30 April 2011

Pasta toss, frittata, and eggs

The first official philanthropic effort from the Austin Food Blogger Association is to help the Central Austin Food Bank SNAP program create nutritious and inexpensive meals that can be made on the cheap. If you would like to know more about the CAFB or would like to donate please visit these sites:

I started to learn a lot more about nutrition after I found out I'm glucose intolerant.  Sure, I knew that we were supposed to eat mostly plants, but that's not always fun and it was easy for me to ignore.  One thing that I've mostly given up since then is pasta.  When I do have pasta, though, I make it count.  No more huge portions of watery tasteless pasta with jarred tomato sauce.  We've made the switch to whole wheat pasta and have never looked back (well, maybe once or twice).

One of my favorite ways to eat whole wheat pasta is to stirfry it in a pan with vegetables.  It gives leftovers some life and allows the noodles to be infused with flavor while helping to get rid of any bitter whole wheat flavors.  It also makes for a more nutritious meal because I can sneak in some extra flora.

1 lb whole wheat pasta ($1.50)
4 T olive oil (~$.60)
1/2 medium onion, diced (~$0.50)
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced (~$0.20)
4-5 medium-sized cloves of garlic, minced (~$0.15)

1 lb vine tomatoes, cut up ($1.70)
1 bunch spinach, thoroughly rinsed and roughly chopped ($1.98/bunch)
4 oz shredded mozzarella ($0.93)

1. Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente, which varies on the type of pasta used.  Angel hair pasta cooks rather quickly, where as things like penne pasta take longer.  I prefer angel hair in dishes like these.

2. In a pan, heat up the olive oil over medium heat.  Add in the carrots and onion and ~1 t salt and cook until translucent (~5-10 minutes).

3. Add in the garlic and stir until fragrant (~30s - 1 minute).

4. Add in the tomatoes and the pasta and stir until the tomatoes are heated through. (2-3 minutes or so).

5. Add in the spinach and stir until it's all wilted (~1 minute).

6. Stir in the mozzarella cheese until it's melted. (~1 minute).

7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This should make ~8 servings or so and costs $7.56 to make, which is $0.95 a serving.  These prices were based on prices I found at my local HEB.  Things like the olive oil and the garlic were prorated to what that portion would cost, though the price of salt and pepper were omitted.   A half pound of pasta is more than enough to feed a family of four with leftovers.  These leftovers can then be turned into a quick frittata for the next day's meal.

Remaining pasta+veggie leftovers
4 eggs, beaten  ($0.50)
4 oz shredded mozzarella ($0.93)
1 tsp olive oil  ($0.05)
~1 tsp salt+pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Oil a small casserole or oven-safe vessel.  A pie plate would work really well.

3. Beat the eggs, salt, and pepper.

4. Pour over the pasta in the oiled dish and sprinkle with the mozzarella.

5. Bake for ~20 minutes, or until the eggs are set all the way through.  You'll be able to tell when this happens because the center won't jiggle if you shake the dish.  Either that or see if you can cleanly put a knife in it.

This dish can easily be expanded by adding more eggs and either one of these dishes work well because the ingredients are so interchangeable.  The additional cost of this dish is $1.48.  Since we used leftovers, this dish ends up costing $0.25 per serving.  I'm claiming that the addition of the eggs and mozzarella bulk up the leftovers to 6 servings.  Both meals end up totaling $9.04, which ends up being $0.90 per serving.

So how does the pasta dish stack up nutritionally?  The pasta has the following nutritional values:
321 calories
10.2 g fat
9.13 mg cholesterol
505 mg sodium
48.4 g carbohydrate
9.16 g fiber
13.9 g protein

This isn't the whole story, though. Here are a selected set of vitamins/nutrients:
17.5% RDA iron 
19.0% RDA calcium
117% RDA vitamin A
34.4% RDA vitamin C

The same can be calculated for the fritatta by multiplying each of the above items by 2/3 and adding in the following values from the eggs, olive oil, and mozzarella:

104 calories
7.07 g fat
153 mg cholesterol
164 mg sodium
0.78 g carbohydrate
8.78 g protein
3.83% RDA iron 
5.50% RDA calcium
0.50% RDA vitamin A

These two dishes could feasibly provide a healthy dinner for two nights and two lunches.  In addition, there will still be leftover items like eggs.  Eggs are nutritious and filled with protein.  They can also be cooked in the microwave, which makes them a good after school snack option for a hungry middle schooler.  Here's how to proceed:
1 egg ($0.13)
smear of olive oil ($0.01)

1. smear a tiny bit of olive oil in a microwave safe bowl
2. beat eggs in the bowl
3. microwave for ~30 s, stir.
4. microwave again for ~10 s at a time and check for doneness.

You can also add in things like cheese, vegetables, herbs, spices.

29 April 2011

Working from home is awesome because

my house smells like basil and garlic and tomatoes and Colby is eating homemade tomato basil soup.  Annddd... this is what I ate for breakfast:
Fried egg on multigrain toast with CheesyGirl Hottie chevre

all the while contemplating the elements that make up the oldest stars in the universe.

