Thursday, October 29, 2009

Recipe: In a Hurry Egg White & Veggie Scramble

You know those mornings when you think you’ve gotten up early enough to do a few extra things around the house but end up having to rush about anyway? I had one of those today but I was bound & determined to bring something from home for breakfast so I wouldn’t have to spend extra money. Yesterday on Facebook I wrote briefly about my unplanned lunch at Andy Nguyen’s, and though it was awesome to get 3 meals out of one $7 bowl of soup (I’m still quite tickled by that fact), it was still $7 + tax + tip that I really wasn’t expecting to spend. I’m not exactly in a position to be eating out on any semi-regular basis and have some decent food options at home, so even if I had to run about like a chicken with my head cut off this morning, I was more than happy to make breakfast at home.

This is similar to my Tofu & Veggie Scramble from earlier this year, only with egg whites and a lot more veggies. The best part is that it only takes about 6-7 minutes to make, so it’s great for anyone who’s on the run! How can this be if I’m always harping about hacking up whole vegetables? Well, not everything I do is completely by hand, and during the colder months I like to have a lot of frozen mixed veggies on hand to use for soups, stews, etc. I also like chopping up extra vegetables that I know I won’t use right away and sticking them in the freezer for later use. Either one of these will lend themselves beautifully to making this breakfast. Not sure what to do with those remaining egg yolks? Whatever you do, don’t toss them! You can scramble them and use them in a nice spinach salad for lunch, or use them as a base for a custard-y dessert for dinner later on. Now let’s check this one out.

In a Hurry Egg White-Veggie Scramble (serves 1; total cost: $1.55)

4 egg whites
1/4 c frozen mixed veggies of your choice
1/2 roma tomato, diced
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 t lemon pepper
Couple pinches of salt

Place the veggies in a small strainer and place under cold running water to defrost quickly. In the meantime, chop the tomato & onions and place in a bowl. When the frozen veggies have defrosted, drain well and add to the tomato & onion mixture. Add the salt and lemon pepper and toss together.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks by carefully cracking each egg in equal halves and transferring the yolk from one shell to the other over a small bowl, allowing the egg white to fall into the bowl. Reserve the egg yolks in a different bowl for later use. Lightly whisk the egg whites together, making sure you don’t overbeat so you don’t end up with meringue.

Spray a small skillet with cooking spray, scramble the egg whites together until they start to solidify and add the veggies. Cook until the egg whites are no longer wet and serve with toast. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recipe: Butternut Squash & Black Bean Burritos

I don’t know about you folks, but I love, love, LOVE butternut squash. As I mentioned in last week’s Linguine with Sweet Potatoes, Spinach & Ham post, I’m trying to eat more seasonal produce and luckily for me, ‘tis totally the season for a ton of delicious squash. Whether roasted, made into soups or even into soufflés, butternut squash lends itself to a variety of dishes much like my other favorite squash, the pumpkin. Personally I’m perfectly happy just cutting it up into cubes, roasting it in the oven for about 20 minutes and snacking on the little cubes like they’re candy. I figured I’d take this a step further and put said roasted cubes of goodness into a nice vegetarian burrito.

More vegetables, Poor Girl? YES!!! I seem to be hell-bent on eating even more veggies lately. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to fortify myself against any further illnesses until next flu season, or maybe it’s because I had too much Panda Express last week (I ended up w/a gift card & coupons and ugh… that stuff just weighs you down if you eat it more than once in any given month. There's a reason why I don't eat much of that kind of thing). Regardless, I am on a mission and I’m taking you all with me. :)

I like how this turned out because it puts a different spin on vegetarian burritos. I think we’re all familiar with the standard rice & bean variety, or perhaps fajita style burritos sans meat (think Chipotle style burritos). They’re awfully tasty, but it’s the same old, same old. The juxtaposition of flavors in these burritos is an absolute delight to the palate as you dig in: smoky, cumin spiced black beans, sweet roasted butternut squash, and a healthy dose of crisp spinach – what’s not to love? These are quite good and quite good for you, as they’re definitely packed with fiber and vitamins. And they’re cheap!!! The entire recipe ends up costing roughly $5, making the cost per burrito a mere $1.67. Depending on how big a squash you use and how much you fill your burritos, you can feed between 3-4 folks with this. Tasty, good, and $5 to serve 3 people? Works for me!

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Burritos (serves 3-4; total cost per burrito: $1.67)

3-4 whole wheat flour tortillas
1 1-lb. butternut squash, diced into 1” cubes
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 c fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1/4 c diced yellow or red onion
2 T olive oil, divided
1/2 t salt, divided
1/4 t sugar
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 t minced garlic
1/4 t ground cumin
1/8 t cayenne pepper (optional)
Salsa, sour cream and other burrito fixings of your choice

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium bowl toss together the squash, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, sugar and ground black pepper until the squash is evenly coated. Spread onto a foil lined baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until the squash is tender and lightly browned. Set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 2 minutes or until they begin to soften. Next, add the drained black beans and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring gently. Finally, add the roasted squash and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until everything is completely heated through.

To assemble your burritos, take a warm tortilla and fill with a generous amount of the black bean and squash filling. Add a nice handful of chopped spinach on top and roll together (the spinach will wilt slightly inside). Serve with salsa, sour cream, or whatever your favorite burrito fixins may be, and enjoy!

Only 2 days left to vote for PGEW!!!

Hey there, PGEW readers!

As most of you know - especially those of you who follow me on Facebook & Twitter - I have been lucky enough to be nominated for a Foodbuzz.com Food Blogger Award: Blogger You'd Most Like To See Have Their Own Show on the Food Network. There are many other awesome categories with fantastic nominees, so this is a great honor in and of itself. Awards will be given out at the big festival dinner on November 7th, and voting officially ends this Thursday, October 29th. I've been bugging you for votes on Facebook & Twitter as little as possible without letting you forget (tee hee), but I figured I'd give you all one final reminder here on PGEW.com. If you haven't voted yet, please go here to be taken to the nominee list and voting form.

