Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Already Tested: Budget Bytes' Kung Pao Chicken (with Vegetables)

Despite me being Vietnamese, or in other words, Asian, I still love me some Americanized Chinese food. Kung Pao Chicken being one of them (General Tso's being my favorite).

Here is the link to the website I got this recipe from:

I won't be breaking down the cost of this because Budget Bytes already does that for all their recipes, which makes it easy on me!

This portion will run you $1.82 per serving, according to Budget Bytes and I don't think that includes rice which shouldn't really cost that much anyway.

The only thing I modified in this recipe is that I only used broccoli for the vegetables and then added WAY too much pepper flakes. Oh, forgot one last thing, I used red onions because I didn't have any green onions on hand, but hey, at least they're still onions.

Here are the pictures:

 photo IMG_8307_zps04b00c2b.jpg
Here it is cooking in my pan

 photo IMG_8308_zps2aafff1c.jpg
Sorry for the blurry photo! But this is the finished product on a plate.


First of all, let me preface this that I added WAY too many pepper flakes! I didn't follow the recommended amount of pepper flakes so this turned out too spicy.

HOWEVER, that did not take away too much from how delicious this was AND how similar it tastes to most Americanized Chinese restaurants. I've tasted better, sure, but this was darn close! Kudos to Budget Bytes for a good recipe for the sauce which really is the main point of this recipe.

I didn't quite understand why I needed to coat the chicken in the eggs beforehand but I did it anyway. But I have a feeling it's to help the sauce coat and stick onto the chicken.

I know I don't have much to say about this, but it's really plain and simple. It's tasty and VERY close to an Americanized Chinese restaurant at a fraction of the cost and very easy to make too. Just don't put a bunch of pepper flakes like I did unless you're into a super spicy flavor.

Alright, til next time!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Testing Out: SimplyBakings' 5 Ingredient Monkey Bread

At my boyfriend's request, I made monkey bread. I was drawn by the "only 5 ingredients" part of the title of SimplyBakings' youtube video so I clicked on it. The less ingredients I have to buy/use the better.

Here's the link to the directions and how it looks through the Youtuber's pictures:

Alright let's break down the 5 ingredients plus 1 bundt baking pan (and added in optional walnuts) cost wise:

  1. 2 cans of Pillsbury Grand Flaky Biscuits (about $3 for 2 cans at Walmart give or take a few cents)
    • NOTE: 2 Cans makes a FULL bundt pan. If you're making it for just yourself, use only 1 can. I used 2 cans and even that is more than both my boyfriend and I need
  2. 1 stick butter ($4.28 for a box of 4, therefore $1.07 for one stick)
  3. 1 cup brown sugar ($1.58 for a bag, therefore 40cents)
  4. 1 cup white sugar ($2.58 for a 5lb bag, therefore 26cents)
  5. 2 TSP cinnamon ($2.50 for a bottle, therefore 35 cents)
  6. OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup Walnuts ($7.48 for a 16oz bag, therefore $1.90)
  7. Bundt pan $7.xx

GRAND TOTAL: $6.98 WITHOUT Bundt Pan, $13.98 WITH Bundt Pan

Honestly, I think I miscalculated the cinnamon but I did the math after converting grams to cups etc, so things may be slightly off, give or take a dollar. But overall, this isn't nearly as cheap as I thought it'd be, but really, this yields a LOT of dessert, enough for a small gathering with some friends. 

Here are the pictures:

 photo IMG_20141103_125536_zpsa0a5116d.jpg
This is an in progress picture. I'm layering the quartered biscuits that are covered in the white sugar and cinnamon along with walnuts

 photo IMG_20141103_133439_zps1d5ad5c2.jpg
This is immediately after it has been baked (with the butter and brown sugar sauce)

 photo IMG_20141103_134723_zpsfb485cae.jpg
Finally, this is the monkey bread after it has been turned over. Yes, that is one missing bread on the top left corner because I ate it hehe


First of all, directions stated to bake at 350 F for 40 minutes, but mine was done in 30 minutes, so watch out at the 30 minute mark in case your oven is similar to mine. 30 minutes perfectly cooked this thoroughly.

