Quick and Easy Pasta Fagioli Soup

This soup was inspired by Giada. I was pregnant with Puppet and channel surfing when I landed on Food Network. As you know, when you get a craving, you have to have it. Normally, I use fresh ingredients, but my craving would not wait! I used what I had readily available. This soup is sure to warm up your bones this winter and so fast to whip up that you won’t be stuck in the kitchen all day preparing it.

Pasta Fagioli

1 can of condensed bean and bacon soup
1 cup of water
4 cups of chicken broth or stock
1 ripe tomato, diced
1-2 dashes of onion powder
1-2 dashes of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Half package of small shell pasta, cooked al dente

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, combine soup, water and broth. Add tomato, onion and garlic powders. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Add cooked pasta and salt and pepper to taste and stir. Serves 2-4.

TIPS:
1.  If you need more soup, just add more broth/stock and season to taste.
2.  I used small shell pasta, but you can use any of your favorites or whatever you have on hand.
3.  Try not to overcook your pasta. Once you add it to the soup, it will start to absorb more liquid and may become mushy. Another option would be to add cooked pasta to each individual bowl and ladle soup over it and then serve.

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Quinoa: The “New” Ancient Grain

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So you may (or not) have been hearing about a “new” food. Quinoa. If you are like me, you probably said “Um, exsqueeze me? Keen-what?”

Quinoa – pronounced “keenwha” not “kween noah”, like I thought – is a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a grass. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. Its leaves are also eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is currently limited. Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America, where it has been an important food for 6,000 years. Its name is the Spanish spelling of the Quechua name. Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians and vegans. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source.[4] It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.[4]Wikipedia

 Quinoa in space? Awesome!

So what does all that gobbldey-gook mean? It’s healthy. (contains all 9 essential amino acids. That’s protein. ) And it is the only grain that is a complete protein! (1) 1/4 cup serving contains 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and has lots of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). It’s tasty. It’s budget-friendly ($2.99 avg price per pound. 1 pound makes about 11 servings. That’s $0.27 per serving!) 

It’s also super easy to cook. 

Quinoa Cooking Basics

Cooking quinoa is super easy. Got 10-15 minutes? If you can boil water, you can cook quinoa. Basic cooking recipe is this: 

1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid. Bring liquid and quinoa to a boil, reduce heat to low (how low can  you go? how low can you go? *hee hee*), cover and simmer 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. That’s it! Told ya it was easy. 

I like to cook quinoa in vegetable stock, to bump up the nutrition even more. Use it as a replacement in recipes for couscous and brown rice. It’s cooked texture is light and fluffy, just like couscous. It’s possibilities are endless. All hail quinoa!

Where to buy:

Fresh & Easy

Henry’s Farmers Markets

Trader Joe’s

Sprouts Farmers Market $3.99/lb bulk section

Whole Foods Market $2.99/lb bulk section

It may/may not be available in “conventional” grocery stores. I limit my shopping in those types of stores. If you find it in one, let us know where and what the price was!

Uncooked Quinoa

The SoCal FruGal

Quinoa: The "New" Ancient Grain

So you may (or not) have been hearing about a “new” food. Quinoa. If you are like me, you probably said “Um, exsqueeze me? Keen-what?”

Quinoa – pronounced “keenwha” not “kween noah”, like I thought – is a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a grass. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. Its leaves are also eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is currently limited. Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America, where it has been an important food for 6,000 years. Its name is the Spanish spelling of the Quechua name. Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians and vegans. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source.[4] It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.[4]Wikipedia

 Quinoa in space? Awesome!

So what does all that gobbldey-gook mean? It’s healthy. (contains all 9 essential amino acids. That’s protein. ) And it is the only grain that is a complete protein! (1) 1/4 cup serving contains 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and has lots of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). It’s tasty. It’s budget-friendly ($2.99 avg price per pound. 1 pound makes about 11 servings. That’s $0.27 per serving!) 

It’s also super easy to cook. 

Quinoa Cooking Basics

Cooking quinoa is super easy. Got 10-15 minutes? If you can boil water, you can cook quinoa. Basic cooking recipe is this: 

1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid. Bring liquid and quinoa to a boil, reduce heat to low (how low can  you go? how low can you go? *hee hee*), cover and simmer 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. That’s it! Told ya it was easy. 

