Gooey S’more Cookies (Insomnia Copy Cat)

SmoresCookies

For those of you who have been to Insomnia Cookies, you have probably tasted or at least smelled their famous Chocolate S’mores Cookies. These cookies are a gooey, chocolate, marshmallow explosion unlike any cookie I’d ever tasted. Sadly, just one average sized cookie costs $2.75! That is not a price I am willing to pay for just one cookie, no matter how good it is. After recently trying her first Insomnia S’mores cookie my cousin challenged me to create a copy cat recipe so we could actually afford to have one of these amazing cookies more than once a year…challenge accepted and met!

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Gooey S’mores Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter; softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 3 graham crackers; broken into large pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and prepare baking sheets.
  2. In a small bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside
  3. In a large bowl cream together butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Gradually add flour mixture. Mix in milk.
  4. Carefully stir in graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate chips.
  5. Roll 1 Tbsp sized cookies, place on baking sheets, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Cookies will look underdone in center, this is OKAY, do NOT over cook! Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before moving to drying rack.

The Frugality:

This entire batch of cookies only cost me about $5.35 and the whole batch made close to 3 dozen cookies…that’s only $0.15 per cookie! Say goodbye to paying $2.75 for one cookie at Insomnia!

 

Italian Almond Cookies

AlmondCookies

During a trip to Sienna, Italy I was told I HAD to try their notorious almond cookies. It took just one bite for me to fall in love with these sweet melt-in-your-mouth cookies, and now, months later, I have found myself craving these sweet pastries again. This recipe is my best attempt at recreating Sienna’s much loved cookies. While admittedly they aren’t the same cookies I enjoyed in a small Italian cafe, they are dangerously delicious.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup shortening (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • coarse sugar (for coating cookies)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and prepare baking sheets.
  2. Using electric beaters or stand mixer, beat together sugar, butter, and shortening until creamy. Stir in eggs and almond extract.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together cake flour, all purpose flour, corn starch, and salt. Gradually add dry mixture to butter mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined.
  4. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Roll 1/2 Tbsp of dough into a ball and roll in raw sugar. Place dough balls on baking sheets and bake for 7 minutes (do NOT over cook). Remove cookies from oven and gently flatten cookies with the back of a spoon while they are still warm. Place cookies on cooling and allow to cool completely before serving.

The Frugality

At first glance these may appear as more expensive cookies because of less common ingredients, like cake flour and almond extract. However, after crunching some numbers I was amazed to find that this entire batch of about 125 cookies only cost around $6.00! That’s only 5 cents per cookie! So go ahead, buy the almond extract and cake flour so you can make these delicious little morsels…if you don’t like the cookies (which I doubt will happen) and you are looking for something else to use the ingredients then I suggest putting the ingredients into these Blackberry Pie Bars.

Nutrition Breakdown

Serving Size = 2 cookies

Calories 118; Cals from Fat 56; Total Fat 6.2 g (Saturated 2.5 g; Polyunsaturated o.1 g; Monounsaturated 0.7 g; Trans 1.3 g); Cholestorol 16 mg; Sodium 3.1 mg; Potassium 6.6 mg; Total Carbohydrates 15 g (Dietary Fiber 0.4 g; Sugar 6.1 g); Protein 1.4 g

Fresh Veggie and Hummus Wrap

VeggieWrap

I’ve just returned home after studying abroad for a semester in Florence, Italy. However delicious all that pizza and pasta was, there were a lot of foods that I missed from the states; hummus being one of them. I have to give my mom props for this delicious wrap sandwich. The combination of hummus and fresh vegetables makes for a beautiful, yummy, and healthy lunch.

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Ingredients

  • 1 fajita sized tortilla (flour or whole grain)
  • 2 tbsp hummus (I like garlic or pine-nut hummus)
  • 6-8 grape tomatoes; halved
  • 1/4 of a red bell pepper; sliced
  • 1/2 Tbsp red onion; diced
  • 1/4 cup pea pods; chopped
  • 1/4 cup cucumber; sliced
  • 2 Tbsp shredded carrots

Directions

  1. Spread hummus down the center of the tortilla
  2. After preparing the veggies, layer them in the center of the tortilla and tightly roll one end of the tortilla to the other. Enjoy!

The Frugality

The frugality of this recipe really depends on where you buy some of your key ingredients and what brands you’re buying. As a frugal foodie I purchase a lot of my non-produce ingredients (like tortillas and hummus) as places like Walmart and Costco. Generally, one Veggie Hummus Wrap costs me around $2.50…I can’t complain about that!

