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Blaugust 15: How I Ate For Cheap


Today I paid a sad amount of money for a yogurt parfait (possibly the most overpriced prepared item at any store…) and a kind bar for breakfast. I had put off getting groceries so I didn’t really have much around to eat. I wanted something simple, but the best quality egg sandwich around here is also a little bit too expensive for my preferences. It’s a bit of a regret but it tasted fine, and it’s done now.

I made up for it afterward by getting lunch and dinner for free. I had a “buy ten sandwiches get one free” punch card that I’d filled up. Ok, actually I think it’s twelve, and since I kept forgetting to get it punched, I probably bought around twice as many to get the free one. However, it was no money paid today. I left a small tip and that’s it.

For dinner, since there is a Panera near the grocery store, I decided to use some of a gift card I have and I got a salad and, probably negating the health of the salad, a chai latte. At least the crazy air conditioning habits of every single business out there allow me to drink a hot beverage in the summer without dying.

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Both lunch and dinner were good, but not great. I didn’t order my very favorite sandwich because I was in the mood for a different kind today. The sandwich I chose was quite satisfying, but not as delicious as either of the two I tend to buy for myself. As for dinner, I liked the chai more than the salad, and to be honest I wasn’t too hungry so I probably could have just stuck with the chai… trying to get some more nutrients for dinner and all that.

Groceries were a whole different story this week. I am currently dog-sitting (for a very cute beagle with some weird habits, as I am certain all pets have), and the house is in the middle of a huge kitchen renovation. This means that there IS no kitchen. Instead, there are pieces of a kitchen here, there, out on the porch. Literally, the toaster oven is out there. I haven’t used it yet… going outside to cook seems strange to me.

So, my grocery goals today were: cheap, healthy, and no cooking necessary. What does a grocery haul look like when you know you won’t be able to cook? Pretty simple. Prepared chicken (the grilled chicken strips from Trader Joe’s. Probably every grocery store you go to, unless it’s a tiny, specialty store of some kind, will have a variety of prepared chicken), baby spinach, avocado to use with some of the things that are already around for salads and wraps, and a few bananas and greek yogurts for breakfast. I can eat the same few things on repeat for the next several days… but then I’m going to need something different. Still trying to keep it healthy, but my taste buds could use a thrill.

I really need to figure out some healthier foods for that need to treat yo self.

What Do You Do With a Bunch of Fresh Basil?


Buying fresh herbs kind of sucks–because they always sell you more than you can use, and then all that goodness goes to waste! The last time I bought cilantro, half of it turned into rotting mush in the bag before I got a chance to make the thing I’d been planning to make with it.

But sometimes I just really want to buy they anyway. There’s a small produce store in Brighton Center that generally has really good stuff at good prices, so I like to go there sometimes so I’ll have good fresh fruits and vegetables. They sell fresh basil and cilantro for a dollar a bunch. (Not that this is really different from most grocery stores, but it’s still a nice price). I wanted basil, so I got one bunch.

One bunch is just too much. I’ve gotten more used to the idea of copious fresh basil, instead of adding it as an afterthought or a garnish. I like it in salads, particularly if I have blueberries or strawberries to put on the salad as well. Add a little drizzle of olive oil, and you’ve got a great thing going. Unfortunately I have no berries, but that’s ok. Just using basil in a regular old salad definitely kicks up the flavor, at least one notch, if not two.

I’m sure most people are aware that basil is great for cooking, too. Pizza, sauteed with vegetables, mixed up into a marinade for some chicken… whatever you think will taste good, there’s a good chance you can do it with basil. (Wow, that sounded weirder than I thought before I typed it out.)

Of course, one way to use up a substantial portion of that bunch is to make a nice batch of tomato sauce. I had that intention, but unfortunately I left the burner on too high for too long on my pot of tomatoes, and they burned horribly. They were not salvageable, and I didn’t want to go out and get more tomatoes, so I had to just scrap that whole idea. In this case, my cooking failure was due to not paying attention, rather than not having a recipe going in! I’ve made tomato sauce a whole bunch of times and this has never happened before.

I wish they would sell smaller bunches of herbs for 50c. I don’t want good basil going bad because I only wanted to use small amounts… but what am I supposed to do? I only have so many ingredients that will logically combine with basil. And I’m not planning to shop again before Thanksgiving. I suppose I can always freeze the rest if I don’t feel like using it right now.

