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1MunchieMonster's Profile

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What favorite food is such a labor of love, time, technique or even money that rarely make it but when you do…

OMG. You totally rock. That sounds even more hair-raising that the SmittenKitchen wedding cake saga. But once is definitely enough. :-)

Jun 08, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Home Cooking

What favorite food is such a labor of love, time, technique or even money that rarely make it but when you do…

Oh neat, you like adult spinach too! Baby spinach is great for salads and ease, but I prefer the flavor of the full grown stuff for pies and cooked things.

May 23, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Home Cooking

What favorite food is such a labor of love, time, technique or even money that rarely make it but when you do…

The recipe we like browns chicken thighs with bone-in (for more flavor), uses spices we don't always have on hand (though I did start buying multiple kinds of chile for it), includes chopping a number of condiments, long simmer (for spices flavor, which is hands off, but not so good when you're hungry now), and (the icing on the cake) has you deep frying up tortilla strips for the super-fresh crunch. It's the combination of flavors, textures AND temperatures that really makes it. The rich meaty chicken, deeply flavored mildly spicy chili, cool rich avocado, fresh acidic tomatoes, smooth creamy sour cream, and crispy crunchy fried white corn is every bit as good as the magazine claimed (Fine Cooking).

This set our "chicken tortilla soup" bar kind of high. :-)

I could see doing most of the rest of it more often, but deep frying the tortilla strips is just that one extra complication that means it doesn't happen.

May 23, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Home Cooking
1

What favorite food is such a labor of love, time, technique or even money that rarely make it but when you do…

Chinese style hand cut noodles (with sesame peanut sauce, but the sauce is fairly easy)

Chicken tortilla soup

Do desserts count? If so, Opera cake.

May 22, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Home Cooking

Are You Snacking on Anything Right Now?

Frozen banana smoothie with almond milk, oat bran, matcha powder and candied ginger. Yummm. I am tempted to have a couple more of these instead of dinner.

May 03, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

Sadly, I'll probably never eat it again...

Rice a Roni, broccoli cheese flavor. Stopped because of the sodium. I'm also a bit afraid to taste them again now that we don't eat as much artificial flavorings. I might discover they taste chemicals and be sad. Better to remember them as good.

These next ones were occasional treats but will still be missed.

All beef hotdogs. I bought a package a year ago, but noone touched them at the BBQ so into the freezer they went. All our friends are eating healthier. I unfroze them recently, ate them over the course of a week or so, and enjoyed every single one! (Rice and beans and dogs!) So yummy, moreso than the chicken dogs which came in first of the packs we did open. (Yes, we did a taste taste.)

Hostess Cherry fruit pies. One of my favorite treats at the school cafeteria.

Jack in the Box curly fries. It's not inconceivable that I'd go to a Jack in the Box again but would probably chicken out of getting the fries for health reasons. I loved the crispy crunch, the spices, and the curly shape.

Apr 29, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

What do you think the best seasonings for BEEF are?

Gave who the cases of beer? I didn't think bovines drank alcohol.

Apr 16, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

Are You Snacking on Anything Right Now?

Marshmallows, really fresh and soft. And nice warm decaf coffee that's the perfect drinking temperature, with more marshmallows melting in my mug.

Apr 15, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

Suggestions for dinner for German guests in U.S.

I visited Germany once and was told that good Chinese food/seafood was rare there. Fresh seafood especially was rare (though that might mean that they're uncomfortable with it). Fresh pineapple (eg tropical fruit) was rare. I'm sure it varies per region though and who knows, they might be foodies with varied tastes too!

Apr 06, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

Is confit unhealthy?

There's some interesting and valid-sounding scientific points in this thread already but since I haven't done any research on the topic I won't comment on those. However, it occured to me that you could make both an oven roasted and a confit-style recipe and weigh the oil you use before and after cooking. Then you'd know how much oil was absorbed.

Apr 06, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

Trader Joe's Yay/Nay Thread - April 2013 [OLD]

This is killing me. I really want to buy one of these & freeze it in small packs but the last time I did this, it lasted more than a year. I'm already trying to use up all the little tasty bits we have stashed in the freezer and can't really justify stuffing it with another big item.

Enjoy some ham for me! :-)

Apr 05, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Chains

Spending too much on groceries? ..and how to embrace the frugal lifestyle

Thursday, your kids are lucky to have you.

