Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tastemaker Program Recipe: The Ultimate Veggie Omelette

Somehow cheese has crept its way back into my life and I'm not too happy about it. It's not that I can't control myself with it now; it's just that I'd rather not have the extra calories & sodium that comes with such gooey goodness. I had the last of my cheese yesterday (except for that chevre I'm saving for a special occasion) by making a giant Spicy Shrimp Quesadilla for linner (lunch + dinner for those who haven't figured it out just yet). But then I woke up this morning with a hankering for a lovely omelette and realized I was in a bit of a bind. Almost all my omelettes include some kind of cheese, for crying out loud! Still, I refused to get more cheese and decided I'd make my Ultimate Veggie Omelette sans queso for once. And let me tell ya, it's just as good without it.

Part of why this was so delicious was thanks to the quality of eggs I was using: Eggland's Best Cage-Free brown eggs, courtesy of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program. Although this would be the type of egg I would always buy (back when finances were better I always did), finances do not always allow me to afford this type of quality egg, so I was very grateful to Foodbuzz & Eggland's Best for giving us the opportunity to try these out on them. It may seem like all eggs taste the same, but if you get the chance to sample a few different kinds someday, you'll notice there's a difference. Good quality eggs are more flavorful and cook much better than your standard grocery store, mass (and inhumanely) produced eggs, and for omelette cooking purposes, they are perfect. They fluff up much better than the regular kind and have a much lovelier texture, so that even people like me who see omelettes sans cheese as the ultimate blasphemy won't miss a thing.

Feel free to use whatever veggie combo you're most comfortable with when you make this for yourselves & your families, but in my world, this is the best combo EVER. There are all sorts of fun textures in here and the flavor combo is fresh & light. The trick to keeping this interesting is to add just the slightest amount of lemon pepper & garlic salt to your veggie mix to enhance the taste. This is an excellent way to make use of all those little leftover pieces of veggies you may have laying around in your fridge, so And don't forget to add a couple small drops of water to your eggs to fluff them up nicely! It works much better than adding milk (the sugars in milk will actually make things go flatter) and keeps things lighter.

The Ultimate Veggie Omelette (makes 2 omelettes; total cost per omelette: ~$2.95)

6 large eggs
1 medium carrot, sliced
1/2 c small broccoli florets
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
8 white mushrooms, sliced
1 medium tomato, diced
2 T finely chopped cilantro
1/4 t lemon pepper
1/4 t garlic salt
Couple drops of water (to ensure ultimate egg fluffiness)
2 t butter

Combine all the veggies in a medium bowl and add the garlic salt & lemon pepper. Toss together and set aside. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and the couple drops of water until light & fluffy. Melt 1/2 the butter in an omelette pan or skillet over medium high heat and add 1/2 the eggs (probably best to beat the eggs in separate bowls to ensure having the correct amount of eggs). Swirl the pan around until the egg coats the bottom of the pan and some of the sides. When the eggs begin to bubble, take your spatula and pierce the steam bubble, tilting the pan to fill the hole. Repeat this process until the eggs stop bubbling and begin to dry around the edges and reduce heat to medium.

Add 1/2 of the veggie mixture to the center of the omelette. Use your spatula to start loosening the omelette from the pan until you can fold it in half. Flip and cook for about 1-2 more minutes on the other side, or until the outside of the omelette is a light golden brown. Repeat to make the second omelette. Top with sliced avocado and a few extra sprigs of cilantro for garnish and enjoy!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Newsworthy: Sac & Roseville: Meet your local organic farmers AND score some giveaways at Whole Foods this weekend!

Hey all!

Sorry this is going out a bit late but I wanted to let you know of a great opportunity to score a FREE cart of groceries, courtesy of Whole Foods & your local organic farmers! Here's the scoop from Wendy at Organic Valley...

On Friday, Feb. 26 and Saturday, Feb. 27, Organic Valley farmer-owners Cindy Daley, from the University Organic Farm at CSU-Chico, will surprise four shoppers at Roseville and Sacramento Whole Foods Markets by paying for their cart of groceries—a week’s worth of free lunches, breakfasts, dinners and more. The only prerequisite: the shopper must already have an Organic Valley product in their cart. Shoppers will also have an opportunity to talk to Cindy about Chico’s student-managed farm, the first University-run organic dairy in the West, and taste Organic Valley’s new drinkable yogurt on Friday from 11am-3pm at Roseville, and Saturday from 11am-3pm at Sacramento. It’s a gift from the 15 California farmer-owners of Organic Valley to Whole Foods shoppers as thanks for their devotion to organic foods and for keeping organic farmers on the land.

