Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Testing Out: skinnytaste.com 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: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/02/baked-seasoned-fries-with-skinny-garlic.html

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 skinnytaste.com'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: PickyEaterBlog.com Kale, Garlic, and Caramelized Onions Panini

I stumbled upon pickyeaterblog.com 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: http://pickyeaterblog.com/kale-garlic-and-caramelized-onion-paninis/

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 pickyeaterblog.com 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 :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Testing Out: Giada de Laurentiis' Mediterranean Israeli Cous Cous Salad from Food Network

So I've made this a few times already, but I still wanted to share how it turned out for y'all to know.

Here is the link to the recipe and directions and how THEY pictured it to look like: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/mediterranean-salad-recipe.html

I will show you a picture at the end of how it really looks like once you cook it all for yourself.

Cost for the ingredients for what I used:

  • 1/2 bag of Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pearl CousCous ($1.99 for the portion, $3.99 for the bag), but feel free the regular white couscous, it's what I prefer anyway which can be purchased from Whole Foods
    • NOTE: half of the bag feeds both me and my boyfriend. Adjust to how much you eat. I eat roughly 1 to 1.5 cups of the end product whereas my boyfriend eats around 2-3 cups of the end product (chicken and everything included)
  • 1 giant chicken breast from Sam's Club ($1.88/lb, 1 chicken breast is approx 1lb) 
  • Dry Basil in a jar from Target (approx $3 for the jar, and you only need a little bit, approx 10 cents worth max of the jar for this meal)
    • NOTE: Recipe calls for FRESH basil, but that's expensive! Feel free to use fresh if you wish. I chose dry to save money
  • Pre-minced garlic in a jar from Target (approx $2 for the jar, and you only need a spoonful, so it turns out to be like 10 cents worth max of the jar for this meal)
    • Recipe calls for fresh garlic you mince yourself. I'm too lazy and don't have time to peel garlic and all that, so instant-pre-minced it is for me! 
  • 1 TBSP Olive oil to fry the garlic as mentioned in the recipe. ($6 for a 16oz bottle but 1 TBSP is approx 18 cents)
    • NOTE: Recipe calls for 1/4 cup to be dumped into the couscous but I refuse to put it in to save calories and cost of using the expensive olive oil and it tastes just as good without the extra oil
  • Lemon Juice from the squeeze bottle rather than 2 fresh lemons, but feel free to buy the more expensive fresh lemons if you wish. (99 cents for the bottle, amount used for this meal is max 15 cents)
  • I omitted the lemon zest because I didn't use fresh lemons. Meal tastes just fine without it
  • Chicken Stock from the box, not home made ($3.98 for the box, 3 cups used, therefore $1.99)
  • Craisins brand used for the dried cranberries ($2.98, used 1/4 cup therefore 99 cents was used)
  • Slivered almonds ($2.98 for a pack, not much is used, so I'd be safe and estimate 50 cents used)
  • Salt and Pepper ($4.50 each bottle at Sam's Club, but for the small amount used, it's literally 2 cents IF that)

GRAND TOTAL: $7.90 to feed a man that's over 200lbs and me, weighing in at 114lbs at 5'1. That's literally $3.95 per person if you were to split the meal evenly between 2 people. BUT KEEP IN MIND that you are still going to be spending money on buying the bottles and things in bulk, so your bill will be bigger at the start if you don't already have these ingredients in your house/apartment, but you are investing in using the bottles and multiple pounds of chicken for other times!

Usually this kind of meal costs a lot more at a restaurant, so $7.90 for two people isn't that bad. Isn't super cheap but for what you eat it's a good price. 


Delicious and not only boyfriend approved, but one of his favorite dishes! I DON'T know the caloric intake of this dish. To be very honest, I don't think it's low calorie at all due to the couscous which is essentially tiny pasta balls. Therefore, we don't eat this often despite how easy it is to make and how delicious and budget friendly it is. Striving for lower calorie options here!

The taste of this dish is of course lemon-y from the lemon juice, but also bursts of tangy-ness from the craisins, and then you have the salt and pepper taste from the chicken breasts bits. Sounds like a weird combo but I to me it sure tastes great! The craisins really add that needed burst of flavor and make this dish interesting.

My picture below doesn't look fancy like the recipe's picture in that link I gave, but hey, not bad, and it tastes great!

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Thank y'all for stopping by my first blogpost review of the Giada de Laurentiis Mediterranean Salad recipe!

I'm new to cooking blogging, so forgive me if I am disorganized as I figure out the best way to communicate with you. I normally do beauty blogging, but figure that since I cook regularly, and test out recipes all the time, why not document it?

Okay, see you later!

Welcome To My Food Blog Testing Blog!

Hi there!

My name is Grace. I am  24 years old. Very poor and living off savings while I wait for my seasonal job to pick up again to get money. So I'm pretty much on the hunt for tasty foods that are affordable enough, healthy and boyfriend-approved as well as something I will enjoy and so I am scouring the internet for food blogs to test out what they cook up. Oh, not to mention, I'm a very picky eater, whereas my boyfriend loves most things except seafood.

So this is a challenge for me to find things we both enjoy while sticking to our budget of $300 on groceries or less per month, with once a week cheat meal eating out since we both are on a diet to lose weight and in general be healthy even if we don't lose the weight. If I do crave something he doesn't like, I will make the extra effort to cook two separate meals if I have time that night.

Anyway, you know how Pinterest goes as well as other recipes. Sometimes, they just turn out not what you expected, more complicated than you thought, they end up looking disastrous even if they taste good, among other things that could go wrong despite what the food blogger or recipe picture displayed and promised you.

So I will be your tester. Your guinea pig before you decide to test out a recipe and buy everything for it.

I will link every recipe to its rightful owner, give credit where it's due, and never claim something as my own unless I truly came up with the idea or if I modified the recipe to my liking and then I will state both the recipe creator and I did the recipe.

Thank you so much for stopping by, trusting me to be your guinea pig, and I hope my blog and food journey is helpful to you. If you have any questions, please, don't hesitate to ask. I will answer you to the best of my ability.

I will update this page if/when necessary to add pictures or more words.

See yall soon!

Oh, P.S. In case y'all were wondering what I look like, here I am. I am Vietnamese-American born to immigrants from Vietnam, but I was born and raised in Texas, and now reside in Alabama.

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