Saturday, December 10, 2011

Contest Winner Announcement!

I'm sorry this formal announcement is so late, though I did post the result as a comment in the previous blog entry a couple of days ago.

Congratulations to Fred, our winner! Fred, please email me at and let me know the best way to send you the info to download your book. I promise, I don't send spam. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

eBook Review/Give-Away and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

eBook Review/Give-Away:

Angie Ballard sent me a copy of her new eBook, Tight Budget, Tiny Kitchen, and No Time: How to Eat Well in Your First Apartment to review. She has also gracefully allotted one copy for me to give away to an EFAW viewer! (Read on for that info - and a recipe or two - after the review.)

This is a great book for anybody, not just those of us with cramped cooking spaces, little cash, and scant "spare" time.  Having lived under these very conditions for the last 16 years or so, I like to think I've got a pretty good handle on how to manage that kind of stuff. That said, it took several years of trial and error to figure things out, particularly in the tiny studio apartment I lived in during grad school. This book would have been a godsend back then!

Angie's book tells you how to make the most of your resources with great advice ranging from shopping lists to storage solutions and tips on what kitchen utensils you REALLY need. Heck, I even learned a few tricks which I have already begun working into my cuisine routine.

The book also includes a whole slew of budget-friendly recipes which look delicious. I haven't had a chance to try any of them yet but their time will come. Some of the recipes do call for things like canned condensed soup or seasoning packets, which are things I avoid if at all possible, but with a little imagination you can work around those ingredients should you so choose. (I'm not being snobbish here. I'm very sensitive to MSG, which is common in such items. I'd rather purchase slightly more expensive foods and skip the migraines.)

I highly recommend you check this one out. It is available from Smashwords for only $4.99(US) but if you have a little patience, you could win one here! Simply leave a comment on this blog post - one entry per person, please. The deadline to enter is 12:00am MST Monday, December 5, 2011. After the deadline has passed all entries will be assigned a number in chronological order, and I will use a random number generator to pick the lucky winner! I'll do my best to announce the winner no later than December 8, 2011.

Angie Ballard lives here:
Her eBook is available in just about any format you could want here:

And because it always feels strange to post here without a video, here are a couple of recipes for you!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:

Wondering what to do with all those pumpkin seeds left over from making pumpkin soup or carving jack-o-lanterns? Don't throw them away! They make for a tasty - not to mention healthy - snack!


Pumpkin guts & seeds
2 Tbsps olive oil
garlic salt


Preheat oven to 275°.
Separate seeds from the guts. (Keep the seeds, discard the guts.)
Toss seeds with olive oil and garlic salt to taste, and spread on a rimmed baking sheet.
Place seeds in the oven. Check and stir them about every 10 minutes until golden brown. Depending on how many seeds you have, cooking time could be anywhere from about 20 minutes to an hour or more.

Music: Maintaining Radio Silence by The Hybiscus Journals. You can download it here:

Bonus recipe!

Hot Buttered Rum Batter

As fall and winter roll in, nothing takes the edge off the chill quite like a steaming mug of hot buttered rum. Of course you don't have to use rum, but it really does make for a great nightcap.

This recipe is my slightly altered version of the one I found here: I found the mix didn't quite get smooth enough with just a 1/2 cup of butter. Also, I couldn't help but put my own twist on the spicing.


3 C brown sugar
1 C butter (please do not use margarine)
2 Tbsps honey
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 Tbsp rum extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (If you only have ground, that's okay. Use the same amount.)
pinch of ground cloves


Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until evenly mixed. If you don't have a food processor, a hand mixer will work. I'm not sure a blender would be terribly successful. The batter will look a bit like peanut butter once you're done (see photo), though if you taste it there will be a slightly grainy consistency. Don't worry about that, it's just undissolved sugar. Place into an air-tight container and keep refrigerated. Once the weather warms up, I stick any remaining batter - if there is any - in the freezer.


Put about a tablespoon of the batter into a mug. Add a shot of rum and top off with hot water. Stir until the lump of batter is dissolved. Enjoy.

Don't like rum? Try it with bourbon or whiskey instead.

