Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Recipe: Red Beans and Rice Soup

Hey guys, back again.

Here's a really simple recipe that requires mostly off-the-shelf ingredients.

Red Beans and Rice Soup


1 small onion, chopped
1 box Zataran's Red Beans and Rice (low sodium, if you can get it)
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
Creole seasoning
1 package smoked or hot sausage (the kind in one long, curvy link) chopped into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon oil (olive, vegetable, whatever you have laying around)
4 cups water


1. Drop the oil into a medium sized pot, then add the onions and cook over medium heat until they soften
2. Add sausage, continuing to cook on medium for about 5 min
3. Sprinkle on Creole seasoning. I like to add enough for a light layer over the sausage, but you can add as much as you like. Just keep in mind that most creole seasoning is mostly salt.
4. Add tomatoes, water, and Zataran's.
5. Bring the mix to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, so that its just bubbling
6. Put on the lid, and let the soup cook for approx. 30 minutes. Make sure to stir every now and then.
7. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. You'll burn your mouth if you try to eat it any sooner.

And that's it. Now you have a thick, hearty, tasty soup. This is especially good on a cold or rainy day. This recipe keeps really well, so if you want to save effort, make a double batch and freeze what you don't eat!

Cost: $3-$4 for creole seasoning (which you can use to make this recipe a couple dozen times) $1.50-$2.00 for the sausage (try to find it on sale) approx. $.50 for the onion, $.60 for the tomatoes, and $2.00 for the Zataran's. That's about $9.00 initially, for about 3 or 4 meals. After that it gets even cheaper, about $5, since you'll already have the seasoning.

EDIT TO ADD: The sausage I mentioned above looks like this:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Action Plan: Leftovers

So, you're lazy. Its okay, I am too. Cooking takes time, and effort, and ordering out is easy. Expensive, but easy.

One way to reduce the amount of time and effort one spends cooking is leftovers. Now, I know, most of us spent our childhood dreading leftovers and everything they stand for, but hear me out.

Leftovers can turn the effort you spend cooking one meal into three or four meals over the course of several days.

Here's what you do: See that recipe you're interested in? Double it, or make it twice if that seems more reasonable. Then, take whatever's left over after you've finished eating and divide it up amongst several microwave safe containers. I like to use Glad-Ware or the store brand equivalent because its freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe, yet cheap enough that losing one isn't the end of the world.

Now, if you plan to eat everything in the next couple days, stick everything in the fridge. If your plans are more long term, use your freezer instead. Then, next time you need a meal, just pop the container in the microwave, heat it up, and enjoy!

Leftovers tend to get a bad rap these day, but some foods like soups, chili and stews can actually taste better after a couple days in the fridge, as the flavors have time to blend together.

A few words of caution, now that I've lauded leftovers from here to Star City. Some foods, like pastas, rice, and other starches do not keep well, either in the fridge or the freezer, so be careful. However, if you make spaghetti (the topic of a future post) just make sure to only make as much pasta as you need and mix the sauce and pasta together as needed. Then you can refrigerate or freeze the sauce to use later with fresh pasta.

So, cook once, food for a couple days. Pretty good deal, eh?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Equipment Guide: Supercook.com

Hey everyone! Welcome to the first installment of "Equipment Guide" where I'll be talking about appliances and resources that have made feeding myself easier.

I found Supercook.com through another blog I read called The Simple Dollar. Trent, the blogger over there, recommended it as a way to save money. However, I use it as a way to be lazy!

Here's how it works:

First, you tell Supercook all the ingredients you have in the house. Then, it searches online recipe databases for recipes that you can make using only what you have at home. It will also make suggestions if you only need 1 or 2 more ingredients. For instance, if you were trying to make yesterday's salmon recipe and you put in salmon, olive oil, parsley, and basil, it would tell you that all you needed to buy was lemon juice to finish the recipe (Supercook assumes you have salt, pepper, water, and sugar laying around).

Since the program eliminated all recipes that you lack ingredients for, you're guaranteed to be able to cook dinner without going to the grocery store. In fact, sometimes I use the suggestions as a shopping list, knowing that I only need to buy corn starch or Italian dressing to cook dinner, rather than buying a whole new meal.

