Saturday, 17 February 2018

Cooking from Root to Stalk

It has been awhile since I have written. Life gets busy but that hasn't stopped my food recycling life style. Sometimes there are failures but sometimes you find a gem in the rough.

   Have you ever wondered if any of the food that you buy and throw or compost is actually edible? I have often wondered that myself and that question started a learning journey for me. How many times have you peeled the outer leaves off a cauliflower to get to the florets, or cut off the greens on a radish and put them to compost. Things like Broccoli stems, Cauliflower leaves, Radish leaves, Carrot tops, any skins from lemons, limes, oranges, etc. 
Infused Beverages

   I have been on an infused water kick lately. I have some glass pop bottles and cork bottle plugs that are great for drinking out of. I use my loose tea bags and fill them with all kinds of herbs, and flavorings. Lately my favorite is to use rosemary, dried orange zest, rose hips, and carrot greens. Things like carrot greens and orange zest tend to get thrown to the side but they are amazing for their health factors as well as a way to get the full use of your produce. 

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I have made carrot top pesto and dried it for my tea. With Orange peels I have candied them, dried them for tea, infused water, and orange infused sugar. I have also put them in white vinegar and made a cleaning solution. 


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   I am always seeing ways that I can get the most out of my money and waste the least of what I buy. I kept looking at my cauliflower head bunch of radishes and it was getting harder and harder to throw away what felt like half of the vegetable I had purchased. That is why I researched the greens on the vegetables I buy. I found that Cauliflower greens are delicious sauteed, same for radish leaves. I use the stems from Broccoli too. The more I can get out of my vegetables the happier I am and the extra nutritional value is a bonus. It also helps my budget because if I am eating the whole vegetable, I will be buying less. 

   What ways have you used up your vegetables from root to stalk?

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Eggs, Pizza & Pudding

This morning was my first day off in two weeks and when I woke up this morning I was sure of two things. One, I wanted poached eggs or pancakes and two, I needed to go through the fridge and use up a few things. Whether I had poached eggs or not would depend upon what I found in the refrigerator. Here is what I found:

-3 burger patties, 
-1/3 of a cream cheese block
-1/2 cup shredded pizza blend cheese.
-4 slices of white bread that is drying out.
-3 hamburger buns that were drying out.
-part of a chopped onion.
-wilted celery stalks
-a bag of apples that were softer and starting to wrinkle (I only like them crisp)
-a handful of cherries that were shrinking.
-egg carton

Basically a whole bunch of "stuff" that starting to speak to me.

Hamburger Pizza Casserole
Used Up:
-3 burger patties, 
-1/3 of a cream cheese block
-1/2 cup shredded pizza blend cheese.
-4 slices of white bread that is drying out.
-3 hamburger buns that were drying out.
-part of a chopped onion.
-wilted celery stalks

-Frozen marinara sauce (from the pizza bread dippers that my husband buys and I freeze)

-I cubed the bread, added some melted butter and spices and pressed it into the baking roaster pan.
-I chopped the onion and celery up fine and sauteed in butter (butter pats saved from a catered event) and spread it over the bread.
-I chopped the burger patties into very small pieces and spread them evenly over the onion & celery.
-I broke off small pieces of the cream cheese and evenly spaced them over the dish.
-the 1/2 cup of marinara sauce I spread on top. 
-next I sprinkled the shredded cheese over the top and baked it in the over t 350 degrees until the cheese was brown. 

Poached eggs on Cheesy Polenta

   My favorite way to eat poached eggs is on a cheesy savory polenta, with the yolk broken and running over the golden polenta. This dish has surpassed my poached eggs on toast which is what I grew up on  and used to be the only way I would eat poached eggs. 
   I thought I had some polenta cubed and frozen that I would use up but it was gone so I needed to make it from scratch. While I was in the freezer I pulled out a few other ingredients to add.

Used Up:
-eggs (2)
-remainder of the cream cheese, about 1 ounce

-1/2 cup of frozen cheese sauce.
-1 cup of frozen spinach leaves, chopped (left over from a spinach salad bag that I froze)
-1/2 cup finely chopped frozen red, and yellow peppers. 
-1/2 cup corn meal
-1 cup milk
-1 1/2 cup water
-a pinch of salt and pepper
-1 tbsp of oxo chicken stock (liquid form)

This will need to be stirred frequently.
-in a pot on medium heat, I added the cornmeal, water, and milk. Stir. 
-then I added the remaining ingredients and stirred, and stirred to keep the bottom from sticking.
-Once it was done, I set it aside while poaching the eggs and then voila, A Little bit of heaven in my stomach and the perfect start to my morning off. 😊


I had intended to let this set and cut it into slices to freeze for future use, but due to all the liquid in the polenta when it was done it wouldn't set like it usually does so I just froze it in Tupperware containers.

