Savor Your Scraps – Carrot Tops

If you missed my Savor Your Scraps presentation at East Pierre Landscaping & Garden Center, here is what I talked about. Look for more recipes as we develop them.

Homemade stock is your “go to” for scraps. I have a gallon bag in my freezer at all times. As I use vegetables, I toss the scraps into the bag. When it’s full, I make vegetable stock. My bag may include any of the following:

  • Carrot ends and peels
  • Celery leaves and ends
  • Garlic ends
  • Mushroom trimmings
  • Parsley stems
  • Leek trimmings
  • Onion skins and trimmings
    • I usually don’t use red onions because it affects the color of the stock. The flavor is fine, but the color will be a little red.

How I make vegetable stock…

Remove bag of scraps from the freezer. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Once hot, drizzle with a couple tablespoons olive oil and add the bag of scraps. We generally like a ratio of 1 part carrot, 1 part celery to 2 parts onion along with other scraps like mushroom pieces and garlic. I like to let them brown a little, which helps develop the color of your stock. Once to a nice golden brown you like, fill the pot with water leaving 2 inches at the top. Add a bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, cool, and strain. package the stock in 1 or 2 cup portions in the freezer. I don’t add salt, but you can. Just be sure not to over salt the stock.

Greens, all kinds of greens are your best friend in the summer! Sauté a variety of greens in olive oil with a little garlic. Finish with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar or a squeeze of lemon and fresh shaved Parmesan. Toss greens into a lettuce salad for a nice flavor addition and crunch. Stir greens into summer soups. Add them to your weekly summer stir fry!

  • Beet greens
  • Broccoli greens
  • Cauliflower leaves
  • Celery leaves: Bright and flavorful addition to salads!
  • Fennel fronds: Add a unique flavor to salads!
  • Kohlrabi leaves
  • Radish greens
  • Turnip greens

Cauliflower & Cabbage Cores are surprisingly tasty. Slice and add them to a stir fry.

Corn Cob Stock is wonderful! Anytime we are freezing corn for winter consumption, we always set back some corn cobs to make stock. You can make it super simple or jazz it up with a few herbs. The easiest way is simply corn cobs and water. Feel free to add a bay leaf, some fresh thyme, and/or parsley stems. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hrs. Strain, cool, and use/freeze. 

Kale, Swiss Chard, & Collard Stems are delicious!!

Roast Pumpkin/Winter Squash Seeds for yummy snacks! If you don’t want to roast them right away, simply toss them in a freezer bag and roast them later. Be sure to leave some of the “gunk”. It is super tasty when roasted, crunchy, and salty.

Make pesto! It’s amazing all of the scraps you can turn into scrumptious pesto.

  • Beet greens
  • Carrot tops
  • Fennel fronds
  • Radish greens
  • Turnip greens

Carrot Top Pesto

  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup packed, chopped carrot tops
  • ½ cup packed, chopped cilantro, parsley, or basil
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts, almonds, or pistachios
  • ¼ lime, juiced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 oz feta, Parmesan, or goat cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Pulse garlic clove, carrot tops, cilantro, walnuts, & lime juice in food processor until well mixed.
  2. Turn on high and drizzle in olive oil until combined.
  3. Add feta & process until smooth.
  4. Salt & pepper to taste.

Carrot Top Tyrosalata

  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup packed, finely chopped carrot tops
  • 1 bunch scallion, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 oz feta
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Pulse garlic cloves in food processor.
  2. Add carrot tops, white & light green parts of scallion, salt, & pepper. Process until well combined.
  3. With food processor on high, slowly pour in olive oil and lemon juice.
  4. Once incorporated, add feta.
  5. Stir in dark green scallion pieces.

Serve either of these tossed with pasta, spread on crusty bread, alongside roast chicken, pork, steak, & salmon, dollop on roasted carrots and other roasted vegetables, or slather on a burger with tomato & mozzarella.

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Posted in Carrot Tops, Food/Recipes | 2 Comments

Meal Planning & The BEST Crock Pot Beans

Although the weather today definitely doesn’t feel like Spring and we are a good three weeks behind schedule, it’s garden time. Long days lie ahead full of digging in the dirt, aching bodies, and sweating. Lots of sweating. It also means rising before the sun comes up and arriving home after it sets. During garden season, it’s difficult to make sure we’re eating healthy and keeping up energy for the next day.

I love meal planning. I like its structure and I enjoy getting exactly what I need at the grocery store and garden. Matt, on the other hand, does not like meal planning. For all the reasons I love it, he dislikes it equally. When I meal plan the way I want, I end up cooking all the meals. When we’re dirty and tired, it’s so much nicer to take turns making dinner.