For those who have emailed me saying they haven't found my category or they clicked on the link and were taken directly to my blog, you must make sure to go to the link that says to go "here" to vote (I believe it's in Step 2 before the nominee list). To find the category that PGEW is listed under, you must actually go through the first two pages and click the "next" button on the bottom of the second page. It's a little confusing the way they set it up, so I thought I'd give you all some pointers here.

Anywho, I am babbling as usual. I just wanted to finish by thanking you once more for nominating me (I'm still giddy about it) and thanking you in advance for your vote. My 4 fellow nominees are extremely talented folks, so the competition is stiff!

Thanks again!

Lv,
Poor Girl

Monday, October 26, 2009

Recipe: Greek Herb & Garlic Roasted Chicken

I’m always looking for tasty ways to prepare chicken without having to resort to dumping a whole bunch of some random jarred sauce on top right before sticking it in the oven. No offense to the jarred sauces of the world at all; I am rather fond of many of them. But I also like very simple recipes that bring forth the natural flavors of the foods I’m cooking. In my Drunken Game Hens post I talked about how to make some very flavorful, tender and juicy game hens with a recipe that can also be used for regular chicken or chicken pieces. This particular recipe does the same, only with the help of a very simple marinade and lots of herbs.

Though I prepared this using a pack of leg & thigh quarters I’d picked on sale, this is also a fabulous way to prepare a whole chicken. Whole chickens may seem a little on the pricey side upon purchase, but their value definitely makes up for the cost. As I’d mentioned in the Drunken Game Hen post, rotisserie chickens sold at grocery stores now run about $7-8 per small bird. Pay about $1 more and you can get a much larger chicken that will yield more servings. The beauty of this recipe – besides the fact that it makes your entire kitchen smell amazing – is that you can use the finished product in a variety of recipes. Using leg quarters like I did (or breast/wing quarters if you prefer) you can build an entire Mediterranean themed meal, serving a nice piece of the chicken along with a crisp salad, some lentils or perhaps some tabbouleh, and some warm pita bread. If roasting a whole chicken to use the meat in other recipes, the breast meat makes for a wonderful, tender base for salads or soups. The possibilities are endless, so definitely keep this as another one of your basic recipes to have on hand for most occasions.

It’s best to plan this recipe, as the chicken will taste much better when marinated for at least 24 hours. When it comes to the herbs you use for this, if you have access to fresh herbs you should definitely use them! Except for the fresh rosemary (did I tell you guys they randomly planted some new stuff in our yard and I now have lavender and rosemary? Woo hoo!), I used dried herbs when I prepared this and the flavor was just fantastic. I’m actually still learning about when to use fresh vs. dried herbs, but I think this is one of those situations when either version will work well. If you’re a garlic lover you will definitely love this, as the garlic is placed between the skin and the meat to really infuse the chicken with as much flavor as possible. Of course, if you’re watching your fat & calorie intake you should definitely remove the skin, but because the garlic was roasted inside to begin with, you won’t miss an ounce of flavor. Other than that, there’s not much to note! This is a great, basic recipe, and goes deliciously with the spanakopita I will finally be posting this week. :)

Greek Herb & Garlic Baked Chicken (serves 4-6; totally cost per serving: $2.05)

6 leg & thigh quarters
Juice of 4 lemons
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t rosemary
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t sea salt
1/4 t basil
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 head of garlic

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and herbs in a bowl and whisk together well. Break the head of garlic apart into individual cloves and reserve about 12 cloves. With freshly washed hand, take one chicken leg and place your finger between the skin and the meat until there is an open passageway. Put a clove of garlic between the skin and the meat and work down until it is on top of the chicken thigh. Repeat the process with a second clove of garlic, making sure it ends up in the middle of the chicken leg. Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the marinade, then cover and allow to marinate for at least 24 hours, turning every 6 hours or so.

When ready to prepare, preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray a cooking rack with cooking spray; add rack to sheet. Place the chicken on the rack and cover with a tented sheet of foil. Bake for about 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink on the inside. Serve as an entrée with dinner or use the meat as a base for salads or soups. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Recipe: Linguine with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach & Ham

You’ve gotta love fall and all the great produce that crops up at this time of year. Squashes are everywhere in all their resplendent colors and one of my personal favorites, the yam, is found in abundance for all those wonderful holiday dishes that will soon be popping up in people’s kitchens. I’ve been making more of an effort to eat seasonal produce not just to partake of great deals but to enjoy what certain foods are supposed to taste like when harvested at their peak. Here in the US we are very spoiled in that we usually have any type of produce we want right at our fingertips no matter what time of year it may be: asparagus in November, apricots in February… it gets so that we just don’t appreciate food seasons the way we ought to because of the instant gratification we’re so used to receiving. This point has been brought up to me a couple different times over the past few weeks, particularly from folks who have lived abroad or have immigrated to the US from places like Uzbekistan or Kenya. In those countries it’s unheard of to have tomatoes in October or any other non-seasonal eating because they just don’t have the same type of set up we do (refrigeration, huge grocery stores, etc.). Learning about how other people of other cultures cook & eat renewed my interest in exploring more seasonal products and I thought I’d start out with something easy: the lovely little yam.

Recently, I was lucky enough to find some great yams (okay, technically they were garnet sweet potatoes; someday I’ll get them all straight) at the Co-op at the low, low price of just $0.79/lb. I made sure to pick up a couple in addition to the cutest little butternut squash ever, which was also on sale. The beauty of seasonal eating is that you can find fabulous deals on produce that is actually (go figure) in season. Practically every store I’ve either been to or whose ads I’ve checked out lately are offering yams, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, spaghetti squash – you name it! - at wonderful sale prices. Though I love sweet potatoes even as simply prepared as baked with a little bit of butter on top, I thought it would be fun to try something new (to me) and add them to some pasta. The rest came to me as I smelled them roasting in the oven: smoky tasting ham to go with the sweetness of the yams and the nuttiness of the pasta, lightly wilted spinach for color and a different texture; I was set.

Except for the sauce.