So go get your shop on at Whole Foods this weekend! If I have the time I'll be heading there just to see what happens! And if you need help sticking to a budget, check out my Whole Foods edition of the $25 Shopping Cart so you can see that it doesn't always have to take your whole paycheck... ;)

Lv,
PG

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Recipe: Spicy Red Quinoa & Shrimp

So a lot of you have been asking about my new work gig (I hate to call it a job just yet, as it’s another temporary position), and I apologize for keeping it a bit on the down-low. I know it’s silly but with the hell that has plagued Kimberland recently, I’m a bit hesitant to proclaim myself as employed, especially since I know this job could be over in a few months. However, you guys have all been so awesome & supportive over these past horrible weeks that I thought I’d share with you that Poor Girl has kinda sorta scored some full time-ish employment for the next few months. It’s a contract position and it’s for an agency I’ve been dying to get into for the past 3 years, so I’m pretty stoked that I’ve got at least one toe in the door. I’m back in a field that I have loved and missed since ’06, and even though I’m pretty busy and there’s a heck of a lot to learn, I’m in a far more Kimberfriendly environment. I'm pretty content right now.


That being said, let's get to tonight's recipe (which is going to be far healthier than the last two, I promise)!


I was revisiting an absolute favorite of mine for lunch yesterday, my Red Quinoa & Broccoli Salad with Almond Honey Vinaigrette (not to toot my own horn, but this is one of the greatest salads EVER, imo), and it dawned on me that I hadn't cooked with red quinoa in ages. Or quinoa in general. After that brutal month of unemployment, I've been trying to get back into the swing of more nutritious fare that I can take with me to work (especially now that I'm at a job that'll let me eat at my desk; SO nice to work on regulating my blood sugar again by eating smaller, frequent meals! But I digress), so I returned to the Mother Grain. For some reason I wanted to make something spicy and fiery with this deep red grain and since I love it when spicy + shrimp = a practically perfect food, I thought it might be fun to combine the two.


Now, I will warn you, this is NOT for the faint of heart! The sauce itself is extremely spicy but intentionally so, in order for the quinoa to absorb the flavors & heat. This dish is packed with protein because of the shrimp and, of course, the quinoa. It's intensely flavorful, and filled with interesting textures. But what I love most about this is how it much food you end up with only using a cup and half of dried quinoa! This will serve at least 6 people as written, and because I ended up with far more than a single person could ever eat, I fully intend on freezing some of this for future meals. Though it may sound like a lot of work, it's really quite easy to make, which makes the whole thing even better.


For you folks who live in more remote areas were quinoa is not easily found, never fear! You can make this with some good brown rice for now; once I find you some quality, affordable online resources for y'all, I'll be posting that info for sure. For the rest of you who can access the mother grain right now, here's the recipe!


Spicy Red Quinoa & Shrimp (makes 6-8 servings; total cost per serving: ~$1.85)


1 1/2 c dry red quinoa

1 1/2 c water

3/4 lb large frozen cooked shrimp, thawed

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with their juice

1 c red & yellow pepper strips (if you only have one or the other, that's fine too)

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

2 T olive oil

1/2 T sea salt

1/2 t cayenne pepper

1/2 t crushed red chilies

1/4 t dried oregano

2 T finely chopped cilantro, plus a couple extra sprigs for garnish


Thoroughly rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh colander and drain well. In a medium saucepan combine the water & quinoa with just the tiniest pinch of salt and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the quinoa is tender and the grains have sprouted. Drain any excess liquid and set aside.


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the garlic & diced onion. Cook until the onion just begins to soften. Add the pepper strips, salt, cayenne pepper and crushed red chilies and cook for about 1 minute, then add the diced tomatoes & their juices. Simmer for about 4 minutes to allow all the flavors to incorporate. Add the shrimp and cook until they're heated through (about 2 minutes). Finally, add the quinoa, folding the shrimp sauce into it gently until everything is completely combined. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Uncover, add the chopped cilantro and mix well.


Serve as a side or as an entrée with a nice salad, garnish with extra cilantro leaves, and enjoy!

SkinMD Giveaway Winner!

Well, the second giveaway of 2010 was definitely a success! A small army of you PGEW readers entered to win a bottle of SkinMD Natural's Shielding Lotion and from what I've read, you guys really did your homework! I think you even found stuff on the website that I hadn't even read, so kudos to you. Anywho, after much work getting all your names into a hat (yes, I did this old school way as I was having trouble with my little random number program & internet connectivity last night) and help from my lovely assistant & neighbor, Tiffany, we finally have one lucky, randomly selected winner (and when I say random, I mean random. I even blindfolded her before she picked out the name; Tiff, thanks for being such a good sport!). The lucky recipient is.... *drumroll, please*

Ronnie Moye!!!

