!) I am horribly late in posting this, but I was hoping I could make a second dish to take pictures of since I forgot to on the first dish I cooked. Oh well!

The cooking class was at the Washington Club, a gorgeous building in the middle of Dupont Circle. Because the class was offered through Groupon, the room was completely full, mostly with young adults. The class was taught by Zan Dial and called “Easy and Cheap in the Kitchen,” perfect for a novice like myself.

We were given seven recipes on cards and the chef prepared three, along with cooking tips such as what pots to use for what kinds of dish, the right way to cut onions, the types of wine to use when cooking, and other helpful tips.

Here are the seven recipes we got:

  1. Pasta Primavera with Chicken
  2. Grilled Flank Steak and Red Peppers
  3. Shrimp Creole
  4. Braised Beef with Root Vegetables
  5. Penne with Vodka Tomato Sauce
  6. Beef or Chicken Kabobs with Cucumber Salad
  7. Baked Ziti

He cooked the Shrimp Creole, Baked Ziti and the Braised Beef and after each we got a little tasting. YUM. My favorite was probably the Shrimp Creole, so this is the recipe I tried to recreate at home.

Shrimp Creole
1 1/2 lbs. medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 green bell pepper, cubed
1 sweet onion, cubed
4 ribs celery, cut into bite size pieces
2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. Old Bay seafood seasoning
2 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
4 c. white rice, cooked
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Saute onions, peppers, bay leaves, and celery for 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, Old Bay, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and tomatoes. Boil for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Serve over rice. Serves 4-6.

My Version:
I followed the recipe exactly, except I didn’t have any bay leaves and used brown rice instead of white (healthier, but probably not Creole-approved). I also had a bag of pre-cooked frozen shrimp, so I washed the shrimp in cold water to help it defrost, then let them simmer for about a minute instead of  five. The result? Delicious. Sorry I forgot to take pictures of this!

Costs:
Class: $35 Free thanks to Forest!
Ingredients: $14
I had most of the ingredients at home, so I only had to buy the shrimp, a green pepper, cans of diced tomatoes, Old Bay seasoning, and celery. I’m not sure how much this would cost if you didn’t have any of the ingredients, but it can’t be too much.

I am so excited about cooking more of these recipes and becoming a better cook in this next year. Can’t wait to share what I’ve got in store for February… ;)

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Watermelon Cookies

Early in the spring I posted a list of things I wanted to do in the summer. One of the items was to make watermelon cookies. These cookies are my family’s beloved summertime treat, and making them reminds me of growing up so much. Lucky for you I’m going to share this recipe (and a few photos of my kitchen) with you! They are so ridiculously easy, tasty, cost-efficient, and quite the crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients:
-sugar cookie dough
-red & green food coloring
-chocolate chips
-white icing
-flour

Directions:
1. Mix sugar cookie dough together, or buy pre-made dough. Dye it red.

2. Sprinkle flour down (to avoid sticking) and roll out the dough.

watermelon cookies

3. Cut circles out and then split the circle into halves. I don’t have a circle cookie-cutter so I used a stemless wine glass.

watermelon cookies

4. Place on a cookie sheet and put three or four chocolate chips in the dough (for seeds, of course!).

5. Bake at 350-degrees for about 10 minutes. Take out to cool.

6. Dye icing green and dip the rounded part of the cookie in the icing then place on plate to harden.

watermelon cookies

7. Eat and enjoy. :)

watermelon cookies

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Cooking for One

Cooking for one can be a huge challenge. Most recipes produce a four-serving meal, and personally I get tired of eating leftovers Day 2.images

For a single gal like me, the freezer is my best friend. I live near Trader Joe’s and I love it. It has cheap, fresh, and flavorful prepared dishes, many which you can stock up in your freezer. I find myself spending about $30 a visit and it can last up to two weeks of grocery shopping. Not to mention the Two Buck Chuck. It may not be the finest wine, but mix a $2.99 pinot grigio with a raspberry lemonade spritzer… mmm! Perfect summer drink.

The only thing about TJ’s is it has turned me into a lazy cook. The last thing I cooked from scratch was about a month ago. In the winter I make a lot of homemade stews, soups and sauces to freeze for later, but I don’t exactly feel like a hot bowl of chili in the middle of an 85-degree evening. I’ve turned into a turn-on-oven-place-pre-seasoned-salmon-inside kind of girl!

So what about you? How do you meal-plan for one being both conscious of your wallet and of your waist? If you care about both price and quality, what are your go-to recipes?

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Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Summer foods are my favorite–cool, refreshing and light. :) One of my favorite things to have for breakfast in the summer is a tasty smoothie. I vary up the flavors, depending on the types of fruit that is on sale, but below is my absolute favorite combination. It’s so simple, easy and tastes almost like a dessert.

Blend together:
1 cup of orange juice
1 banana
4-6 strawberries
2 cubes of ice
You can add a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt or orange sherbet, but I usually don’t

Cost per Meal: $1.19
I also like calculating the cost-per-meal to help remind myself to make food instead of eating out. Assuming my ingredients afford five smoothies, the cost per meal is $1.19. Pretty good compared to Smoothie King’s $4.99!
Basket of Strawberries: $2.50
5 Bananas: $0.99
Orange Juice: $2.50
Total: $5.99

What is your favorite smoothie combination?

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Taco Soup

Soup is one of the cheapest meals to make. Now, I know that spring is almost here, but it snowed 8 inches here on Monday and so I am justified in posting a soup recipe in March. Plus, it’s also a deliciously easy recipe.  In the winter I usually double it and freeze the rest for cold lazy evenings.

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey for a leaner soup)
2 cans of Rotel mild (MILD!)
1 bg frozen corn
1 can black beans (drain & rinse)
1 env package dried ranch dressing
1 env package dried taco seasoning
4 cups water

Directions:
In a large pot brown and drain meat. Add everything else. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with Frito chips, cheese and sour cream.

Oh yum. Enjoy!

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