Use What You Have – Vegetable Stock

I cannot believe that I ever spent $4 or more on organic vegetable stock. Of which, I might add, I do not even like the taste. Boxed vegetable stock has the most odd taste to to me for some reason.

After reviewing my blog subscriptions one night on Newsblur (my new fav site), I found a post on making your own veggie stock. It literally could not be easier than one, two, three. And… it tastes 10X better than the store bought stuff. Plus… it’s free! You can’t beat free.

1.) Keep all your excess / discarded fruits and veggies throughout the week in a bag or bowl in the fridge.

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2.) Once you have a good amount, pull them out and put them in a crock pot with water just above the produce.

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3.) Cook on low heat in the crock pot for about 8 hours. Note: The longer you cook it, the sweeter the broth will be.

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The blog recommended having some sort of sweetening product like an apple or carrots. I luckily had some apples from left from last week, so I threw an entire one in along with some onions, tomato, carrots, and peppers. You can even throw in left over starches like potatoes.

To get more information on the “in’s and out’s” of making your own vegetable stock check out this blog. You will find so much great info on how to season your broth, how different veggies affect your stock, and other methods of making broth. It’s a great resource.

I decided to keep some fresh stock in the fridge since it lasts for a week and then I stored the rest in individual containers to be placed in the freezer and pulled out as necessary.

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If you are wondering why there are band-aids on the island, well… I cut myself. It’s not a successful day in the kitchen unless you cut yourself at least once. Not to mention I ran into my sofa for some unknown reason and severely injured my quad. How do you do that? Only I would do that. So needless to say, it was quite an eventful Sunday.

I plan on making veggie stock a Sunday ritual from now on. It takes little to no effort and again… it’s free. It allows me to use every bit of produce I buy without waste. Love it.

Next, I challenge you to do the same. What will you do with your veggies…

Got Tomatoes? Make Some Sauce.

I am still in shock that our tomato plants are still producing fruit. I have not done a thing to these plants, other than water them, for the past two months and they are still providing ample amounts of tomatoes.

I expect however that these days will come to an end as we are nearing the fall season with cooler temperatures. But until then, I’m going to keep enjoying the fruits of my no-so-much labor.

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We had a huge amount of tomatoes recently. After seeing a blog post for fresh tomato sauce, I decided to give it a second go. Eric and I attempted fresh sauce before after seeing a vendor at the Matthew’s Community Farmers Market create a savory sauce with only one pan. Well needless to say our first attempt ended up in a watery attempt of a tomato sauce. It was still tasty, just a bit on the watery side.

I think I found the key: you have to de-seed the tomatoes. Well that makes sense! That cuts out half of the water! That explains it. So this time, I made sure to remove all the seeds / juice from the tomatoes prior to cooking. This involved quite a bit of labor and time; mainly because most of my tomatoes were cherry tomatoes which involved a lot of scooping.  It was definitely worth it though.

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I got the tomato sauce recipe from the Oh She Glows blog. I used my fresh tomatoes along with my fresh basil (another item that has limited days left).

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This recipe is so easy and delicious. It’s definitely worth trying (even with the labor of de-seeding the tomatoes).

Making Dinner at Home a Little More Classy: Flatbread

OMG… I hit the jackpot.

Just to warn you, there is going to be a lot of food posts going on. Maybe that’s a good thing? Maybe not. Either way… food has been a center of my life for a while now. I love to eat! What can else can I say. Eric and I have been doing a lot around the kitchen so hopefully I get the time to share some decor and DIY projects soon (note to self: take pictures!).

But this past week, I discovered how to make homemade, from scratch, flatbread. And…. it’s SO easy. I swear this may be my go to now. I need to make some ahead of time and have them on hand at all times. How super yummy and quick is it to create a flatbread.  You can put literally anything on top and it will be delicious.

So I did not do a good job of taking pictures of my actual flatbread dinner but I have a picture of the actual flatbread on the grill. Eric and I purchased the Breville smart grill. Great for those times that you waited to late to start the grill for dinner.

I found the recipe for the flatbread from one of my new favorite vegan blogs: Post Punk Kitchen. I think both our dinners last week were made from this website and I was not disappointed.

I didn’t end up making the full flatbread recipe provide by this blogger. Eric and I ended up sauteing some mushrooms, red and green peppers, and sweet onion. Throw it on top some homemade pesto and drizzled it with some flavored olive oil and balsamic vinegar I got from the Southern Women’s Show that visits Charlotte every year. It was delicious. But I could have just eaten the bread by itself.

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Flatbread

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp Sugar

1 Cup Warm Water

2 Tbsp Olive Oil (plus more for bowl)

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (or one pkg)

2 Cups Bread Flour

1/2 Cup Cornmeal (very fine grain if possible)

1 Tsp Salt

Directions:

1.) Add water and sugar to the bowl of a standing mixer fit with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes.

2.) Add olive oil.

3.) Add one cup of the flour along with the salt. Mix on low until well incorporated, and then turn the speed up to medium and mix for 3 minutes.

4.) Add another 1/2 cup of flour and the 1/2 cup of cornmeal, and mix well, starting on low and then switching to medium speed. Then add another 1/2 cup of flour, again starting on low and switching to medium. Knead on medium for about 5 minutes. (You may occasionally have to get in there with your hands if the dough starts climbing up the hook. It should become smooth and elastic and slightly tacky).

