Monthly Archives: February 2012

Pumpkin Pasta with Roasted Veggies and Brown Sugar Sauce

This is one of my favorite meals I’ve made in a long time.  I’m really happy that I made a full recipe because I ended up being able to have dinner last night, lunch today, and a reworked version tonight for dinner.

I still had a lot of pumpkin leftover last night and pretty much all I have in the pantry is various flours, so I thought pasta sounded good.

I also had a ton of potatoes, onions, and half a sweet potato which seemed like it would go well with the pasta.

I didn’t have anything for a sauce, so I just used olive oil and brown sugar (soooo good)

One of my favorite things to do with leftover homemade noodles is saute’ them the next day in olive oil because they never seem to taste as good as they did the first night.  What made this even more amazing was that I added some brown sugar into the frying pan and let it carmelize on the vegetables and pasta.


The recipe I used is the same one I used a few weeks ago when I had people over, but I made a couple adjustments:

Pumpkin Pasta

combine 2 cups white flour, 2 tablespoons semolina, 3/4 tsp salt, and a dash of nutmeg in a food processor
-in a seperate bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup pumpkin and 1 medium egg
-briefly  mix together in the food processor
-add one more medium egg and continue to mix until a ball of dough forms
-let dough rest for 30 minutes

While this was resting, I made my roasted veggies.  I chopped 1 onion, 1 potato, and half a sweet potato, tossed them in olive oil and salt, and roasted them at 400 degrees C for 30 minutes.

After letting the dough sit, roll the dough through a medium thickness setting on your pasta machine and then use the fettuccine die.  If you don’t have a pasta machine, just simply roll out the dough and use a knife or a pizza cutter to cut thin strips.

Boil pasta for 5 minutes, then toss with olive oil, brown sugar, and the roasted veggies

pure deliciousness

All this was more than enough for 3 meals, probably more for a pereson who isn’t ravenously hungry by the time they come home at night.

I’m not going to attempt to figure out the price, mainly because I bought the flours before I started keeping track of costs.


Bread Fix!

I had no time this weekend to even think.

I literally did nothing besides work, run, clean the house, sleep (barely), and eat.

Unfortunately, I totally forgot to feed my sourdough starter to make bread for the week.  I’m not sure I really would have had the time to, though.

Realizing I have no food in the house, I decided bread was probably necessary.  I opted for a quick bread I used to make all the time in undergrad- beer bread!!

This bread is so ridiculously easy and delicious (if you like beer) (which I do) (a lot).

The recipe calls for a lager, but I have used it all.  PBR is one of my favorites to make this bread with.  My ex boyfriend (who hated to drink and also hated beer) loved making this with Sam Adams Cherry Wheat.  I don’t like it so much because it comes out a little bit too sweet.  Today I made this with Upland Wheat.  I also made a couple other changes from the original recipe.  Instead of 3 tablespoons white sugar, I used 3 tablespoons brown sugar.  I also used all wheat flour instead of white.

I’ve had mixed results, texture wise, with this bread in the past.  It has come out with a very hard crust, it has come out dense, and it has also come out undercooked.  I have no idea if that is a fault on my part (quite possible) or differences in the beer used.  For instance, PBR always seems to make a denser bread with a harder crust.

Tonight’s bread turned out amazing fluffly and moist on the inside with a crispy crust on the outside.  I think the moistness has a lot to do with the wheat flour and brown sugar.  Interestingly, I don’t think this bread has as much of a beer flavor as previous loaves I’ve made.  It’s still delicious and I think it will be good for lunch, possibly with my almond butter.

Beer Bread

-preheat oven to 400 degrees C
-combine 2-1/4 cups wheat flour, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablesppoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients to pour the liquid ingredients into.

Beer Well..what could be better?

-pour 12 ounces of beer and 2 tablespoons olive oil into the well
-mix until just blended (this always reminds me of my mom because she is a stickler on making sure baked goods aren’t over mixed)

no over blending here!

-pour into an 8 inch bread pan and bake for 45 minutes
-remove to cooling rack and let cool

I don't think I have an 8 inch bread pan..


Total Cost: $3.93

-organic wheat flour: $2.23
-1 beer: $1.20
-brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, olive oil: no more than $0.50

This was definitely more expensive than other breads I have made, but it’s great in a pinch when you don’t necessarily have the money to go and buy bread, but have a lot of random ingredients and not a lot of time.

