Monday, December 19, 2016

Tumeric Brain Boost

Jumpstart finals week with this superfood, mindblowing smoothie to tweak those brain cells to function at an optimum!


Packed with nutrients and sunshine, this libation features turmeric, omega-3-fatty acids, vitamins, flax, and walnuts not only beneficial to the rest of your body, but, in particular, beneficial to protecting your brain from from memory loss in your old age!

Turmeric is a tiny peppery, bright orange spice root from India that bursts with flavor and color when you grate the root--it will also stain anything it comes in contact with a beautiful yellow-orange hue...even metal! Curcumin is the actual compound, i.e. active ingredient, in turmeric responsible for both flavor and the color of this spice, and is touted for its powerful anti-inflammatory and strong antioxidant effects. 

Most of the major ailments in Western society stem from conditions directly related to inflammation, i.e. heart disease, Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer, and other disease processes--several studies suggest curcumin counters these effects! 

If you can't find the actual root easily, a small container of the dried version will do!

(Disclaimer: If you are pregnant or breast-feeding; or, have other medical conditions requiring  prescription medications or over-the-counter treatments, please consult first with your physician before consuming turmeric regularly or at all!)

Turmeric Brain Boost
(Adapted recipe from Cooking Light's feature on Alzheimer's and 15 Brain Boosters article)

Nutri-Bullet or Magic Bullet

3/4 cup 2% Greek Yoghurt
1 tsp honey
1 cup ice cubes
3/4 cup chopped, peeled mango, frozen
1/2 cup fresh orange slices
1/4 cup toasted (or plain) walnuts
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbls ground flax seed 
2 tsp of grated turmeric (or 1/2 tsp of dried turmeric)
Dash of kosher salt
Dash of cayenne
Dash of cardamom or nutmeg

1. Wash your hands.
2. Prep each ingredient.
3. Combine the first 11 ingredients into the blender until smooth.

4. Top it off with a splash of nutmeg or cardamom.
5. Share a glass or store it in your fridge for later.

  • No Money:
  • No Waste:
    • smoothies are great for leftovers and near-rotten fruit--know the difference, however.
  • No Equipment:
    • not everyone has a, ask for one over will serve you well.
    • ask for a grater or a zester
  • No Skills:
    • buy from the salad bar where multiple fruits are pre-chopped / -sliced
    • learn basic chopping skills
  • No Health:
    • packed with heart-healthy omega-3-fatty acids, i.e. healthy fats in flax, walnuts
    • packed with calcium in rich, creamy Greek yoghurt
    • packed with Vitamin C and other vitamins in mango and citrus
    • packed with turmeric containing curcumin to possibly enhance cognitive function
    • packed with flavor
Nutrition Info:
Servings: 2 (1 1/4 cup)
Calories 245 / Fat 13.1g / Protein 11g / Carb 25g / Sodium 91mg / Fiber 4g / Sugars 19g (honey extra) / Calcium 109mg

Friday, December 9, 2016

Stuffed Peppers

One of the best secrets for stretching your food budget is to decrease your overall meat consumption--easy! But what if you are not willing to go meatless or vegetarian or vegan? For that, my friend, there are other secrets like using just enough protein to satisfy your inner carnivore without making meats your main dish! 

Taking vegetables and turning them into vehicles of deliciousness and satiety can give you two for one--getting your protein and eating your veggies--all while stretching your dollars and feeling incredibly content!

Aside from that, there is a global environmental crisis for which we are, take some action and reduce the carbon footprint by consuming less meat which has been convincingly proven to be a major contributor to our environmental decline!

Other recipes featuring "meat as a side" or "stretching your meat dollars" are the 50-50 Burgers from last years blog recipes--check them out as well--but first...Stuffed Peppers or Zucchini or Tomatoes or Burritos!

Stuffed Everything

Small skillet or saucepan
Saucepan with lid, if making homemade rice
Pyrex baking dish (to fit as many peppers or zucchini boast as needed)

2 cups of brown (or white) rice, cooked
1 lb ground beef, browned
1/3 cup black beans
1/3 cup corn
1/3 cup diced tomatoes or salsa
1 onion, chopped and sautéed 
1 cup Colby Jack cheese (or any left over cheeses), shredded
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1 tsp thyme, oregano, basil 
3/4 tsp Salt 
1/2 tsp Pepper 

4-6 large bell peppers, tops, inner ribs and seeds removed

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
3. Prep all your ingredients--cook rice, saute onions, brown meat, hollow peppers, etc.

