All posts by BudgetEpicurean

Late 20s long-time student turned young adult with varied interests, mostly food and frugality. At the fusion of food, fun, and frugality, you will find me.

Pistachio-crusted baked salmon

 

You may have heard that nuts of all kinds are good for you, in small amounts. They all contain healthy protein, and some level of good fats. A personal favorite since I was a kid, pistachios are a great choice. Grown in bunches on bushy trees, pistachios are available year round.

Regular consumption of pistachios in the diet helps to lower total as well as bad LDL cholesterol and increases good HDL cholesterol levels within the blood. They are a part of the Mediterranean diet, which is high in heart-healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado, as well as vegetable-heavy and fish friendly.

Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet that is rich in dietary-fiber, mono-unsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile. Pistachios also contain many antioxidants, carotenes, multiple minerals, B vitamins, and vitamin E.

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Though a good thing, you can get too much. They contain about 550 calories per 100 grams, so as with most good things you need to exercise restraint. A tough task indeed when you have a bowl for shells and a bag of nuts. I know I’ve looked down to see a pile of shells much larger than I thought possible many a time.

While I love pistachios plain in the shell, I also love combining multiple heart-healthy options into a tasty health bonanza. What could be more heart-healthy than a salmon fillet?! With tons of omega-3 fatty acids and protein of its own, salmon is one of my favorite types of fish to cook and eat. Since I also already had pistachios lying about, they seemed a natural match.

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And since I have just done a post about sweet Brown Sugar & Maple Apple Glazed Salmon, this recipe will take the fish in the savory direction.

Ingredients:

  • 2 4-oz salmon fillets
  • 1/4 cup crushed pistachios
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp plain yogurt (or mayo)
  • Cooking oil

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Step 1: Shell and crush the pistachios. I put them in a plastic bag and slammed them with my rolling pin. Put on a flat plate with the bread crumbs. You could use crushed crackers or flour here too.

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Step 2: Smear 1 tbsp yogurt onto each fillet. Don’t be afraid to get messy and use your hands.

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Step 3: Place the yogurt-smeared side down on the nut and bread mixture and press. This creates the crunchy coating on the fish. The yogurt helps keep the moisture in while the nuts give it texture and great flavor.

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Step 4: Spray an oven-safe baking pan with cooking oil, and place the fillets inside. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until fish is light pink and flakes easily with a fork.

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The fish cooks up nice and juicy, with just a hint of nutty flavor and a crisp outer coating. You can use a beaten egg or milk or mayonnaise in place of yogurt, and other types of nuts, or none at all if you have allergies.

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As you can see, I served mine with a baked potato and sweetly addictive and stunningly easy Mexican street corn.

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So do your heart and your taste buds a favor, and cook this up for dinner soon!

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Brown Sugar and Maple-Apple Glazed Salmon

 

Salmon is one of my favorite kinds of fish. As I’ve said before, white fish are awesome because they are so versatile, but salmon can hold many bolder flavors while also bringing its own flavor profile to the table. With the mainstream becoming more aware of its amazing protein punch and heart-healthy omega-3s, salmon is increasingly becoming a popular protein option for any meal.

Salmon has a stronger fishy taste than some, but that definitely depends upon how you cook it and what you serve it with. There are so many good options for salmon; including grilling, broiling, sauteing, and baking.

Salmon can easily be paired with something savory or sweet. One of my favorite things to incorporate is brown sugar. The sweet, caramely notes work wonders to bring out the fish’s unique layers of taste. And to go with brown sugar, butter and apples are natural accompaniments.

Ingredients:

  • 2 3-oz salmon fillets (or one big 6 oz-er)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium firm apple (such as Gala or Fuji)
  • 1/4 cup apple juice or cider
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Veggie Rice

  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • Garlic salt to taste

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Step 1: Dice the apple into small bite-sized pieces. In a frying pan over medium heat, add the butter, apple juice, apples, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, and simmer 3-5 minutes.

Step 2: Add the salmon fillets and cook 5 minutes. Flip, then sprinkle with brown sugar. Cover and simmer 5-10 more minutes, until sugar is slightly caramelized and the fish is cooked through. It should be light pink in color and flake easily with a fork.

