Welcome to St. Louis
May 30, 2008, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Life, Restaurant | Tags:

I was in St. Louis over the weekend and tasted a couple of new foods. I tried toasted ravioli. I’ve had them before; just frozen stuff and filled with cheese, but since this was the motherland of Toasted Ravioli, I had to see what “real” ones would be like. Beef is the traditional filling for St. Louis Toasted Ravioli, but the ones I had were filled with braised beef which I was told was quite different. They were pretty good but not spectacular.

While grocery shopping, I saw in the cheese aisle a container of cheese that looked like spaghetti. The next day, we went out to dinner and my salad course was topped with that very same cheese. I called it “spaghetti cheese”.

It turns out that it’s called Provel Cheese, and it’s a St. Louis delicacy. It’s more like a “cheeze product”. I think it’s a mixture of swiss, provolone, and cheddar. Personally, I think it tastes a lot like Laughing Cow cheese. ‘m glad that I stumbled on it and the opportunity to taste something different.

Then on Monday, we went to a winery/restaurant where I was so amused by this sign in the window:

Welcome to St. Louis!


Chocolate Chip Pancakes
May 30, 2008, 1:00 pm
Filed under: Restaurant

Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Stout Reduction, accompanied by a glass of stout of course. @ The Dirty Truth

Shopping Day
May 29, 2008, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Shopping Day

We spent $56 this week. I don’t have a lot of cooking to do this week, but somehow I caught up in buying too many snack foods. (Remember, green items are organic, blue are marked as “natural”)

$30 @ Whole Foods
– potato chips
– spicy pork sausage
– lettuce
– mushrooms
– green pepper
– ginger
– red potatoes (3)
– Cotswold cheese
– bread
– deli cheese
– deli salami

$26 @ Stop & Shop
– whipping cream
– light mayonnaise
– 2 Lean Cuisines
– 48 oz chicken broth
– chocolate pudding snack packs
– Wheat Thins
– garbanzo beans
– box of whole wheat pasta
– box of bowtie pasta
– light coconut milk
– broccoli rabe
– 2 carrots

The Menu (Week of May 26 – 31)

Sunday & Monday – still in St. Louis

Tuesday – Dinner @ the brewery for DL

Wednesday & Thursday – Pasta with sausage & broccoli rabe

Friday – out (Brian’s birthday!)

Saturday & Sunday – curry soup

Using Ingredients Wisely
May 20, 2008, 1:46 pm
Filed under: Tips

When cooking for 1 or 2 people, it’s easy to let food go to waste, especially if you buy ingredients for a recipe and end up with extra of the individual ingredients and you don’t have plans for them, or they go bad before you can use them up. I don’t like wasting food because that’s wasting money.

I made a fabulous pasta dish this week, and the only ingredients were basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella. The recipe called for “8 leaves” of basil. I always get frustrated that herbs and seasonings always come in big bunches even though recipes call for very little, so I always try to use them strategically. That’s why I put pesto pizza on the menu for later in the week. I’ll use the rest of the basil to make pesto, use a few tablespoons of it for pizza, and freeze the remaining pesto for another time. If I were making a cooked or baked dish, I might have used dried basil instead, but for a dish that’s supposed to be simple and fresh, real basil was required.

I generally do this for ingredients that I know won’t get used up in one recipe. I was in a similar situation with the fresh mozzarella cheese. It was only sold in 8 and 16 oz containers, so I split it up between the pasta and the pizza. Sour cream is another example of an ingredient I try to reuse.

Weighing and buying from bulk bins also helps eliminate waste. Some Whole Foods have a “Mediterranean bar” (like the salad bar) that has all sorts of olives and a few kinds of mozzarella cheese, so that if you needed 4 oz of mozzarella, you could just scoop up what you need. Ours doesn’t have such a bar, so I found other ways to use up the cheese.

I could have done the same for pine nuts, but I knew that I can get exactly the amount I needed from the bulk section. Pine nuts are really expensive if you buy them prepackaged in a container; I think the tubs of pine nuts start at like $5?  Also, nuts are full of oil so they can go rancid when left in your cupboard for too long. I definitely wouldn’t use them fast enough. My pesto recipe calls for 1/4 cup of nuts, so before I went shopping I took a long look at my 1/4 measuring cup and only scooped up that amount from the bulk bin. The total was 90 cents. Buying only the amounts I need in bulk is also nice because I have limited cabinet space and don’t have the room to stockpile too much food.

Shopping Day
May 20, 2008, 1:19 pm
Filed under: Shopping Day

I just realized that I had drafts of posts that I never published. That’s why it looks like I just made 4 new posts in one day.

It’s shopping day already! Because we got free dinners & ate improve meals last week, and because we’re going away for the long weekend, I can afford to spend more. This week is full of good eating and I got to restock on olive oil.

$63 @ Whole Foods
– Greek yogurt (single serving)
– plain nonfat yogurt (32oz)

– olive oil
– chocolate mint oreos
– water crackers
– pine nuts, bulk
– apples (3)
– banana (1)
– kale, 2 small bunches
– arugala

– lemon (1)
– garlic
– basil
– mozzarella cheese, 8 oz
– manchego cheese
– deli turkey
– deli muenster cheese
– boneless skinless chicken breasts (2)
– yams (2)

The Menu

Sunday & Monday – Little Thimbles pasta and sauteed kale; It was a great meal! The pasta dish needs a better name and I only put in 4 oz of mozzarella (instead of 8). I’ve eaten raw kale before and it was gross. This was my first time cooking it and it was really good.

Tuesday – Split Pea Burgers and sweet potato wedges

Wednesday & Thursday – Chicken Pesto Pizza with arugula salad

Thursday through Monday – Going to St. Louis, hopefully the in-laws will give us good meals

Dry Fry Tofu
May 20, 2008, 1:07 pm
Filed under: Recipe

I’m digging tofu lately. I’ve been cooking with it for a while, just pressing it, seasoning it, and throwing it into things. I’ve never tried marinating it, which most people say is the only way you should eat tofu. The tofu that I get at the Chinese market is from a bulk bin and rather soft, even too soft to press. I found this “Dry-Fry & Marinate” method and gave it a try. It was great! I didn’t let the tofu dry out as much as they did in the picture because I didn’t want it to be too rubbery. After the tofu marinated long enough, I started to make a stir-fry and threw the marinade liquid in there as the seasoning for the stir fry. It was a success. The texture & flavor of the tofu were great, and the All-Purpose Marinade reduction was yummy.

Shopping Day
May 20, 2008, 1:07 pm
Filed under: Shopping Day | Tags: ,

This week we only spent $25 on groceries. Boyfriend and I both work at a college, so it’s the end of the academic year and we’ve been going to lots of parties that include free dinners. That’s why we got away with spending so little this week.

$23 @ Whole Foods
– light soy milk
– big tub of plain yogurt
– cereal

– soy nuts
– bread
– deli cheese
– deli ham

$2 @ Chinese market
– tofu
– broccoli

Menu (week of May 11-17)

Sunday, Monday & Tuesday – I can’t remember what we ate, but I don’t think I cooked. I think we ate leftovers from a family party that we went to, as well as some random stuff that we had in the cabinets & in the fridge.

Wednesday – dinner out

Thursday – office picnic

Friday – Tofu & broccoli stir-fry

Saturday – We ate a giant brunch out; Brian wasn’t hungry for dinner so he just had chips & salsa and beers. I had a salad with tuna.