Monday, April 30, 2012

Whole-Wheat Honey Muffins

These were supposed to be carrot muffins.

I've been having a bit of a problem with my CSA carrots lately.  After a few days in the 'fridge (they don't fit in the crisper drawer), they wind up a bit...flaccid.

They're hard to peel once they get like this, and although they still have great "carroty" flavor, they have the wrong texture for use in salads or, really, anything else.

Except a puree.

So puree them I did.  And then I used them to make muffins.  I assumed the muffins would turn out somewhat like carrot cake or carrot muffins.  But the carrot flavor ended up being very subdued behind the copious amounts of honey that went into this recipe (1/2 cup of honey spread over 8 cupcakes, plus more for drizzling on top).

The more I thought about it, the more I decided that was a-okay.  Nothing makes a recipe more kid- and husband- friendly than when it's stuffed with vegetables, and they can't tell at all.  This recipe may have a lot of honey, but it also has a lot of carrots, egg whites, whole wheat, and fat-free Greek yogurt.  Which makes these muffins pretty healthy in my book, especially compared to the sugary cupcakes that usually pass for muffins out in the world.

I based my recipe on Cupcake Project's yogurt and honey cupcakes.  I substituted carrot puree for the butter and the Greek yogurt, whole-wheat flour for the all-purpose, and used three egg whites in place of two, whole eggs.

This recipe makes 8 cupcakes -- as in NOT a full dozen.

1/2 C honey (plus extra for topping)
2/3 C carrot puree
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
 8 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt for topping

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix honey and carrot puree together.  Mix in egg whites, one at a time.  Stir in vanilla.

In another medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Slowly mix the flour mixture into the honey mixture until smooth.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.  Allow cupcakes to cool.  Just before serving, top with Greek yogurt and drizzle with honey.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Purple and Green Tacos

My husband is the king of the crock pot.

Today, his recipe was stew beef in salsa (the salsa was from a jar, but made with real ingredients), cooked all day.

I came home from work and put the spicy, delicious meat on a whole-wheat flour tortilla with sliced red cabbage, arugula (I'm assuming my mystery leaves are arugula until someone tells me otherwise), parsley (because it's like cilantro?), feta cheese, and some fresh lime juice.

Mexican, no.  Weird, yes.

And absolutely delicious.

CSA Week #7

Mystery greens.  Arugula?  Spinach?  [See bottom center of the photo.  What are they?]

They are sweet and chewy and they make my life complete, whatever they are.

Also arriving today: beets with the most outrageously fresh, huge greens attached; carrots (ditto the greens), a head of romaine lettuce, sage, rosemary, and parsley.

Ah! End of the Week!

It's been a busy couple of weeks with work and the kids.  I haven't been making enough lunches to bring to work and have instead been spending lots of money and lots of empty calories on junk from my office cafeteria.

I found myself this morning with a 'fridge full of CSA veggies and the realization that more veggies would be arriving today.

It was time to get it together.

I made this "salad" right into a huge tupperware container so that I could bring it to work.  It's a whole head of romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces, sliced red cabbage (yup, I've still got red cabbage from two weeks ago in my fridge, as crisp and delicious as ever), and pickled beets.  I brought a little container of balsamic vinegar with me to the office, but, truthfully, it didn't need it.  The beets were juicy enough to compensate for a lack of dressing.

This isn't so much a recipe; it's more of a reminder to myself.

Why do I ever NOT bring my lunch?!

An unexpected bonus of this meal: A co-worker noticed my GIANT bowl of salad and we got to talking about food.  It turns out he also gets CSA veggies and is really concerned about environmental sustainability, genetically modified foods, etc.

Yes!  It's catching on!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kale Pasta Salad

I served my kale salad at a party last weekend and created quite a stir!  My friends have been making the salad and sharing it with their friends.

I couldn't be happier!

Everyone should eat more kale.  It's delicious and good for you!

I eat kale with freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil (I have a chipotle-infused oil that I love), freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and cracked black pepper almost daily.  Tonight, I tossed the kale salad with some leftover, cold, whole-wheat pasta for an easy variation on the theme that feels like more of a complete meal.

The possibilities for kale salads are endless!

