I hate to let food go to waste. Cardinal sin in my book. Even vegetable scraps go to the compost pile. When I lived in Nicaragua for a year, I would give my neighbor the scraps for his pig.
Recently, I took my husband back to my old Nicaraguan neighborhood for our honeymoon (San Juan del Sur is located in a half moon-shaped bay on the Pacific ocean - not a bad honeymoon at all!) and the neighborhood kids walked up without a word TO HUG ME! I said, "Do you remember me?" And one girl said, "Yes, you used to give us machihue ("Mah-chee-weh" - meaning, slop) for our pig." I couldn't believe it. Two years after I had left, and they remembered me for that!! Ha...
Anywho, Wednesday night, I barbecued a bunch of chicken legs, and we had 5 or six left, and I had just made some Roasted Green Pepper Salsa (below), so I thought of an interesting twist on tacos:
BBQ Chicken Tacos
about 6 chicken legs, or 1/2 pound chicken, pieced (previously BBQed and refrigerated)
1 large green tomato, diced
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 tsp chili powder
(If you want more heat, add 1-2 tsp Louisiana hot sauce)
In a skillet, warm chicken with extra bbq sauce. Add green tomato and let cook on medium heat until it softens, about ten minutes. Add cabbage and herbs. Serve with heated corn tortillas. (I heat mine with a little butter in a skillet; brown for about a minute on both sides.) And a dollop of sour cream!
Roasted Green Pepper Salsa
6-7 green bell peppers
four cloves garlic
Place peppers, halved or quartered, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes. Turn slices over and bake another five minutes.
2 medium sized onions, sauteed
3 medium sized tomatoes
big handful of fresh cilantro
1 whole jalapeno, seeded and diced
juice of 3 limes
1-2 tsp cumin
Peel skins off of peppers and place in food processor or blender with all other ingredients. Let refrigerate at least a few hours until chilled completely.
Think fast! What lunch can you whip up in about 5 minutes with cucumber, tomato, and feta cheese??
Before I get to that, I have to tell you that I am sick of cucumbers by now. Well, I'm sick of finding uses for them. I've made pickles, and I've shredded up a bunch for a massive serving of tzatziki dip... And our garden is showing no signs of stopping.
So today, I thought of a tasty light lunch. I didn't have any Kalamata Olives, but if I had, I would have added them to the mix...
Greek Salad Sandwich
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
about 1 oz feta cheese
about 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
a few leaves of fresh basil, or 2 tsp dried basil
salt to taste
Mix diced vegetables, crumbled cheese, and basil. In a small skillet, reduce balsamic vinegar to a runny syrup. Let cool slightly and mix with veggie mix. Spoon over sandwich roll and top with spinach or arugula, or both!
Too, you can skip the roll, and just make it a salad on the spinach and arugula.
Cauliflower has always been kind of boring to me. It's usually the "filler" in those frozen bags of Mixed Vegetables that I don't usually buy. Definitely true in my case is the fact that cauliflower has gotten a bad rap as a bland veggie.
So I had this cauliflower hanging out in my refrigerator. I had previously seen a recipe for roasting it, and a different recipe for soup... A + B + XYZ =
Roasted Cauliflower & Red Pepper Curry Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons
1 head cauliflower
1 large red pepper
4 cloves garlic
olive oil, salt
Slice cauliflower crosswise, not into florets. Slice red pepper into 4-6 slices. Place all onto large baking sheet, along with garlic cloves; drizzle with olive oil and salt, preferably sea salt. Bake at 450 about 15 minutes, flip everything with a spatula, and bake another 10 minutes.
Pull skins off the pepper slices. Dump everything in a blender or food processor with 1 cup water or chicken broth and blend thoroughly.
Pour into a sauce pan and add:
2 tsp hot curry powder
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash of cinnamon
dash of ground cloves.
Salt to taste.
Simmer 10 minutes on medium heat... Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.Pumpernickel croutons: slice pumpernickel bread into small cubes and bake 10 minutes at 350. Sprinkle on soup.YUM!!!
Sadly, many people don't make a lot of things from scratch anymore. Everything comes pre-made in a box or a bag. Lemme tell you something: ALL of that stuff has additives and preservatives and Yellow Number 5 or Red Number 40 or whatever, and NONE of that is good for us!
When you make it yourself with great ingredients, you know exactly what goes into whatever you're making.
Here is an old Southern favorite. Simple and quick to make. Banana pudding. It's as "scratch" as it can be until you get to the cookies. (Maybe I can find a recipe for those...!)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups milk
4 tsp butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 package vanilla wafer cookies
Mix cornstarch, sugar and salt together in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of milk and stir on medium heat until ingredients dissolve. Add eggs and whisk well. Add remaining milk. Stir constantly until thick. Add butter and stir. Let cool. Add vanilla, stir. Layer cookies, banana slices, and pudding in a bowl or dish... (I don't like mushy cookies, so I put mine in right before serving.) Chill completely before serving.
Magnolia Bakery in New York says the most popular cupcake they sell is what they call the Vanilla Vanilla -- the vanilla cupcake with the vanilla icing (and the most popular color for the icing is pink).
I have made these and can tell you that the consistency is so light and airy. So neat! My wedding cake was actually made from this recipe, and it was delicious!!
If you would like to make a layer cake instead of cupcakes, divide the batter between 2 (9-inch) round cake pans and bake the layers for 30 to 40 minutes.
Ingredients for Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.
In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
The vanilla buttercream we use at the bakery is technically not a buttercream but actually an old-fashioned confectioners' sugar and butter frosting. Be sure to beat the icing for the amount of time called for in the recipe to achieve the desired creamy texture.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Yield: enough for 2 dozen cupcakes or 1 (9-inch) layer cake
"Food is never just food. It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, & who we want to be." -- Molly Wizenberg