Friday, July 29, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

This is my favorite "flavored" hummus! Roasting my own red peppers is so much fun, and it is considerably cheaper than buying the jarred ones at the store. See my Traditional Hummus post for more details about ingredients, serving suggestions and cost.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1 15 oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (or 1 cup dried, prepared according to pkg directions)
1 red bell pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp sesame seeds or tahini
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Warm water as needed

Step 1: To roast red bell pepper, place it under the broiler (move the oven rack up closer to heating element if necessary) and turn with tongs as each side gets blistery and charred.  You can also achieve the same effect by placing it directly on the grates of a gas stove and turning the burner on high or charring it over an outdoor grill. As soon as it is charred on all sides, place it in a bowl w/ lid or plastic wrap overtop or in a well-sealed paper bag. Let it sit and sweat for about 15-20 minutes (the steam generated by sealing it up will help loosen the skin and make it easier to peel off). Remove the pepper, and when it is cool enough to handle, scrape away the skin, cut off stem, remove seeds and chop. Resist the urge to ever rinse a roasted pepper like you may have seen or been instructed to before--you will wash away much of the delicious roasted flavor!

Step 2: Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend/process until smooth. If you need more liquid to get it moving, add warm water a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved.


Chickpeas/garbanzo beans (organic): 15 oz can = $1.39
Lemon: On sale for $.65, used 1/2 = $.33
Sesame seeds: $.99 for .75 oz package, used 1/4 = $.25
Red bell pepper: On sale for $.99 each = $.99

Total Cost: $2.96
Six Servings: $.49 per serving

Traditional Hummus, Only More Lemony

Hummus is another one of those recipes with 80 million variations. Some are thick, some are thin, some are garlicky, some are lemony, some have added spices or other flavors. I like mine thick, lemony and garlicky with loads of fresh cracked black pepper. I use it for dipping pita chips, crackers and veggies, it can be spread on sandwiches and burgers, or spread it on slices of French or Italian bread, top with Feta cheese and throw it under the broiler for a few minutes--delicious! My next post will feature my favorite flavored hummus!

My husband says this version is too lemony for him. I say there is almost no such thing as too lemony! ;) If you aren't a big lemon fan, omit the zest and go easy on the lemon juice. The zest has a deeper lemony flavor, and it is usually not in a traditional hummus recipe. If you aren't a garlic fan, reduce it to one small clove.

Most traditional hummus recipes call for tahini (a paste made from ground sesame seeds), but I have only been able to find it in one place here in town, and not only is it obvious the jars have been sitting on the shelf a long while by the 1/4 inch of dust they are caked with, they are huge jars I could never use up before they went bad. As I mentioned in my first post ever, I do not like buying expensive ingredients that will rarely get used. So for that reason, I keep sesame seeds on hand and skip the tahini, and I often roast them to intensify their nutty flavor. If you can find or already use tahini, use that instead of the sesame seeds. If you don't care about the sesame flavor, skip 'em both! ;)

I find that most often, canned (non-organic) chickpeas/garbanzo beans are cheaper than the dried/bagged at my usual grocery store. The organic canned variety are only about $.30 more than the dried/bagged. I seem to always find lemons on sale, and they are fairly cheap anyway. I buy sesame seeds in a pretty small package, so my initial investment is usually right around a dollar. All in all, a super cheap and healthful snack!

Traditional Hummus, Only More Lemony

1 15 oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (or 1 cup dried, prepared according to pkg directions)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sesame seeds or tahini
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Warm water as needed

Step 1: If you wish to roast the sesame seeds, place them in a small skillet over low to medium low heat, depending on your stove. Shake the pan or stir quite often, as they will burn easily because of their small size if you are not careful. When the sesame seeds have just turned a light golden brown, immediately remove from heat and place in a bowl or on a plate so they do not continue to cook.

Step 2: Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend/process until smooth. If you need more liquid to get it moving, add warm water a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved.


Chickpeas/garbanzo beans (organic): 15 oz can = $1.39
Lemon: On sale for $.65, used 1/2 = $.33
Sesame seeds: $.99 for .75 oz package, used 1/2 = $.25

Total Cost: $1.97
Six Servings: $.33 per serving

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pineapple Cole Slaw

I was bummed the only carrots I had on hand were yellow--I miss that pop of bright orange!

