Thursday, January 29, 2015

Luscious Leftovers - Part II

Venerating Vegetables - Take 1


Leftover Vegetable Soup

Leftover vegetables are a tricky thing.

Why?

Because most people don't like fresh ones, let alone the leftovers. It's only in recent years with the rise in popularity of specialty diets like vegetarianism and veganism that the idea of veggies as something more than a side dish has arisen. Veggies have now gone beyond steaming and slathering with butter or serving raw with high fat sour cream and mayonnaise based dips. Everyone and their cousin is now consuming copious amounts of kale, and discovering ethnic cuisines like Indian that worship veggies as much as Americans love their steak.

It is unfortunate that despite all this, many still eat too few vegetables, and animal based proteins like poultry, beef, and pork remain the main event at meals. I'm no vegetarian, but I'd like to change all that. And I don't mean through the use of so called "meat alternatives" - stuff that's created from veggies but usually has the taste and texture of rubber or styrofoam. I mean through the creative use of real vegetables. 

Because the options for veggies - even leftover ones - are so varied, I've decided to split this installment of Luscious Leftovers into three.

All that said: let's get cooking!

Soup
Difficulty Level: Easy
Total Prep and Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Serves at least 4

Soup is a GREAT way of using leftover veggies because everything pretty much looks the same - fresh, frozen, or a couple of days old - when simmered in liquid and then mashed or pureed beyond recognition.

Here's How You Do It

Ingredients

1 Carton or 4 Cups of Chicken or Vegetable Broth - Beef broth, while delicious, is too strong in flavor for this soup.

At least 3 Cups of Fresh or Leftover Vegetables - Coarsely Chopped - Have some leftover salad? Veggies from a crudités platter? Lettuce and Tomato you'd cut up for burgers but didn't end up using? A sweet potato or squash you bought but have no idea what to do with? Toss them in the pot. The soup above was made with some leftover celery, a couple of parsnips, a bunch of leftover carrots I meant to eat as a snack but didn't, and a slightly wrinkled but perfectly edible red bell pepper. If you have squash or sweet potato, be sure to peel them, as their skins are inedible.

1 or 2 Potatoes - Peeled and Chopped - Optional - Have some leftover undressed baked or boiled potatoes? Lose the skin and toss 'em in. While not necessary, they will thicken the soup.

1 Medium Onion - finely chopped

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper - to taste

Sour Cream or Yogurt - Optional - This is a nice touch if you're serving it to guests, as it adds richness and looks fancy.

Fresh Parsley, Dill, Chives  - Washed and Finely Chopped - Optional - OR - Jarred Pesto - A fresh herb or a little pesto is another way of making something cheap - like this soup - look fancy. Even a single rosemary leaf, like in the photo above, will be a nice touch to impress guests.

Equipment

1 Knife and Cutting Board

1 Large Pot

1 Wooden Spoon

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Potato Masher or Immersion Blender

In a large pot on high heat, dump in the oil, heat it for a few seconds, and dump in the onion.

Stir the onion around for a few seconds until it is slightly soft and translucent, and then add the rest of your veg and the potato (if using).

Dump in the broth.

Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat.

Simmer everything for about 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender, stirring every once in a while to make sure the contents of the pot don't burn.

Turn off the heat and mash everything with a potato masher or puree it with an immersion blender until it's your desired level of smoothness.

Season it with salt and pepper to your taste and serve as is or with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt in the center and a sprinkling of fresh herbs or a little pesto.

Stay tuned for next time when I'll be showing you more ideas for re-purposing veggies!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.











Friday, January 9, 2015

Luscious Leftovers - Part I

Fun with Fruit

Smoothie Ingredients

 Welcome to the New Year!

Now that the holidays are over, you probably have a fridge full of leftovers you have no idea what to do with.

I'm here to help.

In this series I'm going to show you creative ways of repurposing leftovers. Reusing leftovers is not only budget friendly, but it's also smart from an ecological standpoint, as it prevents food waste.

Since fruits and veg are often the first things to go bad, I've decided to start with those.

Have some fruit leftover from a fruit salad or platter? A half a can of pineapple or fruit cocktail you opened for a recipe but didn't end up using all of? Some bananas you bought but are now too brown to eat right out of the peel?

Try making a Smoothie



Smoothies are a great way of repurposing fruit and even some vegetables because even fruit on the brink of spoilage tastes fine in when blended up with a little fruit juice. Smoothies are full of nutrients and great for or with breakfast or as an afternoon pick me up. Want some calcium? Add some yogurt or milk to the mix.


Here's How You Do It
Total Prep Time: 5 minutes
Serves 2

Ingredients


1 and 1/2 Cups of Fruit - coarsely chopped


1/4 Cup of Cucumber - peeled and chopped - Optional - Believe it or not, cucumber works GREAT in smoothies as it makes them extra refreshing.


