Asparagus and Mushroom Hash with Fried Egg

Hey!

Spring has sprung here in Edmonton and it always leaves me craving green things like salad and asparagus! This was a quick and easy meal that I made one night when I combined a side dish my mum makes with some yummy fried eggs. It’s decently affordable, but as anyone up here in the GWN knows, veggies don’t really go down in price until summer is in full swing. At a price tag of nearly three dollars per person, this is a luxury meal in my book.

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Asparagus and Mushroom Hash with Fried Egg

Serves 2 for $5.88, or $2.94/ serving

1/2 a bundle of asparagus – $1.68

4 eggs – $0.90

3-4 button mushrooms – $1.27

1 tbsp Pine Nuts – $1.17

1 tbsp Parmesan – $0.86

 

Start by dicing up your mushrooms into a small size and sauteing on medium-high with olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir occasionally and let the mushrooms cook down.

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While your mushrooms cook down, cut your asparagus into small chunks as shown.

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Once your mushrooms are fairly well cooked down, add your asparagus and pine nuts. Stir occasionally and allow everything to cook down

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Once your asparagus is nearly cooked (I just test this by eating a hunk), turn the heat off, sprinkle with your parmesan, and set a separate pan on high heat to quickly fry your eggs.

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Once that pan is hot, add a pat of butter to it and melt to coat the surface.

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Next, crack your desired number of eggs into the pan and season with salt and cracked black pepper.

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If you’re finding that you are getting close with your eggs but the top isn’t firming up like you’d like it to, grab a small amount of water and put it in the pan, and then cover with a pot lid to steam it.

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Plate your  hash first and top with your eggs. Enjoy!

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Parmesan Risotto with Sausage and Fennel

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Risotto is, by my mind, a total comfort food. It’s delicious, carb-y (admit it, carbs make us all happy) and can be made with pretty much any ingredients you have laying around. I’m sure someone reading this is thinking REALLY?! Three risotto recipes in three months?! I know. I’m predictable!

This recipe is actually inspired by a pizza you can get at a local restaurant near to where my parents live called Buco Pizzeria. This pizza is so good it lives in my dreams sometimes! I was craving it one morning while going grocery shopping and fennel and sausage miraculously ended up in my cart.

Parmesan Risotto with Sausage and Fennel

Serves 4 for $10.98, or $2.75 per serving

Ingredients:

1/2 an onion- $0.12

~1 cup of arborio rice- $0.80

1/2 cup of parmesan (grated)- $3.38

1.5 boxes of vegetable stock- $2.21

2 Links of italian sausage – $2.00

1 fennel bulb- $2.47

Pantry Items: salt, pepper, chili flakes, olive oil, dried thyme

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Like any delicious risotto, start by getting your mise en place together. So dice up those onions small, mince your garlic, grab out your rice and have olive oil, salt and pepper nearby.

Put your onions in your pot on medium with olive oil and sweat about halfway, then add garlic. If you’re me, at this point you’ll add a generous pinch of chili flakes and a good dash of dried thyme. Once these onions and garlic are good and sweated out, add your rice to toast. You want your rice to  be such that the edges of your rice are translucent while the interior of the grain is still white. This will ensure that your rice cooks properly.

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Once your rice is toasted, deglaze the pot with either the stock listed above, or dry white wine if you have some in the house. Continue to add a ladle-full of stock and stir occasionally while it bubbles off.

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Next, we’re going to decase and drop our Italian sausage into a frying pan. This go-around I used my electric skillet but you’ll get the same effect from a frying pan. You want to have your pan to be pretty hot because you want to get really nice crispy bits on your sausage.

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While you get your sausage going and broken up, slice your fennel cross-bulb after trimming the base and tops off and removing the outer case. Slice it about a pinky finger width thick.

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If you have a humongous bulb, slice your ribs in half so that you don’t look like a heathen eating them, and rinse them well under cold water.

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Let’s not forget during this process to keep tending to our risotto too. Every time you add stock, add a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir regularly.

