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The Great Pumpkin

3 Nov

I wouldn’t say that I’m a big pumpkin fan, but this time of year it always sounds good. It’s cold, it’s rainy, there was Halloween and now Thanksgiving approaching, I want comfort food – the reasons go on and on for wanting pumpkin.

Fortunately 1 can can go a long way. Here are three recipes I made with just 1 can of pumpkin.

First, we have pumpkin and ricotta pasta casserole. I had high hopes for this, but it was kind of a letdown. I think that you have to really love pumpkin to like it. The first couple times I ate it, it was pretty OK but then I just got sick of it. And I even halved the recipe so there wouldn’t be as much leftover. I wound up throwing out the last serving as it sat in the fridge for waaaay too long. So if you just adore pumpkin, I’d say this give a try. Otherwise, save the (not cheap) pecans for something tastier ….

Pumpkin pecan granola. This I would definitely recommend. It was my first time making granola, and I plan on doing it more often! It was super easy but still felt rewarding because I got to pull a big sheet chock full of granola out of the oven, and now I have a ton of breakfasts (yogurt & granola at my desk every day) already covered. I think I took it out of the oven a little soon though – it’s more chewy than crunchy, so there’s a lesson for next time. The recipe makes quite a bit of granola, so if you’re making it for just yourself, as I was, you may want to consider making half a batch.

Finally, I made chocolate chip oatmeal pumpkin cookies. They turned out OK. They’re kind of a healthier cookie as there’s no butter (though I wouldn’t actually call them healthy). The chocolate chips are definitely key here; without them, I don’t think the cookies would be very good. Shocking, huh? Who knew chocolate was good?

If you’re in the mood for chocolate chip cookies, but want something a tad healthier, I think these are worth a shot. The great thing about this recipe is that even if you wind up not liking the final product, the recipe is for a small batch, so it’s not the end of the world if you don’t like the cookie.

So there you go – 1 can and 3 recipes. I even had a tiny bit left over but I threw it out. I am pumpkined out.*

* OK, not quite – I really want to try these.

It’s just too complicated

19 Jan

Please read Paula Deen’s “recipe” for English Peas and then read the reviews below. You won’t be sorry.

And while you’re at it, check out Rachael Ray’s “recipe” for Midnight Bacon.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a career change, and I think I’ve found my new calling: Food Network star! You should see me fry an egg! I even boil pasta! On the stove!

What’s cookin?

12 Jan

The past few days I’ve tried to get back in the kitchen (not that I was ever really THAT in the kitchen to begin with) and try out some new recipes.

First up was this chocolate peanut butter pie. I’ve been waiting a long time to make this. I knew that I had to make it for some sort of event where I would not be able to eat it, as I knew that if I kept it at home, I’d eat it all in 2 days.

We have a themed monthly potluck at church, and this month the theme was legumes. Since peanuts are legumes and because peanut butter is delicious, I knew it was time to bust out the killer pie. It should come as no surprise that the pie went very quickly – I didn’t even have any. But, lucky for me or unfortunately, depending on how you view it, not all of the batter fit into the crust, so I wound up having my own mini pie waiting for me in the refrigerator at home when the potluck was over. And oh man, is it good!

Last night I made Squash, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Pasta with Basil. I know, right? It was pretty good although I used whole wheat shells for the pasta, and as much as I try and try, I just don’t really like whole wheat pasta (with the exception of this recipe for cauliflower and pasta). It would have been better with regular pasta, but it was still good and I’m looking forward to the leftovers.

Then tonight I made Smoked Salmon Feta Couscous, which is a ridiculously easy meal. I couldn’t believe it took as little time as it did. I was going to boil some frozen vegetables as a side, but the couscous was ready before I even had time to think about the vegetables, so I said screw it and enjoyed my veggie-less meal, thankyouverymuch.

Made anything tasty lately?

I scream, you scream, we all scream banana!

22 Jun

This is how I feel about what I just made:


Intrigued? Check it: Frozen Peanut-Butter-Chocolate-Chip Milkshakes

Peanut butter milkshakes are my favorite, so I was very excited to try this somewhat healthier version. And I have to say it’s pretty darn good. It’s not the same as a regular milkshake, but it’s a lot closer than I expected it would be. I definitely recommend giving it a go, and I definitely plan on making it again. I’m not a huge chocolate chip fan, so next time I’ll probably use chocolate syrup. Actually, now that I think about it, Nutella would be amazing. But Nutella is amazing on everything – which is why I have banned it from my apartment.

The recipe also gave me a chance to use my food processor for the first time. The food processor I got for Christmas. Yes, six months ago – that food processor. The one I was dyyyyyyyying to get and was so excited about that I let it collect dust for half a year. There’s a needs vs. wants lesson in there somewhere.