Though my four main ingredients did seem to go well together aesthetically and flavor wise, if I just them together like that the dish would be a bit on the dry side. I wasn’t quite sure exactly how I would remedy this until I saw I had way more roasted yam cubes than I did ham or pasta. A creamy sauce using some of the roasted sweet potatoes seemed like a fun, albeit odd, idea. I’m glad I followed my creative instinct, though; the sauce was just what the dish needed to tie everything together. Sure, you can get away with adding a little extra butter to the dish to moisten things a bit, but take a leap of faith with me and try the sauce – it’s tasty and very easy to make! Because I wasn’t about to go out and spend $2 on some heavy whipping cream just to make this sauce (use what you have on hand!!!), I used the fat free milk to make it. I was quite pleased with the result because it kept things on the lighter side while still keeping things a little creamy. Though a little labor intensive (not difficult, just some extra steps), I really liked this dish. And when all was said and done I ended up with 4 huge helpings (possibly 6 normal sized ones... hello, leftovers!), the entire recipe coming out to just over $8. Not too shabby!

Linguine with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach & Ham (serves 4-6; total cost per serving: $2.05)

1 c whole wheat linguine (brown rice pasta works well for those with wheat allergies)
2 medium garnet sweet potatoes or yams, chopped into 1 ½” cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 c cubed ham
½ c chopped fresh spinach
1 T olive oil
Dash of salt
Pinch of sugar
2 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced & divided
1 c nonfat milk
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl combine the sweet potato cubes with the olive oil, salt and sugar. Toss until completely coated then spread onto a foil lined baking sheet making sure you have an even, single layer. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes or until they are tender on the inside and just slightly browned on the outside. Set aside to cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the linguine. Cook the pasta until it is al dente and drain. Set aside (you might want to add a tiny splash of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking). To prepare the sauce, measure out 3/4 c of the roasted sweet potatoes. Melt the butter in a medium skillet. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute then add the sweet potatoes, sauteeing for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Add the milk and puree until completely smooth. Check for flavor, adjust salt & pepper accordingly and set aside (if the sauce becomes too thick when standing, simply thin it out with 1 tablespoon of milk).

In a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray, quickly heat the remaining minced clove of garlic. Add the ham and stir fry over medium high heat until it starts to brown. Add the spinach and cook until it just begins to wilt (don't overcook!). Next, add the linguine and toss together well. Finally, add the remaining sweet potatoes and fold into the pasta gently (so you don't squish 'em).

To serve, spoon a few tablespoons of the sweet potato sauce onto a dish. Top with plenty of pasta, ham and veggies, add as much freshly ground black pepper as you like, and enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Recipe: Black Bean & Steak Fajita Soup

Yesterday was my big day as a presenter at the Child Action, Inc., “Caring for Children in Stressful Times” conference and it was a wonderful experience. Though it was an adventure getting there (light rail had lost power in the stretch of line that I needed to be on and the bus drivers they used for the replacement bus bridges didn’t seem to know where they should be going), I made it and gave presentations that I hope were in some way valuable to the participants. Unfortunately, I’m still not 100% health wise, so I didn’t feel so hot towards the latter part of the day. By the time I got home I came to the conclusion that the only thing I wanted to eat was soup, and even though I was rewarded well for the event, I still had to fall back on what I had available to me at home because going to the bank was far too big an ordeal. This presented quite the conundrum as I was feeling pretty awful by the time I got home, so I really had to pay attention to what I had available in my kitchen if I wanted to have some decent soup.

Fortunately my kitchen cooperated, thanks to ingredients that appear to have gotten together behind my back to make sure they tasted okay when combined. Lately I’ve gotten teased by some friends and family members who say that I should get sick more often because I seem to get more inspired. I don’t know that that’s really the case; I truly believe that I’ve just happened to have some interesting stuff left in my fridge and cupboards that happen to mix well together. Last night I some food math in my head and came up with a fabulous little hybrid of a recipe that I hope everyone will enjoy as much as I did.

I was inspired to make this after a conference participant asked me if I ever made my own tortilla chips. That started me talking, I referred to a different soup that I make that calls for tortilla strips, then figured it’d be fun to add these to a different soup. With some leftover steak and some veggies, I decided to make a soup inspired by one of my favorite “fun” dinners, fajitas. Tasty steak, hearty black beans, and plenty of colorful peppers make this a satisfying dish that most should enjoy. Top it with some homemade tortilla strips and you’ve got a great soup that will help you make use of some of those pesky leftovers you can’t get rid of. Did I mention it’s only about $1.75/serving? Mmmm… tasty, cheap soup. :)

Black Bean & Steak Fajita Soup (serves 4; total cost per serving: ~$1.75)

1 c flank steak cut into 1 ½” pieces (or 1 c cooked steak)
2 cans black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1 c broth
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
¾ c bell pepper strips
2 T cooking oil, divided
1/2 t + 1/4 t ground cumin
1/2 t + 1/4 t sea salt
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t ground black pepper
5 taco size corn tortillas, cut into strips
Small handful chopped cilantro (optional for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350°. Place the tortilla strips onto a foil lined baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray and bake for about 10 minutes or until they turn golden brown. In the meantime, season the steak with 1/4 t cumin, 1/4 t salt and some ground black pepper and set aside for about 5 minutes. Heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in a large pot and add the garlic, cooking it until it begins to turn fragrant. Add the steak and stir fry over medium high heat until it is no longer pink on the outside (about 3 minutes). Add the onion and bell pepper strips along with the remaining salt & spices and sautee for about 1 minute. Add the beans and the diced tomatoes and mix well. Add the broth and bring the soup to a simmer then reduce heat to medium low, simmering for about 5-6 more minutes.

While the soup is simmering, remove the baked tortilla strips from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Spoon generous amounts of soup into large bowls or mugs, top with tortilla strips and chopped cilantro, and enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Poor Girl's Loss Is Your Gain! (free stuff inside)

Sometimes I am an idiot. They say that admission is the first step to recovery so I’m really hoping that this means I will be less of an idiot as time goes on, but so far it hasn’t happened. The good news about my idiocy this time around is that some of you will truly benefit from this.

So what did I do that was so dumb? I unknowingly enabled a small accident this morning by putting the following into an equation of disaster: PGEW Book Workspace + Orange Spice Tea + Cat on Crack (I’m sure it was just catnip, but with StuKitty, you never know). You can probably guess what happened from there.

