Pantry Raid – Part II

One of the things that had created an abundance of random odds and ends in my cabinets was the detox diet I did back in the late summer/early fall. My diet was extremely restricted and so I purchased a lot of things that were on the “OK” list that I would otherwise not eat like raw nuts, strange beans and wild rice. I had two boxes of wild rice and a can of Aduki beans that I just had no idea what to do with, but I found a recipe for wild rice and aduki bean stuffed acorn squash on Pinterest. Seriously, if you look long and hard enough, you will find the exact recipe you need. The recipe was from a vegan site, so I made a few changes to it to fit with what I had on hand, and it turned out pretty good. With a side of raw kale salad marinated in a home-made vinaigrette, this little vegetarian meal packed a serious healthy punch. Plus, it’s so protein packed, I could only eat half of it.

Wild Rice and Aduki Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

Wild rice stuffed acorn squash

Ingredients:

  • 2 acorn squash, sliced lengthwise, seeds scooped out
  • Olive Oil
  • Wild Rice
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can Aduki beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbs Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbs honey (or Agave)
  • Pepper and Salt to taste
  • Cranberry sauce (canned or homemade)

Method:

  1. Rub the acorn squash down, inside and out, with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place an a baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for an hour, or until tender. 
  2. Meanwhile, cook the wild rice according to its directions, enough to make two cups.
  3. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onions and sautee until soft. Add in Aduki beans, soy sauce, honey and season with salt and pepper. Combine and keep warm over medium low heat.
  4. Remove squash from oven when done, and scoop out the squash, leaving about 1/2” of squash in the shell. Chop the squash and mix it into the bean mixture and add the rice. Combine well over low heat until warmed through.
  5. Load each squash half with the mixture and top with cranberry sauce. Serve immediately.

 

I still have one box of wild rice left that I’m not sure what to do with, but at least those beans aren’t staring at me anymore.

What random item do you have in your cabinet that you’re just not sure what to do with?

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Pantry Raid

I’ve been on a kick since around the new year to de-clutter the house. We are considering putting our house on the market within the year….or next few months. Not sure yet. In any case, just the thought of it has pushed me into this torrential cleaning-organizing-decluttering-nagging task whirlwind. Incidentally, about a month after I put together the list of things we needed to do, I started reading The Happiness Project, the author of which is just WAY too much like myself, and so reading about all the stuff she did and took on and organized and tackled is just sending me over the edge. Anyways, how that is related to a blog about food is that I realized my pantry and cabinets had become stuffed with items that were not being used, were half-gone, bought for one crazy recipe then never looked at again, etc etc. OR, there were duplicates of stupid things that I always assume I never have, so I always buy at the grocery store, just to come home, open up the spice cabinet to see that I already have two unopened containers of coriander. Great.

We have also recently had two good friends move out of state, and in doing so, they have done meat/liquor/canned food drafts with their friends to get rid of most of their food in their cabinets, because nobody wants to spend time trying to move some jars of peanut butter and a half empty box of crackers. No offense to my friends, but when I move I don’t want to have to get rid of all my food. I just want to eat it.

So I have started a pantry raid project to try and use up all the items in my cabinets. Of which there are many:

pantry raid cabinet 2

SO MUCH DRIED FRUIT

 

First, I created an inventory of all the food I had in my cabinets, refrigerator, freezer, pantry, etc etc. I did this on paper and also digitally through an app on my iPad. Second, I started researching recipes that used random things or things I had too much of like how I had three containers of oatmeal. Really? Or poppy seeds. Why do I have poppy seeds? Or bags of dried Arbol chilis. It’s all a mystery. Finally, I started implementing the recipes into our weekly meals or other items. My first foray into this was using up some of the oatmeal by making oatmeal breakfast cookies. These are an awesome way to use up odds and ends in your cabinets. They are also super healthy, are dairy, flour and sugar free.

breakfast oatmeal cookies

breakfast oatmeal cookies

Breakfast Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole Ripe Bananas, Mashed Until Creamy
  • ⅓ cups Peanut Butter, Creamy Or Chunky
  • 1/4 cup honey or Agave
  • ⅔ cups Unsweetened Applesauce
  • ¼ cups Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon Butter Extract, Optional
  • 1-½ cup Quick Oatmeal, Uncooked
  • ¼ cups Chopped nuts or seed, Peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc.
  • ¼ cups Chocolate Chips, white chocolate morsels, chopped dried fruit, etc