So basically this monkey bread tastes like cinnamon rolls. There's no other explanation. Except, you just don't have the icing. It's moist and tasty, but again, EXACTLY like cinnamon rolls. So depending on whether you like or hate cinnamon rolls, you should either make this immediately or steer clear from it haha.

This was incredibly easy to make, as shown in the video. I didn't have a giant ziplock bag so I substituted with a food container to put in the white sugar and cinnamon to shake on the mixture onto the biscuit quarters.

This is also extremely unhealthy, as you probably could already tell. Pillsbury's website on a similar recipe to this monkey bread recipe says it is 450 calories for 1/12 (yes you read that right, a small one twelve) of the Bundt pan's worth of monkey bread. So please be aware of how fattening this really is before you inhale the entire serving.

Will I be making this again sometime in the distant future? Yes. But I won't make it often because of how fattening it is but it sure is a nice treat! Maybe I might make it for thanksgiving. Who knows. But overall this is great if you don't feel like making cinnamon rolls. This seems easier.

Alright, see you guys in my next post!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Already Tested: Chicken Cordon Bleu from Food Network

I don't think this dish is particularly healthy, but I'm sure it isnt' terrible and not as bad as restaurant food. But man, it tastes great. I baked it, which is great because oil or butter isn't used, saving you calories. Also it uses chicken breast which is also lean. The only two factors I feel are "fatty" are the prosciutto and cheese used in each roll/log.

Oh by the way, this was a dish I made a few weeks ago already but now am posting it.

This portion I'm about to break down for you comfortably fed both my boyfriend and me with no leftovers but we were still full, granted we did have some pasta to go with it.

This is the cost break down for a portion for 2:

  • 1 lb chicken breast, sliced into thin slabs then pounded out to be 1/4 inch thick ($1.88/lb)
    • NOTE: This pound yielded around 5 rolls/logs in the end that are approximately 3-5 inches long
  • 8 THIN prosciutto slices ($3 for 10 slices at Target from the deli, therefore $2.40)
    • NOTE: Some chicken slabs will be bigger after being pounded out so I had to use 2 slices since the prosciutto isn't very wide
  • 1 cup 4 cheese Italian blend from Sam's Club (I think it was $8 for 1lb tub, therefore I think this may be $1-2 worth)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour ($2 for a huge bag so maybe 10 cents tops)
  • OMITTED salt and pepper because the prosciutto is very salty and flavored the chicken enough
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs ($1.90 for the box, so approx 45 cents used is my estimate but I may be wrong)
  • OMITTED the fresh thyme (expensive to buy fresh herbs and this dish was great even without it)
  • OMITTED garlic (didn't need it honestly. I'm sure there might more of a kick of flavor but that prosciutto already packs a lot of flavor)
  • OMITTED butter (I don't know why this recipe needs butter honestly. It's extra calories and my dish still turned out delicious)
  • 1 egg (20 cents)
GRAND TOTAL: $7.03 for 2 people, not including the pasta I cooked with it, to which I used 1/2 a box of penne pasta which would literally amount to $1.50 used if that

Here's my instagram crappy picture of the turn out. I used cream cheese in this photo but normally I use the 4 cheese Italian blend as mentioned.

 photo chickencordonbleu_zps5cc57b9e.jpg

Looks much better after you slice it out and arrange it on a plate in an artful way! This is fresh out of the oven.


VERY delicious, even though I omitted the thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic. Honestly it tasted GREAT despite omitting those. I don't need to spend an extra few bucks to get that thyme. This wasn't difficult to make. It was just tedious. You need a meat tenderizer mallet to hammer out the chicken thin so that it will roll. My picture, if you compare it to the foodnetwork picture, looks more or less the same, so I'm happy to report that you get what you see once you make it, as opposed to a lot of other recipes we try out and they end up looking sad haha.

I really do not recommend adding extra salt because I stressed already that the prosciutto really packs on a lot of flavor already. My boyfriend completely loves this dish and didn't think that there was anything missing in flavor when eating it. He wants me to make it again haha. It's really a great dish that looks presentable enough for a party and tastes great. Just be prepared to be in the kitchen for an hour to make a 2-person portion if you're an amateur in the kitchen like me.

