everyday staple


I’m so glad that I keep up w/the food blog…it’s nice ūüėČ

Anyway, our garden has been exploding w/veggie-goodness over the past few days, and it’s honestly pretty inspiring, food-wise, when you see so many yummy, home grown things coming into the house.

For instance, those beautiful tomatoes and gorgeous basil had me drooling over bruschetta…only we didn’t have any good bread in. ¬†But then, that got me thinking of using my stand mixer to just make some bread, only quickly, bc most bread recipes seem to take hours for rising time.

I found this¬†recipe on Pinterest, and it’s for French Bread (used for pizzas), and I loved it bc it only took about an hour and a half, start to finish, including rising time. ¬†And, there were like, four ingredients. ¬†Sold!

I forgot to take “before” pictures, so after mixing the ingredients together and then letting the dough rise for an hour, here’s the almost-finished product:

(I was pretty surprised that my dough had actually doubled like it should, bc I normally don’t have the best luck w/dough. ¬†I love the stand mixer!)

Then, I formed the dough into a long sort-of log shape, and set it to bake for 30(ish) minutes:

Tada, bread!

PS- this is soooo good, too! ¬†I couldn’t help cutting a few pieces off while it was still hot, and wow, warm bread and butter? ¬†Really doesn’t get any better, if you ask me!

Later that night, I cut up the tomatoes, ripped up the basil, and we had bruschetta (w/chicken alfredo…bc we’re super-healthy over here!). ¬†The bread was perfect- definitely a recipe I plan to use again and again ūüôā

Presented beautifully on the prettiest cookie sheet I could find! ūüėČ

This recipe is from “Veganomicon”, a vegan cookbook I got awhile back when…ugh, it’s embarrassing to admit, but I got it right after baby #2 bc I wanted to lose baby weight fast- and so, I started eating vegan. ¬†And I learned that that’s incredibly difficult, especially for someone who loves meat more than anything! ¬†At any rate, the book has some really great recipes, and I still try to use it for meatless meal ideas.

Anyway, after making the vegetable broth yesterday, I really wanted to make some soup- and after a pantry reorganizing project the other day, I found that I have way too many bags of beans lying around. ¬†So, here’s hoping to reduce that number by usin’ up some lentils!

Here’s the recipe- I’m going to do a photo-dump style post:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into fine dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (Hungarian if you‚Äôve got it)
  • 5 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 6 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups French lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat a large pot over medium heat and add oil. Sauté the onion and carrots for about 10 minutes, until onions have browned a bit. Add the garlic, tarragon, thyme, and paprika, and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and a little splash of water if necessary, and stir to deglaze the pot. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the water, lentils, bay leaves, salt, and pepper, then cover and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. If the soup looks too thin, uncover and simmer for a couple more minutes. If it looks too thick, add a little more water. Serve with good, crusty bread.

Sauteeing carrots and onions

W/garlic and herbs...I have to admit that the smell of tarragon kinda makes me queasy. It's the same way w/celery- once it's cooked, I'm fine ūüôā

W/everything added in and simmering

And now, we wait- it should simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the liquid’s reduced a bit and the lentil’s are tender. ¬†Be back soon!

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Wow, it’s really good- despite the tarragon! ūüėČ ¬†No, really…this is yummy! ¬†If I have any criticism for the recipe, it’d be that there are WAY too many lentils- I didn’t even cook it for 20 minutes when the liquid was gone, and it was like lentil craziness. ¬†Way, way too many lentils- if I made this again, I’d probably only use one cup, and not two. ¬†This time, though, I scooped out some, and added in another cup of broth.

All set!

But wow, sooo good- the tarragon really adds something unique. ¬†It’s much more of a complex blend of flavors than I might have thought, and wow, the leftovers will be so good for lunch! ¬†(And I’m sure the yummy homemade broth had a lot to do w/this delicious meal…or, at least I’ll pretend it did!)