Pickled Beets

My whole life, I thought pickled beets came from exactly one place: the salad bar at a diner.

It turns out that they can also come from my refrigerator. And they're really easy to make.

5 roasted beets
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

If you haven't already, roast your beets.  [To roast beets, I put them in a glass baking dish with 1 inch of water in it, then cover the dish with aluminum foil, and put it in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees.  After an hour, I remove the dish from the oven and set it aside to cool.  When the beets are cool enough to handle, I can slip their skins right off, no peeling or washing necessary.]

Slice the roasted beets into circles or chunks (I like circles).  Put the sliced beets into a glass bowl or jar.  In a separate bowl, mix together the apple cider vinegar, water, and sugar.  Pour the mixture over the beets.  Make sure all the beets are covered by the liquid, cover the bowl or jar, and put it in the 'fridge for at least 24 hours.

That's it!  The salad-bar beets of my childhood memories!

I saw many, many, much more complicated pickling recipes elsewhere on the interwebs.  I'm not sure why.  This simple recipe does the trick.  I wouldn't change a thing.

Admittedly, this recipe uses refined sugar, which is an ingredient I usually try to avoid.  However, it's a relatively small amount per serving, and it made me love beets again after I had a bad experience.  So I'm okay with it.

I think I'm going to be doing a lot more pickling in the future!  I have my eye on a bunch of carrots...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Asian Bok Choy and Red Cabbage Salad

Thinly slice 4 leaves and stems of raw bok choy and about 1/4 of a red cabbage.  Place in a large bowl.

In a separate, small bowl, mix together:

1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon honey

Top bok choy and cabbage with sesame seeds (to taste) and toss with dressing.  Enjoy!

CSA Week #6

This week's vegetables: beets (groan...I'm still recovering from the beet smoothie); bok choy (yay...I love bok choy now that I learned to eat it raw); gorgeous, funky-colored carrots; and two different kids of salad greens (CSA virgin doesn't actually know what varieties they are, but they look delicious).

Garlic Scape Pesto

I'm learning that making a fresh pesto is as easy as blending up whatever greens and garlic you may have on hand with some lemon, nuts, olive oil, and water.  No special measurements needed.

For this pesto, I used some lovely garlic scapes from my CSA in place of mature garlic.  [Garlic scapes, I learned, are the "thinnings" from the garden.  To grow garlic (or anything else, really) you plant a bunch of seeds, and then pick some of the shoots to thin them out as they grow.]

For the greens, I used kale and beet greens.  My bullet-style blender is small, so I blended the greens and garlic with the lemon, oil, and water, and put the results in a bowl.  Then I blended the walnuts with some oil and water and mixed the result into the same bowl.  It made for an artsy and unusual pesto presentation that tasted just the same as regular pesto when spooned over whole-wheat pasta.

Beet Smoothie

Beet smoothies.

They look beautiful and they sound good.  They seem to be the darlings of vegan and raw food bloggers.  What could be wrong with a raw beet (I love beets!) whirred up with some orange juice and frozen strawberries?


Do not be fooled by this beautiful looking drink.

It was gross.  I think I need to let beets be beets.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Asparagus Mushroom Soup

This soup was so easy, I think it counts as fast food.  In fact, the instructions for presentation are more complicated than the recipe itself.

1 bunch of asparagus (an amount that you can hold easily in two hands)
1 portobello mushroom
4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (preferably homemade)
6 heaping teaspoons of fat-free Greek yogurt
lemon zest, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste

Chop up the asparagus, reserving a few of the prettiest tips for garnish.  Chop up the mushroom.  Toss both in a pot with the chicken broth.

Bring to a boil, and allow to cook (at a boil) for about ten minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before putting it in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  [If you have a blender that also heats, you can make this recipe in said blender without stopping to cool.]

Ladle into bowls and put 1 heaping teaspoon of fat-free Greek yogurt into each bowl.  Top with lemon zest, black pepper, and asparagus tips.  Enjoy this tart and tangy, earthy and green treat!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kenyan Curried Cabbage

I am normally not very partial to cabbage (which is why I still had some kicking around from last week's CSA delivery).  But this recipe changed my mind.

Cabbage is now at the top of my list!