Breakfast Dilemma

If you’ve been following me all month you know that I ran out of grocery money a few weeks ago.  I’ve actually been doing pretty well with this, except that today I ran out of breakfast food.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

I have 5 boxes of cereal but no milk, yogurt, oatmeal, bread, etc.

After taking a quick look through the pantry I decided to turn this month’s standby, barley, into breakfast.

By pairing it with pumpkin and adding honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg it turned out pretty great!  It doesn’t taste as sweet as it would if you added all the same ingredients to, say, oatmeal, but I’m okay with that.

current pantry inhabitants

I made enough for breakfast the next few days, so that will be especially nice to not have to prepare anything.

Sweet Pumpkin Barley

-boil 1 cup barley until it absorbs all the cooking water (I probably used 3 cups and this took ~20 minutes)

it's amazing how a little bit of pumpkin makes this look so much more appetizing

-once the water has been absorbed, add 1-1/4 cups canned pumpkin, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon honey, and cinnmaon and nutmeg to taste

this makes me wish it was fall


Total Cost: $2.78

organic pumpkin: $1.25
organic barley: $0.78
organic brown sugar, honey, spices: no clue (let’s say AT MOST $0.75 (and I feel like that’s just being overly cautious)

I ate ~1/3 of this and still have plenty for two more breakfasts

I’ve been avoiding the sale fliers from the grocery stores I used to go to because I don’t want to think about how much money I could be saving / how much more food I could be buying.

However, for the sake of procrastinating on grading these lab worksheets, I’m going to look through the fliers and see what I would be buying, and compare it to what I buy now.  Riveting, right?

Sunbeam Split Top Wheat bread- $1.49
Instead, I make my own organic whole wheat sourdough bread for ~the same price.
Anna: 1, supermarket: 0

Food Club Shredded Cheese – $4.09 / 32 oz.
Instead, I make my own organic cheese for $1.50 / 32 oz.
Anna: 2, supermarket: 0

Cheez-Its – $1.44
So, I have a price point for pretty much everything.  My price point for Cheez-Its is $1.88.  I’m sad that I’m missing this, but I would honestly (now) rather snack on almonds than cheese crackers.  I used to eat a box of white cheddar cheez its in 2-3 sittings.  I win for not being tempted to buy these anymore.
Anna: 3, supermarket: 0

White Seedless Grapes: $0.98
My price point for grapes is $0.99.  However, grapes have the seventh highest pesticide rating, so I would definitely pay more for pesticide free.
Anna: 4, supermarket: 0

Hot or Lean Pockets: 5/$10
I only buy these when they’re $2.00 each or less.  HOWEVER, not buying them forces me to make healthier foods and save money.  Win.
Anna: 5, supermarket: 0

Food Club Canned Vegetables: $0.59
Hmmm…I’m torn on this one.  I eat organic veggies now, but that’s a really low price.  I’m also trying to eat less canned goods…I’ll go half with the grocery story.
Anna: 5.5, supermarket: .5

Minute Maid Orange Juice: 2/$5
I go through a lot of orange juice to take my iron supplements with.  It pains me that organic orange juice is 1/$5.
Anna: 5.5, supermarket: 1.5

Green Bell Peppers: $0.88
That’s a really good price for green peppers, but the quality of these are always hit and miss when they’re that cheap.  I would rather buy fresh and pesticide free and pay more.
Anna: 6.5, supermarket: 1.5

Hass Ripe Avocados: 10/$10
Avocados are actually on the safe list, so I think I have to give this one to the grocery store.
Anna: 6.5, supermarket: 2.5

Broccoli Crowns: 10/$10
Again, really good price.  I don’t know what the pesticide rating is, so I’ll split this again with the store.
Anna: 7, supermarket: 3

Dannon All Natural Yogurt: $1.99/32 oz
I make my own (organic) for $1.50/32 oz, I win.
Anna: 8, supermarket: 3

So, there you have it.  I figured I would feel bad about what I spend now.  On the contrary, doing this actually made me feel pretty good.  I think I eat much healthier, less processed food.  I make more conscious decisions, and I’m really not losing much money.




You know those cinnamon roasted almonds you buy at fairs, basketball games, and oktoberfests???

