Vegetable [bacon] Frittata

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Tonight’s dinner was Vegetable Frittata! I jazzed up Martha’s recipe with some good ole’ bacon! It was really tasty, like breakfast for dinner.

It was pretty simple to cook, as long as you have a cast iron pan. Otherwise I’m not sure how to make it happen. Even I couldn’t get that crafty. I had to run to Target for a pan. 🙂 The vegetables really make this a savory dish, very appropriate for dinner. It also can be eaten at room temp says Martha, perfect for when you are eating and multitasking as I often find myself. Pictures this evening are courtesy of Brian!

The grocery list:

8 large Eggs

1/2 lb Green Beans

1 Tomato

6 slices of Bacon (I made 7, but Brian ate one.)

1 c Broccoli florets

1/2 medium Red Onion (used the other half from last night’s Taco Burgers!)

1/2 c Sour Cream

1 lb Gold Potatoes

4 cloves of Garlic

3 T Olive Oil

S&P

1 c Grated Parmesan

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prep the bacon by laying each slice on a foil lined baking sheet. Then prep the broccoli by tossing the florets in about a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper.

Place the broccoli in the oven on the second from the top rack. Place the bacon on the middle rack or one lower. Don’t worry about waiting for the oven to fully preheat.

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After 20 minutes, the bacon will be almost crisp and the broccoli will be close to done. Flip the florets over and move to the middle rack. Pull the bacon out and transfer slices to a paper towel lined plate.

Let the broccoli cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until nice and roasted. When finished, set aside in a bowl until cool enough to chop.

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Make a little roasted potato side by slicing up some baby gold potatoes into 1 inch pieces. Toss the pieces with four chopped garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and salt and pepper.

Place the potatoes onto the lower rack once the broccoli and the bacon have finished cooking. They will take about 20 minutes and can cook while you prepare the frittata.

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Crack 8 large eggs in a medium bowl and whisk with 1/2 cup of sour cream until well mixed. Set aside.

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Wash and trim 1/2 pound of green beans and cut into 1 inch pieces.

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Chop up half of a medium red onion.

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Dice a tomato into 1/2 inch pieces. [Not shown to size.]

Chop up the broccoli.

Rip or chop up the bacon into small pieces. Not talking bacon bit size, you want a nice big bite of bacon with your tata.

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Break from chopping to look at the cat. Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat while you take a picture of the cat.

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Add the green beans and the chopped onion to the hot skillet. Add some bacon grease if you have it lying around.. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are to your tenderness liking.

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Add the bacon, tomatoes, and the broccoli to the skillet and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

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Pour in the egg mixture while mixing. You want to combine the egg and all of the ingredients quickly before the egg sets.

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Once combined, top the frittata with a cup of grated parmesan cheese.

Let the egg cook for 2 minutes or until the egg begins to set. Then transfer to the oven on the upper rack. Allow the frittata to cook undisturbed for 8 minutes. It will begin to bubble and set on the top. Turn on the broiler and give the cheese a minute to brown and bubble up.

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This would be a good time to check on the taters!

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After the cheese has turned a golden brown, pull it out and run a rubber spatula around the rim to loosen the egg. Transfer to a plate carefully, by easing the spatula under the frittata and helping slide it onto the plate.

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Cut into wedges and serve alongside the roasted potatoes.

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A great anytime meal! 🙂

Taco Burgers and Pickled Cucumber Tomato Salad

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Tonight from Martha’s “budget” menu, Brian chose Taco Burgers.

A zippy burger twist, I was very intrigued to try. Not usually a huge fan of jalapeños, I think the pickled juice made them milder and more palatable. The patty tastes like taco meat, flavored with salt and pepper and a generous teaspoon of chili powder. I am a big fan of this recipe and will definitely make this one again.

The grocery list:

1 lb lean Ground Beef

1 jar of Sliced Pickled Jalapeños

1 t Chili Powder

S&P

3/4 t Sugar

1 c chopped Iceberg Lettuce

1 Cucumber

1/2 medium Red Onion

1 large Tomato

4 Hamburger Buns

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This is the star ingredient of the night. You will need as many of these suckers as you can stand to top your burger and 2 tablespoons of the juice to make the dressing for the salad.

I found this at Safeway in the Hispanic food section. They had lots large cans in authentic brands but after some thorough searching I found El Paso brand in a small jar! America.

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Start by making the salad so it has some time to marinate in the dressing. Slice about half of the tomato into four slices to top the burger later. Dice the other half of the tomato into 3/4 inch chunks for the salad.

