Jun 11: Texas BBQ

Lunch

Because we had advanced warning of a maintenance power outage for most of the day, we ran away! The Swinging Door had been recommended to us, so that’s where we headed first.

Overall, excellent. The brisket, sausage, pulled pork, bbq baked beans and collard greens all got full marks for texture, tenderness and flavor. Some parts of the tri-tip were a little tough and overall not as tender as the other meats. Could have been an off day, as our friend said it “wasn’t as good as it usually is.” The Mac ‘n Cheese was okay.

We opted for the spicy BBQ sauce, and were very happy with that choice.

If our friend hadn’t paid, lunch today would have been around $19 for two meats and two sides.

And that was it for the day. Even though we’d been out in the yard planting a new tree before lunch, and went for a 90 minute walk later in the day we had no inclination toward dinner, deciding to have a snack later.

Which we never did. The lunch combo was enough.

Jun 10: Chicken Wrap; Reuben Casserole

Lunch

A fresh chicken at the end of the week isn’t our normal pattern, but it paired well with some leftover Vietnamese Chicken  Salad – although the salad is a little wet to use in a wrap. It was delicious, but messy.

  • The $9.99 chicken is broken into quarters, and one breast is shared for lunch wraps, or $1.25 a serve
  • The flatbread is 50c
  • The Vietnamese Chicken Salad is $1.32 per serve.

Lunch today cost $3.07 per serve.

Dinner

Another take on the Reuben casserole. In the absence of a corned beef boil we purchased some corned beef from Trader Joes, which works well. We scaled the recipe to four serves, although we kept the milk and egg components constant.

Don’t tell Foodie Greg but this is a savory bread pudding (he’s not a fan of ‘bread pudding’). Let’s pretend it’s a strata!

  • Four slices of rye bread are roughly one third of the $1.99 loaf, or 17c per serve
  • The sliced, nitrate free corned beef is $4.99 a pack or $1.25 per serve
  • Trader Joe’s have a Sauerkraut with Persian Cucumbers which combines two ingredients for $3.99 a jar, or 67c per serve.
  • Packaged, shredded Swiss Gryere $4.99 or $1.25 per serve. Although we used the full packet, it was probably closer to three cups than four.
  • A pint of half and half is $1.49 and half was used or 13c per serve.
  • Organic eggs are 50c each or 25c per serve.
  • Greg made “thousand island” dressing with a mix of mayonnaise and shrimp sauce, for about 20c per serve
  • We skipped the caraway seeds for taste reasons but the mustard adds another 15c per serve.

Dinner tonight was, as always, delicious and cost $3.40 per serve. If you like a Reuben sandwich, you will love this casserole.

Jun 9: Smoked Salmon on an Onion Bagel; Roast Chicken with Vietnamese Salad

Lunch

We’re out of chicken for wraps, so why not a smoked salmon bagel? Again with capers, tomato and cucumber as a closed sandwich.

  • Smoked salmon $5.99 for the 4oz pack or $3 a serve
  • The pack of six onion bagels is $1.99 or 33c per serve
  • Cream cheese is about 60c a serve
  • We split 1/6 of the $3.99 pack of kumato tomatoes, or 33c per serve
  • 1 lb of Persian cucumbers was $1.99, of which one went into this meal, or 12c per serve
  • Add 5c for capers.

Lunch today cost $4.43 per serve.

Dinner

The leg and thigh from the supermarket roast chicken was accompanied by Nigella Lawson’s Vietnamese Chicken Salad. We kept the chicken intact and served the salad on the side.

  • Each serve is one quarter of the $7.99 chicken, or $2 a serve
  • The shredded green cabbage was $1.29 for the pack, or 33c per serve
  • The ingredients for the sauce add another 35c per serve
  • Organic mint cost $1.75 or 44c per serve
  • The limes for the dressing were $1.56, but only about half the juice was used, leaving the rest for the accompanying Gin and Tonic – 20c per serve.

We have salad left over for use in lunch wraps. Tonight’s dinner cost $3.32

Jun 8: Chicken Wrap; Smoked Pork Chops with Apple Slaw and Broccolini

Lunch

Chicken wrap time again, with supermarket tabouli.

  • The $7.99 chicken is broken into quarters, and one breast is shared for lunch wraps, or $1.00 a serve
  • The flatbread is 50c
  • Hummus is $3.99 per container and we used about 1/6 or 33c per serve
  • The tabouli side salad is $2.69 for four serves, or 68c per serve.

Lunch today cost $2.56 per serve.

Dinner

Since the last time was such a success, when we saw pair of thin cut pork chops in our Prather Ranch meat delivery we had to smoke them again!

Before smoking we brined the chops. We generally brine pork to ensure it stays moist during cooking. It also brings a little saltiness to the meat, which, when combined with the smoke, makes the pork chops reminiscent  of, almost, ham flavor.