When I took my oldest son to the farmers market with me, he for some strange reason was really taken with the green cabbages. He asked me why I never buy cabbage and make it for supper, so we went home with a cabbage. I made a stir fry that evening with half of it, and the other half made its appearance in this recipe. Said son loves cole slaw, as do my husband and myself, and I wanted to see if I could not only make it a bit more healthful, but also more palatable for the two who don't care for it. Some cole slaw versions tend to be a bit too tangy for them I think, so this one is a bit smoother and milder, though still flavorful and not overly sweet. Ironically, it received rave reviews from the two non-cole-slaw-likers, I loved it, but my husband and oldest son were not as enthusiastic about it. Can't win 'em all I guess! ;)

I used an organic whole milk yogurt since it ends up being such a small amount per serving, though you could use reduced fat or even Greek yogurt. Nonfat Greek yogurt still has a lot of "oomph" and would probably work well, but I don't think the somewhat tinny and bland flavor of some of the nonfat regular yogurts I have tried would be my first choice. If I can ever find non-dairy coconut milk yogurt without driving for two hours, I plan to replace our regular dairy yogurt with that and imagine it would work just fine in my recipes calling for yogurt. If you really need the traditional mayo/reduced fat mayo, it would be an equal substitution for the yogurt. The honey came from the farmers market, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the 16 oz bottles of honey that were $5 last year are only $4 this year. Back when I had coupons for fresh pineapples and then stocked up when I found them on sale, I finely chopped and froze some, but canned would work as well.

I think this is a nice, fresh variation of a traditional side dish, not to mention super cheap!

Pineapple Cole Slaw

4 cups cabbage, shredded (1/2 a small/med head)
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup plain unsweetened yogurt
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp onion, finely minced
1/3 cup pineapple, finely chopped 
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1/2 tsp celery seed

Directions: Place all ingredients but cabbage and carrots in a small mixing bowl and whisk/stir to combine well. Pour over cabbage and carrots and let sit in fridge for at least an hour before serving.


Cabbage (farmers market): $1.50/head, used 1/2 = $.75
Pineapple: $1.38 after sale and coupon, used about 1/6 = $.23
Carrots (organic): On sale for $.99/lb bag, used 1/6 = $.17
Yogurt (organic): $4.69/32 oz tub, used 1/8 = $.59
Honey (farmers market): $4/16 oz bottle, used 1/32 = $.13

Total Cost: $1.87
Six Servings: $.31 per serving


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Raspberry Spinach Pesto

It was a much deeper green that it is appearing on my screen--it was really a beautiful color!

I often talk about a method or process versus a recipe, and if there is a perfect example of that, it's pesto. Traditional pesto is a paste of basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese, but there are a million and one different variations out there, so many ways to adjust pesto to your taste and budget. You can use any leafy green herb or leafy greens (arugula, spinach, watercress, etc.) in place of basil, and in place of pine nuts, you can use any tree nut, even sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Instead of Parmesan, you could use Asiago, Romano or Cotija. Or skip the cheese. You will even find some pesto with additions such as tomatoes, olives, artichokes, roasted red peppers or lemon zest/juice. This recipe is my newest brainstorm after needing to find a use for some leftover spinach and then finding some raspberries shoved to the back of the fridge that were not going to last another day. I keep the focus on the spinach, and the raspberries add just a slightly sweet little something in the background that cuts through the slight saltiness of the Parmesan--one of my new favorites for sure!

I got spinach for a steal using a coupon during a sale. I use sliced almonds often, so I bought a bit larger bag in the prepackaged bulk section, which keeps my price per recipe fairly low for a sometimes expensive ingredient. They also have small packages in the baking section, enough for two batches of this recipe, for around $1.60, so not much more expensive if you don't use many almonds. Raspberries tend to be pretty expensive around here in the stores, so I usually only buy them when they are on sale. Frozen raspberries would work just as well, thawed first. I splurged on a small wedge of a good Parmesan cheese, but the small amount used in this recipe ended up at only 1/8 of the wedge and $.63, and I still have a lot left for other dishes. You can certainly use something cheaper, and if you don't do dairy, leave it out, it will still taste great.

When I make pesto, I like to go easy on the nuts, oil and cheese (if I add any cheese at all). If I need a bit more liquid to help it process into a paste, I add warm water a tablespoon or two at a time instead of using more oil. You will see different proportions of the main ingredients in almost every recipe--experiment and see what you like. I also like to make a batch sized so that it's just enough to use in one dish unless I know I will need more. It can keep in the refrigerator for at least a week, probably longer, but it needs a thin coat of olive oil poured on top so that it doesn't turn an unappetizing color. I have also had good luck freezing other pesto recipes for 2-3 months, though I usually skip the cheese if I plan on freezing it.

Stir this into some warm pasta, and you have an instant meal, super easy and economical!

Raspberry Spinach Pesto

2 cups spinach, packed
1/3 cup raspberries
1/4 cup sliced/slivered almonds
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
Warm water, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Place spinach, raspberries, almonds, olive oil, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper into a food processor or blender and process just until well combined and smooth. If you need more liquid to get it moving, add warm water 1-2 tablespoons at a time. If not using right away, transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and pour a thin coat of olive oil over the top.


