Sunday, August 30, 2009

Food Processor

Last night was a food processor night.

First I used it to make fresh pesto. A friend at work brought in a huge bag of basil from her garden. It looks way better than mine, so she shared a bit with me.

Fill the bowl of the food processor with fresh basil leaves.
Add a handful or two of grated Parmesan cheese.
Add a 1/4 teaspoon of garlic.
Add a teaspoon of salt.
Start pulsing the food processor. Drizzle in olive oil.
You need enough olive oil to make it a liquid-ish/saucy consistency.

I served the pesto over pasta, then added a few pieces of chopped tomato from my garden and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Secondly I used the food processor to make hummus. I found this recipe. At first I was doubtful about actually making hummus cheaper than buying it, because the tahini costs about $6 per jar. But I decided to try it.

Following the recipe exactly made enough hummus to fill one of my rectangular gladware containers really really full. That is at least twice as much hummus as I get when I buy it at the grocery store for $3.69 per container. So I decided it is cheaper to make it. And it tastes good.

But the next time I make it, I will do a half batch, because it was a little overwhelming for my little food processor.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A failed recipe

I mentioned in my last post that I was trying 3 recipes this week. Last night was time for #3.

Honestly, so much less than stellar, I'm not even going to post a recipe, or a link to the blog I got it from. The blog has a chance to redeem itself with something else good, but this wasn't it.

It was a pasta salad, and the sauce/dressing was made with tahini sauce. Tahini is a major ingredient in hummus, and I was reading several recipes and recommendations to make your own hummus instead of buying it.

Unfortunately, I think I expected the pasta salad to taste like hummus, and it didn't.

On to better things I hope.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why don't you explain it to me. You've got five seconds.

One of the things that money-saving food-blog people advocate is menu planning. And I just have to say, wow, that so doesn't work for me. Maybe because it's too much like... planning. I hate planning.

(A couple of friends have come over in the past couple of days, and they come in and say, wow, Emily, you are so organized. My response, What? Why in the world would you say that? "Because you have a huge calendar on your fridge." My response, ....)

Menu planning isn't working. So instead, this week I decided to pick 3 recipes and go buy the ingredients that I didn't have for them. Then I could make them whenever I felt like it.

Recipe #1: Heather's Salsa Pasta Chicken

See comments under
August 17, "I would do the NY Times crossword every Sunday"

Recipe #2: Mediterranean Couscous

I have found a new favorite show on the Food Network. It's called "
5 Ingredient Fix" and just like it sounds, the whole premise is that the host makes dishes with just 5 ingredients.

At first, I was skeptical. I have seen 5 ingredient cookbooks before, and they always have Campbell's Cream of ___ Soup as an ingredient. Yeah, I'd just as soon put rat poison in my food. (Because that stuff is full of flour, and basically it is poison to me).

But Claire (the host of 5 ingredient fix) actually uses real whole food as her 5 ingredients. So cool.

This week I tried the
Mediterranean Couscous, except with some major modifications. Here is the recipe for Super Med Quinoa:

1 cup quinoa (keen-wah) - $3.99

2 cups vegetable stock

3 scallions (green onions), chopped - $.99
12 dried apricots, chopped - $1.99

1/2 can olives, chopped - $.99

salt and pepper to taste

Quinoa is a grain revered by the Incans. They called it the "Mother grain" because it's a superfood. It is tiny granules, much like couscous, but it contains essential amino acids, protein, and fiber. It's gaining popularity among foodies, and is great because you cook it just like rice, and can use it in much of the same type of dishes. Also, it's good hot or cold, so it's good for summer-time salads and anything else.

A word of caution, quinoa is full of fiber. So if you aren't used to eating a lot of fiber, don't try to eat this for four meals in a row. It would lead to some unpleasant side effects.

Ok, on to the cooking directions.
Bring the vegetable stock to a boil, and dump in the quinoa. Stir gently and allow to return to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer until all the water is absorbed.
Chop the scallions, apricots and olives.

When the quinoa is finished, transfer to a bowl, and dump in the chopped "veggies."

Salt and pepper to taste.