Though I was able to rescue most of the books from being ruined, 7 of them did end up getting slightly wet along the bottom edge of the book. There’s less than ½” of tea stain on each book which definitely makes them imperfect, and though they are still perfectly fine and legible, I can’t sell them. It kills me because I know people want them and I need to sell them, I just couldn’t sell them to anyone like this.

But I can give them away. :)

The first 7 readers - who do not mind and a small tea stain along ½” of the bottom of their books, of course - to email me will get their copy for FREE. Okay, not entirely free, since I will ask that you still pay for shipping but the book itself will be free.

This is probably the last time this will ever happen (unless I win the lottery and can afford to do giveaways all the time), so you should really take advantage of this truly bizarre little offer. Once I receive your email, I'll send you the invoice for the shipping amount and we'll go from there. It’s not the best thing for me saleswise, but there’s not much I can do with 9 imperfect books, right? I suppose I could use them to wallpaper my kitchen but I’d much rather share them with you fine folks. And cookbooks do eventually get dirty if you use them often enough, so you can pretend you’ve already put this one to good use (which I hope you end up doing!). ;)

Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson and will now subtract Orange Spice Tea from the original equation. Cat on Crack can stay though, since he’s cute and keeps me entertained. And if you’re not one of the first 7 to write in, no worries! I have plenty in stock right now, so you can order away. :)

UPDATE: I didn't expect them to go this fast (within 10 minutes of this blog post), but the 7 copies Poor Girl Eats Well - To Go! (The Tea Edition) have all been claimed! Congrats to Jonathan, Brian, Sabrina, Cecily, Kristi, Brittany, and Devin for snagging a copy. And thanks for being such troopers and accepting less-than-perfect books!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Recipe: Spiced Pear Bread Pudding with Red Wine Glaze

I wanted to start off by saying welcome to all you new PGEW readers that happened to stop by as a result of yesterday’s Hearty Mushroom & Potato Soup recipe. I had no idea a flu-inspired recipe would be such a hit! It also tickles me to know that I had more male readers than I originally thought (I have become a total site stats junkie lately and am obsessed with demographics right now). I certainly didn’t mean to poke too much fun at you guys yesterday (okay, maybe I did just a little), but it sure got you to come out of the woodwork and make your presence known! Good to know you’re out there.

Anyway, about today’s recipe…

I’m not sure why this happens, but whenever I’m sick I get these major feng shui attacks and start cleaning everything out: cupboards, drawers, you name it. My most recent victim was my freezer. There wasn’t too much to do in there since it’s not that full, but the bread was definitely a problem. See, I freeze my bread so that it keeps longer, something quite useful for me since I don’t eat it all that often. Unfortunately, this also means that it can pile up after awhile, and that’s just the problem I was facing. Things were made even worse in there because of the recent delivery of two great loaves of bread from Nature’s Pride (that Whole Wheat bread is SO good!), the latest offer from the Tastemaker Program. I really needed to clear some of that space but didn’t want to throw away the bread either. What to do, what to do? After mulling it over for awhile I decided the best way to fix this problem was to make some bread pudding.

I’ve always been a big fan of any recipe that can make good use of forlorn, forgotten food and leftovers. After participating in the Hunger Challenge last month, I have become even more conscious of making use of every last bit of every ingredient I buy so that none goes to waste. Making bread pudding is one great way to do this since you can also make use of those last bits of milk in the carton and those last couple of eggs, even random pieces of fruit. It’s one of those “kitchen sink” recipes – everything but the proverbial sink goes in! I decided to add a lone Bosc pear to this batch for extra flavor and texture, dusting them generously with some spices to really enhance the flavor. To keep things on the lighter side (and because frankly, that’s all I had), I only used two eggs and a mixture of milk and apple juice for the custard. I know bread pudding is supposed to be a nice, rich affair, but some recipes are far too heavy for my liking. The use of apple juice with the milk not only helps to cut back a bit on the fat content of the dish while keeping a creamy texture, it also gives it extra flavor and sweetness without having to add too much extra sugar.

Now when I say this recipe makes use of all sorts of random ingredients, I mean it! Raisins almost always go into my bread pudding, but only after they’ve had a little swim in a little wine to plump ‘em up a bit (another wonderful way to make use of those tiny amounts of leftover wine you may have lying around). Instead of wasting the raisin-flavored wine, I use that as the base for the glaze that accompanies the bread pudding. The end result of all of these little bits and pieces of things? A fabulous dessert or breakfast option that’s warm and hearty and screams, “Fall is here!” with the added bonus of all that extra space in your fridge and freezer. :)


Spiced Pear Bread Pudding with Red Wine Glaze (serves 6; total cost per serving: $0.95!)

3 c stale bread, torn or cut into 1” chunks
2 large eggs
3/4 c milk
3/4 c apple juice
1/3 c + 1 t sugar
1 large pear, diced
¼ t ground nutmeg
¼ t ground cinnamon
¼ c raisins
¼ c red wine

Red Wine Glaze
¼ c red wine + reserved wine used for raisins
1 T butter
2 T sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl combine the raisins and ¼ c red wine and set aside. Next, combine the cinnamon, nutmeg and teaspoon of sugar in a bowl and add the diced pear. Toss until well coated and set aside. Grease a 9” x 13” baking pan and add the chunks of bread. Whisk together the eggs, milk, apple juice and sugar together in a large bowl and pour the mixture over the bread. Drain the wine from the raisins and reserve. Add the raisins and the pears to the bread & custard mixture and mix gently until everything is evenly combined. Bake for 20-25 minutes and allow to cool for a few minutes.