Method

  1. Preheat heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, mix mashed banana, peanut butter and honey until completely combined. Then add in the applesauce, vanilla protein powder and vanilla and butter extracts. Mix again until completely combined.
  3. Add in the oatmeal and nuts, morsels or dried fruit to the banana mixture and combine.
  4. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Drop cookie dough, by spoonfuls, onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and flatten cookies into circles, about a 1/3″ thick.
  6. Bake cookies approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown and done. Remove from oven and let rest on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then move to cooling rack.
  7. When cookies are completely cool, store in a covered container.

I split the batter in half and in half I put diced dried plums, white chocolate morsels and walnuts. In the other half I put chocolate chip and peanut butter morsels, cashews and sunflower seeds. Almost everything in the recipe I had on hand except apple sauce, because I don’t have a four year old in the house . . .

It was a great way for me to use up some half-empty packages of nuts and dried fruit – two things that just seem to multiply in our cabinets. These cookies were great – Jeremy and I had them for breakfast everyday for over a week – the batter makes a pretty good amount. In fact, I think I’ll keep making them every few weeks just to have on hand, especially since it’s really hard to find granola bars at the grocery store that aren’t as bad for you as anything else on the aisle.

Next up: tackling dried chilis, frozen unidentified sausage and wild rice. Stay tuned!

Foodie Friday Freestyle

We usually stay in on Friday nights. We are exciting like that. But one of my favorite things to do on Friday nights is “freestyle” a few small plates with things we have around the house. It’s like iron chef or chopped or something. You can only use things you have in your basket….three to five courses….except without someone berating the hell out of whatever you come up with. So, if it pleases the judge panel….

1. Smoked salmon with fresh dilled cream cheese on pita crackers.

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2. Baked turnip “chips”

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3. Balsamic glazed chicken thighs with quinoa and roasted Okinawa purple sweet potatoes.

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For the record, always cook with chicken thighs. Chicken breasts dry out more easily, are inconsistent in thickness (which makes them hard to cook) and don’t have as much flavor as dark meat. You know when you have delicious Mongolian BBQ and you think “I can never make chicken taste like this at home”? That’s because it’s chicken thighs. Oh, they are also usually cheaper.

Usually my Friday freestyle foods aren’t recipes. I just make it up as I go along. I likely won’t make another dish exactly like any of them again since they are usually about an unusual combination of things I have at that moment. But it’s exciting and different. Unlike our average Friday nights.

Eggcellent

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Hard boiled eggs are my favorite high-protein snack. I recently learned that steaming farm fresh eggs for 17 minutes is actually a better way to prepare them. Fresh eggs are hard to peel once they’ve been boiled. Hard boiled (or steamed) eggs can be kept, in their shell, in the fridge, for up to a week. So make a dozen at the beginning of the week for protein rich, ready to eat snacks. Go to localharvest.org to find local eggs near you.

what is your favorite healthy snack?

Dairy Free and Delicious

I made a recipe I found on Pinterest this week that sounded interesting to me because it was a creamy style pasta dish with NO DAIRY. I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I’m lactose intolerant. I’ve probably known this my entire life, I just wasn’t ready to admit it. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t ever eat dairy, I do. I just suffer through it later. But when I can find something that satisfies my want for something creamy and rich, without making me feel like hell later, then that’s an awesome thing.

This recipe uses avocados and lemons and olive oil to create a sauce that is creamy and tangy and rich, without an ounce of animal product (in the sauce). I added several jumbo steamed shrimp, which I thought went really well with the original recipe. The arugula was from a local hydroponic grower, and was awesome and crunchy and fresh and peppery. In fact, this whole dish felt incredibly “summery” despite the fact that everything in here is pretty much in season. Citrus season is winter, shrimp are in season in several places in the winter, hydroponic greens defy all concept of season which is why they are so amazing, and avocados have a year round season as well. Fun fact – avocados grow all year long, but they will never ever ripen on a tree. These mostly Mexico and California-grown tree fruits do not begin to ripen until they are cut from their branches. At which point you have a questionable amount of time to eat them before they turn into green mud. Hass avocados are named for a California postal worker who grew and started selling these delicious “meat fruits” as my friend Emily calls them. Hass avocados are actually patented, and have been since 1935. It was the first US Patent to ever be made for a tree. This is the part of the commercial where a shooting star flies over my head touting “The More You Know….”