Pour 2 tablespoons of pickled jalapeño juice into a medium sized bowl and whisk it with 3/4 teaspoon of sugar. Add the diced tomatoes to the mix.

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Chop the ends of the cucumber off and slice it into thin half moons. You can slice it right down the middle and chop each half or cut 3/4 of the way down the cucumber and slice the whole (see picture). After beginning the latter end ending with the former, I found the first way to be more efficient and safer with the knife.

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Slice up half of the red onion. Set aside some of this to top your burgers later if you wish.

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Add the cucumber and onion to the bowl and mix with the tomatoes and jalapeño juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Wrap with cling wrap and set in the fridge until later.

Steal a cucumber slice.

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Use your hands to mix the pound of ground beef with a teaspoon of chili powder. Form four equal-ish sized patties. Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper. If you are lazy like me, just sprinkle the side facing up. Place this side in the pan first and sprinkle the other while it is in the pan.

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Cook the patties for four minutes on each side in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. I was going to use my new grill pan, but I accidentally added some oil to a very hot pan and created a smoke storm in the kitchen. Use Pam if you don’t have nonstick.

Add a slice of cheddar cheese during the last minute of cooking if you wish. I did.

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Load ’em up! You can top with the salad, that would be amazing. Or you can use the tomato and onion you set aside earlier and the lettuce I mentioned in the grocery list. Don’t forget the jalapeño!

Even I, a wimp, ate 2 on my burger! Delicious! 🙂

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Chili Braised Pork with Sweet Potato Mash and Green Beans

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Alas! After months of hiatus, I have returned to my quaint cooking blog. I have missed blogging so much, but between my final semester of school and student teaching, it has been the furthest thing from my mind. This week will hopefully be my last week of unemployment 🙂 and to celebrate that I thought I’d cook a week of amazing meals.

This week’s grocery list and menu is brought to us by Martha Stewart. Now Martha claims that these are $10 dinners, and maybe that’s true, but in the lovely DC area I doubled her suggested budget. It’s possible that I could have spent less had I been equipped with my staple pantry but most of it still resides in Richmond. I am hoping to get the rest of my things this week!

The first meal on the list is chili braised pork with sweet potatoes and green beans. Yum.

I rarely cook with pork, and never with the cut used in this recipe, but I am glad I went outside my comfort zone. It’s also a fairly inexpensive cut and commonly found at grocery stores. The bill for this meal was about $15.

The grocery list:

1 1/2 lbs Boneless Country-Style Pork Ribs (about 5 ribs)

S&P

1/2 t of Chili Powder

1 3/4 c of Chicken Broth

3 T All Purpose Flour

4 t Olive Oil

2 large Yams

1/2 c Sour Cream

2 t White Sugar

3 cloves of Garlic

1 lbs Green Beans

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Heat about a teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Salt and pepper the pork ribs while the oil heats up.

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When you can start to smell the oil, put the ribs in. Give each their own space. Leave them for about 3 minutes to get a nice bottom crust. Then turn about every 2 minutes to brown each side. About 7 minutes total time.

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While the pork is browning, mix 1 3/4 cups of chicken broth, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder in a bowl.

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Add the liquid after 7 minutes of browning. Bring to a boil in the medium high pan. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pan. The sauce should continue to bubble and the pork will begin to steam.

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Leave the pan for about 30 minutes. I uncovered halfway to whisk up the sauce and grab the bits that were stuck to the pan.

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Peel and chop the sweet potatoes in 1 inch pieces. Set out the sour cream so it can come to room temperature – for later!

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Wash the green beans and trim the ends. Set them aside for later. They cook in about 6 minutes, you can do this during the last 10 minutes of the pork’s cooking time.

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About 20 minutes into the pork, start the potatoes. Bring them to a boil in a salty bath then reduce the heat to an aggressive simmer. The potatoes should take about 20 minutes, check at 15 for fork tenderness.

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After a 30 steam, uncover the pan and let the pork continue to cook on medium high heat uncovered for 20 minutes. This will let the sauce thicken up and give the pork more time to become beautifully tender.

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When the yams are cooked, strain them and return to the pan. Mash them until they are almost smooth and release most of the steam before adding sour cream and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Continue to mash until the potatoes are smooth. Whip in salt and pepper as desired, keep tasting it! If they taste too sour add another teaspoon of sugar or increase the salt. Keep the potatoes warm over low heat while the meal finishes.

