Sunday, February 28, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

The organic romas for $1/lb at both Sunflower and Whole Foods are continuing to drive my thinking. Since Sunflower has pretty large shrimp for $5.99/lb (and I have a bag in the freezer that I bought for less), I'm thinking Cooking Light's spicy shrimp and fettuccine with extra romas, and more romas in the salad made with $1 organic lettuce from Sunflower.

The pizza already made from that big ball of fresh dough from Whole Foods (with chicken and roma tomato deals) makes more than enough pizza for two dinners for two, so that will be a reprise.

Looking for more ways to use this week's chicken breast sales at both Sprouts and Sunflower, I'm going for spicy roast chicken with tomatoes and marjoram from Bon Appetit, going lighter by using the skinless chicken breasts, and maybe substituting sliced sale romas for the cherry tomatoes. With the oven running, baked organic yams ($1/lb at Sunflower) and roasted asparagus (97 cents/lb at Sunflower) will make good sides.

Finally, we need some rice, and with beautiful organic chard on sale until Tuesday for $1.50 at Whole Foods, and chicken sausage $2.99/lb at both Sprouts and Sunflower, I'm ready to get a jump on spring with sausage risotto with spring greens from Bon Appetit. Can't wait until the real spring greens come around, and I can ride my bike out to Cure Organic Farm to pick up their wonderful baby greens mix.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Some Dinner Ideas

Kind of a crazy week ahead warping my dinner plans a bit, but here's a start on the ideas.

Wild salmon is always good, and Whole Foods has sockeye at $10.99/lb (not as good as last week's deals elsewhere, but still okay). I'm thinking of experimenting with something I found in the first issue of my new Food and Wine subscription, chipotle-rubbed salmon tacos with apple-cucumber salsa. Sounds fresh, light, and heart-healthy, maybe with some cilantro rice on the side. Think I'll skip the orange zest and sugar part, though, and will look for an already cut cabbage to get just part of it.

Chicken sausage is $2.99/lb this week at both Sprouts and Sunflower, and organic romas are $1/lb at both Sunflower and Whole Foods, so that brings to mind, Cooking Light's sausage pizza. Organic leaf lettuce is $1 a head at Sunflower for the side salad, and Sprouts has 77 cent avocados. Whole Foods has the most wonderful fresh multigrain dough (and a white version as well). I'll use a whole big ball to fill an entire cookie sheet, increasing the toppings accordingly. Weird thing is that I'll substitute chicken breast ($1.67/lb at Sprouts, $1.77/lb at Sunflower) for the sausage, since I want to use the sausage the next night.

Okay, looking for a quick but tasty dinner, now I'm on to the chicken sausage. Polenta makes the fastest, nearly indestructible side, despite its reputation for being tricky. Buy the polenta cheaply from the bulk aisle, and whisk 1 cup into 3 cups of boiling broth/milk/water. Finish by mixing in a bit of grated cheese, maybe parmesan or something smoked, when the polenta has thickened. Asparagus is 97 cents a pound at Sunflower for a side.

More ideas soon.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Parmesan Cracking Details

Looks like each local Whole Foods store is kind of on its own regarding the big simultaneous Parmigiano Reggiano cracking event happening Saturday afternoon, the 27th. Here's what the various store calendars say:

Ideal - demos from 1 to 3, with the cracking at 2.
Baseline - not on the calendar, and no info available from a call to the store.
Broadway - event at 2, not broken down further.
Pearl - event at 1, not broken down further.
Superior - demos from 12 to 3, with the cracking at 1.