Maybe I can make a basil-mozzarella omelet tomorrow morning. I might even spare some of the grape tomatoes that I plan to put on my salad for tomorrow’s lunch.

If you feel inclined, leave a comment and let me know what you do with your basil.

Mixed Media Meals


I don’t know how well the word “Media” really fits in as part of the title, but it was so alliterative! …on to the food.

I like sometimes to mix flavors in ways that are a little unconventional, and that other people might not think to do. Who says every part of your meal has to match? It’s just like wearing two different socks or wearing stripes and polka dots together–you can do it if you want to!

The other night I threw together some green and red peppers chopped up with summer squash, tossed in olive oil and herbs, and roasted it all for a while. Then I sprinkled it liberally with some Italian blend shredded cheese and it went back in the oven until that got nice and melty.

I was going to make quinoa to go with it, but then I changed my mind and made some tandoori-ginger jasmine rice instead.

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If the pictures seem a little fuzzy, I think it’s because the hot food steamed up my phone’s camera lens.

I always really like making tandoori rice because it comes out such a nice coral orange color. I tend to throw in some butter and then probably about a tablespoon of tandoori seasoning. Maybe a bit less. My tandoori seasoning came from T.J. Maxx. You could look for it there or at other stores that have interesting alternative unusual food items. I don’t know how easy it is to find, but my container of it is definitely large enough to last me for a long, long time. I’ve already had it for about two years…

As for the veggies, I just chopped them, sort of roughly, and mixed them all together. The seasonings were very nice. If I remember correctly, I used oregano, rosemary, thyme, and black pepper. Yes, I put pepper on my peppers. It did make them a little spicy, but I like that. Omit the pepper if you don’t like spice.

According to the internet, you’re supposed to roast vegetables at a very high temperature. Next time I think I’ll keep it to 450, because some of the peppers started to look a little bit over-browned before the squash really browned much at all. Luckily, nothing really burned. It was a very nice roast-y flavor.

I still have leftover rice, a week later, so I decided to do something with it today.

kale rice salad

That right there is a kale salad with tandoori rice, cajun-sauteed chicken, and a small amount of dried cranberries. It was, in fact, the last of the cranberries, so I’m going to have to buy more.

Do those flavors “go” together? I don’t know. probably not. But they taste good together. So I do it.

I hope you’ve been inspired to combine some foods or flavors you would not have thought to mix before! Food is meant to be enjoyed. Just do whatever you want with it.

Blog Thoughts


Today I met up with someone from my study abroad program who I haven’t seen for about 5 years. It was really nice to hang out and reconnect, although we never really hung out in Ireland, so I don’t know if that “re” really makes sense. That’s not important. It was fun.

I stopped at Panera for lunch, using a gift card for FREE FOOD! I love free food. I ordered from the “hidden menu,” and I have to say I was pretty happy with the Mediterranean chicken salad. It had bacon and eggs in it, so it’s almost like a breakfast salad. I think this was the first time I’ve ordered a salad from Panera, and they are pretty large. Of course, it came with a side of bread, which was delicious.

 

I might start talking about clothes soon. I don’t think I want to be a fashion blogger, because I’d feel like I’m inviting people to judge my style… but I inadvertently will start talking about my clothes to my friends sometimes, and although I usually talk for longer than they care to listen, I kind of like it. Who knows, maybe you’re interested in hearing about what I wear, and maybe you REALLY don’t care. This blog will still be mainly comprised of food/life adventures, so don’t worry. I’m just thinking of throwing another ingredient into my recipe-less blog.

Squealing Pig review coming soon. I promise!

Oh what a beautiful salad…


Oh, what a messy, wet day…

Hello, there. You may remember me from such posts as Lonely Dining, or the not-really-quiche mini-quiches. Then again, it’s been so long since I’ve written anything, you might not remember. I am sorry to all those who’ve been good enough to follow this blog that I’ve started slacking so much. I was going to start with an explanation of why I haven’t been posting and then promise to do so more, but really, the truth is that I’ve just been lazy and that might happen again frequently. I had intended to post more here, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening, and really, why force it?

I’m starting to switch over to healthier eating. This doesn’t mean I still won’t cook delicious things, but I’m much more likely to have interesting, tasty vegetables and a lot less sugar. Salads. Salad is a great recipe-less dish. You just chop up a bunch of stuff and mix it together. Easy. This is today’s lunch:  Read the rest of this entry

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