Bran Muffin and Apple/Cherry Bread Pudding
  I had a bag of Bran muffins in the freezer that I had made for my husband but they were a little freezer burnt and I knew that there was no way he would eat them. So I looked up ways to use up old muffins and bread pudding was the answer. I made the milky egg custard, added cinnamon to the bowl, chopped up some wrinkled cherries from the bottom of my fruit drawer, added in a chopped up chocolate bar from my snack bowl and the muffins torn into little chunks. Mixed thoroughly, baked at 350 until the knife pulled out clean and Voila! It was a delicious homey pudding that was amazing with ice cream. The next day I found out that it cut into cubes well and could be eaten cold. A win-win all around.

All in all a great day "saving" what otherwise would have been wasted and turning them into treats to be enjoyed. 

The funniest thing you will see today.

I do not like Kale. 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Working With What You Have

     Yesterday, for the first time in my life I polished a pair of dress shoes that were showing signs of wear. I asked my husband where the polish was and not only did he find it for me but gave me clear, detailed instructions on how to use the brushes and the process. It was very satisfying to see my nice shiny black work shoes when I was done, instead of the dusty, scuffled work shoes that had started to be embarrassing to wear. Since I was repairing them, I also used crazy glue to set the heel tips firmly in place so they would stop popping out. A co-worker the other day said "Why don't you just buy a new pair" and I said "but these fit so well and I hate to throw them away!" I was debating doing that very thing and then I remembered that the husband had a blackening kit so why not give it a try. 10 minutes later I had beautiful shoes again, that fit, are comfortable and all for 10 minutes of my time. It started me thinking, what other things in my house are starting to look ratty or for just a few minutes of my time spent repairing them, would be good as new. I am going to spend some time today while house cleaning, putting aside those things to give them a proverbial spit and shine. What items have you repaired, re-purposed or reused today?

In the kitchen...I am working on using the ingredients that are all ready in my house today. 

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I pulled out the last bag of sausages and was thinking of a pasta sausage dish with pesto (frozen and was made in 2014), carrots, celery and an other vegetable in my fridge that requires using up. But there are so many sausages that I think I will grind some up to make sausage biscuits or potato sausage pastry triangles. 

 I also have some milk that is expired but not turned and I will make some Halloumi or Queso Fresco

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While the cheese was cooking I decided to strain my DIY extracts (Lemon, Almond & Lime in order). Here are the finished results. I did have to add a small bit of green food dye into the lime extract as it had turned an olive greenish color and was unappealing to look at. 

I also removed the vanilla beans from my Vanilla extract and scraped them for their insides. I added this bean paste to the almonds from the almond extract and I am thinking of making some kind of vanilla cookie...

End results: 
-Sausage pasta with Pesto - was delicious and I ate it for days, I also froze some as well.
-Sausage pastry triangles = I added some curry, peas and potatoes and made a modified samosa. More of a cross between a spanikopita and a samosa. They stuck to the waxed paper and the phyllo kept breaking. The flavor was good but I don't think I will use phyllo dough again. 
-I didn't have time to make cookies from the almonds yet so they were frozen for another day. 
Over all it is a good weekend. 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Franken Scraps!

   So, yesterday I brought home some sliced tomatoes from work that had been added to the wrong salad and had to be removed, but they couldn't be reused in another salad due to touching nuts. Since I don't have nut issues I decided to re use them rather than toss them in the garbage. I also was allowed to take home the bread ends from our sandwiches for the week and the left over cooked burger patties from our BBQ. 
    I pre-cut the bread ends into small squares, froze some to become croutons on another day and used some to make Apple Bread Pudding (to use up some wrinkled apples and half and half cream that expires today). 
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   I put the tomatoes slices in the food processor, added some chopped red onion, the last bit of feta, some camelina oil flavored with garlic and basil, some red wine vinaigrette, salt, sugar and crushed garlic for the Bruschetta.
   After a day of eating all the Bruschetta that I could there was still a lot left and waste not want not, so I decided to make a Lentil Salad with the remainders. I boiled some lentils in chicken soup stock with some herbs, when it was done, I added in the Bruschetta mix, then some shredded carrots and Voila! a delicious salad.
   The burgers were portioned and frozen, the apple bread pudding was put in several containers and either frozen, taken to work, or left for a snack in the fridge. All in all a productive weekend.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Cleaning the Fridge 1
   Sometimes things get lost, left behind and generally forgotten. That is why every once and a while I will make a meal from Cleaning the Fridge. So yesterday was one of those days. I had been gone on holiday for about 4 days and when I got home I realized that there were a few items that were close to expiring or giving up the ghost so I gathered them to see what I could make. 