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Once your fennel is rinsed, add it to the pan with your sausage when it looks about 80% done with some good color and crispness starting to show in the meat. This fennel is going to pick up on that yummy flavor from the pan that the sausage leaves behind.

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At the end of the day, you want your fennel to pick up delicious brown caramelization. By this point your risotto should be close to done. Test the grains with your teeth- if they’re smooth and don’t stick to your teeth and have no crunch, they’re done. Turn off the heat and stir in your parmesan. Feel free to cut down on the parmesan if you don’t want it as intensely flavored or if your budget is a bit tight. I don’t finish with butter in this case as the meat has enough velvety fat, but to each their own.

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To serve, I put a spoonful of each component on the plate and dig in. Nothing fancy here, just delicious comfort food to warm you up.

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Zucchini Puttanesca

Hellllooooo!

My absolute favorite vegetable is zucchini. I love its texture, its willingness to take on whatever flavors you throw at it, and its crazy versatility. This post has zucchini two ways if you can believe it! Best of all, zucchini grows like a weed in the Alberta summer so for several months out of the year I either have fresh zucchini courtesy of the garden my mum keeps (I help I swear!) or frozen grated zucchini to make good use of.

This is a fairly quick and simple recipe where everything gets thrown into a pot, you heat it up, taste test it all, freeze some, eat some, have a nap… well, that’s what I do anyhow.

***I got my noodling machine almost FREE thanks to my Superstore Plus points. It was VERY affordable actually, only about $20 so I think I paid about 3/4 dollars to purchase it once I redeemed some of my points. I do the lion’s share of my shopping at Superstore and find that the points really add up if you shop your offers. I use my points to buy meat, or more expensive vegetables.

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Zucchini Puttanesca

Serves one for $1.70

For Sauce:

makes 5 servings, $0.70 per serving

2 Cans of tomato sauce (398ml) – $1.48

Tinned sliced black olives (200ml)- $1.18

1/2 an onion- $0.20

1 small zucchini- $0.62

Pantry items: 2 cloves garlic, chili flakes, anchovy paste, salt and pepper

 

Noodles- 1 medium zucchini, topped with 1 tablespoon parmesan (~$1)

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Start off by chopping your onion and garlic into small pieces and sauteing them in olive oil with chili flakes, pepper, salt, dried thyme and dried basil. You want to soften these up all the way since this sauce isn’t going to be cooking for terribly long.  Once they are sauteed, add a squeeze of anchovy paste (roughly 1 teaspoon). If you can’t get anchovy paste and are using canned, use 2 and freeze the rest for next time! Then, add your chopped zucchini and saute for about 2 minutes.20160327_202727

Once you’re done that, open your tinned tomatoes and olives and put them into the pot. Put the lid on and bring this up to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Taste test it once it is bubbling and adjust the flavors accordingly. I find myself adding a splash of balsamic to pretty much all of my tomato based sauces. 20160327_213842

Once your sauce tastes perfect, take the pot and set it in a sink of cold water, slowly draining with the water running on cold. This will safely, but quickly, drop the temperature of your sauce so that you can get it in the freezer. In an upcoming post I’m going to talk allll about freezer safety so if this doesn’t make sense as described, don’t worry too much.HPIM0002

On the day you’re ready to eat your sauce with some zucchini noodles, put together your spiralizer and grab 1-2 medium zucchinis to work with. Wash them up and grab a knife.HPIM0003

Using your knife, trim the ends off of your washed zucchini and then cut them in half as shown.HPIM0005

Take one of those halves and affix it into your spiralizer. Spin away!HPIM0006

I love this spiralizer because it allows you to put a plate under the noodling apparatus to catch your spiralized vegetables directly. I recommend cutting your noodles about every fifth crank or so- this way, you don’t have never-ending noodles that make you look like a heathen while you’re trying to eat.HPIM0008HPIM0010

Once you have your noodles ready, heat up some sauce and top your noodles with them! I like to garnish with a healthy serving of parmesan, but if you don’t want to, don’t! It’s good either way. If you want to keep this gluten free AND vegan, leave out the cheese and the anchovy paste. It’s truly a flexible dish, if you are leaving out the anchovy paste you will just want to season a bit more liberally with your dried spices.HPIM0011

Dill and Parsley Pesto

 

20160417_174622Recently I picked up a huuuuge bunch of dill at Superstore for $2.50. I really only wanted a little for in my dill-cucumber dip but it was $2.50 per bundle, not a weighted price, so home I went with this large bunch of dill.

