lately i’ve been…(ix)

loving this blog: budget bytes

really enjoying having this face get SO excited for me to get home

really thankful I don’t have to eat rice and beans this week

taking in the ocean in Santa Monica

loving Lindsay’s pictures and stories from her adventure in Philippines

thinking I need this kale market salad from 101 Cookbooks in my life asap

grilling! We are house/dog-sitting and we are able to finally grill this summer, it has been great!

Lately you’ve been…

poached scrambled eggs with goat cheese sauce

It feels a little odd to go back to the normal scheduling around here. Thank you for reading all about the SNAP Challenge and I appreciated hearing from all of you who commented,tweeted or emailed me to weigh in!

You all know that I eat eggs all the time. Most of the time they are consumed in a very simple way – scrambled or fried. But weekends sometimes require something special.

These eggs can definitely be qualified as special – without fussy ingredients or crazy techniques. Poaching the scrambled eggs keeps them perfectly soft and creamy and is much easier than actually poaching a whole egg. Richie is the only one who has poaching success in our house thus far.

The goat cheese sauce adds luxurious flavor – serve it for a special weekend breakfast alongside some pumpernickel toast for dipping and a mimosa if you dare!

Poached Scrambled Eggs with Goat Cheese Sauce

by lightly adapted from Food & Wine

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

 

Ingredients (2 servings)

  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 1/8 cup warm water
  • 2 heaping Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil if desired

Instructions

For Goat Cheese Sauce

Combine goat cheese and water in a small bowl.

Bring 1/3 cup water to simmer and stir in goat mixture and parmesan cheese. Lightly simmer to let mixture thicken. Season with salt and pepper.

For Scrambled Poached Eggs

Bring a large sauce pan of water to simmer.

Meanwhile, beat eggs for about 20 seconds.

Stir water in pan in circular motion with a wooden spoon, creating a whirlpool.

Reduce heat, stop stirring and pour eggs into the center of whirlpool.

Cover and cook for 40 seconds.

Drain water from pan and carefully transfer eggs to strainer.

Place eggs in bowls, spoon cheese mixture around and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve immediately.

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thoughts on the SNAP Challenge

My week on the SNAP Challenge is up.

My mind has been racing for the last week, and I’m not even sure where to begin. Pulling my thoughts together has proved to be difficult so I’m going to list them out and continue to try and make sense of it all.

Thoughts:

  • Planning is key and very different from the way I typically go about planning my meals, based on what I feel like, a new recipe to try, or something easy on a busy night.
  • I never account for snacks or desserts in my meal plans (I just buy them), so it didn’t even cross my mind until last Monday afternoon when I needed a snack and realized the only thing we had was saltines and cheese.
  • Shopping decisions were based on price – not healthiness, flavor or quality.
  • Most meals need a cheap filler, which always ended up being carbohydrates. I mentioned that brown rice and beans at every meal would obviously be a wholesome, cheap choice, but boring!
  • As much as I love cooking, I rely on prepared meals/food when things get busy, and on the SNAP Challenge I could not afford any of our favorites from Trader Joe’s or a rotisserie chicken. (Hot, prepared foods are not SNAP eligible either)
  • Food and cooking was not a joyful experience as it usually is. It was boring, monotonous, and always felt like a chore.
  • I was constantly afraid that we were going to run out of food and run out of money. I cannot imagine having this constant stress.
  • Having two of us made things immensely easier. Cooking for two (or more) means more variety!
  • There was no hope of a fun, special meal on the weekends. More of the same meals…
  • I found it very difficult to get 5-7 servings of produce a day.
  • It is much easier to get closer to the recommended amount of produce/day with the help of convenience vegetables (washed lettuce, baby carrots, etc.).
  • I wondered if part of the reason I wasn’t satisfied after meals was because of the lack of protein and fat or because I normally choose quality over quantity and was not able to do so last week…not sure!
  • Little things like a sprinkle of flavorful cheese were missed.
  • Impulse buys caused feelings of guilt and an angry husband, “How could you spend $1.29 on these?”
  • With the challenge coming to a close, I was so excited and then immediately guilty when I thought about the millions for which this is a constant reality.

I think what struck me most throughout the week was the amount of time and effort that goes into planning, grocery shopping and then prepping almost every meal. By Thursday night, I was exhausted and wanted nothing to do with cooking or the kitchen, which is normally something I love.

With that said, we did manage to have some great meals last week. Breakfast burritos were delicious, bison ragu was a hearty, satisfying meal and ramen “plus” totally hit the spot!

I do have to let you know that we took a hiatus from the challenge for two meals this past weekend, for reasons that both were important enough for me. I subtracted $6 from our allowance which put us over the $57 we would have had. We also drank coffee + cream on Saturday and Sunday morning, neither of which we purchased with the SNAP money.