*cue applause*

Ronnie posted: "I learned that "Shielding lotion forms a protective barrier on the skin and keeps out irritants and chemicals. It also allows the natural oils and moisture to remain in the skin so it can heal better."

Congratulations, Ronnie! Be sure to email me ASAP so I can get your mailing info over to the folks at SkinMD Natural. Thanks to ALL of you who entered! More giveaways coming in the next couple of months, so stay tuned!

New recipe coming up next!

Lv,
PG





Saturday, February 20, 2010

Recipe: Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Shots

I had a completely different dessert shot in mind for this weekend's dessert post, but alas, it's still in its test phase (read: I screwed it up) so it'll have to wait. Fortunately, my mess-up turned into something else that was just as good and far less elaborate, so it all worked out. Now, I know that the past few dessert shots I've made have been of the cheesecake variety and this one is too, so if you're not into that sort of thing, I apologize. It's just that no bake cheesecake just lends itself beautifully to the dessert shot format, so I always end up falling back on it.

This time around I turned my screw up into a delicious cheesecake variation of many folks' favorite ice cream: cookies & cream. I had some Oreos still hangin' around from the last time my mom came to visit (I never buy cookies & sweets, but she always does when she's here; takes me forever to go through them but I think it's cute) and really needed the space in my cupboard, so I figured I'd make good use of them for this dessert. Because of these legendary cookies being a main ingredient in the recipe, I made sure to cut back on the sugar (in the form of condensed milk) to balance things out a bit both flavor and healthwise. This is a very simple recipe to make and, as all of my dessert shots do, they work beautifully for either entertaining friends or just keeping something small & sweet for yourself when you're having a night in. And since they're only about $0.80, they're just that much sweeter than regular restaurant or grocery store desserts. Let's check 'em out!

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Shots (makes 6-8 shots; total cost per serving: ~$0.80)

1 package of reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 c condensed milk
25 Oreo (or similar) cookies

In a blender or small food processor, pulse the Oreos until you end up with a coarse powder. Set aside about 2 T in a small bowl and save the rest for the "crust". In a larger bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with an electric mixer until light & fluffy. Add the condensed milk and the 2 tablespoons of ground Oreos and mix until completely combined.

Assemble your shots by adding about 1 teaspoon of Oreo cookie crust to the bottom of each shot glass, followed by about 1 tablespoon of cookies & cream cheesecake. Alternate the layers until you get to the top of each shot glass and top with a few cookie crumbles. Chill for at least an hour before serving, and enjoy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Giveaway: Good food is sexy; soft hands whilst cooking are even sexier!

I know this doesn't seem like it's food related, but hear me out for a minute.

Now I don't know about you all, but I am rather obsessive when it comes to washing/rinsing my hands while I'm cooking. I don't know if it's just a personal thing but I HATE feeling sticky, greasy, grainy, doughy, or anything other than skin-like on a regular basis. When you're with me in the kitchen I probably spend more of my time rinsing my hands than using them in the cooking process (it's kind of annoying, actually; I can never seem to get anything done). So when the lovely folks at SkinMD contacted me about checking out their product, which they dubbed a "skin shield", I was all over that like you wouldn't believe. I mean, c'mon..... a hand lotion that'll actually shield your skin as opposed to just temporarily moisturize it? I was definitely curious.

As a moisturizer junkie I like to try whatever's out there, particularly if it makes me smell super feminine or - especially during the holidays - like a baked good (c'mon, I'm a food blogger; smelling like pecan pie or chocolate cake is awesome). I have almost as many lotions & creams as I do lip glosses (my addiction to lip gloss is far worse), but sadly, I've had to put these on hold because the new job has a "scent free" policy that will not allow employees to wear anything scented. As luck would have it, I got my SkinMD sample in the mail and was quite stoked to find out it was completely fragrance free. Still, I was skeptical that it would be THAT much better than anything else. I thought this would be just another one to add to my collection, but no.... this actually surpassed my expectations.

First of all, you don't need to use much; a pea-sized amount really is more than enough (unless you have ginormous hands). This really helps considering that the price is nowhere near what something like Suave will offer you, so the value is simply incredible. It's fragrance free and made with natural ingredients so you can feel good about using it. It absorbs quickly and you can feel the difference in the smoothness of your skin almost immediately. You're never greasy or sticky or impatiently waiting for anything to either evaporate or absorb into your skin, so for those of us who are always pressed for time, this is quite a perk. What really got to me was how young my hands looked afterwards! And it's not like I have wrinkly skin or anything (thank GOD for good genes in that department!), but I could actually see a difference even after the first application. I've been using it for about 5 days now and I'm obsessed. With all the paper handling I do at work and the excessive hand washing in the kitchen, I'm glad that my hands are starting to feel a little more normal as a result of this great little lotion. And it's not just for hands, either! This is okay for the hands, body and face, and apparently a lot of dermatologists recommend it. And now Poor Girl does too. :)

So what's all this have to do with me, Poor Girl? Well, not only was SkinMD generous enough to send me a bottle, but they are giving away a full-sized bottle of Shielding Lotion to one lucky PGEW reader! This is an $18 value, so it's a good little prize for sure. But you'll have to work for it just a li'l bit. ;)

To enter to win your bottle of SkinMD Shielding Lotion, please take a moment to visit their website at SkinMDNatural.com. When you're done reading through the site, come back to PGEW and post one (or more) things that you learned about their product.

