Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gingerbread Cookies

I really love gingerbread, but I'm lousy at making it.  I set out this morning to correct that, and after contemplating this recipe, I turned to the one in the Food Network Magazine.  The dough is delicious, and chilling right now.  

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice 
6 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp melted shortening
2/3 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cups molasses 
1 egg

Procedure: 
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.  

In a separate bowl, using a mixer, cream butter, shortening, brown sugar, and molasses.  Add the egg.  

Slowly add dry ingredients to the mixing bowl.  Once dough has come together, form into discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.  

Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick, cut out shapes, and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  Ice if desired.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What I had for dinner

I'm sorry to be using the blog as a roundup for what I've been eating, rather than sharing delicious homemade home thought of recipes, but I keep saying, "lets make that thing we had that one time" and Mr. Barefoot gives me a blank stare and I can't believe I didn't blog about it, so that's why you're getting the links.

Shallot-Garlic Quinoa, except I did the quinoa in the rice cooker and used three shallots instead of the recommended one, and added the garlic and shallots to the quinoa towards the end.  It was pretty good.

Honey Mustard Kale - we've been getting some unidentified greens lately, that my sister says are kale, but don't make very good kale chips, so I found this recipe and used the last of them.  Now that I'm not afraid of kale any more, and it's pretty cheap, I think I will be buying kale at the grocery store.  Not so much for chard.  Chard is still a somewhat tolerated guest in my house, but one I really don't want to have over for dinner very often.

Last night for dinner, I made this Sweet Potato Lasagna, which I will also be making for Thanksgiving on Thursday.  Rather than making a sauce with cream and egg whites, I did a standard bechamel sauce with a roux and milk.  I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do when I double the recipe, because I am pretty sure it will take forever for 8 cups of milk to thicken.  Any ideas?


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Recipe Review: Crockpot Falafel

I really like falafel.  I'm a total failure at making it though.  It's just a flipping disaster.  I mean that literally.  I can't flip them.

So I decided to try the falafel crockpot recipe from 365 Crockpot.  First off, let me just say - it WORKS. I did NOT think that you could crockpot falafel and have it come out all crunchy.  I did lay a towel over the top of the crockpot under the lid to absorb extra moisture, but I don't think it was necessary.

The second thing I will say is that I didn't feel like the spices were strong enough.  That's probably because I don't actually measure spices and just shake.  There is no way I put two tablespoons of cumin and a tablespoon of ground coriander in this, and, I didn't put in nearly enough salt.

I served the falafel with a greek yogurt-dill sauce that was very good.  I took about 5 stems of dill, washed and trimmed them, and chopped them, and then mixed them with about half a cup of greek yogurt.  I would be open to suggestions for ways to improve this sauce.  What do you like on falafel?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mexican Tortilla Soup

I love this soup. Mr. Barefoot and I used to make it in college, and it translates really well to the crockpot and our busy lives.  We don't make it often because we rarely have tortilla chips in the house (since I eat them all.)  Anyone know if it is possible to buy tortilla chips in single-serving bags?

Ingredients:
1 onion
3-4 cloves garlic
2-3 peppers, any color
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 jar tomato paste
1 pkg tofu or seitan, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups vegetable broth (or 1 can)
2 cups black beans (or 1 can)
Salt
Taco seasoning (I buy it at Costco. You should too.  It's delicious and makes this so much easier. Otherwise, cumin, oregano, maybe some chili powder?)
Cheddar cheese

Process:
1. Chop onion, garlic, and peppers.  Saute onion, then add garlic and peppers, over medium-high heat until soft.
2. Add onion, garlic, and peppers to crockpot (or a stockpot).  Add diced tomatoes, tofu or seitan, black beans, vegetable broth, and frozen corn.
3. Add tomato paste, stirring it in to the soup until dissolved and soup looks thick.
4. Add salt and taco seasoning.
5. Cook in slow-cooker for 6-8 hours on low, or in a stockpot for 30 minutes to an hour.
6. Line bowls with tortilla chips, serve soup over chips.  Top with a small amount of shredded cheddar cheese.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Roasted Asparagus

I discovered over the summer that, contrary to my upbringing of steamed asparagus, I prefer asparagus when it is roasted on a pizza stone.  I think you could probably achieve a similar effect with a baking pan that you put in the oven and allow to heat up, but everyone should own a pizza stone, so you should really get one.

Roasted Asparagus
Ingredients
1 bunch asparagus, rinsed, ends trimmed
1 lemon
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Process:
1. Preheat oven to 350 with the stone in the oven.
2. Toss asparagus with lemon, olive oil, and salt and pepper.  (I actually do this on the pan, because I'm too lazy to wash another dish, and it works out all right.)
3. Bake for 10-15 minutes until desired level of done-ness.

Extra Fluffy Quinoa

I like my quinoa super-fluffy.  Almost cous cous like in it's fluffiness.  If you haven't tried quinoa, or have been disappointed that it just...doesn't taste good, you might want to try it the Barefoot way.

Ingredients:
1 cup Quinoa
1 3/4 cups water
salt
bullion or other vegetable stock seasoning (or you can use veggie stock instead of the water)

Process:
1.  Wash quinoa in a strainer.  This is definitely, totally, necessary.  If you don't wash the quinoa, it tastes like eating sand.
2.  Combine quinoa, salt, bullion, and water in a pot, or in a rice cooker pot (I think the rice cooker is my secret to great quinoa, but if you don't have one, you can do it on the stove.)
3.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until super fluffy.  If quinoa seems to be cooked but not fluffy at the end of the 15 minutes, add more water.


Favorite Summer Recipes

So I'm participating in a monthly meal planning cooperative and I have been assigned the month of June.  I have some recipes already, a combination of old standbys that are good any time of the year (sweet potato tacos, macaroni and cheese, felafel burgers, curry) and summer-only favorites (garlic scape and arugula pesto, panzanella, quinoa salad, couscous chickpea salad), but I'm looking for a few new ideas.

I'm especially looking for things to do with greens.  I'd like to have a good standby recipe for steamed or sauteed greens that you can do with collards, mustard greens, kale, or chard, that comes out tasting pretty good with any of them.  Greens are really, really healthy, and they are relatively easy to prep ahead of time and then throw into a big pan right before dinner is ready, so they are perfect for weeknight cooking.  When I first waffled on the CSA, several of you suggested that greens could easily be steamed and frozen - but I have not perfected this method, so please help by suggesting your method of cooking or recipe. 

I'm also looking for a really stellar grilled tofu recipe. I had some recently that was really good, on a sandwich in DC.  It didn't have much of a marinade, but it was really good in a sandwich with raw yellow squash and zucchini that was sliced really thin.  Anyone have a good recipe?

I will definitely share the fruits of my/your labors as soon as everything is set up!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More eggplant?

We got more eggplant from the CSA.  I love eggplant, I really do, but guys, I'm getting pretty tired of it.  So what do you do with eggplant?  So far I've found a recipe for some kind of eggplant wedges/fries, but I'm a little weary of them and so I was wondering if anybody had ever tried some kind of eggplant fries.  Are they good? 

We have another two weeks of the CSA. I can't decide if I'm excited or nervous to go back to actually menu planning and buying food that we want to eat at the grocery store.  We've basically stopped grocery shopping and instead I go to Costco every two months and sometimes Mr. Barefoot gets sent to Whole Foods on the way home.  I usually like grocery shopping, but I've gotten used to not having to do it and it turns out that grownups don't have a lot of time because they can't go shopping after Commerical Law gets out.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chard and Red Cabbage

We had chard and red cabbage to use tonight, so I made these:

Chard Risotto (really good - the chard doesn't taste bitter at all. I'm not sure how that happened.  I used less chard than this called for.)

Sauteed Red Cabbage (I liked this a lot, but my entire kitchen is now red.)  It had a sweet, crunchy taste to it.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sweet & Sour Stir Fry

This week in the CSA, we got radishes and bok choy.  Also, cabbage, kale, and arugula.  And another sweet potato.  I'm a little CSA-weary these days, but we haven't had time to go to the farmer's market since the beginning of August, so thank goodness my sister keeps showing up with fresh veggies on Tuesday.  This week, we are sort of overrun with leafy green things, and I am feeling the need to cook everything so nothing goes bad.  (Suggestions for things that freeze well are appreciated.)