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If you’d like to make this rice as a side, dice up the zucchini. Either in a rice cooker or a sauce pot, add the rice, zucchini, spinach, and 1 1/2 cups of water or stock. In a rice cooker, mix and turn on. Fluff before serving.

If using a pot, bring to a boil, and then simmer on low with the cover on for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and serve alongside salmon with garlic salt to taste.

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The salmon is flaky and sweet, with a sugar glaze and apple flavor. The apples become soft and sweet, almost like having dessert with your dinner!

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Meals Under $5

 

We all experience some times where we are on a tight budget. Maybe that time is only during college, and you are lucky enough to get a good-paying job with degree in hand. Maybe that time is during the holidays, when food budgets are stretched with all the family get-togethers and parties. Maybe that time is your whole life. Maybe you have plenty of cash to spare, but want to use it for things other than extravagant meals.

Whatever the case, making a frugal meal definitely does not have to be tasteless and boring!

With my “Less Than 5” category, I am aiming to create and share recipes which take less than $5, less than 5 minutes to make, and/or less than 5 ingredients. Bonus points for me if all three apply!

I will update this post periodically as I continue to add more “Less Than 5” recipes. This one will be specific to meals which will cost less than $5 per serving. So if you only have a few dollars in your pocket, you are better off reading these recipes and heading to the grocery store than blowing it all at once on a dollar menu. These recipes will (mostly) be filling and somewhat healthy for pennies a plate.

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First let’s get the classic budget recipes in a list:

  • Peanut butter & jelly sandwich
  • Macaroni & cheese (though with the price of cheese soaring, I don’t know about homemade mac n cheese anymore)
  • Ramen noodles
  • Beans & Rice
  • Tuna salad sandwich

Now these are a little bit more creative:

Do you have any recipe ideas that are less than $5? Please share in the comments!

Testing Walmart Grocery To Go

 

Hey readers! Exciting news.

Walmart To Go is expanding to Grocery To Go. It is a shop online, home delivery service for food & other goods, and is now being offered in the Denver, CO area.

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I was recently invited by Walmart Grocery To Go to collaborate on an event initiative. They will provide me with food and other items through their delivery service and I’ll photograph my events to show how their service fits my lifestyle.

They’re not paying me to say good things, and I’m free to share my honest opinions. If you want to know more about the service, check out www.walmart.com/grocery and enter your zip code to see if it’s available in your area yet.

Feel free to ask any questions using the hash-tags #PartyToGo and #WalmartGrocery.

My first dinner party using their service will be this weekend, so stay tuned for a post about how that went, and follow along with updates via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BudgetEpicurean) and Twitter (@BudgetEpicurean).

Walmart to go truck

Creative Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers

 

Since Thanksgiving was already a few days ago, you readers may be tired of turkey sandwiches by now. Or perhaps you went to a potluck and didn’t get saddled with 10 pounds of leftovers, but want to take advantage of steeply discounted holiday foods at the store. Either way, this list of leftover options is sure to help empty that fridge to make room for more culinary masterpieces!

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First of all, Peter at Feed Your Soul 2 has already made a handy list for his Friday Five collection all about Thanksgiving Leftovers. And if you’d like a super simple casserole recipe to use up all the leftovers in one delicious swoop, try Jeanette’s Layered Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole.

The Turkey

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The golden centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table, the turkey is a classic. And with the deals offered this time of year (0.50 per pound, what?!) you can’t pass that up. Even if you just scooped up an extra on sale and now it’s in your freezer, these recipes are great for using up that extra fowl.

From Gina’s Skinny Recipes, we start our day with a Turkey & Sweet Potato Frittata. You know I’m a huge fan of frittatas for their adaptability and ease. See the ham section.

If you shred up the turkey meat, you can easily replace chicken for this south-of-the-border Meat & Cheese Enchiladas

Likewise, just replace the shredded chicken with shredded turkey in this White Bean Chicken Chili for a new twist

From Southern Living, try some Turkey Tostadas with Cranberry Chipotle Sauce for a double whammy

For a long list of 16 more amazing turkey recipes from around the food blog-o-sphere, check out This List Here.

