Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

It’s NOT a torte

July 30, 2008

“Unproductive” would be the word I would use to describe today. I had no great ambitions for the day so I guess you could consider the day a success if you want to look at it like that. There was one thing, however, that I did want to do today and that was to order a vegetarian cookbook or two. I’ve had an urge lately to try more vegetarian entrees and to explore grains such as lentils and quinoa (yes I know it is actually a seed). In this I have failed. There are many reasons for this. The main one being my amazing inability to make a decision. It can take me 20 mins or more to decide between a blue or yellow shirt. Imagine what all the variables in buying a cookbook could do to me. I think I have decided to at least get Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. However this still leaves me with deciding if I should get another one, if so which one, and where should I get it from. The first site is cheaper, especially if you order two books, but they have an unknown delivery estimate. Any help you have to offer would be appreciated. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have something more to report.

That brings us to dinner tonight. Last time we did a big grocery trip squash was on sale and since I had seen a few squash casseroles that looked good lately I picked some up. It was on sale for $.99/lb. Then a few days ago someone posted a link to a recipe for a Squash and Potato Torte. It looked soooo good that I knew that this would be what I was making with my squash. I read through that recipe and it referenced a recipe from Smitten Kitchen which I also read through. I eventually used Smitten Kitchen’s basic recipe with a few adaptations to make it my own. I told my husband that we would be having a Potato and Squash Torte and he questioned the fact that it would actually be a torte. I assured him that it would. After all that was the name of the recipe wasn’t it? Well tonight after his first serving, which he had declared quite good, he was getting another piece when he turned to look at me and said “By the way, it is not a torte.” So I went to Britannica to see what they had to say. It says that a torte is a rich cake made up of several thin layers. So I guess that the answer is that it is not a torte in content but is a torte in format. Either way we served it with a chopped salad of green bell pepper, orange bell pepper, and tomato with this vinaigrette. Now for the recipe. My changes are in italics.

Squash and Potato Torte
Makes 8 servings

1/4 to 1/2 red onion diced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese I used 1 1/2 cups + 1/4 cup cheddar cheese for the top
2 tablespoons all purpose flour I used 3 tbsp
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3oz prosciutto diced

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
12 ounces yellow crookneck squash or regular yellow summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds I used a combination of summer squash and zucchini
6 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans. (Deb note: I had only a 9-inch pan around, so what you see in my pictures is slightly thinner.) Set aside 1/4 cup sliced green onions. Toss remaining red onions, cheese, prosciutto, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.

Layer 1/6 of potatoes in concentric circles in bottom of 1 prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Layer 1/4 of squash in concentric circles atop potatoes. I would add a dash of salt and pepper on top of every squash layer. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Repeat with 1/6 of potatoes, then 1/4 of squash and 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Top with 1/6 of potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture and press gently to flatten. Repeat procedure with second cake pan and remaining potatoes, squash, oil, and cheese mixture.

Cover pans with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer. I found 20mins to be sufficient. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cool. Cover with foil and chill. Rewarm, covered with foil, in 350°F oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.)

Cut each torte into wedges.  serve.

Now for today’s bookkeeping


  • Ed fed at work – no cost

subtotal = $0.00


  • 1 Lean Cuisine – $2.50
  • leftovers – no cost
  • 1 peach – $.60
  • salad – $1.50
  • salad dressing $1.50 *original cost and will not be charged again

subtotal = $6.10


  • 2 1/4 cup cheese – $2.25
    1 zucchini – $.70
    1summer squash – $1.00
    1/4 onion – $.25
    1 package prosciutto – $3.00
    1 tbsp olive oil – $.10
    2.5 lb potatoes – $1.50
    thyme – $1.50 *original cost and will not be charged again
    3 tbsp flour – $.03
  • salt and pepper – no charge
  • 2 bell pepper – $2.00
    1 clove garlic – $. 10
    2 shallots – $.40
    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar – $2.00 *original cost and will not be charged again
    1 tbsp dijon mustard – $.08
    1/2 cup olive oil – $.80

subtotal = $16.21

TOTAL = $22.31


Blog Envy

July 29, 2008

You should know that I am not currently working though why is a story for another time.  Being home leaves me with a bit of downtime each day. So today, between getting up and chasing after Gabriel every 5 mins., I spent some time searching for other budget conscious, food related blogs. This left me with a serious case of blog envy. Many of the blogs I found had a customized fun design, professional appearance, organized structure, and amusing, informative, and well-written content. Many were also established enough to participate in the wonderful blogging event Bloggy Giveaways which you might want to check out for yourself. I came back home to Thyme for Change feeling a bit lacking. After a little self pep talk I decided that I was being a little hard on myself. After all this is my first blog and it has only been in existence for 3 days. So I will be patient and wait for my “baby” to slowly evolve. I hope that you will be patient and join me on this imperfect journey.

