budgetsmartgirl

Putting A New Spin on Old Favorites

In Budget Smart Cook on March 8, 2013 at 7:20 pm

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Although there are several feet of snow on the ground where I live, I know spring is around the corner. The change of seasons always gets me thinking about trying new dishes or giving old ones a make-over. Sometimes we can get set in our ways and food and meal planning can seem tedious and time consuming. It’s often when we turn to the deli or restaurant and spend more than we should. Here are some of my favorite tricks for putting a new spin on some old favorites-

Potatoes
I often say I could make a meal out of just potatoes but even for a fan like me, they can get boring. I’ve found when you get to the point when you can’t stand the thought of another meal with mashed potatoes, try cooking them a different way. One of my fall back methods is cutting them up into quarters or even slices and roasting them with some oil, salt and pepper, and even spices like smoked paprika. Also try fresh or dried herbs. Rosemary and thyme are two of my favorites. I’ve also tried mashing the potatoes with something besides butter or low fat spread. I’ve been using cream cheese and adding chives. And one thing that’s really nice is to cook some carrots with them and mash them together.

Vegetables
And what meal isn’t complete without at least one or two veggie side dishes? I found myself in the green bean and carrot rut awhile back and now have decided to venture into things like kale and parsnips. And just like the potatoes, roasting a blend of seasonal vegetables can give any meal pizzazz.

Soups
I love soups but some of the them were starting to taste the same so I’ve found some ways to mix things up. I’ve been using a mix of fresh and dried vegetables, like dried tomatoes and mushrooms. And another trick I’ve learned is to use the water the dried vegetables have soaked in, and add it to the soup so each time you get something different. And I always say even if you’re following a recipe nothing is ever set in stone. I’m getting more adventurous and trying different seasonings in the soups I’ve been making for years. And try pureeing half the soup or if you always puree it, leave it as is.

Rice
This one came out of pure laziness on my part. Last year when I was working on a few projects and didn’t have as much time to cook as I once did, I decided to bake more things so I didn’t have to stand by the stove. One of those things was rice. I now prefer the fluffy texture this method of cooking gives it. Also, remember the lemongrass I added to a recipe a couple of weeks ago? Adding things like that adds a different flavor each time you cook it. I’m also going to try adding stock instead of water too.

Cheeses
I don’t think you could ever run out of different cheeses to try but most of us fall back on the same ones. I’ve been adding smoked cheeses to veggie burgers and found it gives them a whole new taste and for about the same price as regular cheese.

Breakfasts
And nothing could get more boring than serving the same old, same old at breakfast each morning. Yes, I’ve been guilty of that one too many times. Even if it’s oatmeal every day try adding different flavors and ingredients, like dried cherries or cranberries. I sometimes bake oatmeal too which gives it a whole different taste. And one quick breakfast I discovered when time isn’t on your side is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In fact, for me it’s been the perfect way to use the jams that I made last summer. Just this week I’ve used blueberry spice, peach with ginger, and strawberry with balsamic vinegar and almost forgot about all the snow outside!

Here are some links I found this week that I thought I’d share with you-

Some ideas for cheap but healthy foods-

http://shine.yahoo.com/financially-fit/5-cheap-healthy-foods-035300770.html

In the UK it’s been Climate Week, this site has ideas about ways you can change your habits to not only green your home but save money too-

http://www.climateweek.com/climate-week-at-home/

And the folks at BenBella Books sent me information about The China Study which is an upcoming cookbook featuring plant based foods, and also a new community they’ve set up. They have recipes on the site and also this section where you can sign up for the chance to win books-

http://www.thechinastudy.com/about/giveaways/

And finally congratulations to Ruth who won the Meatless Monday book giveaway.

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