Sunday, April 29, 2012

Garbanzo Spread

I was sitting there knitting a sleeve this morning with my mind wandering around the kitchen as I was thinking about what I could make to use on morning toast or in a sandwich.  I remembered the can of garbanzo beans I had and decided to throw together a quick spread.  This is very like hummus, but not as loose or creamy.  I never have tahini in the house anyway, so this is made without it.  It took me 5 minutes to throw together since I used the canned beans (drained and rinsed well), but I think I might plan ahead next time and cook some dried garbanzos in my Crock-Pot, which is great for dried bean cooking.  I am also thinking of different beans to use and spreads to make, so we shall see how things progress in that direction.  This would be good for use on bread, toast, crackers, and in sandwiches with lots of veggies piled on top!  You could use it to stuff celery or pepper quarters.  You could probably shape it into small rounds and bake for a meatless burger.  It's easy to make as much or as little as you want and to add the veggies, herbs, and spices you want.  The food processor makes this very easy and fast to make!  If you don't have a food processor, just finely chop the veggies and mash the beans with a fork before mixing everything together well.

Garbanzo Spread
Place the following in a food processor bowl fitted with the steel blade:
--a large jalapeno, cut into chunks
--several scallions or a small onion (or part of one), roughly chopped
--sun dried tomatoes (if packed in oil, use some of the oil, too)
Process until all veggies are very finely minced
Add some garlic and chili powders and some dried oregano, then add a can of garbanzo beans that has been drained and rinsed well.  Process until well blended.  You can drizzle a little more oil in if you need/want it to make it all hold together.  Put into container and refrigerate to let flavors blend.

You could use fresh herbs or different spices.  Use whatever veggies you like--carrots would be good.  You could use bell pepper if you don't like hot pepper. Maybe some broccoli, spinach, and/or chard.  After I had this in the fridge I thought that I should have added some salsa and crushed red pepper flakes, but I didn't feel like taking it out and putting it back into the food processor to do that.  Next time, I might.  I can always top this with salsa when I eat it if I remember!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Food Demo Day!

I spent this morning at the food bank/pantry.  First I worked for an hour and a half processing produce for the elders program and the food pantry.  Along the way I collected odd bits of produce that were either not enough to give to food pantry clients (like the 4 little carrots, handful of grape tomatoes, 10 pea pods, or 3 Brussels sprouts--I even had a single green bean) or were a little too wilted to give, but were still quite usable if they were cooked immediately (like the fresh basil or Swiss chard).  There was a lot of food to process because the place was closed yesterday.  They are working on the water lines in the area and they had no water, so could not do anything.  At 10, I left my fellow food bank produce processors and headed out to the food pantry lobby with my tray of veggies and started cooking veggie medley, which I served open-face on bread and sprinkled with cheese.  I was a little unsure about how things would go, and indeed, there were a few people who were really interested in what I was cooking until they found out it was vegetables.  They were visibly disappointed as they declined a little sandwich.  It took one brave woman to break the ice and come up to my table to take a sample when my first batch was done and then several more people came and tried it.  They said they liked it. I ended up making 3 batches, after which my tray was empty. Each batch was a little different, although all contained broccoli, onion, and bell pepper. I could have gone and gotten more vegetables, but that would have been disruptive to the food pantry clients and volunteers, so I decided that was enough.  One guy was sitting there through the first two batches and he declined a sample both times.  When the third batch was about halfway gone, he came up and asked if he could have some.  I had made a handout for people to take with them and I had several good conversations with people about storing and using the veggies they get in their food boxes to minimize waste.  The best part of all was that they chimed in, too, with their own ideas and they told their own stories about how they use the food.  It was great!  I am not sure whether I will be doing this again. I hope I do, because I enjoyed it a lot.  I think it was useful to the clients as well, which was my main goal.  As I was walking in and then when I was processing veggies in the food bank, I was doing a little meditation on the demo, wishing that it would be of benefit for the people who showed up to get food today.  I think that for most of them, it was.  The handout is below.

Shari's Veggie Medley

This is a very versatile way to use veggies—whichever kind you like and/or have on hand in the amounts that suit you.

Add a little oil to a pan. I like olive or canola oil, but you can use what you have.

Chop veggies and add to pan. Use what you like and what needs using up! Suggestions:
Onion
pepper—bell or chili
broccoli stalks—save the florets!
Carrot
zucchini or yellow summer squash
mushrooms

Cook these over medium-high to high heat, constantly moving the veggies around the pan with a spoon.

After a couple of minutes, add some chili OR curry powder IF YOU WANT TO, and then add some water.

You want the water to be sort of halfway up the veggies, not completely covering them.

Add some garlic powder, if you like garlic, and if you have not added curry or chili powder, you can sprinkle in some Italian seasoning or oregano.

Add some crushed red pepper flakes (the kind you might put on pizza) IF YOU LIKE THAT.

When the water is almost gone, add the saved broccoli florets. When they turn bright green, add roughly chopped chard, spinach, or other dark, leafy greens. Stir just until the greens wilt, which will not take long.

Ways to Serve

Place some cheese on a roll or tortilla and top with veggie mixture.