Tonight, I finally used up some tofu that was on it's last legs, the radishes, the bok choy, and an onion to create a simple but delicious stir-fry.  If you are afraid of bok choy, don't be.  I was freaked out at first too, but it turns out it is easy and delicious.  Same goes for the radishes.  This was super easy and I'm really pleased with how everything tasted.

Ingredients:
Tofu (I used a 2-block pack from Costco, but you could probably just use one) cut up into 1/2 inch dice and drained
1/4 cup Sweet and sour sauce (I used about a half cup, but was using 2 blocks of tofu)
1/4 cup Soy Sauce (all liquid measurements are approximate, you want a mixture that is a little runny but still thick)
2-3 cloves Garlic
1 onion
1 bunch radishes, cleaned, trimmed and cut into quarters
1 bok choy, cleaned, separated from stalk and with leaves trimmed off and set aside (just cut them off and put the leaves separate from the white part)
More soy sauce
Olive oil
Brown rice or starch of your choice (I throw the rice in the rice cooker first, since it takes so long.)

Procedure:
1.) Heat olive oil in a pan on medium-high.  Add the tofu and allow to cook until edges are crispy (this took around ten minutes, during which I chopped everything else.)
2.) In a separate pan or wok, start the onions cooking over medium-high heat.
3.)  Once the onions have softened, add the radishes.  Allow them to cook for about 5 minutes with the onions.
4.) Mix the soy sauce and sweet and sour sauce together.  Add to tofu. Turn to medium-low heat.
5.) Add the bok choy to the  onions and radishes.  Add about 1/4 cup of soy sauce to the mix and allow to cook over medium-high heat for another 5-10 minutes.  Radishes should taste crunchy but fork easily.
6.) Once the radishes are edible, add the bok choy leaves and stir into the mixture.  Cook 1-2 minutes more, until leaves are just wilted.
7.) Serve tofu and veggies together over brown rice.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apples and Sweet Potatoes

I mentioned to my boss that in a fit of delusion, I bought a giant bag of apples, and also, the sweet potatoes from the CSA just keep coming, and today she brought me a whole bunch of recipes.  I copied most of them, but one is too hard to copy, so I'm retyping it here instead.  If you make it, let me know how it goes. 

Apples & Sweet Potatoes
2 cups apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
4 lg sweet potatoes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp raisins
1/4 cup applejack (do they still sell this?)
lemon juice
cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Peel and cut potatoes into thin slices.  Cook them in boiling water to cover until nearly done (soft but not mushy).  Cook peeled, cored, thinly sliced apples in a slight amount of boiling water until same texture as cooked potatoes.  Sprinkle apples with lemon juice after they are cooked.  Grease a baking dish and alternate layers of apples and potatoes.  Sprinkle the top with brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins.  Dot top of sprinkled apples and potatoes with butter.  Pour applejack over top of apples & potatoes.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. 

(Serves about 6. Unless Boston is coming over, in which case, 2. Maybe.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Garlic Eggplant and Rice Noodles

I'm trying to find recipes to use up the excess of eggplants in my life right now, and through the Cookbook Project, I knew that Vegetables on the Side had a plethora of recipes for different vegetables, so I flipped through the pages until I found a recipe for Garlicky Stir Fried Eggplant.  It was fantastic.  Since the book is out of print, I'm going to repost the recipe with my modifications here.

Ingredients:
3 tbsp vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-sized eggplant, cut into 1-inch chunks (I actually cut mine smaller than 1-inch, since I like my eggplant smaller.)
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts, cut into small pieces
Pinch crushed red pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup white wine
3 tbsp soy sauce
Rice noodles

Procedure:
1.) Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat.
2.) Saute garlic in pan until golden
3.) Add eggplant and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
4.) Add green onions and cook for another minute, then add crushed red pepper.
5.) Combine vinegar, sugar, wine, soy sauce, and stir with a whisk.  Add to pan, cover, and cook on low for 5 minutes.
6.) While sauce and eggplant cook. prepare rice noodles according to the directions on the package.  Add the prepared rice noodles to soak up the remaining soy sauce mixture.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Unitasker you need

One of the things that bothers me about Alton Brown is that he is all against unitaskers, and then on the taco episode, he goes out and buys a tortilla press, but he gets a big one that also makes buritto-sized tortillas, thereby making it not-a-unitasker.

So in that vein, Tupperware Burger Keepers are Not A Unitasker, as they can be used to make hamburgers, veggie burgers, salmon cakes, and falafel burgers (as I have just done.)

I first saw the Tupperware Burger Keepers at my mother-in-law's house, and as I am terrible at making my own patties, Mr. Barefoot asked her to get me a set for my birthday.  "Now, I thought these were an odd gift but Mr. Barefoot said you would like it," she said, as I squealed when I opened them.

See, the tupperware set looks like this one from Amazon:
The great thing about them is that the burger patties get pressed into tupperwares that stack onto each other and can be refrigerated or frozen until use. Since we often make our salmon cakes at the beginning of the week, or have leftover burgers when we make a full batch, this is great! I actually have a double set of containers, since my MIL is extra-awesome.  These take all of the hard work out of shaping burgers, and the even harder work out of storing them.  

I wanted to share them with you because this isn't that common an item to have these days, but if you are like me, and like to eat food in burger form, these are a total kitchen must-have.  You can get them on Ebay for a pretty reasonable price, or you can get the knock-off Oster set from Amazon.  

Anyone else have suggestions for making and shaping burgers? I have seen people use foil, but that seems kind of wasteful, and in my experience the burgers stick to the foil.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I went apple picking today. It was awesome.
Naturally, it means that I have about 5lbs of apples in my kitchen, and I have to figure out what to do with them.  For starters, I made this.  It followed a dinner of a tasty warm butternut squash quinoa salad.

I thought I would be disappointed to see summer go, especially now that we eat more seasonally and locally, but I'm pretty excited for the fall.  What are some of your favorite fall recipes?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Something fishy...

I was at the local My Organic Market a few weeks ago and they had the usual sampler table.  I walked over to check out what it was, and I saw it was a tuna salad.  I almost immediately turned away because I hate tuna and I hate mayonnaise.  But then I realized something was missing - that horrible tuna smell!  I've never been able to take the smell of tuna, I don't know why, but canned tuna is just...repulsive to me.  I was intrigued, and when I looked at the salad I realized it was also mayo-free, so I took a chance.

It was delicious!  It was olive oil, capers, spices, and tuna on a cracker.  I immediately started talking to the demonstrator about what kind of magical tuna was in the tuna salad.  Tuna that didn't smell like tuna!  Tuna that tasted like fresh tuna!

So he told me about the tuna that they carry, that it is fresher and lower in mercury than your traditional canned tuna.  It is expensive enough to make tuna a delicacy in our household, when normally canned tuna is viewed as a cheap way to get some protein, but my poor husband has been tuna-free for way too long since I can't bear it in the house, so he was really happy I found a type of tuna that I find edible at all.  Now I'm excited to try making tuna noodle casserole, so bring on the suggestions for things to do with tuna! As long as they don't involve mayonnaise.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Costco Finds

I was pushing my cart through Costco yesterday and I thought, "y'know, somebody should pay me to sample all the weird but good looking products that they have that I'm afraid to take a chance on."  The particular item in question was a dried bean mixture that came in a 12-gallon bag or somesuch.  I've been burned before, so I'm really really reluctant to try giant packages of new things without review.  So I thought I would review a couple items that were risks, because I hadn't tried them individually before and had to buy a giant package, but proved delicious.

Kirkland Organic Ancient Grains Granola - I bought this yesterday, because I look at it every time I go in, and haven't gotten it yet.  We needed cereal, so I thought I'd try it.  It's really really good.  Slightly sweet, but not too sweet, with 5g of protein, 6g of fiber, and 9g of sugar.  I eat it with:

Kirkland Greek Yogurt - I have been buying the Fage greek yogurt at Costco, but was going through it pretty quickly and it's still on the pricey side.  I was happy to see that Costco has now come out with their own branded Greek yogurt.  The Kirkland Greek Yogurt has a lot of protein, comes with two large containers for about $6, and is good - a little runny, but pretty good.

House Foods Tofu - yes, buying tofu at Costco is borderline insane until you look at the price - 3 double packs are $3.50.  The nicest thing about this is that the tofu is already sliced in half, which made it really easy to slice into strips and saute them.  Also, you can freeze tofu, so it can keep for awhile.

