Budget Epicurean

Budget Epicurean: January 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Potato Skins

A game-day classic, potato skins are always a hit. A friend was having a football party, I had a 5 pound bag of potatoes, guess what I made! They are very simple, though time-consuming.

6-12 potatoes, washed and cut in half
Sea salt
1/2 pound bacon or turkey bacon
Cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Green onion/chives
 Step 1: Rub potatoes with oil, and poke holes in them with a fork. Microwave potatoes on high for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Cut potatoes in half, cover outside and inside with butter and sea salt. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Step 3: Hollow out the potatoes. Flip upside down, bake for another 20 minutes. You can use the scooped-out part for mashed potatoes, soup, or just eat them because they're warm and salty and delicious.
Step 4: Flip back over, brush with more butter and bake a final 20 minutes. You're now ready to top them.
Step 5: Cook the bacon on both sides until brown. Drain on paper towels and break/cut into small pieces. Sprinkle a healthy tbsp into each potato skin. Cover with cheese, a dollop of sour cream, salsa and/or green onion. Made in your own home and not deep-fried, these are healthier for you than if you ordered them from a bar or restaurant. Leave off the bacon for a vegetarian treat.

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Loaded Tostadas

A simple, endlessly customizable meal, tostadas are one of my favorite mexican foods! There is almost no end to what you could top tostadas with, and they can be extremely budget-friendly. Depending completely on what you top them with, they can be very healthy or extremely not so!

1 tostada shell (or make your own by baking a corn tortilla for 5 minutes at 350)
1/4 cup taco meat (cooked ground beef + taco seasoning)
2 tbsp shredded colby or cheddar cheese
3 tbsp salsa
1/2 avocado, sliced

Step 1: Cook the beef and drain fat. Add taco seasoning and water, cook until water is gone. 
Step 2: In a pan or microwave, heat the beans.
Step 3: Assemble tostada, beans on the bottom followed by meat, cheese, salsa and avocado.

Other toppings I love: shredded lettuce, sour cream, black beans, peppers & onion. You could easily make this vegetarian or vegan too, by leaving off the meat and/or cheese.

What's your favorite mexican food topping?

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Mediterranean Chicken & Couscous

I got this recipe from somewhere because I had some green olives in my fridge and no idea what to do with them. I don't like them much, but this recipe sounded crazy enough to try, and boy did it turn out fantastic! The ingredients don't sound like they should go together, but seriously try it!

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in half
~5 prunes, diced
~6 green olives, cut in 1/4
1/4 cup cashews
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup couscous
garlic salt
black pepper
 Step 1: Cut the chicken and place in a frying pan with 1/4 cup stock. Cook about 10 minutes per side, until golden brown. Meanwhile heat 1 cup stock to boiling in microwave and pour over couscous. Let sit covered for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
 Step 2: Dice up the prunes and olives. Add to the chicken and cook another 5 minutes or so. Add more stock if it boils off. Toss in cashews and any spices.
Step 3: Serve 1 half of chicken over 1/2 cup cooked couscous. Honestly, the mixture of salty and sweet and nutty is fantastic, and I think couscous is the perfect grain but you could use rice or noodles or mashed potatoes too.

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Spiced pork roast & oven-roasted vegetables

This is a satisfying, hearty meal that takes so little effort! I'd been craving pork, and roasted veggies is just the best side dish for anything! I had spontaneously decided to try brussel sprouts because they were on sale. Guess what? They are delicious! Trust me, just try it and you will be amazed you ever lived without them.

Pork rub:
1 tsp cayenne or chipotle powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp dried onion
2-3 pound pork roast
5-10 cloves fresh garlic

1 cup fresh broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
2 cups brussels sprouts
2 stalks celery, in 1" chunks
3 carrots, in 1" chunks
1 large potato, diced
1 whole red onion & 1 whole white onion, sliced thin
~1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

 Step 1: Cut slices into pork roast and insert one garlic clove into each. Mix spices together, rub over pork roast. Let sit in refrigerator an hour - overnight.

Step 2: Cut all veggies. Mix well in olive oil to coat, sprinkle on seasonings. Spread in a 9x13 baking pan and roast at 350 for about one hour. Cover to keep broccoli & cauliflower from scorching.
Step 3: Bake pork at 350 for at least 1 hour, covered, or until no longer pink. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes.
Step 4: The pork should be fork-tender and slightly spicy, while the veggies are crispy-soft and slightly sweet. Enjoy the amazing flavors & textures! Leftover pork can be shredded and covered in BBQ sauce for sandwiches the next day.

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