For bonus entries, head over to Twitter and post the following tweet about the contest: RT Win a bottle of SkinMDNatural Shielding Lotion from @PoorGrlEatsWell & @skinmdnatural! www.poorgirleatswell.com Not on Twitter? You can also earn bonus entries on PGEW's Facebook Fan Page by posting a SECOND fact that you learned about SkinMD products (you have to post here and there to get the bonus entry. I'll be checking to make sure!).

You have until February 22nd to enter, so get to it so you, too, can have uber soft hands. And stay tuned for new recipes this weekend! I've been playing with a fun new dessert shot idea and I have the feeling you folks may like it. :)

Lv,
PG

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Recipe: Mushroom, Tomato & Cheese on Grilled Sourdough

So last night I went to my very first TweetUp, hosted by Alejandro Reyes of Get Internet Famous and the rest of his amazing resume. Held at one of my favorite Sacramento restaurants, Mikuni (Midtown, of course!), this fun event was part-social, part-networking, part-Mardi Gras Madness and it was a very good time. From $5 drink specials (and if you’ve been to Mikuni you know that’s a good price for drinks!) to our spread of free bites like sushi rolls, gyoza and endless edamame, it was definitely a Poor Girl friendly event. I went with my new pal, Catherine, of Munchie Musings, and had the chance to finally put real names & faces to other great locals like Brittany of SacFoodies.com. Unfortunately, in my mad dash to get semi-dolled up in the 10 spare minutes I had after work, I forgot to charge my camera battery, so yeah…. I think I might’ve gotten ONE shot of a lot of folks’ heads before the darned thing died. *sigh* Eh, what can you do, right? I’ll definitely be at the next one(s), so if there’s anything yummy to take a snapshot of, I’ll share it with you.

Anywho, it wasn’t until Ms. Munchie dropped me off at home that I realized I’d barely nibbled on a couple gyoza and several (flying) edamame, such was the fun we were having socializing with everyone. It was still early enough to have something for dinner but late enough so that I didn’t want to get too involved with any of the new recipe ideas that are swimming in my head, so I poked around the fridge to see what I could make in a jiffy. My first thought was an old standby of mine: grilled cheese & tomato, a perfectly wonderful meal in and of itself. Then I spotted the mushrooms and thought it’d be fun to throw those into the mix. When all was said and done I had a sandwich I would eat daily if I knew I wouldn’t end up weighing a metric ton as a result. Sauteed mushrooms & onions with melty, gooey cheese and fresh tomato on grilled sourdough – what’s not to like? Even if it’s got plenty of cheese, it’s still a heck of a lot better for you than a lot of those new “grilled cheese” or “panini” style sandwiches that certain major fast food chains are marketing so heavily right now, as you don’t have the added calories & fat of a ton of ground beef in there. And mine’s still less expensive than those sandwiches or anything similar you might find at a regular restaurant!

I do *heart* when things come together so beautifully. :)

Mushroom, Tomato & Cheese on Grilled Sourdough (makes 1 sandwich; total cost per serving: $2)

2 thick slices of sourdough bread
1/3 c grated Monterey Jack cheese
6 white mushrooms (or whatever shroom you may have on hand)
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 slices of fresh, ripe tomato
1 T butter, divided
Salt & pepper to taste

Butter one side of each slice of bread with about ½ tablespoon of butter and set aside. Rinse the mushrooms well and slice into thick pieces. In a small skillet, melt the remaining ½ tablespoon of butter and add the sliced onions. Sauté over medium heat until they begin to soften, then add the sliced mushrooms. Season with salt & pepper and sauté for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and place both slices of sourdough into it, butter side down. Grill for about 1 minute, then add 1/2 the cheese to each slice. Cover and allow the steam to melt the cheese for around 1-2 minutes. Uncover and add the mushroom & onions to each slice of bread. Add the tomato slices then put both halves together and continue grilling until both sides of the sandwich are a nice golden brown. Grab a napkin and enjoy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Recipe: My Favorite Avocado Salad

