Monday, March 16, 2009

What's Cooking 3.16-3.22

It was an interesting shopping day: I've decided I will only buy organic or local (and hopefully both) produce when I can. I used to shop only at one or the other of our expensive whole foods markets, Earth Fare or Green Life, and only bought organic and locally produced food and spent between $150-300 a week.

I wanted to decrease our food budget in order to meet some other savings goals and went to discount grocery stores to do that. I succeeded at slashing our food costs, but I didn't feel *that* great about it. I just can't jibe the savings with my values. The practices of factory farms are not sustainable and I know the "savings" come with a cost to the environment that I am not willing to pay.

Luckily, we have a discount grocery store, Amazing Savings, that sells organic and locally produced food for 50-75% less than the other markets, but it is across town and much less convenient to get to, and their stock is often quite random. It can be frustrating to drive all the way out there and find they don't have organic spinach (like today) or some other item I was hoping to buy.

But I decided I will roll with the challenges and make the best of it,

I spent $60.90 at Amazing Savings for almost all our produce (sans the spinach), ground turkey (for my omnivorous friends who are coming to our home for a party this Saturday night), eggs and milk (all organic and locally produced). They also had a good price on automatic dish detergent (2.99 for 75 ounces), but there was only one box (you often get the feeling that some of their stuff has just fallen off a truck), so I won't count on that deal again. I spent $12.48 at Earth Fare for bulk bulghur, couscous, peanut butter and grapes (all organic). And then $17.46 at Aldi for other staples like butter and cans of beans (I forgot to soak beans last night for tonight's chili). All for a grand total of $90.84.

I am surprised that I just went a little over $10 for my *dream* budget of $80 a week for food - and that includes all organic produce, dairy, and meat for a party this week! Since I spent less than $60 last week, I think I can still come in under $320 for this month if I am careful. That makes me very happy.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Red, Gold, Black and Green Chili
Corn Scones

Tuesday: I'm in the hospital for my 24-hour shift and we've found that leftovers work great on this day.

Sweet Potato Quesadillas (recipe below)
Roasted Broccoli and Garlic

West African Groundnut Stew
Whole Wheat Couscous

Pizza with homemade crust and sauce
topped with Roasted Broccoli, Peppers and Onions
Spinach Salad

Saturday: Games Night with Friends!
Ground Turkey Shepherd's Pie (This is a very kid-friendly recipe that I will jazz up with Southwestern chili spices.)
Green Salad

Spicy Bell Pepper Frittata
Spinach Salad
Homemade Whole Wheat Rolls

A couple of the meals this week come from the Moosewood Restaurant website. I decided since I'm promoting the restaurant in this manner, I can take the liberty of publishing one of the recipes from their Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home cookbook, one of my favorites. We have prepared this dish countless times over the last 16 years and we never tire of it.

Sweet Potato Quesadillas
Take about 20 minutes to make
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 medium)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I always use less)
4 cups grated peeled sweet potato (about 3 medium potatoes)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
generous pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

8 tortillas (8- to 10-inch), preferably whole wheat
your favorite salsa
sour cream

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil until the onions are translucent. Add the grated sweet potatoes, oregano, chili powder, cumin, cayenne and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. When the sweet potato is tender, add salt and pepper to taste and remove the filling from the heat. Spread one-eighth of the filling and 2 tablespoons of the cheese on each tortilla. Fold the plain half of the tortilla over the filling. Cook the filled tortillas in the heated skillet (as many as you can fit in your pan) and cook each side for 2 or 3 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the filling is hot. Add more oil to the skillet if necessary, and cook the remaining quesadillas. (Keep the cooked quesadillas in the oven while you cook the remaining batches.)

Serve topped with the salsa and sour cream.

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