Hope that's good enough for the cracking to be "simultaneous" for their new Guinness record. Mangia bene!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Last Call for Sprouts Amazing Savings

With their Wednesday ad overlap day, today's the last day to get pork loin chops or roasts or chicken breast tenders for $1.69/lb, and cod for $4.99/lb at Sprouts. It's also the last day for their 88 cent/lb asparagus, but Sunflower picks that up starting today at 97 cents/lb. (Whole Foods is doing a one-day sale on asparagus today only for $1.99/lb, not such a good deal to me.) The end of the chicken breast tenders sale isn't such a big deal, since both Sprouts and Sunflower will have chicken breast packages newly on sale today (see the deals sidebar). Menu ideas to follow shortly.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Giant Parmesan Cracking Event

Save the date, this coming Saturday, the 27th. Whole Foods will be trying to break its own record for the most wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano cracked simultaneously. Looks like most of the local stores are participating, including Ideal Market, but maybe not the Baseline store. Store calendars variously say the event is at 1, is from 1 to 3, or cracking at 2. My guess is that the festivities will start at 1, the simultaneous cracking will occur at 2, and tasting will proceed merrily thereafter.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Week's Worth of Dinner Ideas

So many good deals to work with this week, with cheap chicken, pork, cod, and asparagus especially on my mind. One way to start might be nice, light cod with Mediterranean salsa, from Gourmet magazine (RIP), maybe with asparagus as the side veggie, since Sprouts has great deals this week on both cod ($4.99/lb) and asparagus (88 cents/lb).

Have to do something with Sprouts' chicken tenders at $1.69/lb and it's time for pasta. One I like is a pasta with chicken, mushrooms, spinach and ricotta, but everybody has their own spin on pasta with chicken.

With pork chops or roasts $1.69/lb at Sprouts, think I'll chop some up for pork and pozole with chipotles from the New York Times. Hope you remember how easy it is to have chipotles ready to use from the fridge with this already posted tip. For your side salad, don't forget that Whole Foods has organic romas for $1/lb.

Back to that 88 cent asparagus, I haven't yet gotten enough of asparagus and leek risotto with prosciutto from Bon Appetit. Remember that the Pearl Street Whole Foods carries nice chunks of cooking prosciutto in the deli at a much lower price than the freshly sliced. Also, Sunflower has a parmesan at $6.99/lb this week.

Of course the pozole makes a big pot of soup, good enough for a second round.

Talking about Wednesday, the 24th, one possibility I've mentioned is the incredible wine dinner deal that the 14th Street Bar and Grill will be hosting. Or, we haven't had rice yet this week, so an easy midweek option is to saute more of the $1.69/lb chicken tenders from Sprouts and turn them into a stir fry by adding garlic, hot pepper flakes, and ginger, then tossing in a defrosted package of frozen Oriental mixed veggies, the whole thing served over hot rice. If you keep a package of the veggies stocked in your freezer, you can do this quickly with any meat, shrimp, or tofu for a very easy meal.

Finally, one last fling with the 88 cent asparagus, maybe a quick penne with asparagus, spinach and bacon from Cooking Light, using more of Sunflower's sale parmesan.

Hope next week offers as many good deals as this! You might want to stock your freezer with some of this week's very good deals so you won't be paying more when the prices jump back up.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Boulder Fine Dining Deals

I rarely comment on Boulder's wonderful restaurants since I'm usually busy cooking at home, but the fabulous deals on the horizon just have to be mentioned. First, several Boulder restaurants will be participating in Denver Restaurant Week, 2/20-3/5, where a multicourse dinner for two is $52.80. Check Boulder Eats for most of the participating places, plus The Black Cat, the Greenbriar, and the Red Lion have since been added (plus some restaurants outside the city). Also, the 14th Street Bar and Grill will be holding a Buttonwood Farm wine dinner on the 24th for an astonishing price, $30 per person plus tax and tip.

New Deals Are Up

The best new deals starting today at Boulder Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods are up in the Deals sidebar, dinner ideas to follow soon. With Sprouts and Sunflower doing "double ad Wednesdays," their deals ending today are still there too, will come down tomorrow. A reminder to anyone looking at these from outside Boulder - while the Whole Foods specials are good regionally, Sprouts and Sunflower tend to do individual store ads, so your specials may be different.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Re-Source Water Superdeal

If you're a fan of Re-Source water, does Whole Foods have a one-day deal for you: a case of 24 for $4.99, which they say is a savings of $28.37 per case!! Tomorrow only, 2/17.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More For the Week, Including Mardi Gras

What to do for Mardi Gras? Jambalaya? Red beans and rice? I'm going to go with a chicken Creole that isn't online because it's from a wonderful cookbook from the early 90s, Julee Rosso's Great Good Food (seasonal approach, a lighter perspective, yet sophisticated - what more could you ask?). An alternative could be Mark Bittman's recently published lighter take on gumbo, a scallop one. Scallops would be pretty pricey around town right now, so maybe substitute $4.99/lb shrimp from Sunflower?

