As the economy is lingering at a stalemate between bad and really bad I have been trying to be a more thrifty shopper, especially when it comes to groceries. Therefore, I have divulged into the world of generic foods. Now this is only for my husband and myself. I grew up with the mantra (and still hold on to it) that there are just certain things I won’t buy generic. One is diapers. Another is baby food. And the third is probably ice cream. I’m committed to Blue Bell ice cream. Or maybe Haagen Dazs on occasion. But I refuse to go there. If I’m going to spend the money to buy a treat it might as well be a good one. Which isn’t necessarily thrifty, but we don’t buy ice cream that often. However everything else is fair game. I have lately been comparing and trying different generic products with brand name products to see if I notice a difference. I will share my highly detailed and of course well tested (by my husband and I, haha) knowledge of what I have found to be better, worse, or exactly the same. I will update as I try new things, but here are my first encounters.
Brand Name Rice Cereal vs. Generic Rice Cereal
The reason I bought it generic: Generic rice cereal is about 1.50 to 2.00 less than the brand product. I put fruit on my cereal anyway, and I don’t care if there is a toy in the box.
The verdict: To me it tastes exactly the same. Rice cereal is rice cereal. AND I made rice treats out of it and they tasted excellent.
Brand Name Marshmallows vs. Generic Marshmallows
The reason I bought it generic: Generic Marshmallows are again about 1.00 to 2.00 cheaper.
The verdict: In something cooked (Like the rice treats) they tasted fine. However, plain one’s taste odd to me…a bit Styrofoam-ish.
Brand name tomatoes (plain diced, crushed, whole, paste, and sauce…we eat a lot of things with tomato in them) vs. Generic tomatoes (the same list)
The reason I bought it generic: About 1.00 cheaper.
The verdict: I haven’t eaten them plain (such as in a gazpacho, or a bruschetta spread) but in cooked foods I honestly can’t tell a difference.
I made this recipe after coming upon many different pesto recipes that use pine nuts. While they are a tasty addition to a pesto recipe I find them in only small quantities and quite expensive. This recipe will make enough for two, but can be easily doubled
2 salmon fillets
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
¼ cup of sliced almonds
¼ cup of bread crumbs
¼ tsp of salt
¼ tsp of fresh cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor combine basil leaves, almonds, salt, and pepper. Grate about one tablespoon of the lemon’s peel into the food processor as well. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half of the lemon’s juice into food processor. Place the cover on the food processor and pulse several times. Slowly stream in about ¼ cup of olive oil to the food processor until the pesto has thinned some, but is not soupy. Cover a pan with foil and place the salmon fillets on the pan. Evenly divide the pesto on top of each piece of salmon. Then place one slice of the leftover half of lemon on top of each piece of salmon. Finally, divide the bread crumbs on top of the pesto and lemon covered salmon. Sprinkle some olive oil on top of the bread crumbs so that the bread crumbs will turn golden in the oven. Cook the salmon for fifteen minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
As our little sweet pea has finally reached stage 2 baby foods, I have been buying up all the different kinds available on my quest to make him a well rounded food connoisseur! However, I learned a valuable lesson in my food buying the other day. There are many different kinds of baby food mixes (including baby food smoothies, which I’m not sure the value of giving your baby a “smoothie” except that it’s trendy, and yes I bought the mango). Anyway, two of these mixes include banana-orange and pineapple-pear. As banana and pear are a favorite in our house I figured these would be great to add into the mix of our other foods. As I found out babies under one year should not have citrus. ANY citrus. This includes tomatoes, oranges, and pineapples. Luckily, we did not encounter any reactions to the fruits, but I stopped giving them to him obviously! Now being knowledgeable about the no citrus I have been avoiding any of those stated fruits. However I found that the front label isn’t always indicative of the interior product. Once we began meats mixed with veggies I realized that too can be problematic. When I began scanning the store shelves for baby meats I came across several including a vegetable beef. Which as I was reading the ingredients I found includes tomato paste. While the tomato paste is very low on the list of ingredients (meaning that there are scant amounts) it still brought about many questions. Is a scant amount of citrus okay? Or no citrus at all? As I’m sure most Mom’s encounter it’s better to ere on the side of caution and just avoid, but when we reach a year I hope that our little sweet pea will enjoy all the tomatoes, pineapples, and oranges there are out there to try!
I’m not sure if this is a Texas recipe or a Southern recipe in general, but I have been eating tuna casserole since I was little. After I saw it featured on an episode of Reba (Barbara Jean makes a casserole with two kinds of potato chips), I knew it had to be something to do with my Mom’s Texas roots that this recipe has been so popular in our family. It probably won’t get me featured in Bon Appetit’ magazine but my husband and I love it!
2 cans of tuna
4 bags of single serving potato chips, or half of a large bag (I prefer the plain, but you can just go wild with the options out there, hahaha)
1 can cream of celery
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Drain tuna well. Mix together tuna, cream of celery and half of the potato chips. Spray a small deep sided pan with cooking spray. Spoon mixture into pan, cover with remaining potato chips. Cook for 25 minutes until heated through.
* If you have unused tomatoes left from the Cheesy Chicken Orzo dish (featured in a previous post) I use them as a side dish with the tuna casserole. Simply cut the tomatoes in half place on a foil lined deep sided cookie pan (not the flat kind, the tomatoes will fall off) and toss with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven with the casserole for the same temperature and time.
We have gone from seeds to sprouts and now to full grown plants in our raised vegetable bed. Our cucumbers are not doing too well but we have big tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, parsley, basil, flat leaf parsley, dill, thyme, mint and jalapenos. Check out the pictures and ignore the nasty grass near the fence that I keep not using the weed-eater on and our yellow looking squash plants. Now we just have to wait for the juicy vegetables to actually grow…
½ to ¾ of a block of extra sharp white cheddar cheese grated
1 and ½ cups of orzo pasta
¾ cup halved grape tomatoes
1/8 cup of chopped fresh basil
1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken (or you can shred a poached boneless skinless chicken breast)
Fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
*While creating cheese mixture boil 1 to ½ cups of orzo pasta per package instructions.
Heat oil and butter in a large skillet on medium heat. After butter has melted into oil and begins to bubble whisk in flour. Allow flour to cook for a minute then slowly whisk in milk. Whisk milk until clumps disappear and it thickens a bit. Whisk in the cheese a handful at a time until it melts into milk. Turn heat to low and stir in grape tomatoes, basil, and chicken. Let cook for about five to ten minutes occasionally stirring, until the tomatoes and chicken are heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
After orzo pasta is finished, add pasta to cheese mixture. Mix all ingredients together and dash parsley on top. Mixture will thicken a bit upon standing. If mixture looks too thick add a ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
Tips: The orzo may not look like much but it grows considerably while you cook it. If you like spicier dishes I occasionally add a dash of cayenne pepper.
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