Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vegetarian goulash & sunflower seed cookies

November 5, 2013

You know days where you just don't feel like putting forth much effort into dinner? Days when you are tempted to order in? Today is that day. I couldn't figure out what I wanted to eat which didn't help matters. My will power somehow stayed strong (must be from giving in and eating three cookies before dinner, but we'll get to those cookies a little later) and I decided to try to stick to the challenge.

I looked in the fridge and saw that there was still leftover vegetarian chili. Hmmm. I'm sure the kids wouldn't be thrilled if I said we were having leftovers. What to do. Then it hit me. I was going to remake one of my favorite meals that my mom used to make for me. Goulash. My mom's recipe was made with ground beef, corn, egg noodles, and a tomato sauce. I can do this.

I had the kids pick out what pasta they wanted: veggie spirals. They played in the other room while I got to work. Good thing because then they wouldn't see the chili container come out of the fridge! I put the leftover chili (made from carrots, celery, turnips, onion, leek, garlic, lima beans, chickpeas, red quinoa, home canned tomatoes, tomato sauce & paste) into the food processor. It was still a little thick. I went back to the fridge and saw that there was about 1/3 of a quart of home canned tomatoes. Perfect. I tossed that into the food processor to thin out our "sauce". I steamed cauliflower and sliced up some leftover bread from our dinner out last night. I stirred the sauce into the pasta and then added 1/2 a bag of corn (frozen from farmer's market).

Dinner was a hit! Everyone cleaned their plates and had no suggestions for next time. Score! Ok, now onto the cookies...

I wanted to try to make a healthier cookie. Healthier not healthy. I mean, it still has to taste like a cookie. Oh, and by "I", I really mean the kids. I just supervised but they measured, poured, mixed, and shaped. I found a recipe on dulcedough.com and decided to try to make sunflower seed cookies. We halved the recipe and with half of it we also added in a big handful of dried cranberries. 1/2 cup butter softened (I used vegan), 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup coconut, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds. Mix butter and sugars until fluffy then add egg and vanilla. Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in separate bowl. Add it to the butter mixture. Stir in oats, coconut, and sunflower seeds. Bake at 350 for 8-11 minutes. I had to bake mine for 14-16 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.

The kids and I really liked them. You definitely need to like sunflower seeds in order to enjoy this cookie. They have a strong taste. However, I normally do not like shredded coconut and I loved it in this cookie. I preferred the batch that had the dried cranberries in it. This is a keeper recipe. I think that next time I will work on making it healthier by maybe using half wheat flour and possibly cutting down on some sugar.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Chickpea veggie soup; grocery savings

October 26 - November 1, 2013

Have you missed me? I haven't been hiding. I've been sick. This virus is really hanging on (today is day 10). I feel bad for the kids. They have been eating so much canned soup, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and other not so healthy dinners.

I did feel well enough to make dinner one night this past week. I threw together a soup out of whatever random veggies I had on hand. I used onion, 2 carrots, 1 turnip, 1/2 clove garlic, handful of kale, 2 cobs of corn, 1/2 leek, 1/3 pint of home canned tomatoes (leftover in fridge), handful of green beans, homemade veggie broth, and about 1/2 cup barley. I wanted to try using beans in soup. I looked in the freezer and found a cup of chickpeas. Perfect. I tossed them in. Wow. This was delicious. And good thing because I ate it for days!
My pre-challenge grocery weekly average was $175. Once again, I didn't feel up to driving all the way to the commissary so I shopped at a more expensive local store. Worth it to me for today. I spent $8.47 on cleaners/toiletries. I spent $14.48 on impulse items. I saw black rice. It drew me in and as I read the package "in Ancient China, it was reserved exclusively for Chinese royalty". Oooooh, sounds like a rice I need to try! I also found a potato leek soup, vegetable broth (incase I am not feeling well enough to make my own this week), and whole wheat capellini (trying to do better at whole grain items). I spent $6.98 on gossip magazines. I spent $113.23 out of pocket. This is a savings of $61.77. The kids packed lunches and saved $21. My pre-challenge restaurant average was $80. After grocery shopping, I stopped at our favorite gourmet cafe and picked up a trio of soups: cream of potato with leeks, cream of cauliflower with smoked gouda cheese, and cream of mushroom with amontillado sherry. The soups come with her delicious homemade rolls. I also grabbed a piece of apple pie. For $18, the kids will be super excited to have a delicious (and easy) meal tonight. This was a savings of $62. Our savings for the week are $144.77. Our total for our first year at this challenge was $5,036.79 and so far for our second year we are at $307.23 in 15 days.