Apr 04, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics
2

Spending too much on groceries? ..and how to embrace the frugal lifestyle

Yeah, definitely, the cost of keeping an extra freezer is not to be sneezed at. Or are you talking about the freezer that comes with a full sized refrigerator? Out of curiosity, how much *does* it cost for you to run a freezer?

For this menu, I made my bread because grocery-store bread was too expensive. IIRC the cheapest grocery store bread was around ~1/lb and that was the super-white wonderbread-type bread. The yeast was expensive in the little 3 packs. I had originally planned on doing biscuits/pancakes but I really craved bread. If I had to live like this, I'd save up to be able to buy yeast in bulk or do sourdough.

For what it's worth, I wasn't trying to proselytize at all, just provide some details on the food side of things, back when this thread was shorter and there were more questions than answers. ;-)

Apr 04, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

Spending too much on groceries? ..and how to embrace the frugal lifestyle

Heh, yes! I had to run off earlier so didn't get to the best part.

I'm lucky I don't have to eat like that all the time, but while I ran the experiment, here's some of the things I had. Sorry there's no recipes for some of these, but they're basics that I could dig up again if someone wanted. There's also a bunch of logistics with making this work (Eg, HillJ's question about gas money) but I'll skip those unless someone asks.

I love to eat (and eat a lot) so I'll start with the short list of the tastiest things.
--------------------------------
Artisan 5-minute a day bread (the soft white one) - soooo delicious. The number one best thing I had that week. Easy and not much prep time too.
Fresh homemade biscuits
Boston Baked Beans
Cabbage salad with lemon vinaigrette
Chinese-style peanut sauce

The more complete list
--------------------------------
Steel cut oats in the morning (maybe 4:1 water:oats ratio) with lots of brown sugar, sometimes cinnamon and/or banana (yes, I have a sweet tooth). Can you believe I hadn't tried them before? I thought I hated oatmeal.

Chinese-esque peanut sauce dip (soy sauce, peanut butter, garlic powder, hot water), used for zucchini and carrot sticks, or over rice. It didn't work so well with the beans.

Fried rice with onion, fresh garlic, and an egg. Freshly fried garlic is yummy.

Cabbage salad with lemon vinaigrette (foraged lemons, vegetable oil, salt, dried oregano/basil).

Brown rice with beans (pressure cooked according to MissVickie's site), curry powder, oil, salt, and enough water to make it kind of saucy.

Bananas eaten with the peanut butter for dessert.

Baking soda biscuits. If it was dessert, they'd get slathered with PB and extra sugar.

Homemade bread. I tried two recipes and the 5-minute a Day bread (Soft American-style white bread) was by far the tastiest.

I might have made simple pancakes too.

Sauteed thinly sliced cabbage with dried basil.

Caramelized carrot strings (sauteed in pan w/ pepper, oil & salt) (stole the show that meal, nicely sweet and caramely-brown. tender)

Zucchini fritters from SimplyRecipes.com (http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/zucc...

)

Sweet Milk tea (with the soy creamer)

Bastardized Boston Baked Beans - I believe I used this recipe on AllRecipes.com, http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/Boston-..., but skipped the bacon & molasses, etc because it wasn't in the budget. It was still delicious.

My SIL's Beans
~3/4 cup small diced onion
~1/2 cup small diced green pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
~3 Tbsp oil
~3 cups cooked pinto beans
~1/4 tsp tobasco sauce
~1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pan on medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper, and garlic. Crush the oregano between your fingers and add that to the pan as well. Saute for about 10 minutes, until translucent and starting to brown. Add beans, tobasco sauce, and about 1/2 cup water. Crush about 1/4 of the beans with your spatula and mix with the water. Add more water if it's not saucy enough. Heat through and season to taste with salt & pepper.

Apr 04, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

Spending too much on groceries? ..and how to embrace the frugal lifestyle

Very true, HillJ, gas is definitely an expense. The food listed here is from 3 stores. I happen to be lucky enough to live within a 15-20 minute walk of a shopping center with a Walmart, Trader Joe's, Safeway and Whole Foods. (Not that I shop at WF or SW when I want deals.) I also bike to get groceries from slightly further places.

However I realize this is not the norm so for a more realistic comparison, I'd have to figure out how far the average grocery store is, my gas mileage (or bus fare). Let's say an average grocery store round trip is 25 miles, gas mileage is 25 mpg, and gas costs $4/gallon. So with 1 trip per week, that bumps up the weekly cost to about $33/week. If you pro-rate costs for what actually got eaten, it was $15.33 worth of food eaten.

food eaten = $15.33
gas estimate = $4.00
Total per week per person = $19.33

More on menu in a separate entry...

