Budget Epicurean

Budget Epicurean: February 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Crock Pot miracles - Stuffed Peppers & Strawberry Apple Crisp

Crock Pots are miracle workers for students, busy moms, professionals, anyone who is pressed for time but still wants a healthy, home-cooked meal at the end of the day. As a full-time graduate student writing her tesis with 2 other jobs and several PhD interviews to prepare for, I have been running a pretty hectic schedule lately. It goes something like this: 7am - wake up, go to lab, begin an experiment. 8 am - rec, run or elliptical. 9 am - home, shower, breakfast, maybe an hour of free time. 10/11 - meetings. 12-2 find time for lunch. Afternoon - classes and more experiments. 4 - 9: work or write, depending on the day.  
So, in the one hour of free time I had the other morning, I realized I had 3 red bell peppers, minute rice and ground beef. Plus two old apples and baking supplies I hadn't used in ages. Therefore...
Crock pot stuffed peppers:
3 red bell peppers
1 pound ground beef
1 cup rice
Spices to taste (garlic, italian, black pepper)
Brown the ground beef and cook the rice. Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds. In a large bowl, mix the cooked rice and beef and 1 can tomato sauce, plus any spices. Stuff each pepper with mixture. Put in Crock Pot on LOW for 2-4 hours.

Dinner and dessert, will be ready and waiting when I get home.

The pepper, exploded on my plate. =)
 Crock Pot Strawberry Apple Crisp:
2 apples, 1 red 1 green
1 packet strawberries & cream oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter/margerine
Cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract
This went from plain apple crisp to strawberry apple crisp because I couldn't find any plain oatmeal! So I made do with what I had. And I'm glad I did!
Dice the apples and mix in a bowl with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix the sugars, oatmeal, flour, butter, 1 tbsp. vanilla and another sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg in a separate bowl. Sprinkle a tbsp sugar over the spiced apples in the crock pot, and cover with crumble mixture. Cook on LOW for 2-4 hours. The sugars carmelize, the apples are soft and tangy, it tastes like heaven warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!!!

This is so completely fabulous I can't even describe it!

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Spinach fruit & nut salad

Well as you may remember, I am eating healthier this year. Working out has been kind of off and on due to sickness, school visits, and I admit, laziness. I have been pretty good about eating better overall though. So today I decided to make a super healthy salad. Spinach is one of the best greens out there, with tons of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Then I added some fruit for natural sweetness, and nuts & seeds for healthy fats. The only thing that could make this better is some grilled chicken breast to top it off! 
You will need:
2 cups fresh, washed spinach
1/2 kiwi 
4-6 strawberries
1 roma tomato
1/4 cup walnuts
1 tbsp. sunflower seeds
Balsamic vinegar & olive oil

Put leaves on a plate, cover with diced fruits & nuts. Add dressing, enjoy!

Here's to eating healthy and enjoying it for life!

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Balsamic chicken and Spanish rice

I got the basic idea for this from allrecipes.com but of course I tailored it to my tastes and what I had around the house. I had taken out a chicken breast to thaw with the intent of making chicken quesadillas, but my boyfriend used all the tortillas to make tacos. So plan B. =) 
Balsamic vinaigrette
Lemon juice
Garlic powder
Chili powder
Rosemary, thyme, dill
1 cup Minute Rice
1 cup water
Garlic powder
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup corn
First, combine all marinade ingredients in a plastic bag. I cut the chicken breast into smaller, thinner pieces to cook faster. Left marinating in the fridge for about an hour.
When ready to cook, I put a few tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and heated it up. Then the chicken and marinade was dumped in all together. Cooked over low heat for several minutes with a cover on.
While the chicken was cooking, I put the spices, water and rice in a microwave-safe bowl and microwaved for 5 minutes. Let sit for 3 minutes or so, and fluff with a fork. Then add the salsa and corn, and microwave another 2 minutes. After the chicken was fully cooked, I put the chicken pieces on a towel to drain. 
This is what the rice and chicken looked like fresh off the stove/microwave.

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