Madras Lentils - Mr. Barefoot takes these to work when he's running late and doesn't have a lunch.  I've only had the samples, but they are really really good.  They are on the pricey side for work meals, compared to:

Cedar Lane Organic Burritos - I love these.  These are what I take to work when I'm running late and don't have a lunch.

Kirkland Weight Loss Shakes - These are what we take for breakfast when we are running late.  I actually prefer them to the SlimFast shakes, and they are a much better deal (something like $15 for 24).

What other things do you like from Costco?  Has anybody tried that crazy dried bean mix that I was talking about?  I just forsee it being something that gathers dust as I am constantly afraid to try it or something.  Is there a website that reviews all the foods you can get at Costco and comes up with recipes?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

 It's been an interesting week for the Barefoots.  In the past week, we have made yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. The yogurt and cheese were fine - we did the yogurt in the crockpot, and the cheese I combine a few recipes from the internet.  But the ice cream? Ooooooh the ice cream....
Ice cream has been on our summer to-make list, but we don't have an ice cream maker, so we were going to borrow one from a friend.  We just hadn't gotten around to it yet.  Then we got invited to another friend's house for dinner, and I offered to bring dessert.  Then, I offered that if they were willing to let us use their ice cream maker, we would bring the already made ice cream custard.  It totally worked out, and I am now yearning for my own ice cream maker attachment for Darth.
I adapted this recipe from Epicurious.  I wasn't sure if the ice cream would work with 2% milk, but it works really well.  I added an extra egg, just in case, too, so here is my ingredient list.
2 cups heavy cream - AT ROOM TEMPERATURE (divided into 1 1/4 cup for caramel and 3/4 cup for custard)
1 1/4 cups 2% milk
1 1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 whole eggs

Then follow the recipe, except keep in mind that if you pour cold cream into hot caramel, the caramel will instantly cool and harden, so make sure the cream is at room temperature, or heat it up a bit.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Let Me Eat Cake!

I have to make a cake this weekend for my sister-in-law's bachelorette party, so I did a trial run today.  It came out pretty good.  And by pretty good, I mean amazingly delicious.  Considering I didn't use a mix.
But what even goes into a cake?  Because if you had asked me this morning, I would have said, "cake mix, eggs, oil."  But instead, I would now tell you, "butter, sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, eggs, milk, vanilla".  In that order.  All into the kitchenaid.  Proper recipe is here. I baked my cupcakes for about 25-30 minutes, and my cake for about 40, and the tops were crispy-crunchy and the insides were fantastic.  

I would like to try making my own cake mix to have handy (probably using powdered milk), but this recipe was so easy that I'm sure I will turn to it in the future.  I also might give it a try with applesauce instead of half the butter, but 1/2 stick of butter for an entire cake was one of the lowest amounts I could find in the recipes - but if anybody has seen any other ideas, please share!  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Eggplant Parmesean

I am a sucker for cooked eggplant.  Especially with tomato sauce and pasta.  So a few weeks ago, we had some extra eggplant and I turned to How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for a quick eggplant parm recipe.  I was surprised that Bittman recommended using flour, since in the past I've just coated the eggplant with breadcrumbs.

Ingredients:
Eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch slices and dried out for at least an hour or so
Flour
Vegetable Oil
Spaghetti sauce
Parmesean cheese

Recipe:
1. Dredge eggplant slices in flour to coat both sides
2. Heat oil in skillet, heat oven to 350
3. Toss eggplant slices into skillet, allow them to get crispy brown on both sides.
4. Drain eggplant onto paper towels.
5. Pour spaghetti sauce into pan; place eggplant on top, top with Parmesan cheese.
6. Cook at 350 for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned.

Enjoy with pasta and more spaghetti sauce.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CSA Routine

Sorry for being so MIA lately, I got a new job and it comes with a commute and a somewhat more harried lifestyle than the last job.  Also we've been throwing together meals at the last minute, rather than really planning, and then I'm too tired to remember what goes in them.

But, after a couple weeks of this, we are finally making the CSA work with our hectic lifestyle.   We get our CSA share on Tuesday nights, and the routine is to immediately come home and prep the food.  This includes:
-chop onions - I do them into strips and into a dice, for different recipes
-tear up Kale leaves into bite sized pieces for making kale chips; wash and put away (I store them in tupperwares lined with paper towels)
-green beans/snap peas get washed and trimmed so they are ready to use
-lettuce gets cut up, washed, and stored in the salad spinner, so handfuls can be grabbed and put into salads
-beets get washed and if time permits, roasted and cut into slices or cubes
-cucumbers get sliced for easy snacking (although this week's cucumbers are a little bitter)
-everything gets cataloged and we talk meals for the rest of the week, even if we don't make a formal meal plan (last week, we said, "okay, let's do stir fry, eggplant pasta, and tacos for weeknights"; this week it's "lets try this weird zucchini thing and maybe do a risotto and tacos")

We still hit the farmer's market on weekends for the things we know aren't coming in our CSA share, or the things that we know we'll need more of than is coming in the share.  That gets us through Sunday/Monday meals, and gives us veggies to supplement our meals.  We still haven't perfected it though, like I really wish I had bought eggplant when I saw it on Sunday at the Farmer's market, but we're getting closer.  I suspect by next year, we will be old hats at this and have our routine perfected.

Even if we don't continue to have a CSA, it makes sense to be doing this after we get back from the farmer's market, but usually on Sunday we are rushing off to one place or another and don't have the time.

Anyone else like to pre-prep their food? Any tips to share re: washing, storing, or pre-cooking?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Honey Mustard Flounder

I really don't care for mustard.  I think it's pretty disgusting, really.  However, on fish?  It's delicious.  Especially when mixed with honey.  I made this last night, and both Mr. Barefoot and I thought it was really tasty.  The best part was, the whole thing took about 15 minutes.  Served with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

Honey Mustard Flounder

  • 2 (or more) flounder fillets, thawed if using frozen.
  • some mustard (I would guess I used about 2 tbsp)
  • some honey (I would guess I used about 1 tbsp)
  • Cooking spray
Recipe:
  1. Mix honey and mustard together.  Preheat oven to 425.  
  2. Spray pan. Put fillets on pan.  Put honey mustard mixture on top of fillets.  
  3. Bake for 15 minutes.  
Actually, it's embarrassing to type that and call it a recipe, but I'm working and commuting these days, so we've been doing a lot of quick, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cooking and this will probably be a meal we turn to more and more (as long as we remember to thaw the fish.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Spinach Arugula Pesto Lasagna

The first time I had pesto lasagna, I was in Rome.  It was amazing.  The kind of experience that ruins regular lasagna for you.  Handmade, fresh pasta, pesto, cheese...hello, lover.  I tried to duplicate it when I got home, but it just didn't work.  So this week, when our CSA share came in and we had arugula, garlic scapes, and spinach, I found a recipe for arugula pesto in Dishing Up Maryland.  I modified their pesto recipe a bit, and then was going to just do boring pasta, but we had lasagna noodles and I thought pesto lasagna might just be the ticket for a celebratory dinner after my first day on the new job.

Lasagna takes a long time to prep, so I probably shouldn't have decided that.  This recipe is inspired by a Cooking from the Garden recipe that we made for Valentine's Day and we didn't eat until nearly 10pm that night. Nonetheless, here is a great recipe for using up a whole heap-ton of veggies.  We were lucky to get ALL of Sister Barefoot's arugula (and far too selfish to share any of the delicious lasagna), but all is still a bunch, not a specific amount, so guesses are approximate here for quantities.

Ingredients:
For pesto:
1 bunch arugula
1/2 bunch spinach
4-6 garlic scapes (can probably use whole cloves of garlic)
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted at 350 for 10 minutes
olive oil

For lasagna:
8-10 no-bake lasagna noodles
2 cups parmesean cheese
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3 cups milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

Process:

  1. Wash all greens, put in a food processor.  Process until chopped up into tiny bits.  Add pine nuts.  Add olive oil until it looks like pesto.  
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes until smooth.  Add milk.  Stir frequently, wait for it to thicken.  
  3. While waiting for the sauce to thicken, soak the lasagna noodles in water.  
  4. Once sauce has thickened, line the bottom of an 8x8 pan with noodles.  Add pesto.  Add cheese.  Pour sauce over top.  Add more noodles, pesto, cheese, and sauce, until done.  If you run out of sauce at the top, just grate on some more cheese. 
  5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes with foil, and then another 15 without foil.  (Our 8x8 pan actually fits into the toaster oven, which cooks it much faster and doesn't create as much heat in the kitchen on really hot summer days, so that's another thing to love about this recipe.)  
Enjoy!  I would be interested in making this recipe with additional vegetables and maybe not quite so much cheese.  I was thinking zucchini or roasted eggplant, but what new and interesting vegetables would go well here?  