Don't drink alcohol? Making this for the kids? Replace the rum and hot water with hot apple cider or tea. I've read suggestions to put it in coffee as well, but I've not tried it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Eat for a week 33a: Roasted Pumpkin Soup

This recipe takes some time, but is really worth it. The result is a lightly curried pumpkin soup. The recipe as published here makes a HUGE amount of soup - around 9 quarts or so. I would suggest cutting the recipe in half. For a stronger curry flavor, halve the amounts for everything but the spices. Grocery bill for this was just over $11.


10 lb. carving pumpkin (yes, like the ones you'd use for a jack-o-lantern)
vegetable oil (not much, maybe 2 or 3 Tbsps)
2 tbsps bacon drippings *
one onion, chopped
6-7 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Tbsps curry powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tsp smoked paprika **
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg **
1 tsp cider vinegar (if necessary)
4-6 C water
1/2 lb. baby carrots
2-3 bay leaves
2 tsp dry marjoram leaves **
pinch of saffron **
1 pint half-and-half
salt & pepper to taste


To prepare the pumpkin - this can be done a couple of days in advance and stored in the fridge:

Preheat oven to 375°
Throw the pumpkin at the ground to crack it, then finish cutting it in half with your knife.
Scoop out seeds and strings and set the guts aside. I'll show you what to do with these in episode 33b.
Rub cut edges with oil and place cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet.
Place in the oven and bake 45 minutes to an hour, until a paring knife can be easily inserted and withdrawn.
Allow pumpkin halves to cool until you can handle them without burning yourself, then separate the flesh from the skin. (Discard the skin, keep the flesh and any juices.)

For the soup itself:

Heat bacon drippings in a large stock pot over medium heat.
Add onion and garlic with a little salt and cook 3-4 minutes.
Add curry powder, cumin, ginger, cayenne, paprika, and nutmeg and cook for 1-2 minutes.
If the spices start to stick to the bottom of the pot too much, add vinegar to un-stick them.
Add pumpkin flesh, carrots, water, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Add bay leaves, marjoram, and saffron.
Increase heat and allow soup to boil, then lower heat, cover the pot, and allow to simmer for about half an hour.
Remove bay leaves and blend the soup using an immersion blender (preferred method).
Turn off heat and mix in the half-and-half. Enjoy!

I like to garnish this with some greek yogurt and toasted pumpkin seeds. I'll show you my recipe for the pumpkin seeds in episode 33b (coming soon).

Music for this episode is Yellow by The Hybiscus Journals. You can download it for free - or whatever you think it is worth - here:

I'm also working on putting together an e-book give-away. Keep an eye on the blog ( for details!

* Feel free to use olive oil or butter if you prefer to keep this vegetarian. I was out of those and happened to have some bacon drippings in the fridge.
** These are optional. If you don't have them, leave them out. If you do have them, use them!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Eat for a Week 32: Oktoberfest Pasta

I came up with this recipe last fall when I wanted to find a way to stretch a single package of bratwurst. Let's face it, fall is a great time for brats, but they're not always cheap. The bill for this was somewhere around $17 or $18. If you keep parmesan cheese and sauerkraut on hand (or choose not to use them), that can knock about $9 from your bill. I happened to be out of both.


Large skillet
Large sauce pan
Large stock pot (for boiling pasta)


5 bratwurst sausages (about a pound), removed from casings and broken up
1 small onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 Tbsps olive oil
2 Tbsps butter
2 Tbsps flour
1 pint half-and-half
6 to 8 oz. (about 1/2 bottle) Sam Adams Oktoberfest*
2 Tbsps grainy mustard
2 tsp prepared horseradish
2 bay leaves
pinch of nutmeg**
1 1/2 tsp dry ground mustard**
pinch of ground cloves**
1 lb regular pasta
1 lb whole wheat pasta
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese***


Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat.
Cook onion and garlic until translucent.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add bratwurst and cook through.
Set aside.

In large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Whisk in flour and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Slowly whisk in 1 pint of half-and-half.
Once all the cream is mixed in, add about a half a bottle of Sam Adams Oktoberfest.
Add salt and pepper, mustard, horseradish, bay leaves, nutmeg, ground mustard, and cloves. Mix well.
If sauce is too thick, add a little bit of water until you reach your desired consistency.
Turn heat up to medium-high and wait for the sauce to start to bubble.
Add bratwurst, onion, and garlic mixture to the sauce. Mix well.
Reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and allow to warm.

Cook according to directions on packaging.