Those of you who have been following this blog since its early days know that I'm obsessed with a few particular foods: tomatoes, shrimp, avocados, cheese (oh God, the cheese... I will NOT succumb, I will not!), and friggin' quinoa. Someday I may actually make a fun recipe that will incorporate all of these but for now, just know that I am obsessed with these individual foods. Though avocados aren't always the most cost-effective ingredient to have on hand, I have managed to find a way to have them in my house at least 80% of the time. I'm not usually the biggest fan of the pre-packaged veggies & fruits in general (it's a control thing; I like to select my produce myself), but I am very grateful to Trader Joe's for their lovely little packaged deal of 4 avocados for about $2.49. That's less than $1 per avocado and you all know that's a great deal. If I can't get 'em there, I'm always on the lookout at my regular grocery stores for some sales and, of course, ye olde farmers market (though that's my real "splurge": organic, always ripe, always PERFECT avocados @ 6/$5.00; painful but well worth it).

The latter was the case yesterday, as I took a MUCH needed trip to my favorite farmers market under the freeway, which means I am quite able to share with you one of my Poor Girl Salad Staples. Sure, sure, the farmers market in the winter isn't the glorious food mecca that one encounters in the spring & summer, but it was still nice to get out and people watch whilst I hunted for produce. The scent of narcissus blossoms permeated the air, fresh citrus fruits were absolutely everywhere, and I remained forever amused - and slightly impressed - by all the devoted husbands and boyfriends buying last minute Valentine's Day bouquets of gorgeous, beautifully scented, affordable flowers (I hate grocery store flowers; all the scent has been bred out of them and I find them completely pointless). Amidst all these wonders were some great scores for me, including some rainbow chard, pink navel oranges and, of course, my avocados. As I'm still severely struggling financially (more on that in my next post, I promise), I could only afford to get 3 of these perfect fruits, but I left content, knowing I'd sink my teeth into their green creamy goodness in no time.

Everyone knows the avocado is extremely versatile, but I think we all tend to forget the simple dishes that certain ingredients can create. This particular salad is nowhere near genius, but it almost tastes that way because it beautifully combines some great ingredients in a simple, flavorful way. It's a side, it's a salad, it's a garnish, it's an entrée; it's one of my favorite ways to enjoy the avocado, and you can think of it as a sort of deconstructed guacamole. Eventually - and I know this from experience - you will get tired enough to just squish everything together until it makes everyone's favorite dip. But for the 10 minutes or so of patience that you will have with this, just enjoy it. Though there are just 3 main ingredients, this salad is full of different textures and flavors that make one just sit back, relax, and contemplate WTF it is that one is eating. Seriously. I think that with all the food blogs and recipe sites and food shows that are taking over our collective food consciousness with all sorts of random recipe ideas, we forget what it's like to have something simple. Beautiful. Delicious. So here it is: one of my favorite salads ever. Serve it as a side or on its own w/plenty of greens and you'll thank me later. :)

My Favorite Avocado Salad (makes 3-4 side servings; total cost per serving: ~ $1.25)

2 large avocados (ripe but still firm; these canNOT be guac-ready avocados!)
2 small tomatoes
1 small red onion
2 T lemon juice (key lime is preferable if you have it)
1/4 t sea salt
1/2 - 3/4 t freshly ground pepper
1/4 t granulated garlic (or freshly crushed garlic if you have it)
Couple of sprigs of fresh cilantro for garnish

Chop the avocado and tomato into 1" pieces and slice the red onion into thin, 1/2" slices. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic and fold everything together gently (remember, we're not makin' guacamole here!) until everything is combined. Serve as a side with your favorite dishes, as a garnish, or just by itself with some fresh lettuce or spinach, and enjoy!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Recipe: The "Spanglish" Sandwich

You all know that movie, Spanglish, right? Came out a few years ago, with Adam Sandler, the impossibly (and unfairly) gorgeous Paz Vega, and that sandwich? Seriously... as charming and funny as the movie is, the real star of the show (in my opinion) is Thomas Keller's sandwich, appropriately named "The World's Greatest Sandwich". It only has about a 25 second cameo in the film but it's all I can think about, even 5 days after returning the video to Netflix. Such was the all-consuming desire to partake of this deliciousness that I did the unforgivable: I ate bacon, a food I know most people adore but from which I try to distance myself as much as possible because there's just nothing good for you in there at all ('cept for the delicious flavor).

