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Crystallized Ginger; or, a Very Hungry Sam Valentine's Day

Ok lads and ladies, readers and readettes, get ready for a Very Hungry Sam Valentine's Day 2012! Last year, we explored home-made ginger-cognac truffles, which were impressive, delicious, and pretty easy. This year, keeping with the ginger theme, I offer for your gift-giving and tasting pleasure a related treat: Simple crystalized ginger!

Yes indeed, folks -- you can make your beau (or yourself, dammit) some intense, spicy, sweet, nicely-textured ginger candy to celebrate/rage on this most-contrived holiday! The best part? You can do this tonight for under five dollars and still be super impressive tomorrow evening.

(Sidebar: If eating too much candy gives you a stomach ache -- what my friends and I call "candy belly" -- but ginger is good for settling your stomach, is this the candy you eat when you have candy belly?)

Answers and the recipe after the jump!

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Super Fast Dinner Idea: Avocado and Chicken Open-Faced Sandwiches

We've all felt that...feeling. Exhausted, uninspired, and hungry RIGHT NOW. Sometimes, you just don't feel like carefully crafting the dish of your dreams. You could make something from a box, but that means you're locked into whatever shelf-stable ingredients and chemicals, healthy or otherwise, the manufacturer included.

Here at Hungry Sam, we feel that you can do better. That's why I try to offer reasonably easy and cheap ideas (e.g. oven "fried" plantains) alongside more intense recipes (e.g. chicken, shrimp, and sausage paella). So if you're feeling that unhappy feeling, here's a super fast dinner or lunch idea:

If I were feeling snooty, I might call this a "deconstructed chipotle chicken-avocado salad sandwich."

Instructions after the jump!

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Spanish Paprika Turkey Meatloaf Isn't Your Grandma's Meatloaf

I'm going nuts with the changes over here at Hungry Sam. Today after work, I bought lamps. LAMPS. And full-spectrum bulbs. It was time, folks. I live in an "English Basement."

What does this mean for you? It means that when I whip up a batch of tasty, well-spiced, smoky turkey meatloaf, I can take better pictures than ever before:

Ohhhh yeah. The dish is a great balance of sweet peppers, smoky Spanish paprika, rich meat and potatoes, and sharp, biting scallions. Here's another glimpse of the tastiness before we dig into the recipe:

More (well-lit) photos and the recipe after the jump!

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Wicked Good Berry Parfaits and Excellent, Obvious News

Before we dive headfirst into the obvious, mind-blowingly awesome news that is the epic redesign of Hungry Sam, let's take a look at this morning's deliciousness:

Wowza. This is the berry parfait of mine sweet dreams; a healthy, easy, delicious, antioxidant-packed breakfast appetizer the likes of which I've rarely made. And I can't take any credit for the recipe -- this is Lynn's, via Perri, as I understand it; I was just the assembly worker this time. (And I know what you're asking: "What's with Hungry Sam and the antioxidants?") 

(Don't ask; I have an answer, but it'll bore you.)

Perhaps the only challenge here was finding some fresh, ripe blueberries and strawberries in winter. Lynn had accomplished this already, so all I had to do to help prep for brunch this morning was layer it in, arrange the toppings, and photograph the final effect. Here it is again:

BAM. Looks good, no? Recipe below, after the jump.

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Chocolate-Chipotle Chili is Alliterative, Awesome Chili

There's almost no way to make chili photograph well. Obviously, alliterative foods are the best foods. Such is the case with a recent creation: my Chocolate-Chipotle Chili!

Sometimes, the dishes I feature here at Hungry Sam seem to constitute a survey of "how to make awesome reasonably healthy food when you're broke." ("On a budget" is such a cliche. Besides, aren't most people, rich or poor, "on a budget" of some sort? Even a badly thought-out, credit-heavy budget?)

Chili is the perfect, ultimate, ideal "awesome reasonably healthy food for when you're broke." (So many adjectives!)

Now, I know you're already aware of my chili fixation (See my posts/recipes for Pumpkin Turkey Chili and Epic Turkey Bean Chili), but this is really something special. That's because this time, I thought to myself, "how can I make chili even more hardcore and decadent while adding more ANTIOXIDANTS!?!?" Because these are things I think.

The answer sprang to mind at once: I should use chocolate!

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RESPONSE: Comparing Apples and Oranges

As I often do on my several-mile walk to work, I took the opportunity yesterday to listen to my favorite food-oriented (and indeed, favorite) podcast, The Sporkful. The episode I enjoyed that morning pertained to apples and oranges and to a general comparison thereof (even against the strong headwinds of prevailing wisdom).

Photo: Flickr CC/limonada

Now, The Sporkful, I feel, exists in the same food-space as this blog. As Mark and Dan, the gentleman podcasters behind the show articulate, The Sporkful is "not for foodies, it's for eaters."

I feel the same way about Hungry Sam, which is why my posts range from a determination of the categorical imperatives of salad to the recipe for my vanilla chai-infused french toast. Ecclectic? Yes. Insane? Maybe. Interesting? You tell me.

Back to the point. In "Comparing Apples and Oranges" Dan and Win (guest) took the position that oranges are superior to apples for several reasons: the superfluity of apple varieties is absurd; apples' cores are an obnoxious bit of trash; and apples become bruised or blemished while oranges have a pristine wrapper in the form of the peel that keeps the fruit pure and unsullied. I'd like to respond somewhat and involve myself uninvited in this discussion, and then I want to hear what you guys think:

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Try a New Beer this Weekend/Year

I first tasted Dogfish Head's Sah'tea beer several months back, and I was hooked. It's one of their "super-expensive-only-comes-in-750-ml-bottles" varieties, but I was lucky enough to find it on tap for normal prices at a time when I was feeling adventurous in my beer selection.

Now, don't get me wrong. As you know from my thorough exploration of Custom Brewcrafters over the summer, I do enjoy experiencing new and exciting developments in liquid bread. However, when I hit the bars (let's face it, I'm an old man. When I hit "a bar"), I often set aside my Magellan-like indefatigability and opt for a basic sipping beer.

Put differently, sometimes, you don't want The Bridge on the River Kwai; you just want to watch a rerun of How I Met Your Mother. You don't want Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back; you want Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.

On this fine evening, however, I was piqued to try something new. I chose the now-fabled sah'tea, nevermind that I had no knowledge or understanding of the pleasures that awaited me. Obviously, I'm now a fan -- both because of the magnificence of the beer as well as the knowledge that the sah'tea is Dogfish Head's creative, modern spin on a Finnish style of beer called sahti

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