Monday, May 3, 2010

Rachel is the new Julia Child....time to make Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs!

Ok. So Rachel is obviously outdoing me here! I've gotta step it up! :)

The truth is I haven't been much in the mood to write lately and I'm not sure why. But one of the great things I love about food is being able to share it with others - and not just the eating part...the cooking too! A few months ago, my friend Tricia came over to watch the Oscars. I thought, "Hey! What a great excuse to cook dinner!" Now, Tricia does not cook but I wanted to show her how easy and delicious a meal can be so off to Trader Joe's we went. On the menu for the night? Whole wheat spaghetti, homemade marinara sauce, turkey meatballs, and garlic naan. Now really, the only actual cooking was making the marinara sauce. Easy enough, right? This is the recipe I used:

Marinara Sauce by Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

2 dried bay leaves

In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)

Now, I read in the user comments on the Food Network website that you should really blend or "process" the vegetables so that your sauce doesn't turn out super chunky. So that's what we did. And you know what? They were right and the sauce was super good! Once we had that going and the pasta was boiling in some olive oil, we threw the awesome frozen turkey meatballs from Trader Joe's (which are SUPER good, healthy, and easy!) into the sauce. All that was left was to take some whole wheat Naan, spread some crushed garlic on it with some spices and toss that into the toaster oven. Within minutes we were ready to eat. And boy, was it delicious. I even had enough left over for another couple of meals, including a meatball sandwich! Yum, yum, yum. TaaDaah!

Tofu Stir-Fry

So I know I've been kinda bad and haven't posted each of my meals with my cost analysis. The truth is that sometimes I figure people must get really bored looking at food. The other truth is that I got lazy, especially with all the calculating! Plus, my dinners last Sunday through Tuesday were all pretty similar to other meals I've posted. Here's a little recap:

Sunday Night I made another awesome whole wheat pasta dish. This one was whole wheat angel hair, and it had 1 can of tomatoes, spinach (super good!), onion, mushrooms, garlic and Italian parsley. Since we only had 1 small can of tomatoes, I added some extra olive oil, red wine vinegar, a couple splashes of Tempranillo, plus salt and pepper. Jeremy added more of his Jamaican sweet sausages to his plate. We ate it with some red leaf salad, and a side of Desperate Housewives and the Pacific.  
Cost: $5.73 for two (not including Jeremy's sausages)

Monday Night I pulled out all the stops and made another roasted chicken with vegetables. (The chicken was pasture raised of course!) For the vegetables, I had carrots, celery, onion, turnips, and potatoes. This time, I roasted the potatoes in a second pan since there was so little room in the pan with a chicken. They took a little longer and didn't have the poultry fat-juice on them, but the were still quite good.
Cost: $10.79 for two

Tuesday Night Jeremy took over the kitchen for me, which was awesome since I was tired. He made the other two catfish fillets we had stored in the freezer, plus some sauteed carrots, snow peas and mushrooms with white rice. I told Jeremy to set aside raw carrots for me because I hate cooked carrots unless they are roasted or stewed in something. (My whole family does, so I think it's genetics not pickiness!) But later, I polished off the remaining cooked veggies as a second helping and the cooked carrots were great! I don't know if it was Jeremy's magical culinary touch or if it's because we got the carrots at the Farmer's Market (stems and all--the kind Bugs Bunny would eat), but they were just fine sauteed. Jeremy also cooked the fish really well. He put just the right amount of seasoning and the texture was nice and soft...hmm I think I might have to commission him for all future fish dishes.
Cost: $8.92 for two

Wednesday Night we went simple and made a tofu stir-fry. I sauteed some organic firm tofu, the remainder of the snow peas and the last orange bell pepper. We also had some lovely organic roasted potatoes (again, courtesy of the Farmer's Market) and red leaf salad. I was really satisfied with this simple dinner. Here's my plate, minus the salad:

Cost: $6.62 for two (I don't know how much the potatoes cost; I conservatively estimated $3.00.)