Spinach: On sale 4 bags/$5, used $.75 off coupon ($.50 per bag), used 1/3 = $.17
Almonds: $3.99/10 oz bag, used 1/6 of bag = $.67
Raspberries: On sale for $2.99/6 oz pkg, used 1/3 of pkg = $1.00
Parmesan cheese: $5 for 4 oz, used 1/2 oz = $.63

Total Cost: $2.47
Four Servings: $.62 per serving

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kashi TLC Pita Crisp Coupon/Review and the Newest Weapon in My Money Saving Arsenal

 I received a free full-size sample of Kashi's new TLC pita crisps in the mail a couple of days ago. I am trying to avoid gluten, but I couldn't resist opening them up, as pita chips and hummus is one of my favorite snacks. I received the Original 7 Grain with Sea Salt (there is also a Zesty Salsa). They aren't as crispy and crunchy as traditional pita chips, they are puffier and a bit softer, but they still have a decent crunch and great flavor. Not too salty but just salty enough. They are high in fiber and made with 10 grams of whole grains, so I do feel a bit better about eating them over the pita chips I used to purchase. My oldest two never cared much for pita chips, but they gave these a big thumbs up. If I don't ban all gluten in the house, I will most definitely purchase them in the future. Print a $1.00 off coupon for Kashi TLC pita crisps!

If you have check out some of my previous coupon-related posts, you know I am a member of Swagbucks, a site where I earn  virtual bucks (Swagbucks) for activities such as using their search engine, taking a daily poll, printing and redeeming coupons, etc. I redeem my Swagbucks for $5 gift codes, which I use to purchase organic and natural food products that I can't find locally or that I can get cheaper and/or in larger quantities. Which brings me to the new site I have joined, Opinion Outpost. I am constantly barraged with opinion/survey site invitations. There are a couple I have done casually and gotten a small check from here and there, but Opinion Outpost has by far been the best. I went into it with the attitude that I would see how it went, not invest too much time (because who has time to sit around and do surveys half the day?) and that it would be fun to see what I could earn in a few weeks. I earned $12 in my first few days, which I cashed out for an Amazon gift card code (there are other rewards to choose from, including a check). Today, a couple of weeks and a handful of surveys later, I cashed in another $27.80 for an Amazon gift code. I also added another $5 gift code from Swagbucks to my Amazon account today, and I plan to order from a long list of Bob's Red Mill products on my wishlist. I am certainly not going to get rich, but $40 or $50 a month toward the grocery bill is certainly nothing to sneeze at and well worth the little time I spend accumulating reward points. :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Greek Chicken Salad, Coupon Alert and Reminder About Eating Healthfully vs Organic

I apologize for the so very sad picture. I had eaten half my salad before I remembered to take it. ;)

I was so excited about this recipe but very hesitant to feed it to my family. I of course let them choose which vegetables they did/didn't want, but I sprinkled just a little feta cheese on every serving, something I'm not sure my husband had ever tasted, and I know the kids hadn't. My husband must have been feeling adventurous, because he even had me put tomatoes on his. It couldn't have been a bigger hit with everyone, and my husband told me it was "awesome" and that I could blog about it being a "keeper!"

I sacrificed some of my usual shopping habits for you in this recipe to remind you that even if you can't or don't care to buy organic/local/socially conscious/etc., you can still eat healthfully, and you can do it affordably! I originally looked for Kalamata olives since that is what you will find in traditional Greek salads, but since I live in a fairly small town in the Midwest and don't have a super neat olive bar in my grocery store or a gourmet food shop, my only option was a few dusty jars from one brand on the shelf at my grocery store. I do not mind spending $ for quality ingredients, but I passed on spending $6 on a raggedy looking jar in favor of a small can of regular old black olives for almost $5 less. My spinach is done in the garden, and I really wanted spinach over kale or romaine (which I have plenty of in the garden), so I bought some non-organic spinach, which was on sale and for which I had a coupon. My store doesn't carry organic Feta anyway, so I opted for a brand that was on sale and that I had a coupon for. I am all out of my organic and local chicken, so I got just a package of regular old chicken breasts from the grocery store, which were on mega-sale. The cucumbers came from my garden. Depending on your area, you may be able to find a coupon for $.75 off Dole Salads and $1 off Athenos Feta cheese at Swagbucks or

If you are a vegetarian or just for some variety, instead of the chicken, make up a batch of  roasted chickpeas/garbanzo beans and use those to top the salad instead!

As thrilled as I was that he loved it, my husband killed me by dousing his salad with western dressing. In my opinion, this salad does not need a dressing (especially Western!). Not only do I like to keep it light, but the chicken is incredibly flavorful and juicy, and there are so many flavors in one bite that I didn't want to distract from that with dressing. I think a bit of dressing could compliment the other flavors nicely though, so if you want dressing, take the ingredients for the marinade, leave the seasonings the same but double or triple the olive oil and vinegar/brine (I like a half oil/half vinegar dressing, if you like it with more oil or more vinegar, adjust the ratio to your liking). Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. If you are wondering about the small amount of marinade, let me explain--I dislike making a large amount of marinade, and though it serves its purpose, pouring it down the drain when I am done. So I now use just enough liquids to coat the meat and easily distribute the seasonings.  I find the meat just as juicy and flavorful, plus it makes the cheapskate in me feel much better.

