Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cooking with Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scapes! This summer is the first time I've ever cooked with garlic scapes. They are everywhere at the farmer's market right now and I've been cooking with them all week.Garlic scapes are the curly green top of a growing garlic bulb. These are trimmed away early in the season so the actual bulb grows bigger. I've been using them in cooking wherever I might use garlic. I find that one finely chopped garlic scape is about the same garlic-y-ness as 2 cloves of garlic.
Here are some ideas for using garlic scapes with some of our kitchen table favorites:Chop up one or two scapes with your Kale Pesto, instead of garlic. Spread over fresh grilled zucchini and sprinkle with paremesan cheese.Add to egg dishes, like quiche or Allison's frittata.Chop up and sprinkle over homemade pizza with mushrooms and red onions.Saute in a little oil with beet greens, sunflower seeds, and a dash of soy sauce.


xx Cara

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekly Menu June 18-23 and a recipe for hummus

Recently, we have been enjoying salad from our crop of arugula, spinach and mixed lettuces on the side of most meals, and often I take a little salad to work for lunch.

As I anxiously await the arrival of the rest of our garden produce, this week I tried to utilize some pantry items to keep our grocery bill low.  When I searched through the pantry, I found several cans of beans and tomato products as well as a variety of grains.

barley salad with (canned) tomatoes and basil

Ryan's chili (it's not chili weather, but it just sounded good to both of us!)

black bean burritos with wild rice

quinoa veggie bowl (mushrooms, onions, peppers)

rice with spinach lemon and dill from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

update! here is the recipe for  black bean burgers I used.  When I was searching for inspiration to make my own recipe, I found one that looked delicious.  It was really good, kinda spicy, and my only note is that I would omit the cinnamon though Ryan liked it alot.  It was too hot for the red potato fries so we had a salad. :) 

I also found half a bag of dried chickpeas when looking through the pantry and used it to make dinner last night, and a batch of hummus.  The recipe for hummus follows:

Classic Hummus Bi Tahini
adapted from Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon 

The author gives many methods and instructions for soaking the beans prior to use. I used the quick soaking method which involved covering the dried chickpeas with about 1 inch of water and bringing them to a boil for 5 minutes.  Then I let them rest with the lid on and the heat off for about 90 minutes.

3 cups chickpeas (or two 15 oz. cans) cooked chickpeas, drained, plus 1/4 C liquid reserved (I didn't reserve the leftover soaking liquid so I added plain water to my mixture until it reached the consistency I liked.)
3 Tablespoons tahini
2 Tablespoons olive oil (I actually forgot to add this ingredient and the hummus is fine, but would probably be more creamy with the oil.  Perhaps I'll go stir some in now.)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
juice of 1-2 lemons to taste
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon paprika, toasted

combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until very smooth.
add water if necessary to reach desired consistency.
taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed.

Perfect for snacking, or for a nice lunch wrap!  Spread hummus on a tortilla and add fresh veggies.  Done!

Monday, June 11, 2012

I'm Back with a Weekly Menu

I think I'm finally recovered from the jetlaggy weekend induced by my long vacation and long journey home from France. I have much to share about the food and my adventure with Kelsy at Un Jour Un Chef.  But for now, let's get back to basics while I clear my thoughts and take some time to write some nice posts worthy of the amazing time I've had.  It'll be worth the wait. 

It's finally summer and I'm starting to let the available produce from my garden and farmer's market finds as well as the desire to avoid heating up the house with roasting and baking drive my menu...

I've only planned for three nights since somehow Ry and I have found ourselves busy yet again with summer class and tickets to Billy Elliot, and our own theater volunteer projects. We may have to eat on the go, or hopefully grab some leftovers.

Homemade pizza!  Featuring homegrown arugula!!

Veggie Kabobs with a yogurt/dill mint sauce.  I love how inexpensive fresh herbs are at the farmer market...!  They give way to all kind of experiments for me. 

Roasted Chicken with potatoes.  Yes, I just said I didn't want to heat up the house by roasting things, but my Father in law is likely to be dining with us to help Ryan finish a home improvement project and I like to thank him by making a delicious dinner.

