Adventures of Eating with dReJ: healthy, cheap, delicious

Posts tagged ‘cooking’

Easy Curry (Paleo & Wheat-Free Friendly)

Quick Curry with Carrots


This weekend I selected a Quick Curry meal to be one of our lunch dishes for the week. It was really simple to make and didn’t take a long time or weird ingredients either. I found this recipe in the book: The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf that I just finished reading.

Here’s what you need (and then below I’ll tell you what I added):

1 lb ground pork (you could use lamb, chicken, turkey, stew beef)
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp curry powder
1 bag baby spinach (14 oz)
1/2 can coconut milk (7 oz)
2-3 cloves garlic


I felt like that wasn’t going to be filling enough for lunch – so I sauteed some carrots (bought fresh from the farmer’s market) with a little garlic, cumin & paprika seasoning and added those to the top of the dish. I also added some yellow onion to ours.

How to make it:

Easy peasy in the skillet


Cook up the meat in a pan with olive oil. Add the curry powder as the meat browns – mixing well. Be sure to break up any large pieces of meat – it needs to  be pretty crumbled up. If you are going to add onions – now is the time! Once the meat is browned, add all the spinach and coconut milk and heat until the spinach has wilted. Add garlic at the end (if you use fresh garlic – mince it or use a garlic press to crush it). Mix well, remove from heat and serve.

We ate this yesterday for lunch (just zapped it in the microwave at work!) and it was pretty good to not have any starches in it. When I think of curry dishes, I expect there to be rice – so this was definitely a change, but it was still a yummy meal. I sort of wanted MORE of it, but I’m guessing that my body will adjust after a week or so without the carbs from starches. Of course, if you aren’t avoiding grains – you could add some rice to this easily and make it work for your eating style.


We used ground turkey because the store didn’t have ground pork or chicken & we were lazy and didn’t feel like grinding it ourselves. I think pork/chicken might have a better flavor – but the turkey worked well if that’s what you have on hand!

There you go – super simple! The only thing you might have to go looking for is some coconut milk (hint: look in the international aisle with the Asian stuff).




Chicken Piccata with Orzo

Quick Link:

Quick and easy for dinner time

Total: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup orzo, 1 cutlet, and 2 tablespoons sauce)


  • 1  cup  uncooked orzo
  • 2  teaspoons  grated lemon rind
  • 4  (4-ounce) chicken cutlets (we just used chicken breasts here)
  • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt (again, just regular salt for us)
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1/4  cup  white wine
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  tablespoon  chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1  tablespoon  capers

dReJ Say: It’s hard to go wrong with Chicken Piccata. Don’t go overboard on portions here if you don’t stick with the cutlet size! Capers are delicious – if you haven’t ever had them, go for it. I used to think they were scary seafood. Man, i was wrong 😉 They are like lemony goodness. Perfect in this pasta dish. Capers can be found with the canned olives in your  grocery store.

Orzo is a super easy pasta to make. But of course if you want – pick a different pasta to serve this with.

Calories: 345

Baja Butternut Squash Soup with Shrimp Cobb Salad

Here’s the link to the soup:

Link to Shrimp Cobb Salad: 

Yummy wintertime soup!

 10 servings, about 3/4 cup each
Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 1 1/2 pounds (1 small to medium) butternut or other winter squash
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile (we used canned chipotle’s in adobe sauce found in the International Aisle)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (we used chicken broth)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (we just used regular salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt (we used the non fat plain greek yogurt)
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives, or chopped parsley (this is just for garnish – so use it if you have some on hand!)

dReJ Tip: So we are big fans of the butternut squash this time of year (if you haven’t noticed). Part of the fun of eating cheap and healthy is eating what’s in season! (more…)

Chicken and Parsnip Soup

Here’s the link to the recipe from Cooking Light: Chicken and Parsnip Soup

Great for a "bring it to work" lunch


Total: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)


  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 3/4  cup  thinly diagonally sliced parsnip (2 parsnips) (see below if you have no clue what a parsnip is)
  • 3/4  cup  thinly sliced shallots (2 shallots)
  • 1  (4-ounce) package gourmet mushroom blend (just pick your favorite kind OR whatever is on sale!)
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 2 1/2  cups  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  cup  water
  • 1  cup  chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1  cup  shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (we just bought 1 chicken breast and cooked it in the oven and shredded it later)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  hot sauce
  • 1  thyme sprig
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley

What the heck is a parsnip?
I have to take full credit here, I actually knew what a parsnip was and where to find it in the store when RJ didn’t. That happens so rarely I have to brag. For those of you wondering…you’ll find parsnips in the produce section of your grocery. Here’s what to look for:


Week in Review: Oct. 11 – Oct 16

Greetings foodies! We’re anxious to get rolling with our first dReJGourmet food review! Below we’ll post the 4 recipes we picked, some pictures of the products and cooking process, calories and anything we changed or left out from the recipe. And most of all – we’ll tell you what we thought about the recipe!

Four Recipes:
Tuscan-Style Tuna Salad from
Southwest Turkey Burgers from with Southwest Corn (dReJ special concotion: see below for the idea behind this)
Creamy Fettuccine with Shrimp & Bacon from
Chicken Tetrazzzine from

The Ingredients (note – anything with a strikethru font means we made a change!)

Recipe #1: Tuna Salad

Tuna: 4 servings, 1 cup each
Active Time: 10 minutes/ Total Time: 10 minutes


  • 2 6-ounce cans chunk light tuna, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can small white beans, such as cannellini or great northern, rinsed
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and sliced 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1/4-1/2 cup fat free Kraft Mayo (to taste!)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Served with: Martin’s Potato Sandwich Rolls Potato Rolls & Cooked Carrots as a side

What we Changed:
As you see – this recipe served as an inspiration because we remembered as we started to make it that we had made this recipe before and it was too dry. So we decided to keep the mayonaisse base and leave out the olive oil. We switched out the scallions for white onion since we were using the white onion for other recipes this week.

Here’s what it looked like before we mixed everything together – YUM!

dReJ Concotion: Easy Carrots
Slice up carrots, put in pan with enough water to cover carrots and bring to boil. Once carrots are to your desired tenderness, drain water and put carrots back in pan with 1/2 teaspoon of butter per serving & quarter clove of garlic + salt and pepper to taste – mix this all together and let the butter melt, sprinkle with parsley (dried parsley works!) and enjoy! Serving: about 3/4 cup chopped

Estimated Calories: The calories will obviously depend on how creamy you like your tuna – the original recipe was 253 calories, so when you take out the olive oil and replace fat free Kraft Mayo – it’s a pretty good trade, saving some fat grams and calories. We served this on a Martin’s Potato Sandwich Roll that is 130 calories and served with cooked about 3/4 cup chopped carrots (see recipe below for EASY cooking). Just FYI – a cup of carrots chopped is about 53 calories. You’ve got some extra things in their like a 1/2 teaspoon of butter to help season them, so even if we overestimate at 60 calories for the 3/4cup serving – we’re looking at about 450 calories for this meal.

dReJ Says: This is a super simple, FAST meal to prepare. In weeks when we are lacking in time – a tuna salad is both easy and cheap.

Recipe #2 – Southwest Turkey Burgers from with Southwest Corn (dReJ special concotion: see below for the idea behind this)
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 burger)

  • 2  poblano chiles (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1  ounce  French bread baguette 1 ounce breadcrumbs
  • 1/4  cup  1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2  teaspoon  chili powder, divided
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 1  pound  ground turkey breast
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  tablespoons  canola mayonnaise (we used Kraft Fat Free Mayo)
  • 4  (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns, toasted (we used Martin’s Potato Sandwich Rolls)
  • 4  (1/2-inch-thick) slices tomato 1 Avocado (sliced)
  • 4  green leaf lettuce leaves

dReJ Says: Don’t let the “grill the poblanos” part scare you away from this recipe. If you don’t have a grill or you are just lazy (like us) you can do this inside on your stove top. See the picture? You can do this, too. Just keep a careful eye on them – letting them get blackened on each side. It will smell like it’s burning. Just a warning! Once you “roast them” – put them in a plastic bag for about 5 minutes and then you should be able to pull the skin off easily with your fingers.