Thank you, Conan (And Tina Fey and Matt Groening and Mike Judge), for understand everything that is funny to me, ever.

Anyways, back to the pasta . . .

Creamy Avocado Linguine with Meyer Lemon and Arugula

By: Sylvia Fountaine, feasting at home blog January-5-2013
A creamy vegan pasta in a flavorful creamy avocado sauce, bursting with bright flavors of Meyer lemon, tossed with fresh arugula.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Linguine
  • 2 ripe Avocados
  • 3 T Meyer Lemon Juice (I just used regular lemons)
  • 3 T Good olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • generous handful arugula
  • 1 tsp Meyer lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Boil 8 oz Linguine in salted water
  2. Puree the rest of the ingredients ( except arugula and zest) in a food processor until completely smooth, scraping down the edges.
  3. When Pasta is al dente- drain and place in a bowl. Toss pasta with avocado puree and a handful fresh arugula.
  4. Taste for salt. Garnish with Meyer lemon zest and fresh cracked pepper.

Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 15 mins  Total time: 15 mins Yield: 4 servings

shrimp avocado pasta
The only thing I changed, was that I used regular lemons (if you can find a place with Meyer Lemons, tell me where and send me instructions on how to move there), and of course, I added the shrimp. I steamed 10 jumbo deveined shrimp over the pasta water while it was cooking, in a steamer basket. Steam them (in the shell) for just a few minutes until they are all bright pink – no longer.
Since this was the first time making this recipe, I do have a couple of suggestions and things I would do differently if I made it again (and I will):
  • I would use soba noodles over linguini. Soba noodles, if you don’t know, are noodles used primarily in Japanese cuisine and they are made from buckwheat. They are often served chilled, and I honestly think this whole dish could be served chilled and would be great, especially in the summer. 
  • I would process about half of the arugula into the avocado sauce. I think this would add a nice peppery flavor and would be a little easier to eat – arugula can be a bit difficult to work with – it’s very stemmy, like cilantro. I also think watercress could be used in place of arugula and would be interesting.
  • I would actually let this be four servings instead of trying to divide it in half with Jeremy. Usually when a recipe says “4 servings” it’s really enough for the two of us with a small amount of left overs for the next day. But in this case, the avocado is so filling that we were done about halfway through the bowl.

This recipe comes together so quickly, only requiring you to boil water and throw things into a blender or food processor, and it’s delicious and will satisfy those “I want alfredo no matter how bad I will hate myself for it later” cravings. Enjoy.

Are there things you are intolerant to or that you can’t/won’t eat? Tell me about them and I’ll try to find recipes to try and share that suite your dietary issues. 

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Sunday mornings require eggs. If you’re like us, they also require bacon and sometimes grits. But definitely eggs. But it’s Sunday, you’re tired (or hung over if you’re five years younger and at least five times more fun than me), you may be trying to get out the door to church or to get grocery shopping done or maybe after a long week you just don’t feel like standing over a stove scrambling eggs.

Baked eggs.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Easy Like Sunday Morning

The easiest Sunday morning egg recipe ever. Here’s how it works:

1. Grease a ramekin or small oven-proof dish

2. Drop in an egg (or two), without breaking the yolks

3. Drop in your additions. I used a handful of chopped sun dried tomatoes, fresh grated Parmesan, a little palm full of pancetta, and some fresh chopped herbs – rosemary, sage, thyme. Use whatever you have on hand – spinach would be great, some roasted garlic, roasted potatoes, tomatoes, cheddar, ham – whatever!

4. Bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on how runny you like your yolks – I like mine just barely warmed) at 375. Place Ramekin on a heat safe plate and eat.

And the beauty of using the personal sized ramekin is that everyone can make theirs like they like it. And bake it as long as they like it.

You’re welcome. Happy Sunday.