Greek Chicken Salad

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar or the brine from jarred pepperoncinis
1/2 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tsp fresh), use sweet/Greek if you can
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 cups spinach
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, sliced
1 cup cucumber, chopped
1/3 cup olives, chopped/sliced
4 pepperoncinis, chopped
2 oz Feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup, 1 Tbsp per serving)

Directions: Mix first six ingredients in a small mixing bowl and pour over chicken, rubbing it in to evenly coat the entire breasts. Let sit for at least 15 minutes (just enough time to prep the coals!) or up to eight hours (do it before you leave for work in the morning!). Cook chicken using desired method, let rest for at least 10 minutes and then slice when cool enough to handle. Assemble the chicken and the rest of the ingredients as desired and serve.


Chicken breast: On sale $1.59/lb = $1.59
Feta cheese: On sale 2/$5, used $1 off coupon ($1.50/each), used 1/2 pkg = $.75
Spinach: On sale 4/$5, used $.75 off coupon ($.50 each), used 1/2 pkg = $.25
Black olives: 2.25 oz can =  $1.29
Tomatoes: On sale for $.99/lb, used 9 oz = $.56
Onion: On sale for $.75/lb, used 5 oz = $.23
Pepperoncini: 1.59/16 oz jar, used 1/6 of jar = $.27

Total Cost: $4.94
Four Servings: $1.24 per serving

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tomato Basil Pasta

This recipe serves two purposes: my need for a recipe using fresh tomatoes, and my need for a recipe using fresh basil. Canned tomato products serve a great purpose, and I do plan on canning many of my own this summer, but I adore fresh tomatoes and would love to have uses for them other than on sandwiches and salads or in guacamole or salsa. I am producing a bumper crop of fresh basil and can't use it fast enough, so don't be surprised to see some basil-laden recipes coming up!

I used gluten free pasta, but if that is not a concern for you, your cost can be even lower than mine (though I am more than happy where I am at). I can get a 13 oz box of whole wheat pasta for $1.22, which would make the cost of the pasta used in this recipe only $.61, $2.84 for four servings, and only $.71 per serving! Larger tomatoes are most often cheaper than the grape and cherry tomatoes, and those would work fine chopped in this recipe. I did get the basil from my backyard, making it a freebie, but if you don't have access to fresh basil or would rather not spend the money on it, dried will work as well. If you enjoy cooking with fresh herbs but don't want to plant a large pot outdoors, a couple of small pots on your kitchen window sill will be very little work and give you fresh herbs year-round. :) My local garden center has most of their seedlings on markdown right now, so I could get a ready-to-use basil plant for less than $2.00.

I love this dish because it is so simple yet so flavorful. I resisted the urge to add zucchini, bell peppers, onion, asparagus or any other of the veggies I like to eat with pasta and kept the focus on the super sweet tomatoes. One thing I have really noticed since shopping for produce at the farmers market, buying organic produce when I can and growing some of my own--the flavor is so much more intense. I am sure my husband thinks I have lost it when I can't stop exclaiming, "this tomato tastes so tomato-y" or "this pepper tastes so much more like a pepper!" Cooking and eating healthfully doesn't have to be complicated, the fresh flavors of simple ingredients can really carry a dish. It doesn't have to take all day either--in just a couple minutes more than it takes to boil pasta, you can throw together this beautiful dish!

Tomato Basil Pasta

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz dry pasta
6 leaves fresh basil, torn or chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup reserved pasta water
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Begin preparing pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet (big enough to hold the finished pasta), heat olive oil and garlic over low/medium low heat. You do not want the garlic to brown, so back off on the heat if it begins to do so.

Step 2: Right before pasta is finished cooking, add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper to the oil and garlic. Before draining pasta, remember to reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add pasta and pasta water to the tomato mixture, stir and cook 2-3 minutes, just until tomatoes are barely warm.


Pasta (quinoa/gluten free): $3.49/8 oz package, used 3/4 = $2.62
Tomatoes: On sale for $2.99/pint, used 3/4 = $2.24

Total Cost: $4.86
Four Servings: $1.22 per serving

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chocolate Coconut Granola

Granola is a favorite treat and breakfast fare around here, and I am trying to come up with some variations so we don't tire of the same basic granola, as good as it is. This chocolate coconut version is probably the favorite so far, and it smells AMAZING as it bakes. My husband asked me to make my berry chocolatey summertime parfaits for dessert in the next day or two, and this granola is most definitely getting sprinkled on them!