So, this season we’re trying a little something different. We’re going to combine my love of meal planning with his love of making dinner with what we have on hand. Instead of Monday is tacos, Tuesday is roast beef, etc….we’re going to prep some items on Sunday and then have options for meals during the week. And, all of the options come together with ease. Essentially planned yet unplanned and structure with freedom.

One aspect of meal planning I see going around on social media includes using prepared food all in one freezer bag. Taking Cream of Mushroom soup, mixing it with canned vegetables, rice, and chicken, and then freezing for later is not what I’m looking for. If it works for you…awesome! Keep doing it. Our menu prep is a little different. This is what we did last week.

My Sunday prep included:

  • Crock pot beans – These are delicious! It’s a recipe (see below) we came up with a couple years ago and variations are super easy!
  • Cilantro lime rice – So many recipes online. I simply picked one.
  • Hard boiled eggs – If you have fresh farm eggs, I highly recommend boiling them this way. It works every time.
  • Bake bacon – A quick warm in the pan for breakfast, added to a chicken sandwich for lunch, or chopped for a salad. We have luck with our oven at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, depending on bacon thickness.
  • Bake chicken breasts – Usually, we would bake a chicken and then use the legs and thighs for dinner, sliced the breasts for sandwiches, and then make chicken stock. It’s a great way to really get the most bang for your buck. Because I had other things going on, I just went for the chicken breasts and we rubbed them with a Cajun seasoning.
  • Charred salsa – Essentially this is just broiling tomatoes, jalapeno, and onion and then pulsing it in your food processor with one garlic clove, cilantro, salt, and pepper.
  • Cut, wash, and store lettuce

The prep really didn’t take too long. Once in the crock pot, the beans are good to go. Bacon and chicken can bake at the same time. Rice takes about 30 minutes. Hard boiled eggs are a cinch. Salsa, easy. Lettuce…5 minutes.

So, then what are our meals for the week? I make a “Possible Dinners” list and put it on the fridge. We briefly discuss it in the morning, just in case I need to pull anything from the freezer and then we’re off for the day.

Possible Dinners list from last week:

  • Crock pot beans, cilantro lime rice, charred salsa, and avocado bowls
    • Take the leftover beans, wrap them in tortillas with some cheese and then freeze them for easy weeknight meals. I wrap ours first in parchment and then in foil to prevent sticking. From frozen, they take about 45-60 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
  • Cobb salad
    • Leftover chicken and bacon make amazing sandwiches for lunch!
  • Fried rice and pot stickers
    • Cilantro lime rice works great for fried rice! And, the pot stickers cook in a matter of minutes straight from your freezer!
  • Bangers and mash with a side salad
    • We put frozen homemade sausages in the fridge in the morning and they are thawed by the time we get home. Mashed potatoes come together pretty quickly. You can definitely meal prep them on Sunday, but I love fresh mashed potatoes. Try stirring in some chopped scallions to make Champ or some sliced cabbage for Colcannon!
  • Eggplant Parmesan with a side salad
    • During the height of eggplant season, I bread, fry, and freeze eggplant. It works amazingly well (recipe coming later this season)!! For this meal, I pull the needed slices of eggplant out in the morning and let them thaw in the fridge. When we get home, I layer eggplant, mozzarella, and homemade tomato sauce. It bakes for an hour or so while we shower and decompress from the day.

Now…the coveted Crock Pot Beans. Let us know what you think and enjoy your flexible meal prepping!!

Crock Pot Beans

Ingredients:
– 12 oz dry beans, rinsed — pinto, black, or other variety that holds well when cooked
– 4 garlic cloves, smashed & minced
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– Pork — we have used bacon (cooked), a couple short ribs (browned), ham, and part of a pork roast (browned) — generally up to 6 oz is good — you can also omit the pork if you’d like
– 4 cups liquid — the last time I made this, I used 2 cups homemade ham stock and 2 cups water — just water will be fine, but we like using at least 2 cups stock — if you don’t have ham stock, use vegetable or chicken stock
– 3 Tablespoons Mexican seasoning

Directions:
– Place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. If the beans are small, it may only take 6 hours. We have tried cooking on high for 4 hours and didn’t like the texture of the beans nearly as much. Season, if needed, and enjoy!

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Weekend Omelette

I never really enjoyed omelettes until recently. Most of the ones I’d had in the past had too much cheese, not enough flavor, too much filling, or just didn’t taste great. Then there was one morning when I threw together an omelette and stirred some roasted tomato sauce to the filling. Wow. For me, that is the key to a delicious omelette. Now, any time I make an omelette, roasted tomato sauce is a requirement.

