Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Dining In: Linguine with Brown Butter and Sage December 29, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 5:30 PM
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After a week of baking 100+ sugar cookies, chocolate truffles, scones, and cooking a variety of snacks and sides, I knew that this week I needed a bit of a break. Before the chaos of the holidays I saw a recipe for brown butter and sage pasta and flagged it as something tasty to try. Well, after having both a dressing and potato dish with fresh sage during the holidays, this recipe from Serious Eats was perfect for a simple, cheap, warm pasta to start my week.


  • linguine (1-2 servings)
  • 3-4 tablespoons of butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-6 sage leaves, chopped
  • shredded Parmesan


  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of well salted boiling water. When it is done, set aside 4-6 tablespoons of the cooking water and then drain the pasta.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  After the foam subsides, watch the butter and when it is a light caramel color (and begins to smell yummy), drop in the sage leaves and toss them around a bit.
  3. Add the pasta and pasta water to the butter mix. Salt and pepper to taste and top with some cheese.


Dining In: Mushroom Bhaji with Rice December 17, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 9:25 AM
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So, really there are two reasons I decided to make this recipe. #1 A warm, tomato, mushroom and onion dish sounded delish. #2 The  name, Bhaji totally caught my eye. The aroma from my kitchen when cooking this stew-like meal was heavenly, and the meal really held its heat.


  • 1 carton white button mushrooms, stems remove and thickly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (or just 1/2 if the pepper is really spicy)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon minced green onions or chives
  • Cooked white rice


  1. Pour the oil into a pot set over medium heat. Toss in the onion and the jalapeño and cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, stir well, and cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the cumin, coriander, and chile powder, stir well, and cook for 1 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms, tomato paste, and 3 cans of water. Stir until the paste is evenly distributed, then cover the pot, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir halfway through. The dish should be stew-like. If it is not thick enough, or the mushrooms aren’t yet tender, remove the lid and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Serve with white rice and sprinkling of the green onions.


Dining In: Butternut Squash, Spinach and Goat Cheese Gnocchi December 14, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 6:26 PM
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I’m really not a fan of pumpkin. I don’t do pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin scented candles, and I especially don’t do pumpkin beer. So, you may think it odd that this recipe on Broke Ass Gourmet for gnocchi with pumpkin spinach sauce caught my eye last week. Well, one thing I’ve figured out this past year is to not judge a recipe based on one ingredient, just make a logical substitute. Often, I will omit any meat mentioned in a recipe or replace it with tofu or seafood. So, for this recipe, I swapped squashes.  Butternut squash for pumpkin.

It turned out to be a pretty tasty, simple, savory dish that was great leftover. Enjoy!


  • 1 package gnocchi
  • 1 can Amy’s Butternut Squash soup
  • 2 oz. soft, creamy goat cheese
  • 1 bunch fresh sage leaves, chopped finely
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a medium frying pan, Saute onion in butter until translucent. Then add in spinach, some olive oil and lightly cook with onion for just a few minutes (leaves are mostly wilted).
  2. Cook gnocchi according to package directions in salted water, drain and add to the spinach and onion.
  3. In the pot used to boil the gnocchi, heat butternut squash soup on medium. Stir in sage, cheese, salt and pepper. Stir frequently as cheese melts and sauce becomes creamy.
  4. Once the sauce is ready, add to the gnocchi, onion and spinach and heat to desired temperature. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.


Cheap, Chic Christmas Decor December 12, 2009

Filed under: Home Decor — karakrautter @ 10:47 PM
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Well, it is for me! I love the holiday season, especially Christmas. All of my happiest childhood (and young adult) memories seem to focus on the time right after Thanksgiving through the New Year. The lights, the carols, festive drinks and dresses — and getting to spend a lot of quality time with my wonderful family and friends.

Ever since I’ve had a place of my own, I started collecting my own Christmas decorations. Even if I would only see them for the few weeks between the end of Thanksgiving break and finals, it was worth it! Starting with an easy to pack in a suitcase advent calendar from my mom to have in my dorm room years ago, each holiday season I find a few new things to add to my collection and hold on to a couple old mementos.

For those that know me well (and have seen enough of my condo via this blog), you know that I’m a bit of a minimalist when it comes to decorating. Christmas at my place is no different. It’s all about unique, meaningful pieces that add just the right amount of jolly.

This year, after a long day at work, I decided that I needed a little Christmas cheer from the one and only Target. There is something about this store that just sucks me in. But, thankfully I kept things simple and only picked up a few new decorations. Since this is my second Christmas at the condo (crazy to think where the time has gone) and I knew exactly what I wanted to add:

Garland with white lights for my stairs – The house where I grew up is one story, so I never had the quintessential garland along the stair rail. Now I do, for just $9.99 + about $2 for the bows.

A quick and cheap modification to year-round items – The leftover bows from the garland worked perfectly to transform my circle mirrors into ‘ornaments.’

My own wreath with my own holder- Last year I borrowed an extra wreath and holder from my mom, but for around $15 dollars I now have my own. I found a seasonal simple wreath and modified the cheaper faux-gold holder with the leftover silver paint from my fireplace redo so the holder can be used all year-round.

Next on the list is all the holiday baking and snacks to prepare and share!


Dining In: Tofu Fried Rice December 4, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 5:21 PM
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This year I have discovered many things…but, when it comes to cooking, I’ve found that I can cook more than pasta. Asian food at home isn’t too hard, and fried rice has been a fun new dish that I’ve added to my repertoire. For me, there are a lot of similarities with this dish and a pasta meal: carb base, veggies, protein and stock seasonings that always seem to work.

After spending almost a week in the Midwest over Thanksgiving, I had my fill of green beans, potatoes, rolls, more potatoes and some fantastic mac and cheese. I knew that for my recipe this week I wanted to shake my palette up. After only a short time browsing the posts of my favorite food blogs, I came across this recipe from Playing House for Veggie Fried Rice. I was shocked, not by the recipe, but that I hadn’t thought of it sooner. I loved making my crab fried rice, but finding lump crab meat can be challenging (especially the price!). So, adding more veggies and tofu instead of crab seemed like the perfect low, low budget version.

When I actually prepared the meal, I didn’t even reference a recipe. But, I did use Amy’s blog to help find the right ingredients.


  • 1 cup uncooked white rice (yields about 3 cups prepared)
  • 1 package firm tofu, drained, towel dry, diced in cubes
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbs chopped pickled ginger
  • 1 package mixed frozen veggies (corn, carrots, peas, etc.)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • green onions (both green and white parts)


  1. Cook the rice according to the directions on the box, and set aside to cool. Also, prepare the frozen veggies according to the directions on the bag.
  2. Warm 2-3 tbs. vegetable oil and 1tbs. sesame oil in a large saucepan. Once heated, add in half of the tofu to fry. Sprinkle soy sauce on tofu to flavor and be sure to fry each side. Once done, place cooked tofu on a paper towel. Repeat for the other half.
  3. Add another 2-3tbs. of vegetable oil to the same pan and warm with the garlic and ginger. Add the rice and soy sauce and fry for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Incorporate the cooked veggies and diced red bell pepper, adding soy sauce as needed. Then add the fried tofu to heat up the entire dish. Right before serving, top with green onions.