Just like with the basic granola, there could be a lot of variation with ingredients/price, and you can do this recipe for much cheaper than I have here. I splurged on gluten-free rolled oats, very dark organic chocolate, organic coconut and organic coconut oil. Even with these splurges, I am well under what it would cost for me to purchase granola, especially gluten free. I try to make sure that all of my recipes are easy to adjust as needed to fit your own taste/budget! :)

Chocolate Coconut Granola

4 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1/3 cup coconut oil, canola oil or light olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1 cup almonds
1 cup coconut
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz melt-able chocolate

Step 1: In a small saucepan over low heat, stir oil, honey, chocolate, vanilla and salt until chocolate is compltely melted.

Step 2: Place oatmeal, almonds and coconut in a large mixing bowl. Pour chocolate mixture over it and mix well, until dry ingredients are evenly coated.

Step 3: Spread mixture out on two baking sheets and bake at 250 degrees for 40-45 minutes, stirring 2-3 times to make sure it evenly toasts. As it cools, break up any large clumps.


Rolled Oats (gluten free): $6.39/32 oz bag, $5.89 after $1/2 coupon, used 4/9 of bag = $2.62
Chocolate (organic): Dagoba 2 oz bar extra strong dark, $1 off w/ coupon from Recyclebank = $1.99
Almonds: $3.99/10 oz bag, used 1/3 of bag = $1.33
Honey: $5/16 oz jar, used about 1/6 of jar = $.83
Coconut (organic): $3.49/8 oz bag , used 1/4 bag = $.87
Coconut oil (organic): $7.49/14 oz jar, used just under 1/5 of jar = $1.50

Total Cost: $9.14
12 Servings: $.76 per serving

Monday, July 18, 2011

Basic Granola

In trying to move away from processed breakfast cereals and snacks, I decided that homemade granola would fit both bills. While great plain as a snack or in a bowl with milk and fresh fruit, we also enjoy it as a garnish of sorts, sprinkled on baked apples or yogurt or a berry parfait. It's crunchy but a little chewy, and it is not overly sweet. The number of servings we get varies depending on how we eat it, but it's usually 10-12.

There are so many opportunities for variation here, both with the ingredients you use and overall cost. I paid quite a bit more for certified gluten free rolled oats--if gluten free or organic is not a concern for you, you can get them for pretty cheap. If you don't like almonds, use cashews, pecans or walnuts, or any nut mixture, just make sure they are raw or blanched and not roasted. Check your bulk bins for cheaper prices--my grocery store also has a "pre-bagged bulk" area where I get my sunflower seeds and sliced almonds for a great deal, though I am placing an order this week for several pounds of organic almonds from a grower in California. If there are nut allergies or you just don't care for them, skip them and add a little more of something else. If you like dried fruit in your granola, experiment with different kinds--raisins, cranberries, blueberries, bananas, apricots, etc. I grow stevia and enjoy it as a sweetener, but when I need something syrupy, I usually opt for honey. There are many different options, but I opt for honey because it's from a local farmer at my farmers market. I can also get pure maple syrup from the farmers market, and though it is more expensive than honey, I may give it a try soon. I used organic coconut oil because I always have it on hand and use it for many things around here, not just in the kitchen. Use any mild-flavored oil you have on hand. I did add the cost of my oil into this recipe since it was almost 1/5 of the jar, and being organic, it resulted in a more significant cost to my recipe.

Look for a recipe coming up in the next couple of days that I am currently working on--chocolate coconut granola! :)

Basic Granola

4 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1/3 cup coconut oil, canola oil or light olive oil
1/2 cup honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup or agave nectar
1 cup sliced almonds, raw
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp salt
Optional additions: 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 cup dried fruit/s

Step 1: Place oatmeal, almonds and sunflower seeds in a large mixing bowl. Mix oil, honey, salt and cinnamon if using in a separate bowl, add to dry ingredients and mix well, until dry ingredients are evenly coated with the oil/honey mixture.

Step 2: Spread mixture out on two baking sheets and bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure it evenly toasts. Remove from oven and stir in dried fruit if using. As it cools, break up any large clumps.


Rolled Oats (gluten free): $6.39/32 oz bag, $5.89 after $1/2 coupon, used 4/9 of bag = $2.62
Almonds: $3.99/10 oz bag, used 1/3 of bag = $1.33
Sunflower seeds: $1.99/12 oz bag, used about 1/6 of bag = $.33
Honey: $5/16 oz jar, used about 1/4 of jar = $1.25
Coconut oil (organic): $7.49/14 oz jar, used just under 1/5 of jar = $1.50

Total Cost: $7.03
10 Servings: $.70 per serving

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Potato and Kale Chowder

It is currently 86 degrees here with a heat index of 99 degrees thanks to the killer humidity, and I just made a huge pot of vegetable stock followed by a pot of this chowder. I love soup and find it incredibly comforting no matter the weather! This is not a heavy, coat-your-spoon sort of chowder, it's relatively light and perfectly enjoyable any time of year.