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chard-pea-barley Risotto

I had an odd craving for risotto tonight, and I knew we needed to use up the chard we got from the csa, so I wondered if it would go well in a barley risotto.

Answer: yes.  Loosely based on this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pearled barley, rinsed
  • 1/2 bunch chard (about 5 stems)
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 - 1 cup peas
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 4 cups water or stock 
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional) 
Procedure

  1. Dice onion and chop garlic.  Heat olive oil on the stove in a pan.  Start heating water or stock (I use an electric kettle).  
  2. Saute onion and garlic until translucent.  Add barley and saute for 1-2 minutes.  (You can also toss in a tablespoon of soy sauce.)
  3. Add the white wine, and once it is absorbed, add the water slowly, until barley is tender.  
  4. While barley is cooking, chop up the chard into teensy tiny bite sized pieces.  Rinse or defrost the peas.  
  5. Once barley has pretty much cooked, add the peas and chard. Add lemon juice.  Allow to cook for ~1-2 minutes.  
  6. Serve with Parmesan cheese and enjoy your healthy dinner!  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cookbook Project: Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two

So I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two has an excellent recipe for how to make dried beans taste like beans, not rocks.  The bad news is that after some thought, I finally started to read the copyright pages in my cookbooks that state that no part of the cookbook can be reproduced.  There are several ways around this, and I'm thinking about them.  Not to mention that I do believe that my use of these recipes falls under the definition of fair use.  The copyright office recommends that I consult an attorney about this.  My inner-attorney is mulling it over, but my inner-blogger wanted to continue writing for the project.  So we'll keep going, and while I have rarely copied recipes verbatim, I will be instead giving a list of ingredients and a broad set of instructions, and tell you that unfortunately, although this recipe is excellent, the rest of this cookbook isn't a great purchase for a vegetarian, although carnivores might enjoy it more.

However, I love this recipe because I'm really bad at remembering to soak the beans overnight in the crockpot.  This recipe means that I can do it same day (especially days when I'm working from home), and still have dinner on the table at a reasonable time.

Ingredients:
Dried beans (any amount is fine - the book has a section on the yield of dried beans, so you can consult it for more details)
Boiling water (probably about three times as much water as beans, but enough to cover)
Salt (if you want it)

Procedure:
1) Rinse the dried beans.  Boil the water.
2) Put the beans in the crockpot.  Pour the boiling water over the beans.  Cover and cook on high for a few hours.  I actually find in our crockpot, it only takes about 2 hours for the beans to be edible.
3) Drain. Use as desired.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cookbook Project: Joy of Cooking - Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

I don't have a life list, but if I did, I would certainly be checking, "make something with rhubarb" off of it.  Because I have made a strawberry rhubarb pie.  It was amazingly good.  I was surprised, and extremely impressed with myself.
The gorgeous pie pan is from Pampered Chef, and it's so much deeper than our last. It's really nice.

Ingredients:
1 lb of trimmed rhubarb, cut into one inch chunks (this will yield about 2.5 cups of rhubarb)
2 pints strawberries, trimmed, hulled, and sliced (this will yield about 2.5 cups of strawberries and 6-10 snacking strawberries)
1 1/2 cups sugar (the Joy recipe says to reduce sugar to 1 cup for a strawberry rhubarb pie, I accidentally did the full amount used for a plain rhubarb pie, but the strawberries I was working with were a little tart.)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
Milk or cream (about 1 tbsp)
2 teaspoons sugar
Two pie crusts.  I use the recipe also in Joy of Cooking.

Procedure:
1.) Combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Mix together in a bowl with a spatula.  Let sit for 15 minutes - stir occasionally - mixture will be come very juicy and red.  Preheat oven to 425.
2.) Prepare pie crusts, then pour pie into pie crust.  Top with small pieces of butter, cut up and spread out over the top.
3.) Cover with pie crust - either pricked, vented, or lattice.  Mr. Barefoot wanted to do a lattice crust, so I let him go to town.
4.) Lightly brush the top of the pie crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
5.) Bake for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 and bake for another 25-30 minutes (until juices are thick and bubbling).  Cool completely on a rack.

I went to make this again today, but it seems that rhubarb season has passed :(.  Maybe it's still available where you are!  Otherwise, I'm trying a strawberry-blueberry pie with crumb topping and will report back.  It's basically the same recipe.

Friday, May 27, 2011

How much?

Mr. Barefoot and I have been having a lot of trouble getting enough vegetables and dealing with our meal plan for the past month.  I think this is because we have recently decided to eat more vegetables and also not throw things away. So in trying not to overbuy, we are underbuying and running out of food.  We also have a meal plan, but this month's didn't work out since we are trying to eat more seasonally, but the farmer's markets have only radishes and chard.
Our CSA is still two weeks away from starting, and I've realized that the biggest problem for us is that we have no idea how many vegetables to buy for ourselves, unless they are part of a recipe.  If you do the math, to get the recommended 3-5 servings a day of vegetables, we need to be buying 6 servings of vegetables per day for a week.  Which is 42 servings, total.
A serving, in case you were wondering, so something around-ish 1/2 cup of vegetables or one tennis ball sized vegetable (so a small head of brocolli).
Which means that what we should be buying, if we were only eating fresh vegetables, to feed two people reasonable vegetables for a week is something like:
1 lb green beans (should create 4 servings of vegetables)
2 zucchini (a word I still can't spell) - 4 servings
2 yellow squash - 4 servings
2 heads broccoli - 2 servings
4 peppers - 4 servings
1/2 lb snap peas - 2 servings
1 Eggplant - 4 servings
2 cucumbers - 4 servings
1 lb of spinach - 4 servings
1 lb salad greens - 4 servings
2 bunches radishes - 4 servings
1 lb peas - 4 servings

So, upon writing that list, uh, holy cr*p, 3-5 servings a day of vegetables is a LOT.  More importantly, our current produce yield looks something a lot more like:
1 bag salad - 2 servings
1 bag spinach - 2 servings
1 bunch asparagus - 2-4 servings
1 bunch radishes - 2 servings
1 eggplant - 2 servings (they are small right now)
2 peppers - 2 servings
1/2 lb green beans or snap peas.  - 2 servings

That is about 14 servings of vegetables, for two people, for a week.  It works out to about 1 vegetable a day.    So clearly we're not buying enough vegetables.  (This by the way, is a REALLY GOOD week for us.)  I'm not really sure what to do, short of buying a ton of stuff at the farmer's market on Sundays, then coming home and menu planning.  Which does sound exhausting, but might be worth it.  I feel better when I'm eating fresh vegetables, and right now, we have the time.  But then we run into the problem of - sometimes we go out to eat. Sometimes vegetables go bad.  How do we keep the vegetables from going bad and make sure we eat them fast enough?  I think strict menu planning and using all my vegetable cookbooks is going to be the answer.  Also making sure things like cucumbers are already washed and ready to eat will help me reach for them for snacks.

Anyone have any tips for how much vegetables the Barefoots should be buying? I feel like I should be walking out of the grocery store with at least one reusable bag filled with just produce.  I also didn't include onions on this list because I don't know if they are a vegetable.  Thoughts?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Iced Chai Tea

I've recently discovered iced tea.  I'm still trying to perfect a black tea with mint recipe (and the mint needs to sprout before that can happen), but I've been making iced chai tea the past couple of days and I think I have it down.  I only use Stash Chai tea, it's amazing.

Ingredients:
1 bag Stash Chai tea
2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 tbsp honey

Procedure:

  1. Pour boiling water over tea bag in a pyrex measuring cup.
  2. Add honey and stir. 
  3. Refrigerate, with spoon still in it.  
  4. After 3-4 hours, drink and enjoy!
I realize this isn't really a recipe.  But I know some people are afraid to try iced tea, because they don't like tea.  But iced chai is so good!  If you like chai lattes, but think they are too high in sugar, and are also trying to cut chemicals from your life (if my Stash is full of chemicals, I don't wanna know, it's the best tea on the planet) by not using sweetener, this is a great "recipe".  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cookbook Project: Ok, so now you're a vegetarian

Okay, So Now You're A Vegetarian 
Spiced vegetable dal p 166

This was my first vegetarian cookbook, and it's often a gift for newbie vegetarians. Since I only owned two cookbooks when I met my husband, and he wanted to try cooking meals with me, we made several out of this book. it's an excellent first cookbook, with clear, complete easy to read instructions.