Cost: Free!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Recipe: Baked Salmon

Hey guys! Here's the first recipe here at FoE+1, and its actually what I had for dinner tonight!

If you have a Kroger grocery store near you, they will, on occasion, drastically mark down their seafood when the expiration date approaches. I try to check every time I'm there just in case this happens. Since salmon is normally pretty expensive, whenever I find it on sale like this I'll buy at least 2 or 3 fillets. Since they average around 2 lbs. each at $1.99 a pound or so, you can get some real value out of your purchase if you make use of your freezer when you get home.

After you get back from the store, cut the fillets in half, wrap each half in aluminum foil, put it in a plastic freezer bag, and then stick it in the freezer until you need it.

Since this recipe calls for two 6 ounce pieces of salmon, all you need to do to make it is defrost one of your fillet halves in the microwave (take the foil off first!) or the fridge, cut it in two and voila, you're most of the way there!

Here's the recipe:

Two 6 ounce pieces of salmon fillet (bought on sale!)
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tbls lemon juice (from the bottle is fine, but if you've got a lemon laying around, go ahead and use it)
1/2-1 teaspoon salt (omit if you're trying to cut back)
1 teaspoon pepper (fresh ground if you've got it, but from the shaker is fine)
1 teaspoon dried parsley (1 tbls fresh, if you've got it)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I use pre-minced, but that's 2 cloves if you want to do it yourself)

1. Combine all the ingredients except the salmon in a bowl and stir
2. Place salmon in an oven safe dish (I use Pyrex), then cover with mixture
3. Marinate in the fridge for one hour (less, if you're in a hurry) and flip it over every now and then.
4. Get about 12-18 inches of aluminum foil and fold up the sides, forming a kind of trench. Place the fillets in the center of the foil, pour the marinade over it, and then fold the foil into a packet.
5. Place the packet into the baking dish, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees, then bake for about 40 minutes.

When you pull the dish out of the oven, use tongs or a fork to open the packet and let it cool for a few minutes. You'll have a pair of tender, flavorful salmon fillets ready to eat! Heat up some frozen or canned veggies (I like corn), toss up a salad if you like your roughage, and you have a meal!

You can serve two with this dish, or if you're single, you can save the other fillet for lunch the next day. Sometimes I'll just reheat the fillet and the veggies, but other times I'll pull the fillet apart and use it to make salmon salad for sandwiches.

Salmon salad is easy if you've ever made a tuna sandwich. Just substitute the chopped up fillet for the can of tuna, add mayo, relish, and a little salt and pepper, toast some bread, and you've got lunch!

Cost: approx $1.50 to $2.00 per meal ($2 worth of fish, a few cents worth of oil and herbs, plus whatever you serve it with)

This recipe does take some time to prepare, but most of that is spent waiting for the marinade, which leaves plenty of time to read comics or watch Babylon 5 :)

Note: I found this recipe here, using a tool called SuperCook, which is coincidentally tomorrow's topic!

Food of Eating +1, intro

Greetings! I'm your host, Adama. I enjoy games of all sorts (be they board, war, computer or otherwise), comic books, and being generally geeky. I also enjoy eating. A lot. If you met me, you could probably tell. I'm also a bit lazy and very conscious of the rising cost of food.

So, taking all that in, I've decided to create this new blog to help geeks, bachelors, and the generally lazy feed themselves on a budget, and without much fuss. I've been cooking for a myself since high school (not always with great results) and so far I've managed to give myself food poisoning only once, and have had zero heart attacks. So I think I'm doing pretty good.

I'll be using this blog to post recipes, chronicle my successes and failures in the kitchen, and dispense what small advice I have on food and appliance shopping. Also, if there's a huge sale or food related development, I might get off my butt and do a little typing about it!

I plan to update on a fairly regular schedule, but those of you who've read my other blog, Dispatches from the Arrowcave, know that I'm not always on top of that. The good news is that while I don't read Green Arrow comics everyday (if only) I do tend to eat at least once, so I won't have to stretch for new material!

Anyway, thanks for stopping by!