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Meatless Monday…Sloppy Joes – Veggie Style!

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I’ve been wanting to try this concoction out for sometime now, so with my vegetarian sister in town, I had the perfect excuse!  At my house we are NOT vegetarians (we love-a spicy meata-ball!) but we eat a lot of veggies.  I constantly look for ways to add vegetables to our meals, sometimes I do this with salads, sometimes side dishes, and sometimes I add them to the main dish.

Recently I started I adding shredded green cabbage to my Sloppy Joe recipe each time I made it.  I don’t have official numbers to share, but I am sure that the calories, cholesterol, and fat are significantly reduced when you replace about half the meat with cabbage.

After doing this a couple of times, I became interested in making a totally meatless Sloppy Joe sandwich, which leads us to today’s recipe!

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes (Recipe makes about 8 sandwiches)
6-8 Cups Shredded Green Cabbage
1 Carrot, Shredded
1/2 Green Pepper, Diced
1 Cup Corn (I used frozen, but fresh or canned will work too)
Water
 
Sauce
1 Cup Ketchup
1/4 Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Vinegar
2 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Teaspoons Mustard
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
 
1 Package Buns 
  1. Add shredded cabbage and a 1/4 cup water to large saute pan over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Allow cabbage to cook for about 5 minutes.  You basically want to give it, a head start on cooking before adding the other vegetables.
  2. Add remaining vegetables to pan, stirring occasionally.  Allow to cook 2-3 minutes.
  3. Combine all ingredients for sauce in a medium size bowl.
  4. Add sauce mixture to vegetables, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low-medium.
  5. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until cabbage reaches desired consistency.
  6. Scoop mixture on buns, eat, enjoy!
Nothing goes with Sloppy Joes better than Mac & Cheese! I recently used my couponing skills to buy Kraft Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese for $1, it was creamy, cheesy, and oh so good!
 The package comes complete with a tasty breadcrumb topping, after a few minutes in the oven, you’ve got a real comfort food classic ready for dinner!
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Meatless Monday…Zucchini Ripieni (Stuffed Zucchini)

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Meatless Monday…Zucchini Ripieni (Stuffed Zucchini)

I love zucchini!  That’s all there is to it.

Just because it’s Meatless Monday doesn’t mean it can’t be yummy (and fun!). 

This dish could not be easier!  And I was pleasantly surprised that besides the zucchini themselves, I had everything else needed!

Zucchini Ripieni (ripieni means stuffed in Italian)
3 Zucchini (medium size): $2.50
1/2 c. Feta Cheese, if yours is in big chunks, chop it up: $0.50
1/2 c. Red Pepper, chopped: $1
1/4 c. Onion, chopped: $0.25
1 TBSP Butter or Olive Oil (Pantry)
1/8 TSP Oregano (Pantry)
 
Adjust the filling as you like! Makes 6 “boats”.  Approximate cost: $4.25
 
Wash zucchini, cut off ends and discard.  Then cut zucchini in half lengthwise.
Using a melon baller, scoop out middle section of zucchini to form something resembling a canoe/boat.  Be sure to leave the sides of the zucchini about 1/4 inch thick.  Save scooped out portion for following step.
 
Steam Zucchini boats for about 4 minutes, then place Zucchini upside down on paper towel to soak up some of the moisture.
 
Roughly chop the scooped out Zucchini (should be in about 1/2 inch chunks).  Saute the chopped Red Pepper, Onion and the leftover Zucchini bits, in Butter or Olive Oil over medium heat. 
 
Remove mixture from heat and add Feta and Oregano, lightly stir.  Place Zucchini in a shallow oven safe dish (or cookie sheet).  Then scoop mixture into your Zucchini boats.
Broil for about 4-5 minutes, until cheese starts to look toasty.  These came out best when broiled about 4-5 inches from heat source.  And ta-da…
 
Served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes – stay tuned for that recipe!  Happy Monday Y’all!

Organic Produce vs. Conventional – Cost Comparison

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In honor of Meatless Monday I wanted to share with you a comparison of the cost of  organic vs. conventional produce.  Using the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) list of the 2011 “Dirty Dozen” I gathered the cost for each item and listed it for you below.

