Budget Epicurean

Budget Epicurean: August 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Taco Salad!

When you're hungry for Mexican but don't want to go out, don't have much time, want to eat healthy, or don't want too many ingredients (or all of the above), you can't beat a Taco Salad. Quick and easy, it can be as healthy or unhealthy as you want it. Having just moved into a new apartment, most of my kitchen is not yet unpacked. Besides that, I don't have an oven. I know, shocking. That eliminated about 1/3 of my cooking repertoire. However, this requires only one pan, and little effort, so you can make it happen in under 20 minutes.

1 head romaine lettuce, or 1 bag pre-cut mix
1-2 tomatoes
Shredded cheese, preferably cheddar or Mexican mix
Catalina dressing
1 lb. ground beef
Taco seasoning
1/2 cup water 
Black olives (optional)

Step 1: Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Drain off the excess fat, and add 1/4 cup taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water slowly, stirring it all together. Leave on low heat for about 10 minutes to allow the seasoning to cook into the beef. 

Step 2: While waiting, chop up the Romaine and tomato and place in a large bowl. When all seasoning is cooked in, put beef over top. Sprinkle on the cheese, crush up a few handfuls of Doritos, and douse with Catalina dressing. 

The Doritos give it a cheesy crunch and the dressing is just enough tang, while the sweet works with the spice of the taco seasoning. It is so tasty! Obviously, if you go heavy on the lettuce and tomato and light on the beef plus nix the Doritos and dressing, it is much healthier. But where's the fun in that? ;)

What's your favorite salad topping?

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Monday, August 8, 2011

At-home stir fry, no take out required

One of my favorite super-cheap, super-flexible meals is stir fry. As a lover of all things salty, soy sauce in particular, stir frys are always a staple. You can use virtually any kind of rice, veggies, and/or meats. This is what I had left in my freezer/cabinets: 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup white rice
1 cooked steak (not sure what cut)
1 pint mushrooms
1/2 bag frozen edamame
Soy sauce
Garlic salt
While the edamame and rice were boiling (follow directions on box or bag) I put the veggies and mushrooms into a frying pan with about 4 tbsp. soy sauce. I cut the steak into small chunks, and added that to the pan. Once the rice and edamame were done, I put all the ingredients in together with some more soy sauce and a healthy sprinkle of garlic salt.
After eating my fill, I had at least 3 meals left over to put in the fridge for the rest of the week. A lesson I learned from this: don't put oregano in it. I tried to get fancy with the spices, but then it tasted less chinese-inspired and more like messed-up pasta.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My favorite home cooked breakfast

While I am all in favor of cold cereal or granola bars, when one has enough time and energy to get up and make a 'real' breakfast I would recommend it. Not only because a healthy breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but also because it is nice to start your day with a filling and delicious meal. My all-time favorite is potatoes and red peppers with scrambled eggs. Simple, cheap ingredients and it takes under 30 minutes to cook and enjoy. Of course, there is ample opportunity for experimentation with ingredients.

You will need:
1-2 medium potatoes, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2-4 medium eggs
(I also add paprika, and cheese to the eggs)

To make it quicker, microwave the potatoes for 5-8 minutes until soft. Put about 2 tbsp. oil in a pan and heat it. Add the potatoes to the pan, season and cook for about 5 minutes.
Once the potatoes start to turn brown and crispy, add the red peppers. Toss or stir the potatoes and peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. In a seperate bowl, whisk the eggs.

Add cheddar cheese if you like. Once the potatoes are brown, and the red peppers are soft and beginning to brown, pour in the eggs. Mix the whole conglomeration until the eggs are cooked and to your desired fluffiness. Dump it all onto a plate and try to wait long enough for it to cool so you don't burn your tongue on the first bite!

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