Monthly Archives: August 2012

How to Save Money on Groceries

Hey guys! I’m over at Yumm.com today blogging about how to save money on your weekly grocery bill. My personal favorite: take a look at what’s in your cupboard and build your shopping list from there. You’ll be surprised what canned goods are lurking in the depths of your kitchen and you’ll relish the challenge of working with them! Or you’ll find mold. Either or.

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Filed under Miscellaneous

Butter Cookies


If you know me at all, you know I hate crispy cookies. Sure, they have their place and time (a thin wafer tucked in a scoop of ice cream or a biscotti alongside a cup of coffee on a Sunday, for example) but in general I love me a giant, soft, chewy cookie. It’s a running source of debate in my family whether the chocolate chip cookies should be baked soft or crispy – dad likes them crispy, I like them soft. We’re like the Hatfields and the McCoys over here.

So needless to say when The BF requested cookies that resembled “the cookies that come in the blue tin!” I rolled my eyes. CRISPY COOKIES?! IN MY HOUSE?! But I kinda like him so I caved. Here’s my secret: I under-baked them so they’re still a TINY bit soft on the inside. He still loves them because they taste kinda like Danish butter cookies, and I love them because they’re still the tiniest bit soft. Win win.

On the menu:
Butter cookies
Makes 24 cookies

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 2/3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until combined. Add the egg and blend for around 3 minutes until the mixture is lighter in color and texture. By hand, stir in the flour and salt, then the vanilla.

If you are going to use a cookie press: you can use the dough now and skip to the next step. If you’re going to cut these cookies into rounds like I did, you’ll need to form a log with the dough and chill it for about an hour in the refrigerator. After the dough is chilled, cut 1/4 inch thick slices* with a sharp knife. Place on cookie sheet. Press M&Ms into the dough if desired.

Bake cookies for 8 – 10 minutes or until the edges are brown. Remove and let cool on wire racks.

*These cookies would be completely crispy if you sliced them just a bit thinner. Just adjust your bake time accordingly so they don’t burn.

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Very few people nowadays dedicate their lives to studying and mastering a craft. The incredible documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi follows a man who did just that. Jiro owns a sushi restaurant in Japan that is world renowned for the quality of the product, the dedication of the apprentices who study under him, and the esteem he’s garnered from being a disciplined master of his craft.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is streaming on Netflix and I cannot recommend it enough. Word to the wise: have some sushi on hand while you watch. You’re gonna need it.

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Filed under Chefs

Balsamic Chicken Sandwich with Goat Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes

In an effort to keep my spending low, pending my upcoming lack of paychecks and whatnot, I took a quick survey of my cupboard and tried to plan the week’s meals while also using up odds and ends that I already have in the house. This meal is the result of that, and if I do say so myself, it turned out quite nicely. Added bonus: I kept half my sandwich for today’s lunch. #TwoBirdsOneStone

On the menu:
Balsamic chicken sandwich with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes
Serves 2

1 large chicken breast, cut in half length wise, cut in half width wise
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp rosemary (fresh or dried)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

2 Portuguese rolls
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
2 Tbsp goat cheese
1 cup spring mixed greens

In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary. Rub chicken breasts with garlic cloves and then add chicken and garlic to the olive oil/vinegar mixture. Toss chicken to coat. Let sit at least one hour or overnight.

Cook chicken any way you like: if you have a grill, these are perfect grilled. If you’re a city dweller and are grill-less, you can cook these in a frying pan over medium heat with a little olive oil until the outside is barely crispy (the balsamic will glaze the chicken and keep it super moist).

Halve the rolls and toast them. Spread one half with goat cheese and the other half with sundried tomatoes. Layer greens and then chicken. Serve hot.

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Roasted sausage with garlic and cherry tomatoes


This meal requires such little preparation, I will probably make it every week from now until I start to smell like sausage. Remember, I’m trying to find a job so I don’t want to smell like a sausage factory when I walk into interviews…

… do I?

In any case, this takes an hour to roast but about 5 minutes to prepare. All you need is a roasting pan or an ovenproof skillet and you’re good to go.