I like to cook quinoa in vegetable stock, to bump up the nutrition even more. Use it as a replacement in recipes for couscous and brown rice. It’s cooked texture is light and fluffy, just like couscous. It’s possibilities are endless. All hail quinoa!

Where to buy:

Fresh & Easy

Henry’s Farmers Markets

Trader Joe’s

Sprouts Farmers Market $3.99/lb bulk section

Whole Foods Market $2.99/lb bulk section

It may/may not be available in “conventional” grocery stores. I limit my shopping in those types of stores. If you find it in one, let us know where and what the price was!

Uncooked Quinoa

The SoCal FruGal

Strawberries with Balsamic Syrup and Italian Sweet Cream

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

Here’s an easy dessert for all you non-bakers out there. Impressive enough for company, easy enough for a mid-week after dinner sweet. and with strawberry season starting, frugal. (My favorite part!) I was inspired to make this from a recent visit to Henry’s Farmers Market where they kicked off strawberry season this week with a strawberry festival. They will be sampling strawberry-themed foods all week, so check it out if you have one near you.

Here is the recipe I used as my inspiration, found on Recipezaar. My changes are in red, to make it allergen-friendly for me and Bubba.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, plus
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided (2 tbsps granulated sugar, 2 tbsps powdered sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chilled mascarpone cheese (I used Tofutti’s Better-Than-Cream-Cheese)
  • 1/2 cup chilled whipping cream (canned coconut milk. Shake the can to combine the “cream” with the milk, then measure out the 1/2 c.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 pints strawberries, hulled, halved

Directions

  1. Combine vinegar, 2 teaspoons sugar, and lemon juice in heavy small saucepan,  stirring over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. Boil until syrup is reduced to scant 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer to small bowl; cool completely. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  4.  Combine mascarpone, cream, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar in medium bowl.
  5. Whisk until thick soft peaks form.
  6. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.
  7. combine berries and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in large bowl; drizzle with balsamic syrup and toss to blend.
  8. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Divide berries and syrup among 6 dishes
  10. Top with mascarpone mixture.

If you wanna get fancy, you can garnish with a sprig of mint. Photo credit goes to http://www.flickr.com/photos/thebazile/2730575032/ and used with a Creative Commons License. I am apparently camera phone -to facebook- to laptop- illiterate and couldn’t upload my photos! This pic is beautiful and makes me want to eat this. Lovin’ the toasted slivered almonds on top, too. Would add a nice little crunch.

The SoCal FruGal

Huevos Rancheros

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cooking the huevos...

In my house, we (in this case, “we” means “me”) make meatless meals on Mondays. Why?

  1. ‘Cause I’m cheap
  2. “Cause The Sound Jockey eats only 2 types of meat. Really.
  3. “Cause I have dinner ADD and can’t do the same meal more than twice in one month
  4. “Cause it’s yummy.

Huevos Rancheros

2 tsps of your favorite cooking oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)

1/4 onion, minced

1-2 tsps minced garlic

(1) 15oz-ish canned diced tomatoes (I like to use Fresh & Easy’s diced tomatoes with chopped chiles @ $0.59/can. Warning: might be too spicy for some)

(1) 8oz can tomato sauce

salt & pepper to taste

1/4-1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4-1/2 tsp chile powder

(1) 15oz-ish can refried beans or whole pinto beans, mashed

enough eggs and corn tortillas for 1 adult to have 2 huevos each and a child to have 1 each

In a saute pan, warm oil and toss in minced onions and garlic until translucent. Stir in canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, adding in spices and bring to low simmer. Crack eggs onto top of tomato mixture leaving room between each egg  (Make sure you don’t break the yolks).  Cover and simmer on low for about 15 minutes if you want the yolks cooked “hard”, less if you want them soft.

Meanwhile, warm the beans in a separate pan, mashing if necessary

To serve: warm a corn tortilla for each egg and spread with mashed beans. Using a slotted spoon, scoop an egg out of the pan and place on top of beans, then spoon some tomato mixture on top of egg. top with some shredded cheese, if desired.

Voila! Dinner in under 30 minutes.

Eat the heuvos

The SoCal FruGal