Apr 04, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

Spending too much on groceries? ..and how to embrace the frugal lifestyle

I'm curious how many pounds of each item you get for your money. Eg, how many pounds of cheese do you get for $3.99 or pounds of oatmeal for $1.09.

Apr 04, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

Spending too much on groceries? ..and how to embrace the frugal lifestyle

Here's a concrete example from 2011 that's pretty close. (It's even under budget if you allow pro-rating the "overhead".)

It assumed being allowed to use salt, pepper, soy sauce, & a few (cheap) spices from the pantry, but not rice, flour, or other things people think of as "pantry" items. The "overhead" items did not end up fully-utilized and could be rolled over into the next week leaving room in the budget for more fresh veggies or even a tiny bit of meat or cheese.

Total for the week $28.60 (from 2011)

"Overhead"
black tea bags, 100 bags = $2.04
brown sugar (Great Value store brand), 2 lb = $1.36
soymilk creamer, 1 pt = $1.49
All purpose flour (Great Value store brand), 5 lb = $1.58
baking soda (Arm & Hammer), 8 oz = $0.46
eggs, 1 doz = $1.77
Northern Beans, white (Great Value store brand), 1 lb = $1.08
pinto beans (Great Value store brand), 1 lb = $0.68
canola oil, 48 fluid oz = $2.98
peanut butter, creamy salted, 1 lb = $1.79
garlic, loose, 0.18 lb = $0.63
1 green cabbage, 1.57 lb = $1.40
1 yellow onion, large, 1.01 lb = $0.39
Cost of overhead $17.65

Produce, fractionable purchases, and midweek purchases

3 bananas (walmart), 1.445 lb = $0.84
2 more bananas (Trader Joe's), 2 = $0.38
steel cut oats, 2.1 lb = $2.72
carrots, 0.49 lb = $0.34
shortgrain brown rice, 2.78 lb = $3.03
Texas grapefruit (in season!), 6 = $1.20

midweek
green bell pepper, 0.73 lb = $0.36
zucchini (2 large), 1.43 lb = $0.84
yeast, 3 pkts = $1.24
Cost of produce, etc $10.95

Apr 04, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

How do you eat your avocados?

"But avocados aren't just for savories"

Exactly! I grew up eating them sweet (chopped in a bowl with milk & sugar). When I first heard of guacamole I was really grossed out.

Apr 04, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Home Cooking

How do you eat your avocados?

Add to grilled cheese for even more gooey richness.

Add to cheese quesadillas for the same reason. Sauteed mushrooms also go great in the quesadilla with the avocado & cheese.

Avocado jackfruit smoothies. We do 50/50 for a nice balance of richness and tropical sweetness.

Simple sushi (just seaweed, sushi rice, & avocado), sometimes dipped in soysauce to eat.

Apr 04, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Home Cooking

What do you eat when you are angry?

Actually, exercise works better for me for anger. An hour or two of brisk walking (or better yet, smashy exercise), preferably in the cold/dark. Then maybe afterwards an ice cream sandwich or three. Vanilla with chocolate wafers.

If sad, lots of bowls of cheerios with milk; PB & honey w/ high fiber cereal & cocoa nibs; infinite stream of deli meat & cheese; full-size marshmallows; peanut m&m's.

Good luck with this.

Apr 02, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

How much do you spend on groceries each month?

Gobs of rice & pasta plus some meat & veggies works fine on a student-ish budget. Sure the muscle makes you more hungry for meat, but it doesn't have to be ALL meat. There are some tricks, like draining the fat off of 80% lean ground beef sometimes ends up cheaper than the 95% lean.

Also, maybe if you're working out all the time, you don't have time to spend money on fancy cars or gadgets so your budget balances that way. :-)

Mar 31, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics

What are you baking these days? March 2013 edition... [old]

Greek spinach pie. Yummy for dinner last night and will probably be lunch tomorrow too.

I also finally made the "apple pie" granola someone suggested here. Tasty but it's too crunchy - like little pebbles.

Mar 23, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Home Cooking

Fun food projects (that don't involve cake!)

I've had this pho recipe at SteamyKitchen.com bookmarked since forever: http://www.steamykitchen.com/271-viet...

Haven't made it so if you do, I'd love to hear how it comes out.

Another "labor of love" is the xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings) also on that site. http://www.steamykitchen.com/88-xiao-...

Again, looks fun but soooo much work so I haven't made that one either. I guess I'm not hardcore enough. :-)

Mar 23, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Home Cooking

Legal Seafoods: Yay or Nay?