I also apologize for not approximating the cost exactly. It's difficult to look at a huge bag of flour that doesn't cost very much and estimate how much you've used when you barely used anything. But the overall message is that this dish won't cost you very much. It isn't dirt cheap but for what you get, which is a delicious and well presented meal, it's affordable.

This is now a favorite of mine and my boyfriend. I will be sure to make this again and again.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments!

See y'all in the next post!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

BEFORE YOU BUY REVIEW: thinkThin Salted Caramel Lean Protein & Fiber Bar

Just to say as a disclaimer before you think I'm some kind of expert doing this review: I am just an amateur cook and an average person stating my opinion about this bar. I'm no nutritionist and cannot talk about the heath details of this. I'm just speaking from the point of view from someone who was curious of these bars by seeing them recommended on the

Having said that, lets get on with the review and what I have to say.

Here's the link to thinkThin's website for this particular bar flavor:

They claim and say:

Bite into smooth caramel covered in dark chocolate, with a crispy salty finish.
A dreamy experience at 150 calories


At only 150 calories, thinkThin Lean Protein & Fiber™ bars deliver the perfect balance of 10g of protein and 5g of fiber to give you energy and help keep you full and satisfied.

So let's address everything they said.

  • Smooth caramel: You will NOT be getting actual caramel as shown in my picture below
  • Dark chocolate: This thinly coats the bar but doesn't add any chocolate flavor that I can taste. I honestly think the chocolate is just to coat the bar to prevent the actual product from sticking 
  • Crispy: They have tidbits of crisps inside the bar so you do get a slight crunch, but don't expect it to be like you're biting into rice krispies treats bars
  • Salty finish: I barely tasted the salt, but enough saltiness was there to taste just a hint of it
  • Energy: I am always fatigued and looking for energy, but this bar didn't give me what coffee would, and I didn't expect it to, but I thought to mention that in case some of you want an actual energy boost. The energy you feel is simply by having food in your stomach
  • Feeling full and satisfied: This will be from a biased point of view since I get hungry every 3-4 hours. So this absolutely can not be a meal replacement for me. This has been eaten as a snack between early breakfast and lunch. It helps hold me off between those hours, but that's about it.
Additional comments I have about this bar:

  • This caramel is really just like what you'd see in any protein bar. Not real caramel. The flavor isn't strong but isn't weak either. It's got this slightly artificial caramel taste to it rather than you feeling like you're eating real caramel. To me, that's expected from a bar that doesn't actually have caramel.
  • It has the same consistency as most protein bars. Slightly powdery/chalky/dry rather than moist like chewy granola bars. Don't get me wrong, that isn't necessarily bad, but thought to tell you in case you were expecting some dream chewy bar for a protein bar.
  • The size of the bar is quite thin, but long, which is fine. Don't just expect a thick bar you'd find in the cereal and granola bar aisle.
  • Tastes good, but I'm not blown away
  • Expensive. $6 for a box of 5 at Target, but at my local organic grocery store it costs $2.50 per bar alone. However this is less expensive compared to some other protein bars.
  • I appreciate the 10g protein and 5g fiber and that this is low calorie for a protein bar. Most ones I see are 250-350 calories per bar. This is 150 calories as stated.

Would I repurchase? 

I don't think I will. Not because it's a terrible product. But because I feel it tastes average. But maybe I'm just expecting too much from a protein bar that more or less tastes like this from my experience. I read the description on the box while at Target and gave the bar the benefit of the doubt that it will taste better than other protein bars I've tried, but really, it's more or less the same. 

Here are two pictures of the product:

 photo thinkthinbar1_zpsf1ee6e49.jpg

 photo thinkthinbar2_zps0dec2b8f.jpg

Have any of you tasted this bar before? What are your thoughts on it? Do you agree or disagree with me? What are some other protein bars you have tried and tested that you would recommend?

See y'all in my next post!

Testing Out My Version: Nutella and Cinnamon Oatmeal with Almonds

I can't take credit for coming up with my version of this oatmeal. I was inspired by the 's "Chocolate Brownie Oatmeal".

