Sunday, November 11, 2012

Meal Stretcher Monday - Squash

Every year from the end of summer until at least Christmas there is a display of odd looking squashes in the produce department of the grocery store. They are all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors, and run from cute to a bit frightening. It was actually only a couple of years ago when I realized that they are also delicious. All of them.

Recently a co-worker offered me a few of her extra home-grown squash. I leapt on that like a politician on a photo op.

I want to show you the ultimate fate of two of them: a spaghetti squash, and a buttercup squash.

Let's start with the spaghetti squash. Start by cutting it in half lengthwise.

Use an ice cream scoop to remove the seeds and guts.

Be careful not to scrape too far into the flesh itself - that's the part that you want to eat! Spaghetti squash is naturally stringy. Even if you are scraping into the flesh itself, you will still be seeing strings like you did for the guts. Just scrape it until you get a relatively even surface.

The same exact thing needs to be done to the buttercup squash. Or any winter squash, really. Just cut them in half lengthwise...

...scoop out the seeds and guts, and place the pieces open side down on a baking sheet.

Your baking times will vary, but these two squash together took about 35 minutes at 400 degrees F. They smell AMAZING, and you can see that the hulls caramelized a little.

After the hulls have cooled enough to touch, the cooked flesh is easily removed with a fork. The spaghetti squash pulls off in strings (like spaghetti)...

...while the buttercup is much creamier in texture.

The buttercup squash is ideal as a side dish (with just a little pat of butter). Even from this small squash I got over four cups of delicious goodness.

The small spaghetti squash yielded about as much, but I had already dressed it with pasta sauce and grated cheese by the time I remembered to take a picture. Yum.

Total cost: $0

Had I actually bought these in a store, the total cost would have been about $5.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Seriously? Suave?

I have frizzy hair. On its very, very best day, my hair can be described as "straight...ish". Maybe you remember.

Anyway, I have been trying increasingly expensive shampoos and conditioners and I STILL haven't been able to run my fingers - or even a brush - through my hair without injuring something. It's awful. I've been contemplating shaving my head. Daily.

I spotted these in Walmart for about a buck fifty each.

I was out of shampoo and my conditioner sucks, so I figured it was worth the three bucks to give it a try.

Twice. I have used it twice. I can now run my hands through my hair - wet or dry. It's wonderful! And it was three bucks!!

Here's a crappy self portrait to prove its efficacy.

At this rate, I won't have to shave my head. Always a plus.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Meal Stretcher Monday - Split Pea Soup

I love fall. I love the colors, the holidays, the excuse to wear sweaters...

I don't love the cold. I don't love the rain. I don't love the cold rain. I also don't love the hurried rush for dinner that comes from my return to teaching. When I get home, I want a healthy, hot meal that requires no actual thinking.


Split pea soup is one of my favorite soups (because it's insanely easy, and I have been known to be lazy.

Here's how it goes:

Get a bag of split peas (I got this one at a discount store for $3.50). Do the whole sort/rinse/drain thing recommended on the bag (it takes about 3 minutes). Put them into a big soup pot.

Chop an onion and add it to the pot.

Now add your liquid of choice. Some use broth, but I chose to use 8 cups of water to two cups of peas, plus some vegetable bullion to round out the flavor. If you are so inclined, you can add ham. Due to the whole vegetarian thing, I didn't.

Now you just boil it on medium until the peas are soft (about 30-40 minutes). I finish mine up with the immersion blender to make it a little smoother.


This bowl is larger than it looks and makes enough soup for a whole family, plus lots for freezing. I freeze mine in small zipper bags, so I can grab one and throw it in my lunch box and heat it at work.

The total for all of this? Just that $3.50. It works out to be about 20 cups of soup (so at least 20 portions), which is around $0.17 per portion. This is way better than a can of pre-made soup with about 2 portions for $2.