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E did have some “constructive criticisms” when he tried this- mainly that it was just a “giant bowls of beans” (It’s not, clearly- just look at that ingredient list up there, mister! ¬†But again, this was why I think the amount of lentils should be cut down- seriously, it’s a lot!). ¬†So anyway, for the leftovers, I’m going to add in more tomatoes and maybe even some roast chicken (we still have some leftover from the other night). ¬†The flavor of the soup was really great…just maybe too many lentils! ūüôā

I’ve saved the easiest broth for last! ¬†Really, after fooling w/huge cow bones and chicken carcasses for¬†beef¬†and¬†chicken stocks, a little veggie broth will be a breeze! ¬†And, since I wanted to make soup for dinner tonight, it seemed like the perfect time to try out veggie broth-making.

I found this¬†recipe on AllRecipes.com, and it’s listed as the “World’s Greatest Vegetable Broth,” and even has 4.5 stars. ¬†Sounds perfect!

Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • 1 pound celery
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet onions
  • 1 pound carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 pound tomatoes, cored
  • 1 pound green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound turnips, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 gallon water

First, roast the onions, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, and turnips (all tossed w/olive oil) for a little over an hour at 450-degrees (oh, I used parsnips instead of turnips bc I had some, and didn’t wanna buy turnips!):

Gettin' roasted

Once the veggies were roasted, they went into the stock pot w/the celery and…well, everything else:

After that, it was boiled for about…maybe two hours? ¬†The idea was to boil it until the liquid had reduced by half- I think it took about two hours. ¬†When it was finished, I poured the mix through a colander, and discarded the veggies- I know I should have saved them, but…I didn’t.

Anyway, tada- vegetable broth! ¬†ūüôā

This is something I’d wanted to try forever, but didn’t bc I was scared off. ¬†Who knows why, but anyway, I avoided making apple butter. ¬†Never again- especially now that I found a slow-cooker¬†recipe! ūüôā

The only bad thing about this recipe is that it takes a total of 12 hrs. ¬†And, since I’m scared of leaving my slow-cooker on while we’re asleep, I had to start this pretty early. ¬†(Well, it’s only 8am, but it’s still early to be thinking about cooking projects!)

Peel, core, and chop 2.5 lbs apples- they suggest using a mix to create a more complex flavor, and I normally would have done that, but we had loads of Fuji apples lying around, so I didn’t get fancy w/it. ¬†Also, I used more apples than in the recipe, only bc mine were tiny, and the recipe was for large apples.

Then, add in white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg- and cook on low (stirring occasionally) for 10 hrs:

Be back in…oh, forever, w/an update! ūüėČ

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Ok, so I started at 8, and it was finally ready at 6pm. ¬†But, I totally forgot about it, since I’d been smelling it all day, and didn’t remember it until nearly 7! ¬†(Oops!) ¬†After the 10-hr cook, I used a hand-mixer to mash the apples- you’re supposed to use an immersion blender, but I don’t have one. ¬†The hand-mixer was a bit tricky, but I smushed the apples into one side of the slow-cooker, and ran the mixer over them a lot until the mix was pretty smooth.

Then, one more hour of cooking on high.

OH- my apple butter was really thick, almost like paste, and the thought of one more hour of cooking had me thinking I’d just be cleaning a baked-on mess out of the slow-cooker, so I added about a half cup of water, and stirred it in. ¬†Perfect!

E had some after dinner, and said it was really good- and wow, it totally is! ¬†Definitely using this recipe again! ūüôā

I’ve never made marinara sauce before, but wanted to try it as I had every ingredient (it’s not a huge list), and I bought pasta today from my favorite pasta maker in the Italian Market (they had a Facebook 25%-off fresh pasta sale, why wouldn’t I go?)…so, it was just meant-to-be, really ūüôā

I feel funny about posting the full recipe (since I can’t find it online), but I’ll email it to you if you’re interested. ¬†It’s pretty straight-forward, and even uses canned crushed tomatoes. ¬†I used this can that I bought back in September when we went to a local farm:

Anyway, you start off w/a base of chopped onions and garlic w/a little bit of red pepper:

