I’d own this, but I can’t afford to.
Seriously, moving to Houston was a great idea, but it’s left my bank account a little, well…”fucking depleted” is the best word for it. (Would anyone like to buy a really nice Marc Jacobs bag for a great price? No seriously. E-mail me.) I’m OK with my status for the most part, but it’s frustrating because it means I’ve been cooking less. Usually cooking is the cheapest thing to do, but because I have no pantry staples anymore, it’s actually been a little pricey. That is depressing.
My objective for last night’s date night was finding a recipe that was really cheap. I searched the Eat, Live, Run “Good Eats” page and found some great ideas (seriously, all her recipes are rocking my world lately and I’m pretty much going to cook my way through her blog until her food memoir comes out next year). I worked with my budget in mind, made some adjustments and…I’m really proud of how I did!
The main course: Summery Sausage Pasta
This is how we do it: This recipe was inspired by the Eat, Live, Run pasta with shrimp, but Eric isn’t crazy about shrimp. I wasn’t sure what to do instead, but when I saw that Central Market had sausage on sale for $3.99/lb, I knew I had a winner. I love sausage in Italian dishes, and Eric and I had a conversation the other day about how great sausage is. Sausage is great option for a date because most guys like to eat meat (it makes them feel manly or something) and it’s pretty cheap!
The dish was extremely simple and easy. I sauteed some onion and garlic in butter, added chopped zucchini, red pepper, yellow squash, and the sausage, and then let it all get nice and brown. While it cooked, I made penne in a pot; when it was al dente, I added a can of diced, no-salt added tomatoes and two tablespoons of heavy cream and gave it all a toss; then I topped it with fresh basil.
I loved this. Loved it. And Eric did too, which I suppose matters in this case. It was summery, perfectly seasoned (the sausage gives it so much flavor!), and and super light. We definitely did not have the “be stuff or get stuffed” dilemma with this meal. I’m excited to make it using different seasonal veggies after trips to the farmers market.
Eric pointed out that this was the second recipe I’d made recently with pork that turned out really, really, well. “You are a girl who knows your sausage,” he said.
“Stop,” I said. “Right now. This is not the sort of thing I want to see you run with.”
The dessert: Chocolate Chip Cookies
The secret to these is browning the (fourteen tablespoons of!!!) butter. They were incredible. I followed the directions perfectly, went with 12 minute cooking times, and died of happiness with every bite. This is going to be my go-to chocolate chip recipe for a long time.
Eric actually came over a little early so we cooked most of this meal together, which is a great date activity if you ask me. While the cookies weren’t terribly complicated, the recipe does require you to whisk the batter three separate times and then let it rest for a few minutes each time, so it’s a good one to make with a guy. Unwrapping a refrigerated pack of dough and breaking them apart together doesn’t really have the same effect.
The best part? I only spent $26 on everything it took to make this. That’s not too bad for a dinner date, plus I was at a pricey grocery store and I had to buy things like flour and sugar that I’d normally have on hand and I had to buy more organics than I would have normally. And the dinner for two didn’t actually cost $26; I have so much food left over from this, I will not go hungry for a while.
So this was a cheap date, but it totally could be even cheaper; if I’d sucked it up and gone to Wal-Mart for everything, I probably would have saved a bundle…but then I’d have to pay for a tetanus shot after, so it probably wouldn’t have been worth it.