I was JUST thinking that I was craving those but have no way to make them.  It made me sad.

Today, just now, I made the greatest discovery of 2012.

If you mix oatmeal, milk, roasted almond butter, honey, cinnamon, and brown sugar (aka the only things currently adorning my pantry) and microwave it for 2 minutes, it tastes the same.


DIY Yogurt

I have always turned my nose up at plain yogurt.

I take that back.  I turned my nose up once I realized plain yogurt is different than vanilla yogurt.  (aside:  If vanilla wasn’t white, do you think it would be considered less plain?  This is a question I ask myself often).

Anyway, I was a little bit skeptical about making my own plainyogurt, but I figured for the amount of money I would be saving, it would be worth a try.

This recipe is also adapted from DIY Delicious by Vanessa Barrington

Organic Yogurt

special equipment needed: candy thermometer, sanitized quart sized mason jar (place in boiling water for 5 minutes), water bath heated to 90-100 degrees C, plain yogurt (for cultures)

-pour 1 quart milk (I used 2%) into a saucepan

why does a picture of milk in a saucpan improve this blog?

slowly heat the milk to 185 degrees C.  (It’s really easy to scorch the milk when it’s in a sauce pan)
-hold the milk at 185 degrees C for 5 minutes.
-let cool to 115 degrees C
-place 2 tablespoons plain yogurt in mason jar
-add 1/2 cup milk to mason jar at a time and whisk
-once all the milk is added, place mason jar in water bath and let sit for 8 hours.

One thing I do is make the yogurt before bed, throw the water bath in the oven, and just turn the oven light on.  It keeps the water warm enough.

I really like  this plain yogurt.  It is definitely less tangy than store bought plain yogurt, which is great for me.  I don’t think I could eat it has a bit of a milky/cheesy taste.

Yogurt ideas:

-mix in almond butter, honey, bananas (my favorite)
-spread on pancakes or toast
-use to thicken sauces
-freeze with almond butter mixed in for frozen yogurt!!

Total Price: $1.50/quart

Random Rants

I didn’t cook anything particularly interesting tonight so I thought perhaps for this post I would delve into the mini list I’ve been accumulating for days such as these.

I read an interesting article recently about the battle between Dole and independent organic farmers in South America.

Articles like these, while incovenient in the truths they reveal, remind me that besides the individual and vain reasons I have chosen to eat organic/local/fair trade foods, it is certainly the socially responsible thing to do.

Frankly, when I am buying organic anything I don’t trust the organically labeled produce that brands like Dole or Chiquita sell.  I  have very little trust that the foods I buy are actually organic, which is why I choose to shop at the co-op.  I feel as though Bloomingfoods has much more at stake if they provide mislabeled food than a supermarket does.

Back to the point.

I read an article once that implored people, at the very least, to swap out one conventional grocery item for its organic counterpart.  I think for someone who doesn’t have the means or access to buy organic foods, this is a really easy way to feel good about what you’re buying.  How would you choose which grocery item to swap?

If you’re like me, you would choose one that gives you the most bang for your buck.  That, however, takes more number crunching than you may expect.  Another strategy is to consult this list.  The Environmental Working Group tested various foods (using the USDA’s methods) to find which foods have the highest, and lowest, pesticide ratings.  Perhaps choosing a food from this list could improve your health – and your conscience.

One effect I never would have expected from eating organic is how aware I have become of the food I eat.  I feel as though I am part of a larger community.  Big name brands I used to spend ridiculous amounts of money on just seem…impure, now that I have been trying to eat sustainably.  I’m not going to lie.  This is hard work.  It’s difficult to know that I am spending twice as much on some foods (like milk) than I would if I were buying it from the gas station.  However, I come from a family rife with small business owners.  When I think about the way I am supporting a local or small farm, it helps justify my choices.

Sometime’s it’s crazy to me that food means so much to so many people.  Being a former collegiate runner, I come from a background where food can be your biggest enemy and your best friend.  I know what it’s like to have an unhealthy obsession and an unhealthy loathing of what I put in my body.  Food is really at the root ofeverything -family, friends, love, happiness, sadness, lesiure.  For something so important, why not treat yourself to the very best?  For me, it’s become one little thing I can control in my crazy life which actually makes a huge impact on how I feel as a person – emotionally, socially, and phsycially.