To recap:

Delicious “milk”shake? Check.

Food processor does in fact work? Check.

The recipe made two servings like it said it would? Check.

Pretended like it was one serving? Check.

What’s Cookin?

29 Mar

I’ve made a couple new dishes lately that turned out to be pretty bland, but fortunately I came across one winner: cheese and caramelized onion pizza. It’s sooooo good, you guys. I’ve never cooked caramelized onions before, and while I didn’t do a stellar job of it, the onions still turned out well. (This could have something to do with the fact that I got a new stove/oven, and I’m amazed at how much better it cooks. It’s just faster and cooks more evenly.)

The pizza is not exactly cheap, as prosciutto is rather expensive considering how much you get. And fontina isn’t really low cost either. But I think the cost is worth it, as it’s a nice change from the usual tomato sauce and mozzarella pizza.

Made anything noteworthy lately?

Gluten-free tips

6 Mar

No, I’m not going gluten-free, but I know a few people who are, so in honor of them (I am inspired by their efforts and self-control), here are a few budget-minded links from Wisebread:

Tips and treats

1 Mar

Tip time!

Treat time!


20 Feb

A couple booze-related links:

  • Magic Juice – this sounds and looks wonderful!
  • How to make grenadine and why you should bother. I never really thought about grenadine having high fructose corn syrup. Of course, I’m not exactly trying to avoid HFCS either. But still – this is good to know! My initial thought is that this would be good if you’re having a party where you’ll be having a lot of drinks with grenadine, but if you want to keep something in your fridge for a long time, it might not work. However, comment #13 points out that this concoction will keep for a long time depending on how you store it. If you’re like me and it takes you forever and a day to use up alcohol and other alcohol-related mixers, this is good news.

Sex up your supper

1 Feb

Feeling like your homecooked meals are boring? Does your chicken need pizazz?

Try 8 Swanky Sauces to Glamorize Dinner. I’m a fan of piccata sauce and other sauces with capers. Capers just feel fancy.

And while you’re sexing up supper, invite Color Me Badd over:

(This is one of my favorite songs. I’m not even joking.)

Eats on the cheap

1 Feb

This is for Seattle people:

Did you know that The Stranger keeps an event calendar for food? It includes lots of specially priced events and other fun things – like World Nutella Day! Who knew? Some of the events are more on the fancy end of the spectrum but there are some deals thrown in there too. The next time you feel like heading out for dinner, check the calendar first!

Free Kashi sample

26 Jan

Kashi wants to make 2010 your healthy year blah blah blah resolutions blah blah blah. The point is: they’re giving you free stuff.

You can get a free sample of either:

  • GOLEAN Crisp!™ Toasted Berry Crumble cereal,
  • TLC® Dark Chocolate Coconut Fruit & Grain bar
  • GOLEAN Crunch!® Honey Almond Flax cereal

Click here to sign up!

What’s cookin?

23 Jan

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about recipes. I haven’t been cooking very much lately, but in the past week I did try a couple new ones.

First up is roasted cabbage with bacon. I rarely buy cabbage because I just don’t really know what to do with it. But this recipe was so popular I thought I’d give it a shot. And it was good – but greasy. I loved the cabbage, and I of course love the bacon, but the grease from the bacon was a little too much. That said, I still enjoyed it. However, the leftovers were soggy and extra greasy.

The other problem I have with this dish is that I only like bacon when it’s super crispy. Some of the bacon became very crispy during the roasting process, but some of it stayed soft. It was still cooked okay, but it just wasn’t at that primo crispy stage. I’m not sure that I would make this again, but I’d still recommend it.

On to the second recipe: garlic noodles. I give it a meh. I don’t think I’ll make it again, but it wasn’t terrible – just average. And now my apartment smells like garlic, which can be good to an extent. However, this garlic smell goes just beyond my threshold of acceptable.

Made anything good – or meh – lately?

Free Fred Flare shipping

15 Dec

Enter discount code reindeer to get free shipping at! There’s not even a minimum purchase amount! The code ends Dec. 21.

7 foods to reconsider

12 Dec

I recently came across this article about 7 foods that some experts say we should avoid. To be honest, I tend to take these things with a grain of salt, but it’s worth reading.

The microwave popcorn one was interesting. I never would have thought the bag could be hazardous, but it really does make me second guess if I want to continue buying it. Here are some other suggestions for how to make popcorn that don’t require possibly cancer-causing chemicals. free shipping!

28 Nov

For this weekend only, my favorite place to shop,, is offering free shipping! There isn’t even a minimum purchase! Just use discount code awesome when you check out.

This is so tempting, so very tempting…

Pumped for pumpkin

25 Nov

With Thanksgiving almost here, I’m probably late in talking about pumpkin recipes. But better late than never, right?