The slaw was left over from a couple of nights ago, and the broccolini was steamed in our new induction-ready pots from Ikea. We’ve opted not to have a microwave as we only used it for steaming vegetables and a little reheating. We’ve found the induction cooktop to be very good for reheating as it has a 195º setting that keeps reheating (or simmering) just below a boil. It seem it will be equally good for steaming.

Induction cook tops are very common in Europe, less so in the USA.
Induction cook tops are very common in Europe, less so in the USA.

We use the induction cooktop for the stove-top smoker because it’s very quick to come to temperature and start smoking/cooking, and it can be set to maintain a temperature and not overheat.

It would be traditional to take the smoked pork chops and give them a quick, hot fry off to make them look more appealing, and to create a little maillard reaction, but with the thin cut chops, we feel it would over-cook the meat and make it tough, so we left them as they came out of the smoker.

  • The thin cut Pork Loin Chops were $9.82 or $4.91 per serve
  • The organic baby broccolini was $2.69 or $1.35 per serve
  • One Granny Smith apple went into the slaw, or 40c per serve
  • Shredded cabbage is 33c per serve
  • Two carrots were 30c or 5c per serve
  • Add 12c for the dressing per serve
  • We used about 1/8 of the $2.99 bottle of Trader Joe’s Sriracha BBQ sauce (this stuff is very addictive), or 19c per serve.

Dinner tonight cost $7.35 per serve and the pork chops were awesome.

Jun 7: Chicken Wrap; Greek Pasta Salad

Lunch

Another supermarket roast chicken gets broken down into four meals: two breasts shared for lunches; leg and thigh served with accompaniments.

Today’s wrap featured kumato and baby lettuce.

  • The $7.99 chicken is broken into quarters, and one breast is shared for lunch wraps, or $1.00 a serve
  • The flatbread is 50c
  • Hummus is $3.99 per container and we used about 1/6 or 33c per serve
  • A single kumato (black tomato) halved is 33c per serve
  • The baby lettuce is $3.99 a pack and we shared 1/8 of it, or 25c per serve.

Lunch today cost $2.41 per serve.

Dinner

Foodie Greg created a greek inspired pasta salad with brown rice pasta, black olives,cucumber, cherry tomatoes, shallot, and feta cheese.

  • The shallot is $1.05 or 27c per serve
  • ‘Grape’ tomatoes are $2.99 for the pack, or 75c per serve
  • 1 lb of Persian cucumbers was $1.99, of which half went into this meal, or 25c per serve
  • The olives add another 40c per serve
  • The good feta comes in a $6.99 tub and we used about half, or 88c per serve
  • Add 10c for seasonings and oil.

Our meatless Tuesday salad cost just $2.65 per serve.

Jun 6: In and Out Burger; Cauliflower Fried Rice with Shrimp (repeat)

Lunch

Back to the normal Monday schedule with Foodie Philip in Burbank during the middle part of the day. Lunch, by tradition and convenience, is from In and Out Burger: a Double Double Animal Style.

Today’s lunch was $4.03 with tax.

Dinner

Time to eat the remaining Cauliflower Fried Rice with some freshly cooked shrimp on top.

As it did on June 3, the cauliflower fried rice with shrimp cost $4.32 per serve and looked just like it did then.

Jun 5: Smoked Salmon bagel; Smoked Pork Spare Ribs with Apple Slaw

Lunch

Sunday lunch and another smoked salmon bagel. This time with capers, tomato and cucumber as a closed sandwich.

  • Smoked salmon is normally $5.99 for the 4oz pack, but we still have some from when it was on special at $1 off, with another $1 coupon, or $2 a serve
  • The pack of six onion bagels is $1.99 or 33c per serve
  • Cream cheese is about 60c a serve
  • We split 1/6 of the $3.99 pack of kumato tomatoes, or 33c per serve
  • 1 lb of Persian cucumbers was $1.99, of which one went into this meal, or 12c per serve
  • Add 5c for capers.

Lunch today cost $3.43 per serve.

Dinner

Still experimenting with the stovetop smoker, we smoked some Pork Spare Ribs and served it with an Apple Coleslaw: still with cabbage but also some Julienne apple. With a light mayonnaise and apple cider vinegar dressing.

Smoking the spare ribs gives a very different result than a slow braise. The meat was tasty and had a good texture, but it was not “fall off the bone” tender. Rather than cook a sauce we tried Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha & Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce, which is a good balance of spicy, salty and sweet, with a hint of garlic.

  • 1.7lb of Pork Spare Ribs cost $10.84, but the actual meat serve is more like 6oz per serve doe $5.42
  • Trader Joes’s BBQ Rub and seasoning (coffee and garlic): about 25c per serve
  • One Granny Smith apple went into the slaw, or 40c per serve
  • Shredded cabbage is 33c per serve
  • Two carrots were 30c or 5c per serve
  • Add 12c for the dressing per serve
  • We used about 1/8 of the $2.99 bottle, or 19c per serve.