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Heat up 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Chop up 3 cloves of garlic while it heats up.

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This was where I got crafty. 🙂 My pans are in Richmond so I was short a skillet. I used my Christmas present and it worked out just fine! I do recommend a skillet though.

Add the garlic to the hot oil and cook for 30 seconds.

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Add the green beans and 1/4 cup of water to the skillet and cover for 3 minutes. My beans barely fit! I made it work by giving them another minute of steaming.

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Uncover and continue to cook for another 2 minutes, stirring the beans frequently. They are done when most of the water has evaporated and have a crisp outer but tender inside.

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Add finishing touches by spooning lots of sauce over your pork rib and sprinkling some chili powder over your yams. 🙂

Shrimp Boil

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I got a steal of a deal at the grocery store and invested in 2 pounds of shrimp. This sparked a genius idea. Why have a shrimp boil with just two people? We should invite friends! So that’s what I did, I called up my people and had a yummy shrimp boil!

So this meal obviously busts the beer budget. HOWEVER for a small dinner party, I think this was very affordable. About $27 and enough food for 6 people. If you get your guests to bring sides, beer, and dessert this is a damn cheap party!

Having company over made taking pictures challenging, but I think I took just enough for you to get the picture.

5-7 quarts of water, this will be dependent upon your pot

1 beer

2 lemons

6 tbs creole seasoning

2 tbs kosher salt

3 cloves of garlic

2-3 lbs red potatoes

4 andouille sausages

4 corn cobs

1-2 lbs raw shell-on shrimp

The key to an delicious shrimp boil is a great stock! The only way you can fail here is by under seasoning, more water = more seasoning.

Add the water, beer, creole seasoning, and salt to a stock pot and get it boiling. While the stock is heating up, cut two lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the pot. Drop the lemons in, too. Pull the skin off of three garlic cloves, mash them with a knife and drop them into the stock.

Cut the red potatoes into large chunks, quarters are usually a good size.

Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes. When the water comes back up to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 15 minutes.

Slice up the sausage. You can slice them into large hunks or smaller bite-sized pieces. Bite-sized pieces will take a little less time to cook up, so keep that in mind when adding them to the pot.

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After the potatoes have boiled for about 15 minutes, add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes.

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Cut the corn into thirds and drop them into the pot. If you have bite-sized sausages, toss them in at the same time as the corn. The corn will only take a couple minutes, but you can let it go for as long as 7 minutes if you need to prep your shrimp.

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Rinse your shrimp. Drop them in the pot defrosted with the shells still on. After three minutes, pull the pot off the heat and strain.

You can drizzle melted butter over top before spilling onto the table or set out dip cups. I added a little garlic and parsley to the butter.

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Pour the shrimp boil onto a large table. If you want to keep the mess at bay, cover the table in parchment paper OR if you get crafty like me and my friends you can create an aluminum foil blanket for the table. (We crimped the seams and everything to prevent cuts!) I know it looks tacky, but afterwards we just folded up the blanket with shells inside and threw it into the trash. No mess but the stock pot, cutting board, and knife!

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Sprinkle with parsley and dig in with your fingers. You may want a fork for the potatoes, they are hot.

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If you are lucky like me, your friends will bring dessert and biscuits. 🙂

Philly Cheesesteaks with Red Potatoes

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Welp, tonight’s meal was an exercise in craft. I was cooking in a male’s kitchen. You can’t imagine what I had to work with and the space I had to work it in. Challenge one, zero counter space. I prepped in the corner between the sink and the oven. Challenge two, inadequate cooking utensils. I used a deep spoon to sautĂ© my onions and peps. I had one good knife to use for both vegetable and meat. Challenge three, missing ingredients. Used vegetable oil to cook everything rather than the preferable olive oil.. Challenge four, dark pictures due to the dark countertop and yellowish lighting.

All difficulties aside, these are banging Philly cheesesteaks and the potatoes ain’t bad either.

Grab these things:

1-2 white onions

1-2 green peppers

2 garlic cloves

1 top round steak

6-7 slices of provolone

S&P

1/3 cup + 1 tbs olive oil

2 tbs butter

4 medium sized red potatoes

1 pkg Lipton’s onion recipe mix (I will learn to create my own one day…)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

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Challenge five, this is a pillow case. There are no dish towels here. Wash and dry your potatoes with whatever clean rag you have laying around.

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Chop them up in to large chunks. Then…

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Flip the Lipton’s box over to find out what comes next.

