Monday, October 29, 2012

Holy Crepes

Holy Crepes
John Frame

This week I wanted to try a recipe that was a little more intense than what I have been previously doing. It was breakfast time so I started looking at the breakfast recipes. As I was looking through the recipes, I found the crepes found on page 817 of the red Bittman book. I have never made crepes before and never had one so I thought it would be fun to try it. The ingredients were very simple and the whole process was quite easy. The only portion I was worried about was the actual cooking of them.  In the book, Bittman said that even the professionals mess up the first crepe. I thought to myself, I am nowhere near a professional so how on earth am I going to get any of them to come out of the pan nicely. My solution to this problem was to use a quarter stick of butter, which made all of the crepes come out cleanly.

The overall, product was fantastic. I was shocked at how well they turned out and would definitely make them again if I had time. I used several types of fillings, which included applesauce, strawberry jam, cream cheese, butter, and maple syrup. I think it is great how creative you can get with the fillings and all the different combinations you can try. I was very pleased with this recipe.

Banana Bread

I love baked goods with bananas.  They're delicious.  I wanted to make some banana bread this week so I checked out Bittman's recipe.  My mom has a recipe that I love, but it uses shortening which isn't my favorite.  I wanted to use butter and some whole grain flour, and both of those ingredients were in Bittman's recipe on page 249.  The recipes were pretty similar.  I only changed Bittman's recipe in that I doubled the amount of baking soda and used 1 tbsp of lemon juice mixed with the mashed bananas, which is what my mom always does.

Bittman's recipe next to my mom's handwritten one.

This banana bread turned out incredibly well.  The problem with my mom's recipe is that the outside of the bread gets really dark, nearly burned, before the inside is cooked.  This recipe had no such issue, the inside was perfectly done and the outside was the perfect color.  It's delicious!

Pepe's Pesto Pasta

 I've been meaning to make a mean pasta and & pesto all semester, so I finally did out of Bittman's pg.507 recipe.  I also added in some broccoli because I love broccoli and it rounds out the meal a bit as far as nutrition goes (okay, maybe not rounds out, but smooths out? nah...).
It was a pretty straight-forward process, but I kind of rushed all of the steps - in hindsight I would've done one thing at a time...  I also made too much pasta, or not enough broccoli and pesto (and I forgot to shred the parm into the pesto but I easily made up for that by putting plenty into the mix).  Sure was good, though could definitely use something else the next time I make it... I'll have to think about that.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

Something I have been wanting to make for sometime now is eggplant parmesan.  It has been on my short list for quite sometime. You can find Bittmans recipe on page 297. 
It starts off with just a few basic ingredients.  I used a can of tomato sauce but making your own is super easy and Bittman has a recipe for that on page 502.  Which I had all the intentions of making but was running a little short on time and had to resort to my pantry.

 One thing that I did change from Bittman's recipe was to coat the egg plant in panko bread crumbs rather than just dredging it in flour.  I did this because I wanted a crunchier coating on the egg plant.  I also opted to bake the egg plant as oppose to frying it.  I thought this would lighten it up just a little but still have add lots of flavor to the dish.
 Here is a shot of my small assembly line of layers. A quick breakdown: egg plant, mozzarella slice, Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, tomato sauce.  I did three layers of this and that gave a fairly nice looking tower of deliciousness.
 I will say the process was a little time consuming but well worth it. You ca always lay it out in a casserole dish but I thought this was just beautiful and amazing for presentation purposes.
20 minutes or so in the oven, until the cheese is good and gooey. Added sauted kale and lemon as a side. You can find this recipe also in Bitman on page 308, Flash-Cooked Kale with Lemon juice. It had a great refreshing taste to compliment the heavy entre. 
Definately a new favorite for me.

Apple Sass

Warm apple dishes with cinnamon are one of my favorite parts of the fall season. For dessert tonight I decided to make some apple sauce. It's so easy and delicious! 

Here are the ingredients:
A smidge of maple syrup

Here's what you do: 
Peel the apples
Chop the apple into chunks
Boil the ingredients together and let simmer until the apples are soft
Once the apples are soft mash them up with a potato masher
Eat it!

Meal Time on a Dime

4 people, 3 meals, $15.00...Challenge Accepted.

For this weeks Challenge recipe we were presented with the challenge of creating a nutritious day of meals for a family of four on a budget of 15 dollars. Being a Nutrition undergrad, learning how to eat healthy on a budget has become a necessity. Over the past two years I have learned that the best way to get the most nutritional bang for your buck is to buy in bulk, buy in season and cook in batches. 

I also have learned that by limiting the amount of meat I consume and purchase, I am making a choice that is not only helpful for my health but for my pocket book as well. 

Don't believe me? 
20 Something Finance breaks down the numbers...