Dinner tonight cost $6.76 per serve.

Jun 4: Country Deli; Smoked Pork Sausages with a Mango, Cucumber & Feta salad

Lunch

Once again, The Country Deli was calling, and once again Foodie Philip had the 10 oz marinated skirt steak-rare. Served with three eggs, home fries and a bread/bagel, it’s a huge meal.

Foodie Greg’s pastrami sandwich was likewise excellent, although he was thankful he ordered a half!

Lunch at the Country Deli runs out around $20 a serve with tax and tip.

Dinner

A late change of plans away from left-over Cauliflower Fried Rice – which will come later – found us smoking some of the Prather Ranch Pork Sausages, with a mango, cucumber and feta salad of Greg’s invention.

Unfortunately the Whole Foods mango was completely devoid of flavor, which dragged down the whole meal. The sausages had a slight smoky flavor and were great.

  • The sausages $12.86 for two packs, or $3.22 per serve for the best pork sausages we’ve ever had, even better with a little smoke.
  • The tasteless Whole Foods mango was $1.99 or $1.00 a serve
  • 1 lb of Persian cucumbers was $1.99, of which half went into this meal, or 50c per serve
  • The green olives add another 40c per serve
  • Feta comes in a $6.99 tub and we used about half, or $1.75 per serve
  • Add 10c for seasonings and oil.

Dinner tonight cost $6.97 per serve, and would have been awesome if the mango had flavor!

Jun 3: Tuna ‘nicoise’ wrap; Cauliflower fried rice with Shrimp

Lunch

We experimented with a salad nicoise inspired tuna wrap: dry tuna salad with capers; greens and tomato.

  • The flatbread is 50c
  • The yellowtail tuna is $2.29 per can, or $1.15 per serve
  • We split 1/6 of the $3.99 pack of kumato tomatoes, or 33c per serve
  • A similar amount of greens, adds another 33c per serve.

Lunch today cost $2.31 per serve

Dinner

Even though we have lots of meat in the freezer from our current and past Prather Ranch deliveries, tonight we went mostly meat free – just a little bacon for flavor. Cauliflower is a very good substitute for rice. In the past we’ve baked the shredded cauliflower to dry it, but this time we decided to fry it off in the bacon fat (after frying the bacon to perfection). This worked really well and saves heating the house with the oven on a hot afternoon.

A little curry spice replaced ginger – mostly because we are out of ginger – and was definitely an enhancement.

  • The organic cauliflower was $3.78 or 95c per serve
  • Organic bacon is $8.99 for the pack, but four slices went into the recipe, or 57c per serve.
  • Organic eggs are 50c each, and it averages 1.5 eggs per serve, or 75c
  • Frozen peas are $2.79 per pack and we used about 1/4 or 35c per serve
  • Spices and oil add another 20c per serve
  • The shrimp adds $1.50 per serve.

The cauliflower fried rice with shrimp cost $4.32 per serve.

Jun 2: ‘Yeros’ Wrap; Steak Salad

Lunch

Since we had half the gyro meat, we repeated our version of a gyro/yeros. Because we were going to use the cast iron griddle on the induction cooktop to cook a steak later, we used it to reheat the meat.

  • The fully cooked sliced gyro/yeros meat is $3.99 per 10oz pack. There are really four serves, so each serve is very slightly cheaper than the chicken, at $1.00 per serve.
  • The flatbread is 50c
  • Hummus is $3.99 per container and we used about 1/6 or 33c per serve
  • We served 1/4 of the tabouli salad or 67c per serve.

Lunch today cost $2.50 per serve.

Dinner

When you have dry aged Top Sirloin Steak in the freezer on a hot day, steak salad comes to mind. This is our own recipe, loosely based on a steak salad we had in Nottingham (UK) a couple of years back. It was good, but we had the waitress drooling over the description of how we’d improve it. This is the result.

Seared top sirloin (rump), steak salad (greens, sauteed mushrooms, tomato, blue cheese and almonds), with a Worcestershire Vinaigrette (Olive oil and Worcestershire sauce as the vinegar component).

  • 0.8lb of Top Sirloin is $11.43 or $5.72 per serve. Because it is dry aged, we – once again – cooked to blue.
  • We used the entire $3.99 pack of mushrooms, or $2.00 per serve
  • Half the $3.99 pack of baby lettuce went into the salad, or $1.00 per serve
  • Half the $3.99 pack of kumato tomatoes went into the salad, or $1.00 per serve
  • Add 45c for the crumbled blue cheese per serve
  • The almonds are $6.99 a pack but we used 1/10th or 23c per serve
  • Add 20c for oil and Worcestershire sauce.

Dinner tonight cost $10.60 – or about half what we paid in the UK for much lower quality meat.