I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin, but I find that when it’s baked with a bunch of sugar, it’s suddenly delicious!

First I want to alert you about the best pumpkin bread ever. Ever!!! 22,000 people agree with me, so you have no choice but to make this bread immediately. Note that the recipe yields 3 loaves, so if you’re feeding less than 36 people, I recommend making 2 loaves (1 will not be enough!). There’s a handy calculator right above the ingredient list.

For someone who isn’t a big pumpkin fan, I sure have a lot of pumpkin dessert recipes bookmarked. Since sharing is caring, here are recipes that I’ve bookmarked that I do – and maybe you will – eventually want to try?

Now word on the street is there might be a pumpkin shortage. Let’s just ignore that and salivate over these:

P.S. After all my talk about pumpkins, for my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner this year, I’m making cranberry sauce muffins. Go figure.

Pinkberry alert!

24 Nov

If you live near a Pinkberry, you should know a couple things:

  1. I am crazy jealous of you.
  2. Pinkberry now has chocolate! yogurt.
  3. Here is a coupon for a Buy One Get One Free small yogurt with toppings.
  4. You’re welcome.

(Thanks for the tip, Misty)

Movie popcorn – resist!

22 Nov

I rarely see movies in the theater. Sometimes I go to a local $3 discount theater, but even that’s a pretty rare event. I love to watch movies, but I’d rather get them for free from the library than pay $12.

That said, when I do go to the movie theater, I am always tempted to get popcorn. That buttery aroma just draws me in, but I always turn it down because I know that it’s not very healthy. I also know that it costs waaaaaay too much.

A new report finds that movie popcorn isn’t just unhealthy – it’s REALLY unhealthy.

A medium-sized popcorn and medium soda at the nation’s largest movie chain pack the nutritional equivalent of three Quarter Pounders topped with 12 pats of butter, according to a report released today by the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Um. Yikes.

Thankfully, we have some alternatives. You can still enjoy popcorn without having to book an appointment with a cardiologist. I like to buy 100-calorie servings of microwave popcorn. Orville Redenbacher’s makes them, and I’m sure other popcorn brands do as well. It’s not very buttery, but you can make up for it by using seasonings. You can mix up your own batch of seasoning using spices, or you can buy prepared popcorn seasoning. I like using Kernel Season’s.

Now whether you choose to eat the popcorn at home or smuggle it into the movie theater – that’s up to you. I was taught at an early age to never buy snacks at the theater. We were candy (and occasional popcorn) smugglers. We also snuck in cans of pop. I do remember one time having to fake cough while my dad opened up a can of Pepsi (as if a cough would mask the loud kshhh! sound) and thinking that it was a little too much. And then in the middle of the movie, I accidentally kicked the empty can and everyone in the theater listened as it rolled all the way down the slanted concrete floor.

Classy. Real classy.

(Photo from flickr member Hey Paul with Creative Commons license.)

Ethical meat?

10 Nov

362726171_2d60941394(Photo credit: Flickr member cordery licensed for use under Creative Commons)

I don’t buy meat that often, but I’ve been thinking more about it lately. I found out that I have low iron (which was surprising because I’ve had high enough iron to donate blood for the past couple years). Now I’m taking an iron supplement, but I think it might be good to incorporate more iron-rich food into my diet, especially meat. (Yes, I’m aware that you can get iron from vegetables as well, but non-heme iron – which is what’s found in vegetables – is less available for absorption than heme iron – found in animal sources.) I’m not planning on going meat crazy, but just trying to eat a little more of it.

As I’m thinking about meat again, I came across this post about where to buy ethical meat. (Adam lives in NYC, so his references don’t really apply to a lot of us, but the comments have some interesting links.)

I’m feeling conflicted about what to buy as I balance what I believe to be humane treatment of animals vs. how much I want to spend and how much effort I want to put into finding ethical meat.

Do you buy ethical meat or other products? Why or why not? If you do, where do you buy it?

30% off at fred flare

2 Nov

Hooray! Use discount code “PREVIEW” at, and you get 30% off everything. The code expires Nov. 16.

I love fred flare and their collection of cute yet mostly affordable things. This is a great time of year to check FF out, especially if you’re looking for an unusual secret santa or white elephant gift.


I have this shower curtain. It makes me happy.





For your favorite "too cool for Christmas" friend?

Deals for Seattle restaurants

30 Oct

If you live in Seattle, listen up. If you like to dine out, check out Stranger Mart (brought to you, obviously, by The Stranger). You can get awesome deals on gift certificates to good restaurants (try the sliders at late night happy hour at Broadway Grill – amazing!). There’s a bunch of places, including Bimbo’s (did you know they have happy hour all day on Mondays – also amazing!), Skylark Cafe, Triple Door, and Via Tribunali. Enjoy!