 This recipe is very easy to work around allergies/sensitivities and what you can find where you are or what you like. I use garbanzo bean flour instead of a wheat/gluten-containing flour. If you have issues with dairy, almond or rice milk would be a good substitute, or leave out the flour and milk/cream, and you still have a delicious potato and kale soup. I like to keep it on the light side, so I usually forgo the cream and use whatever milk I happen to have on hand, though the cream certainly makes it a bit more decadent. If you don't care for or can't find kale, spinach would be a great substitute. I used Yukon Gold new potatoes, but any (non-sweet) potato will work here. Shredded/cubed chicken would be a nice addition to make it even hardier.

As far as cost, you can see that a large pot of soup cost me just over $2.00. The kale came from my garden, and I used homemade stock. I do spend quite a bit on an organic gallon of milk, but at only $.41 per cup, I can live with it. Your cost will vary of course depending on the ingredients you use/purchase, but even with all store-bought ingredients, it's still fairly economical.

We don't eat a lot of potatoes, but I think they sometimes get beat up on a bit too much. No, mashed potatoes with a stick of butter and a pint of heavy cream, a baked potato with loads of sour cream, cheese and bacon bits or a plate of greasy french fries certainly are not healthful options, but there are lots of nutrients in potatoes, both in the flesh and skin (so wash well and don't peel them!). Nutrients and their amounts can vary by potato variety, but a medium (173 grams) baked potato with the skin on provides 28% of the standard daily recommended amount of Vitamin C, 27% of Vitamin B6, 10% of iron, 26% of potassium, 12% of folate, 4 grams (15%) of dietary fiber, 4 grams (9%) of protein and fair amounts of many other vitamins and minerals. It contains 37 grams of carbohydrates, which is only 12% of the standard recommended daily value, and given the nutrients it's packing, it more than keeps it within the realm of reasonable for me personally.

As I mentioned in my kale chips post, kale is a nutrient-powerhouse! Just one cup of raw kale provides over 200% of the standard recommended amount of Vitamin A, over 100% for Vitamin C and almost 700% for Vitamin K! It's also a good source of Vitamin B6, dietary fiber, iron, calcium, folate and other vitamins and minerals. One cup even gives you two grams of protein! I love it on sandwiches and in salads, sauteed or in soups such as this one, just as I would use spinach or other greens.

Potato and Kale Chowder

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp flour
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 lb potatoes, cubed
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 (packed) cups kale, torn into bite-size pieces
3 cups homemade vegetable stock (or any vegetable or chicken stock you've got)
1 cup milk or cream
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Heat olive oil in large soup/stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, parsley and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, until vegetables are just getting tender. Add flour, stir and cook for 2 minutes.

Step 2: Add potatoes and stock, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender.

Step 3: Add kale and milk/cream, return to a simmer for 2 minutes, remove from heat, remove bay leaf, taste check for any additional salt/pepper needed and serve.


Potatoes: Yukon Gold B-size on sale for $.99/lb = $.99
Kale: Garden Freebie!
Stock: Homemade Near-Freebie!
Celery: $1.18/bunch, 2 stalks is 1/6 = $.20
Carrots (organic): $.98/lb package, 2 carrots is 1/5 = $.20
Onion: $.75/lb, used 5 oz = $.23
Milk (organic): $6.49/gallon, 1 cup is 1/16 = $.41

Total Cost: $2.03
Six Servings: $.34 per serving

Thursday, July 14, 2011

More Coupon Savings!

Just a few more printables as some of you get ready for coupon-clipping this weekend! :)

Cascadian Farm: Follow the link to their website, fill out a little info and get a $1 off any product printable coupon e-mailed to you. Also go to eat better america and print a coupon for $.85 off any Cascadian Farm product as well as coupons for other General Mills products.

Earths Best: Coupons for several products available, including their Sesame Street cookies and crackers and organic baby food.

Earthbound Farm Organic: Read information on organic farming (it was very, very interesting I might add!), take a quiz and win a coupon for $1 off any product.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Very Veggie Soup

Our favorite restaurant ever is a very unassuming establishment, some might even call it a hole-in-the-wall. They have a small and rather simple salad bar, and inexplicably, it is the best salad bar my husband and I have ever eaten at. They always have a large crock full of the same vegetable soup that is amazingly delicious, and after I tasted this recipe when I was done, it reminded me of that particular soup. I used no meat products, only one tablespoon of olive oil, vegetables and homemade vegetable stock, and yet it had a richness to it you might find in a soup using beef and/or beef stock.

This is another recipe where you can adjust the vegetables you use depending on what you like and what you find at the store, farmers market or in your garden. I can't wait for my red bell peppers to start popping up in the garden--the organic ones at my grocery store are up to $6 for a two-pack, and even though this recipe is dirt cheap, I can't bring myself to pay $3 for a small bell pepper just on principle (apparently the $2.50 each I paid last week was my limit). So I went for the regular ones that were on sale. Later this summer, I will be able to pick every vegetable I used here out of my garden, and I hope to freeze and can enough vegetables to be able to make several batches of soup over the winter as well.