Remove bay leaves from sauce then mix the sauce into the drained pasta. When serving, top with sauerkraut and parmesan cheese.

Music for this episode is "Breakfast of Champions" by The Hybiscus Journals. Download it for free (or whatever you think it's worth) here:

Also, we'll be having an e-book giveaway pretty soon here. Keep an eye on for more details!

* Use whatever beer you like. If you don't like beer or don't drink alcohol, substitute with chicken or vegetable stock.
** These seasonings are optional. Don't break the bank buying them all in one go if you don't already have them on hand.
*** Also optional.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eat for a Week 31: Sweet Chicken & Potatoes

More crock pot fun. The grocery bill for this one was about $13. I bought chicken, bacon, and potatoes.


crock pot


1.5 to 2 lbs baby red potatoes, chopped into 1" to 2" pieces
2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into 3" to 4" pieces
1/2 lb bacon, chopped into about 1/2" pieces
6 cloves of garlic, peeled (chop if you like)
1/3 to 1/2 lb frozen peas
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C cider vinegar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1/4 C water
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (use more if you like more heat)
2 or 3 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste


Cook bacon in a skillet and drain off the fat.
Place potatoes in crock pot, then add chicken, garlic, peas, and bacon.
Whisk together sugar, vinegar(s), worchestershire sauce, water, cayenne, salt and pepper and pour into crock pot.
Add bay leaves.
Set crock pot to Low and let it be for 8 to 10 hours. (If you're getting a late start and will be around the house, you can put it on high for 6 to 8 hours.)

This turns out delightfully sweet, but not candy-like. The cayenne helps offset this a bit. If you like, add some blue cheese crumbles when serving. The salty, mustiness of it can also help cut the sweetness of the dish.

Music for this episode is "Learning Curve" by The Hybiscus Journals - (This track isn't there, but many others are.)

So, it hit the internets this afternoon that Steve Jobs has passed away. Spending the evening at my Mac Mini editing video in iMovie seemed like a fitting homage. So long, Steve. Thanks for making all these shiny toys for us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eat for a week 30: Pork & Beans Stew

I've recently discovered smoked paprika. Sure, we all have a can of grocery store paprika for sprinkling on deviled eggs and whatnot, but it doesn't have much scent or flavor, does it? That stuff is purely decorative. The smoked paprika has a wonderful aroma that I've never had the chance to play with. This is my first experiment with the smoked stuff. I think it turned out rather well. My grocery bill was just over $15.

Large stock pot

1-2 Tbsps olive oil
2 Tbsps cumin
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 lbs. boneless pork chops, cut into 1" cubes
1/3 lb crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 1/3 lbs russet potatoes, chopped
2/3 lb carrots, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can northern beans
1 can black beans
1 can red kidney beans
2 bay leaves
2 tsps dry marjoram
1 Tbsps worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
5 oz. greek yogurt

How to:

Heat olive oil over medium heat in large pot. When warm, add cumin, paprika, mustard, and nutmeg, and stir until fragrant - 30 seconds to a minute.
Add onion and garlic, sauté until translucent - about 5 minutes.
Add mushrooms and sauté until they begin to exude their own juices - about 5 minutes.
Add pork and brown on all sides.
Add potatoes, carrots and beans, stir well.
Add water to cover.
Add bay leaves, marjoram, and worcestershire sauce, and salt & pepper to taste.
Bring heat to medium-high and allow stew to come to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Shut off heat, mix in yogurt, and allow to cool 15-20 minutes.

Music for this episode is "Watching Snails" by The Hybiscus Journals, available at

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Eat for a Week, Episode 29: Broccoli & Feta Orzo Salad

The deli at my grocery store has a killer broccoli and feta orzo salad. I decided to try making one on my own, and it came out really well. The only downside is that I made WAY too much. I had to give some away to friends so it wouldn't go bad. Fortunately, they also enjoyed it!

My grocery bill for this one was about $22 for, well, pretty much everything. If I hadn't been out of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, the bill would have been more like $14.


1.75 lbs pork, chopped into 1.5"-2" pieces *
10 Tbsps olive oil
8 Tbsps balsamic vinegar **
1 Tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp mustard
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
3/4 lb fresh broccoli, chopped
2 lbs orzo
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 16 oz. can chick peas, drained and rinsed
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Salt & pepper


For the pork:
In a bowl, mix pork, 2 Tbsps olive oil, 2 Tbsps balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside for about 30 minutes.
Cook in skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through.