Of course, you've figured out by now that a big soup like the sweet potato and sausage one makes for an easy reheat for a second dinner.

With pork stew meat at Sunflower at $2.99/lb, I'm also thinking five-spice pork stir-fry with soba noodles. Get your whole grains in with buckwheat sobas. Maybe some edamame from the freezer on the side (Seapoint Farms is $1.50 at Sprouts this week).

Finally, some sort of fish, yet to be determined, with baked organic yams and beets on the side, both on sale at Sunflower (yams 99 cents/lb, beets $1.50/bunch). Can't pack in many more antioxidants than that.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mardi Gras Parade!

Count on the Pearl Street Whole Foods to have a good time. They'll be throwing a Mardi Gras parade at 4 on Tuesday. Here are the details from them:

Tuesday, February 16th
Pearl Street Mardi Gras Parade
4pm FREE
It's that time of year again! Make sure you're here when our teams compete for the coveted title of Mardi Gras Master. Customers will vote for the most amazing team float and then we'll march through the store and down Pearl Street. If you're in need of multi-colored plastic beads, do not miss this event!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Sampling at Sunflower

The Boulder Sunflower will be holding a Valentine's tasting tomorrow from 11 to 2. Their sales flyer calls it a "sweet sampling," while their full schedule on the web says to "stop by and sample great ideas to make this weekend romantic." Intriguing.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Upcoming Dinner Ideas

A busy week of festivities to celebrate, with the Olympics opening tomorrow, Valentine's Day Sunday, and Mardi Gras on Tuesday. In honor of the Olympics, I'm thinking something vegetarian and with carbs for tomorrow, like a vegetarian pasta. (Note the Vitelli whole wheat pasta 99 cent sale at Sunflower and stock up!!) The pasta I have in mind isn't online anywhere - it involves a sauce of marinated artichoke hearts, roasted green chiles, light sour cream, a little olive oil, and lots of freshly grated parmesan over whole wheat pasta, wow. With romas 99 cents a pound at Sunflower, a good alternative would be linguine with spicy leek and tomato sauce from Bon Appetit.

Next, since chicken sausage is on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower, and organic yams are 99 cents/lb at Sunflower (also organic leaf lettuce for the side salad), that screams for sweet potato and sausage soup from Bon Appetit. You have to cook the sausage anyway, so substituting your choice of sausage seems perfectly reasonable.

Then, oh my, we're on to Valentine's Day. Steak and lobster tail specials are everywhere, and are highlighted in my hot deals of the week sidebar. Since clogging one's sweetie's arteries isn't my idea of an ideal expression of love, think I'll opt instead for salmon, mustard greens, and potatoes with mustard-dill glaze, yet another from Bon Appetit. This recipe is so easy yet flavorful, with the mustard-dill sauce flavoring everything. Might not be able to resist some of the cooked shrimp from Sprouts at $3.99/lb to start.

More to come shortly.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Store Events and a Crab Sale

Our Boulder Sunflower continues its active events schedule with a heart health class tonight at 7, featuring Jack Schaefer of Mountain West Wellness. Tomorrow there will be a gluten-free tour at 10 am, while on Thursday from 4 to 6, they will be doing a "Simple Suppers" demo. Meanwhile, tomorrow only, our Whole Foods markets will have Jonah crab claws on sale for $5.99/lb, $4 off their usual price. Starting to think about Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Rounding Out the Dinner Menus

Once we get past the Super Bowl, it will be time for some calm, quiet comfort food. With those chicken tenders at Sprouts for $1.88/lb, it might be time for my own pasta invention that doesn't have a name. It's essentially chicken and miscellaneous veggies with whole wheat penne, fusilli, or whatever your inclination, with parmesan freshly grated on top. After diced chicken is mostly cooked, what I usually throw in is chopped onion and garlic, broccoli florets, diced mushrooms, and chopped tomatoes. Also nice to pick up roasted red pepper and pitted kalamata olives from a place like the Whole Foods antipasto bar to add. Moisten with a little chicken broth or pasta cooking water, and you're done.

