Sunday, October 30, 2011

Souped Up Ramen

When I'm feeling super lazy, I love a big bowl of ramen. Koyo organic ramen is the best!!!

If I'm slightly less lazy, I upgrade my ramen with some veggies. Today's lemongrass ginger ramen was made better with roasted squash, ribbons of lacinato kale and even more ginger.

It's slightly more classy than when made with just the packet ingredients. And much more delicious.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Goodnight, Garden

I've started the process of putting the garden to bed for the winter, but I'm still getting some great veggies.

The green bean and cuke beds are covered in garden scraps and composting away. The tomatoes, surprisingly enough, kept ripening despite freezing temps and practically dead plants. I even found an eggplant hidden away that I didn't even know I had!

I'm still pulling out peppers, beets, and kale - and I just started pulling carrots today.

I like to wait as long as possible before harvesting carrots, so I just pulled enough for this week. Gotta be careful not to wait too long, though! A couple years ago the ground froze solid before I harvested them- with an ice pick.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Raisin Crackers!

A few days ago I got a Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer in the mail.  I always read these cover to cover out of personal interest and for work (gotta check out the competition!).  The rosemary raisin crackers caught my eye because at first they sounded disgusting, but the more I thought about them, the more I wanted to try them.  

But, lest I be a traitor to my beloved co-op, I figured I'd better give it a try making these at home first. 

(Note: I'm kind of kidding- I feel a bit like a traitor when I go there, but I think Trader Joe's is good at what they do and my co-op is good at what we do.  Our products overlap somewhat, but we're VERY different businesses with different strengths.  End note).

Now back to the crackers.  

I mixed up my usual flour blend for cracker dough (from Food in Jars) and added in the fun stuff.  For this first try, I ground up salted, roasted almonds and raisins (1/4 cup each) in a little food processor and added them to the flour before mixing in the oil and water.  For the seasonings, I used whole cumin seed, fennel seed and pink Himalayan salt.

Then I rolled these out like usual and baked.  Here's where the problems started.  I didn't grind up the almonds and raisins fine enough, so the dough wouldn't roll out thin enough.  So with thicker dough, I couldn't get the crackers crispy without cooking so long that the sugars in the raisins started to burn!

So I have some crispy, fairly browned crackers and some....  slightly soft flatbread things.  The flavor is out of this world, though.  I can't stop eating them despite their wonky texture!

Next time I'll grind the almonds VERY finely.  And I should probably taste the TJ's version, just to see what I'm up against!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spinach and Cashew Cheese Bisque

I rarely follow a recipe exactly, but I actually got out my measuring spoons for this soup.  It just looked and sounded so perfect that I didn't want to change anything!

The recipe comes from the Sept/Oct 2011 issue of Eating Well magazine- Spinach and Goat Cheese Bisque.  Now, obviously, I didn't follow the recipe exactly since I used cashew cheese instead off goat cheese.  But I'm pretty sure it's just as good.  If pureeing cashews with a little salt and lemon juice makes cashew cheese good enough to smear on crackers, it must be good enough for this soup!

It seems like every recipe I read in Eating Well looks phenomenal.  I love the focus on fresh vegetables and avoidance of processed convenience foods.  And the articles are intelligently written and based on real research!  There's no celebrity chef crap or fluffy little articles.

The recipe says it makes about 8 cups, but I got closer to twelve.  Not sure how that happened... But I'm happy to have lots of this soup for my lunches this week!

The base of the soup is caramelized onions, potato, broth and over a pound of spinach.  In case you didn't know, a pound of spinach looks like a ton.

 Just look at all this spinach!

