Friday, September 30, 2011

Free Manhattan Bagels

If you live in the Arlington, VA area (or if you have noticed that a Manhattan Bagel shop has opened up in your area), keep an eye out in your mail box for great coupons. When I picked up the mail the other day, I found a booklet of breakfast and lunch coupons for the Manhattan Bagel shop that opened near the Ballston Metro. It had a coupon that gave me $3 off a Value Pak (13 bagels and two tubs of cream cheese) which was perfect for me to bring in for a morning work meeting the next morning.

Other great coupons include a free large coffee and Free Bagel Fridays. I walked into the shop this morning and announced to the cashier that I wanted a free bagel. I didn't realize how loud I was until I noticed other people staring at me and the cashier was giving me an uncomfortable smile. But hey, I got a free bagel. And it was delicious. Manhattan bagels are boiled and then baked so the insides are good and doughy, not dried out.

The Free Bagel Fridays coupons are good until November 11th. So basically, I can walk in with this booklet every Friday through October and ask for a free bagel. Woot Woot!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Favorite Cold Weather Buy

The weather does not feel like Fall yet in DC. The air is humid and the temperature is almost 80 degrees but the cold is just about to hit us. To prepare, I picked up my favorite winter product; Better Than Boullion. There are several reasons why I love this stuff.

The little jars don't take up a lot of room and for us city dwellers, that means it is light in the bag when walking home from the grocery store and leaves us more room in the fridge for other items. Also, it is nice to have chicken broth or beef broth ready for all the stews and soups that that winter recipes call for. Last, it is cheap. A jar normally goes for $6-$8. There are 38 servings and when mixed with water, a teaspoon of this will make one cup of broth. Before Better Than Boullion, I used to carry heavy cans or boxes of broth home from the store. My arms were more toned back then but I think it was because I actually went to the gym more. Anyways, I digress. Naturally, homemade stock is best but this is a good substitute when homemade stock is not available.

Better Than Boullion is my favorite cold weather buy. They have a variety choices such as vegetable base, reduced-sodium, and organic. I promise they did not pay me to write this post nor did they send me free products. I just genuinely like this stuff.

(*but if anyone reading this wants to send me free stuff, please email me. thriftydccook at gmail dot com.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Bowl of Ramen

There has been a change in me lately and I am trying to decide if it is good or bad. Things seem more serious and seem to require me to be more serious. Sad news comes from the newspapers about people having a hard time finding jobs, my friends are losing jobs or are the ones having to let people go, and then I hear from an old colleague who has been unemployed for three years and who struggles to pay their health insurance that costs $720 a month. All this has made me reevaluate my life. Looking back at past bank statement makes me disappointed in myself. I forget how easy it is to drop $50-$70 on one dinner. The dinners were delicious and a lot of fun but did I need to spend that much money to eat something delicious and have fun. No. Am I worth it? Yes. Is it better to have financial security in the future? Yes.

I started this blog three years ago because I wanted to share the fun I have shopping and creating tasty and cheap meals. Since then, this blog has brought me to meet new friends and to have other adventures. Did I lose touch with the purpose of this blog? Yes. A little.

Looking at the big picture, I want my life to be about family, good health, good food, laughter with friends, and stability. And it is time to make use of this blog and keep working at finding great recipes that won't cost an arm and a leg.

So I bring you ramen. The type of ramen I grew up with not only included a block of fried noodles and a packet of sodium loaded seasonings but it also included grilled meats, loads of vegetables, and balls. (For those unfamiliar with Asian food, this is like a meatball but it is made of seafood. Not as disgusting as as sounds. Or maybe it is.)


1 package of Ramen - You can use any type of ramen but the ones found at Asian markets tend to have spicier seasonings and just taste better. I find that the noodles are less gummy.

1 Pork Chop - Choose one with a bit of fat

2 bunches of Bok Choy

1 Egg

Salt and pepper the pork chop and sear it on an oiled pan. The pork chop we had was about 3/4 of an inch thick and we seared it for 5 minutes on each side. We seared it so that each side had a good browning at the edges. Take out of pan and let it sit for a bit before slicing. Leave pan on low and crack an egg and place it in the pan. This will fry the whites of the egg a bit but will leave the yolk runny.

Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan and parboil the bok choy for 2 minutes. Take bok choy out of the saucepan and set aside. Place noodles in and bring to a boil. After 2 minutes, add seasonings and cook for another 2 minutes.

Place noodles and broth in a large bowl, add bok choy and sliced pork, and place the egg right on top. Break the yolk so it cooks into the broth. I can't describe the richness that the yolk adds to the broth. It is just delicious.

For those who are worried about the amount of sodium or fat in ramen, there are a couple of things you can do. One, you can boil double the amount of water, put the noodles in a bowl, add some water and let some of the oil come out of the noodles. Drain the water and put the noodles back into the boiling water on the stove. How much fat does that eliminate? Not a ton but it is kind of like blotting your pizza with a napkin. At least you are getting a bit of the fat out.

To reduce the sodium, just use half of the seasoning packet. If you eating the ramen with lots of vegetables or pan-seared meat, there is going to be plenty of flavor in your ramen.

Financially, this meal is a steal. The pork chop cost us a little less than $3. A package of ramen was 80 cents. Bok Choy will be less than $1 for 2 bunches. And eggs are generally $3 for a dozen. A dinner for two cost us less than $6.50.

Ramen can be a beautiful thing if made right. It is quick to make and it satisfies the soul when slurped up on a cold night.