4. Combine all ingredients (from rice thru salt & pepper) until well-mixed.

5. Salt & pepper the inside of each bell pepper.
6. Add a bottom sprinkle of cheese to each bell pepper.

7. Stuff peppers and top with sprinkle of cheese.
8. Line up the peppers in your baking dish and bake for 25-35 minutes.

9. Broil briefly for golden brown bake!
10. Remember this is a great filling for burritos or saving in the freezer for future use!


  • No Money:
    • don't use meat at all
    • by rice, bulgur, quinoa, farro in bulk--any of those might work just as well as rice
    • stock up on canned products when they are on sale, i.e. 2 for 1 coupons
    • use green peppers (ultra cheap) if mixed peppers too expensive
  • No Waste:
    • add any veggies, especially those no longer ideal for raw snacking
    • saute the veggies for extra flavor before adding to rice
    • great recipe for left-over rice
    • leftovers? freeze or wrap into burritos (which can be frozen as well)
  • No Equipment:
    • Saucepan with lid
    • Large Bowl
    • Baking dish
    • Skillet
    • Stove Top or Hot Plate
    • if you have limited equipment, then you will have saute onions, brown meat and make rice in steps
  • No Skills:
    • review some of my early blogs--How To Saute Mushrooms (can use for onions as well)
    • use Uncle Ben's One-Minute Rice--can you boil water?
    • otherwise, you need to learn some basic skills
  • No Health:
    • try using zucchini, tomatoes for other vegetable options
    • great way to reduce carbs
    • limit salt added--instead use spices / herbs / pepper / salsa
    • easy was to increase vegetables, minerals, vitamins and fiber
    • great way to have meat as "a side" 
  • No Time:
    • great for bulk prepping and freezing, especially the mini-burritos
    • saves time later, but up will need to invest on this one!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Chicken Noodle Soup Revised

Struggling to make ends meet thru the last weeks before finals and Winter break? Just trying to stay warm? Limited time to cook...or no skills at all?  This recipe hits all of the cooking excuses, i.e. no money, no time, no skills to eat good food while being a college student or living on a fixed budget!

The 15 minutes you invest in making this ultimate comfort food will be the best thing you do this week to soothe your soul, warm your heart and calm your mind, and ensure you have another meal ahead. Better yet, you could share a bowl of this meal with someone else in need of company, a break, decent conversation, or a decent meal--seriously! 

My son couldn't believe how quickly I made the soup during his recent Thanksgiving break stating he didn't make soup, "because it took too long". Bah-Humbug! Excuses.

Chicken Noodle Soup Revised
(Adapted from Cooking Light Thanksgiving Edition 2016)

Large 5-quart saucepan 

2 Tbls extra-virgin Olive oil
1 1/2 cups of yellow onion, chopped
1 1/3 cups of carrots, thinly sliced
1 cup celery, thinly sliced
4 cups chicken stock (homemade, store-bought, or bouillons)
1 1/2 cups of water
1 Tbls white MISO (optional, but this adds so much depth)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 (9oz) bag of frozen cheese tortellini 
8 oz of skinless, rotisserie chicken, shredded
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced (optional)

1. Wash your hands.
2. Prep all of your ingredients, i.e. stock, chicken, veggies as recommended. 
3. Heat 2 Tbls of oil in large saucepan over Medium heat.
4. Add onions, celery and carrots, and sauce x 8 minutes.

5. Add Miso, stock, water, and bring to a boil. 
6. Simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Add cheese tortellini x 3 minutes.
8. Add chicken

9. Serve up a mouth-watering, hunger-curing meal in a bowl. 

10. Share some with a friend.


  • No Money:
    • roast your own chicken
    • make your own stock from carcass
    • use regular pasta, i.e. rotini, farfalle, shells, penne, elbow
    • omit the meat
    • reduce cost to potentially less than $1 per serving
    • have a lot of mouths to feed on a fixed budget, this will help
  • No Waste:
    • soups are great for using vegetables on the verge of spoiling, especially for making the stock
    • use the chicken carcass, even if you bought the rotisserie to make an incredible stock by covering it with water, adding quartered onion, smashed garlic, and 2-3 roughly chopped old carrots / celery sticks, wilting parsley or other herbs, and some salt and pepper, 
  • No Equipment:
    • only need a large pot 
    • a knife
  • No Skills:
    • most grocery stores have any kind of vegetable pre-sliced--if you have money, this will be a super-cinch of a meal
    • can you stir stuff in a big pot and adjust the heat? then you can make this meal.
    • can you chop a few vegetables? then you can make this meal
    • can you eat with your hands and pull chicken off of the bone? then you can make this meal
  • No Health:
    • cut back on Sodium by using low-sodium broth and omitting salt if you have trouble with blood pressure, retaining water, or heart / kidney disease
    • adds vegetables into your life
    • filling meal if trying to lose weight
    • great way to have meat as "a side" 
Nutrition Info:
Servings: 6 (1 1/2 cups) 
Calories 281 / Fat 10.3g / Protein 22g / Carb 26g / Sodium 637mg / Fiber 5g / Sugars 5g
Cost:  $1.54-$1.80 / serving