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Just kidding, not really. Dump them in a bowl and add 1/3 cup of oil. I used vegetable oil.

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Add one packet of this yummy stuff and keep the second for another day. Stir up the potatoes, coating all of them in oil and onion seasoning.

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Pour them out into a 13 x 9 baking dish, you could coat it with pam or nonstick aluminum foil for super easy clean up.

Challenge six, I had only this tiny cookie sheet. There was zero surface area to move my potatoes around AND the cookie sheet bent in the oven from the heat. :/

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Place the potatoes in the oven, at 425 degrees, and check on them every 10 minutes. I like them crispy, if you do too leave them in for 45 minutes and stir every 10. If you don’t, they will be soft and delicious after 30 minutes.

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Time for cheesesteaks! Chop up your onion(s) in skinny, long strips or fat, short ones. If you like skinny and long, chop the onion in half hotdog style. I prefer stubby pieces, they match the thickness of the bell peppers and I like that consistency. Before you cut up the pepper, heat 1 or 2 tbs of oil and 1 tbs of butter over medium-high heat. If possible, use a nonstick skillet so you can scrape up the bits that get stuck to the pan.

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Core out your green bell pepper(s). Cut the pepper into pinkie-width wedges. Like my cutting board? Challenge 7, there’s only one and it’s miniature size. Cut all of your veggies first, giving the board a quick rinse after each one. Then use it to cut your meat.

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Check on the potatoes if you haven’t already!

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Drop the onions and peppas just before the butter starts to brown, its a golden color and bubbly. Salt and pepper lightly. Tend to this over the next 10 to 20 minutes.

*Not pictures, chop up 2 cloves of garlic. Set to the side.

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 The best way to cut your meat is to have the butcher do it. If you slice at home, put the meat in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting. The slightly frozen meat will be much easier to cut.

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Slice the steak into very thin pieces, about half of a centimeter or smaller. Do this so the meat will cook quickly and it will be easier to chew. Salt and pepper the steak or you can use a steak seasoning.

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This is about 10 minutes after cooking. The onions and peppers are still crisp. This might be where you want to add the garlic and salt and pepper if you like a crunch.

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This is after 15 minutes. The vegetables are a little softer. I added the garlic and S&P here. Stir and watch closely for about three minutes, you really don’t want the garlic to burn. Transfer to a bowl or plate and keep in microwave.

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Wipe the pan of veggie remains, not oil. If there is any garlic in the pan it will burn while you cook the meat. Drop your meat in the hot pan.

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About a minute after dropping the meat, I added 1/2 tbs of butter the the pan. The first minute, the meat develops a nice sear. Soon after the meat will stick to the pan because it’s so thin. The butter not only adds an amazing texture and flavor to the meat, but it keeps the meat strips in tact.

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Prep 15-20 inch foil sheets with buns.

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The meat will cook up in about 3 minutes and then you can add back in the vegetables. Mix it all together in the pan.

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Drop slices of provolone on top. I like a little overlapping, it ensures maximum cheesiness.

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When the cheese starts to look like this, especially like the far slice, you can start to mix the goodness together. Pull the pan off the heat, once the cheese hits the pan it will start to cook and you don’t want burning!

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I couldn’t snap a pic of the goodness, things started to get a little messy, and I ran out of hands. But scoop the mixture into the ready buns. If you have really bready buns, you may want to scoop out the center a little to make way for the goodness.

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Wrap the cheesesteak up tight like a burrito. I place the steak, meat side towards me on the short end. Then a fold the tail over the meat, you want to enclose the meat first in the foil or it will all fall out. Fold in the sides and roll up tightly. The tight roll ensures maximum flavor melding, it’s worth it.

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Get the potatoes out of the oven and scoop them into the cutest bowl you can find. I think this bowl is pretty impressive for a man’s kitchen.

Drop the oven temperature down to 250 degrees.

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Place rolls into the oven. I didn’t wait for the oven to cool down. In just 10 minutes, these bad boys will be ready to eat!

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Look at that cheese..

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This sandwich should not fall apart will eating. If it does, you failed at adding cheese. I got super crafty and was able to pull off these stunners, you can too.

Tonight’s total meal cost was $13.25 for 5 philly cheesesteaks. That’s just over $2.60 a sandwich. Not bad?

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Eat two. 🙂

Chicken and Zippy Corn & Zucchini Salad

I would call my shopping trip a great success! I spent a little more than intended, but I blame my inability to refrain from a good bargain.

