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Affordable, delicious eats!

Vegetarian lasagna!

Vegetarian lasagna!

I am still on a very tight budget, although I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but as a foodie, lowering my budget on groceries has been tough. I love digging through my books and clippings of recipes, making a grocery list, and spending time cooking it… and of course, eating it. And, as you probably know, lately it seems like eating homemade meals is just as expensive as going out.

But my budget has only allowed for very simple, cheap meals, made from what I can find from the aisles of my local discounted grocer. And admittedly, many of those foods are less healthy, which is not something I am used to.

I went from eating mostly fresh, organic foods, to processed carbs, probably full of GMOs. But, before I sound like a privileged asshole, I have found a few meals I’ve enjoyed. I found that I can get most of my items on discount and then splurge on one “fresh” item at the grocery.

So, I made spaghetti -purchasing the noodles and sauce at Big Lots, and getting grass fed beef at the grocery. The entire meal was still under $10 and had at least 4-5 servings. I also made brown rice and beans, which I often ate with salsa and tortilla chips, I splurged on a rotisserie chicken, which I ate with baked sweet potatoes. I haven’t been eating out, so when I craved Chinese takeout, I made my own version of fried rice with brown rice, frozen stir fry veggies, and a fried egg on top (plus soy sauce and sriracha) – it was pretty good!

But last week, I saw a recipe in my email inbox from Bethenny/SkinnyGirl. It was for Vegetarian lasagna, with an added twist of pesto sauce. I decided to make it, provided the pesto and cheese wasn’t expensive.

To my surprise, all of the ingredients were very cheap! Almost all of them were at Big Lots – the whole wheat noodles, red sauce (which was optional in the recipe), and shredded mozzarella. I went to the grocery for the pesto, which was $1.99 for the store-brand, and the ricotta, which was also around $2. The entire meal was around $10, and offers at least 5 servings, and it is delicious!

I had fun actually making something from a recipe, and eating something that I know wasn’t absolutely terrible for me. Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

– 8 ounces whole wheat lasagna noodles
– 15 ounces part-skim ricotta
– 1/3 cup chopped basil
– 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (I left these out, and threw in a handful of spinach I already had)
– 1/3 cup packaged pesto
– 4 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella

Optional: Add your favorite red sauces between layers

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Set aside.
  2. Combine the ricotta, basil, and pine nuts in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray. Spread 1/3 of the pesto into the bottom of the pan. Cover with half the noodles. Spread half the herb-ricotta mixture over the noodles.
  4. Repeat with another 1/3 of the pesto, the remaining noodles, and the remaining ricotta-herb mixture, then cover the whole thing with the pesto. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.
  5. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes or until heated through and bubbling.

If you’ve got go-to, budget-friendly meals, I’d love to hear about them!

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Boyfriend Recipe: Green Eggs & Ham.

Yes, I like Green Eggs & Ham, even in a house with a mouse… okay, so not really. When you actually think about it, green eggs and ham sounds super disgusting. Amiright?

I know I’ve been a little slow to add to my collection of Boyfriend Recipes lately, and that’s mainly due to the fact that I’ve got NO man in my life to cook for! Considering that even the smallest of crushes I’ve had in the last six months have gone running for the hills, or in any direction that’s opposite of me, I’m sticking to my Stranger Love crush (see: yesterday’s post) and John Mayer for now.

Anyway, there was of course a time when I had a man in my life, and when that happens, I’m in the kitchen. I’m no fool.

A few years ago, I made breakfast for my then-boyfriend in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day — I made an updated, delicious version of Green Eggs & Ham. You may have read a little bit about it in my first book, “How I Fell: Love, Lies & Cocktails.”

It was festive, and absolutely impressive, but the best part is — it’s super easy to make. Father’s Day is fast approaching and maybe the man in your life is a dad; surprise him with breakfast in bed. Or perhaps you’re single and you just need a slow morning to treat yourself. Do it, girl!

INGREDIENTS

  • Eggs (2 for 1 person, or as many as you/they wish)
  • 1 package of prosciutto ham (about 8 slices)
  • English muffin (1 for each person)
  • Pesto (homemade or jarred)
  • Olive oil or non-stick spray

DIRECTIONS

Slice and toast the English muffins, and have them open-faced on the serving plates. Add slices of prosciutto to each side of the English muffin — two slices on each muffin side is good, but I love the stuff, so add as much or as little as you like. You can substitute Canadian bacon here, too.

Next, prepare the eggs. If you want to poach them for a traditional benedict style, go head. I prepped them sunny-side up, using some of those silicone rings so they came out perfectly round on the edges. You’ll want one egg per English muffin side. Use the non-stick spray or olive oil in the pan with the eggs.

Place the eggs on top of the Prosciutto, and then spoon 1-2 tablespoons of pesto over each egg. Jarred pesto is completely acceptable, but of course, make the homemade version if you wish. You can even make it the night before to quicken the morning process. If the yolk is visible, put the pesto over the yolk — hence, green eggs and ham. And voila!

Don’t be afraid to add more pesto to the eggs or on the plate. You can also add a slice of cheese under the ham, or maybe a few asparagus spears there to crank up the green factor. It’s an easy dish, so make it yours!

I served it with coffee and a side of home fries, just the frozen kind that I threw into a skillet with some olive oil and cajun seasoning. Nothing fancy, but it sure was scrumptious! Take that, Sam-I-am!