Now, most of you PGEW veterans know that 98% of my recipe posts are creations made by yours truly. The other 2% is divvied up between stuff my mom & dad have made and stuff that I've obsessed over from certain restaurants. What can I say, I like making up my own stuff. But there are just certain dishes that MUST be recreated and this sandwich is certainly one of them. Of course, I made some adjustments to suit my personal tastes and budget, but it's still fab. The first time I made this was a revolution for me because I actually got the "ooze" right; unfortunately, I was so enthralled with the idea of eating the darned thing that I forgot to take a picture. Then I couldn't seem to get the timing right in terms of having the cheese be all melty-gooey and the egg yolk perfectly saucy. Today, in honor of the fact that I am one of 5 people in the United States who will NOT be hosting or attending a Superbowl party, I set out to make this thing right AND good looking, once & for all.

The best part of this sandwich? It really does fit the Poor Girl style of cooking, in that it utilizes a lot of what would be found in my - and most folks' - fridges and the fact that there's nothing overly fancy ingredient-wise, cutting down on the cost. The only things I didn't have to make this exactly like Thomas Keller would do, were butter lettuce and true Pain de Campagne. But I'm never without baby spinach (at least, I try not to be) and I still had about half a loaf of good sourdough, so I was able to make due with what I had. I even had Monterey Jack cheese AND bacon, which doesn't always happen (the first couple times I made this I used cheddar and ham it was still divine). Courtesy of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I had some Eggland's Best Eggs to make things even more scrumptious, and since I'm not the biggest mayo fan (unless I make my own and I wasn't feelin' up to it), I just doubled up on the cheese, tee hee. Still, it just goes to show that even the most famous chefs will use the most basic ingredients they have to make amazing foods, just like yours truly likes to do. Let's check this one out.

The "Spanglish" Sandwich (makes 1 sandwich as written; total cost per sandwich: ~ $2.85)

2 slices of pain de campagne (or a good quality crusty mild sourdough)
3-4 slices of bacon
3 slices of tomato
1/2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
6-7 leaves of baby spinach (or 2-3 small leaves of butter lettuce)
1 large egg
Cooking spray (or butter if you really have to have it, but isn't this sandwich sinful enough without it?)

Prepare the broiler. In a medium fry pan cook the bacon until crisp and drain completely on a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside. Place equal amounts of cheese on each slice of bread and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted & slightly bubbly. While that's broiling, spray a small pan with cooking spray and cook the egg until the yolk is slightly set but not completely cooked through (remember, this needs to "ooze" like a sauce at the end).

Remove the cheesy bread from the broiler and assemble the sandwich by layering the bacon strips, tomato slices and greens on one of the slices of bread. Slide the fried egg onto the other half, put the two together and cut the sandwich in half, allowing the egg yolk to ooze out and create a simple sauce. Grab plenty of napkins, pour yourself a beer like Adam Sandler (or wine, as Poor Girl prefers) and enjoy!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Recipe: Easy Peach Crisp with Special K Granola

I never thought it would last this long, but believe it or not, I'm still working through my box of Special K Touch of Honey Granola that was so graciously bestowed upon several of us Foodbuzz Tastemakers recently. So far it seems like a lot of you have been enjoying my first Special K recipe, the Breakfast Bananas Foster Parfaits, but who said granola was just for breakfast? Since I'm down to the last couple of cups of this yummy cereal, and the bottom of a cereal bag is usually made up of.... well, crumbs, I thought this would make the perfect topping for a baked dessert.

This dessert is so easy to make that it's almost unfair, but what makes it even more amazing is how much healthier it is than your standard fruit crisp. There is literally NO extra sugar, NO butter or shortening of any kind, and it still tastes incredibly delicious. And it's cheeeeeeap! You can make four of these fabulous little desserts for under $3. That's just $0.75 per dessert! So how in the world can something so inexpensive and healthy taste anywhere near good? Spices, baby! Nutmeg and cinnamon enhance the naturally sweet goodness of the peaches, and since the granola is already sweetened with just a bit of honey, it all comes together beautifully. Those of you lucky enough to have access to your own preserved peaches will find this even more delicious, I'm sure, but I used canned peaches with great results. Lastly, if you don't have ramekins to bake these in, no worries! You can put the whole thing in a small baking dish and you'll be fine. But I highly suggest investing in some small ramekins at some point! You can find them at any kitchen store or even discount stores nowadays, and you'll find you'll use them for more than just fun little baked things.

Okay, it's time for dessert!

Easy Peach Crisp with Special K Granola (makes 4 individual desserts; total cost per serving: $0.75)

2 cans of sliced peaches, drained
1 c Special K Touch of Honey Granola
1/8 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground nutmeg
2 T honey

Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the peach slices in a medium bowl and add the honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and about 1/3 cup of the granola, and mix together until completely combined. Place the peach mixture into the ramekins, sprinkle with extra granola, and bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the filling is nice & bubbly. Serve by themselves or with a small side of vanilla ice cream or yogurt, and enjoy!

Just a quick note...

Okay, folks. You asked and I listened.