Nutrition Breakdown

Calories 235; Cals from Fat 69; Total Fat 7.7 g (Saturated 1g; Polyunsaturated 1g; Monounsaturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 430mg; Potassium 63mg; Total Carbohydrates 35g (Dietary Fiber 7.5g; Sugar 6g); Protein 7.5g; Vitamin A 58%; Vitamin C 88%; Calcium 44%; Iron 14%

Chicken, Grapes, and Feta Salad with Honey-Lemon Dressing

ChickenSalad

Not only is this chicken salad delicious, but it’s also good for you (and kind of pretty). It is the perfect lunch. Make the whole recipe ahead of time and save it in your fridge for several lunches throughout the week!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb chicken breast
  • 1 bunch grapes; halved
  • 1/2 cup spelt grains; uncooked
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions; sliced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook spelt grains according to package directions. Meanwhile heat oil in a small pan over medium high heat. Add chicken to pan and cook about 4 minutes per side. Let chicken cool for about 5 minutes, then shred into small chunks using a fork.
  2. To prepare the dressing mix the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, sugar and honey in a small dish.
  3. In a large bowl mix together the chicken, grapes, and spelt grains. Add the dressing, tossing to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with green onions and feta.

Chickpea & Avocado Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

IMG_1921Salad

Since I arrived in Italy I have taken on a new diet that include carbs, carbs, and more carbs. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE all of the paninis, pasta, pizza, ect., but sometimes I need a little break. My desire for a fresh, health, and carborhydrateless) meal inspired this hearty salad.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Avocado; diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes; halved
  • 1 (8oz) can chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup wheat berries or spelt grains; cooked
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Cook wheat berries or spelt according to package directions. Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl toss avocado, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, and wheat berries.
  3. In a small bowl stir olive oil, lime, honey, and sugar.
  4. Pour dressing over avocado mixture and toss gently. Salt and pepper to taste. (makes 3-4 servings)

Mushroom Ravioli with Balsamic Tomato Dressing

Ravioli

Be prepared for lots of Italian inspired meals in the next several months, as I am studying abroad in Florence this semester! Living in Tuscany is a food lovers dream; every morning there are street markets with beautiful fruits and vegetables, the wine is perfecto (and inexpensive), and the smell of good cooking can be found rolling out of every restaurant and home. However, being raised in the states, where we are supplied with large appliances and microwaves, cooking can be a bit of a challenge here. I’ve decided to take on this challenge to learn how to cook simply and learn new, authentic Italian recipes. I’ve started going to the market nearly every day, and rather than planning meals, I allow my meals to be inspired by the freshest meats and produce at the days market. While this new method of shopping and cooking has been challenging, it is also making me a better cook, who can think on my feet and quickly find substitutes for ingredients. Even if you aren’t living in Italy, I challenge you to try this sometime. Believe me, you will be amazed at what you come up with.

In the mean time, you can also try the recipes that I create, like this Mushroom Ravioli with Balsamic Tomato Dressing.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 8 oz. package of mushroom ravioli
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes; halved
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion; sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper; chopped
  • 1 clove garlic; minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper; to taste
  • Fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Boil a large pot of water.
  2. While water boils, heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; saute for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and bell pepper; saute for 4 minutes or until tomatoes are tender and onions are translucent. Add the garlic; cook 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant. Add the remaining oil, vinegar, salt and pepper; saute for two more minutes, allowing tomatoes to soak up the vinegar. Remove from heat.
  3. Add ravioli to the boiling water and cook according to package directions.
  4. Dish ravioli evenly among 2 plates and top both with tomato mixture. Garnish with fresh basil if desired.

Sausage and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

stuffedmushrooms

During my winter break I had time to experiment with new lunch recipes, including this stuffed portobello mushroom. I found it in a weight watchers cook book and it has now become one of my favorite lunches. The meal is actually so filling it’s hard to believe it’s only 300 calories!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 link Italian turkey sausage
  • 4 oz canned artichoke hearts; drained and sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion; diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper; diced
  • 1 Tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Cooking Spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cut off mushroom stems and remove the veins. Place in baking dish, bottoms up, and bake for 10 minutes until mushrooms are tender.
  3. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add sausage, artichoke hearts, onion, and pepper; sauté for about 5 minutes, or until sausage is browned.
  4. Mix in bread crumbs and 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese.
  5. Top each mushroom with sausage mixture. Return to oven for another 10 minutes.
  6. Add the rest of the parmesan to the top of each mushroom; return to oven for about 1 minute or until cheese has melted. (makes 2 servings)