I don't have a picture of the finished Dal, but I'm a big fan of getting all my ingredients together before cooking.  It helps avoid frantic moments of "OMG THE GINGER NEEDS TO BE CHOPPED AND SO DO THE TOMATOES!!!! AND EVERYTHING IS BURNING."

So the recipe:
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp peeled, minced, fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch of ground tumeric
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 14.5 oz cans vegetable broth (I used 4 cups of water and bullion)
  • 3 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (skipped this - I'm too cheap to buy spices)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 cups hot cooked white rice (I used brown and it was just as good.)  
Procedure:
  1. Rinse the lentils and pick through them.  
  2. Heat butter and oil in a heavy pot on medium heat; add ginger, garlic, onion, and saute for 10 minutes.  Add cumin, cloves, and tumeric; cook for another 2 minutes.  
  3. Stir in the lentils and the broth, bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  
  4. Add the tomatoes and parsley. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until lentils are soft.  (I actually simmered for longer, since the rice cooker was taking awhile.)
  5. Place 1 cup rice on each place, spoon the dal over the rice and serve.  
Verdict: 
Yum!  I will definitely be making this again when we get tomatoes from our CSA.  It takes a little while, but it's largely unattended.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What food looks like

I remember being surprised, when we first started shopping at the farmer's market, at how crooked my sweet potatoes were.  They were so hard to peel!  They had dirt stuck under everything!  These weren't the vegetables I was used to, the straight, clean, easy to peel sweet potatoes my father used to hand me before dinner to deal with.  

Now, when I go to the farmers market, I expect my potatoes to look like they just came out of the ground, I expect the mushrooms I buy to have dirt on the end.  I expect my vegetables to be crooked.  I was really surprised last week though, when we went to buy carrots, and I was confronted with Giant Carrots.  They were at least three inches in diameter.  I mean, they were enormous.  I'm used to organic, farmers market produce being smaller and less shiny, like my strawberries.  I'm not used to organic produce being massive.  

The first time I saw Brussels sprouts on a stalk, I was confused.  (I was also 23, so there's that.)  You mean Brussels sprouts don't just come in a plastic bag from the grocery store?  I'm still not entirely sure what peas come in, although I hear a pod, because I'm convinced they come in a white package in the freezer section.  (I'm hoping there is a recipe in one of my cookbooks that uses fresh peas, and then I can figure this out.)  

I think it is a good thing, to constantly challenge our perceptions of what food looks like, what food should look like, and to recognize that aesthetics aren't everything and vegetables taste the same, regardless of shape.  (Size is a different matter.)  It's also important to know where our food comes from, not in a cage-free, hormone-free, go to the butchers and watch them kill a cow kind of way (although, go to town, if you're up for it); but in the most basic way.  What kind of plant the food you are eating is part of.  Is it a tree or a bush or a root?  Does it grow on a stalk?  Are there flowers involved?  

What has been your most surprising, "Huh. So I guess that's how that vegetable grows" moment?  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Honey Wheat Quick Bread

This recipe is from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and it's amazing.  Do you own it yet?  You should.  It's excellent.  This recipe is from 689, and will be the last recipe I post from this book.  Because you should own it.  And yes, I also own the Joy of Cooking and The New Best Recipe Cookbook and I thought owning a third encyclopedia book would be overkill, but this one is different and it's amazing.
Ingredients:
Oil or butter for greasing the pan
1 2/3 cups buttermilk/yogurt (or 1 1/2 cups milk plus 2 tablespoons white vinegar)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup molasses (I used honey for a lighter flavor)

Procedure:
1.  Preheat the oven to 325 and grease a loaf pan.
2.  Sour the milk - and this tip is why you MUST buy this book.  It's genius.  Heat the milk in the microwave for 45 seconds or so, and then pour in the vinegar.  Let it settle.  It sours so much better than when you just pour in the vinegar.  Let it sit while you assemble the dry ingredients.
3.  Mix together the dry ingredients and add molasses (or honey) to the sour milk.  Combine ingredients until just moistened.
4.  Pour mixture into loaf pan.  Put it in the oven.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Verdict: This bread is delicious.  It's a whole wheat bread that doesn't taste too wheat-y, and the honey gives it a great flavor.  I bought a 2lb jar of Wildflower Honey at the farmer's market this morning and it's amazing.  We've been going through honey so fast that we're hoping the 2lb jar lasts us awhile.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Detoxing: The Three Rs

What is the point of detoxing?  I do it for a number of reasons, all of which are uniquely suited to my particular detox "plan".  Which I made up when I lived in Michigan after returning from a week at the beach with too much alcohol and salty foods (I gained 7lbs in a week and lost it almost instantly after not touching salt for three days.)  I'm not a scientist and I'm not a doctor and I have no idea if this plan is actually good for you or not.  So please don't read this as a diet.  It's simply my reasons and rules for occasionally choosing to reduce my intake of processed foods, and I don't do it for more than a few days.  So here are The Reasons:

  • If I've been eating out too much, eating too many salty foods, or consuming too much alcohol or sodas, it's a good way to let my body get back to normal and reduce the bloat.  
  • It's a good way to remind myself that it is possible to eat good foods that don't have a lot of sugar or saturated fats in them. 
  • It gives me a chance to check in on what I'm eating; what I think I can't live without in my diet; how much sugar or saturated fat I'm consuming.  
  • It lets me take a step back and focus on what I'm eating, instead of mindlessly munching.  I agree that diets shouldn't be about restriction, but not being on a diet often leads to my finding snacks in easy places.  
  • It encourages me to think about food.  I haven't become obsessed with labels yet, but I want to eat fewer processed foods.  Detoxing reminds me that it's not necessary.  
  • I eat less.  I reinforce portion sizes.  I reinforce healthy protein-fat-carb ratios. 
  • I force myself to eat whole grains.  Usually, I'm really lazy about this.  Detoxing is a good way to remind me that eating whole grains is easy and delicious.  
So what are The Rules?  (These are my rules.  They are not one-size fits all and please, if you are already not particularly healthy, don't try this without talking to a doctor about making drastic changes to your diet.)
  • Eliminate foods that are highly processed.  Nothing that comes from a box with a packet of powdered cheese.  Nothing from a can.  Nothing that is frozen with some kind of sauce.  Nothing from a jar.  Nothing you don't know the process.  
  • Eliminate foods that are high in salt.  Nothing should have added salt.  I do add a sprinkling of kosher salt to certain dishes, but only after tasting it and assessing whether it really needs salt.  
  • No white flour or white sugar.  This eliminates a lot, but it's also a pretty easy rule to follow.  
  • Eat mostly plants.  If it isn't currently a plant, how long ago was it a plant?  What happened to it to make it not a plant?  
  • Eat foods with very few ingredients.  A lot of people follow the less-than-five rule from the Omnivore's Dilemma, I just try for ingredients I can read.
  • Eating animals - I eat fish, skim milk and fat free greek yogurt as part of this.  I'm detoxing, not tormenting myself unnecessarily, and without eating grains, I need foods that carry a LOT of protein.  I don't eat cheese though.  Cheese is very high in sodium and deliciousness, and it's one of the reasons I'm detoxing.  
  • No chemicals.  For the Splenda junkie, this ones a tough one.  
  • Go easy - when I went running on Day 2 the last time I did this, I nearly passed out.  
  • Cheat.  Do not torment yourself.  I needed veggie broth for my soup tonight and I added one of those no-sodium bullion cubes.  I didn't even check the ingredients, but I was not going to make my own stock.  Sometimes a little cheating is necessary.  I also had dried cranberries in my oatmeal and dried dates in my salad, both of which are really high in sugar.  
  • Kick your spouse out.  Mr. Barefoot is out of town right now, which means I get the run of the house and total control of the kitchen.  It also means I can dedicate my evenings to cooking, if I want.  
And finally, the Recipes.  There's not much to them.  

