MAKING VEGETABLE STOCK by Vickie Kline

I have posted several times about CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs. I will begin participating in a new program in March, and am very excited about it. I’m already thinking about all the veggies I will receive in the coming months, and ways to use them.

Last year, I would receive a weekly bag filled with all types of greens, root vegetables, tomatoes, and potatoes. All sorts of wonderful things that I had to decide how to use. There never seemed to be a short supply of okra either… which isn’t my favorite vegetable, but I wasn’t about to waste anything.

With my husband’s help, we began making vegetable stock. veggies in freezer bagToward the end of the week when some of the produce began to lose freshness and get soft, rather than disposing of it, we would place it in a ziploc bag and throw it in the freezer. When the supply was large enough, we would pull everything together and begin the process of making vegetable stock. This was a way to enjoy our produce long after the CSA season had ended.

The process is easy and well worth it. Begin by placing all your veggies in a large pot and fill with water until well covered. Cook over medium heat for approximately one hour, until veggies are soft.veggies after simmering

Remove veggies from pot and blend in a food processor. (Do not dispose of water in your pot). Processing will create a lumpy, pulp-like substance. It will be an “interesting” color, but this is determined completely by what you put in, so don’t be discouraged if it’s not yet pleasing to view. Most likely it will be dark green or brown.veggies going into food processor

After processing, put back in the pot on stove with water reserved from first cooking. Let it simmer for 45 minutes, until your kitchen is filled with the wonderful aroma of an outdoor garden.

Strain the remaining pulp by placing a fine strainer over a bowl to catch the juice. As you strain, stir and push the pulp against the strainer to squeeze out all the juice and broth.veggies straining

What you end up with is a bowlful of broth that is salt-free, preservative-fee, MSG-free, and made completely from natural ingredients. And, it tastes wonderful.veggie broth

Pour it into bags and mark by type. I measured and placed 2 cups into each bag. That’s a standard amount for most recipes. This particular batch had some peppers in it, so was quite spicy. I didn’t want to confuse that with others, so I labeled it as pepper broth. Place ziploc bags in the freezer.veggie broth in bags

When you’re preparing food in your crock pot or on stove top, you can pull out one of these bags and drop it into your recipe batch. The flavor will be phenomenal. And you know exactly what’s in it.

Now, as I slice carrots for a salad or cut peppers for a stir fry, I save all the bits that I used to throw away. This is how I keep my broth batches going during the winter when my CSA program isn’t producing.

Making vegetable broth is a great way to reduce stress, make the house smell wonderful, and keep you on track for a healthful eating plan, free of processed foods.

Strive to be healthy!

RECIPE FRIDAY: Spinach cakes

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, or low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Pulse spinach in three batches in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add ricotta (or cottage cheese), Parmesan, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper; stir to combine.
Coat 8 cups of the muffin pan with cooking spray. Divide the spinach mixture among the 8 cups (they will be very full).
Bake the spinach cakes until set, about 20 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a clean cutting board or large plate. Serve warm, sprinkled with more Parmesan, if desired.
Recipe shared courtesy of Eleanore Johnson

RECIPE FRIDAY: Gluten-free Quinoa Pizza Bites

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 large eggs
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tablespoons dried)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pizza sauce for dipping

Directions

  1. Place the quinoa and two cups of water in a covered pot. Bring to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Mix together all ingredients, except pizza sauce, in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Distribute mixture into a greased mini muffin tin, filling each cup to the top (one heaping tablespoon each), and press down gently to compact.
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve warm with sauce for dipping.

Makes 24 mini muffin bites.

Strive to be healthy!

Recipe and photos courtesy of fitsugar

RECIPE FRIDAY: Chard Chips by Vickie Kline

I’ve heard of making kale chips, but decided to try the same process with chard since I had plenty from the garden. They turned out great and were delicious…

Begin by removing stems, wash the chard and use a salad spinner to remove excess water. I place on a paper towel to help soak up any remaining moisture. The more dry the leaves, the crisper they will be. If you need to, let them sit out for a bit to continue drying.

Place leaves in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. This is a touchy one. Too much oil and they get soggy, not enough oil and they burn. You want the leaves to be lightly coated so your seasoning will stick, but not overly soaked. Cover with seasoning of your choice: salt and pepper is good, but I like to use an Italian seasoning or a combination of rosemary and garlic. Even a hint of chili powder is good.

Place all leaves on a cookie sheet so they are not overlapping. Cook at 275 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn leaves over and cook another 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool, and eat immediately. The chips do not keep well.

RECIPE FRIDAY: Chickpea salad

I made this last weekend and it was so tasty, I ate it before snapping a picture. So as you’re putting it together you’ll have to imagine what the final product will look like. But, it will be beautiful and taste great!

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

1/2 can black beans (drained and rinsed)

1/2 cup celery (chopped)

1/2 can diced tomatoes (drained)

1/4 cup onion

extra virgin olive oil

garlic, salt, pepper to taste

Place chickpeas, black beans, and celery in bowl. Stir in diced tomatoes and onion (you can use yellow onion or green onion). Coat with olive oil and add seasoning to your liking. This is a healthy protein salad that goes well with any entrée. You can make substitutions on the type of beans used and replace celery with carrots or zucchini (anything with crunch for texture). Enjoy…

Strive to be healthy!

RECIPE FRIDAY: Chicken Butternut Squash Soup with black beans

With cold weather finally appearing, I was definitely in the mood for soup. This one has a great taste and is easy to put together.

This recipe shared courtesy of Serious Eats (with a few of my personal changes)

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium dice

1 medium yellow onion, cut into medium dice

4 chicken thighs

2 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups soup stock (low sodium chicken, vegetable, or my homemade soup stock)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425. Arrange squash, onion, and chicken on baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast until chicken is cooked through and squash is tender, about 30 minutes.

When chicken has cooled, (pull from bone if used bone-in chicken), discard bones and skin. Chop into cubes and set aside.

Combine squash, onions, and chicken broth in medium pot. Add cumin, coriander, and garlic and bring to a simmer. With a potato masher, mash the soup (it will be chunky), then add lemon juice and black beans. Add chicken, season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Top with fresh cilantro if desired.

Eat right and Strive to be healthy!

RECIPE FRIDAY: Quinoa Greens Feta Salad

Recipe shared through courtesy of Be Nourished By Nature

Ingredients:

2 medium or 3 small beets (any color) roasted
1 cup kale or green of your choice (collard greens, chard, beet greens)
1 cup quinoa

Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced or pureed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (may substitute 1 to 2 tablespoons walnut oil for 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil)
1/2 cup broken walnut pieces
2 ounces feta or goat cheese, crumbled (more if desired for garnish)
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, marjoram, chives, mint
1. Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, add salt to taste and the greens. Blanch for two minutes, and transfer to the ice water. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop coarsely and set aside.
2. Bring the water back to a boil, and add the quinoa and cook as directed.
3. While the quinoa is cooking, make the vinaigrette: Whisk together the sherry and balsamic vinegar, salt, garlic and mustard. Whisk in the oil(s). Add to the quinoa. Peel and dice the beets and add, along with the greens, feta or goat cheese, herbs and walnuts. Toss together, and serve warm or room temperature with a little more cheese sprinkled over the top if you wish.

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