Make over easy or scrambled egg, place on a roll or piece of toast, and top with veggie mixture.

Make a kind of open-faced omelet by beating a couple of eggs and pouring them in a pan. When the bottom is cooked, flip the egg like you would a pancake and cook the other side instead of folding it over. Place cooked egg on a plate, top with cooked rice, and top with veggie mixture.

Cook some rice, pasta or other grain, and top with veggie mixture. Sprinkle with grated cheese, if desired.

You can add leftover cooked meat to the veggie mixture if you like, or add some ground beef , chicken or turkey to the pan instead of the oil at the beginning of the process. Cook with the onion, pepper, and other hard veggies. Just remember to drain off the fat before adding the curry or chili powder (if using) and the water. You really do not need much meat with this, so use it sparingly.

If using the curry powder, some cooked lentils can be added at the same time you add the florets.

If using chili powder, cooked or canned kidney, black, or pinto beans can be added at the same time that you add the florets. If using canned beans, rinse them first to remove some of the sodium. Corn is a nice addition to this as well.

You can add spaghetti sauce if you want or diced tomatoes—fresh or canned.

Use as burrito or enchilada filling.

Mix into mashed potatoes and sprinkle with cheese.

You can probably think of many more ways to use this!
Money-Saving Tip
Buy dried herbs that you use a lot in larger containers at places like the dollar store. They are much cheaper this way. If you need just a little, you can usually find bulk herbs and spices at a natural food store—you can buy a tiny amount and it only costs a few cents.

If you have fresh herbs that you won't use right away, gather into a bundle, tie with twist tie or elastic and hang upside down to dry. Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fast Curried Veg Soup

This morning I made a fast curried vegetable soup for us to have for lunch with veggie ricotta spread sandwiches.  It was good!  I used some veggies that needed using and some stuff from the freezer.  I will post what I used, but you could use different veggies or broth.  No real measurements, just throw in the amounts you want--you can make a very small batch or a large one--it's up to you!

Put some oil in a pot and add a chopped onion and some chopped cauliflower.  Cook for a few minutes, then add some curry powder to taste.  Stir this in for a few seconds and add enough water to cover your veggies about halfway.  Add a couple of cubed potatoes.

Here's where I grabbed from the freezer.  Into the pot I put a small container of cooked chopped portobella mushrooms, some green beans, and a container of frozen turkey broth.  This was about 3 cups.  I just ran some water over the bottom so I could plop it out like a big ice cube.  I put all this stuff in the pot frozen.  Soon it was thawed/melted and simmering.  I let it simmer until the potatoes were cooked and then I popped in a container of frozen beet greens (this is just what I grabbed first--if I had grabbed chard or kale, I would have stuck that in).  I turned off the heat and stirred the greens around as they thawed and got incorporated.  That's it.  It only took a few minutes, it tastes great, and there is enough left for tomorrow's lunch, too!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mexican Fish Sandwiches

Yesterday I cooked a little over a pound and a half of pollock.  I sprinkled it with garlic and chili powders, oregano, and freshly ground black pepper and baked at 400 until it flaked easily with a fork.  We ate some last night along with some sauteed veggies.  Tonight I used the rest to make open-faced sandwiches.  We ate half and there is enough for lunch or supper tomorrow. 

I put some olive oil in the pan and added 2 medium onions that I had chopped up along with some chopped purple cabbage.  I cooked this over high heat, stirring it all around for several minutes before turning the heat down to medium-high.  When the onion was translucent, I added some cubed boiled potatoes and a generous sprinkle of chili powder and stirred everything together.  When it was all nicely coated, I added the leftover fish, breaking it up into flakes as I mixed everything together.

I did not have any taco shells or tortillas, so I used multigrain flatbread instead.  I placed the two halves on a plate, spooned the fish mixture on top, drizzled with salsa and added a small sprinkle of cheese.  If I had cilantro, I would have used that.  On mine I also added some torn leaf lettuce and a bunch of pickled jalapeno slices.  It was yummy.  I have never been much of a white fish eater, although I learned to love salmon when we lived in Alaska, but I find that I actually like the spiced pollock cold better than hot and that I love the combination of white fish, cooked, but still crisp cabbage, potatoes, onions, and pickled jalapenos.

One note about pollock--we asked the guy at the fish counter about the difference between hake and pollock.  From what I have read, pollock is pretty abundant and harvested in sustainable ways, while hake sometimes is and sometimes is not.  Our local Hannnaford only sells certified sustainably caught fish.  We were interested in how the fish is different to cook with and eat, though.  The guy told us that hake is a little drier and that pollock should be treated as a whitefish, even though it looks a little darker.  Since we both like pollock, we decided to buy more of that instead of getting hake.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Salad Nicoise

It was a good day for salad today as the temperature crept well into the 70s.  Sigh.  I knew it was coming, so I planned ahead.  I suppose it is good to start getting into organizational shape for summer, which is one long, diligent attempt to make sure that I have plenty to keep me cool--or at least less hot than I might otherwise be.  Fans plugged in and ready to be turned on, tea chilled and ready to drink, water iced, and the lemons and limes to put in the water within easy reach in the fridge.  So I got ready for today's salad.  I looked at what needed using and cooked some green beans and then some asparagus, both of which I drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic powder.  Then I ground some black pepper on top, mixed it all up and let it chill and marinate.  I cubed some potatoes and boiled them, and then let them chill.  I hard boiled some eggs.  I was ready!  So tonight when it came time to put together supper, there was no oven or stovetop needed--no extra hot air entering my space! Yay!