The Cost of a Vegetarian Diet

You knew I’d be getting around to this at some point!
In my latest stroll through the supermarket, an average pound of  ground beef costs around $5 and a pound of chicken breasts $4. Prices vary widely by cut, but these were just the standard, non-organic, hormonal varieties.
A pound of canned black beans, on the other hand, costs just under $1.
So to be as cost conscious as possible, I created a meal plan that is meat free, still nutrient rich and tasty to boot! 
Grocery List
  • 1 Dozen Eggs
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Head of Broccoli
  • Brown Rice
  • Garlic
  • Lentils
  • 1 Can of Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup of greek yogurt
What I actually purchased... 
*I made all the recipes for the 1 serving instead of the full four so I wouldn't waist all the food but I was sure to purchase enough that I could quadruple what I made Easily :)


Family sized frittata 
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1/2 Green Pepper
  • 1/2 Red Pepper
  • 1/2 Onion
I then used the leftover frittata in my next dish :) 

Fried Rice
  • Brown rice
  • 4 Eggs
  • Brocoli
  • Remaining Peppers

Dal Nirvana (via Budget Bytes)
Serves four to six

  • 1 c. dry green lentils (I used Chickpeas instead cause they were in budget and convenient) 
  • 1 15 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger spice.
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Brown Rice
I was angry at myself because I meant to purchase a large pineapple to have as a snack for the family to nibble on throughout the day so that they could get from fruit in their day. So if I could have done the assignment again , I would have added that for I had room for it within my budget :)

Overall I was really satisfied with the meals I prepared for they were healthy and very filling with their high protein and fiber content from the whole grain and beans :) 

Baked Eggs with Collard Greens, Onions, and Cheese.

To me, there is nothing more perfect than a Sunday brunch to top off a weekend great weekend.  I've always, always struggled choosing between savory egg options and sugary syrups, but today was an egg day.  I flipped through Bittman's Eggs, Breakfast, and Brunch chapter and stumble upon Baked Eggs (pg. 798).  

Ingredients are basic and I added some onions, collards, and parmesan cheese I had in the fridge just waiting to be used.

Bittman suggests covering the bottom on the baking dish with what ever additional ingredients you are using, in this case collards and onions and then making "nests" for the eggs to sit it while they bake. 

the finished product...
...was delicious


Cream Scones

  When I was studying abroad in Ireland, a daily cup of Irish tea and a fresh scone was the perfect way to stay warm in the cold rain and bitter wind.  This week's weather really brought me back to the afternoons spent in Griffin's Bakery, and I decided to bring a piece of that to home with a batch of fresh scones.  I used Bittman's recipe for cream scones.

  For the first set I made the classic plain, but I decided to throw in a handful of craisins and add cinnamon to the second half.

 The finish product turned out to be a bit more like a biscuit than a scone -- a little bit crumbly and flakey, but still really tasty, especially with a dollop of honey or homemade jam and, of course, a cup of Irish tea.

Chicken Soup with Tortellini and Watercress Spinach
[pg. 75, softcover]

I decided I wanted to make soup for this week's recipe because this time of the year always makes me want a belly full of warmth, which soup does very well.  Above you can see that I crossed out watercress because that was the original title in Bittman but I used spinach instead.

This is a super easy recipe that doesn't require a lot of ingredients and doesn't take a lot of time at all.

You just chop up your 3 vegetables and put them in the broth to simmer until the carrots are soft, while also cooking up the tortellini until nearly tender.

After everything is tender or nearly tender you can combine it all into one pot and let cook for a little bit longer.

And perfection! Just top it off with some Parmesan cheese and you are good to go!  It was a very delicious soup, I was kind enough to give the left overs to my parents which they have already eaten all of.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Baked Eggs

Baked (Shirred) Eggs
John Frame

For this weeks cooking blog, I was looking for something cheap that could be substituted into the challenge recipe meal plan. I went over the planned meals and realized that I did not even consider eggs. I think they would work well into the current challenge recipe because they not very expensive and can be cooked in several ways. Looking over the recipes, I found one that seemed weird so I went ahead and started cooking. The recipe is called Baked (Shirred) Eggs and can be found on page 798 of the red Bittman book. 

When I first read the recipe, I had to do a double take because it seemed to easy. Believe it or not, they are easier to make than scrambled eggs! The basics is you crack an egg is a small glass bowl and bake it. No additional work required. 

The first bowl I took out of the oven was cooked very nicely. It was not runny but not burnt. The texture and taste of the egg reminded me of a hard boiled egg but warm. The second bowl I took out of the oven was larger and not quite as cooked. I thought that this bowl had the texture of a sunny side up egg. Either way, they were both good and I'll make this recipe again when I am looking for a simple egg to make!

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Second Second Harvest :)

October 18th
After volunteering at the second harvest heartland for my first field trip experience, I thought it would be fun to see a different perspective by checking out one of their other volunteer opportunities for my second field trip. Conveniently so, the Students of Nutrition and Dietetics club (SOND) had scheduled a trip out to the large packing company and distributer as another volunteering opportunity. 
This time though rather than working the market where vendors packed the boxes, we were the ones who were prepping the fresh produce and other donations so that they may be packed and distributed to the families that face hunger here in Minnesota every day. 