AND I realized that I never posted about my roasted chicken... so here it is just a few weeks later than promised... I am on summer vacation after all.  :) Click the "read more" link below... 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Homemade Cranberry Almond Granola with DIY Yogurt

This is by far the best and easiest homemade granola recipe I have ever made. Its inspired by a recipe I came across a few years ago in Yankee Magazine.

The ingredients are simple enough that I almost always have them on hand in my pantry to bake up a batch of granola. Its great on its own, or with milk or yogurt. In fact, I've recently started making my own homemade yogurt! Its magical. I found a great yogurt tutorial online, I'll share that below as well.

Easy Homemade Granola
makes about 5 cups


3 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole, raw almonds
3/4 cup shredded coconut*
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup safflower oil
1 cup dried cranberries*

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, coconut and sea salt. Add maple syrup and safflower oil and stir until all dry ingredients are evenly coated. Spread out on one large, or two small baking sheets. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes for even browning.

Remove the baking sheets from oven and let cool completely. Scoop granola into large bowl. Add the cranberries and mix well. Store in well sealed bags or large mason jars. Lasts about two weeks.

*Watch out for coconut and dried cranberries which are sweetened with lots of sugar. Go for unsweetened coconut whenever possible. Look for cranberries which have been sweetened with fruit juice rather than sugar.

Homemade Yogurt

Now that you've made your own granola (it wasn't so hard!) it's time to try your hand at yogurt.

I've had the best luck with this homemade yogurt tutorial from The Kitchn. You'll need a big pot, a thermometer that hooks to the side of your pot, milk (so long as it is not ultra-pasteurized) and some yogurt to use as a starter. I always try to use whole, organic dairy products. 

Store bought yogurt often contains pectin to artificially create a smoother, thicker product and to extend shelf life. Your homemade yogurt might appear curdled or clumpy, and this is as it should be! Plus the taste is far superior and so much fresher than anything you buy at the supermarket. If you like it sweet, add your own honey and fruit.

I keep mine in a sterilized mason jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. Save the last half cup to start your next batch!

Now add it all together for your super good homemade breakfast. Yum.

For another homemade breakfast recipe perfect for mornings on the go check out Blueberry Coconut Chia Pudding over on the Bliss Journal.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Magical Masala Box

When I was in India I bought two masala dabba boxes, one for me and one for Allison, my kitchen table friend!

A masala box is a stainless steel tiffin with little bowls inside for holding your Indian cooking spices. One lid covers the whole spice box, so the aromas of the spices begin to mingle without actually mixing the spices together.

This is the box I got for Allison. We stocked it at the fab little spice shop All Spice when I visited her in Des Moines a few weeks ago. Click here for a photo from our visit.

Spices are (from top right): Fenugreek, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, ground turmeric, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds (in the center). This is how I learned to fill a spice box from my cooking class with Anu in Mysore, India back in February.

What to do with a masala dabba spice box? The Indian ladies keep it next to the pot and toss their spices in while the food is cooking. I'm not quite so adept at mixing spices in properly, so I like to blend spice mixtures together to use in my cooking.

Below are a few of my favorite spice blends. These are all inspired by Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of health and healing through the use of food, oils and spices.


For all of the mixtures listed below, blend them together with a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. Store in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Spice mixtures lose their potency after about 30 days, so grind only as much as you need.

Homemade Curry Powder

1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
1 tsp whole mustard seeds
1 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
1 tsp whole cardamom seeds
1 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cloves

This is a favorite homemade curry powder recipe from the Ayurvedic cookbook Eat, Taste Heal. I like to mix it into dahls and rice dishes, and spontaneous stir fries with coconut milk and veggies.

Vata Seasoning

2 tsp whole fennel seeds
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 tsp asafoetida (also known as hing)

This one is also from Eat, Taste, Heal. Its an easy kitchen staple for flavoring Eastern dishes. Its called Vata seasoning because it helps to balance excess Vata in the body. It's also delicious!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about (Vata what?) you can read up on the Ayurvedic dosha types at Joyful Belly. Or you can ask me questions here on the blog

Summer Spice Mix

1 tsp whole coriander seed
1 tsp whole fennel seed
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp cardamom seed
1 tsp ground turmeric

This one comes from my Ayurvedic teacher, Kate O'Donnell. Mix it into into quinoa salads with fresh summer vegetables, olive oil and lemon juice.

I hope you enjoy. And I'd love to hear how you like to use your spice blends!