Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cajun Delight for under $10.00

We're talking cheap and spicy here! My cajun blackeyed peas and rice are sure to please.

Cajun Delight

1 tbls oil (I use Olive)
1/2 Onion - chopped
1/2 green pepper - chopped
2-3 Cloves Garlic - minced
1 Celery stalk - chopped (optional)
1 14oz Can Tomatoes - chopped
1/4 tsp Red Pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
4-5 dashes of Hot Sauce (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 8oz Can Tomato Sauce
2 14oz Cans Blackeyed Peas - rinsed and drained (any brand)

Saute the first 5 ingredients for about 5 minutes then add the tomatoes with juice. Add seasonings, tomato sauce and blackeyed peas. Stir and let simmer for 10-15 minutes (uncovered).

Cook a cup or two of long grain white rice according to package directions.

Serve rice with blackeyed pea mixture over the top. It kicks cajun butt!

Note: For extra heartiness add 2-3 sliced hotlinks into the pea mixture while cooking but otherwise this is a great vegetarian meal.

Serve with a green salad on the side.

Happy cheap eats!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Too Hot to Cook!

Well yes, it is summer and as my Dad would say, "it's a bot hitch out there"! Just switch the first letters around and you'll know what I mean, lol! Anyway, it's just too hot to cook or to eat anything that's really hot and cooked. No more chicken soup, even if it does relieve anxiety. Hmm, what can I make that's cheap, filling and healthy and could also be a chic dish to be taken to a BBQ or picnic. Pasta Salad you say? Okay I didn't say "low carb". A few years ago during the "low fat" trend this would have been just the ticket. I think the key is to add a lot of healthy veggies along with "some" pasta...like about a pound, ha ha! I've recently discovered a new trick to making the pasta salad more flavorful. Instead of using bottled Italian dressings as I've done in the past, I now use olive oil and balsamic vinegar with my dollar store Italian herbs. Also, you can add some cooked (leftover) chicken, beef or fish, whatever. This adds protien and makes a complete meal. This might sound weird but I opened a can of tuna, drained it, broke it up with a fork and sprinkled some on top of my pasta salad. It took on a great flavor when mixed with the oil, vinegar, herbs and pasta and provided that extra protien for a complete meal. Okay here's my recipe...

"Cheap Chic" Pasta Salad

1 lb (16oz) of cooked pasta - any kind ($.50 @ Dollar Store)
1/4 cup chopped Sun Dried Tomatoes in oil ($3.99 Jar @ Costco)*
1 or 2 fresh chopped Tomatoes
1/4 cup (about 1/2 a medium) Onion - any kind, white/purple/green
2 or 3 cloves of minced Garlic or 1 - 2 tsp of Garlic Powder (Dollar Store)
2 tsp Italian Herb Seasoning (Dollar Store)
1/4 cup (about 1/2 medium) chopped Bell Pepper - any color
1/4 cup (or small can) chopped/drained Black Olives - or green
1 crown of chopped Broccoli (raw or steamed)**
2 stalks chopped Celery (mince some leaves and add for extra flavor)
3 - 4 tbls Olive Oil (or other salad oil that you have on hand)***
3 - 4 tbls Balsamic Vinegar (or other vinegar that you have on hand)***
Salt and Pepper
Parmesean Cheese sprinkled on top (I used leftover packets from the pizza joint)

Put all of these ingredients (in this order) into a large bowl. Mix together with your bare hands (washed of course). Then taste and adjust seasoning/oil/vinegar. Sprinkle with cheese. Add any meat or fish on top and you have a beautiful summer meal!

* Sun dried tomatoes are optional but what a deal @ $3.99 for a large
jar at Costco. I use them in everything (pasta, rice, veggies, salads).
You may substitute this for a couple of spoons full of the Classico Pesto (any kind) in a jar.

** A crown of Broc is "a head" or "a bunch", whatever. It's about a
pound. I steam mine in the Micro for 3 1/2 minutes till tender, let it cool,
chop and add to salad.

*** You can use more or less oil and vinegar according to your taste.
I never measure, I just drizzle and sprinkle. So I'm kinda guessing
at these measurements.

Extra Note: You can use any kind of cheese that you have
or eliminate the cheese all together. I always save the packets of Parm.
cheese from the pizza joint because it can be so expensive
to buy this cheese and why waste those little packets anyway?!