Sausage and Orecchiette with Red Onion, Garbanzos and Mint.

I can’t seem to get off of my Food and Wine kick lately. Someone left a recent travel issue in the office that had an intriguing looking tostada dish on the front. There’s nothing more interesting to me than adding differently worldly flavors to the dinner plate, which is why I picked up the magazine and thumbed through it. Quite a few recipes caught my eye, but one in particular seemed super-easy but also combined quite a few unique flavors. Sausage always adds a lot of flavors to dishes and when layering in pasta, I kind of knew it would be a win.

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Cheap Dinner – Red Bell Pepper Frittata

Last night we had cheap food in the form of breakfast for dinner with a simple red bell pepper frittata. I’m not a huge fan of meals with eggs, but with this recipe it has a mixture of eggs and couscous, so it really lighted up the base. I would recommend using a cast iron skillet, but here in Costa Rica they use a heavy aluminum blend, which works just as nice especially if you let it get seasoned up nicely.

Please feel free to use and tweak the red bell pepper frittata recipe below. It serves four people.

Ingredients

  • 2/3  cup  water
  • 1/3  cup  dried quinoa
  • 1  tablespoon  water
  • 3/4  teaspoon  garlic salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 4  large egg whites
  • 3  large eggs
  • Cooking spray (optional)
  • 2  cups  red bell pepper strips
  • 1  cup  thinly vertically sliced onion
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3  cup  (1 1/2 ounces) shredded gouda with herbs (choose your favorite cheese)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Bring water to boil in a small saucepan; stir in quinoa. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Combine 1 tablespoon water, salt, black pepper, egg whites, and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Heat a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray (or well-seasoned cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in couscous and egg mixture; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until almost set. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Taco Bar – Playa Jaco

Rustic wood, swings, a full fixins bar, it was a sweet place!

The last place we ate this weekend in Jaco was a sweet little taco bar (conveniently named Taco Bar) that we heard had great fish tacos. We walked up and found a rustic little place with a U-shaped seating area with swings on one side and solid wood stumps on the other. This place was complete with a salad bar to dress your taco to meet your style.

We started of with ceviche, which is a true test of how good the food will be, and we knew we were onto somthing with this place. Ceviche is one type of food in Costa Rica that I can’t get enough of. I ordered the fried mahi taco and the mahi a la plancha (grilled) for my husband. We loaded up the tacos with some lettuce, rice, and spicy pico de gallo. All-in-all we spent about $20 for lunch, which is more than we would have liked to spend but we loved the open and shaded atmosphere and wrought iron decor. It was modern, yet fit the style of the Ticos, especially for a place at the beach. We’ll be back there for sure.

Share Cheap Food – Group Dinners

One of the things I do with my neighbors in Charlotte every week is share cheap food; group dinner style. We decide on a theme early in the week and send out an email to coordinate who brings what. The host takes care of the main dish and everyone else brings something. If this is done right, and you establish a budget, it can save everyone money.

This week was Asian night. In my opinion, it could be Asian night every week and I would love it (see my previous post about my love for Asian food markets). The menu included a staple recipe of honey jalapeño cilantro chicken pasta, crab rangoons, Thai salad with spicy ginger peanut dressing, Thai summer rolls, and an almond mandarin gelatin for dessert. If you are feeling froggy, like our group tends to do, we made mai-tais and a limeaide spritzer.

It is just great to get our friends together that have the same goals and just let loose. One of my favorite themes for pot luck dinners is “Dishes under $5”. You can’t lose, and it forces everyone to get creative. Feel free to comment about your latest cheap food group dinner experience. Happy cheap eating, together!