Oatmeal (in the rice cooker)
Combine 1 cup oatmeal, 3/4 cup water, and 1 cup milk.  Add cranberries and maple syrup, or, if you are hardcore, eat as is.  

Greek Yogurt 
Combine 1 cup of Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or other fruit.  Or eat on it's own, if you are hardcore.   

Broccoli Bean Soup

Broiled Tilapia 
Via About.com http://southernfood.about.com/od/tilapiarecipes/r/bl40621s.htm 
Eaten with brown rice and asparagus.

Baked Asparagus-
Heat oven to 350 with pizza stone in the oven.  Toss 4-5 pieces of asparagus that are approximately the same size with lemon juice.  Put on warm stone, cook for 5-7 minutes or until tender.  


Salad-
Toss salad with dried fruit, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  

The Length - 
Usually I hardcore detox for 1-2 days, then slowly re-introduce gluten and other foods back into my diet starting at the end of Day 3.  I wound up waking up Wednesday morning (Day 3) with a headache and generally not feeling well, and so I went ahead and had some Kashi GoLean Crunch with milk.  Things like Kashi are a gray area, since they are processed and contain sugar and chemicals, but they are whole grains.  By the end of Day 3, I wasn't craving sugar as much and wasn't hating myself for forcing myself through this, so I think that's a good sign.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cookbook Project: 350 Big Taste Recipes for the 1 1/2 Quart Mini Slow Cooker

There are almost no cookbooks out there for the mini crockpot, and I got tired of scaling the 4-6 crock recipes back, so I asked for this book for Christmas.

It's a terrible cookbook.  All the recipes in it are made for people who do not know how to cook, and are missing their tastebuds.  It's also poorly written.  For example, the recipe I made from it includes garlic on the ingredient list but does not say when to put it in.  A lot of the recipes are high in sodium, since they involve canned ingredients, but supposedly this book has an "emphasis on healthy cooking."

But last week we had extra shrimp, so I made this recipe.  We got rid of our 1.5 qt slow cooker when we got a rice cooker, and since this was a rice recipe, I used the rice cooker settings.

Ingredients:
1 lb medium shrimp
1 1/2, cups instant long grain rice (I used parboiled)
1 1/2 cups hot tap water
1 small onion, diced (1/2 cup)
1 can tiny spring peas (I used frozen peas)
1 tsp garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Process:
Oil the crockpot; add rice and onion.  I also added the garlic at this time.  Let cook for 2 hours (or cook on rice cooker setting.)

Fluff the rice, add the shrimp and cook for 45 minutes; add the peas and cook for 15 minutes more.  (I added the shrimp and the heat from the rice cooked them almost instantly, so I added the peas at that time.)

If you do make this, add some hoisin and soy sauce.  Once we did that, it came out pretty tasty.  I do feel like I cheated more than usual on this one by using the rice cooker, but there is nothing about this dish that being cooked more would have improved.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Detoxing

Every once in awhile I like to take a step back and remind myself that life without processed food is possible.  Especially processed sugar or sweetener.

After way too much easter candy, I needed to get a grip. So I'm detoxing, which involves eating clean, real foods that look like food. I cheat a bit, but my rules work for me. If anyone is interested, I will share my recipes and "detox" plan. (Eat plants and  whole grains. Don't eat peepsters.)

So here I am at work, drinking tea without splenda and have a banana to snack on. My earlier client brought me chocolate. Jerk.

So please, comment to share your favorite real food or whole foods recipes. Also favorite unprocessed snacks. I am a big snacker.


Cookbook Project: Secrets of Fat Free Baking

My mom, the one who is afraid of butter, bought some fat-free baking cookbooks awhile ago.  I don't know why, because Mama Barefoot Does Not Cook.  She occasionally bakes stuff, but that's usually slice-and-bake cookies.  So that she constantly buys cookbooks is really odd.  Fortunately, she has a daughter who likes to cook and "help clean out" the cookbook cabinet.  So I took this one in college, when we all still thought saturated fat was the Enemy.  Since it's not, I actually added butter to the recipe I used - partly because I didn't have the prune puree that the book recommends using, and partly because I don't think saturated fat is the enemy.  Since I made that substituton, I had to make another as well - the recipe was lacking in moisture, so I wound up dumping in a good chunk of apple butter as well.  I also threw in some white chocolate chips, and I will tell you, these cookies were amazing.

Cranberry Spice Cookies (p. 170 - Secrets of Fat Free Baking)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (just used whole wheat flour)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unbleached flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 plus 2 tbsp prune puree (or 1 stick of butter, plus apple butter until dough is workable)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I also added in about 1/4 cup white chocolate chips)
1 cup oat flakes or other ready-to-eat cereal flakes (I used oatmeal)

Process:
1. Preheat oven to 350.  Combine flours, sugar, baking soda, and spices, and stir to mix.  Add prune puree or butter, honey, and vanilla extract, and stir to mix well.  Stir in the cranberries or raisins and oatmeal.

2.  Grease a baking sheet, drop cookies onto the sheet.  Flatten them with a spoon (I didn't do this - it's advisable - these cookies do not spread.)

3. Bake for about 9 minutes (longer, if you didn't flatten your cookies.)  Transfer to racks and allow to cool.

Prune Puree (if you want to try it)
3 oz pitted prunes (1/2 cup)
1 cup water or fruit juice
2 tsp lecithin granules (or why I didn't make this recipe)

Put all ingredients in a food processor, blend until smooth.  Can refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Verdict:  I really liked these, and husband's office approved as well.  They tasted a bit of apple butter, but not really, and the cranberry/white chocolate chip combination made them really good.  They have a little more refined sugar than I would like, but often when we swap out one ingredient, like fat, we add a lot of sugar to make up for it.  I will be making them again this week for book club and trying to use a bit less sugar, since they get some from the white chocolate chips.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Those elitist Barefoots

I read through this article about food and elitism, and I started wondering if I'm a food elitist.  I mean, can somebody who makes macaroni and cheese on a regular basis really be a food elitist?  I mean, okay, sometimes it's not Kraft, but nonetheless.  I am a woman of simple tastes, and if I could do it without gaining weight, I would live pretty much entirely on grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese.  Oh, and pizza.  Which I buy frozen from Costco, most of the time.  With a side of brocolli, because I have a degree in public health and parents who raised me to not get scurvy.

But I don't like champagne, or truffles.  I don't have an appreciation for really fine foods with fancy-sounding ingredients.  I like good, simple food.  I don't like having to ask, "what is xyz?" when I'm at a restaurant.  I like wine that tastes like juice, and much to Mr. Barefoot's constant annoyance, I can't kick my soda habit.

Mr. Barefoot and I try to shop locally, we buy organic when we can, and to make that financially possible, we also choose to buy in bulk (a savings which in some ways is countered by our high rent for our apartment that is large enough to keep bulk items in - room for a 25lb bag of flour is hard to find, but that bag cost the same as the 5lb bag of King Arthur.)  We have a shelf in our pantry dedicated to a rag-tag team of containers filled with cous-cous, four kinds of rice, barley, cornmeal, and anything else that comes in those iffy-looking containers.  We recently switched to dried beans, because we eat a lot of beans and the price of dried organic beans is vastly cheaper than canned conventional beans.  Dried beans hardly seem elitist to me, especially when we are buying them to save money.

I mean, maybe going to the Farmer's Market often enough to take engagement pictures there makes us elitist:


I do think we do a lot of things that make us elitist.  We both own Kindles, and we read a lot of books.  We go to movies, then put our noses in the air and say the book was better.  We travel, often to places that require passports, and when we do, we go to museums or we go scuba diving.  In our house, computers outnumber people, we recently bought smartphones, and we both have post-graduate degrees.  

So yeah, we're elitist.  But not when it comes to food.  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Yoda Cookies!

In case you didn't know, Mr. Barefoot and I are pretty big Star Wars fans.  Maybe the name Darth Mixer tipped you off.  Star Wars is actually how we got together, so it holds great relationship significance for us as well.  Also, whenever it's cold out, I ask if we can watch my favorite cold weather movie, which is ESB.

So, I think, it is entirely possible that I will spend the next few months collecting all of these, whether I need them or not.