In the meantime, melt the butter and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the reserved wine that you used to soak the raisins and the other ¼ cup of wine and whisk together well. Continue whisking while the glaze comes to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 3 minutes, or until you have a smooth, light glaze. Remove from heat. Serve the bread pudding drizzled with plenty of glaze and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Recipe: Hearty Mushroom & Potato Soup

If you’re following me on Facebook and Twitter you know that I’m sick with the flu right now. Fortunately it’s not as serious as H1N1, but it is the flu and I do feel terrible. The crazy typhoon-driven storm we’ve been dealing with since last night hasn’t helped much to help me feel better either. To combat the cabin fever that has set in after being cooped up in my apartment since Friday after work, and, frankly, to change things up from the usual canned chicken noodle or even my Sick Person Soup, I thought I’d make something different. Through my cold medicine-induced haze I noticed I still hadn’t done anything with that pack of mushrooms and that there was Mire Poix just dying to be utilized after many summer months of being deemed unpopular. That PGEW device lodged somewhere in the far left corner of my cerebrum started making up potential recipes, and once I saw I had some potatoes to add to the mix I knew I would have a very delicious soup.

This soup is hearty enough to fall into the stew category, so it’s definitely nice and filling. You don’t need to use any fancy mushrooms or ingredients in this at all, so everyone (who isn’t anti-mushroom, of course) should be able to make this with no problem whatsoever. If the price is right compared to the whole vegetables and you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s in your neighborhood, I highly suggest picking up a tub of their Mire Poix to cut back on the prep time (which I don’t usually mind but when one’s sick you just want to eat and get it overwith). I list two different types of potatoes here because that’s all I had on hand, but if you want a consistent “look”, simply follow the notes in the recipe parentheticals.

Besides that there’s not too much to note on this one! Though the flavor would definitely be intensified by using crimini or porcini mushrooms, this is still quite tasty using the standard, more affordably priced white mushroom. If you can splurge on the other kinds of mushrooms, give ‘em a try! They can only enhance the recipe. Otherwise, pat yourself on the back for knowing how to make a great, filling (even vegetarian) soup that will keep everyone warm without having to break the bank. :) Yet another example of why you should never understimate the power of soup.

Hearty Mushroom & Potato Soup (serves 4; total cost per serving: $1.60)

2 c Mire Poix (finely chopped carrots, celery and yellow onions), divided
1 8 oz. package white mushrooms
1 medium Russet potato, diced into ½” cubes
2 medium red potatoes, diced into ½” cubes (you may also use 4 red potatoes or 2 medium Russets if that’s all you have)
1 14 oz. can of chicken or vegetable broth
1 c milk
1 T butter
2 garlic, minced
½ t salt
½ t ground black pepper
¼ t thyme
¼ t tarragon
1 T olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste (for the finished product)
½ c fresh spinach, chopped (for garnish)

Divide the package of mushrooms in half. Finely chop one half of the mushrooms and slice the other half into 1/4“ thick pieces. Set the mushrooms slices aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add one cup of mire poix and the chopped mushrooms, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables have begun to soften. Add the broth and cook for about 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat, add the cup of milk and puree in a blender until smooth (you may also use a hand blender if that’s all you have, like me). Set aside. Remember to use caution when pureeing hot liquids.

In a large pot heat the olive oil and the garlic over medium high heat until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the diced potatoes, salt, pepper and herbs, and cook until the potatoes just begin to brown. Reduce heat and add the remaining cup of mire poix. Cook for 3 minutes and add the thick mushroom broth. Simmer over medium low heat for about 5-7 minutes. Finally, add the mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the mushrooms begin to soften.

Spoon generous amounts of the soup into large bowls. Add some chopped spinach and plenty of freshly ground black pepper on top, serve with thick slices of warm, crusty bread if you like, and enjoy!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Recipe: Carne con Hogao (Steak with Colombian Tomato-Scallion Sauce)

My mom gets all snarky with me whenever I tell her I can't cook Colombian food. I tell her it just tastes better if she makes it, and she just blames that reasoning on pure laziness. She just doesn't get it: there are certain foods in this world that can only be properly prepared by one's mother, grandmother, or other older female in the family. Anything that's traditionally Colombian falls into that category for me - until now. Last time Mom was here, she made it seem so simple to make a certain dish that I thought I'd go all out and make it - AFTER she was gone, so that I'd have no extra help or secret Mom seasoning.

I decided to start with something fairly simple & foolproof: carne con hogao, which is basically steak with a savory tomato-onion sauce. Like most Colombian food, this is to be served with white rice and arepas (a type of Colombian bread or thick "tortilla" made from corn) but being without the proper arepa making ingredients, I just served mine with rice. Though it seems like there might be a lot of work involved in this dish what with the steak and the sauce and the rice, the whole thing is quite simple and definitely tasty. Most Colombian cooking uses very basic, locally grown produce and ingredients, but also makes certain herbs and spices the key to creating amazing aromatic creations that one usually gets only in South America.


The star of this particular show is the hogao (pronounced oh-GAH-oh). This is a traditional sauce used for many Colombian dishes, particularly in the bandeja paisa, a wonderful platter of about 57 things (rice, beans, pork, fried eggs, fried plantains, arepas, hogao, etc., etc.) that leaves you in one of the best food comas you could possibly imagine. Hogao is also a common topping for many savory dishes and you could try thinking of it as a sort of Colombian "salsa". What makes this particular sauce much different from a Mexican salsa is the use of scallions or green onions, cumin, and saffron. These three ingredients give a distinct flavor and aroma to the sauce that is quite a departure from a Mexican salsa. As with most traditional recipes from people's respective motherlands, there are as many variations of ingredient quantities as there are Colombian grandmothers who make hogao. This is the way I have been taught to make it, though I modify mine a bit by making it chunkier than usual. The basics remain the same, though: fresh tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, cumin, salt and saffron are all you need to create a wonderful accompaniment to any dish.

This is a great way to make use of any excess in produce, taking some of the guesswork out of the whole What To Do With All Those Tomatoes Uncle Larry Gave Me or How Do I Get Rid Of All This Cilantro situations. Once it's cooked, hogao will keep for roughly a week when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Because of the intense aroma and the color given by the tomatoes and the saffron, I highly recommend storing this in a glass container (unless you don't mind having orange-tinted plastic containers). Use this on top of chicken, pork, beef, you name it! Vegetarians can also partake of this delicious little sauce to give a new twist to meatless dishes. Lastly, please note that you must NOT, under any circumstances, use olive oil to make this! It will completely ruin the flavor of the entire sauce, so be sure to use a light cooking oil like canola or sunflower. Now let's see how all of this is put together.