Here is the link to her recipe:

So basically this isn't testing out the original recipe. This is me testing out my own version based upon what ingredients I have in the apartment. But I thought to share with you anyway how it turned out. I didn't have cocoa powder or walnuts or flax seeds and I forgot to put honey or Stevia to make this more sweet. I will do that next time.

I recently bought oatmeal to try to eat healthier breakfasts, but one knows that oatmeal can get boring, or is boring from the get-go, especially if eaten completely plain.

I'm not fond of putting bananas into my oatmeal like others so that's why I had my attention caught with the's recipe. Because, well, I love chocolate.

Here's the cost and breakdown of what I used:

  • 1/2 cup dry rolled instant oats ($2 for the entire can but used 15 cents for the portion)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk sweetened version ($3 for the carton but used 19 cents for the portion)
    • NOTE: I don't like my oatmeal runny with milk. I prefer it drier while still moist. Feel free to use more milk if you like yours more soupy.
  • 1/2 TBSP Nutella ($3.48 for the jar but used 4 cents for the portion)
  • Sprinkle of slivered almonds ($2 for a small pack, used 25 cents for the portion)
  • 3 quick bottle shakes of ground Cinnamon ($2.25 for the bottle but used 2 cents max)
GRAND TOTAL: 65 cents!


  • Oatmeal: 150 calories
  • Almond Milk: 30 calories
  • Nutella: 50 calories
  • Almonds: 20 calories
  • Cinnamon: 5 calories
TOTAL CALORIES: 255 calories

Here's what it looked like after I put it together this morning:

 photo IMG_8294_zpsbf9c12a5.jpg


I really wanted to put a full 1 TBSP of Nutella to make the chocolately flavor stronger, but I wanted to save calories. So this portion turned out a good hint of chocolate, but isn't strong enough to taste like you're eating Nutella on a slice of bread. I was slightly disappointed because I was hoping even the small amount of Nutella would flavor the entire oatmeal enough, but I should've known better. 1/2 TBSP of Nutella really isn't much, so next time I might just use the full 1 TBSP and eat up the additional 50 calories, making the portion 305 calories, which isn't terrible, but still not preferable.

Still though, the hint of chocolate was enough so that I could eat the entire bowl of oatmeal without feeling like I'm eating cardboard. And the crunchy texture of the slivered almonds helped. Couldn't taste the cinnamon that much but it was enough to get the smell of it, which was pleasant.

Would I make this again? Sure! This beats eating my oatmeal plain even though it isn't optimal. But it was my fault for not putting in some honey or 0 calorie Stevia to make it sweeter. I might try that next time to see how it turns out.

But hey, my picture doesn't look too shabby now does it? I think despite the taste turn out, the cost was ridiculously cheap and it physically looked good.

What oatmeal concoctions have you tried and liked? Please do share!

See y'all in my next post!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Testing Out: Baked Seasoned Fries with Garlic Aioli

My last post was about the Kale panini I made and with that I ate these baked fries as my side.

Here is the link to the recipe:

Here's the breakdown of the cost for me (recipe obviously copied from that link):

  • 2 medium-large Russet potatoes $1.25 for both (99 cents per pound at my Target)
  • Cooking spray instead of using olive oil from the bottle ($2 for a can, but used literally a few sprays so 5 cents max)
  • 1 tbsp herbs de provence (or use a combo of dried rosemary, thyme, marjoram) (5 cents max)
    • NOTE: I don't have thyme or marjoram so I opted for just dry rosemary for this part
  • 1/4 tsp oregano (2 cents max)
    • NOTE: I used dry oregano from a bottle from Target
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (2 cents max)
    • NOTE: I couldn't find SMOKED paprika, so I used regular paprika. Fries turned out just fine
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (2 cents max)
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder (2 cents max)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (2 cents max)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper (2 cents max)
  • fresh lime zest
    • NOTE: I omitted this because I couldn't be bothered to buy lime to just use the zest from the skin. Honestly the fries turned out just fine without the zest. I'm sure the zest could add a kick but to me it isn't necessary. Add it if you want to.
GRAND TOTAL: $1.47 for an amount that yielded the equivalent of one order of regular fries from 5 Guys Burger and Fries restaurant. Those of you who have been to 5 Guys knows their order of regular fries is a giant amount of fries. 2 medium-large potatoes sliced into 1/4 inch size yielded that much. This is approximately half the cost of spending on the regular fries at 5 Guys.