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Chicken Rollups

College cooking doesnt get any easier than this! 
One pan--that's it...and put the whole thing in the oven! 

One pan cooking!
One pan clean-up!
One pan for everything!

Use this blog as a guide, an example if you will, to make it the first time, but then knock yourself out...the oven will be your roasting oyster! Flavors, veggies--no meal will taste or look the same, but it will take no time at all for you to make or clean up!

(Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens and Cooking Light recipes)

Cuban Chicken Rollups

Large sheet pan
Non-stick spray

6-8 boneless, thin-sliced chicken breast--pounded thinner if needed
8-10 thin slices of ham
8-10 thin slices of gouda, or shredded
Hamburger pickles, chopped
Dijon mustard
Bread Crumbs

Optional Combos:
Pickled jalapeños

1. Wash your hands and keep surfaces clean.
2. Preheat oven to 375-400F degrees
3. Cover chicken breasts in bread crumbs

4. Add slice of ham and thin layer of mustard.
5. Add cheese and pickles.

6. Tightly roll-up the chicken breasts and secure with a toothpick.
7. Place face-down on foiled baking sheet.

8. Surround everything with veggies--you choose!

9. Bake at 375F-400F degrees x 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

10. Rest entire sheet 5 minutes before digging in.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Grab N Go Breakfast Cups

Sorry that I have been M.I.A with my city's team--The Chicago Cubs--winning the World Series 2016 and putting The Curse of the Goat to rest after 108 year drought! Some things take priority!  

That said, I certainly did not miss noticing a few fantastic recipes for those of us always on the go and rushing to our next all-night celebrations! Nothing worse than waking up late for work, or class (as it was for 5 million Cubs fans the morning after);and, fending for food with your eyes glazed over and a pounding headache. 


Was it worth every moment of stress? Of course it was--but the next day could have been so much better with a few of these incredible Grab and Go Breakfast Cups in my fridge...we could have headed to work, or class, tired but satisfied.

No worries! The 2016 Presidential Election is tomorrow--this might be as good of a time to prep as any given the late night most of us will have this week! 

Keep these simple mini-meals for 3-5 days in your fridge (20 second microwave) or freeze them up to 3 months instead (30 second microwave)!  

(Adapted from Better Homes & Garden One Pan Recipes magazine recipe 'Upside Down Waffle and Egg Cups')

Grab 'N Go Breakfast Cups

One 12-muffin cups baking sheet
PAM Spray

12 Frozen Mini-Waffles, toasted
Maple syrup

6 eggs, lightly beaten (I used egg whites for 1-2 eggs)
3 Tbls milk
2 Tbls parmesan (optional)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

11/2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6-8 Sausage Breakfast links, seared and sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat oven to 375F degrees
3. Spray muffin cups with PAM, toast waffles and sear sausages.

4. Place a single mini-waffle in the bottom of each muffin cup.
5. Divide the shredded cheese across all 12 muffin tins.
6. Add sausage and green onions.

7. Lightly beat eggs, parmesan, salt and pepper, and fill each muffin tin 75% to rim.

8. Bake for 15-18 minutes.
9. Allow to cool before removing from tin and drizzling with maple syrup...or not!

9. Of note, the mini-waffles tend to get absorbed into the egg mixture, and really are not visible once the muffins are, I stuck one on top just before eating to demonstrate what should have happened!

 10. These were gone in 24 hours. The next morning, and 20 seconds later, my stomach was happy out the door!  

Saturday, October 22, 2016

St Petersburg Revisited

Unexpectedly, we had to return to St. Pete's for family matters; and promptly, took advantage of exploring some new restaurants while revisiting others not mentioned in my previous recommendations in the St. Petersburg Roadtrip blog post on August 28th, 2016.