Then, add in the crushed tomatoes to simmer for about 30 mins:

And voila- marinara sauce! ¬†Smells delicious– can’t wait to enjoy it w/our 3-cheese ravioli! ūüôā

This is a really great sauce- and, it’s kinda spicy! ¬†Never would have thought of making marinara spicy, but it really works- yum! ūüôā

I posted¬†this before, but had used an Ina Garten recipe. ¬†That stock was delicious, but kind of involved- you needed tons of ingredients, I felt. ¬†I just recently used this one¬†(from Real Simple), and as the site implies, it’s extremely simple! ¬†(I thought I’d posted this recipe before, but couldn’t find it- maybe it was on my Facebook?) ¬†Anyway, here goes!

The recipe:

Ingredients

  • 4¬†pounds¬†bone-in chicken pieces, preferably necks, backs, and wings
  • 4¬†celery stalks, sliced
  • 4¬†carrots, sliced
  • 2¬†large onions, sliced
  • 4¬†sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1¬†tablespoon¬†black peppercorns
  • 2¬†bay leaves

Directions

  1. In a large pot, combine the chicken, celery, carrots, onions, parsley, peppercorns, bay leaves, and 16 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours, occasionally skimming off and discarding any foam that rises to the top.
  2. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the solids. Let cool completely, then skim off and discard any fat that rises to the top. The stock can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

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So, that’s the plan- I’m making myself do this today bc I just realized that I’d had the chicken bits in the freezer for awhile, and hadn’t gotten around to making stock, which I really needed to bc I’m out of it, AND I’m also supposed to be getting more chicken backs from our CSA today. ¬†Kinda had to do this now if I wanted to have any room in our freezer!

I’m nearly doubling the recipe bc I had chicken backs, a whole rooster, and the carcass (ew) from a chicken dinner in the freezer, and I’m guessing that that all weighed more than 4 lbs. ¬†It’ll also simmer for longer than the two hours in the recipe, just bc I really wanna make sure that the rooster is fully-cooked to use the meat in potpies this weekend.

Anyway, if you’ve never made stock before (and if you use a lot of store-bought chicken broth), give this a try!

Another “special request” from the 2012 Challenge (thanks, Rebekah!)- and, as luck would have it, I just came across a¬†recipe for almond milk! ¬†I have to say that I was kinda scared about this challenge, too, bc I had no idea where to start but…wow, this could not seem any easier to make! ¬†Seriously, it’s two ingredients (one of which is water), and it involves soaking. ¬†Then a blender. ¬†Um, yea, I couldn’t be more excited to try this now!

You’ll need: ¬†one cup almonds, two cups water. ¬†Let the almonds soak for 2-8 hrs (I’m going w/eight), then strain, rinse well, and add to the blender w/3 cups of water. ¬†Blend for about a minute, until the almonds are broken down. ¬†Strain the milk through a fine-mesh strainer, and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Anyway, we’re still in the soaking stage, but this should be ready for “milking” later tonight- check back for an update!

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All done! ¬†This was truly the easiest thing ever- as are most recipes that involve “soaking” as the most important step! ¬†The water practically did all the work for me! ūüėČ

So, I strained and rinsed the almonds, and tossed ’em in the blender w/more water. ¬†Then…blend! ¬†After that, I poured the mix through a strainer, and…tada, almond milk!

The only difference (obviously) from store-bought milk is that…they must add sweeteners bc it’s kinda bland. ¬†Almond-y, but bland. ¬†I’m not a huge fan of almond milk, so that may just be it. ¬†But, if you’re interested, definitely worth making- it was actually kinda fun! ūüôā

(Oh, sorry about using ‘miniature’ feature- I just really like the colors that feature makes. ¬†But, that one picture looks like I’m practically filling up a thimble, and this made about 3 cups, so…again, sorry!)

* Quick question for anyone who’s made almond milk before: ¬†Do you use the pulp afterwards for anything? ¬†I was looking online for recipes, but many of them needed a dehydrator…So, just wondering! *

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