Here's my picture of the baked fries. You can click the recipe link at the beginning of this post to compare mine to hers to see how it turned out. I won't repost the website's picture because I don't have permission to use her picture, so that's why I'm just redirecting you to go to her recipe link.

 photo seasonednosaltfries_zpse68716a4.jpg

Looks pretty legit doesn't it? Though you can clearly see I went seasoning-happy and overdid the seasoning.


First of all, these are BAKED fries, not deep fried in oil, so don't expect these fries to have that same crispiness like McDonald's, Checker's/Rally's fries or Buffalo Wild Wing fries etc. Having said that, it isn't necessarily soggy and limp. It still has a slight crispiness to it that makes it still feel like fries enough.

Second, I won't lie, I didn't measure out each teaspoon or tablespoon of seasoning and powders. I eyeballed it. Something to note, if you don't like your fries spicy, go ahead and omit the chili powder and crushed chili flakes that I decided to add, or simply go very light on those two. My fries last night turned out too spicy for my preference because I shook out too much chili powder and chili flakes. But I know next time to go light on it!

So, you probably got a hint or two now that these fries turned out "just fine" as I typed out, but really, these turned out GREAT. This fries recipe made it a point to NOT use salt, but rather, other herbs and spices to flavor it so that you can reduce your sodium intake for the day. We all know too much salt isn't good for us. And I'm happy to report that not using even the slightest amount of salt still yielded delicious fries.

My boyfriend was quite impressed. He honestly isn't a picky eater and generally likes everything, except that he hates seafood, but, when something catches his attention, he will make a comment about it, otherwise he will just tell me "thank you for dinner" at the end of the meal. But when he bit into these fries, he was like wow, these are pretty good! SCORE! It makes me happy when he gets impressed by my cooking haha! I feel accomplished.

These were VERY EASY to make. It's just SLIGHTLY time consuming to cut each and every fry by hand because I don't have an automatic fries-cutter like In-N-Out burger has. But after you cut the fries, all you got to do is spray them lightly with the oil spray, shake out all the seasoning evenly, and mix with your hands, place them evenly on a foil on a baking sheet, bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes depending how thick you cut your fries, and voila, you've got these fries.

NOTE: I did not make the garlic aioli sauce because I didn't feel it was necessary to add more calories when these fries were already flavorful, but feel free to make the dip. I'm sure it would taste great.


I am happy to report that the's estimate of calorie intake for one serving (1 potato, or half of a regular order of fries at 5 guys amount) is only 198 calories. Whereas fried fries from restaurants are MINIMUM double or triple the calories due to the oil used. My boyfriend ate 1 potato's worth of fries last night and I ate maybe at most half because I'm small, so really I probably only ate like 100 calories worth of fries last night and I ended the meal satisfied from my fries craving.

Alright I shall end my post here. I wrote a lot. Thank you for stopping by and reading! Hope this review helped you before you decide to commit time into making these in the kitchen.

See y'all in my next post! Happy eating!

Testing Out: Kale, Garlic, and Caramelized Onions Panini

I stumbled upon recently and found a number of things I found delicious looking and very doable to make.

One of them being her Kale, Garlic, and Caramelized Onions Panini

Here's the link to the recipe:

There were one or two things I couldn't really do in the recipe, but nonetheless I "successfully" made the sandwich.

Let's break down the cost for my one sandwich. And I will also add in the cost of chicken breast if you choose to have that in your panini like I put in for my boyfriend's sandwich to make it more filling for a grown man who's hungry.