27 April 2011


These would hurt a lot more if not for my secret weapon: a pair of flip flops in my bag.

21 April 2011


I've been reading a lot of fashion blogs lately and it kind of makes me want to join. The problem is that it's even harder to write a fashion blog without pictures than it is a food blog.  Oops.

Anywho, today I'm wearing a garish skirt with equally garish shoes.

13 April 2011

Ends and odds

So... it's been busy.  I'm like a good solid day's worth of work away from being able to say that I have a 99.9% complete first draft of my paper.  There's still one problem that I won't be able to solve, but I think it'll be good enough to call a First Draft to send to my committee.    I've also had other things going on, but suffice it to say, I owe Community Supported Home Cooking about four posts now and I owe Lewis a post as well.  I'm hoping that I'll get to those over the weekend.

Anywho, last Sunday we went to Urban an American Grill for brunch as part of Austin Restaurant Week.  It was really good.  I'm pretty sure that adding brunch to Restaurant Week was one of their most brilliant ideas yet.  Who doesn't love brunch!? *Anywho* Colby got a bloody mary, Branch Ranch steak with fries, and strawberry shortcake bread pudding.  I got a tulip (cava+cranberry juice), salmon eggs benedict, and a trio of sorbets (olive oil, mint, and grapefruit).  I didn't have my phone on me at that point because it was dead, but everything was pretty and delicious.  My favorite part was definitely dessert.  The mint sorbet was alright, but the grapefruit sorbet was phenomenal.  It was really delicate and delicious.  The best part, though, was definitely the olive oil sorbet.  We went on the first day of ARW, so apparently the sorbet hadn't properly set yet, but that wasn't a problem.  It had a really velvety mouth feel and a creamy, balanced flavor.  I'd love to try it again when it's properly set.  The only reason I know any of this was because the chef came out to talk to us, which was totally cool.  We'll definitely head back there at some point to try other parts of the menu.

There's still another weekend for restaurant week and it's a really great way to try different restaurants that are prohibitively expensive.  Bonus!  Some of the participating restaurants donate part of their proceeds to charity.  You can find these restaurants here and a list of ALL participating restaurants here.  The last restaurant week, we went to Sullivan's Steak House and the one before, we found ourselves at Fogo de Chao.  They were both really tasty, but no longer an option for us... which brings me to why I really decided to post.

I just made pasta and meatballs for my weekly meal sharing project.  I had some grassfed ground beef in the freezer, as well as some ground pork.  The recipe I use is criminally easy and makes the most delicious meatballs I've ever had.  The only problem is that I have no idea where the pork originated.  I bought it from Central Market awhile back, but I honestly haven't put a lot of effort into sourcing where they get their meat.  This has become a priority for me after reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I'm not about to go vegan, but Colby and I have made the decision to enter into the realm of "ethical omnivorism".  For us, this means that we're going to be getting our meats from local farms that have higher standards than just claiming to be "all natural".  And this also means that we're likely done with chicken.

Right now, we have about 3 lbs of frozen chicken breasts, a half a pack of jalapeno sausage, and a brick of tempeh in the freezer.  I'll let you guess which one we bought most recently.  I am vehemently opposed to throwing away food, so we're getting through it, but we're done buying any more meat products that we haven't first properly researched and sourced.  The end goal is to stop eating food that has anything to do with factory farms, but we're doing this one step at a time and our first step is to stop eating animals that were abused, tortured, or generally mistreated on their way to a terrible slaughter.  I have so many more thoughts about this, but I'm sure I'll explore this topic in later posts.

05 April 2011

Scenes from an American kitchen

Scene: Colby comes home for lunch and all we have is about a 1/3 c of quinoa and half a chicken breast.  Julie roots around the fridge and finds a maple bacon cupcake and sets it out for lunch.

Julie: Did you eat the cupcake?
Colby: Yeah, that's why I'm flossing.
Julie: Whaa...?
Colby: I have bacon in my teeth, freak.

End scene.

04 April 2011

Austin Bakes for Japan Recap

AMAZING spread, eh?

On Saturday, Colby and I arrived at the Nomad Bar a little after 10 AM.  We brought about 30 homemade kolaches to sell and met several other Austin bloggers including Anna from Keep It Luce, Elizabeth from Local Savour, Rachelle from Blinded By the Bite, and Casey from The Modern Gelatina.  

My homage to Colby's deep east Texas Czech roots.
We donated some money and picked up some really amazing baked goods, including a gluten free brownie baked by Rachelle (that Colby *loved* and didn't even know was gluten free until I pointed to the bottom of the bag), cupcakes from Sugar Mama's, strawberry jelly from someone, and an incredible apple tart made by another mystery person.  In all, the event was a smashing success and the city wide bake sale raised ~$11,000 for Americare's humanitarian efforts in Japan.

Oh, and that apple tart was the bombdotcom.

03 April 2011


Local organic tomatoes from Gundermann Acres, oil, vinegar, fresh oregano, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper.  Need I say more?