5.) Smother ball of dough with olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Cover the top in plastic wrap and put in a warm place. Let dough rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

6.) When dough has doubled, fire up your grill. If you have a thermometer, it should be at about 500 F or 450 F if using Breville smart grill).

7.) Punch the dough down, give  it a quick knead and tear it into 4  pieces. On a large cutting board, form each piece into an oval that is about 8 inches long and 5 inches across.

8.) Place the dough on the grill. Grill for about 3 to 4 minutes to get grill marks and become firm. Use tongs to flip the bread over and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until grill marks appear.

9.) Remove breads from the grill with tongs and place on the large cutting board. Keep covered with a kitchen towel to keep warm until ready to use.

Fall Season Dessert – Apple Pie

I really want to visit one of our NC Apple Orchards this year. Eric and I went with friends several years back. You can go pick you apples, enjoy the beautiful views, and even devour as many apple cider donuts that you want (that’s the best part). Just thinking about those apple cider donuts makes me salivate.

I’ve bought a lot more apples lately from the grocery store. If I was not so lazy, I would make my way up to the farmer’s market and get some local ones (this is the sad truth). Either way, apples are a great “to-go” snack. I usually like to eat them around 3 PM when those sweet cravings hit. Throw some peanut butter on some apple slices and you are good to go till the end of the work day.

My favorite apple at the moment is fuji. I usually buy a bag of organic fuji apples for $6.99 a bag at our local Earthfare. Not bad if you are comparing this price to the prices of pears, grapes, or berries. Especially considering the bag usually comes with 10 apples. So with that being said, I had several apples left from the week. One apple was used in my first ever homemade vegetable stock (post coming soon) while I decided to save the last 4 apples for this delicious dessert.

At the time, I didn’t realize this dessert was going to turn out so good, but man, it is tasty. I used an old recipe from my blog post called “Easy Dessert for Two” where I used left over berries to create a small portion cobbler. I used the same base of that recipe to create an apple pie flavored treat.

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This dessert turned out amazing. I savored every bite shortly after baking. I’m saving the rest for dessert cravings through the week.

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I have a feeling this dessert might end up being a staple in our house with left over apples.

Apple Pie Cobbler

Makes 6 servings

Filling:

4 Apples, chopped into bite sized pieces.
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 Tsp Apple Pie Spice
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
 

Topping:

4 Tbsp All-White Purpose Flour
4 Tbsp Brown Sugar
4 Tbsp Earth Balance (cold, cut into pieces)
4 Tbsp Rolled Oats
6 Tbsp Walnuts (or nut of your choosing; I would do walnuts, pecans or almonds)
 
Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  For the filling, toss all ingredients together and split between the ramekins (save any juice from mixture and disperse between all ramekins).
3.  For the topping mix flour and brown sugar in a bowl. Add butter, cut into small pieces, and toss to coat. Mix with fingers until crumbly. Mix in the oats and the nuts. Divide evenly over top apples. Gently press to make sure none of the topping slides off.
4.  Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Place in the preheated oven and bake about 20 minutes or until top is golden and crisp.
5.  Let sit for 15 minutes to cool.
6. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if you choose (but it’s so good, you don’t even need it).
 
Tip: What you don’t finish you can save for the rest of the week. Place aluminum foil over top of the ramekins and store in the fridge. Pull out and reheat at 325 for 11-15 minutes with foil still covering the top. 

Where I Want To Be

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I love the sound of rain. It’s the most relaxing sound to me other than a summer thunderstorm.  I hope with this rain comes  cooler temperatures ringing in the fall season.

This post is more a of a heart to heart versus a decorating or cooking post. More and more lately I’m asking myself if I am where I want to be. Where do I want to be? Am I there now? If not, how do I get there. Can I ever get there?

My ideal self (at least as of the moment) is healthy, calm, and active. Am I there? The answer would be a resounding no. I think I am on my way to these things (or at least some) but not where I want to be.

I envision in my perfect day I would wake up, work out, then meditate / quiet time, fix breakfast, take a moment and relax with a cup of coffee, then get ready for work. Sounds amazing right? Do I do any of these things now? No. Other than get ready for work. Haha. I would have to get up at like 5 am in order to achieve these goals. Is it worth it? I’m sure. But how do you get there?

I set my alarm every morning to work out. Every morning I hit the snooze. Am I not motivated? Why is it that I cannot get the will power to get out of bed. I know it’s important to me but I still hit the snooze. Sometimes I wonder if I’m hitting the snooze button on everything in life, just because it takes a little more effort than pressing the “easy button.”

And being the planner I am, I know these things will only get harder to achieve once we throw children in the mix.   But I truly believe that if I had this morning ritual, I would be closer to my healthy, calm, active life.

In addition to that, I wonder if my current job as an accountant is where I should be. Sitting in a chair in front of a computer for 8-10 hours a day is not exactly what I would call active. Again, in my dream world, I would open a gym and promote healthy living through exercise and nutrition. But with that would come sacrifices of money and time. So again, I  am complacent in my swivel chair and neutral colored cubical.

I hope by putting this out in there in the world that I will hold myself more accountable to obtain my goal of a healthy, calm, active life. Maybe I will put more effort into getting up in the morning and completing my desired morning ritual.

Where do you want to be? Are you there? How do you plan on getting there?