Thursday, May 18, 2017

Default Green Smoothie

Charming name, no?  I picked it because that's what it is: the default smoothie I make several times a week with the Vitamix blender we received as a gift (thanks, Mom!).  You can get creative with the fruit and use all the same kind or a mix.  Also, if I put in apples, I sometimes leave out the carrots because even with a Vitamix blender, there's a little more texture in the finished smoothie than I prefer.  It's not bad by any means, though.  You could also try adding cucumbers or zucchini or another mild tasting vegetable instead of the carrots.  I'll do that here one of these days and update the post then.  My husband and I both love this smoothie, no matter how I make it!
  
I would also like to add that an inexpensive blender may not do a good job with the raw carrot.
  
Default Green Smoothie
  
1 C plain greek yogurt
1/2 C cold water
2 bananas
about 3 C somewhat packed down spinach or torn up kale
3/4 C baby carrots
1 1/2 to 2 C fresh or frozen fruit, like strawberries, blueberries, mango chunks, pineapple chunks, peach chunks, apple slices, or peeled oranges
optional: 2 or so Tbsp lemon or lime juice
  
Place everything in the blender in the order listed in the recipe.  Put on lid and blend according to your blender's directions until smooth.
  
Yield: 2 large smoothies or 4 small ones

Monday, May 8, 2017

Borscht

I came upon this borscht recipe on the Learning Herbs website and was intrigued.  Neither my husband nor I had ever eaten borscht before, and the recipe just looked good, so I made it a few days later.  As usual, I changed things around a bit: substantially less pepper, no caraway because I dislike it, and more veggies.  I changed the method a smidge as well.  The results? Wow!  Definitely good!  I'm really glad we liked it because it made a huge amount, about 14 cups.  Healthy, delicious, and even rather pretty- what's not to like?  Next time I may even add the caraway!  I'm excited to make it again because we really liked it, it's quite healthy, and extremely flexible.  Got a ton of carrots?  Toss them in.  No celery?  No problem.  Nice!
 
 
Borscht
 
2 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (had to leave this out but my broth had a ton of garlic)
about 8 mushrooms, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 small red cabbage, cored and chopped
3 beets, peeled and diced (this was one bunch)
8 C chicken broth (I used homemade)
8 oz can plain tomato sauce
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp caraway seed
3 bay leaves
greens from the bunch of beets, rinsed and chopped
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
 
garnish (optional):
sour cream
sliced green onions
fresh dill
quartered hard boiled eggs
 
Melt butter in large pot.  Add onion, carrot, and celery, and saute over medium until onions are tender.  Add garlic and saute another minute or so.  Add remaining vegetables except beet greens, then pour over broth.  Stir in tomato sauce, pepper, salt, optional caraway, and bay leaves.  Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook until veggies are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Stir in beet greens and vinegar, then taste and add more salt or vinegar if desired.  Simmer 5 minutes longer.  Serve in bowls topped with optional garnishes.
 
Yield: About 3 quarts soup

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Whole Wheat Biscuits

This is a really good and basic whole wheat biscuit recipe.  My husband actually made them!  I found the recipe on 100 Days of Real Food and he made them, with some tips shouted from the couch.  Whole wheat baked goods can be finicky, but this recipe resulted in good biscuits- tender, yummy, and moist.  The only things I changed were the amount of salt and the prep method a tiny bit.  
 
I'm renowned for making different versions of the same recipe over and over, but I don't think I'll need to look for another whole wheat biscuit recipe.  One thing I do want to do though is experiment with adding mixins, like cheese, herbs, lots of pepper, citrus zest, or dried fruit.  They're great as is, but don't rosemary parmesan biscuits, or orange blueberry biscuits sound divine, too?
  
 
Whole Wheat Biscuits
 
2 C whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes
1 C milk, regular or buttermilk
 
Preheat oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix together dry ingredients.  Cut in butter until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal.  Stir in milk.  Add a little more flour or milk if necessary to get a nice, cohesive, not too sticky dough.  Pat dough out into a 3/4 inch thick circle and cut out biscuits with a round cutter or drinking glass.  Squish remaining dough back together and cut out more biscuits.  Arrange on lined baking sheet and bake until golden (you can check the bottoms if it's hard to tell from the top), about 10 to 12 minutes.
 
Yield: 8 biscuits

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Fantastical Food Fight: PBJ Smoothie

Wow, my first post of the year and it's already March!  I've cooked this year for sure, but haven't experimented with new recipes as often as usual or written new posts.  My husband and I both started new jobs in December and January and adjusting to that has been taking up a lot of... well, everything.  Little bloggie has not been forgotten, just taken a backseat for a little bit.
 
So, this is a Fantastical Food Fight post.  I tried to participate in January, which had the focus of slow cooker soup.  Picked a recipe, bought the ingredients, then didn't actually make the recipe until late February.  It's funny, really, I ended up using all the originally purchased ingredients for other things and had to repurchase them when I actually made the soup!  The good thing about FFF though is that there's no obligation to participate every month, so I wasn't letting anyone down when I didn't participate.
 
This month's Fantastical Food Fight subject is peanut butter and jelly!  Yum, we love PBJs at our house.  I immediately thought of Ina Garten's amazing PBJ bars, but I've already made those and posted about them on the blog.  As much as I'd love an excuse to make that recipe again, the Fantastic Food Fight posts are supposed to be about new recipes.  Looking online, I found a couple of recipes and ideas I was interested in trying, but settled on a smoothie because we've been on a real smoothie kick since we got a Vitamix blender.  
 
Okay so there isn't actually any jelly in this smoothie.  I try to make my smoothies as healthy as possible and although I like jelly, I a) did not want to add sugar to the smoothie, and b) I wanted to use fresh fruit.  But strawberry jam is frequently used in PBJs and peanut butter banana sandwiches are pretty common, too!
 
This is actually round two of my PBJ smoothie experiment.  The first time I tried it, I used milk instead of yogurt and water, real peanut butter, two bananas, and about half the strawberries.  Neither of us were crazy about the result.  I didn't like how rich (from the fat in the peanut butter) and milky it was, and the banana totally obliterated the strawberry flavor.  Usually I use two bananas in a smoothie for two people, but that wasn't a good choice for this one.  This version uses peanut butter powder so it's not as rich, yogurt and water, just one banana, and more strawberries.  The banana was actually added after I had already blended everything up.  My plan had been to leave out the banana entirely, but it was lacking a little something without the banana, so I chucked one in.
  

It's actually a lovely shade of pale pink- the glass is light green!
  
So, how did it turn out?  Pretty good!  My husband and I both agree that we like green smoothies better, but this was good and a nice alternative if you happen to be out of kale or spinach or are low on yogurt but want protein in the smoothie.  The flavors of the peanut butter, banana, and strawberries all come through nicely.  One thing I'd like to add is to make sure all your ingredients are cold.  The yogurt and strawberries came right out of the refrigerator, and I used cold water, but the banana was room temperature and the resulting smoothie was not very cold.  Usually I don't mind room temperature smoothies, but this one was definitely at its best when cold.
 
PBJ Smoothie
 
1/2 C plain greek yogurt
1/4 C cold water
1 frozen or cold banana
2 C frozen or cold strawberries
3 to 4 Tbsp peanut butter powder (I used 3 but 4 would have been good)
 
Place all ingredients in blender, put on lid, and blend until smooth.
 
Yield: 2 medium sized smoothies