I generally open the fridge and see what we have available. I try to always use onions, greens of some sort, and of course…roasted tomato sauce. Beyond that, it really depends on what I find. This time I used onion, sweet bell pepper, zucchini, beet greens (the last from our garden, harvested in November and still looking fabulous!), Swiss chard (blanched and frozen during the summer months), roasted Hubbard winter squash (our last one from the season), and ham.

After washing the pan, I start the eggs. I let the eggs cook slightly and then start lifting the sides with my spatula, tipping the pan, and letting the raw egg pour under the cooked egg. This is a trick I learned from Matt and it works great!

The top broke a little on this one. No biggie, still tastes great! Feel free to play around with this. I’ve tossed in a chopped chipotle pepper to the saute, bacon in place of ham, leftover roasted carrots, mushrooms, or whatever you have will work great! Add a sprinkle of cheese inside, if you want.

Weekend Omelette
* serves 2-3 or 3-4 with a salad for a light lunch

Ingredients:

  • Butter & olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper or 2 snack size sweet bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped ham
  • pinch hot pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup frozen or 1/2 cup fresh greens (beet greens, Swiss chard, kale, etc)
  • 1/4 cup roasted tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup roasted winter squash
  • 4 eggs
  • splash milk/cream/half & half

Directions:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of butter and drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.
  2. When hot, add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, until softened.
  3. Add bell pepper and season with a pinch of Kosher salt and pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add zucchini and saute just until both sides are browned slightly, about 1-2 minutes per side.
  5. Add ham and pinch hot pepper flakes.
  6. Once ham has heated through, add greens and saute until wilted or warmed through.
  7. Stir in roasted tomato sauce. About 30 seconds later, stir in roasted winter squash.
  8. Remove from heat and clean saute pan.
  9. Return saute pan to heat, add 1/2 tablespoon butter and drizzle of olive oil.
  10. Whisk splash of milk/cream/half & half into eggs and season with Kosher salt and pepper. Once butter has melted and pan is hot, pour in eggs.
  11. Let cook for a minute or so until you are able to lift edges and allow egg to pour underneath as pictured above.
  12. Once set, but still uncooked on surface, spread filling over half the omelette. Fold over and let cook for a minute or two, until the filling has warmed through.
Posted in Bell Peppers, Swiss Chard, Winter Squash, Zucchini | Leave a comment

In Season: What we’re doing with Cabbage

I adore pot stickers. I mean, really love them. Like, a lot. I’m also a huge fan, as many of you already know, of preserving our summer bounty for winter consumption.

The one thing I generally dislike about Chinese food is the prep. I feel like I prep and prep and prep and then make food, but then feel like I’m prepping again for the next course and then cooking. Arrrggg! No.

So, to alleviate that feeling, I prep a bunch of pot stickers and then freeze them for another day. Yes, it’s a lot of work one day, but then later when I’m really craving pot stickers, I can just pull them out of the freezer and they are ready in less than 15 minutes. Seriously.

I’ve listed a recipe below, but don’t feel like you need to stick to it. The last time I made pot stickers, I used a shrimp version for some. I also did some with just a little pork and some with a lot of pork. I honestly liked them all and it was fun to have variety. Do whatever works best for you. There’s a lot of flexibility with these.

Pork Pot Stickers

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium Green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 5 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, grated
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 75-100 gyoza (pot sticker) wrappers
  • corn starch

Directions:

  1. Mix together ingredients (cabbage through freshly ground pepper) in a large bowl. You have enough ingredients to do two variations…some with heavy pork and some with less or no pork. Your call.
  2. Get a small bowl of water with a pastry brush or you can use your fingers.
  3. Place somewhere between a teaspoon and tablespoon of filling on half of the gyoza. Use your pastry brush or fingers to wet all four sides of gyoza. Fold over and press to seal. You can do this any way you wish…exactly in half, on a diagonal, more like a tortellini shape…it doesn’t matter. Place on a sheet pan sprinkled with corn starch.
  4. Once finished, place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or over night. Then place in a freezer bag with another teaspoon or so of corn starch.
  5. To prepare from frozen, heat a small saute pan (mine hold 5 pot stickers) over medium-high heat. Pan fry for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Turn over. Add 1/3 c water and cover. Steam for 5-7 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. If the pot stickers seem stuck, add a splash of water. As soon as it bubbles, you should be able to easily remove the pot stickers. Serve!

Posted in Cabbage, Food/Recipes, In Season: What we're doing with... | 5 Comments

In Season: What else we’re doing with Eggplant

This will be the last weekend for eggplant at market and I will admit I’m sad about this. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have cared one way or the other because it was just eggplant. I didn’t “get” it. I wasn’t on board. We hadn’t found a common ground. That has changed.

