Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bolthouse Farms Protein Plus Chocolate naturally flavored protein shake



Wandering around the store, I spied this chocolate flavored protein drink from Bolthouse Farms. If you don't know Bolthouse Farms products, they tend to be delicious. Now that they have a chocolate shake, protein or not, I grabbed a bottle.

The ingredient statement is a little intimidating at first glance, but it's basically milk, water, sugars, proteins, chocolate and vitamins:

Ingredients: low-fat milk, filtered water, agave nectar, cane sugar, whey protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, cocoa powder, natural flavors, dipotasium phosphate, acacia gum, gellan gum, ascorbic acid, carrageenan, vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), vitamin B1 (thiamin mononitrate), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacinamide), vitamin B5 (calcium pentothenate), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCL), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin V9 (folic acid), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), vitamin E (alpha-tocopheryl acetate), calcium (tricalcium phosphate), phosphorus (tricalcium phosphate, magnesium phosphate), magnesium (magnesium phosphate), chromium (chromium chloride), iodine (potassium iodide), iron (ferric orthophosphate), zinc (zinc oxide), copper (copper cluconate).

Check out what that does for you per serving:


The first sip was sort of odd -- certainly chocolately, but with a distinct whey aftertaste. That didn't stop me from chugging half the bottle in the truck before I even left the store parking lot.

Available from Henry's Market for $3.99 in a 32 oz bottle.


Lowcountry Spicy Shrimp



Here's a recipe from on older copy of Cooking Club magazine. I wasn't gung-ho about trying it the first few times I reviewed the recipe, but decided that because it's a quick one it's worth doing.

Lowcountry Spicy Shrimp
from Cooking Club of America
click to print

1/4 c unsalted butter
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp grated lime peel
1 lb. shelled, deveined uncooked medium shrimp (31 to 35 count)
3 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 to 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce

Heat butter, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice and lime peel in large skillet over medium-high heat until bubbly.


Add shrimp; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp just start to turn pink, stirring frequently. Stir in all remaining ingredients; cook 1 minute or until shrimp turn pink.



Per the recipe suggestion, I served the shrimp over rice and am glad I did as the rice is a good vehicle for the buttery sauce, which was not on the excessive side. If you're worried about the heat factor, go light and add more after plating. Personally, I found that starting with 1/2 tsp would've worked well for me.

Will I do this again? Yep, for sure. Especially since outside of prep, the dish took less than 15 minutes to prepare.

Cost:
  • butter: $0.29
  • garlic: $0.25
  • lime: $0.18
  • shrimp: $7.50
  • parsley: $0.25
  • thyme: $1
TOTAL: $9.47 or $2.37 for each of 4 servings. But I got three servings, making it $3.16 each.


North Shore Living Herbs Thyme



I showed you fresh thyme once before, but didn't really talk about the thyme specifically. I don't usually buy thyme. It's sort of a hassle what with those tiny leaves.


But sometimes you just need the fresh stuff and thankfully, brands such as North Shore Living Herbs or Nature Sensations provides them in a neat little container available in the produce section of your grocery.

One of my Cooking Club magazines had a tip for getting the leaves from the stems of thyme: run a leafy stalk through a slot of a slotted spoon. Now I need to get myself a slotted spoon. Until then, I'll be picking the leaves off by hand.

Fresh thyme, available from Henry's Market for $1.99/living plant.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Food Plan and Grocery List, 073011

I didn't follow through on the shrimp or sardine dishes last week. I'll be honest, I didn't even finish all of the Eggplant Parmesan. The parmesan tasted great, but for some reason I didn't feel like eating dinner. How weird is that? I chalk it up to the heat of summer.

This week it's all about that Lowcountry Spicy Shrimp and those sardines.