  • Multi-Grain sliced bread from Target ($3.99 for the loaf, used 2 slices therefore 80 cents)
  • Fontina Cheese Block (bought for $3 but will vary per store and how much you buy. Used 1oz so 43 cents)
  • Frozen baby kale (the bag cost me $2 but I only used 1 cup, therefore spent 25 cents)
  • Red Onions (One entire onion was $1 and I used some slices, therefore 10 cents max)
  • Garlic (A jar cost $3 I think and I used a spoonful instead of using fresh garlic. 10 cents max)
  • OPTIONAL: Chicken Breast (used 1/4lb piece at $1.88/lb therefore 47 cents)
  • NOTE: The recipe calls for red pepper flakes and the olive oil but I used cooking spray which barely uses any money and the red pepper flakes and salt I used were literally like a penny's worth so I didn't care to add it to the total cost.
GRAND TOTAL: $1.68 for one sandwich without chicken breast and $2.15 for the WITH chicken panini version 

Can we say, WOW! CHEAP and AFFORDABLE! Now, remember that when you buy the ingredients, you're buying the entire bottle. You're buying the entire package, etc. So the cost at the grocery if you don't already have these ingredients will set you back $15-20 at the get-go. But since you will be using the ingredients for many future recipes to come, it's worth the investment and the up front cost will divide up to the affordable portions that you use. 

And if you're wondering about calorie content, the estimates one sandwich to be 366 calories per sandwich, and mine actually turned out to be more or less 365 calories, so it's pretty on point despite using different bread than hers and probably a different brand of fontina cheese than hers. If you choose to add that 1/4 chicken breast meat, add on around 100-110 calories to total it to approx 465 calories. Pretty decent calorie intake I have to admit. Most subs are 800-900 calories alone, not including the chips and drink you probably eat with it.

Here's a picture of how my sandwich turned out, and you can visit that above link to compare how the pick eater blog's panini turned out.

 photo kalepanini_zps9f344c57.jpg

Pretty different huh? Her picture shows that the 1oz of cheese mouth-watering oozes out from the sandwich, whereas mine doesn't appear that delicious from first glance haha.


First of all, like I said above, my picture does NOT look like that delicious picture on that woman's blog. Mine didn't look thick and goey with cheese. HOWEVER, it tastes AMAZING. My boyfriend said "Thank you for dinner. It was DELICIOUS". Enough said. He loved it. Approved it. JACK POT.

I have to stress to you to MUST use fontina cheese as the recipe calls for. I've tasted other cheese in sandwiches and could barely taste the flavor, BUT with fontina cheese, there was a lot of flavor and brought the kale to life in the sandwich. The recipe calls for only 1oz of cheese and I measured it out exactly on my food scale and cut the block of cheese into little blocks so that I could evenly distribute it across the sandwich. Use more cheese if you wish but 1oz was sufficient, even though I DO prefer more cheese. But I won't use more cheese in the future because cheese is high in calories and I'm trying to eat more healthy.

Something I didn't do which probably could've enhanced the flavor was caramelizing the red onions. Honestly I tried frying up the onions in the olive oil like the recipe said to do, but my onions just turns out regular fried not caramelized. I must have missed a step in doing that or something. I couldn't taste the onions very much because I didn't add much, but next time I will attempt to figure out how to caramelize onions to pack on more flavor in this already delicious panini.

Oh, I also did not use fresh garlic which probably would've packed on extra flavor. I might try to use fresh garlic next time even though it takes me forever to peel garlic since I'm stubborn and don't use short cuts in peeling garlic. Next time I will use a short cut to peel them fast.

I don't have a designated panini maker so I used my George Foreman grill which was more than sufficient. On a side note, I don't really recommend the George Foreman grill because there is no control for temperature so you're stuck with one temperature which makes you prone to burning or perhaps not cooking something thoroughly. But I received it as a Christmas gift years ago from my sister, therefore I cherish this grill and appreciate her gift and have used this grill too many times to count. Don't get me wrong, this brand of a grill does the job, it's just not optimal that's all.

Anyway, back to the panini topic. I highly recommend this sandwich. It kept me decently full, especially for not eating any meat in it for my sandwich, but I have to say I got hungry at midnight because I wasn't asleep yet so as long as you sleep kind of early, you shouldn't feel the hunger kick in. I want to make this sandwich again soon. It was so good!

All in all, this sandwich was healthy, quick and easy to make, cheap and affordable, and TASTY. I am always on the hunt for that 3-combination of healthy, cheap, and tasty and surprisingly I found it in this sandwich! SUCCESS! *Fist pump*

So I want to thank you for stopping by my blog and reading my review of this recipe. I hope you found it helpful! If you have any suggestions please let me know!

Thank you!

See y'all later :)