On the menu:
Sausage with garlic and cherry tomatoes
Serves 2 – 3

1 lb sweet Italian sausage
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, washed
1 head of garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup small pasta (such as orzo) or white beans or wilted greens to serve the dish over, cooked according to box directions

Preheat oven to 425. Prick each sauce a few times on each side with a sharp knife or toothpick.

Add sausage, cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, and spices to a roasting pan or ovensafe skillet. Pour over olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Using your hands*, toss until the herbs are distributed and everything is coated in olive and vinegar. Make sure everything is in one solid layer in your pan or skillet. Bake for 30 minutes. Flip sausage and roast for another 30 minutes. Serve over small pasta or beans or wilted greens. Splash a tiny bit more balsamic if desired.

*Do not use a spoon and deprive yourself of the slippery, crazy-cool feeling of tossing all this together with your hands. You’re giggling thinking about tossing slippery sausage with oil (hardy har har) but sexual undertones aside, it just feels so dang cool! Seriously. Okay, you’re still laughing. Fine fine, the cheese stands alone.

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Consolation Cake


When bad things happen in life, everyone has their own coping mechanism. I don’t think it’s any huge surprise that my feel-better activity is baking. I got laid off from my job yesterday and needless to say, it feels pretty awful. If I was leaving my job because Food + Wine called up and said, “We need a new cake tester who can also write a column about it in a snarky way” then I would be over the moon*! Alas, no one but the unemployment office was calling me up. So I brushed up my resume and then I whisked up this cake.

On the menu:
Lemon olive oil cake
Serves 12
Adapted from Epicurious.com

NOTE: You’ll need a 9 inch spring form pan for this cake.

3/4 cup olive oil plus 2 Tbsp for greasing the pan
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup flour
5 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease spring form pan with 1 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil.

In a small bowl: whisk together flour and lemon zest.

In a large bowl: beat together egg yolks with half cup of sugar until thick and pale, around 3 minutes. While mixer is still beating, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. Beat in lemon juice until incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the flour/zest mixture until incorporated.

In a medium bowl: with clean beaters, beat together egg whites with salt until the mixture is foamy. A little at a time, add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until soft peaks form.

Fold the egg whites into the large bowl egg yolk mixture until completely incorporated. Pour the batter into a greased spring form pan. Tap the pan on the counter a couple times to get rid of the bubbles within the batter. Sprinkle the cake with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar (this will form a nice crunchy crust on top).

Bake for 45 minutes or until a sharp knife comes out clean. Once baked completely, remove the spring form outer ring and let the cake cool for at least an hour before removing from the base of the pan and the parchment. Serve in wedges plain, or with a fruit compote.

NOTE: this cake is ALMOST eggy, but dense and tangy and absolutely delicious. As I’m never quite sure what’s dessert and what’s breakfast, I could see this being served at brunch with fresh fruit or freshly whipped cream alongside a bacon potato skillet dish. Are you drooling yet?

*Are you Food + Wine? Do you want to hire me? Then do it already! I’m totally free this month.

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Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce

When I was a single girl, living in a single world, I did my grocery shopping whenever I needed to. If I felt like cooking I’d pick up necessities on my way home from work because if I did weekly shopping then things went to waste (you know, because of those nights when you’re like, hmm this chocolate cake and red wine looks like dinner to me). But now that I am living with a S.O. (that’s significant other for you laypeople) we do our grocery shopping once a week. Not only does that mean that I have to plan nightly meals for a whole week, but it means that when single-Lauren would’ve eaten red wine and cake because she lacked the energy to grocery shop, S.O.’ed-Lauren tries to make due with what’s in the cupboard.

This is a sauce that you can put on pasta, pour over roasted vegetables, or even use as a pizza sauce beneath toppings like prosciutto or zucchini, and it’s a sauce that can be made with things you probably already have in your cupboard. As long as you’re a nice Italian girl, that is.

On the menu:
Garlic parmesan cream sauce
Serves 2

3 medium sized cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped)

In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add garlic and saute for 2 – 3 minutes or until aromatic. Add the flour and stir into a paste. Add milk and cream and cook for around 5 – 6 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the parmesan cheese and the basil and cook until desired thickness, around 5 – 6 more minutes. Toss with pasta and serve.

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