Eggplant is really pretty versatile and because I’ve struggled to love it, I really believe these are wonderful recipes. Here are some you should definitely try…

The recipe below is one we made last night and LOVED! If it’s just two of you, use one eggplant and save the remaining filling for a delicious breakfast, topped with a fried egg and served with warm pita. Or make a yummy pita sandwich for lunch, adding sliced cucumbers and tzatziki. You can use beef in place of lamb, if you prefer, and probably turkey or chicken. The seasonings will need to be adjusted a little bit.

Stuffed Egpplant
* served 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggplant
  • olive oil
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • large onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 Tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 Tbsp hot curry powder or regular curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes (canned fire roasted tomatoes will work if you don’t have fresh)
  • Feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Heat saute pan over medium high heat, closer to high heat.
  3. Once pan is hot, add olive oil swirling to coat.
  4. Add lamb and cook until browned, some pieces should almost be crispy. Part way through cooking, add onions, garlic, Kosher salt, and pepper.
  5. When just about finished cooking, add garam masala, cumin, coriander, and curry powder. Stir and cook for another minute or so.
  6. Stir in roasted tomatoes and parsley. Cook for a minute or two.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Meanwhile, cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with Kosher salt and pepper.
  9. Place cut side up on a sheet pan. Please near the top of oven and roast for 15-20 minutes.
  10. Remove and increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.
  11. Make a slit lengthwise down the eggplant. Spoon in lamb filling and top with feta cheese.
  12. Cook for another 10 minutes. Enjoy!

 

Posted in Eggplant, Food/Recipes, In Season: What we're doing with... | 1 Comment

In Season: What we’re doing with Virtus Radicchio

Earlier this season, we talked about escarole and endive, delicious and versatile bitter greens. Welcome to the world of Virtus Radicchio. This bitter green can be used in a very similar manner to escarole and endive, so feel free to mix and match as you work with Spring and Fall greens.

We really enjoy adding a bit of sweetness to the bitter greens. Fruit helps cut that initial bite and works really well with radicchio. In this case, we’re utilizing our grill for both greens and fruit, resulting in an amazing fall salad.

Grilled Radicchio & Nectarine Salad
* Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Virtus Radicchio, halved lenghthwise
  • olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • 2 nectarines, pit removed, sliced into 6 pieces each

Directions:

  1. Get your grill nice and hot.
  2. Drizzle radicchio and nectarines with olive oil. Sprinkle radicchio with Kosher salt and pepper.
  3. Place radicchio, cut side down, on your grill and let it cook for couple minutes until grill marks form. Remove from grill.
  4. Add nectarines and cook until grill marks form. Remove from grill.
  5. Roughly chop radicchio and divide between plates. Top with grilled nectarines. Finish with a drizzle of good olive oil and serve.
Posted in Food/Recipes, In Season: What we're doing with..., Radicchio | 2 Comments

In Season: What we’re doing with Roasted Tomato Sauce

When we were in Spain last November, we stopped by an Italian (very rare) restaurant near our AirBnB flat. Matt ordered Gnocchi De La Mama, gnocchi in tomato sauce. He was a bit skeptical, because he generally likes gnocchi with cream sauces…think caramelized onion and blue cheese sauce. We both fell in love with this simple dish of potato dumplings with tomato sauce and lots of Parmesan.

On a side note, if you ever get the chance to go to Spain, DO IT. We have visited four times and can’t wait for our next overseas travel. We’d be happy to share travel tips to anyone headed that direction. Jump on the plane. Get your travel on.

Ok, so once home from Spain, we tried to recreate Gnocchi De La Mama. If you want to take the time to make your own gnocchi, absolutely go for it! We’ve made it before and it is wonderful. However, you can get some pretty decent pre-made gnocchi in the pasta isle. If they have the mini gnocchi, grab those. We’ve liked them a little better than the traditional size, but either will work great!

This dish is super simple, comes together really fast (assuming you’ve made the roasted tomato sauce ahead of time), and will put smiles on everyone in your house, making this an excellent weeknight meal.

Gnocchi De La Mama
* serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 package gnocchi
  • Olive oil or butter
  • Roasted Tomato Sauce – Follow this recipe for roasted tomatoes, then put through a food mill. Make ahead and refrigerate, freeze, or can.
  • At least 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan
  • Pinch hot pepper flakes
  • Basil or parsley to finish the pasta

Directions:

  1. Cook gnocchi according to package, drain.
  2. Heat a tablespoon oil or butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add gnocchi and cook until just starting to brown.
  3. Stir in 2 cups roasted tomato sauce and cook, stirring often so sauce doesn’t burn. Cook for a couple minutes. Add hot pepper flakes.
  4. Add Parmesan and stir until just melted. Divide between bowls and top with chopped basil or parsley.
Posted in Food/Recipes, In Season: What we're doing with..., Tomatoes | 1 Comment