 I think we were close to our budget for these reasons:

  • All of the meat we purchased was deeply discounted and on a manager special – I doubt this is possible on a regular basis
  • We changed the way we ate – gone was the loads of produce, healthy fats and lean proteins – bring on the carbs (both processed and whole)!
  • We didn’t really purchase anything that was used for snacks, so when I was hungry in between meals, I turned to saltine crackers
  • We didn’t purchase any beverages (coffee, milk, juice)
  • I always chose the cheapest option (bread, crackers, eggs, cheese)
Shopping Breakdown:
I shopped at Ralph’s (a cheap, but not bad store) on two separate occasions and the Korean market for fresh produce once. In total, we spent $58.70, which was $1.70 over the amount we had for all 7 days (minus 2 meals).

Protein/Dairy: ($22.11)

  • Tofu ($1.25)
  • 2 lbs ground buffalo ($1.98)* manager special (close to use by date)
  • 1.38 lb chicken drumsticks ($2.75)* manager special (close to use by date)
  • 2 cans tuna ($1.98)
  • 24 large eggs ($3.29)
  • Natural peanut butter ($2.49)
  • 1 lb dried beans ($1.69)
  • 2 blocks of cheese ($4.29)
  • Sour cream ($1.39)

Frozen/Canned Foods: ($8.26)

  • 1 bag frozen spinach ($1.00)
  • 2 bags frozen broccoli ($2.00)
  • 1 bag frozen green beans ($1.00)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes ($.79)
  • 2 cans tomato sauce ($.98)
  • 1 jar salsa ($2.49)

Carbohydrates/Treats/Processed: ($14.52)

  • Wheat bread ($.99)
  • 1 lb brown rice ($1.19)
  • 1 lb white pasta ($1.00)
  • 12 whole wheat tortillas ($2.99)
  • 2 mini ice creams ($2.50)
  • Pepero cookies ($1.29)
  • 1 box saltines ($.99)
  • 1 box mac & cheese ($.59)
  • Mushroom rice mix ($.99)
  • 4 packs of ramen noodles ($1.00)

Produce: ($16.79)

  • Celery ($.99)
  • 2 bunches spinach ($.99)
  • 2 lbs carrot ($.99) – the receipt from the Korean market carrots says $.20, but I don’t think that is right…
  • 1 zucchini ($.49)
  • 1 medium sweet potato ($.83)
  • 1 head cabbage ($.64)
  • 2 nectarines ($.72)
  • 1 bunch kale ($1.49)
  • 1 bunch lettuce ($.99)
  • 3 onions ($2.03)
  • 2 avocados ($.98)
  • 2 ears corn ($.67)
  • Small bag sweet peppers ($1.99)
  • 8 oz mushrooms ($1.99)

What’s next? I’ll certainly be more aware of the challenges that millions face each day and I’ll continue to fight for the hungry in America. I’ll be thinking about food security for Americans when I vote this fall and I urge you to do the same.

daily eats: 7.12.12 {SNAP Challenge}

The end of the SNAP Challenge is in sight – and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited. I’ll be sharing my final thoughts with you on Monday, I have learned a LOT!

Beverages:

coffee at work

Breakfast: was really exciting today! Last night, after my trip to the Korean market, I made an egg frittata to eat for breakfast. I used a bit of onion, 1 zucchini and 4 eggs, which was two breakfasts. It tasted wonderful after peanut butter sandwiches the last few days and definitely helped me feel more satisfied.

frittata + toast

Lunch: leftovers! I’m usually not a huge fan of leftovers and we rarely have leftovers (maybe we do eat more than 3/4 of the sauce?) but this meal was satisfying once again. I actually felt like I had way too much sauce, and I immediately worried that I took too much and didn’t leave Richie enough.

pasta + bison sauce from night before + carrots

Snack:

obviously.

Dinner: was a bit rough. Kale was on the menu, along with sweet potato with the leftover bison burgers. I was really proud of my wholesome meal! Then I got home later than expected, needed to prep my next breakfast and lunch, do a load of laundry, etc. It was totally the kind of night when take-out would have been perfect (and greatly appreciated) or at least, an easy dinner of rotisserie chicken with salad bar veggies. But, that isn’t an option so I got to prepping the kale and once I had 3/4 of it in the pan, I looked down at the cutting board and noticed tons of little grey bugs. So the kale was out and it was almost 8pm so I made mac & cheese instead of the sweet potato.   Dinner ended up being kind of a fail.

3 oz bison + lettuce + carrots + mac & cheese

I’m eating a nectarine (so good!) and heading to bed. Happy weekend friends!

Nutrition Stats: About 1,800 calories, 65 grams of fat, 190 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams of fiber, 84 grams of protein. 

PS. I totally had a glass of wine.