(yes, you could buy 4 reasonably priced aprons for this price but they are NOT AS COOL)
(Darth Mixer needs a friend!)
(What kind of mom will I be if I can't make yoda cookies for my kids?)
Tragically, the Barefoots are trying to save right now for our awesome summer trip to Wales, so I'm going to have to hold off on purchasing the entire WS Star Wars line.  But you don't have to!  Go forth and shop, my friends, and then send me pictures of your children eating yoda cookies!  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cookbook Project: The Betty Crocker Cooky Book

I love this book.  This recipe is for Lemon Crinkles.  The book notes:
From Mrs. Alfred T. Neilson of Council Bluffs, Iowa, who prefers simple and easy recipes that leave her time for her hobby of making hats.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp ginger 


Heat oven to 350.  Mix shortening, sugar, and eggs; blend in lemon rind.  Blend dry ingredients and add to sugar mixture.  Roll int 1" balls, dip tops in granulated sugar (I skipped this step.) Bake on an ungreased baking sheat for 10-12 minutes.  


Enjoy.  These were really good.  They taste more like regular sugar cookies, but they're really good.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You. Must. Make. This.

Tonight we had our annual passover dinner, my friend Boston and I.  I feel the need to explain to my newer readers that I'm not Jewish, but I grew up in a community where I have a lot of Jewish friends, and I have many family members who are Jewish via conversion and marriage.  So, every year, we get together for Passover.  Boston makes traditional Jewish Passover foods, and I embrace the challenge of cooking dinner without using anything leavened.  Or any kind of legume.

This year, my old roommate Sam came along as well, and we had a lovely unleavened meal together, although not a traditional seder, as I did not clear a chair for Elijah or hide any matzoh.  I learned the hard way today that downtown Baltimore is a hard place to find matzoh or kosher for Passover chocolate chips.  Fortunately, Sister Barefoot (one of the aforementioned family members married to a Jewish person) had recently stocked up on matzoh, and Boston said that the regular chocolate chips would be okay, so I just used semisweet store brand.

I used this recipe, but reduced the amount of butter and sugar by a little bit.  I would say that I used 4.5 sheets of  matzoh (unsalted), 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons butter, and 3/4 cup brown sugar.  I did not use the vanilla, since my vanilla was kosher but not for passover.  I'm going to repost the recipe here, which is the creation of David Liebovitz, for posterity.

Because if I lose this recipe, my life will become sad and empty.


4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzohs
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup (215g) firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (160g) semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
1. Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 11 x 17″, 28 x 42cm) completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
2. Line the bottom of the sheet with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.
3. In a 3-4 quart (3-4l) heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula.
4. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F (175C) degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F (160C), then replace the pan.
5. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.  Allow to cool (preferably in the fridge) and then crack matzoh into pieces by essentially folding the parchment paper into sections to break off pieces.  

Salted caramel is really in lately - sea salt & caramel brownies, etc. are popular in cities that are not slow to food trends, so this is a great recipe to use to impress your friends. (Baltimore now has cupcakes, and we're starting to get fro-yo.  Sadly, not near me.)

What is neat about this recipe is that you actually make caramel. I've been terrified of making caramel for a long time now, but it turns out that, like fudge, or salad dressing, it's pretty easy to do.  The biggest tip I can give you is that if you turn the back burner on, but then move the pot to the front burner, don't wonder why the brown sugar and butter aren't properly melting.  It's because you took the pot off the heat.

So everybody is going to head to their nearest grocery store, grab a box of matzoh, and make this tonight, right?  Don't wait until next year!  I think I'm bringing this to Easter even.  I may actually grab a box of matzoh to keep until Christmas, because my mother in law makes this with saltines, but I think the matzoh gives the brittle a bit more heft.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Salt and Me

I made two delicious loaves of bread this evening, and as they came out of the oven, I cut off a few slices for Mr. Barefoot and me.  As soon as I bit into my slice, a realization hit me.  I forgot the salt.

This wasn't the first time.  It wasn't even the second.  It wasn't even the second time I forgot it in this particular type of bread.  It was, in fact, probably more like the fifth.  Usually I remember before the bread actually goes into the oven, and hastily add it.  This time, no such luck.  Which is a shame, because this time I used bread flour and the loaves were unusually light and fluffy.  (Maybe it was worth the extra $4?)

But I don't add salt to things.  Not to most recipes, especially not before tasting them and thinking, "something is missing".  Often not before my husband tastes them and says, "honey, you forgot salt again."

Why my fear of salt?  My father.  You know how my unhealthy fear of butter came mostly from my mother?  My fear of salt comes directly from Papa Barefoot, who has high blood pressure and is incredibly sensitive to sodium in foods.  My Dad can swell up and gain something like 5-10lbs from eating high-sodium meals alone.  So he doesn't salt his food.  And remember that Papa Barefoot does all the cooking.  So I grew up without eating a lot of salt, putting salt in pasta as it cooked, or generally adding salt to food.

Unlike butter though, as a grownup, I know that salt is delicious, and that it's not that bad for us.  What is bad is processed food.  So as long as we continue to make most of our food ourselves, and not salt it too much, we're okay.  My swim coach also recommended salting my food to reduce foot cramps, but I think she meant iodized salt, which we don't keep in the house.  It's on the grocery list though, because I started getting bad foot cramps again recently, and I'm not drinking pickle juice like my mother-in-law tells me to.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Things to do with chard and arugala

Our biggest hesitation with signing up for the CSA share was the amount of greens that we knew would be coming our way in June.  Sister Barefoot, our CSA partner, does not care for arugula, so I know we're getting a lot of that, and we also know we're getting more than enough (read: any) chard.  So when we go through cookbooks now and look for recipes, we tag ones that have arugula and chard, and look forward to making them this summer.
Here are a few I've tagged -

Black Eyed Peas with Chard and Soba Noodles - p. 140, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker
Arugala Pesto - p. 32, Dishing up Maryland
Shepherd's Pie with Chard-Lentil Filling - p. 171, Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook
Cherry Tomato, and Black Bean Salad with Spicy Lime Vinaigrette - p. 201, Big Green Cookbook
Whole Wheat Pasta with Arugula - p. 176 Cooking from the Garden

We'll also be following the Baltimore Sun's Dining at Large blog, which features guests posts about Living in the CSA, and this local farm's blog which includes recipes about vegetables that are currently in-season.  The farm we are getting our CSA through has some recipes, but a relatively unappetizing selection considering how popular their CSA is.  I'm just saying, I think a forum which allows people to ask, "WTF do I do with the sh*tton of beets I got this week?"  would be helpful.

Any more resources for me?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cookbook Project: Vegetables on the Side

This week's cookbook is Vegetables on the Side, one of a pile that my aunt gave me for my bridal shower.  This one, I had very high hopes for, since it's one of those that you buy a weird vegetable, turn to a page in the book, and find a good recipe.  I can see it coming in handy with our CSA share this summer.

Carrot, Potato, and Onion Gratin
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick butter 
  • 2 large russet potatoes, unpeeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal and long thin slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup well-flavored chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Procedure:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a "gratin dish" (I would use an 8x8 pan)
  2. Layer 1/3 of potato slices in the bottom of the greased dish.  Add a layer of half the onions, and then half the carrots.  
  3. Add 2 tbsp of butter on top of the carrots.  
  4. Pile on more potato slices, half the onions, and then the rest of the carrots.  Add more butter, than the last of the potatoes.  Add the last of the butter.  
  5. Pour in the stock.  Cover with foil.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes; then uncover and add cheese and bake for another 15 minutes.  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Registry Reviews: Pampered Chef

We registered with Pampered Chef, and I'm SO GLAD we did.  A lot of the items we got from there are the items we use every day in our kitchen.  Since a lot of people who like to cook get invited to Pampered Chef parties, I thought I'd say which items I like the most and why, so you know what you might like for yourself.

Pizza Stones - We have the large and small rectangle one and the round one.  These are phenomenal.  They cook so evenly and crisply.

Garlic Press - Hello, lover.  I love this thing.  Even more than the press, I love the tool that cleans out the garlic press.  It's amazing.

Batter Bowls - these are fantastic.  I love the 4 cup for small things, like assembling the liquids for bread.  Their lids fit really well, and the big one is great for bread rising.

Coating Trays & Tool - I wish I could explain exactly why these are so great, but we've been using trays and pie pans and tupperware to marinate and coat things like fish and mushrooms, and they just don't work well.  There is a lot of wasted breadcrumbs or sauce in a pie pan, and in the tupperware it gets stuck in the ridges.  These coating trays seem so simple and silly, but they're amazing.  Also easy to clean.