[Which is a very good thing, because I still have another whole head of it in my fridge.  The CSA stops for no woman.]

My father-in-law has high blood pressure.  He recently researched foods that could help him to control it.  At the top of his list was turmeric.  My in-laws are AMAZING cooks, but turmeric is not a spice they're used to using.  I promised to research some recipes for them.

It turns out that turmeric is a key ingredient in curry powder.  Curry is a staple food in my house, but my in-laws don't prefer "hot" foods, so I imagine that they don't eat curry very often.  I didn't want to suggest a curry that they wouldn't enjoy, so I went looking for something a little more unique.

I thought this recipe for Kenyan Curried Cabbage, adapted from Kayotic Kitchen, would appeal to them.  The recipe uses wheat flour and milk, both of which are off limits to my poor father-in-law.  However, I imagine that gluten-free flour, and soy or nut milk, would work equally well in place of the wheat and dairy here.

1 medium head of cabbage
1 medium onion
2 medium carrots
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup low-fat or skim milk plus 3 tablespoons of low-fat or skim milk
1 teaspoon curry powder (contains turmeric!)

Shred the cabbage, onion, and carrots.

[I should note that I had gorgeous blue/purple carrots from my CSA, but that any kind of carrot would work fine.]

Put the olive oil in a skillet and cook the onions for about two minutes over medium-high heat, until they begin to soften.  Add the cabbage and carrots.  Cook for an additional two minutes, until the cabbage begins to soften.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, 3 tablespoons of milk, and the curry powder.  Stir until the lumps are gone and it forms a smooth paste.

Add the paste to the onions, cabbage, and carrots.

Stir well to coat.  Cook for about one minute, and then add an additional 1/2 cup of milk (I measured the milk into the same bowl I used to make the paste, in order to grab the remaining curry powder).

Cook until the cabbage and onions reach your desired consistency.  For me, I like my veggies to be barely cooked.  The equivalent for a steak would be "still mooing."  I cooked my version until the cabbage and onions were softened on the outside, but retained a nearly "raw" crunch on the inside.  I achieved this in two to three additional minutes.

The result was sweet, spicy, creamy and crunchy, all at the same time.  Something about the taste and texture of this recipe made me really want to add raisins to it, so I sprinkled them over my individual serving.

Ahem.  Serving(s).  I went back for seconds, thirds, and fourths.

I hope you enjoy it, Bud, and that it has the intended effect!

CSA Week #5

This week's CSA delivery included some beautiful blue carrots that I'm really excited about, as well as red cabbage, asparagus, beets, garlic, sage, rosemary, and kale.  Yum!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bok Choy Salad

I had an entire head of bok choy and no appetite for anything Asian.

So, I took to Google and searched for "unusual bok choy recipe."

To my delight, I found an idea from a blogger who I happen to know in real life (outside the blogosphere!).

The Dirty Radish had a recipe for raw baby bok choy salad.  Like her, I had never before considered the possibility of eating bok choy raw.  It's amazing!

Her recipe still skewed a bit Asian for my taste last evening, but I used the concept, and sliced the stems very thinly, as she suggested.  My bok choy was decidedly not "baby" bok choy, but it wasn't too bitter at all.  The resulting salad was delicious.

My husband and I split what turned out to be about four cups of bok choy.  What a way for each of us to get 1/3 of our recommended daily allowance of calcium (more, in fact, than in a glass of milk).

Head of bok choy, leaves chopped and stems sliced thinly
Raisins (to taste)
Walnuts (to taste)
Olive oil (to tatste)
Balsamic vinegar (to taste)

I am in the middle of reading "Eat to Live" by Dr. Furhman.  This salad was my recognition that "the salad is the main dish."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Veggie Dip

Necessity is the mother of all invention.

I remembered last night at about 10 p.m. that I signed up to bring a veggie dip to my kids' school for their Easter party.  Oops.

Thankfully, I was able to pull together a healthy dip in about 5 minutes using the lovely parsley from my CSA.

2 cups fat-free Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 onion, minced
1 bunch fresh parsley, minced

Put it all in a bowl and mix well.  Serve with veggies for dipping.  [Or, if you're feeling naughty, potato chips.  This is a perfectly healthy onion dip!]