Since so many of you are graciously willing to help a po' girl out during this particularly unfun time, I looked into getting a Google Checkout donation button as you guys were suggesting. Unfortunately, they only let you accept donations if you're a bona fide non-profit agency with a corresponding tax ID number, so that won't work. So, against my personal issues with the company, I spent a lot of time on the phone with PayPal yesterday to ensure they would stop messing with me (loooooong story, but let's just say it was bad and leave it at that) and I have now set up a donation button which should appear to the left of this blog post. I'm not asking for anything, really, but if you would like to - and can truly afford to - donate something to the PGEW cause (to keep this thing running, site maintenance fees, etc.), I will be forever in your debt. If not, no worries... your reading this blog and spreading the word to others about it is just as good, if not better (PGEW world domination has to happen somehow, right? ;) )

That's all for now! And wish me luck! It looks like I may have a couple of interviews in the next week or so. Eek! And new food's coming up tonight/tomorrow! Yee haw. :)

Lv,
PG

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Recipe: Creamy Navy Bean Soup with Chicken & Veggies

The other day I was firmly convinced I wanted white chicken chili. But then I realized that A) I neither had enough chicken to make this endeavor a true success and B) I really didn't want the whole green chile flavor in my bowl. Not that I dislike this combo, I just wasn't feelin' it that particular day. Still, I wanted something creamy, bean-y (if it sounds like a word, it's a word), and chicken-y, with a bit more substance than the average white chicken chili (and there are SO MANY of them out there it's almost boring). Those of you who can neither stomach nor physically handle the green chile thing will appreciate this soup.

I had fun making this because I'm currently obsessed with pureeing everything. I'm not sure if I'm reverting to babyhood or something (I'm not, I promise), but I just really like mixing up random ingredients and turning them into something completely different. It's art in its rawest form, if you ask me. Anyway, I thought it would be fun - not to mention far healthier - to create a creamy soup without using the heavy, fattening (and expensive) things like heavy whipping cream and a metric ton of butter. Hence the need to puree. Navy beans lend themselves beautifully to this type of recipe because of their naturally smooth flavor and they are very inexpensive, especially if you buy the dried beans versus the canned kind. Of course, you can definitely make this with canned beans if that's all you have time for, but lately I've been making the switch to using dried beans and have noticed it doesn't take that much extra time to prepare them (if you're organized, of course). Not that I'm not drowning in extra time these days, but even when I was still working, I just made sure to soak the beans overnight and cook them while I was getting ready the following morning. Once these are cooked, everything else is super easy! I like to make a big batch and use them for different recipes too, so that's another good way to cut back on any extra time spent in the kitchen.

For those of you who do not eat meat, simply omit the chicken and replace the chicken broth with veggie and you will also be able to partake of this comforting little soup/stew. Though there's no dairy or cheese or any of that fun, delicious creaminess, this will still be a very warm and filling soup that anyone can enjoy. Plus, it has that added punch of all that extra fiber from the bean broth, not to mention a delicious, smooth texture broken up by all those chunky veggies and tender chicken. Okay, now I want another bowl! Let's check out the recipe first.

Creamy Navy Bean Soup with Chicken & Veggies (makes 4-6 servings; total cost per serving: $1.25)

2 c dried navy beans (or any white beans if you don't have access to navy) divided
1 c cooked chicken
1 1/2 c mire poix
1 c sweet peas
6-8 small red skinned potatoes, quartered
3 c + 1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 T olive oil, divided
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t tarragon
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t sea salt
Small bread bowl for serving (optional)

Soak the navy beans in water for about 15-20 minutes, then cook for 35-40 minutes or until the beans are tender. Drain and remove 1 cup of the beans to use later in the recipe. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot and add the garlic. Cook just enough to bring out the aroma of the garlic, then add 1/2 cup of the mire poix and all the herbs & seasonings. Add the other cup of navy beans and cook until the mire poix veggies begin to soften, then add 3 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a low simmer for about 3 minutes then remove from heat. Using extreme caution, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until creamy and smooth.

In the same pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add the potatoes. Cook over medium heat until lightly browned and tender on the inside (they should cook quickly as they're such small pieces). Add the remaining mire poix and cook for about 2 minutes or until the carrots soften slightly, then add the chicken, the remaining beans, and the peas. Finally, add the creamy bean broth and bring the whole soup to a nice simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to cook for about 5 more minutes to allow all the flavors to blend together. If needed, thin out the soup with the remaining chicken broth.

Serve generous amounts of soup in prepared bread bowls or in regular soup mugs, garnish with plenty of freshly ground black pepper, and enjoy!