Grueyer Mushroom Quesadilla

GrueyerQuesadilla

Yum! These quesadillas taste like restaurant quality, but are actually super simple to make.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Flour Tortilla
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup baby bella mushrooms; sliced
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion; sliced
  • 1 tsp garlic; minced
  • 3 Tbsp gruyere cheese; shredded
  • 1 tsp sherry cooking wine
  • Cooking Spray

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onion and saute for about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender and onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add cooking wine and cook 30 seconds, until liquid evaporates.
  2. Spread about 2 Tbsp of gruyere on one half of the flour tortilla. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the tortilla as well. Cover with the rest of the cheese and fold tortillas in half.
  3. Wipe pan clean and spray with cooking spray. Heat pan over medium heat. Add tortilla, cooking 2 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden brown. (makes 1 serving)

 

Apple Feta Pecan Salad

ApplePecanSalad

My grandmother always makes this as a side salad with our holiday dinners, but it is so delicious that I often find myself wishing it was the main course. Finally, after years of drooling over this salad (yes, it is possible to drool over a salad) I was able to get my hands on the recipe. Now it has become one of my favorite lunches. Believe me when I say, this salad is so good you will want to eat it for dessert.

I will typically make a batch of the roasted pecans ahead of time so I can quickly whip up the rest of the salad whenever I so choose.

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Ingredients

For the Spiced Pecans

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 cups pecan halves

For the Salad (serving: 4 side salads or 2 lunches)

  • 1 cup spiced pecans
  • 2 apples, diced
  • 2 Tbsp feta cheese
  • green leaf lettuce
  • 1 Tbsp sherry wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup lite olive oil
  • Pinch granulated sugar

Directions

Spiced Pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 300º F. Grease two large baking sheets.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add brown sugar, water, salt and spices; stir until sugar dissolves. Add nuts to sugar mixture and cook until syrup thickly coats nuts, stirring frequently; about 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer nuts to prepared baking sheets. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Cool. (store in airtight container)

The Salad

  1. In a small bowl, add sherry, dijon, olive oil and sugar; stir until combined.
  2. In a salad bowl, add lettuce, apple slices, feta and dressing. Toss until evenly coated.
  3. Divide evenly among 4 side plates (or two lunch plates). Top each salad with spiced pecans.

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The Frugality

This salad costs about $9.00 total or $2.25 per side salad. OR $4.50 for an amazing lunch.

The Nutrition

If you’re looking for a healthy green lunch this salad will leave you full and satisfied. A lunch serving is around 375 calories with 266 from fat.

Here is a further breakdown:

Calories 375; Total Fat 30g (Saturated 4.8g, Polyunsaturated 7.6g, Monounsaturated 13g); Cholesterol 9.8mg; Sodium 453mg; Total Carbs 26g (Dietary Fiber 6.4g, sugars 19g); Protein 5g; Vitamin A 39%; Vitamin C 34%; Calcium 5%; Iron 14%

Chicken Peanut Chow Mein

ChowMein

My first attempt at homemade chow mein was a success! I think it was so good it could be compared to take out chow mein noodles (minus the added fat and oil). I’ll also say the leftovers were just as good, if not better than when the dish was freshly cooked.

Just a little forewarning, this makes A LOT of food. Not saying that’s a bad thing, especially since you will love it so much you’ll want to eat it again the following night (or for tomorrow’s lunch).

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup matchstick carrots
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 (6 oz) packages chow mein noodles
  • 1 Tbsp dark sesame oil, divided
  • 1/2 skinnless, boneless chicken breast
  • 3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce, divided
  • 3/4 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce (if you’re like me and don’t want to buy this, combine 1 Tbsp Hoisin with 1 Tbsp soy sauce and splash of Worcestershire sauce)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup pre-sliced mushroom
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 cup green onion, sliced (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. Boil a large pot of water. While water comes to a boil, slice snow peas and mushrooms. Also cut chicken crosswise into thin strips.
  2. Cook noodles, carrots, and snow peas in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tsp oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and 1 1 Tbsp soy sauce to pan; stir-fry 3 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.
  4. Combine remaining soy-sauce, broth, oyster, sugar and pepper, stirring well. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and ginger to pan; stir-fry for 3 minutes or until mushroom have softened. Add broth mixture and cook for 1 minute. Add noodle mixture and chicken to pan; cook 1 minute, tossing to combine. Sprinkle with onions and peanuts. (makes 4-5 servings)

The Frugality

This recipe costs around $12.00 total or only around $3.00 for one serving! I highly doubt you will ever find take out chow mein anywhere near that price!