Sunday, September 29, 2013

Stater Bros. Rigatoni

This is the first time I've ever bought rigatoni in my life.
The ingredients are exactly the same a the ingredients for Barilla's jumbo shells. The nutrition facts are almost the same.

The rigatoni is like giant macaroni, minimize the curl and add ridges.

Stater Bros. Rigatoni, find it in the pasta aisle at Stater Bros. for $0.99 a 12-oz bag.

Grocery List, 092913

Italian Sausage and White Bean Stew
Pasta with Smoky Angry Tomato Sauce
Sugar and Spice Cupcakes
Pork and Apple Braise

Stater Bros.
  • sour cream: $1.49
  • breyers vanilla: $2.99
  • Bertolli olive oil: $10.99
  • cannellini beans: $1.29
  • cannellini beans: $1.29
  • powdered sugar: $1.99
  • rigatoni: $0.99
  • sausage: $2.99
  • red bell pepper: $1
  • rosemary: $2.99
  • carrots: $1.89
  • onions: $2.49/3 lbs
  • TOTAL: $32.39
  • apple cider: $2.50
  • bacon: $1.16
  • boneless pork butt: $8.52
  • boneless pork butt: $7.24
  • chives: $2.49
  • gala apples (4): $1.50 
  • TOTAL: $23.41
Grand Total: $55.80
Total for the year: $1434.00

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 092713

Monday: Deemer's for two: $20.36
Tuesday: Bravo Burgers for two: $14.88
Wednesday: on a coworker
Thursday: on a coworker
Friday: on a coworker

Total: $35.24
Total for the year: $1286.74

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Eggplant-Vegetable Lasagna

Aren't lasagna's enough work already? Does a lasagna really need breaded and fried eggplant slices in it? There's only one way to find out how that would add to the texture overall. Here we go, my third meatless lasagna ever. Oh, while the recipe called for a 14.4-oz package of frozen pepper stir-fry, I rolled with a 12-oz bag of frozen onion and pepper blend.

Eggplant-Vegetable Lasagna
adapted from Cooking Club
click to print

4 to 6 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 c chopped celery
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 (14.4-oz.) pkg. frozen pepper stir-fry, thawed
1 (2-oz.) can anchovies, drained, chopped
1 c panko
1/2 c all-purpose flour
3 eggs, divided
1 (1-lb.) eggplant, unpeeled, sliced crosswise (3/8 inch)
9-12 lasagna noodles
1 (15-oz.) container ricotta cheese
1 (9-oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
3 (14-oz.) jars pizza sauce
4 c shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil; heat until hot.

Add onion and celery; cook 5 to 8 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic; cook and stir 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Add tomato, bell peppers and anchovies; cook 3 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently.

Remove vegetables.

Place panko in shallow bowl; place flour in second shallow bowl. Whisk 2 of the eggs in third shallow bowl.

Dip eggplant slices in flour to coat, shaking off excess. Dip in eggs, then in panko to coat completely.

Place on large foil-lined baking sheet.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot.

Cook eggplant in batches 3 minutes or until browned, turning once and adding more oil as necessary. Drain on paper towels.

Heat oven to 375ºF. Coat 13x9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.

Prepare lasagna noodles; drain.

Combine ricotta cheese with remaining egg in medium bowl.

Arrange 3 of the lasagna noodles in bottom of baking dish; top with 1/2 each of the ricotta mixture, eggplant, spinach and tomato mixture. Spread with 1/3 of the pizza sauce and sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese.

Do you ever notice that lasagna noodles don't fit the length of a 9x13" dish? For each noodle layer, I lay down three noodles and break fourth noodle into pieces to fit the gaps.


Top with remaining noodles, pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly around edges.

Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

This looked so freakin' good when it came out of the oven. It's probably the tallest/thickest lasagna I've ever seen! After letting the lasagna stand an hour (I was worried 10 minutes wouldn't be enough time for the lasagna portions to stay stacked), I cut into it and served myself a twelfth. The layers held together very nicely, and maybe the fried eggplant helped preserve structural integrity!

Three jars of pizza sauce turned to be the right amount even though it sounds like overkill. Every bite was slightly sweetened and perfectly moistened by the sauce. I liked the Delallo sauce in this a lot. And still with all that sauce and vegetables, there wasn't a pool of water at the bottom of the baking dish, also a huge plus.

The vegetables tasted great and I couldn't tell that the eggplant was fried. I couldn't tell there were anchovies in there either. I'd completely forgotten all about them, so maybe their role is just to add salt. I dunno. Don't let the anchovies freak you out. This is a recipe worth doing again.

  • olive oil: $0.36
  • onion: $0.41
  • celery: $0.17
  • garlic cloves: $0.20
  • tomato: $1.69
  • frozen peppers and onion: $1
  • anchovies: $1.69
  • panko: $0.38
  • all-purpose flour: $0.04
  • eggs: $0.82
  • eggplant: $1.49
  • lasagna noodles: $1.79
  • ricotta cheese: $3.99
  • frozen chopped spinach: $1
  • pizza sauce: $6.57
  • mozzarella cheese: $4.99
$26.59 or about $2.22 for each of 12 surprisingly filling servings.

Kroger Lasagna

Are you super finicky about the noodles in your lasagna? I'm not.

Instead of wasting energy cooking the noodles like I used to do in the past, I soak them in hot water 15 minutes before I'm ready to layer the lasagna. I learned that trick when I made this lasagna and never went back.

Kroger lasagna noodles available in the pasta section of Ralph's for $1.79.

Kroger Flat Anchovies

It's like a sardine can except smaller. And unlike sardine cans there is no secondary packaging, so already I'm liking this.

Holy crap though, if you compare anchovies to sardines, you're way better off eating sardines. Anchovies are so loaded full of salt!

It still reminds me of the fish tins in the Tom and Jerry cartoons even though it's got a tab like a soda can instead of a winding key.

Expect oil to get flicked out when you peel the top steel off.

Fish the tiny fillets out with chop sticks, throw 'em on a cutting board, and chop 'em up for lasagna.

So what's the story, what's with anchovies as a food? Let's look and see what Larousse has to say.
In ancient times, anchovies were used to make a condiment (garum). There has always been a trade in anchovies, which were transported in special small casks called barrots. Today they are used mainly in the cuisine of southern France in such dishes as anchoyade, tapenade, poutine, pissalat, pissaladiere, pan-bagnat, and pizza, but are also used in such traditional seasonings as ready-cooked anchovy butter and English anchovy sauce. 'The temptation of Jansson', an extremely popular Swedish dish, is a gratin of anchovies and potatoes.  
Ok, so garum:
A condiment widely used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, obtained by soaking intestines and pieces of fish in brine with aromatic herbs. (Pissalat from Nice and the Vietnamese nuoc-mam both have a similar formula.)
And I loves me some fish sauce.

Kroger anchovies in the canned fish section of Ralph's for $1.69 a 2-oz tin.

Frigo Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta cheese choices at the stores I frequent are fairly slim. Frigo is one of the two I usually get. I wonder if the other brands also have modified food starch, guar gum and carrageenan in it.

No matter the brand, there's always a inner plastic seal. I run a knife around the bowl edge to cut it out.

Then you can invert the ricotta over another bowl, squeeze the plastic, and the ricotta will fall out in one bowl-shaped lump. Or you can scoop it out.

Frigo ricotta, found in the cheese section near the shredded bags of cheese and sausages for $3.99 a 15-oz container.