Carne con Hogao (serves 4; total cost per serving: ~ $3)

1 12-16 oz. steak (like London Broil)
Cumin, salt & pepper to taste
2 c cooked white rice

2 c chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 c chopped scallions (tops and greens)
1/4 c chopped cilantro (leaves and stems)
1 t minced garlic
3 T canola oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cumin
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/8 t saffron

Lightly season the steak with salt, pepper, and ground cumin and cook to your preferred doneness either on the grill or in the broiler. Cut into four equal portions and set aside.

Heat the canola oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, yellow and green onions and sautee for about 1 minute. Next, add the chopped tomatoes, salt, cumin, pepper and saffron. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes soften and start to create their own sauce. I like my hogao to be a little chunky, so I try not to cook it any longer than this. Add the chopped cilantro and reduce to a very low simmer for another minute or two.

To serve, spoon a generous amount of rice onto a plate, top with sliced steak and plenty of hogao, garnish with extra cilantro if you like, and enjoy!

Tip #9 - Be kind(er) to your junk mail

I know, I know – no one likes junk mail, whether in electronic or mailbox-jamming form. But hear me out for a sec.

Even when the country is not in an economic recession most of us appreciate the value of a good deal. From coupons to savings clubs, most stores offer some sort of discount program for their customers. But who really has the time to be at every store to take advantage of every deal? Depending on how often you visit your local grocery store, you could end up missing some great money-saving specials on things you regularly use. This is why paying attention to those super-annoying mailers that come in the mail can come in very handy.

There are fantastic sales and specials happening at almost every store at any given time of the year. Holidays and special events like the Super Bowl, etc., will bring about even better deals because stores are counting on the public to be buying more for these events. But even the everyday deals can be spectacular if you just take the time to skim over those piles of junk mail that end up in your mailbox on a weekly basis. I recently spotted some crazy deals on produce that were being offered by my favorite Mexican grocery store, La Superior: $0.69 cantaloupes (price per melon, not per pound!), key limes for just $0.79/2 lbs., Roma tomatoes for just $0.89/lb., etc. My eyes continued to bulge out of my skull when I kept looking and saw they had chicken drumsticks on sale for just $0.79/lb, as well as some other incredible meat & cheese deals. These are prices that beat practically any other store I frequent! Because I don’t go to La Superior that often due to its location, I am not always aware of weekly specials that I could definitely take advantage of, so their little mailer makes for a great reminder to go there instead of someplace like Safeway (or even my beloved Trader Joe’s) for certain items. Is it a bit out of my way? Sure. But the small amount of extra effort is totally worth savings like the ones I mentioned above, especially when you’re dealing with a very small budget. A 10 minute bus ride that can save me about $10 or more on food I eat regularly is well worth it to me.

Grocery stores aren’t the only ones that offer great deals. Though I’m guilty of ignoring the drugstore circulars most of the time, when I do look at them I find some amazing specials on things that I definitely use, even if they’re not food related. Specials on paper products, cat food, and even random food deals like $0.25 cans of tuna are not uncommon in my weekly Rite Aid or CVS mailers. For those who like to entertain or have that nightly glass of red wine, these annoying little drugstore flyers can be a great money saving resource, as there are sometimes amazing sales on brand name wine and liquor.

Let’s not forget the restaurant mailers either! Though I generally advocate for cooking at home to save money and gain a better appreciation for food, I still enjoy having someone else cook for me from time to time. Though a lot of the coupons you find in some of these mail circulars are for fast food, other money saving publications like the Penny Saver will feature wonderful specials from sit down restaurants. I often find deals like “Buy One Entrée & Get the 2nd at 50% Off”, or “Free Dessert with Purchase”, etc. Though times are tough for everyone right now, it is always nice to go out to eat, and these little deals can make things a little more delicious and relieve some of the guilt of going out when you’re strapped for cash.

Now, I’m not saying that you should go shopping or go out to eat just because there’s a great deal in a mail circular. That kind of mentality never saved anyone any money or time. In fact, it does the exact opposite, forcing you to spend money you could probably use for something else simply because there’s a fabulous sale on a particular product. So the first thing to keep in mind when going through these mailers is to exercise some restraint and focus only on the things you would actually use. For example, the “Buy Two Get One Free” special on some flavored coffee creamer may be a great deal for those who drink a lot of coffee, but for someone like me it would make no sense to take advantage of this offer because I only drink one cup of coffee a day. I’d be drowning in creamer if I bought so many! In this case, it’s simply better for me to get the one creamer I will use and save myself that extra $3 or so. One should also take stock of what one already has to make sure you’re not buying in excess before using what’s already available. You all know how I feel about tomatoes, but even at the crazy $0.58/lb that Safeway is currently offering Roma tomatoes for, there’s simply no need for me to get anymore when I already have about 15 tomatoes in my fridge. Sure, I could turn those tomatoes into a million different things, but it would also be using money that I need for other stuff. There will always be another time to purchase said tomatoes, even if the deal is not as incredible.

But Poor Girl, what if I just don’t have the time to look through all of this junk? Though it doesn’t take that much time to skim through all of these offers, it can be hard to remember to look through them every single week. I’m actually very guilty of this; most of the time I just file all of this stuff, Penny Saver included, right in the recycling bin, mentally smacking myself later for not having checked out what deals were being offered that particular week. Fortunately we live in the age of the blogger, and there are some fantastic blogs out there that share both local and national specials with their readers. Sites like Thrifty Florida Mama, Coupon Geek, and my newest favorite, Bounty and Savings, are all wonderful resources for the latest in online coupons and in store deals. They do most of the work for you and if you subscribe to their feed, this info is simply delivered to your email inbox for you to access whenever you can.

So try to remember that not all junk mail is evil. You don’t have to look at it every single time, but do try to glance at some of these circulars every now and then. You may be very surprised at the deals you can find and save yourself some money on your next shopping trip. If you don’t find anything that’s worthwhile for you, no worries; these little mailers make great cat box liners, stubborn fireplace kindling, and even the occasional paper boat. Not that I speak from experience regarding the latter, or anything… ;)

Technical issues this morning

If you visited PGEW.com early this morning, you may have noticed some serious formatting problems throughout the site. In trying to clean things up and making it easier to navigate through the site, I ended up encountering some major technical difficulties combined with internet connectivity issues. Needless to say, things ended up looking absolutely awful and I was quite scared that I would not be able to rescue the site (even my template backup didn't work!).