The Ham

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A classic for a reason, Scalloped Ham & Potatoes is a delightful comfort food great for using up both ham and extra potatoes that didn’t get mashed.

As the turkey frittata above mentioned, I love putting anything into scrambled eggs, like this Ham & Greens Frittata

Your Home Based Mom has a great list of tried and true recipes her family loves for using leftover ham

On a chilly winter day, try this comfort food classic of Ham & Potato Soup from All She Cooks. You might even be able to sneak in some leftover mashed potatoes to score a double

The Potatoes

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For adorable, portable snacks little ones and grown-ups alike will love, make these Cheesy Mashed Potato Puffs from The Kitchn

This is a simply brilliant recipe from the One Ingredient Chef: Vegan Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Try whipping up a loaf of easier-than-you-think Sweet Potato Bread

Potatoes are a great base for latkes, and you could use any other filler in there, including turkey meat. Or switch it up from fowl and pork and try my Salmon Latkes

Stuffing/Dressing

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Whether you call it stuffing or dressing, made by hand or from a Stove-Top box, Thanksgiving is incomplete without the starchy side dish. If you have a bowl or three in your fridge, try some of the recipes below to revamp your bread bits.

While there are ten great leftover recipes in this post by Trisha, the Stuffing Waffles are by far the most intriguing to me!

Pull off a dinner-party worthy main dish with little effort with my Stuffing-Stuffed Pork Chops

Try this triple-threat of Turkey, Mashed Potato & Stuffing Patties from the Pocket Change Gourmet

Half Hour Meals has a great list of 7 ways to use stuffing ranging from stuffed mushrooms to meatloaf

Cranberry sauce

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There are tons of ideas out there, I’ve been seeing lots of versions of the Cranberry-Grilled Cheese this year. Here’s a great list of 9 different cranberry ideas, I particularly like mixing it into plain cream cheese as a different and delicious bagel topping!

Brittany Angell has a gigantic list of 35 Ways to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce with a plethora of ideas that might inspire you to use cranberry sauce year-round

Green Bean Casserole

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Kevin here put together this Green Bean Casserole Pasta on the fly, but it is brilliant and the cream sauce just kind of works. Must try.

Similarly Greta puts leftover roasted Brussels sprouts in pasta and claims even kids will eat it!

Chef Pete brings us a Turkey, Green Bean & Stuffing Strudel, as well as a “Thanksgiving Cosmo” drink recipe for excess Cranberry Sauce

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Of course, if you are tired of cooking at this point and just can’t summon the energy to re-purpose those leftovers, the classic Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich will do.

Keep in mind that many of these freeze well, so if you just can’t face the gallon of cranberry sauce or two pounds of turkey breast, stick it in a freezer safe plastic bag or container and wait out the holidays. Perhaps a cranberry brownie will sound better in February, or by Easter you can use up those ham chunks.

Hope all my readers had a delicious and thankful Thanksgiving this year!

 

What do you do with leftovers?

Giving Thanks

 

Happy Thanksgiving dear readers! I am so thankful for each and every one of you.

I sincerely hope that your Thanksgiving day is filled with good food, friends, family, and stories. Laughter and hugs and sore stomachs from wayyyyy too much to eat.

For some light reading to avoid the football madness or post-turkey nap, see my post from last year on how to do Thanksgiving under $20 , or read about the history of Thanksgiving and why it should be “thanks-giving”.

Or check out some more awesome food bloggers’ Thanksgiving ideas and leftover uses:

Chewingthefat Thanksgiving daily
TheSimpleDollar leftovers roundup
FeedYourSoul2 dessert roundup

(This is not permission to ignore your family in favor of your smart phone or tablet! Pay attention to what your Aunt Edna is saying, you never know how many more holidays you have.)