Dice them up and put them with the turkey mixture as the recipe indicates.  And pretty soon – you’ll have 4 little turkey burger patties ready to be cooked up. Again – you don’t have to use the grill. Pop them in the pan on the stove top with a little cooking spray and cook them up.

We served this with the mayonaisse as indicated and on a Martin’s Potato Sandwich Roll.

dReJ Concoction: Southwestern Corn (Easy cooking!)
1 can Corn + Original Rotelli (you can pick how spicy you want it to be)
Dump into saute pan and heat it up!

Estimated Calories for this meal: 321 for burger w/bun + ~100 for corn/rotel recipe = 421 calories

dReJ Says: This recipe is the bomb. So good! And it’s easy to heat up in a toaster oven or microwave. Very filling!

Recipe #3: Chicken Tetrazzini


Yield: 2 casseroles, 6 servings each (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups)
dReJ note: We made half the amount of this recipe (so 6 servings of this). We had 1.5 servings a piece for our dinner since it was around 500 calories. The ingredients below reflect “half” the original amount.


  • 1  tablespoon 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  cup 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2/3  cup  finely chopped celery
  • 1  teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 3/8 teaspoon  salt
  • 3  (8-ounce) 1.5 (4 ounces) package presliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 1/4  cup  dry sherry
  • 2/3 1/3 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 3  (14.5-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth ~22 ounces of fat free, less sodium chicken broth (we use the cubes that you just throw in a cup of water and boil it up)
  • 2 1/4  cups 1 1/8 cups or 4.5 ounces (9 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2  cup 1/4 cup or 2 ounces (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 7  cups 3.5 cups hot cooked vermicelli (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)
  • 4  cups 2 cups  chopped cooked chicken breast (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1  (1-ounce) slice white bread .5 ounce bread crumbs

This recipe is pretty straight forward – so even for a kitchen novice (me), it wasn’t hard. Remember since you are using breadcrumbs you don’t have to worry about the food processor! Also – you have to cook the chicken and the pasta before, so make sure that you don’t look over that part!

dRej Says: This is a delicious casserole. It would also be easy to substitute whatever veggies you have or like for the ones it calls for. Same thing with the pasta – you could use another type of noodle to avoid buying more. It was also easy to make in advance and stick in the fridge until we were ready to bake it. Reheats nicely!

Calories: For 1.5 servings of the casserole = 570 calories

Recipe #4: Creamy Fettuccine Penne or vermicelli with Shrimp & Bacon

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups pasta and 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley)
dReJ note: We only made 4 servings – so make sure to reduce everything by half so you’ll be able to have it for 2 meals a piece!


  • 1  pound  uncooked fettuccine penne or whatever other pasta you have!
  • 2  bacon slices (uncooked)
  • 1  pound  large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2  cups  frozen canned green peas, thawed
  • 1  cup  shredded carrot
  • 2  cups  2% reduced-fat milk
  • 2  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided

So I must admit – I’m not typically the one who cooks, but I did cook this meal! So for anyone freaked out by cooking, this is an easy recipe – even the sauce is simple to make. If you can chop up veggies, cook pasta, and stir some ingredients together while they are boiling – you’ve got this!

The only thing I messed up on was not putting enough milk in the sauce, and honestly, is still turned out good – just a bit more thick. When we made it the next time – we used the rest of our  vermicelli pasta and the sauce turned out much better!

dReJ says: This was also tasty & quick to make. As long as your shrimp are thawed prior to cooking, you don’t really have anything that takes long about this recipe. In the time it takes to cook the pasta, you can make all the other stuff and you are good to go.  Also an easy recipe to throw in other veggies you might have on hand from other meal leftovers. Could be an easy switch out for another meat as well!

Calories in this meal: About 382 (obviously if you change the meat you might change the calories on this one!

What’s it going to cost me?
That’s it, folks. Our 4 recipes we picked this week with ingredients, our changes and our thoughts on the recipes. Last week we spent about $45 a piece and we got food for these meals, personal item, breakfast and a meal for the weekend.

It’s hard to believe – but true – you can eat healthy, cheap, & delicious, too!

-Dre & RJ

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