Very Veggie Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb green beans, cut in half or thirds (about 2 cups)
3 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 med zucchini, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, NOT drained
4 - 6 cups homemade vegetable stock (or whatever stock you've got)
1 Tbsp fresh parsely (or 1 tsp dried)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat.  Add carrots and saute for about 3 minutes. Add all other vegetables, parsley, salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and theor liquid and stock (add 4 cups to start and see if that's enough liquid for your taste, add more if necessary). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until vegetables are of desired tenderness.

This is how nice and rich the vegetable stock was right after I made it.

Green beans: $1.89/lb, used 1/2 lb = $.95
Tomatoes: On sale for $.99/14.5 oz can = $.99
Zucchini: On sale for $1.26/lb, used 8 oz = $.63
Carrots (organic): $1.98/2 lb bag, 3 carrots is approximately 1/6 of bag = $.33
Onion: $.75/lb, used 9 oz = $.42
Celery: $1.18 per bunch, 3 stalks is 1/4 of bunch = $.30
Bell pepper (red): On sale for $.77/each = $.77

Total Cost: $4.39
Six Servings: $.73 per serving
Eight Servings: $.55 per serving

A Few New Coupon Finds

Just a few new printable coupons I have come across lately! :)

Alexia: Sign up for the newsletter and receive a printable coupon for $1.00 off any product.Alexia Fodds produces "all natural" frozen items such as artisan breads, potato and sweet potato products and various appetizers.

So Delicious Dairy Free/Purely Decadent Dairy free: Sign up to receive special offers and receive a coupon for  $.55 off any frozen dessert or refrigerated item. So Delicious Dairy Free and Purely Decadent Dairy Free are part of Turtle Mountain LLC and specialize in dairy free foods and beverages, a few of which include yogurt, ice cream and coconut milk. All of their products are vegan, and they use non-GMO coconuts.

Cascadian Farm: Swagbucks and have  a coupon for $.75 off any Cascadian Farm product available. Cascadian Farm produces organic cereals, frozen fruits and vegetables, cereal bars, fruits spreads and more. They are considered a pioneer in the conversion of conventional farms to organic farms.

Kashi: Swagbucks and also have  a coupon for $.75 off any Kashi product available.

Kashi, Earth Bound Organic, Back to Nature and more: I am a member of Recyclebank, a website at which you can earn points for completing quizzes and tasks related to recycling, going green, environmentally-friendly products, etc. In the first two days I was a member, I put in very minimal effort and earned enough points for two printable coupons for $2.00 off any Kashi product (there is a limit of one per month). The Kashi coupons are now on "special" for only 75 points (they are usually 125), which you should have no problem getting the same day you join. The great news is that you can also redeem your points for coupons for other products from companies like Earth Bound Organic, Back to Nature, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Green Mountain Coffee and Happy Family. There are also many non-food reward options as well.

*Sign up for an account at Swagbucks, and not only can you print coupons to redeem at your local grocery store, you also receive 10 Swagbucks per coupon redeemed. What good is a Swagbuck? You can save them up and redeem them for tons of merchandise, music downloads, and lots of gift cards, including my favorite, the Amazon gift cards. I have earned over $300 in Amazon gift cards so far! Recent purchases with my gift cards include a case of Bob's Red Mill Organic Oat Bran Hot Cereal and a case of Happy Baby organic puffs. Before my youngest was born, I used my Amazon gift cards to get a Pack n Play completely free! There are also other ways to earn Swagbucks, including using their search engine, answering a daily poll, taking surveys and entering Swag Codes that are occasionally issued. The coupons at Swagbucks are powered by, so be sure to print your limit from Swagbucks before!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kale Chips

It's hard to tell from the picture, but a leafy green veggie is now a crispy snack!

This is another one of those recipes where I am going to ask you to give it a chance if your first thought is "really?!" Kale chips are a new favorite snack here--my husband thinks they taste similar to popcorn, and even my youngest son loves them and can't get enough.

This recipe cost me almost nothing, as the kale came from my garden. My local grocery store sells a large bunch of organic kale for $2.99, and I can get 2-3 batches of chips out of it, and even that is quite economical for a fun, healthful snack.

I'm backing off on the nutrition information since it's easy to find yourself, and I don't want to turn my posts into preachy novels, but I do have to tell you that kale is amazingly nutrient-packed! Just one cup of raw kale provides over 200% of the standard recommended amount of Vitamin A, over 100% for Vitamin C and almost 700% for Vitamin K! It's also a good source of Vitamin B6, dietary fiber, iron, calcium, folate and other vitamins and minerals. One cup even gives you two grams of protein! I love it on sandwiches and in salads, even sauteed or in soups, just as you would use spinach or other greens.

