PGEW Turns 5! The Top Five 10 Recipes from Year One

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It’s a bit surreal to think that Poor Girl Eats Well has been around for five years now. When I first started this blog, it was really just something for me to do to fill the time. My world had come crashing down on me after losing my apartment, my car, and about half my paycheck every month, so I had to find new ways to enjoy myself without having to spend a lot of money.

Naturally, the first place I cut costs was in the food department. No more pillaging the frozen food section at Trader Joe’s (the greatest way to fake being an awesome cook, IMO), no more going out to eat as much as I loved doing. It was hard at first, but as more people  expressed an interest in how I was eating so well without much money, it seemed like writing about it was the next logical step. Food blogs were in full swing by 2008, and the one I still devour most hungrily to this day is Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks. I didn’t think I could ever do anything as lovely as what she does, but I could cook and had some tips to share. And I’ve always been writing – always. Doing something I loved while sharing a few of my own tricks and recipes with friends and family seemed like the perfect way to soothe my soul.

What I didn’t realize was that the Great Recession would hit shortly after I started PGEW. And what I was talking about struck a nerve in folks dealing with similar problems I was facing. Suddenly, people who had great jobs and lived comfortably were losing those jobs – and that lifestyle – faster than you could keep track of. Unemployment started rising, those same folks who used to have those great jobs were now scrambling to take whatever hours they could get at a part-time job, sometimes forcing them to seek public assistance in the form of food stamps.

People everywhere – not just me – were trying to find ways to do well with a lot less.

I guess that’s how people started finding PGEW. Googling for ways to have great food without breaking the bank brought the first readers over, because Lord knows I wasn’t advertising it anywhere. It was fun, though – all of a sudden I had readers that weren’t people I knew in real life (!!!), and they actually liked the few dishes I’d put up enough to make them and comment on them! I felt like a rockstar and decided to stretch my cooking wings even further. After all, not only were my 23 readers interested in what I’d be making next – I was, too. After having fallen into the usual American food trap – convenience, convenience, convenience! – I’d forgotten that I could make a lot of the same stuff I adored from stores & restaurants.

But I had no idea that once that I allowed myself to experiment a little more, the floodgates would open. For that, I am eternally grateful to my baby blog. I’d been searching for years for my “path”, and while the original plan was to become a doctor, I never could shake off the need to be in something more creative. Singing, writing, fashion design (why didn’t I go to FIDM again???), there was just too much I want(ed) to do.

And that’s why I joke that my “almost career” found me.  I didn’t know that my creative medium would end up being food. I should have, since it’s been an essential part of my life almost from Day One. But I didn’t know it would inspire me so much! I didn’t know it could inspire others so much, either. Whether it’s to lose weight, cut costs, or release their own inner home chef, it still amazes me that the dishes I create for myself and share on the blog have done so much to help others.

I’m also still in shock that some of you have been following PGEW since the very beginning, and I’m forever grateful for your unyielding support. These next 10 recipes should bring back some memories to all you long-term readers; for those who are newer to the PGEW, I hope they offer even more cooking inspiration!

The Top 10 PGEW Recipes from Year One

Please pardon some of the tiny and/or hideous photos that might appear here. All I can say is, it was my first year. ; )

Black Bean, Chicken & Mango Stew

Sounds a little strange, but believe me – this is one of the best stews EVER. I’ll have to give it a proper photo makeover soon, just as an excuse to eat it.

Warm Shrimp, Quinoa & Spinach Salad

A resurrected recipe, this one began the yearly PGEW tradition of posting two quinoa recipes on New Year’s Day. Another strange-sounding concoction, but the flavors are superb.

Pork Loin Medallions in Balsamic Honey Glaze with New Potato Pancakes

I remember this being one of the first dishes I made that made me feel really friggin’ fancy once it was ready to serve. This one’s near and dear to my heart for making me realize I could totally make restaurant quality food without having to pay restaurant prices.

Herbed Chicken Crepes with Fresh Rosemary Cream Sauce

Probably my favorite of all my crepe recipes, sweet or savory! It was just an experiment, but I’m so glad it worked out the way it did! Definite crowd pleaser for special occasions.

Red Quinoa & Broccoli Salad with Almond-Honey Vinaigrette

Until the OTHER Best Salad Ever came along, this. was. IT. And a lot of times, it still is. The dressing is probably my favorite of all the random dressings and sauces I’ve created. (Confession: sometimes I eat it straight or use it as a dip for veggies, it’s that good. I have issues.)


Chicken in Chipotle-Wild Mushroom Sauce

I hardly ever pimp this one out because I have yet to give it a proper photo makeover. Someone told me once that it looked like there were aliens on the plate and it sort of hurt my feelings. But what do they know… most wild mushrooms do look a little extraterrestrial, and the flavor of this dish is to die for. I’m not kidding. I may have to make this one again soon.

Shrimp with Warm Pineapple-Pepper Relish

With a little help from my reader friends, this dish got a makeover both photo-wise and recipe-wise! It’s awesome an appetizer or as an entrée. And nowhere near as expensive as it sounds.

Rainbow Chard & Roasted Beet Fettuccine

This pasta dish is incredible! I’m not sure why I don’t highlight it more often, but I should. Great Meatless Monday option, and a great excuse to have magenta food. ; )

Roasted Sweet Potato, Mango & Edamame Salad

This salad is so beautiful it almost hurts. It’s also incredibly filling and delicious. And except for the roasting time for the sweet potatoes, it’s really quick and easy to prepare.

Berry-Chevre Cheesecake Dessert Shots

My first “fancy” dessert shot. I think they all got really fancy-looking after this one, but this one’s still the fanciest in my book. Anything made with honey goat cheese, chocolate, and berries qualifies as “fancy” in my book. :)

Stay tuned tomorrow for the best recipes from Year Two!

written by

singer. writer. artist. champagne taste, 2 buck chuck budget. good cook. kooky. chocoholic. patron saint of cats. talker. listener. thinker. sometimes to a fault.

3 Responses to "PGEW Turns 5! The Top Five 10 Recipes from Year One"

  1. francine says:

    hi pgew! i just recently started following your blog and i really enjoy it! i just wanted to say that you broke my heart a little with the story you told about someone making fun of your pic of the wold mushroom dish :( i appreciate your honesty about your hurt feelings. it’s a good reminder to watch my tongue. even with comments i say that are supposed to just be teasing, i have to watch put for hurting others’ feelings. anywho, please keep up the great work! :)

  2. Kimberly Hampton says:

    Congrats on 5 years! Discovered your blog about a year ago and just love it! Hang in there! It will get better! I know…because I hit some pretty hard times and have now recovered! Thankfully, I had some awesome support and love to get me through!

  3. Maya J says:

    Oh, how I wish I’d discovered your blog several years ago, when I went from student to unemployed to self-employed small business owner. I can count on one hand the times in the past five years I didn’t worry where the next paycheck was coming from.

    And like you and millions of others, on occasion I’ve received supplemental food assistance from community agencies; food insecurity is real and personal to me, and I’ve felt very alone in this. Thank you for the cheerful frankness of your blog, as well as its practicality and aesthetics.

    I’ve always loved to cook, however, and I take pride in preparing delicious, beautiful meals for myself, as well as raising some of my own vegetables, herbs, and eggs from a pair of backyard chickens. I look forward to reading over past years’ recipes for new ideas–and taking the $4.50 a day challenge!


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