Fortunately I was able to make things work properly again and you'll now notice a slightly different layout, with two sidebars instead of one. I'm still playing around with the feel of this new layout, so I would appreciate your comments. Is it too busy? Does it make things easier to find?

I'll be making a few more changes in the next couple of days, so stay tuned! Thanks for your patience this morning!

Lv,
Poor Girl

Friday, October 9, 2009

Recipe: French Green Lentil & Israeli Couscous Salad

Although I’m happy that the seasons have changed, I’m still trying to squeeze every last bit I can out of summertime. We’re in that very awkward time of year when a hearty soup seems just as perfect as a nice salad. Since I know I’ll have more than plenty of hearty soup in the next few months, I decided to give a last hurrah to the summer salad (though I’ll probably eat this year round anyway because it’s just good), and chose an absolutely delightful blend of Israeli couscous and green lentils as the starting base.

I had made a much simpler version of the following salad during the warmer months so that I could play with Israeli cous cous, but I never got back to tweaking it until now. Like most of these grains, Israeli cous cous is extremely versatile and lends itself to all types of dishes from soups to salads to entrees. If you’re not familiar with Israeli couscous, I highly recommend seeking it out as a fun alternative to the usual grains that are available. Each individual grain is a much larger, perfect sphere, and the finished product is quite aesthetically pleasing. I would say the texture is very close to orzo, though slightly more chewy. I had originally chosen both French green lentils and red lentils to go with the couscous, thinking the color and flavor combination would be quite lovely, but I decided against the red ones because they were too delicate for the type of dish I was making (I’ll explain what happened to those poor little lentils in the next couple of posts – you’d be so proud of me!). This worked out perfectly, as the hearty, slightly peppery flavor of the green lentils combined beautifully with the chewy cous cous and crisp veggies.

Now you may be thinking…. okay… green lentils are easy enough to find but wait, Poor Girl – where the heck does one even find Israeli couscous? Will I need a passport?

Don’t worry, I don’t like to make stuff with ingredients that are impossible to find (or impossibly expensive). Though this is still one of the darlings of health food and specialty food stores, it is starting to reach the specialty aisles of regular grocery stores. It’s a little pricier than regular couscous. At Trader Joe’s it goes for about $3.99/12 oz. and you can find it in the bulk section of stores like Whole Foods for roughly the same cost. One cup of the dry product yields around 1½ to 2 cups of cooked couscous, so you can stretch this out for a couple of different meals if you like. If you can’t find Israeli couscous at your store, no worries! You can use regular couscous instead, or even try orzo if you want to get a similar texture. The greatest thing about this salad – aside from how healthy & tasty it is – is how much you end up with from using just 1 cup of cous cous and 1 cup of lentils. The whole recipe costs just about $5.50 and will feed at least four people! Not too shabby, eh? And now, on with the show.

French Green Lentil & Israeli Couscous Salad (serves 4; total cost per serving: $1.35)
1 c dry Israeli couscous
½ c dry French green lentils
2 c water
½ medium red onion, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
½ T finely chopped parsley
½ t finely chopped cilantro
1/3 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T olive oil
½ t minced shallot
Dash of granulated garlic
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 c crumbled feta

Bring 1 cup of lightly salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the couscous. Boil for about 2 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for about 9-10 minutes, checking to make sure the couscous has not become too soft. The water should be completely absorbed but if there is any remaining, simply drain it off. At the same time, combine the green lentils and the remaining cup of water in a separate saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Do not salt the lentils while cooking! This will toughen them and make them almost impossible to eat, so wait until they are finished cooking to season them with a dash of salt and a dash of granulated garlic. Cool both the lentils and the couscous and set aside.

Prepare the simple dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, olive oil, mined shallot and salt & pepper. When the lentils & couscous have cooled, put them in a large bowl and add the chopped onions, tomatoes, parsley and cilantro, and toss together gently. Add the dressing and mix until completely combined. Serve on its own or on a bed of greens, sprinkle some crumbled feta on top, and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Recipe: Apple Stuffed Crepes with Caramel Sauce

Sometimes I wish there could be 48 hours in a day so that I could take care of everything I need to do. Fortunately I’m rather good at multitasking my way through the measly 24 hours we’ve been allotted; but unfortunately, I end up rushing through certain moments and do stupid things like lock myself out of my apartment. (Daddy, if you’re reading this, I SWEAR I’m not as bad as my mom is!) That is how my otherwise energetic and productive morning went today, so needless to say, I was a little flustered and mad at myself by the time I got to work. But one thing did keep me smiling all day long, and that was learning that I was nominated for a Foodbuzz Food Blogger Award (see my previous post). Even if I don’t win, I’m still really honored to be considered for any award, and I thought it would be fun to treat myself to a little celebratory dessert tonight.

It had been awhile since I’d made a nice batch of crepes. I hadn’t forgotten about them, I just never ended up fitting them into the late summer months’ menus. With the recent fall-like weather (I say “fall-like” because it’s supposed to heat back up this weekend. O California weather, thou art so fickle) and Halloween decorations cropping up all over the place, I decided to give my first nod to one of my favorite holidays with a twist on a Halloween favorite: caramel apples. Though the idea of the caramel apple is pretty much a perfect Kimberdessert, I shy away from them because I’m petrified of losing a tooth during the eating process. I don’t like to be deprived of potential treats and took the basic genius equation of caramel + apples and stuffed them inside a crepe.