Kale Chips

1 bunch kale
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Optional: 1 tsp red wine vinegar, substitute 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce for the salt, add black pepper, garlic powder, chili powder and/or dried herbs to taste

Directions: Wash and dry kale well. Remove stem/rib and tear into half-dollar size pieces. You will want to work with no more than 3-4 cups at a time. Toss with olive oil, salt and anything else you choose and place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Place in a 325 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes, scraping them from the baking sheet after about 7 minutes.

Note: Watch these closely since ovens and cooking times can vary. You want the edges of the chips to be just barely golden brown. If you go any further than that, they will overcook and crumble when you try to handle them.

Cost: Virtually nothing

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Very Veggie Stroganoff

Not the prettiest dish, but it does taste much, much better than it looks! ;)

I have been meaning to come up with a vegetable stroganoff that does not include processed meat substitutes. Most contain soy, and the one I found that doesn't contains eggs and wheat. And they are quite expensive, especially considering the small package sizes. I would much rather substitute the meat with fresh vegetables and add some fresh herbs to help boost the flavor. Honestly, between the richness of the homemade vegetable stock and the meatiness of the mushrooms, I did not miss the meat one bit!

You could certainly use sour cream instead of the plain unsweetened yogurt, but as I have said, I like to limit my use of dairy as well as use the ingredients I have on hand, which is why you will often see me use plain, unsweetened yogurt in lieu of other more traditional dairy items--we've always got some in the fridge. If you don't do homemade vegetable stock, use whatever you like or have on hand. You can mix up the vegetables as well, depending on what you like, find on sale or can pick out of your garden--I picked up eggplant and zucchini because they were on sale, and their flavors are relatively neutral. For my next batch, I think I will scratch the eggplant and try some asparagus. I like to eat this just as is or over quinoa pasta. Quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, brown rice pasta or even a baked potato would be great to serve it over as well.

This is a very economical recipe, even if you serve it over something and/or need to add more veggies to make more servings. The amount of homemade vegetable stock I used is most definitely a freebie, and I hit some great produce sales. Right now all I got from the garden was garlic, parsley and chives, but my zucchini and eggplant are coming along nicely!

Very Veggie Stroganoff

1 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz package mushrooms, diced
1 small-med zucchini, diced
2 cups eggplant, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp fresh chives (or 1 tsp dried)
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Place diced eggplant in a colander, place colander over a large bowl or in the sink, and sprinkle eggplant generously with salt. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. This will draw out a brownish liquid and get rid of the bitter taste eggplant can have. Rinse very thoroughly to remove salt and pat dry.

Step 2: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, onions and just a little salt and pepper, saute for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, eggplant, parsley and chives, saute for just 1 minute. Add vegetable stock, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 7-10 minutes, until there is only about a couple tablespoons of liquid left. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt. Do a taste check for salt/pepper.


Mushrooms: 8 oz package white buttons on sale = $1.00
Eggplant: On sale for $.88/lb, used 8 oz = $.44
Zucchini: On sale for $1.19/lb, used a 5 oz zucchini = $.37
Red onion: $.75/lb, used a 5 oz onion = $.23
Yogurt (organic): $4.69/32 oz tub, used 1/8 = $.59
Total Cost: $2.63
4 Servings: $.66 per serving
6 Servings: $.44 per serving

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cheesy Tomato Basil Burgers

While I noted in my post for the Cheesy Salsa Burgers that there were numerous ways to change to recipe up, this variation really needs its own post!

For the tomato part of the burger, I am choosing to use crushed tomatoes. Tomato sauce is well, too saucy, and diced tomatoes aren't saucy enough. I am using ground Smart Chicken, as I really love how ground chicken burgers turn out--nice and juicy, very flavorful and with a really nice texture. I think the tomato and basil compliment the chicken well, and the crushed tomatoes help to keep the burgers even juicier. I am using mozzarella cheese, but provolone would be a good match as well. The basil and garlic came from my garden, and I am very much looking forward to being able to go out and pick tomatoes too!

Cheesy Tomato Basil Burgers

1 1/2 lbs ground chicken/beef/turkey
1 cup crushed tomatoes
4 - 6 basil leaves, chopped/torn (or 1 tsp dried)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz mozzarella cheese
Optional: salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Combine all ingredients except cheese in a large mixing bowl and mix with your hands, being careful not to overwork. Form six patties with half the meat mixture, place cheese in the middle of each patty, form six more patties, place each one on top of one with cheese on it, press seams together and cook as desired.


Ground chicken: Smart Chicken $2.99/lb after sale and coupon, used 1 1/2 lbs =$4.49
Crushed tomatoes (organic): On sale $1.99/28 oz can, used approximately 1/3 = $.66
Mozzarella cheese (organic): On sale for $3.49/8 oz, used 1/2 = $1.75

Total Cost: $6.90
Six Servings: $1.15 per serving