In honor of that train of thought, some things I am thankful for this year:

  • My amazing, supportive family, who love me from far away
  • My amazing, supportive S.O. who keeps me going daily
  • Finally getting a house & a yard! (renting. but still.)
  • Puppies!
  • Friends who keep in touch through big life changes
  • H Mart. Y’all not from Denver, you just don’t know.
  • Flowers
  • A car that keeps working, despite my lack of attention
  • Jobs that are mostly rewarding and fun
  • Cool people with good stories
  • Board games
  • All the lovely people who have read, shared, supported this blog!

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What are you thankful for?

Ramen Broccoli Slaw

 

A quick search of the web brings up literally thousands of possibilities for using Ramen noodles. That classic salty cardboard noodle we all know and love can be elevated so far beyond fake chicken broth.

This Ramen Broccoli slaw is a delightful side dish for any reason. Take it to a picnic, a house party, the big game next Sunday, a birthday, a holiday celebration. It is tart yet sweet, borderline healthy (but I won’t tell if you won’t) and sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Best of all, it takes just a few minutes to whip together, so you can make it the day or a few hours ahead, stick it in the fridge, and forget about it until it’s time to run out the door or set the table.

Ingredients:

  •  1/2 bag or box broccoli slaw mix
    • You could make your own by shredding 1 head broccoli minus the crowns, and 1 large carrot
  • 1 pack Ramen noodles (save the seasoning for something else)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins or craisins
  • 1/4 cup diced strips red bell pepper
  • 1/2 bunch green onions

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Step 1: In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, oil, and vinegar together. Crush the Ramen noodles up a bit and put them in the bowl. Stir well to coat.

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Step 2: Add the broccoli slaw, pepper, green onion, and raisins. Mix well and refrigerate at least one hour and up to overnight. The longer you let it sit, the softer the noddles are.

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Step 3: Just before serving, toss in the chopped nuts. Obviously you can omit this if there are any nut allergies or you just don’t like them.

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Versatile and simple, this humble side is extremely cheap (depending on what you add into it) and not too bad health-wise. Of course you can use homemade cabbage slaw, or whatever other diced/shredded veggies you have on hand.

 

Lingonberry-Pear Shots

 

This is something that sounds exotic, but if you live anywhere near an IKEA you can obtain delicious lingonberry extract for about $5. I bet you could find it online or at a local grocery store too, if you look. Or substitute in whatever berry you enjoy instead. Apple, raspberry, pumpkin, cherry, blueberry…

I recommend something red, because the red juice and pear layered is very festive. This would be adorable at a holiday party or get-together.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 oz lingonberry extract
  • 1/2 oz rum
  • 2 tbsp pear juice
  • Small piece of pear

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Step 1: Pour in the juice concentrate. This should be the heaviest, so if you pour the other layers carefully they shouldn’t mix.

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Step 2: Splash in 2 tbsp pear juice. I opened a can of pears and used the juice in there, plus the fruit as garnish.

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Step 3: Carefully pour on the rum, cut a slit in the pear and wedge it onto the glass.

And there you have it! Totally adorable lingonberry-pear shooters. You could also make this into a full-out beverage by using 1-2 cups sparkling flavored water and adding rum, berry, and pear juice.

Mexican street corn

 

A trend that swept food magazines and websites for a while, I finally gave in and had to try Mexican street corn. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, this is a handheld side dish and/or snack comprised of cooked corn on the cob, mayonnaise, chili powder, and usually cotija (crumbly white cheese).

Very simple to make, it sounds unusual but I was pleasantly surprised. The sweet crispy corn mixes with the mayo and sharp chili powder spices in a cohesive taste. Try it and see how you like it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears corn
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp crumbly cheese if you have it

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Step 1: Cook the corn with the husk still on it. There are a few options here. Boil for 15 minutes, soak in water for 1 hour then grill 15 minutes, or microwave 8-10 minutes. Yes, you can microwave the whole ear, and the husk will steam the kernels.

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Step 2: Carefully peel back the husk, leaving it attached. Corn will be hot. Smother it in the mayo, then sprinkle on the chili powder.

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You can then use the end of the corn and the husk to hold while you enjoy your ethnic portable snack!