St Petersburg Revisited

1. Trip's Diner  
10555 Park Blvd, Seminole, Florida & 2339 Dr Martin Luther King Jr St N, St Petersburg, FL

After a long walk on the St Petersburg Beach one morning, we headed out to Seminole to visit the infamous Trip's Diner--the original diner is located downtown St Petersburg, but reportedly, always has a long line. Despite the drive, this place will satisfy every breakfast, brunch, and diner-need as well as your wallet!

We tried the Eggs Benedict, Big Breakfast with Thick-cut Applewood Bacon and Plain Grits, and a side of the seasonal special 'Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Sugar & Whipped Cream'...holy S#*!! Perfect grits, bacon, and to-die-for Pumpkin Pancakes!

Total Price: $20 (not including tip)

2. Toby's Original Little Italy Pizza 
3523 49th St N, St Petersburg, Florida

This has been one of our favorite pizza places of all time when we visit St Pete--thin-crust, crisp, but chewy to perfection--if you did not know this place existed, you might pass right by it in the strip mall located near a Publix and other miscellaneous shops.

This narrow little restaurant expands to the back with seating and decor to reflect a New York vibe with murals and graffiti along the subway walls. Pretty much whatever flavor combo you like is going to be perfect. We had this 'Mushroom & Onion' version with no regrets this time around!

Total Price for a Large Pizza, 2 salads, and Iced Tea: $25 (not including Tip)

3. Edison Eat & Drink Lab (in Tampa, FL)
912 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, Florida

For an upscale experience with incredible options in drink, cocktails, and food, head up to Tampa--right across from the University of Tampa entrance--to be amazed with how incredible food can taste, especially when it comes to appetizers and salads. I could have just feasted on those few items.

 We sampled the 'Prosciutto-Wrapped Zeppole with Parmesan Dust' (like powdered donuts with melon, prosciutto, and a twist), 'Burrata with Heirlooms, Charred Jalapeños, Pistachio Pesto and Chili-Lime Sorbet' (the vinaigrette just makes this whole combo sing in your mouth), and finally, the 'Apple-Cheddar-Walnut Salad with a Whole-grain Mustard Vinaigrette' (just incredible). 

The main fares will certainly surprise you like the 'Korean Fried Chicken on Kimchi Waffles', but note...the menu will change on a regular basis..have fun and be surprised! 

Desserts need some work--just didn't quite have the level of flavor or sophistication of the rest of our meal, but we will definitely be back! Excited to see what's next!

Total Price: approx. $120 with 3 appetizers, 2 cocktails, 2 main dishes, and 2 desserts.

4. Stillwaters Tavern
224 Beach Dr. NE, St Petersburg, Florida

 Nestled along the water-front in downtown St. Petersburg, this little find has great outdoor seating with a cool interior, bar and great menu to go with it. 

 Again, the cocktails, appetizers, and salads stole the show with 'Pretzel Rolls with Cheese Fondue' and 'Cesar Salad with Harissa Dressing & Parmesan'. A perfect location for afternoon break after shopping downtown or walking the waterfront! 

Main dishes were a little too bulky, but that said, the fish was cooked perfectly and delicious without needing a lot of the extras added. To finish off our meal, the 'Dark Chocolate & Cherry Bread Pudding with Bourbon Ice Cream' hit the spot--wow--but be prepared to take some home or share it!

Notable Mentions:

5. Red Mesa Restaurant
4912 4th St N, St Petersburg, Florida & 128 3rd St S, St Petersburg, Florida

Craving incredibly crispy, fresh-made 'Chips & Salsa' and straight-forward Mexican fare? This restaurant delivers with a wide variety to choose from--something for everyone! Perfect way to end a day at the beach. 

We tried the 'Guacamole' which was freshly made, but was missing salt--good nonetheless--just could have been even better! The 'Chips & Salsa' rocked the house--simply perfect chips, still warm coming out to the table, and the salsa...let's just say that I wanted to pour it on everything, literally.

Our main dish favorite was the 'Chicken Suizas'!

6. St Pete Bakery 
1961 4th St N, St Petersburg, Florida

We discovered St Pete Bakery incidentally during a visit to 'The Paladium' for the final performance of 'Il Travatore', a Giuseppe Verdi opera. We had sampled the 'Coconut Macaroons' and 'Chocolate Brownies' during intersession which prompted us to head over to the actual bakery the following day on 4th Street.

After sampling a few other items, we stand by the macaroons and brownies.