Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Carrots in my Cookies?

Since the last cookies turned out so good, I decided I had to try Heidi's carrot variation. A recent bout with too much ginger made me omit the fresh ginger and add 1/2 teaspoon of ceylon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of powdered ginger instead. They did not disappoint. The flavor is amazing, although I think they need something to bind them together a bit better. As it stands, they kind of just crumble when you eat them. Granted, the crumbs are amazingly tasty, but I'd still like to get as many of them in my mouth as possible, so I'm thinking a banana or flax egg or something of the sort might do the trick. I'm going to play around with this one and get back to you...

Update #1: I added one smashed banana to the recipe to bind the cookie and an additional 2 tablespoons of flour to balance out the moisture from the banana. The cookies are definitely less crumbly, but I think the taste suffers just a tad--though they're still delicious!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Oatmeal, Banana, Coconut, and Chocolate Chip Cookies

When we moved in together a year and a half ago, we combined resources, doubling our pantry stock. For the most, part, this wasn't a problem and things like noodles and beans went rather quickly. For a while there, we even managed to put a little dent in the 30 pounds of risotto that Josh brought to this domestic mix. On the other hand, the outrageously expensive almond meal I bought when I baked him a cake during the initial flushed months of dating ($14 bucks for a bag and I only used 1/4 cup), shredded coconut whose packaging insists that it's been around since before we met, coconut oil from my Skinny Bitch phase, and other odd products like soy milk powder have continued to sit and ponder becoming bug bait.

So, when I came across this recipe, I was intrigued by the fact that it doesn't use any sugar at all, relying instead on bananas for sweetness, but I was also happy to see that I could finally put a fair amount of that almond meal to use. These cookies turned out delicious.
Between the cheap Costco bananas and another bunch that was in the $1 bin at the health food store, I've been able to make these on the cheap and make room in the pantry--until I decided to make them for yesterday's potluck and had to buy more almond meal and coconut oil. Siiiiigh. My pantry may again be as full as ever, but these little sugar-free wonders were a big hit at the potluck and have been keeping bellies full around here for the past week.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pantry Challenge: The First Two Weeks

I have to admit that I've been finding this pantry challenge rather enjoyable. Every couple of days I find an ingredient that's been languishing in our cupboard or freezer for an inordinate amount of time and I start perusing the internet and/or my cookbooks for a recipe that makes use of it. So far most of those recipes have included zucchini, since our garden has been producing tons of it but I've also managed to make use of almond meal and coconut and TVP and flax meal (pictures and ideas to come). In case you're interested here's the breakdown of the first two weeks:

Week 1: Spent $17.84
2 cans chipotles in adobo
lighter fluid
2.5 lbs yellow squash
1 bunch of bananas
fresh mint
fresh sage
soft tofu
2 jalapenos
2 limes
1 red onion
5 roma tomatoes
1 bunch of cilantro
1 lb. rolled oats

Week 2: Spent $20.54
1/2 lb leek
Mother's Milk tea
collard greens
mustard greens
8 red potatoes
1 lb. tempeh
1 red onion
2 yellow onions
2 jalapenos
1/2 lb. fennel
1.3 lbs. yukon gold potatoes

My original goal was to use the 20 bucks a week to buy produce and, for the most part, I think I've done a pretty good job sticking to that goal. The Mother's Milk tea ($5.50) was an unexpected expense that I splurged on when I thought I needed it; without it, I would've been substantially under the $20 goal for the second week. I'm also gaining some perspective from keeping close track of my grocery spending. For instance, I made one trip to the store for salsa making ingredients, which came to a total of $1.76--for a decent sized batch of salsa.

Perhaps, though, the most shocking realization of all is that it's possible to go to Costco and not spend 200 bucks. Though the Costco trip was part of the 3rd week budget, we actually made it out of there with 4 pounds of tofu, 8 bananas, 10 ciabatta rolls, and 3 dozen tortillas for $15. It almost makes a Costco trip seem not worth it--but in a good way.

Sorry for the number heavy post, but I wanted to get it up before I lost the receipts. I'll be posting food and recipes as soon as I find the cord for my camera...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Potato Stir-Fry with Mint and Cilantro

While I already subscribe to Fine Cooking, I recently decided to splurge on the latest edition of Fine Cooking Fresh, since we don't get a copy with our subscription. Truth be told, I bought the magazine for one recipe: the potato stir-fry. Having discovered 2 bags of dried curry leaves in the process of the aforementioned pantry/freezer challenge, I was excited to find a recipe that called for them and also looks delicious. The recipe is in the side dishes section, but I added a can of drained garbanzo beans and called it dinner.
Verdict: One of the best new recipes I've tried. Loved, loved, loved it!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer 2009 Pantry/Freezer Challenge

With the newest addition to the family (it's a little weird saying that and not referring to a cat) and the fact that I didn't request any summer teaching and Josh is down to one paying job, I have been trying to think of ways to save money instead of writing my dissertation. And while I haven't yet bothered to sit down and actually figure out where we spend our money and come up with a budget based on that (numbers...yuck!), I do know that our biggest expense other than rent is food. The evidence of overspending on food is plain to see in our overfilled foodstuff coffers. We have 3 cupboards in the house full of dry goods, more dry goods in the walk in pantry out in the garage, and not one but two freezers full of food. When I find a shirt or pair of pants I like, I but one in every color; when I find food I like, I buy it at Costco. Add to that my general lack of organization and I tend to buy things like a 6 pound bag of dried pinto beans when we have at least 4 pounds stuck behind the jug of olive oil in the cupboard. Who needs 10 pounds of pinto beans?

Needless to say, a pantry challenge is in order. But, since it's also the height of farmer's market season, I've decided to give myself a budget of $20 a week for things like fresh produce and staples that run out during the course of the challenge--probably spices and the like. Since I recently found myself in the possession of a $100 bill, the initial length of the challenge will be 5 weeks and then I'll reassess. I honestly think we have enough food to get us through to the end of the year doing this, but I'm starting small.

Summer 2009 Pantry Challenge
Start: 05 July 2009
End:08 August 2009
Goals: Clean out the pantry and freezer, better organize foodstuffs, replace old stuff like waaaaay out of date spices, spend $20 or less on food weekly, lose 5 pounds (okay, so now I'm aiming high)
The first step was using some of those damn beans. We also happened to have a deluge of squash taking over our kitchen. On Saturday we got to the farmer's market late and got a fill your bag for $10 deal. I see squash and visions of calabacitas dance in my head. So, last night we had refried beans, fresh salsa, and calabacitas wraps. This is, undoubtedly, one of my all-time, top-five favorite meals and a good way to start this challenge.