I took it to my mum’s house thinking maybe she would like some for something, but that’s tough because my dad isn’t the biggest fan of dill. So instead, she suggested making freezer pesto to add flavor to anything I like. In this case the pesto is devoid of cheese so that if I wanted,  I could easily spread it on fish, or stir into greek yogurt for a quick dip. If you want parmesan, just mix in a couple tablespoons to the package you pull out of the freezer.

Because of the cost of pine nuts, this isn’t a terribly affordable thing to make. That being said, one tiny teaspoon of this can completely change what you’re cooking into a flavorful, springlike indulgence. Realistically, this makes about a cup, so you’re getting  a lot of flavoring for that cash too. Sometimes you deal in cheap, and sometimes you deal in value and this is definitely a value scenario.

Dill and Parsley Pesto

$9.62 or $0.64 per tablespoon

1 bunch of dill- $2.48

Quarter bundle of parsley- $0.56

1 cup pine nuts- $6.58

Pantry Items- 3 cloves garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil

 

Method:

20160417_173439Start by placing your pine nuts and garlic cloves in the bottom of your food processor.20160417_173456Then, take allll of your dill and parsley off of their stalks and drop them into the food processor.

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Add salt and pepper to the food processor, then secure the lid and get ready!

Slowly drizzle olive oil into your food processor while it’s running as per the video (it’s my mum operating the food processor, so you know it was done right!). You want this to be a fairly thick but intensely green paste when you turn your processor off.

When it comes time to package this, I recommend tiny plastic dishes. The trick to keeping your pesto green and not oxidized brown is covering the pesto with olive oil. It will either incorporate in when you thaw it, or you can scrape some/most of it off with a spoon when you’re ready to pull it our of the freezer.

 

What are your favorite things to make with pesto? I think some of this will end up making dill chicken burgers!

Emergency (Taco) Soup!

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Recently I unexpectedly popped over to my parent’s place for dinner, which was fantastic, but I had already thawed  my meals for the next two days. I strongly believe (thanks to a very food-safety conscious mom) that food is only good for four days and after that, it should be discarded.

Fast forward to day four for my half a cup of taco beef (BEEF!) and rice that I had defrosted. There was no way I was eating it that night and stuffing myself, and so my mom helped me out by turning my leftovers into this amazing soup! One of the best ways to save money is to never, never let food go to waste so my mum is always showing me how to turn what could end up in the wastebin into a batch of amazing freezer meals.

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Taco Soup

8 servings for $9.40 or $1.18 per serving ($1.70 with avocado toast)

1/2 cup of ground beef (done as taco meat, see my quick taco recipe for spice information)- $1.60

1/2 cup of basmati rice-$0.21

2 carrots- $0.75

1/2 a green pepper- $0.79

1/2 a red pepper- $1.42

one onion- $0.25

1 frozen spinach nob- $0.25

1 tin of canned tomatoes -$1.19

2 containers of vegetable broth- $2.94

Pantry items: worchestershire sauce, chili flakes, chili powder, salt and pepper

For avocado toast add-on @$0.52:

2 slices of multigrain bread- $0.22

1/2 an avocado- $0.30

Pantry: chili flakes

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Start by rough dicing your carrots, peppers and onions. Saute them down in a large soup pot until softened, adding chili flakes, salt and pepper.

To that pot, add your diced tomatoes and broth. Add chili powder to desired level, a dash of worchestershire and put the lid on to bring your soup to a soft boil.