When we first Arrived we were greeted and brought to the general meeting room where we watched a compelling video explain the prevalence of hunger here in Minnesota where 1 in 10 people live with hunger on a daily basis showing that food insecurity is still a big problem here in our back yards.

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We were then divided into groups and given our job for the evening. I was on potato packing duty and was responsible for packing 5lb. bags of baby red potatoes that were donated from a local Minnesota farm. 

At the end of the day we packaged over 4,000 lbs. of Food which equates to about 2,400 meals!

Hows abouts them taters ? :D 

Veggies, Vendors and Volunteering :)

Sept. 9th 2012
For my first field trip I knew I wanted to make a trip to the Minneapolis farmers market and although going to the market itself is always an adventure, I saw it as an opportunity to help those in need as well. I had heard of Second Harvest Heartland and thought that they may be a great resource for volunteer opportunities.
Second Harvest is a member of Feeding America, a national network of food banks, and is the largest hunger relief organization in the upper Midwest. In 2011 alone, they collected, warehoused and distributed more than 70 million pounds of food for the hungry. They have many of opportunities for volunteer work with their multiple food banks, soup kitchens and food collection initiatives. After talking it over with a couple of my friends that are also taking the Food Life Cycle Nutrition course, we decided to sign up to volunteer with Second Harvest’s Fellowship of the Fresh volunteer program at the Minneapolis farmers market. The program occurs each summer in a partnership with the Minneapolis Farmers Market to collect of 100,000 pounds of fresh produce for local food shelters.  
My good friends Ann and Courtney :)
 As a volunteer, it was our duty to circulate the market to encourage shoppers to purchase extra produce for donation and to pick up donations from vendors to be boxed and palletized.  On the morning of our volunteer shift, we arrived an hour early to get some quality time to brows all of the markets bounty before we began at 11:30. We were greeted with a smile by Elizabeth, our project leader, given a “Get Fresh” T-shirt and introduced our selves to some of the other volunteers. There was a mother and daughter pair, a lady who came on her own and lovely couple, John and Carol from Bell Plaine, Minnesota who had just recently won an award for putting in over 3,000 hours of volunteer service. We waited a short while till the second harvest truck came and dropped off a couple of pallets of boxes that we soon folded and assembled so they could be loaded with food donations. After the boxes were ready, it was time to distribute the boxes and then wait for them to be filled so we could collect them. While we were waiting, it gave us an opportunity to explore all the wonderful fresh produce our great state of Minnesota has to offer and my mind was just going crazy with all the cooking possibilities! Sauted cabage with garlic and soy, roasted squash with pecans and maple syrup or a big ol’ pan of apple crisp! Nummmmm!
*I got distracted with volunteering so this and the next photo are thanks to

Once I was shaken awake from my culinary coma, it was time to go grab all the boxes of donations. There were boxes filled with peppers, greens and even fresh baked bread, all of which was going to be distributed in the next 24 hours and used to fuel the minds and bodies of the less fortunate.

It was truly remarkable the generosity of some of the vendors at the market. One family gave us 23 boxes full of beautiful fresh produce alone. At the end of the day, I am not sure on the final total but there were at least 7 palates of boxes stacked with produce to be donated and distributed to food shelves and homeless shelters all around the twin cities area. Overall it was a really wonderful experience and I was extremely proud to participate in a program that not only feeds people but feeds them the fresh healthy produce they may not always get the chance to enjoy while also helping in lowering the food waste produced here in Minnesota. I will definitely be returning to second harvest at the farmers market again. 

Get Your Freekeh On!

heard me! Get your freekeh on!

Wait you have never heard of freekeh? Well, let me tell you, you are in for a treat!

Freekeh is an ancient grain that was discovered in the Middle East and made from young green wheat that has been roasted in it's live state to capture the crop in it's most nutrient dense state. It is a nutrition power house with 8 g of protein, 5 g of fiber, and 130 calories for every 40 g serving. That's 3 TIMES as much protein as brown rice! It is the new Quinoa but without the bitterness.

and BONUS!
I'm Spreading the LOCAL LOVE because it is grown right here in Minnesota! *Fist pump to little sustainability victory*

Still not convinced?
Well, then I advise you to talk to Bonnie! She is the lady behind it all and let me tell you if there was a competition between who had more energy, Bonnie or a class of 1st graders. Those 1st graders would be sucking their juice boxes and begging for nap time! She is so enthusiastic and passionate about what she does and living a healthy lifestyle, you can't help but want to hop on board!

Yeah yeah yeah OK Rachel we get it is healthy, but how do you use this stuff?
In just about anything! It is really as blank of a canvas as rice would be. It could be mixed with banana, peanut butter, and raisins for a scrumptious way to start the day, tossed with feta, chickpeas, basil, tomato and balsamic vinaigrette as a satisfying salad or in my case I topped it with a homemade vegetable curry with squash and sweet potatoes which was delightfully delicious!

Mark Bittman (Page 368)
Winter Squash Curry

Best wishes and tasty dishes,