The rest of the products we got are awesome too, but we don't use the double boiler or the mandoline or the pie pan every day, and they're not necessarily the products I would recommend starting your pampered chef collection with.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Book Reviews: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I love Barbara Kingsolver.  I've read most of her books, and I've been meaning to check out Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for awhile.  I got it from the library recently and I'm pleased to say that it is, in fact, as good as I had hoped.  If you've read Prodigal Summer, you'll recognize some of the same science and some of the same characteristics of a small Appalachian town.

There is one major downside of this book, which is that it will make you want a garden, or better yet, a farm.  I've never before wanted chickens, but after reading about having chickens, I suddenly want chickens and fresh eggs of my own.  (We have two fish I never feed, so don't worry Dad, I'm not getting chickens.)  I want a garden that grows an excessive amount of summer squash and I want to plant and harvest my own garlic and keep it in a root cellar.  I want tomatoes at the ready, for easy salads and bruschetta and so I can make panzella!

I was in fact, on such a kick, that I investigated community gardens in Baltimore.  All but the furthest from us are full for the season, so we'll try again next year, especially after our CSA (yes, we signed up for it) tells us what is excess and what we will want to grow more of for ourselves.

There are a few overarching themes in the book - one of them is a wee bit offensive, a sort of self-righteousness that can be expected from somebody who raises backyard chickens.  There is a chapter that talks about dairy laws without any acknowledgement of why the laws were put in place initially (although her point that we regulate the milk industry much more than the meat industry is well taken.)  There are moments where you want to scream out, "I have a job! I can't make my own cheese!" There are times where she makes things seem so simple and easy that you wonder why you haven't been canning your own tomatoes for ages.

The book doesn't focus that much on the major problems with factory farming, instead focusing more on the positives of buying locally grown, sustainable, or organic.  It talks about the problems with labeling things "free range" or "cage free".  And I think these are things that are worth thinking about, even if you don't want to think about how your food is treated before it gets to your table.

I have not reached the end yet, but already, this book is changing the way I think and feel about food, and I highly recommend it to anyone who a) likes vegetables b) likes to know more about their food, or c) likes Barbara Kingsolver.

I'll probably be on the lookout for more books about food, but I find non-fiction books that are really heavy on the science to be unenjoyable reading.  (I spend my days reading non-fiction, why would I do it at home?) So I'm on the hunt for good, light, enjoyable books about food.  Not books that will make me feel sick to my stomach about how I've been eating, but books that make me want to make positive changes in the way my family eats.  Any recommendations?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Six Months

Six months ago, Mr. Barefoot and I did this:
But we also did something else.  We stopped buying bread.  We have not purchased a loaf of bread off the shelf in the store since October, probably the week before the wedding when I frantically stocked the fridge so that we would have food for guests and ourselves.  

Our companions for this journey have been Darth Mixer and The New Best Recipe Cookbook.  Every week or two, I whip up another loaf of delicious homemade bread.  We're still eating mostly white bread, and I would like to make the changeover to wheat, but we haven't yet.  

There are pros and cons to making your own homemade bread:
Pros:
1. Homemade bread is so delicious, you can have it as a snack.
2. No weird preservatives.
3. Homemade bread doesn't make the best sandwiches, so it lasts longer.  
4. No sugar, since the recipe uses honey.  
5. Locally made :).  
6. Cheap.

Cons:
1. Homemade bread is so delicious, you can have it as a snack.
2. It doesn't make great sandwiches (except grilled cheese)
3. Still using all-purpose flour, which has weird preservatives.
4. If you make too much of it, you gain weight and go through flour really fast.  
5. It can be a pain to make, let rise, and cook.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cookbook Project: The Stinking Rose


So the Stinking Rose Cookbook's Pasta with Butternut Squash, Fried Sage, & Garlic Chips (p. 55) was a big ol' disappointment.  It's also two recipes in one, because you top the pasta with deep fried garlic, which is a separate recipe (p. 152).

Ingredients:
1 1lb butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
2 tablespoons butter (I had to substitute Earth Balance since we are out of butter)
1 bunch sage, stemmed
1 pound pasta
Garlic Chips (recipe follows)

I'm not going to repost the whole recipe, but basically, peel and cut the squash into little pieces (1/2 inch cubes), toss it with the olive oil and salt and pepper, then roast it in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes, turning twice.  My advice is then you skip the remainder of the recipe and eat the butternut squash with a fork.  Because that actually turned out excellent, and I was surprised that only a tablespoon of olive oil was enough to keep the squash from getting dry and crunchy.

Then you melt the butter, and add the sage until it is crisp and the butter is golden brown.  I think I cooked the sage too long, because it definitely tasted burnt.  I would pull the sage when it becomes aromatic, rather than crispy.

Cook the pasta, mix everything together, and then top with garlic chips.

Garlic Chips
Ingredients:
4-5 large bulbs elephant garlic (I used regular, and I used the better part of one bulb)
3 cups whole milk (I used 2% and skim)
Vegetable oil, for deep frying.

Process:

Boil a pot of water.  Take the garlic cloves with the crunchy bottom part chopped off and toss them all in the boiling water.  Let boil for thirty seconds, fish out, and peel.

Slice the garlic into tiny "chips".

Bring slivers & one cup of milk to a boil.  Immediately remove from heat, pour through a colander/sieve.  Repeat with the remaining two cups of milk.  I used less than a cup.  Drain well on a paper towel.

Heat oil to 375 in skillet or deep fryer.  Add cloves and fry them until golden.

Note: do NOT put the lid on the deep fryer.  Somehow the garlic chips will burn and explode.  It will get ugly.  Also add cloves in small batches after blotting them with a towel.

Bad chips

Good chips

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cookbook Project: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

It turns out that this whole "working wife" thing is no joke.  For APW book club, we read a book that said that most women, when they return to work, they continue keeping up the same load at home.  I have done that partly, because I work fewer hours than Mr. Barefoot.  I've also started a variety of obnoxious habits, like leaving work shoes and suit jackets everywhere and piling my pajamas in a heap on the stairwell (no, it doesn't make sense.)
Nonetheless, the Cookbook Project (suggested names welcome) has continued, and I've made two recipes, one last week, one this week.

A note about the Cookbook Project before I continue.  Firstly, a lot of you commented to say that you don't own cookbooks.  This isn't something I understand.  I love cookbooks.  I think they are wonderful, it is one of my favorite sections to browse at the store, and I would say that I do actually use 25% of our cookbooks on a regular basis (hence the project).  I use the internet a lot as well, but part of the impetus for this blog in the first place was that many of my favorite recipes were in cookbooks, and I didn't always have them with me.  So how many cookbooks do I have?  You tell me.
There are more in the living room, but that whole top shelf is cookbooks.  It is at least 30, but I think it is closer to 40.  
So I felt like I needed some ground rules.  The first is that I must follow the recipe as closely as possible and not add things.  Substitutions are acceptable as long as they are minor (regular garlic for elephant garlic, margarine for butter), or suggested in the book ("use broth or white wine").  But the point of this project is to try new recipes, and if I add things to recipes, they wind up tasting like something I already cook.  I can omit things that I do not have in the house, can't get, as long as they are for garnish.  I can remove things I don't eat, like meat, but otherwise, if I want to try the recipe, I have to keep the things I don't like.  


This week's recipe from The Stinking Rose cookbook was supposed to be last week, but life happened and I didn't have time to make an involved recipe.  So I had bought some radishes and I turned to Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.  I love this book, and I'm really sad I had to "waste" it on a recipe as simple as braised radishes.

Ingredients:  
  • 2 Tbsp butter/olive oil
  • 1 lb radishes, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup white wine (or you can use stock)
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • Chopped parsley for garnish (we didn't have any)  


Procedure:
  1. Combine butter, radishes, and wine in a pot, add salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.  
  2. Cover and lower heat so the mixture simmers, and cook until the radishes are tender, 15-20 minutes.  Add additional liquid if necessary.  
  3. Uncover and raise the heat to boil off almost all the liquid, so that the vegetable becomes glazed in the butter/pan jices (5-10 minutes).  Taste and adjust seasoning, add lemon juice if you would like, garnish and serve.  

Verdict:
Easy and pretty good, although it would have been better with the lemon and chopped fresh parsley or another spice.  I've made something similar to this before, so like I said, I'm sad I "wasted" this book on something so easy.