Target:
  • Archer Farms Italian soda: $2.89
  • chipotle tabasco: $5.68/2 bottles
  • King Oscar sardines in olive oil: $2.54
  • TOTAL: $11.11
Henry's Market:
  • Bolthouse Farms chocolate protein drink: $3.99/32 oz
  • fresh thyme: $1.99
  • vegetable chips: $3.08/0.44 lb
  • LF 7 in tortillas: $1.69
  • TOTAL: $10.85
Henry's Market, 080111:
  • raspberry vanilla bars: $4.13
  • Bolthouse Farms mango protein drink: $3.99/32 oz
  • honey-roasted almonds: $2.38/0.34 lb
  • TOTAL: $10.60
Stater Bros., 080411:
  • avocado: $1.99

Grand Total: $34.55
Total for the year: $886.57

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 072911

  • Monday: Sushi Plantation, Sunrise on Avery Parkway: on the boss
  • Tuesday: Chipotle, Carnitas Tacos: $6.84
  • Wednesday: NY Upper Crust Pizza, Vegetable Stuffed Slice and soda: $6.20
  • Thursday: Carl's Jr., Low-Carb Six-Dollar Cheeseburger: $5
  • Friday: Opah, lunch for 9, $220

Total: $238.04.
Total for the year: $1121.96


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan



I've used eggplant once before, the first time I'd ever used it. My eggplant experience is severely limited. I'd never even tasted Eggplant Parmesan previously and this recipe, a "slimmed-down" version of the classic would be my first. At the very least, if it turned out to be not-so-great, I could blame it on the recipe.

Eggplant Parmesan
click to print

3 tsp olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
3 (14-oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
3 lb. eggplant, unpeeled, sliced crosswise (3/8")
1 c low-fat (1%) cottage cheese
1 c shredded part-skim mozzarella Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 c slivered fresh basil
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp panko

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in large wide pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Cook onion 2 to 3 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook and stir 30 seconds or until fragrant.


Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until sauce has thickened, stirring frequently and mashing tomatoes with spoon.


Puree sauce with immersion blender or mash with potato masher. Stir in salt.
I mashed mine as an immersion blender is non-existent in my kitchen.

Heat oven to 400°F. Spray both sides of eggplant slices (salted to draw out alkaloid bitterness) with cooking spray. Roast over 15-18 minutes or until browned and tender, turning once.


Spray 13x9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.


Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce over bottom of dish. Arrange one-third of eggplant slices over sauce; spread with 3/4 cup tomato sauce.


Spoon 1/2 cup cottage cheese over sauce; sprinkle with 1/3 cup mozzarella pepper-jack cheese, 1/4 cup basil and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.


Top with one-third of the eggplant. Repeat layering once.


Top with remaining eggplant; spread with remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and mozzarella pepper-jack cheese.


Combine panko and remaining 1 teaspoon oil in small bowl; sprinkle over casserole.

(Recipe can be made to this point 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Add 5 to 10 minutes to baking time.)

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and top is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.



Preparation was essentially easy and the time was spent waiting...for sauce to reduce, for eggplant to be de-bittered, for the eggplant to brown, for the casserole to bake. Tastewise, I was pleasantly surprised! Not a fan of cottage cheese in a lasagna-ish dish, it worked here, though ricotta would've won in an eggplant parm tasting bake-off.

The dish was a little wet after assembly and baking; I'm not sure where the water came from unless my sauce wasn't reduced enough or additional water from the eggplant squirted out during assembly. While excess moisture is a slight visual turn-off for me, it didn't dissuade me from eating a portion and going back for a little more. I'd happily do this recipe again.

Cost:
  • onion: $0.28
  • garlic: $0.50
  • tomatoes: $2.40
  • eggplant: $4.50
  • cottage cheese: $1.29
  • Monterrey Jack cheese: $2.50
  • basil: $1.65
  • Parmesan cheese: $1.99
Total: $15.11 or $1.89 for each of eight servings.


Eggplant



I needed eggplants for my latest recipe endeavor. I bought three. Somewhere I read that "innie" bottoms are girls and "outties" are boys. Mine look like girls.


