Budget Epicurean

Budget Epicurean: October 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Extra Creamy Ham & Scalloped Potatoes

So I had bought a small chunk of ham for sandwiches, and still had a few slices left. I wanted to use them up, and I also had some potatoes, of course my first thought was ham & scalloped potatoes! It's one of my favorite baked dishes, and sounded like a good idea. In order to get my boyfriend to eat it, I added his favorite ingredient: sour cream. To rationalize it to myself as healthy, I added veggies: green onion and corn.

2 small potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1/4 cup flour
1 cup ham, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 container sour cream
1/2 cup corn
1/4 cup sliced green onion
Natures Seasoning, or salt & pepper to taste

Step 1: Peel the potatoes and slice as thinly as possible. Lay half in the bottom of a greased 8x8 dish. Sprinkle the flour and seasoning over them.
 Step 2: Layer on the diced ham. Spread a thin layer of sour cream, sprinkle in some green onion and corn kernels.
 Step 3: Repeat potato, ham, sour cream and veggie layers.
 Step 4: Cover with the rest of the sour cream & cheddar cheese. Pour in the milk.
 Step 5: Cover with aluminum foil, bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover, bake another 15-20 minutes, until browned and bubbly.
 Step 6: Serve and enjoy!
This is a perfect hot & hearty full meal for cold fall/winter days. Great for after major holidays too, when ham goes on sale!

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Strawberry, avocado & feta salad

I am always trying to get more veggies into my diet, and salads are a great way to do so. But no one likes a bowlful of lettuce leaves with just a splash of dressing for flavor. I like to add extras to make my salads more interesting. Since I had just bought a fresh head of lettuce, I used the fruits/veggies I had on hand, and it turned out great! The lettuce was $1 and I will probably get at least 5 salads from it. The avocado was also $1, as were the strawberries. The feta was left from a while ago (and you can omit the cheese or use whatever kind you like/have) as was the dressing. So for 5 salads worth, the cost per serving is only $0.60! Plus it's good for you, and a great side to just about anything.

1 cup torn lettuce leaves
3 large strawberries, quartered
1/4 haas avocado, diced
1 tbsp feta cheese
1 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

Simply toss and enjoy!

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Garlic pot roast & winter veggies

Since it's been cold here in Colorado lately, I've been craving your typical cold-weather, stick to your ribs type foods. So I got a nice 1.5 pound beef roast to slow cook all day. It's a perfect lazy, cold, Sunday meal.

1.5 pound roast
Garlic cloves
3 large carrots, peeled and cut up
1 large potato, rinsed and diced
1 celery stalk
1 cup beef broth
1/2 onion, cut into quarters or eighths
Salt & pepper (or Nature's Seasons)

Step 1: Brown the roast on all sides in a frying pan over high heat. It only takes a few minutes per side. It will be nicely browned. Place in the crock pot.
 Step 2: Peel several cloves of garlic. (Don't do this part if you don't like garlic, obviously.)
 Step 3: Cut small slits in the roast and stick the cloves inside. Season the roast all over with Nature's Seasoning or salt & pepper.
 Step 4: Cut up veggies and add to the roast. Pour in beef broth.
 Step 5: Cook on high for at least 4 hours, up to 7 hours. The roast should be cooked through, and fall-apart tender.
 I cut 1/2 inch slabs of beef and a big spoonful of the veggies. Delicious with a piece of bread & Country Crock and a glass of milk. It really hits the spot and makes your tummy happy!
My boyfriend came up with another way to eat this, by taking a piece of buttered bread and topping it with a thick slice of beef and some veggies, then adding a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top. Also a great way to enjoy this fall favorite!

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Carrot Cupcakes

I was in the mood for something sweet but that I could rationalize was good for me. My sister's birthday party was having red velvet cupcakes, so I thought why not make some myself? And to pretend they're good for me, I would make carrot cupcakes! So I found this recipe on Food Network and followed it (mostly) for some of the most delicious cupcakes ever! I cheated and didn't make my own icing, I used Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting. However, it doesn't affect the light, moist deliciousness.

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon & nutmeg
Sprinkle ground ginger

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla
Handful chopped walnuts

 Step 1: Mix the flour, salt, baking soda, and seasonings in a small bowl.
Step 2: In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, eggs, and oil. Add the vanilla, walnuts, carrots and applesauce and mix well.
 Step 3: Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until well blended.
 Step 4: Line cupcake tin with 12 liners. (It actually made 13).
 Step 5: Bake at 350 for 20-23 minutes, until nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean.
Step 6: Let cool completely, then frost and enjoy!
These cupcakes were so deliciously moist and light, it is easy to rationalize having 2... or 3...

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Easy chicken, rice & veggie casserole

For a day when you want to spend minimal time cooking, but want something hot, filling and delicious. It takes only minutes to prepare, then you just stick it in the oven and forget about it for a while. It is also extremely versatile, since you can use any mixture of frozen or fresh veggies.

1 boneless skinless chicken breast, diced in 1in cubes
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup jasmine rice (or any kind)
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup salsa
~1/4 cup shredded cheese

Step 1: Dice chicken (and veggies if using fresh, make about 2-3 cups worth).
Step 2: In a greased 9x9 casserole dish, add all ingredients and mix well. Bake, uncovered at 375 for 90 mintues or 400 for 1 hour. Rice & chicken should be fully cooked. If crunchy or chicken is still pink, bake 20 minutes longer.

Super simple, and delicious. I used a mix that included beans, so I'm sure the protein & fiber was a bit higher, but so were the calories. But it's worth it for 2 tasty dinners plus lunch the next day!
As always, to make it vegetarian don't use chicken, and for vegan use veggie stock instead of milk and omit the cheese.

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 3
  • Amount Per Serving: ~1 cup
  • Calories: 280.2
  • Total Fat: 5.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 57.8 mg
  • Sodium: 544.4 mg
  • Total Carbs: 31.4 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 5.3 g
  • Protein: 27.1 g


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