To make the salad, I tore some leaf lettuce into small pieces and put them on a plate.

I topped this with some of the cubed potatoes and some chopped yellow bell pepper.

On top of all this, I make a section of green beans, a section of asparagus, one of hard boiled egg, and one of flaked tuna.

I made a border with tomato pieces.

I sprinkled some of my onion sprouts over the top.  I had some onions that were sprouting, so I planted them in some dirt and I cut off the shoots and use them like scallions.  They have a milder onion flavor than the onion pieces themselves.

I drizzled some of the lime vinaigrette that I made the other day over everything. 

It was quite good.  And, since it is supposed to start cooling down tomorrow, and maybe even be back in the high 40s by the weekend, maybe I'll be able to make some soup!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lime Vinaigrette/Chicken and Peppers

I have been eating a lot of salad lately, so I was in need of another batch of salad dressing.  I had a pound of key limes in the fridge, so I decided to use some of them.  I used about half a pound, which worked out to 11 limes (they are cute little things!).  I got 1/3 of a cup of juice, which I poured into a jar through a strainer to remove the seeds.  Then I added 2/3 cup of olive oil.  As a general rule, I use twice the amount of oil as acid (which could be lime or lemon juice, or some kind of vinegar).  I added about 1 1/2 teaspoons of mustard--we have several kinds of mustard in the fridge, so I try to use one that goes with the flavor of the dressing.  Plain always works well, too!  This time I used Raye's lemon pepper mustard.  I sprinkled in some garlic and chili powders and some dried oregano and whisked everything together. 

For supper, in addition to salad, we had mashed potatoes (I added some leftover broccoli rabe to mine) and chicken and peppers.  I put some olive oil in a pan (I do that a lot!) and added two green bell peppers cut into strips, a large onion, sliced, and a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I cut into strips.  I cooked all this in the oil until the chicken was just done, added chili and garlic powders, and cooked this for about a minute, stirring constantly.  Then I added enough water to cover everything about halfway and let it bubble until the water was just about evaporated.  This leaves the chicken and veggies moist and with a bit of a glaze on them.  I spooned this mixture onto a flat bread.  Three of us ate this tonight and there is enough left for two more servings.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Something Old, Something New

Well, it's not truly old, but tonight's supper did feature leftover sweet potatoes and leftover fish.  The new part is the broccoli rabe.  I had never made or eaten this before, so of course, I googled.  Everyone seems to do some variation of the same thing, so I decided that was a good place to start.  I roughly chopped up the rapini (another name for broccoli rabe) and blanched it for 2 minutes before turning it out into a colander and running cold water on it.  Meanwhile, I threw olive oil in a pan, added two onions and a hot pepper.  Most of the recipes online called for dried crushed red pepper, but I have several fresh chilis, so I used one of those.  It wasn't hot, though, so the leftovers will probably get a sprinkle of crushed red pepper!  Anyway, I cooked the onions and pepper in the oil and added the blanched broccoli rabe and garlic powder.  It was good.  It is supposed to be quite bitter without the blanching, which is supposed to cut down on this, but I didn't find it to be bitter at all.  Now I know what this tastes like, I can think about using it in different ways.  For now, we have enough left to have for another meal in the next day or two.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Something's Fishy

When we first moved to Brunswick, we lived in an apartment across town from where we live now.  Across a couple of streets, but visible from our porch, was a seafood restaurant.  The sign said, "Somethings Fishy."  Please note the complete and total absence of the necessary apostrophe.  After we had moved, they fixed the sign.  Then they changed the name altogether.

Tonight for supper I cooked some pollock.  I sprayed a pan with nonstick spray and placed about a pound and a half of fish on it.  I sprinkled it with garlic and chili powders, and some black pepper.  I baked it at 400 for 10 or 15 minutes until it flaked easily with a fork.  Meanwhile, I boiled some cubed potatoes, since I had none leftover in the fridge.  I chopped a couple of onions and a large yellow bell pepper.  I was going to add a hot pepper, but I forgot. I think that would have been a good addition--or you could add red pepper flakes.  I cooked this in a bit of canola oil until the onions were translucent.  I added the potatoes, then added some leftover tomato sauce that I had in the fridge.  It was pretty thick, so I rinsed the container and threw the water in the pot, too.  Then I added about a pound of the fish and flaked it as I mixed everything together.  The sauce was already seasoned with garlic and Italian seasoning, so I didn't need to add more of that to the pot, but I would have if the sauce had been plain.  I let this simmer for a few minutes, plated it, and topped with snipped cilantro.  We had some whole grain bread with it. It is quite good!  From start to finish it took me a little less than half an hour to make this.  There are leftovers for lunches and some of the seasoned fish to be used for another supper tomorrow.  Yay!