A couple of notes: 

  • The higher an item is ranked, the larger the number of pesticides are found in it (ex: Apples have the highest pesticide content).
  • Prices listed are the “regular” prices, weekly sales and seasonal items were not taken into account.
  • All items listed are the fresh variety, not canned, pickled or frozen.
  • Every effort was made to compare “apples to apples” in terms of size, weight, packaging, etc.
The Dirty Dozen Cost To Buy Organic Cost To Buy Conventional Cost Difference
1 – Apples      
    Fuji $2.99/lb $2.29/lb $0.70/lb
    Gala $2.99/lb $2.29/lb $0.70/lb
    Red Delicious $2.29/lb $1.99/lb $0.30/lb
2 – Celery $2.99/bunch $1.99/bunch $1/bunch
3 – Strawberries $4.99/lb $3.79/lb $1.20/lb
4 – Peaches NA in fall season   NA
5 – Spinach $3.99/ 5oz. ($0.80/oz) $3.69/6oz. ($0.62/oz) $0.18/oz
6 – Nectarines (imported) NA in fall season   NA
7 – Grapes (imported) NA $2.79/lb NA
8 – Sweet Bell Peppers      
    Red Bell Pepper $3.99/each $2.99/each $1/each
    Green Bell Pepper $1.99/each $1.49/each $0.50/each
9 – Potatoes      
    Russet $1.99/lb $1.19/lb $0.80/lb
10 – Blueberries (domestic) NA $4.99/lb NA
11 – Lettuce      
    Romaine $3.99/12oz. ($0.33/oz) $3.79/16oz ($0.24/oz) $0.07/oz
    Spring Mix $3.99/5oz. $3.69/5oz. $0.30/per 5oz. package
    Green Leaf Lettuce $2.79/head $1.99/head $0.80/head
12 – Kale/Collard Greens $2.99/bunch $1.99/bunch $1/bunch

 How can you shop smarter?

  • Become familiar with your store’s organic section!  Most people avoid this area all together because they think buying organic is too expensive.  Cruise this section first while shopping to see if anything is on special, or just looks good!  Typically stores will put all of the organic items together in one area, which makes it convenient to see what they have, but it makes comparing prices vs. the same conventional produce more time-consuming.
  • Look for weekly sales.  Even organic produce goes on sale.  For example: Now is the time to stock up on APPLES–I’ve seen organic varieties sold for less than $1.50/lb!
  • Think QUALITY when it comes to QUANTITY.  If there is a particular food that you eat every day, you may want to make sure to invest in the organic version – for me this is carrots!  Even though they aren’t a “Dirty Dozen” vegetable I always buy organic carrots, since I eat them almost every day. 
  • It’s ok to go “half & half”.  Don’t feel guilty if you don’t buy everything organic, every time you shop.  When you can fit it into your budget and your menu, do it!  Every little bit will help.

How do you shop for organic produce?  Have any tips to share?  Leave a comment if you do!

It’s Meatless Monday…Ratatouille!

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It’s Meatless Monday…Ratatouille!

Pronounced “rat-eh-too-ee” – in case you’ve never seen the Disney movie or yor dropped 3rd period French.  Ratatouille is a hearty vegetable dish you might find served a variety of ways; as a side dish, as a soup, or as a meal itself with rice, bread or pasta.  There are also several ways to prepare the dish; slow cooked in the crock pot, sautéed, baked or boiled.

When looking for recipes I compared several, and the only thing they all had in common was VEGETABLES, so I thought it would be great dish to make for Meatless Monday.  Here is my version, along with approximated cost.

Ratatouille
1 Eggplant (small to medium size), cut into 1/2 inch cubes ($1.25)
1 Onion (medium), sliced ($0.25)
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, sliced ($1)
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, sliced ($2)
1 Zucchini, sliced ($0.80)
2 Plum Tomatoes, sliced ($0.80)
3 Cloves Garlic, minced ($0.20)
3-4 TBSP Olive Oil (pantry)
2 TSP Dried Parsley (pantry)
1/3 C. Parmesan Cheese – or to taste ($1.25)
Salt To Taste (pantry)
 
2 “hearty” sized servings.   Approximate cost: $7.55 
 
  1. Preheat oven to 350, and prepare casserole dish with 1 Tbsp Olive Oil, making sure to coat bottom and sides.
  2. In skillet on medium heat, pour 1 Tbsp Olive Oil and saute Garlic until it’s light brown.  Approximately 2 minutes.
  3. Add remaining Olive Oil and Parsley to skillet and saute Onions and Eggplant.  Approximately 8-10 minutes.
  4. Once Onions and Eggplant are soft and thoroughly cooked, spoon mixture into bottom of casserole dish. Sprinkle with Salt and about 1-2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese.
  5. Then add layer of sliced Zucchini, topping with Salt and Parmesan.  Continue to layer Peppers and Tomatoes in this fashion.
  6. Add any remaining Parmesan Cheese for the top of dish.
  7. Cover, and place in preheated oven, bake for 40 minutes.
  8. Remove lid and bake for 5 more minutes to “crisp” cheese on top.
Notes/Variations
  • This version is not soupy, but it does provide enough liquid to serve over rice.
  • Bake uncovered for a drier version.
  • Use more or less of any vegetable, whatever makes your family happy.
  • You could also use Yellow Squash, Mushrooms, Yellow Bell Peppers or Red Onions.
  • This recipe easily doubles!