What's in Store for February

You'll have to forgive my silence lately. I won't lie to you folks (never have, so I don't aim to start now), but I am definitely experiencing some of the darkest days of my life right now. I still don't have full-time employment (though I'm lucky enough to have scored a couple side jobs here & there), I can't pay my rent, and I've had to go looking for aid in places I never, ever expected I would have to resort to. Writing & cooking are so much a part of me that it kills me when I just don't feel emotionally well enough to do either, but I have to admit that I've never, ever, EVER been in as bad a situation as I'm in now, and it's affecting my desire to do what I do best. One thing was having a tiny income; it's totally different to have NO income whatsoever and not know if I'll have a roof over my head next month.

Still, I have no time to wallow. I have 8 days to figure out how to pay my rent and must continue to send resumes out right & left, in the hopes that SOMEONE will call me for an interview. In the meantime, I'm selling a lot of what I own to make ends meet (I'll be tweeting links to some of the better things like nice purses & shoes this weekend, so stay tuned if you're into that sort of thing!), and kicking myself in the ass to return to my one true love: this blog. With the way things have been going, I truly feel this is the only good thing in my life (besides the amazing, selfless love of my mother and the support of my fans & friends, of course. And the kitties. Pets are the best therapy!), and with all of the kind words and encouragement I get from everyone, I cannot possibly let this one good thing go. Especially when so many people seem to rely on me for advice these days!!! I say it a lot, but I'll say it again: THANK YOU, for being such an amazing group of fans. You keep me going and because of you, I keep PGEW going.

/end sappy note

Anyway, for this month's What's In Store, I'm not really going to say much in terms of what I might be working on because I honestly don't know what this month will bring (I'm rootin' for a full time JOB, though). However, I do want to call attention to a couple of things that have been added to my plate of poo lately, so that you, the greatest readers on the planet, can help the little blog that could.... continue:

~ Regarding printing recipes: I have this site set up this way for a couple of reasons. 1) I really like white writing on blue background; and 2) It makes it more difficult for people to steal my content. NOT that I'm saying you actual fans steal, because I know that is not the case, and that is exactly why I wrote the mini-book - so that you wouldn't have to run back and forth from computer to stove just to make your favorite PGEW recipe. However, I've been dealing with a lot of stolen creative content for the past year and a half: from the very title of this blog to actual recipes (I'll expand on that in my next point), and this set up makes it a little harder for content thieves to do their thing. I am working on a way to bring you all a print option for my site, but I'm still not sure how exactly to approach it, so bear with me here. I know several of you have figured out how to get around the printing issue, but if you're still wondering how to print out your favorite recipe, email me directly and I'll walk you through it. I'd rather not discuss that in the comments of individual posts for reasons you'll read next.

~ 17 of my recipes have been stolen by some fool who runs a "food blog" that claims these recipes as his own. I put "food blog" in huge quotation fingers because this is nothing but a stolen content site. He not only rips me off, but he rips off sites like 101 Cookbooks and other amazing foodies who, like me, put our hearts & souls into what we do, and that is just WRONG. It's bad enough that I have had to deal with that woman back East pretty much taking my name and making money off of it (and she is CLEARLY not poor), but to have my 100% original recipes stolen and put on someone's bogus food site is just the ultimate violation. My Facebook fans have done an awesome job at researching this jerk's site and I am already taking action against him; however, it still doesn't erase the fact that I've been the victim of a thief. It's something I just don't have time for right now and makes me completely nervous about posting anything new! But don't worry... I will. This guy WILL be brought down and I refuse to let someone like that stop me from doing what I love. I do, however, want to ask for your help in alerting me of anything else like this if you see it. I don't delude myself into being the only food blogger whose stuff you read (though it's quite flattering when some of you say I'm the FIRST site you read!), so if you do come across something shady, please let me know so I can proceed accordingly.

~ I haven't forgotten about the PGEW Shopping List post! I was about to post it when my temp assignment unfairly ended and I had to put this kind of thing aside for a bit. The good news is that I now have a much better story angle to work with (ever the writer, no?), so I think this will be a much better post now that I'm unemployed.

~ Did I tell you I tried out for MasterChef with Gordon Ramsay? I didn't make the cut (too many qualified folks), but I had a LOT of panicked fun putting my stuff together for the judges. I think it's also cured me of my fear of trying out for other shows, so you never know.... PGEW may be on TV sooner than you think! Stay tuned. :)

~ I know this was a rather sad post, but I promise February will not be negative all the way 'round! I have a couple old January recipes to start you off with and because I got help from an unexpected place, I was able to do a good shopping run at TJ's the other day, so I'm armed with all sorts of good ingredients that I must make last for the next 4 weeks (eek!). I'm up for the challenge, though! And that means all of you will benefit.

That's it for now! New recipe coming later today!

Love,
PG

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