I had been exhausted all day so when dinner time came around I had no idea what we were going to have. I decided that I would go through the fridge and see what was the oldest and should be used. On the down side I discovered that the 4 ears of corn that had been in there were now moldy so into the trash can for them. However I did find four tortillas and some leftover refried beans and dinner was born. Chicken Quesadillas it was. These are simple, versatile, and always satisfying. How can you go wrong?

Chicken Quesadillas – serves 2

1 chicken breast
8oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 yellow onion diced
1/3 can refried beans
1 cup shredded cheese – I used a mix of cheddar and a taco blend
2 tbsp olive oil
Emeril’s Bayou Blast seasoning – to taste any rub you like would work
salt & pepper to taste
4 8in flour tortillas

1. Turn on broiler, season chicken breast, cook for approx. 7 mins on each side
2. Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saute pan, add mushrooms and saute till mushrooms are about 1/2                                                                                           way done. Add 2nd tbsp of olive oil and the onions and saute till done.  Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Slice chicken breast
4. Assemble quesadillas. Divide each filling ingredient in half (for 2 quesadillas) and layer as follows: tortilla, refried beans, 1/2 the cheese, veggies, chicken, remaining cheese, and top with tortilla.
5. Spray grill pan with Pam and heat on med-high heat. Place quesadillas on pan and cook till bottom is golden brown, flip and cook till 2nd side is golden brown.

Serve with salsa and sour cream


Now for todays bookkeeping


  • I package poptart – $.43

subtotal = $.43


  • Leftovers from last night – no cost
  • grapes – $.55
  • Leftovers previously unaccounted for – $.75

subtotal = $1.30


  • 1 chicken breast – $1.30
  • 8oz sliced mushrooms – $1.50
  • 1/2 onion – $.70
  • 1 cup shredded cheese – $1.00
  • 2 tbsp olive oil – $.20
  • salt and pepper – no charge
  • Bayou Blast seasoning – $1.50 *initial cost and will not be charged again
  • refried beans – $.40
  • 4 tortillas – $.60
  • sour cream – $.90 *initial cost and will not be charged again
  • salsa – $.50

subtotal = $8.60

TOTAL = $10.33

Day is Done

July 28, 2008


“Day is Done” not only is currently a very true statement, but it is also the title to one of my favorite songs by Peter, Paul, and Mary.  Now I know that admitting that I like, actually love, Peter, Paul, and Mary may make me look like a freak to some of you, but it can not be helped.  The refrain of the song states “And if you take my hand my son; All will be well when the day is done“.  As I sit here now, I am reflecting on how true those lyrics are.  My daughter is upstairs and my husband is sitting across from me feeding the baby, and I know that with their hands to hold all WILL be well when the day is done.  Today is no exception.  Not that there was anything particularly bad about today if you forget about that early wake up. But this being the end of the first day of my “project” I am realizing how much time and focus it is going to take to be successful, and how much I am going to need their support and cooperation.  Well, enough philosophizing for now and onto the subject at hand.

Gabriel was nice enough to go back to sleep right after this morning’s post, so I got to crawl back into bed myself.   A couple of hours later, I got up much more rested and ready to get started.  Today I computed the costs per serving size for a number of my food staples, though there are still many left to do.  You can find these under Cost of food staples to the right.  The computations weren’t hard and neither was finding prices to start from for products bought awhile ago, thank you Giant’s Peapod. What was difficult was figuring out how to format the information.   I decided on a table, but that is as far as I got because I had no real idea about how to go actually do it.  In stepped Ed and viola, I have tables.  Thank you Ed!!!  I have a feeling that he will be called into action on many occasions in the name of the blog. 