Once your soup is boiling, add your rice, beef and a knob of frozen spinach. Stir everything together and turn the heat off.

Cool your soup to room temperature and dispense into freezer safe containers. Enjoy!

 

What’s your favorite way to take what could be waste and turn it into a great meal?

 

Ps: my mum’s twitter is @Alberta_Allie. Check her out!

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Zuchini

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I love using vegetables as noodles. It’s a weird thing but I really love pasta sauce, I could happily eat it every day and it’s a great way to add vegetables into your life. One of my favorite ways to indulge this weird love is to use spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is extremely low in calories and in carbohydrates so you can kinda have as much as you want, which I love.

This recipe is a bit of a use-up one, I get a big tray of grape tomatoes from Costco pretty much every week to eat in salads and with meals. Sometimes they start going wrinkly before I’m ready to eat them, which is a sign in my books that it’s time to make this recipe. For that reason, since the tomatoes could go to waste otherwise, I don’t include them in the costing of this meal when I make it myself. That said, I know not everyone is going to have near-off tomatoes needing eaten, so I’ve included it in this recipe’s cost calculation. I also will toss random veggies that need eaten in this sauce sometimes, too. In this iteration, it was a mini zuchini but don’t feel like that’s necessary. Just use up what you need to.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Feta

Serves 2 at $2.82 per serving 

1 spaghetti squash – $3.81

~12 grape tomatoes- $1

1 mini zuchini- $0.83

Pantry Items: 3 cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, chili flakes

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Step one: Turn your oven on to bake at 375 degrees. Carefully cut your squash in half from top to bottom as shown. Using a spoon, take out all of the seeds and fibrous strings, but be careful to not start tearing out the flesh.

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Once your squash is prepped, place it face up in an oven safe baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Once your oven is preheated, pop your squash in and set a timer for approximately 30 minutes- take it out when it is fork tender.

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Start getting your sauce prepared by mincing your garlic. This is truly to taste and preference- this is all just simple, fresh ingredients presented in a fashion that is unencumbered by gratuitous fats, carbs or even cheese so I like to season liberally and have a good amount of garlic. Once your garlic is minced, put it in a small frying pan with olive oil, salt, chili flakes and pepper to start softening your garlic.

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While your garlic softens, halve your grape tomatoes and cut your zuchini (or other assorted use-up vegetables) into similarly sized pieces. Start off by tossing your tomatoes into the pan to start getting warm- this is the important part because you need to squish them to get their juice and seeds to come out. Once you’ve created some sauce by doing that, add in your other veggies to cook.

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Once your spaghetti squash is cooked, carefully scrape out all of the “noodles” and toss with your sauce briefly in the pan to coat. Serve and enjoy!

Favorite Spring Nail Polishes

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In my recent blog post about how to cheer yourself up on a budget, I mentioned that I like to pamper myself a bit when I’m feeling down, and that one of the ways I like to do that is by painting my nails and toenails.

That got me thinking about how it’s now the right time of year to swap out my nail polishes from winter-y colors to more springlike colors! This is one of my favorite parts of having such distinct seasons here in Edmonton- rotating my clothing, swapping out shoes, and embracing whatever season it is here.

Since I don’t have a ton of money to invest into super chic accessories and clothing, one of the ways I make sure I look polished at work is through always trying to be well groomed. My hair of late has been messing this up for me, as well as my allergies making my eyes too mad for much makeup, but this makes a huge difference when you’re trying to look maybe a bit more “expensive” (read: refined) than you can actually afford to be.

I thought I would compile a shortlist of my five most favored nail polishes for spring. One of these colors is from a new OPI collection, but the rest are all permanent as far as I know.

  1. OPI Got Myself into a Jam-balaya20160403_154826
  2. Essie Go Ginza20160403_154816
  3. Essie Madison Ave-hue20160403_154758
  4. Morgan Taylor Water Baby20160403_154747
  5. Essie Eternal Optimist20160403_154806

What are your favorite spring nail polishes?