Even easier, there will be a reprise of Sunday's veggie chili.

Since I'll be stocking up on organic winter squash (99 cents a pound) at Sunflower, and shrimp are on sale at both Sunflower (really big ones for $6.99/lb) and Sprouts (smaller ones for $3.99/lb), it's time for another round of butternut squash risotto with shrimp.

Finally, with sockeye $9.99/lb at Sprouts and my $2.50 five pound bag of organic russets already purchased from Sunflower, a simple saute of salmon with a baked (microwaved) potato on the side is in order, with some nice side veggie as well, of course.

Sounds like a good week for veggies!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday!

Even in the midst of a junk food extravaganza like Super Bowl Sunday, we Boulderites like to stay on the healthy side. For Sunday's dinner, I'm going with my very favorite chili, which just happens to be vegetarian, black bean chili with butternut squash and Swiss chard, originally published in Bon Appetit. Three small cans of beans is a bit much, so I prefer one large can instead (big 25 oz can of Westbrae organic is on sale at the Pearl Whole Foods for $1.50, less than the price of one small can). Also chicken instead of veggie broth, unless you're looking for a truly vegetarian dish. Either tortillas or my favorite green onion corn bread on the side (maybe with some chopped roasted chiles added), and of course a giant salad. Guacamole (avocados 39 cents at Sunflower!) is a must, and maybe a few wings, but nothing truly gross. Recipes for pigging out are everywhere. The most appealing, healthier spins I've seen as a group are the ones published in Whole Food's blog. Let the Saints come marching in!

Pre-Sunday Dinners

Everybody's thinking Super Bowl, but we still need to plan some dinners before then. I'm thinking of trying a new (to me) recipe for the cod that's $6.99/lb at Sprouts, cod, potato, and fennel casserole, from Gourmet magazine. Fennel is so good in winter dishes, and five pound bags of russets are just $2.50 at Sunflower. Next, with chicken tenders $1.88/lb at Sprouts, it might be time for barbeque chicken pizza from Bon Appetit, which tastes more decadent than it really is. In fact, it would be good for a Super Bowl party, but I have another idea for Sunday. This pizza is really good finished with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro. As for the crust, you could do it as written or try it with fresh dough from our favorite stores. Another option, what I'd been doing before I discovered the fresh dough at Whole Foods, is to buy a plain pizza dough from Nick 'n Willy's - just tell them which size dough you'd like, "rolled and wrapped," and you'll get a flat dough ready for your toppings.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Baby Back Ribs and Gift Cards

Whole Foods' one day only sale tomorrow will be baby back ribs for $3.99/lb, nearly half their regular price. Definitely a Super Bowl possibility. Love Whole Foods meats, but if you miss that one, they'll be $3.99/lb at Sprouts all the way through 2/10. Also, I heard from the manager at Sprouts that tomorrow is the last day they will be offering their $100 gift card for $89.99.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Tip for Storing Chipotles

I was recently chatting with the folks who bring you Boulder Eats, the Boulder Restaurants Guide, and we got on the topic of recipes that call for small amounts of odd items, chipotles in particular (as in the chipotle beef stew I'm doing this week). A friend of mine gave me the greatest tip for this. When you buy one of those little cans of chipotles in adobo sauce, pop the contents in a food processor or blender, and pretty much puree it. The puree will fit perfectly in one of little jars that marinated artichoke hearts come in. Stored in the refrigerator, the chipotle puree will keep for months, and I use about one tablespoon of puree per chipotle called for in a recipe. So convenient.