(Thanks, Seattle Moms Deal Finder)

Free Kashi granola bar

27 Oct

Want a free Kashi TLC granola bar? Click here and then click on the banner.


(Thanks, Money Saving Mom)

Not as good as a Slurpee

16 Oct

If you happen to be a 7-Eleven customer (or you’re just frugal and willing to drive anywhere for a deal), go here to print out a coupon for a free hot beverage from 7-Eleven. It’s good for a 12 oz. coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate or tea, and it doesn’t expire until Oct. 31.

Also, I know it’s not 7-Eleven and doesn’t have anything to do with money, but just because I’m now in convenience store mindset, I’d like to share a classic quote from “Say Anything”:

“I got a question: If you guys know so much about women, how come you’re here at like the Gas ‘n Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?”

Food splurges

13 Oct

2769236888_6bc221d061(Photo credit: Flickr member steev-o licensed for use under Creative Commons)

I recently made a polenta casserole that was supposed to use fontina cheese. But when I went to the grocery store, I found one little hunk of it (which wouldn’t have yielded the 2 cups that I needed), and it was over $12. I understand that some kinds of cheese just cost more, but I had a hard time justifying buying food that costs that much and isn’t made from unicorn tears.

I wound up buying a different cheese that was much less expensive, which worked out because, cheese aside, the casserole wasn’t that good.

I’m not opposed to buying somewhat expensive food; I just want to be sure it’s going into something I know will turn out well.

What foods are you willing to pay more for? What do you splurge on? savings

9 Oct

I’ve never used for gift certificates because I like to pretend that I don’t actually blow money by eating out at restaurants somewhat frequently (even though, like many people, I do).

But this seems like a pretty good deal: 80% off gift certificates. Click here for more info. Has anyone done this before?

What’s Cookin?

8 Oct

I have been cooking up a storm this week. I didn’t really intend to. I had a couple recipes planned, but then I had leftover ingredients so I had to make more stuff to use up that stuff.

Most of what I made isn’t worth mentioning, but here are a few things:

  • Spinach and basil lasagna – I made a half batch, and it was really good. It’s also the easiest lasagna I have ever made. No chopping, no boiling, no effort.
  • Shrimp with white beans – This was pretty good, but it’s very very beany. Next time, I would reduce the amount of beans and add more tomatoes.
  • And finally my favorite: The BETA sandwich. You guuuuuyyyssss!! It’s so good. I used the recipe here for the Spanglish sandwich (a BLT with egg and avocado – a BELTA). I did not have lettuce, so mine was a BETA. I made substitutions (shredded cheddar instead of monterey jack, plain ol’ wheat sandwich bread instead of the nice bread), but even my lame-o cheaper version of the sandwich was really good. I highly recommend it!

Made anything lately?

A handy baking tip

5 Oct

I came across this post recently on The Kitchn that explains how to make brown sugar.

For each cup of sugar, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of molasses for light brown sugar, and up to 1/4 cup for dark brown sugar. Depending on the recipe, you can either combine them in the food processor or just mix them together with other ingredients.

That’s pretty good to know! Brown sugar gets clumpy and while there are ways to fix that, it’s nice to know that you don’t even have to buy brown sugar in the first place.

Now you may be thinking “Why would I have molasses handy but not brown sugar?” Here is why you need to have molasses: The best ginger cookies ever. I’m not that big of a ginger fan, but these cookies are amaaaaazing!

Free cookie Oct. 1

1 Oct

If you happen to find yourself near a mall on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., stop by Mrs. Fields for a free chocolate chip cookie. It’s National Cookie Month apparently. And thanks to Halloween, it’s unofficially national sugar month!

Free whole wheat baking cookbook

30 Sep

If you have whole wheat flour in your cupboard and need some ideas for how to use it up, check out this free whole wheat baking cookbook from Gold Medal.

(Thanks, Money Saving Mom)

What’s Cookin?

30 Sep

Tonight I made something that I will definitely make again: Thai Chicken Pizza.

My favorite Thai Chicken Pizza is from California Pizza Kitchen (I looove that place. Maybe I should be like the cool kids and despise chain restaurants, but CPK is just too good.) I’ve never tried to make it myself because I figured it would never compare to CPK’s.

While this pizza isn’t quite that good, it’s still pretty tasty! I really like the peanut sauce. I find most bottled peanut sauces to be not very good, but this sauce was good. It’s not spicy (which I appreciate!) but it’s still flavorful.

I also tried out a pizza dough recipe that doesn’t require a food processor or kneading. It’s dough for lazy people. :) I usually buy dough from Trader Joe’s, so making it was a new experience. It turned out okay, though I should have left it in the oven a little longer.

Made anything lately?


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