So many times I've come across recipes that say eggplant seeds are bitter (apparently due to nicotinoid alkaloids -- you know, like tobacco). Salting, apparently, was used traditionally to draw out the bitterness. I sliced mine and salted them, only to read on Wiki later that this is really not necessary for modern eggplant.


After about 20 minutes, the salt had collected water -- which seems very odd as eggplant slices feel dry to the touch.


Look at how much water is absorbed in paper towel placed over the salted eggplant.

I did this on both sides, sucking out lots of moisture.

Looking through my Larousse Gastronomique, I find this for a definition on eggplant, aka aubergine:

An elongated or rounded fruit with a smooth shiny purple skin covering a light firm flesh. A white variety also exists. The largest and oldest fruits contain more seeds.
Originating in India, the aubergine was cultivated in Italy by the 15th century. It spread to the south of France in the 17th century and was grown north of the Loire by the time of the Revolution. Today it is grown in southeastern and southwestern France from May to October. From October onwards it is imported from the West Indies, Israel, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast. It has a low energy value (30 Cal per 100 g, 4 oz) and is rich in potassium and calcium.

According to Wiki, in the US, the state of Georgia is the biggest producer. Not quite as exciting as the Larousse history of eggplant.

Larousse Gastronomique also provides these recipes:
  • aubergine caviar
  • aubergines a la creme
  • aubergine salad
  • aubergines au gratin a la toulousaine
  • aubergine souffles
  • sauteed aubergines
  • stuffed aubergines
  • stuffed aubergines a l'italienne
You think I should try them?

Eggplant, available in the produce section of Stater Bros. on sale for $1.50 each.


Food Plan and Grocery List, 072411

This week, I've decided to do a meatless dish that should carry me through most of the week. Just to mix it up a bit, a shrimp dish; and a recipe simply for the sake of trying sardines:
  • Eggplant Parmesan
  • Lowcountry Spicy Shrimp
  • Sherried Sardine Toast

I shopped:

Stater Bros.:
  • Stater Bros. sourdough bread: $2.49
  • Stater Bros. 16-20 shrimp: $14.99/lb
  • Stater Bros. 16-20 shrimp: FREE (B1G1)
  • Stater Bros. brown cage-free eggs: $3.79/dozen
  • Stater Bros. low-fat cottage cheese: $1.29/8 oz.
  • Prince Albert Crown sardines in soy oil: $2.99
  • Tiny Tots sardines in olive oil: $3.99
  • Hass avocado: $1.99
  • eggplant: $4.50/3 lb (3)
  • TOTAL: $36.03
Grand Total: $36.03
Total for the year: $852.02

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 072211

  • Monday: Carl's Jr. Low-Carb Six-Dollar Cheeseburger: $5
  • Tuesday: Natraj Cuisine of India, buffet: $14.50 including toke (I don't think I've had vegetable fritters from an Indian joint before; if I had, they didn't compare to those available here! I could've eaten them alone for lunch and been happy!)
  • Wednesday: Carl's Jr taco salad: $5 (not thrilled with this shredded lettuce, watery mess)
  • Thursday: El Pollo Loco: 2 churros; 14-pc meal with mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, corn cobs, and corn tortillas: $29.39 for the crew
  • Friday: TGI Friday's California Club, combo fries (meaning potatoes and yams): $8

Total: $61.89
Total for the year: $883.92

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Two-Bean Salsa with Corn and Tomatoes

Oh, that fresh salsa in the last post? It's a cinch to put together, makes enough for a party, is so very pretty, and not too bad in the taste category either.

Two-Bean Salsa with Corn and Tomatoes
adapted from Cooking Club of America
click for the printable

1 (15-oz.) can garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, rinsed, drained
12 oz. frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 (4-oz.) can diced green chiles
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 large avocado, diced
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 c chopped cilantro
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c white wine vinegar
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in large bowl until thoroughly mixed.


Beans, corn and green chiles; bean mix topped with tomatoes, avocado, onions and cilantro.

Cumin, red pepper, salt and pepper, topped with oil and vinegar, combined with salad ingredients.