For the salad:
For the dressing, combine fresh garlic, 7-8 Tbsps olive oil, 5-6 Tbsps balsamic vinegar, mustard, and salt & pepper to taste. Whisk well.

In a large pot, bring well-salted water to a boil.
Add broccoli to boiling water. After about 30 seconds, remove the broccoli to a bowl of ice water to cool, then drain.
Allow water to return to a boil then add orzo and cook according to instructions on the box.
When done cooking, drain pasta, toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and allow to cool to about room temperature. Add broccoli, onions, feta, dressing, and mix well. Taste for seasoning. If you'd like it more tangy, feel free to add a bit more vinegar. (I ended up adding an additional 3 tablespoons or so.)

Serve topped with the cooked pork.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret here. Most of the time, I'm making these recipes up as I go. The next time I make this, I will only use one pound of orzo and cut the dressing proportions in half. Unless you are VERY hungry or are making this for a huge group of people, I would suggest you do likewise.

Music for this episode is "Violet" by The Hybiscus Journals. Download it for free - or whatever you think it is worth - at

* Technically the pork - or any meat, really - isn't even necessary here. The combination of pasta and chick peas creates a complete protein. I just happen to like meat. Of course, if you also like meat but don't do pork, this would work well with chicken or turkey.
** I do realize that balsamic vinegar is rather expensive. If it's just not in your budget, please feel free to use whatever vinegar you have on hand. Though if you can swing it, I highly recommend picking some up. Good stuff.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eat for a Week, Episode 28: Citrus Pork Casserole

I still had some ginger left from the last episode so I decided to make use of a bit more of it. (Stick unused ginger in a zip-lock baggie and throw it in the freezer. When you're ready to use it again, just pop it in the microwave for about 10 seconds and it'll be thawed enough to cut/grate.) My grocery bill was about $14. I had to buy everything but garlic, ginger, and rice.


2 Cups uncooked rice
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1" pieces
1 shallot, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
1 can corn, drained
8 oz. sugar snap peas
2 lbs. boneless pork chops, cut into 1.5" to 2" chunks
2 1/2 Cups chicken stock
Juice of 1 lime, 1 lemon, and 1 blood orange
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375°
Combine all ingredients in a large casserole dish and mix well.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for one hour.
Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes.
Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then enjoy.

Of course, this recipe would work equally well with chicken or turkey. I think beef might be a little too strong a flavor, but it's worth a shot. If you can't find blood oranges - this was the first time I'd ever seen them at my local store - a regular orange should do quite nicely. Also, I let the casserole cook uncovered for 20 minutes and the pork ended up a little too dry, so I'd stick with the 15 minutes there.

Over all, I'd have to say this turned out really well. It also reheats very nicely.

Music for this episode was "Family Reunion (Part 1)" by The Hybiscus Journals. It is available here:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Eat for a Week, Episode 27: Ginger and Thyme Chicken Pie

I've been wanting to make something in a hash-brown crust as well is something using ginger and thyme. This is how I put it together. My grocery bill was a few cents over $13.00 and I picked up everything but the thyme, garlic, and chives.


1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2" to 2" bits
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsps fresh ginger, grated
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp dried thyme
1 lb frozen hash browns (helps to thaw them, but not critical)
1/2 tsp black pepper (plus extra to taste)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 can baby corn, chopped
1 C fresh spinach
3 Tbsps fresh chives, chopped (or use four or five green onions)
1/4 C olive oil (plus 1-2 Tbsps)
6 eggs, beaten
1/2 - 3/4 C shredded cheese


Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a bowl combine chicken, lime juice, fresh garlic, ginger, thyme, 1-2 Tbsps olive oil with salt and pepper to taste. Let marinate 10-20 minutes. heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken - marinade and all - and cook through. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In another bowl combine hash browns, 1/4 C olive oil, 1/2 tsp pepper, garlic powder, and salt to taste. Press potato mixture into casserole dish and bake in 400°F oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325°F.

Once chicken and crust have cooled, layer spinach in the bottom of the dish. Spread chicken and baby corn evenly on top. Sprinkle chives evenly over, then pour the eggs over the dish. Sprinkle the cheese on top, then bake at 325° for about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Music for this episode was "Green" by The Hybiscus Journals.