Beet Gnocchi in Butter Sage Sauce

Gnocchi are surprisingly easy to make!

They did involve a bit of a mess, but they came together in just about the time it took to boil a pot of water.  I used a potato-less recipe because I didn't have any potatoes on hand, and ended up lightening up a recipe I found at Always Order Dessert.

Yes, I used the beets from last week's CSA delivery.  I'm behind, but thankfully my local produce is still fresh!

1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
1 cup roasted beat puree (approximately 2 large beets, roasted, peeled, and pureed)
2 cups whole-wheat flour, plus additional for flouring work surface
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 stick butter
bunch of sage, torn

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt and ricotta until smooth. Add the beat puree and mix until evenly combined.

Add the egg whites, one at a time, followed by the nutmeg and pepper.

Slowly add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until it is all incorporated into the dough. If your dough seems a bit too wet, feel free to add an extra 1/4 cup of flour.

Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface and knead for a few minutes. The dough will still be fairly wet, but you should be able to handle it.

Working with about a handful of dough at a time, roll out a long snake about an inch thick. Use a floured knife to cut out the gnocchi every inch and a half or so. Roll each gnocchi along the tines of a fork (or simply indent by gently pressing the back of the fork into the side of each nugget).

Place the formed gnocchi on a floured baking sheet.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add the gnocchi in batches. Let cook until they bob to the surface and then cook for an additional 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to pull out of the pot.

Finish the gnocchi in a skillet with the butter and torn sage. Let the gnocchi toast on one side (the contrast makes for an interesting texture) then serve with a sprinkle of nutmeg and additional torn fresh sage.

I assure you that the little bit of butter in this recipe goes a very long way.  Most of it gets left behind in the skillet anyway.  Any because this recipe makes enough gnocchi to feed an army, the amount of butter in any one serving is relatively small.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 2, 2012

CSA Week #4

This week's CSA delivery: Mushroom, asparagus, lettuce, cabbage, bok choy, and herbs!

I totally love that my kid "stole" an asparagus spear as I was putting the veggies away.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012


My husband's response to Grilled Carrots with Carrot Greens Pesto:


Grilled Carrots with Carrot-Greens Pesto

If you Google “carrot greens,” you will come up with a lot of conflicting information about whether or not they’re edible.  I didn’t find any sufficiently authoritative source (a public-health organization like a hospital or a government agency) saying that carrot greens were toxic, but I did find a number of bloggers who posted recipes using carrot greens, and who lived to blog again.

After two weeks of cautiously using carrot greens only for making stock (can you see them in the pictures here and here?), I decided to try a straight-up, carrot-greens recipe.  My husband and I both ate this for dinner on Thursday and -- I’m pleased to report -- survived.

I took the fabulous idea for grilled carrots with carrot greens pesto from Not Eating Out in New York.  I agree with her wholeheartedly that this dish “just makes sense somehow.”  I followed her recipe almost exactly (halving the carrots, blanching the greens, etc.), but used my own pesto recipe (excluding the kale and rosemary).  Actually, my own recipe is remarkably similar to hers, with only the addition of some fresh lemon juice and the omission of salt. 

I served the carrots as a side dish to plain, baked chicken, and put the pesto all over both the carrots and the chicken.  It was amazing.  In contrast to last week’s kale pesto, which blended into a smooth, creamy sauce, the carrot-greens pesto retained the chunkiness that is more characteristic of a typical (basil-based) pesto sauce.  The carrot greens have a fresh, herby, “carrot-y” flavor that is hard to describe but easy to appreciate. 

Even my husband liked the carrots and pesto, though he did complain at the outset that carrot greens are not food, and that they are meant to be thrown away.  The funny thing is, I left about a quarter inch of greens attached to the carrots, and my husband left those behind on his plate.  I pointed out to him that leaving the attached greens behind was silly; they were, after all, the same greens that formed the pesto.  In response, he reiterated his position that one does not eat carrot greens, and then asked me if I was a rabbit.  Some fights are not worth having: He was taking a big bite of pesto covered chicken as he said it.   

This was a great recipe that I’ll definitely make again.  That is, of course, if I live that long after having eaten carrot greens in the first place.
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