Most people get the urge to clean their houses in the springtime. They diligently de-clutter closets, scrub windows, wash walls, touch up paint, and sweep away all the winter dust bunnies hibernating under the furniture. I have the urge to do none of these things. One place I do have a hankering to overhaul is the kitchen. Naturally.
I have been staring at the same 13 bags of frozen vegetables for at least a year now. Nevermind the seven bags of cranberries I froze in December when I thought it would be a good idea to stock up since fresh cranberries are only sold for about two months a year. The cupboards were stocked with pantry items that hadn’t seen the light of day for about the same amount of time. Not one to waste food or money, I made it my mission to try to use these items up. I threw away everything that was past its expiration date (goodbye green jello from 2004) and started a box to donate foods that were clearly not going to get eaten (canned fruit just isn’t doing it for me anymore).
Begrudgingly, I vowed to buy less fresh produce this week so that I would be forced to use my freezer and pantry stockpile. I’ve heard of people that forego grocery shopping for a week or two for the very same reason. While I could never skip a week of food shopping, I could commit to buying less food, especially considering I already had plenty of it in the house.
This week, I decided to tackle the frozen carrots, cranberries, corn, corn grits, and a half empty jar of dill pickle chips just for fun. I know you’re what you’re thinking. Another freakin’ carrot recipe? Let me remind you that carrots have fiber and beta-carotine which gets converted to vitamin A in the body and at the rate I consume carrots, I estimate I should be able to stop wearing glasses in about two weeks. In the interest of eating a colorful diet, let me assure you that I also eat lots and lots of greens but am saving those for a post about summer salads.
Back to kitchen clean up 2011, the menu included springtime carrot ginger soup, jalepeno corn muffins, cranberry jam, and dill pickle dip. As a side note, I don’t plan on serving these items together, but rather I want to have them on hand to make brown bagging lunch easy this week.
Carrot Ginger Soup
1 bag frozen carrots
2 stalks celery
1/2 white onion, sliced
1 -2 cups Vegetable Stock
2-3 tsp. ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste
Heat carrots in microwave or in saucepan on stove. Meanwhile, saute carrots and onion in butter or veggie stock (your call) until translucsent. Transfer carrots, celery, and onion to blender. Puree, adding enough stock to make a soup consistency (don’t you love how I never give precise measurements?). Congratulations! You just made baby food! To make adult food, pour the puree back into the saucepot, add the bayleaf, ginger, salt, and pepper and simmer for about an hour. And don’t try to be all time save-ery and skip the simmer. Simmering this soup gives it a rich, golden color and makes it taste like you spent hours slow roasting the veggies instead of just opening a bag from the freezer. At this point, you can add a little milk if you want a creamy soup.
This…..now becomes this……
Bam. One bag of frozen veggies down, twelve to go.
Next up are the jalepeno corn muffins. I have a favorite corn muffin recipe that I haul out for the holidays, but I found one online that I decided to try in the interest of using ingredients I already had on hand. I added 1 chopped jalepeno (obviously) and 1/2 cup frozen corn to the batter before baking. Just so you know, if you over mix a muffin batter, they come out looking like a gnome got stuck in your oven and is hiding under your baked goods. I nominate pointy gnome muffins to be the next food trend.
This recipe isn’t as good as my turkey day cornbread recipe, but it did make the perfect grab and go lunch item. Hubby’s getting 3 muffins a day for the next five days. Yum!
1 bag frozen cranberries
Juice of half an orange (you can use more, I just needed to use that orange) + zest
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tbs. honey (I like it tart. You can add more honey).
Combine first three ingredients in small saucepan. Cook over medium high heat until cranberries break down into jam like consistency. Add honey. Transfer to sterilized mason jar. PS! You can seal the jar by flipping it upside down after you secure the lid. Did you notice how this recipe doesn’t require gelatin or fruit pectin? Sweet. Less ingredients!
This last recipe is a result of trying to figure out what to do with the Special K cracker chips I bought a few months back. I don’t buy a lot of processed, overpriced chips and crackers, but I had to try these. They just looked so crunchy and crispy. Plus, you get to eat like 30 of them for 110 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. While I wouldn’t waste $4.00 on potato flour and oil in the future, they are kind of nice to have around to nibble on. After pondering the issue, I concluded it was time to make a dill pickle dip that I had seen on a friends blog a while back. This was is so easy it’s scary. I used yogurt cheese for mine, but you could use sour cream or just plain yogurt if you like.
1/2 cup yogurt cheese
1/4 cup dill pickle chips
2-3 tsp. pickle juice
Mix all the ingredients. You’re done. You’re welcome.
I foresee this dip making its way into sandwiches and tortilla roll ups this week. I thought hubs might like it spread on some deli ham (nitrate free, of course. Another lost freezer item) and rolled up with a slice of mozzarella cheese. Oh! I just had an idea, you could just use a cheese stick rolled up in some deli slices and throw it at your kids for an after school snack. Actually, save yourself the hassle, make the oldest kid do it so you can continue to do other things-like read my blog and tell all of your friends about it.
For lunch I had the genius idea to mix this dip with a vinegar cucumber salad I had chilling in the fridge. I know pickles are cucumbers so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come up with this combo, but it was incredible. This is definately going to become a summer time staple.