Depending on your knife skills and speed, you can have this ready in 15 minutes. My only change would be to use fresh corn cut from about 2 cobs instead of the frozen stuff, but that's not a big deal. Note that you want to use an olive oil you find extremely delicious because it is key here.

Cost:
  • garbanzo beans: $0.70
  • black beans: $0.70
  • frozen corn: $1
  • green chiles: $1.59
  • tomatoes: $1.22
  • avocado: $1
  • onion: $0.28
  • cilantro: $0.33
  • oil: $0.85
  • vinegar: $0.75
  • seasonings: SWAG: $0.50
Total: $8.92 or about $0.28 for each thirty-two 1/4-cup servings.


Mexican-Style Butterflied Chicken


Whole leg of a Mexican-Style Butterflied Chicken served with warm tortillas and fresh salsa

This chicken recipe has been in my queue of things to try for about 2 years. It's even showed up on the food plan a couple of times but for one reason or another, primarily because I don't have an outdoor grill, it didn't go through. Now that I've flipped through the magazine the recipe showed up in originally, I've realized that that this is a Chef Bruce Aidells recipe! Aidells rules when it comes to meat, there's no wiggle room on this chicken -- I'm going to be rockin' the broiler.

Mexican-Style Butterflied Chicken
adapted from Cooking Club of America
click for the printable

2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp ground New Mexico chiles or Hungarian paprika*
1 tsp coarse salt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 (3-4lb) whole chicken
8 lime wedges

Combine all ingredients except oil, chicken and limes in small bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the oil to form wet paste.


Place chicken, breast-side down, on cutting board. With sharp kitchen scissors, cut down one side of backbone, cutting through rib cage. Cut down other side of back bone; remove and discard backbone.

I achieved this by grabbing the tail (that knob between the legs) and cutting as close to the spine as possible. In the third photo above, I placed the spine in the splayed-open cavity to illustrate how narrow it actually is. The closer you are to the spine when cutting, the less difficult it is to remove. Stray too wide and you'll run into thigh bones and and wing bones, which, unless you have the most bitchin' scissors known to kitchens and Superman strength, you will not be able to cut through.

Turn chicken breast-side up; flatten with heel of your hand. Trim off excess neck skin.

Loosen skin over each breast by lifting the skin at the neck and with a finger, piercing the membrane between flesh and skin. With a spoon, scoop marinade paste onto the breasts under the skins. Press the skin such that the paste covers each breast completely.


Generously rub marinade over both sides of chicken, transfer chicken to non-reactive dish. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.

I rubbed the paste over the breast-side of the bird being sure to rub into the crevices (between legs and breasts as well as in the "armpits", flipped it into a 9x13" glass baking dish, then rubbed remaining paste over the bony interior.

Place broiler rack and pan on the lowest rung, furthest from heat (I have three options, high, middle and low). Heat broiler.

Broil chicken with skin-side up until skin begins to color, about 3 minutes; cover breasts with foil to prevent burning and broil an additional 4 minutes.


Remove foil; flip chicken so skin-side is down. Broil 9 minutes.


Flip chicken to skin-side up, cover with foil and return to broiler another 15 minutes to cook through.


Remove chicken; cover loosely with foil. Let stand 10 minutes before carving; serve with lime wedges.


Oh yeah, the flavors were fabulous, the chicken tender and juicy. A total of 31 minutes in the broiler plus 10 minutes to stand is my speed of a whole chicken -- quick. The leg I ate day one was simply fantastic, crispy skin, juicy flesh...mmm! Day 2, I reheated a breast and found that the amount of marinade under the skin was something to be desired. I could've cut back on how much I shoved in there. Still, certainly worth doing again!

I don't know that I could tell that Hungarian paprika was used. I'll have to try it in a recipe where it is a predominant factor rather than one of many to see what I really think of the taste.

Cost:
  • chicken: $5.54
  • seasonings: $1, SWAG
  • lime: $0.18
Total: $6.72 or $1.68 for each of four servings.