Fluff with a fork to serve.

You can serve this warm or at room temperature. I actually thought it was good chilled too.

I got four meals out of this. Total cost = $ 7.96. And I could have had leftovers to do a second if I hadn't snacked on the remaining olives and apricots... But the next time I make it I won't have to buy the quinoa again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I brought you flours.

So my big food project for the week was to combine up a new flour blend. I made Bette Hagman's "Featherlight" flour mix. It is:
1 cup rice flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup tapioca flour
1 tbs. potato flour

Of course, I can't follow directions, so I decided that I would alternate a cup of white rice flour with a cup of brown rice flour.

I paid a total of $13.47 for the different flours. I made 9 cups of flour, and only stopped because I ran out of cornstarch. So I still have almost all of the brown rice flour and potato flour, and half the bag of the tapioca flour.

I am figuring I can make at least 4 things with the 9 cups of flour. So it's still pretty expensive, at $1.50 per cup, which would make most things (since I use 2 cups of flour mix for a batch of pancakes and muffins) about $3 for just the flour. But of course that is ignoring the fact that I will be able to make more flour as soon as I get more cornstarch - happily enough the cheapest part of the mix.

In other news, I'm currently eating the recipe Heather suggested, the Salsa Pasta recipe. Yum-o. And can I say a huge thanks, because all of those ingredients are actually things that I usually have in my fridge.

I have no recipes to suggest from this past week. It was a raw-veggie-heavy week. I bought fresh mozzarella and made Insalata Caprese. It was delicious. Then I ate corn on the cob. Then I made a half a cup of quinoa and put it in a lettuce free salad.

I said no recipes, but for those of you not in the know, I will explain the Insalata Caprese.
1 ball of fresh mozzarella - no, you cannot buy the block of what they call mozzarella and have this taste good. splurge.
tomatoes - real ones that you just picked from your garden, or a friend's garden, or the farmer's market
fresh basil
olive oil
salt and pepper

Dice the tomatoes and mozzarella and put in a bowl. Rough chop the basil, a good handful, and add to the bowl. Pour a drizzle of olive oil over everything and a little salt and pepper. Toss everything well, and enjoy.

Seriously, if you use good ingredients, it's the best thing ever.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk

And now for yet another muffin recipe.

I used up all of my flour blends. I should probably be bothered, but this means that now I get to try some of the other flour blends I have been reading about and see what I like best. I'm hoping it's a fun experiment.

But in the meantime, I went out of town yesterday and needed snacks. I am aware that I am the weird one, I take food with me everywhere I go. But I went out of town with 3 friends, and not a single one of them brought food with them. We met at their house, so I am perfectly aware that they had a whole box of Luna bars sitting on the coffee table. But nobody brought a single snack. And while I know I am weird, I just think that is really weird.

I went to make muffins to take on said trip, but only had rice flour. I know you can't just use that because it is too gritty. So here is the new recipe.

Rice flour blueberry muffins
1 egg
1/2 cup water (or other liquid, like milk)
2 tbs canola oil
1 tbs agave nectar or honey
1/4 cup + 1 tbs sour cream
1 1/2 cup white rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix liquid ingredients together, then add dry ingredients. As always texture should be runny-ish. I just threw in a couple handfuls of blueberries, until it looked like there were a bunch.

I used my mini muffin tin to bake these in. They are great as little bites, and made 24 muffins.

Bake at 425 for 17 min.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It all depends on what she cooks like.

Last week my parents and littlest sister came to visit me, and I tried to do good dinners for them. Of course, I realized at the end of their stay, that most people would consider me a terrible host for not taking them out for Kansas City Barbeque.

But that's not really my thing.

And they were happy enough that I fed them ice cream.

They all particularly enjoyed a recipe that I got from a friend. She said her husband rated it a 9 out of 10, and it is gluten free. I made no major alterations to this one - the only substitution was I used gluten free soy sauce. Honestly, I probably would have just omitted that, but I bought gluten free soy sauce for another recipe like 6 months ago. And I still have the whole bottle.

The recipe is called Apricot Chicken with Cashews and is from the Taste of Home magazine/website.