Friday, January 19, 2018

New Year’s Resolution


As many people are already starting to break their New Year’s resolution, I am finally setting mine.  It took me awhile to decide what it would be as it needs to be achievable so taking on the 90 meal challenge of cooking 90 meals in January is out since my breakfast is normally milk and toast and I make enough for dinner to have leftovers for lunch the next day. 

In addition, I like to be able to make a resolution that has accountability to be achieved over the year and not just within the first month.  So after much thought and consideration, I decided that I need to be try to cook more “farm to table” type meals meaning using as much local ingredients or supporting local businesses as possible or local ingredients I picked up during my travels. 

For years, I make a conscious effort to do so during my annual 2 weeks in Mau`i but find that I fail to do so at home.  Inspired by local nonprofit Real Foods Real Stories - https://www.realfoodrealstories.org, I think it is about time I try to buy and source my ingredients locally when I am back in the Bay Area. 

A bit oxymoronic, but it can be more expensive going this route so due to a limited budget, I will have to set my goal to about once a month or 12 meals out of the year.     

Farmers Markets are a perfect place to start for fruits and vegetables, local bakeries for fresh breads, Clover Stornetta or Straus for my dairy needs, and Mary’s Free Range for poultry should be a good start. 


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Breakfast Banh Mi

Over the years, I saved so much money cooking as I often get 2-4 times as much and at a fraction of the cost per serving of the same dish eating out.  However, once in awhile I find a dish or two where it either costs more or the savings is too marginal to compensate for the time and effort it takes to make it myself.  Banh mi - http://cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2015/09/banh-mi-vietnamese-sandwiches.html is one of those instances so I went back to just buying it made to order from local Vietnamese shops for about $4 a pop and never gave it a second thought.  That is until I recently saw this recipe for breakfast banh mi.  It piqued my interest as I have yet to see “breakfast” banh mi offered and I love anything with egg these days.  So I set out on a mission to try to find the Vietnamese style baguette which is so important when making banh mi.  Finally after 2 months of searching, I happen to drive by Lee’s on the way to get my haircut this past weekend and saw the hot baguette sign lit up like Krispy Kreme when hot donuts are available.  I made a stop on the way home and walked out of there with a warm loaf of freshly baked baguette for $1.50 and finally found a banh mi worth making myself.            


Notes: 

1.  Since my baguette was enough to make 3 servings, I increased my recipe ingredients by 50% so I can make 3 banh mi. 
 
2.  Since I do not like buying ingredients just for one recipe, I skipped the Maggi seasoning and just put a thin layer of mayo on the bottom bread.

Price:  $3 for 3 servings = $1 a serving

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sweet and Smoky Casserole with Sausage and White Beans, Tomatoes, and Rosemary

I just realized that it has been over a month since I have made a new Rachael Ray recipe which is probably the longest stretch for me.  But with leftover passata from a recent baked ziti night, this sweet and smoky casserole is the perfect dish for a cold wintry evening.  I halved the amount of sausage to just 4 links but it was surprisingly still hearty enough for the bigger eater because of the loads of cannelini beans perfect for mopping up with that crusty bread. 

Sweet and Smoky Casserole with Sausage and White Beans, Tomatoes, and Rosemary Rachael Ray Show Recipe - https://www.rachaelrayshow.com/recipes/26031_sweet_and_smoky_casserole_with_sausage_white_beans_tomatoes_and_rosemary/

Price:  $15 for 5 servings = $3 a serving
 


 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Won Ton Mein

I have made homemade won tons a few times but not as much as I would like since it can be a bit labor intensive between the chopping of ingredients and the folding of the dumplings.  But when opportunity presents itself of having an extra pair of hands, I decided to tackle the challenge once again. 

In the past, I just made won tons with baby bok choy but found that someone has a tendency of eating up to 30 of them in one sitting not leaving me much to share with my parents or leftovers.  So this time I wisen up and served it the way most restaurants do, with mein (noodles) and considering most times you only get 4-6 won tons per order when ordering out, having up to dozen is a win-win for everyone.  You can get the noodles in the refrigerated section of most Asian markets and just follow the package directions.       