This looks a little bit weird, but when I poured the pureed cashews & soaking liquid into the soup, I knew  this soup was going to be amazing.  Once pureed, it's velvety creamy & smooth, with a bright spinach-y flavor.  The only down-side to this soup is that it's not very filling.  I'm going to pack some crackers and fruit along with it...and maybe something else I've been baking up.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chef Salad

I feel really lucky to have gotten one of the last salad mixes offered by Dehn's Garden Herbs at the Minneapolis Farmer's Market this season.  This is no ordinary salad mix.  It has herbs, flowers and the most beautiful baby greens I've ever seen.  And the best part?  It says fresh for well over a week!  I can eat a salad out of this container every day for a week and still not have any slimy lettuce bits to pick through. Bonnie Dehn says this is because the lettuce is so fresh- usually picked within hours of me buying it.  This impresses me. 

It does make me sad, though, that the lettuce comes in a big, plastic clamshell container [Update: I got word that these are bio-plastic containers that will compost away.  Hooray!  Now to get my compost bin hot enough to handle it...].  Maybe that's part of the magic of how it says fresh?  Here's how I make myself feel less guilty:

I've started using the containers for 1-2 days to pack a giant salad for my lunch.  This one is packed with grilled seitan, Honeycrisp apple chunks, roasted sunflower seeds and a lemony-olive oil vinaigrette. I looked forward to this salad ALL DAY!  It reminds me of those gross cafeteria chef salads that have tons of toppings and are whole meals in themselves.  Except way healthier.  And way tastier. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Snack Jars!

It's been a while since I openly proclaimed my love for canning jars, hasn't it?  In addition to being canning jars, bulk food storage, leftover containers, flower vases, hardware storage, paint jars, laundry soap holders, candle holders and drinking glasses... 

I started using canning jars as little snack containers.  I know this isn't that revolutionary. And this snack isn't even exactly contained inside the jar. But for some reason snacks in jars make me really happy.  I can portion out the stepsons' snacks in a portable container for the car (one that isn't plastic and isn't part of my prized Fiestaware set).  This snack includes 1/2 a Honeycrisp apple, a banana and a gluten free brownie.

I wish I had this snack right now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Curry in a Hurry

A few weeks ago my friend Morgen came over for some dinner and I saved a little time by using leftover roasted potatoes to make a curry- Success!  This dinner was super fast!  

I used the pressure cooker to cook the red lentil rasam, so that took all of about 5 minutes to make.  

The curry also included okra from the garden and plenty of coriander, cumin, turmeric and ginger.  I topped it with a mixture of shredded coconut, peanuts and jalapenos that I whizzed around in the mini-food processor for a minute.  I have lots of this leftover and need to think of more uses for this concoction.  Any ideas?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fancy Pants Spaghetti

Sometimes I forget about the easiest dishes when it comes to deciding what's for dinner. Like spaghetti with marinara sauce.  I seriously almost ordered spaghetti with "veggie balls" from Pizza Luce last week when I already had all the ingredients to make my own at home.  Whoa.  Time to slow down and plan some meals, Liz.  

So tonight we sat down to some gluten free (Tinkyada brand) spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce.  The sauce included my usual recipe for canning, plus a giant handful of roasted & pickled red peppers, oil cured olives and spinach.

I wasn't planning on having tofu with the pasta, but I happened to find some tomato-y vinaigrette in the back of the fridge that told me it wanted to become tofu marinade.  [Want to know a secret?  That tomato vinaigrette happened because I accidentally poured twice as much vinegar into my salsa recipe when I was canning a couple weeks ago.  So I bailed out 1/2 the amount of tomato-y, onion-y vinegar and mixed it with olive oil to use as salad dressing.  A happy accident.]

I only had time to marinate the tofu for about 15 minutes, but I sprinkled it with nutritional yeast and salt while it was browning on my grill pan and that crusted up really nicely and helped seal in the bright, vinegary, tomato flavor.

We ate this by candlelight outside on the deck.  Faawwnnncy!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saving Seeds

I don't usually save seeds from my garden, except for coriander, dillseed and other herbs/seed spices that I like to eat. But this year, my laziness in not harvesting the last round of green beans paid off: I have plenty of seeds for next year's garden. See, folks. Procrastination does pay off.

So I'll tuck these away until April or May, when I'll hopefully remember that I don't need to buy any!