1/4 Cup of Frozen Chopped  or Leftover chopped cooked Spinach - Optional - This may seem weird, but I've learned that if you add enough fruit to a smoothie, you will get all the nutrients without actually tasting the spinach, so give it a try. I highly recommend it.


3 Cups of Juice - I find Orange Juice works best, but you can use any other juice you like.


1/4 Cup of Yogurt, Cow or Goat's Milk, Soy Milk, Almond Milk, or Rice Milk - Optional


Equipment


1 Blender - OR - Hand/Immersion Blender - This will put the smooth in your smoothie


1 Pitcher


Measuring Cups


1 Knife and Cutting Board


Blend all the ingredients together and serve!


Don't like smoothies?


Try Making Jam

Toast with Butter and Homemade Jam

It may sound complicated, but jam is basically a matter of boiling the heck out of a bunch of sugar and fruit together until they merge, thicken, and become sticky. This stuff can not only be spread on bread, but it also makes a nice sauce for ice cream or cheesecake. Because this jam is homemade, it will be a quite bit runnier than what you get in the grocery store, but I can assure you, it will be just as tasty, if not better. Give it a try. I guarantee you'll never want to buy store bought jam again.



Here's How You Do It
Total Cook and Prep Time: 45 minutes
Serves 6


Ingredients

3 Cups of Fruit - Coarsely Chopped - I used frozen mixed berries, but use whatever you have leftover

1 Cup of Brown Sugar

1 Cup of Water


Equipment


1 Medium Sized Pot

1 Wooden Spoon

1 Knife and Cutting Board

Measuring Cups


Dump the sugar and water into your pot and heat on medium, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves.


Add the fruit and bring to a boil.

Simmer for at least 20 minutes or until half the liquid has evaporated and the jam has thickened slightly. Be sure to stir it every once in a while or it will bubble over, making a nasty mess.

Take the pot off the heat and cool for at least 15 minutes before using. The jam will keep in the fridge for up to a month.


Stay tuned for next week when I'll be showing you how to re-purpose leftover vegetables!


-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.










Thursday, January 1, 2015

Budget Booze - Part V

THE MORNING AFTER...

Feel like this today? I'm here to help.
Good day everyone!

It's New Year's Day and I bet you're all feeling fabulous after a night of celebrating!

Since in my previous entries I provided recipes for the cause of hangovers, I feel it is my duty to give you some insights into the cures for them.

I am NOT a doctor.

I'm just a young woman who enjoys life, and that enjoyment has led to my share of mornings wishing I were dead.

Since I hate headaches and nausea and light sensitivity as much as anyone else, I spent many years researching and coming up with ways to avoid the dreaded morning after, and in the spirit of goodwill, I now share them with you.

Nevertheless, please do NOT take anything in this entry as medical advice.  

All that said, let's get started.

PREVENTION

I've always believed that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I know it's hard to remember to do something when you're drunk, but if you can take a few steps before passing out, you just might be able to avoid the headache the next day.

Here's How You Do It

What you'll need

Water

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) - OR - Ibuprofen (Advil) - I'd avoid taking aspirin as that can burn a hole in your stomach if taken without food, thus adding an upset stomach to your list of morning after gripes.

Drink at least 1 full glass of water - 2 if you can manage it - with your painkiller of choice.

You can now go to bed.

If my trick works, you'll have less of a headache in the morning.

IF you can't remember to do this before crashing, here are some ways to deal with the pain the next day.

SLEEP IT OFF

If you don't have to work the next day, stay in bed. Sleep in my experience is one of the best cures for everything from colds and flus to hangovers, so sleep off the booze if you can.

GREASY FOOD

All my research indicates that there's NOTHING proving that greasy food helps a hangover, but some people swear by it. Try bacon, eggs, and toast or a burger and fries. Worst case scenario: you'll feel queasier and end up puking it all up, hopefully with some of the alcohol you consumed the night before.

WATER

Yep, good old fashioned water. The theory is that hangovers are caused by dehydration, so drink up.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK...

Caffeine
Though some people claim that coffee is the cure-all for the morning after, everything I've read says otherwise.

Hair of the Dog
I once came back from camp with the worst hangover of my life. As I was trying to sleep it off, a friend of mine phoned and invited me drinking. I told him to go screw himself and went back to bed. As it turns out, I made the right decision, not only because this guy was a jerk, but also because, from a purely common sense perspective, the whole "hair of the dog" concept is rubbish! I mean, think about it: do you really want to knock back MORE of the alcohol that made you sick to begin with? That's like dumping more gasoline on a fire hoping that it will put the fire out! It just doesn't work, and every website I've looked at on the subject confirms this.

While I know that food is probably the LAST thing on your minds right now, I know that many of you probably have TONS of leftovers from the holidays.

Next week, I'll be showing you creative ways of repurposing them.

Wishing you all the best for the New Year,

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.