Prepare won tons as I usually do - https://cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/03/won-tons.html

Noodle (mein) preparation

1.  Add noodles to a pot of rapidly boiling water for 3-5 minutes
2.  Drain and rinse with cold water
3.  Add noodles into boiling pot of chicken stock (about 2 quarts) with your cooked won tons and heat through for about 2 minutes and serve

Price:   $12 for 6 servings = $2 per serving with 9-12 won tons per serving

 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yucatan Pork

With a little more confidence after a successful chicken adobo and continuing to exercise his creativity, dinner #2 courtesy of hubby…I can get use to this, him cooking for me, not me being under the weather.  Although this recipe is normally roasted in the oven, my husband ended up braising it to intensify the orange and lime juice flavor which is a great way to flavor food without added salt.  It is a super simple recipe leaving you enough time to make mashed potatoes to go alongside.  With leftover camembert from New Year’s Eve and 10 pounds of potatoes we picked up for just $2, we served it with camembert mashed potatoes - http://cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2015/01/camembert-mashed-potatoes.html. 

Ingredients

3 to 4 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch slices
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime
1/3 cup white vinegar
5 cloves of garlic, diced
1 tablespoon dried oregano

Preparations

1.      Combine orange juice, lime, white vinegar, garlic and oregano into a sauce pan, and bring to a boil
2.      Add sliced pork into the sauce and braise 10-15 minutes on each side

 
Price:  $12 for 6 servings = $2 a serving
 
 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Chicken Adobo

Between the crazily busy schedule of the holidays and some of the coldest temperatures in parts of the country in over 60 years, the end of the year found many, myself included under the weather.  This is not the reason I wanted to spend the day in PJ’s or to break in my new red robe I just got for Christmas, so I didn’t, at least the robe part. 

That did mean that for a couple of days, I had to turn over the cooking duties to my husband and let him try his hand at being creative outside of the same 5 dishes he use to make weekly.  There really is such a thing as too much 5 spice chicken.  Here is to a first successful chicken adobo, so good that he forgot to take me my picture, just what was left to repurpose to serve over lentils on New Year's Day.  

Ingredients

1 pack of trader joe skinless, boneless chicken thighs (qty 6) - thawed
4 cups water
1/4 cup onions
3 large carrots, diced
2 teaspoon Goya Adobo seasoning
2 bay leaves, if desired
5 tablespoons of light soy sauce, or up to 8 if desired
3 tablespoons of white vinegar, or up to 4 if desired

Preparations

1.      Sear chicken in oil for 4-5 minutes on each side and set aside

2.      Remove excess chicken grease and sauté onions in the same pan until caramelized (about 4-6 minutes)

3.      Add back in chicken with carrots, water, Goya Adobo seasoning, soy sauce, vinegar, and bay leaves and bring to a boil

4.      Reduce heat to simmer and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. 

Price:  $10 for 4 servings = $2.50 a serving
 

 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Spam and Eggs Delight

While everyone is at the gym this month diligently trying to keep their New Year’s Resolution of losing those holiday pounds, I keep eating, spam and eggs no less.  That is because I have kickstarted losing those holiday pounds before the holidays even started so come January, we weigh less than October.  Since I am Hawaiian at Heart, my first food post this year has to be some island comfort food and although Spam is not exactly traditional “Hawaiian” food, they do love it enough to have a secret stash somewhere in a secret warehouse in case of emergencies. 

There is something to be said about slow and steady winning the race and my motto has always been everything in moderation.

Ingredients

1 Can of Spam sliced into ¼ inch slices horizontally
6 Eggs scrambled
Rice cooked

Preparations

1.      Pan fry the spam slices in a medium skillet for about 4 min on each side until hot and slightly brown, then remove from pan

2.      In the same pan, add eggs and scramble to desired doneness

3.      Serve over cooked rice.  Broke da mout!

Price:   Less than $4 for 4 servings =  $1 per serving