-some Broccoli starting to change color to yellow.
-some wilted cauliflower
-an onion starting to dry out
-wilted celery
-a sad looking carrot. 
-half a cup of left over potato bacon soup (previous incarnation of a hash brown and bacon breakfast)
-1/2 cup of whipping cream just past the expiry date
-Some avocado's that were just ready 
-1/4 cup chicken broth
-Bread loaf that was starting to dry out. 

So I pulled out some frozen chicken sandwich slices and thawed them. 
Chopped up the veggies and started to saute them with olive oil.
Added the left over soup, stock and whipping cream to the veggies with a can of cream of chicken soup. 
Used some homemade spices (thyme, garlic powder, parsley), sea salt & pepper in the soup to season it. 
Took the bread and added mayo, chicken slices, avocado and cheddar cheese, buttered the outside  and then grilled like a panini until both sides were brown. 

In the end I had a delicious supper of Cream of Vegetable Soup and Grilled Chicken Avocado Panini! This is something I would have paid $12 to $17 dollars for in a new trendy restaurant. Instead it didn't cost me anything but the time to use up items I had already paid for rather than throwing them away. 

This is the left over soup that I now can have for dinner today or if I freeze it then dinner for another day. 

 I also saved the small bits of onion and celery that were left over to dry for spices. 
Here is the drying trays I put them on and then I just leave them on top of my fridge to dry out naturally. There is not enough to warrant starting up the whole dehydrator. 
And here is the end result. 

                                           Celery Salt                            Dried Onion Powder

 I use my spice grinder (a very old coffee grinder from Superstore) and when I have enough to fill the cap I grind it up and add it to the jar. 

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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

~The Pasta Salad Reincarnation~

~The Pasta Salad Reincarnation~

   We had a not so amazing pasta salad at an event at work the other day. It was a children's event but the mushrooms were whole and huge and the carrot circles were at least 2 inches thick and large, giant pieces of peppers and onions and very little dressing, just greasy. Overall unpleasant but... the pasta wasn't over cooked and since the dressing was so flavorless I thought "Hey! I can re-purpose this! "
    So, I removed all the soggy cucumbers, added a can of cream of mushroom soup, some previously cooked ground beef from the freezer, salt & pepper and covered it with crumbled Gruyere cheese and slices of Colby cheese before baking it in the oven. Tah-dah! Delicious Casserole. A happy recreation using only what was in my house already. Gotta love free leftovers. 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

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The Lowly Turnip

   I am a very lucky person. What I mean by that is that when there are left overs from an event, often the staff and myself can divide it up and take it home. Just recently we had a whole mess of mashed turnips left over so I packaged it into Tupperware and let the staff know to help themselves. I ended up taking home 2 medium sized containers with turnips home.
  I had ideas of a creamy turnip soup when I brought them home but it wasn't until the second container that I was able to make this happen. Container number 1 was just eaten with butter for several meals. I don't follow recipe's very well and tend to cook with a pinch of this and a dab of that so this is my recipe process for you to follow.


  I had in mind a creamy turnip and cheese soup. Since these mashed turnips were fairly sweet and not bitter at all, this would be a good flavor to combine with cheese. I was picturing a cheese with a nutty finish and a smooth creamy taste. What I imagine, and what actually happens are not always the same thing. lol. While shopping today I found canned coconut milk for .99 cts per can. So when I got home this is what I did. 

-put the mashed turnips into the soup pot.
-added the can of coconut milk... this didn't thin the turnips out that much as i anticipated.
-added about 1/3 cup whipping cream...still to thick
-added about 1 1/2 cups 2% milk... now it's a bit thin

Maybe I should see if I can find a recipe online? I couldn't find a recipe that paired turnips with cheese but I did notice that apples & onions were used often and I had an apple that needed to be used up so...

-chopped up the apple and 1/2 white onion, sauteed in olive oil.
-While the apples were cooking I decided to add some "base" to increase the mouth feel of the soup and add balance. I squirted liquid chicken oxo (about 1/4 cup) into the soup and stirred it in.
-I found the "fancy" cheese in the freezer. The oka didn't freeze well and smelled off ( I am not a picky person so if I thought it smelled off it definitely is) so unfortunately I had to send it to the great garbage can (I hate wasting).
-Since a hint of cheese was still on my mind I pulled out the Marble cheese from the fridge and shredded it (1 1/2 cups) and added it to the soup with the apples and onions.
-I pulled out the hand blender and went to town, making sure all items were blended.
-I decided to taste test the soup and it was very creamy, sweet and delicious but I decided to add a sprinkle of pepper and salt.
-I let it simmer on a very low heat (2) as the thickness of the soup made it sputter a hot burning magma of liquid and I don't like to get burnt.

While this was cooking, I made some toast with butter and when it was ready I had a delicious hot soup with toast for supper.

Tomorrow I will take some to a good friend I am going to visit.  :)

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