 

Home-canned peaches

 

When I was a kid growing up, I remember all-day-long canning sessions at my grandmother’s house. We would get the whole family together for steamy, tomato-scented days of carrying bushels of fresh tomatoes down from the giant overgrown garden, slicing and dicing, pushing them through the enormous, older-than-my-mom tabletop canning device, squeezing out seeds, stems, juice, skins, pulp.

Pouring thick red liquid into piping-hot Bell canning jars, just out of the rolling, boiling water, screwing on the lids and popping them back into that steamy water bath. Placing them in rows upon rows along the kitchen table, and listening for the “pop” “pop” “pop” of lids being sealed.

Lining those jars, still warm from the boiling water, along the shelves of the basement pantry. Knowing that meant months later, in the dead of winter, we could have huge platters of pasta with sauce that taste like summertime, and know that I helped make that happen.

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That may sound quaint and overly-dramatic, but canning has always stuck with me and is something I desperately hope to continue into my adult life. I think our American lives of over-abundance and convenience takes a lot of the charm, knowledge, and wisdom out of feeding ourselves. We know nothing of how “food” is created, we just go to the grocery, pick out the boxes and cans, put them in the microwave and sit down in front of the TV to “eat” it.

I love the feeling of looking at something I personally created, start-to-finish, especially if it involves food I myself grew, picked, or somehow preserved. There is nothing like it. Sometime when your store has a sale on produce you like, give it a try and see for yourself.

Not only is home preserving fun and good for the soul, it is also good for the waist and pocketbook! Canning or freezing your own food lets you control what is put into it and avoid massive amounts of sodium, preservatives, colorants, etc. in commercially preserved foods. And though canning supplies may be a healthy chunk of change to begin with, you can re-use jars and rings nearly forever, with only new lids to buy each season.

Now, there are some dangers to home canning. Always read up on proper methods on how to can or otherwise preserve food so you and yours don’t end up sick. Take a look at the CDC article on avoiding botulism,  the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning article with tips and tricks, or Foodsafety.gov Home Canning advice.

This is my most recent adventure, when Colorado Palisade Peaches were at their prime. They are legendary for good reason, with such perfectly firm yet soft flesh and oodles of juice to drip down your chin. I of course ended up over-buying, and rather than commit the mortal sin of wasting produce, decided to can the excess.

You can use the outline of this recipe for just about any fruit, homemade salsa, or pre-cooked vegetables (like carrots, green beans, or beets). For more recipes specific to fruit types, head over to PickYourOwn.com, a wealth of home preservation tips. For tips on individual types of veggies, SimplyCanning.com has a whole library.

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Ingredients:

  • About 2 pounds peaches
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 3-5 canning jars, lids, and rings
  • Large pot
  • Optional: Tongs, Funnel, Pressure canner

Step 1: Cut the peaches into slices. It is up to you if you want to peel them or can with peels on. To peel them, boil for 5 minutes, then submerge in ice water. The peels should slide off. I left the peels on cause I’m lazy and I like the extra nutrition.

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Step 2: Mix the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Stir in the peach slices, and simmer 5-10 minutes.

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Step 3: While peaches are cooking, bring a huge pot of water to a boil with your jars, lids and rings inside. This sterilizes the jars. You can also run them through the dishwasher.

Step 4: After boiling the jars, use the tongs to pour the water out of them. Fill the jars with the peaches, using a spatula to press them down and squish in the edges. Leave 1/4-1/2 inch space, and put the lids on.

Step 5: Put the jars back into the boiling water, and process for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the jars are fully submerged. This will help kill any microbes, and seal the jars.

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Step 6: Use the tongs to remove the jars, and place on a towel or hard surface to cool. Don’t disturb the jars for 6-12 hours, or until you hear the “pop” sound of the lid sealing. If after overnight cooling any jars have not sealed (the lid won’t be sucked in, and sort of springy when you push on it) put those jars in the refrigerator and use within one month.

It is normal for some canned fruit to change color slightly over time. But if you notice extreme discoloration, a bright red, or green color, get rid of that food immediately!

Jars processed this way should be stored in cool, dark, dry areas and are good for quite a long time. If properly processed, they are theoretically good forever. But I doubt they will last that long! 😉

Happy canning!