Agreed on the lobster roll. Heavenly. Had it at the Kendal Sq location and it had tons of fresh nicely cooked lobster on a slightly crispy yet soft toasted buttery bun. You don't really need more than that. Fresh lots of sweet lobster meat, butter, and just enough bun to hold it. (I eat a fair bit of seafood, and while I hate to say picky, I can tell if it's sat around a long time.)

We (foolishly) also got the fried calamari appetizer which was crispy outside, tender inside, and huge. It was only foolish because it was so delicious that the two of us ate that whole huge appetizer along with the whole lobster roll and Mr. Munchie's entree. So stuffed, but happy!

Mar 23, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Greater Boston Area

Suggestions for St Pat's day dessert--NOT cake

Irish coffee parfaits with gingerbread cookies or stout cake between the layers.

Mar 10, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Home Cooking

Vegan Comfort Foods

Soy sauce. I didn't even miss the fish sauce. Maybe this version is more of a Chinese dish and the peanut sauce with fish sauce is more Thai or Vietnamese. Any which way though, yum.

Mar 10, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Vegetarian & Vegan

Liven up Chicken Salad

No prob. We've been using the "Mango and Red Stuff Chutney" found here http://www.freondream.com/ice/recipes.... I suspect others would work fine too. For instance recently when I was feeling lazy I got a bottle of Trader Joe's mango chutney and the turkey salad was still tasty.

Mar 10, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Home Cooking

Vegan Comfort Foods

Sesame peanut noodles (Smitten Kitchen's version). I have a jar of the sauce frozen in the fridge right now for "emergencies". (http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/0...

)

Coconut curry sauced carbs.

Peanut "chicken" but with chickpeas. It's the African peanut tomato sauce and just replace the chicken with chick peas. We originally saw the recipe on the GoodHousekeeping site but it's gone now. So easy and good. This version at SimplyRecipes.com looks good too, but has more work: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/.... I've made fried tofu to replace the chicken but chickpeas are so much easier and really, it's all about the sauce. :-

)

Chocolate "mousse" pie, the one that's all over the internet with just good chocolate, tofu, and optionally a sweetener like honey or agave.

Refried black bean & hummus "quesadillas" (I just skip the cheese altogether because good hummus is really good). I prefer corn tortillas. Pan fried until a bit browned. If you're feeling lazy, tortilla chips with that mix is even easier.

Now I'm hungry. :-)

Mar 10, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Vegetarian & Vegan

Quick and easy meals for 1.

Easy Chinese Spinach Soup: about 1.5 cups frozen spinach in a large microwavable bowl. Nuke 4 min or so on high. Add about 3 oz firm tofu (I tend to open a pack from Trader Joe's, cut it into 6ths, and have it during the week), Cut roughly with your spoon into chunks or slices. add 1/2-1 cup broth + enough water to make a soup as thin/thick as you like. Add 1/2-1 cup leftover rice or other plain starch. Nuke another minute or so to get the whole thing to eating-temperature-hot. Add soy sauce (2 tsp or so), dash of toasted sesame oil, 1/2 tsp or so Chinese cooking wine. Also can add a pinch of sugar and white pepper or hot sauce. Taste and add more seasonings if desired.

"Cooked" in 1 bowl, plus you eat with the utensil you "cooked" with. All ingredients except the tofu last forever.

I alternate between this when it's cold out and a huge salad when it's warm out.

Oh, another nice thing is a cold block of tofu (~3 oz) with seasonings. Cut the block of tofu with the spoon you're going to eat it with. I like just soy sauce and a bit of sesame oil. If you have tahini in the house, a 1/2 tsp of that instead of the sesame oil is good too. Nuke before adding sesame oil if desired but it's good cold. Trader Joe's thai yellow curry is also a very nice sauce for cold tofu chunks.

Mar 10, 2013
1MunchieMonster in Vegetarian & Vegan
1

I dunno about you, but I don't like crustless sandwiches

This.

With Wonder bread when I was a kid (or other generic flavorless white bread) - no crust is better. Especially if the bread is a little stale (which happened in our home), the crust starts to resemble stale-flavored thin cardboard. That said, we didn't get to throw out the crusts because it would be wasting food.

For good bread, like the Pepperidge Farm brand or the stuff we get now that I'm choosing, sandwiches with crust is definitely better.

I like your retaining wall analogy. That's so true. :-)

Mar 10, 2013
1MunchieMonster in General Topics