Here’s what I ended up buying from the store:

  • yellow onion (2 for $1.75)
  • white onion (2 for $3)
  • grape tomatoes ($3)
  • garlic clove ($0.50)
  • corn (6 ears for $2)
  • scallions ($1)
  • bell pepper (2 green for $1.85)
  • lemon (2 for $2)
  • red potatoes (5 lbs for $5)
  • shrimp (2 lbs for $15)
  • andouille sausage ($6)
  • chicken breasts ($4.30)
  • top round steak ($3.60)
  • provolone cheese ($3.50)
  • hoagie rolls ($2)
  • creole seasoning ($1.80)

For a grand total of $54.30! Pretty close, eh?

As I was picking up 1 lb of shrimp for $11, I noticed a bigger, much better deal – 2 lbs for $15! I don’t need 2 lbs of shrimp, but I couldn’t resist the savings! This slight upcharge cost me andouille sausage for my one pot pasta, but with the extra pound of shrimp I can make shrimp with pasta instead.

Tonight’s meal was a familiar one, zippy corn and zucchini salad with pan fried chicken breasts. I forgot to swipe the lettuce from my mom’s fridge so we skipped the greens.

To pan fry the chicken, I sliced one breast in half and then cut the tenderloins off (down the fat lines). This makes about three or four chicken pieces. Wash and pat each dry with a paper towel. Salt and pepper each side and dredge through flour. I like to be lazy and save a plate by sprinkling flour on top of the chicken and shaking the chicken to spread it. Heat about 1 tbs of oil and 1 tbs of butter over medium high heat. Once the butter starts to bubble, drop the chickies and flip after 4 minutes. Shouldn’t take longer than 7, check the under side for burning. If you want to be uber cautious, you can check the temp by turning the breast on its side and inserting a thermometer. You’re looking for 160 degrees.

I used the same pan for the chicken and the corn, made sense. I put the chicken on a plate and set it in the microwave while I made the salad. Don’t bother adding more oil to the pan if 1 tbs or more remains from the chicken.

I have scallions, corn, a zucchini, a chicken breast, tomatoes and lemon left over for other dinners. Which is amazing.

The total for this meal was.. $5.30! If you had to buy a zucchini, add $1 more.

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A great deal on a fancy meal! 🙂

Beer Budget Grocery List

I’m baaackk!

A lot has happened since my last post, I’ve been on the move – here, there, and everywhere. I still haven’t found my way back to Richmond, but soon I’ll be home and in my new apartment (with a much needed, oven upgrade! So long Enterprise, it was not fun.).

Today I am going grocery shopping. I have been eating out all summer and I need a change. I also need to save some money… and thus the Beer Budget Grocery List and Menu were created!

I have googled and found many grocery lists and menus to accompany them, but I have yet to find a whole entire menu appetizing. So I thought I’d try my hand at making my own, using my $10 beer/wine budget. We’ll see how it goes!

For the menu, I want each meal to incorporate some ingredient of another. This way I don’t waste any food in my last week in Arlington and I save money on ingredients. Throughout this week I’ll post the recipes to each of these:

Chicken and Zippy Corn & Zucchini Salad

Creole Shrimp Boil

Andouille Sausage One Pot

Chicken Kabobs

Philly Cheesesteaks

I chose these meals because I love the versatility in the ingredients and because they sound delicious! The andouille is in the shrimp boil as well as the one pot, three of the recipes include yellow onion, two add peppers, the chicken will be used twice, and the leftover potatoes from the shrimp boil can be made as a side for the cheesesteaks!

So here’s the beer budget grocery list:

  • yellow onion (3)
  • grape tomatoes
  • garlic clove
  • corn (4-5 ears)
  • scallions
  • bell pepper (1 red, 1 green, or any 2  favorites)
  • lemon
  • red potatoes (3 lbs)
  • shrimp (1 lbs)
  • andouille sausage
  • chicken breasts
  • top round steak
  • provolone cheese
  • hoagie rolls
  • creole seasoning

Here are some things I have that you might need (which may surpass your beer budget :/)

  • Herbs (basil, parsley)
  • Zucchini (2)
  • Rice
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Pasta
  • Olive oil
  • S&P
  • Lettuce
  • Butter

I’m aiming for a $50 bill, or $10 a dinner. Which is insane! I can’t go anywhere, except fast food, and buy dinner for 2 for less than $20.

 I’ll report back on how my shopping trip goes in my dinner posting! 🙂