Lunch consisted of leftovers.  Leftovers that we had eaten at least 4 other times in the last 3 days. I am grateful that they are now gone.  Well almost gone, there is still one serving of American Goulash left.  Don’t get me wrong, I love leftovers!  Leftovers are free food on this budget and usually, hopefully, they are something that you enjoy eating.  I say hopefully because we ALL have dinner blunders on occasion.  Come on, you know it’s true. We actually plan on leftovers with every dinner so Ed has something to take to work the next day.  We do this for 2 reasons. First, and I can’t say this enough, is that it is FREE food. Second, Ed really hates his work’s cafeteria.  Since we have not accounted for the original meal I have charged us for the leftovers this time.  With a general idea of the cost of the original meals and knowing how much we were eating, I estimated that we were eating no more than $.75 worth of ingredients each. So that is the number I will be using.

During the afternoon, we made a quick shopping trip to Harris Teeter and were pleasantly surprised with free ice cream.  I got an ice cream sandwich!  I haven’t had one in so long and it was so good!  In the interests of time and space, and the fact that I would like to keep grocery posts  separate for reference, I will blog about that later.

Sundays are the one day that we are guaranteed to have Ksenia present at dinner.  Most other nights she is either working or has chosen to hang out with her friends.  She’s 18 if you’ll remember.  Since she can be a fairly picky eater and I no longer have to take that into consideration during the rest of the week, not that I always did anyways, I try to pick things she will like on Sundays.  With that in mind, tonight’s dinner was grilled smoked sausage, pierogi casserole (recipe to follow), and roasted green beans. This was a satisfying meal, Ksenia liked it, and there were leftovers.  That is what I call all around success.

Pierogi Casserole found at  Mary Ellen’s Cooking Creations changes will be noted in italics.

1 package frozen pierogies (12 per package)
1/2 onion, sliced
1 green onion, chopped – omitted
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp flour
1 c light cream or milk  I used 2% milk
Approximately 1 c shredded cheeses; I used a combination of a Mexican 4 cheese blend, an Italian 5 cheese blend, and some mild cheddar.  If you can’t tell I was trying to use up my cheese odds and ends .

Preheat oven to 375
Bring a pot of water to a boil; drop in pierogies and let cook for 3-4 minutes. Transfer 6 to a baking dish (so they cover the bottom), and keep the other 6 aside until you are ready to assemble the casserole. (I cooked six at a time and timed it so my second set of pierogies were done at the same time as my cheese sauce)
Make the cheese sauce: Heat olive oil in a pot. Add all onions and red pepper flakes; saute 2 minutes. Add flour and stir. Add cream/milk and bring to a simmer. Add cheeses, and stir until creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour some of the cheese sauce over the first layer of pierogies. Add the rest of the pierogies and top with more cheese sauce. I used an 8×8 casserole dish and that was too big to do two layers so I just put all the piragiin one layer and covered with the cheese sauce. Top with breadcrumbs.
Bake on 375 for about 15 minutes or until bubbly. Turn on the broiler for 3 minutes at the end.


Now for the day’s accounting.  Today, in fact probably this whole week, is going to be a little more expensive than normal because we are doing full costing for many items at once.  Hopefully this will soon balance itself out.


  • 1 bowl of cereal – $.45

  • milk – $1.20 ( 1/2 gallon half empty)

  • please note that I do not normally eat breakfast so the above is for Ed

subtotal = $1.65


  • 2 plates of pasta leftovers – $.75 x 2

subtotal = $1.50


  • nectarine – $.40

  • bowl of ice cream – $2.50; cost of carton and will not be charged again

subtotal = $2.90


  • smoked sausage – $2.00

  • green beans – $.70 + $.10 in olive oil = $.80

  • Pierogi Casserole

               1 package frozen pierogies (12 per package) – $2.00
               1/2 onion, sliced – $.50
               1/2 tsp red pepper flakes – $2.00 – initial cost and will not be charged again
               1/2 tsp salt – $1.50 – initial cost and will not be charged again
               1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper – $2.00 – initial cost and will not be charged again
               1 tbsp olive oil – $.10
               1 tsp flour – $.01
               1 c light cream or milk  – no charge
               Approximately 1 c shredded cheese – $1.00

subtotal = $11.91

TOTAL =  $16.96