You can make the caramel sauce as written or use the method I used in my Banana Caramel Parfait Shot recipe. I happen to like a touch of cinnamon with my caramel sauce (you all know how I feel about cinnamon apples) but if you’re more of a purist, simply omit it. Though a lot of fruit crepes can double as breakfast or dessert crepes, I recommend leaving these for dessert. They’re extremely rich and sweet and might not be the best way to start the morning, but would go fabulous with a nice cup of espresso after dinner. It’s definitely a fall recipe, perfect for the blustery nights that I’m sure will hit all of us soon enough. Enjoy the caramel apple in a crepe, and don't forget to cast your vote for PGEW! :)

Apple Stuffed Crepes with Caramel Sauce (serves 4 people 2 crepes each; total cost per serving: $1.20)

1/2 c all purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 c nonfat milk
1 T butter, melted
1 T sugar
1/2 T butter for cooking

2 medium apples, peeled and diced
1/2 T butter
1 T sugar
1 t ground cinnamon

1/2 c sugar
5 T butter
1/2 c milk (heavy whipping cream is preferable if you can afford it)
1 t ground cinnamon

Follow the basic crepe prep instructions here.

Prepare the caramel by placing the sugar into a saucepan and heating it over medium heat, whisking vigorously as it starts to melt. When the sugar boiled to a liquid and a light to medium amber add the butter and whisk together. Remove from heat and add the milk or cream, continuing to whisk rapidly. The mixture will foam up so be careful when handling. Add the cinnamon and continue whisking until completely smooth. Set aside.

Heat the butter over medium heat in a large skillet and add the apples when the butter has melted. Add the sugar & cinnamon and cook until the apples are tender, but not mushy. Fill the crepes with the apples and a small amount of the caramel sauce. Roll together, garnish with extra apples and drizzle generously with the caramel. Enjoy!

Newsworthy: PGEW Nominated for a Foodbuzz.com Food Blogger Award!

While I was waiting for the locksmith to come and unlock my apartment door this morning (an unexpected expense that has temporarily turned Poor Girl into Flat Out Broke Thanks To That Evil Locksmith Girl, but I digress), I rediscovered the internet feature on my old phone and started to surf a couple of sites. After squinting at the tiny screen for awhile, I was absolutely astonished to find out that I’d actually been nominated for one of the Foodbuzz.com Food Blogger Awards coming up on November 7th! Thanks to ALL of you awesome readers, I have been nominated as Food Blogger You’d Most Want to See Have Their Own Show on the Food Network! I sincerely appreciate your support and couldn’t be more flattered or giddy right now. :) :) :) <--- (evidence of giddiness)

Voting is now open to all, so please head here to cast your vote for yours truly! If clicking on the previous link doesn’t work, please copy and paste the following into your browser’s address bar to be taken to the voting page. http://www.foodbuzz.com/blogs/1474529-announcing-the-foodbuzz-blog-awards-

Thanks in advance for your vote, and please feel free to spread the word and share the link with your family and friends! Voting runs from now through October 29th. And now, back to my lunch of a tomato sandwich on whole wheat with homemade scallion schmear. Yum! :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

What's In Store for October

October is here and it was gracious enough to finally bring the season of fall along with it. I think I’d mentioned last month that September doesn’t mean “fall” for the Sacramento area and I was definitely right! At last the 100 degree days are over and I can now concentrate on fall fashion (one of my other great loves) and plenty of cozy, tasty fall food.

I have to admit that I am still a little off course after having embarked on last month’s San Francisco Food Bank Hunger Challenge (in a good way, of course!), so forgive me if I don’t have anything too specific planned for this month. Fret not, my pets; just because I don’t have anything planned doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on…

~ Though I did mean to recap the wonderful couple weeks of amazing birthday food from August (because seriously, there was a LOT of great food bestowed upon me just for getting old), I decided that the Hunger Challenge was far more important and necessary to blog about. I must have been on a real sugar low when I wrote the final entry about that because I forgot to mention how much I “spent” (so to speak) for the entire week. I had purchased about $6 of food for myself before the challenge and when I tallied up the rest of the ingredients I used from my stocked pantry, my total for the week was about $27, which was just under the $28 one would have for a full week of food if one were receiving food stamp assistance. Again, this is food that I would have had to buy to have the dishes I made throughout the week, and the fact that I still had plenty of leftover products to use like berries, seitan, etc., while staying within the allotted budget makes this first challenge of mine quite a success. I really recommend you try this exercise even if it’s just for one day – it will really make you think about things differently. I definitely plan on doing this next year, and it will be pretty interesting to see if the amount per day goes back down to $3 (this year’s amount was $4 due to the stimulus package; that could go back down eventually).

~ And if I didn’t say it enough last week, THANK YOU for all your support during the challenge. I’d also like to extend a giant WELCOME to all of you new readers who may have landed here because of the Hunger Challenge! I love having new readers and truly appreciate all your kind words thus far.

~ On to some current, recipe related stuff now! I think it may finally be time to try my hand at some Poor Girl spanakopita again. I know, I know - this spring was a nightmare of empty spinach-filled fillo dough promises, but I think things are a little less chaotic and I can finally play with this properly.

~ Though temperatures have only “plummeted” to the 70’s, I’m a big chicken when it comes to cold weather and I’m already craving soup – and LOTS of it! Stay tuned for the first soups of the season, which will more than likely include some sort of delicious squash. After all, it’s that time of year!

~ Because of the Hunger Challenge, I’m very much into the idea of more bare bones recipes, so be on the lookout for some more extremely cheap, yet healthy recipes that will incorporate a lot of the good stuff we should be having, like whole grains, fiber, and protein.

~ Now, my big project for October is one that I’m already proud of, even if the event has yet to happen. On October 17th, I will be holding two workshops at the Child Action, Inc. “Caring for Children in Stressful Times” conference. Child Action, Inc. is a wonderful organization that provides child care resources and assistance to local Sacramento families. I am very excited to have been asked to be a featured presenter for this event, since I know I can offer some valuable information to those who attend. I’m really looking forward to this, even though I am a bit nervous about doing the whole workshop thing again after so many years. It’s been awhile and I’m a bit out of practice, but I think I’ll do fine. :) My mom, who is absolutely awesome, is coming to be my lovely assistant, so I may end up having a couple of video clips to share, if I can convince her to give the whole camera man thing a try!

That’s it for now! Halloween is also a-comin’, so I’m sure there will be plenty of spooky day posts & footage towards the end of the month. Have an awesome October!

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