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Friday, June 29, 2012

Most Important Meal of the Day

I eat breakfast every day.  It might be a nice bowl of Kashi cereal (or Cocoa Pebbles), a bagel or even the occasional Pop-Tart.  But, I just can't get going in the morning without eating (not surprising for me, I guess).

From the results of a recent survey, however, I'm in the minority.  According to the study, 48% of Americans admit to not eating a daily breakfast--even though 61% say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. 

So how 'bout you?  Do you eat breakfast every day?  If so, what do you eat? 

Here are some of the other results of the survey, which was sponsored by Kraft in support of it's belVita breakfast foods, which supposedly are designed to give energy to all who eat it:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic scapes:

A: are the curly tops of garlic plants.
B: look like something from outer space.
C: are something that CSA members aren't sure how to use.
D: are very tasty.
E: all of the above.

The answer is, of course, E. 

The curvy tops of garlic plants, garlic scapes have a strong garlic flavor, but not as strong as a garlic clove.  They can be used in all sorts of applications--use them where you would normally use garlic or, as a change of pace, in place of scallions.

I've drizzled them with olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled them.  They soften--both in texture and in flavor--and are a nice addition to a grilled vegetable platter, a salad or even something like mashed potatoes (chopped finely).

Tonight, I made a simple and quick garlic scape pesto to serve on top of some grilled steak.  It would be good on any kind of grilled food--pork, chicken or fish (a stronger flavored fish that wouldn't get overpowered by the pesto's flavor).  It's a bit strong to eat by itself, but the steak balances out the flavor. 

Just cut up your garlic scapes (about a pound) in pieces about 3 inches long and process them in a food processor until they're pureed smooth.  Add 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I actually just threw broken up chunks in the food processor instead of grating) and 1/2 cup pine nuts.  Process until smooth.  Then slowly add 1/2-1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil as the food processor runs until it reaches the consistency that you like.  Add salt and pepper to taste and that's it!

This recipe makes quite a bit of pesto (you don't need a lot for a lot of flavor).  Store it in an air-tight container in the fridge.  Or you can freeze it in ice cube trays to use later.  (Just be sure to use it within 3-4 months so the cheese and pine nuts don't go rancid.)  Simply pop out a cube or two, thaw it in the microwave or in the fridge and you've got a flavorful topping to add some zip to your favorite grilled food when you need it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Waste Not

I often tell people that one of the benefits of using Dinner's Done Personal Chef Service is that I only buy the ingredients that I need for the dishes that I'm cooking for them.  There's no waste. 

We've all done it--bought something that we can picture on our dinner table later in the week, but we forget about it.  Later we find it in some sort of decomposed state and have to throw it out. 

According to a recent msnbc.com article, it's estimated by some that as much as 30-50% of the world's food goes uneaten.  In a world rampant with hunger, imagine the impact that this trashed food could have.

The average American throws away an estimated 33 pounds of food each month.  That's a lot of food. 

Some estimates say that about 23% of eggs are trashed.  Even more produce is tossed for a number of reasons.  Some are thrown away because of the above "Forgotten in the Fridge" scenario.  Many fruits and vegetables go unused because they aren't "pretty" enough for sale in markets.  (Another good reason to shop at local farmers' markets.)  And loads of food are scraped off of the plates of restaurant patrons into the garbage can.

We're all guilty of it, but there are ways to avoid wasting food.  Don't buy more than you will use.  If you're buying meats, buy in bulk and freeze portions of it.  Simply being creative with your meals will help you to use those things that may go to waste otherwise. 

How do you avoid wasting food?  Do you have any tips to share?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Kale Chips

I have been meaning to make kale chips for a long time, but never have done it.  This week, though, with kale in the share from Blooming Glen Farm, it was time to try it.  Of course, I sort of forgot about it until today and the kale was a little bit past it's prime.  No worries--they still made great chips.

Kale leaves torn from the stems.  Notice that
I used 2 different kinds of kale.
If you haven't done this yourself, it's worth it.  They're very tasty, healthy and it can't be any easier to make.  There are lots of versions of the recipe on the internet--all very similar.  The biggest difference seems to be the oven temperature.  Some are as low as 250 up to 375.  I chose to go with the higher temp (and shorter cooking time).

First, remove the leaves of the kale from the stem.  You can simply fold the leaf in half and tear the stem off.  Then tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces and wash and dry thoroughly (use a salad spinner if you have one).  The drier the kale is, the more it will crisp and not steam in the oven.

The seasoned and oiled kale ready to hit
the oven.
Put the leaves in a bowl and add whatever seasoning you'd like.  I just used kosher salt and a little garlic powder.  Grated Parmesan cheese would be great.  So would chili powder or lemon pepper or...you get the picture.  Use whatever you like.  Then drizzle some olive oil (I used about a tablespoon for this amount of kale) and toss.

Lay the kale out on sheet pans, trying to keep them in as much of a single layer as possible.  Place them in a preheated oven (again, I used 375 degrees) for about 15 minutes.  When done, they should be crispy and crunchy.  If they aren't after 15 minutes, bake longer until they are.  Just check every minute or two so they don't burn.

Kale chips fresh from the oven.
Let them cool and then store them in an airtight container until ready to use.  They really are good--like eating very thin potato chips.  What a great way to get kids to eat their greens (a good way for adults, too, for that matter)!

Got any favorite seasonings that you use on kale chips?  Let me know!