Category Archives: Real Food Wednesday

Chevre!

Everyone is all excited about produce right now.  And they should be – growing season is a pretty big deal.  The Farmers’ Market’s season opener is this Saturday and while I like the idea of the Farmers’ Market being open, this is Michigan.  We aren’t growing much of anything yet.

I reserve the right to be excited, though.  We’re still a bit shy of enjoying even asparagus, but we can start chowing down on another spring treat:  goat cheese.  Some of you already know all about this fantastic little cheese, and a few of you think it sounds gross to eat cheese made from goat’s milk.  You’re the ones I want to work with right now (but cheese-plate veterans please check back in momentarily for a delicious recipe).

So why the spring? Well, you know how your allergies are driving you crazy? It’s all of the stuff blooming, right? Bad for your nose – good for the goats.  They love all the yummy wildflowers and tasty things popping up in their pastures.  The mama goats start producing milk for the spring babies, and the taste of their spring snacks gets into their milk. Is this doing anything to entice you to try it? Maybe I should try another approach.

Goat cheese is soft, and creamy.  If you’re in West Michigan, try and find some from Dancing Goat Creamery.  It’s so yummy. There are different varieties, but they all have a slightly tart taste. And if that isn’t enough, I read that goat cheese is hip and it doesn’t smack you in the face.  I’m telling you, I am a barometer of food trends.  No one believes me. Actually, I don’t care. I just want you to try new things. And avoid foods that smack you in the face. Who needs that?

So will my kids eat it? Yes and no. Yes, there is a way I can prepare that so that they will eat it but no, they will not just spread it on a cracker and chow down.  I found this recipe years ago when I had some vegetarian friends over for dinner, and everyone – my kids AND the vegetarians – liked it.  I don’t use canned beans because they are 1) expensive 2) salty and 3) mushy and I think it is a culinary crime to use goat cheese and fat-free sour cream in the same breath, let alone recipe.  Other than those two changes, this is the recipe I have used many times:

BLACK BEAN AND GOAT CHEESE QUESADILLAS

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup salsa

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 (19-ounce) can black beans, undrained

1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro

1 (4-ounce) package goat cheese, crumbled

8 (8-inch) flour tortillas

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

1/2 cup salsa

Preparation

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and saute for 3 minutes. Stir in /2 cup salsa, cumin, and beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until thick. Mash the bean mixture slightly with a potato masher. Remove from heat; stir in the cilantro and goat cheese.

Spread the bean mixture evenly over 4 tortillas; top each with 1 tortilla, pressing gently.

Heat 1/4 teaspoon olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 quesadilla, and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Repeat the procedure with the remaining olive oil and quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 6 wedges. Serve with fat-free sour cream and 1/2 cup salsa.

I love (Things I Love Thursday) goat cheese! It’s real food (Real Food Wednesday) , and this recipe is real fuel (Food Is Fuel Friday) for real kids.

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A Bloggy Fairytale (and Snack)

SPRINGCLEANINGBUTTON 300x228 Spring Cleaning Carnival: Get the Refined Sugar OutA few years ago, I used to take my kids to the Kentwood Recreation Center.  They have something called “Bouncin’ Babies and Tumblin’ Toddlers” on Friday mornings in the winter, and it was a lifesaver.  Both of my kids, but A.P. especially feel the need for speed all the time.  He’s high energy.  That may be a slight understatement.

I met another mom with two kids.  One of them was a lot like A.P. and they hit it off right away.  And, as luck would have it, so did we.  In addition to being super nice, Kelli had snacks.  Good snacks.  Sadly, when spring came we didn’t see our Kentwood Rec friends anymore.  One day as I was browsing random blogs, I saw a picture of a kid I kind of recognized.  It took me a minute, because I didn’t know if I had seen this kid in a movie, or had read this blog before and forgotten.  Then I realized the blog was Kelli’s, and the kid was Andrew.  I didn’t even know she blogged. I sent her one of those, “Um hi. I don’t know if you remember me.. but… do you remember me”? emails.  She did, we re-connected, and both of us blogged happily ever after.

I know what you’re thinking.  That’s no way to end a story.  What about the snack? A fine question, you discerning reader you.  I did get an approximation of the recipe from Kelli that day, and it might be slightly different but here it is:

Cherry Apple Oatmeal Bars

 •1/2 stick unsalted butter

•1/4 cup sucant

•4 Tbs. honey

•2-1/2 cups rolled oats

•2 Tbs. ground flax seeds

1/2 cup dried cherries (I added this ’cause I love cherries!)

•1 tsp. cinnamon

•1 cup unsweetened applesauce

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Butter an 8-inch square pan. Melt butter over low heat. Dissolve sucant and honey into the butter.

3. Mix oats, cinnamon, cherries and applesauce. Add sucant-butter mixture. Mix well and press firmly into pan.

4. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until just browning on the edges. 

This post was submitted for Kitchen Stewardship’s “Get The Junk Out” Carnival hosted this week by Naturally Knocked Up, and Real Food Wednesday, hosted this week by Kelli the Kitchen Kop.

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Southwestern Corn Chowder

kk_rfw.jpgAfter my last post about ‘Real Food’, I got a good comment that inspired this post. Olivia asked if eating Real Food was possible on a meager grocery budget.  That’s a really important question.  If it’s not possible – why bother?

I know that we can’t afford to eat perfectly.  At the same time, we have a long way to go before we are really maximizing what we can afford. One way I bring down food costs is tby making things myself.  This requires time to plan as well as time to cook.  It is definitely a habit that requires a lot of work to develop.  It’s like exercise.  You can’t run a marathon without training.  I can’t even run a mile without training – it doesn’t come naturally to me and I have to work at it.

One thing I have started doing is making my own broth.  It’s way less expensive than canned, and more nutritious.  It’s the foundation for a lot of recipes, so I’ll tell you how I make mine. Plus, I get to use the word ‘marrow’, which makes my friend Nicol throw up a little in her mouth (her phrase; not mine) which I think it’s hillarious.

It’s really, really easy.  For chicken broth, just take a chicken carcass that has been fairly well cleaned.  After you’ve roasted a chicken, for example, and have picked off the leftover meat for chicken salad sandwiches (or whatever).  Throw it in your crockpot with a lot of water.  Your second ingredient is vegetables.  I throw in some carrots and celery, put the top on the crock pot, and let it cook on low for about 6 hours.  Then I strain the broth with a sieve, and let it cool.  You can discard everything else. After it has cooled, the fat rises to the top and will just jump onto your spoon if you are gentle so you can just get rid of that.

Every time I clean and cut up a carrot or stalk of celery, I throw the ‘leftovers’ in a ziplock freezer bag.  The same goes for vegetables that are kind of getting soft, but I don’t have a recipe to use them up before I would have to throw them away. Everything in the vegetable bag goes into the stock – right from the freezer. 

Can you see the savings?  I don’t buy baby carrots, which are more expensive.  I don’t buy celery hearts, which are more expensive.  I want the scraps.  A whole chicken is less expensive than boneless, skinless breasts.  Plus, you get the bones – where the marrow resides.

Last night, I made this recipe with my home-made broth.  I also freeze corn when it’s in season here (another cost saver), so this was a very inexpensive meal.  We try and eat one non-meat meal per week, but this week we’ve had two already and will have one more tomorrow.  It has taken time for all of us to get used to the meatless meals, but now it’s completely normal.  It’s just a process that takes time.

Southwestern Corn Chowder (an Everyday Food makeover)

2 tablespoons real butter

2 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced

3 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

coarse salt and ground pepper

4 baking potatos cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 cups frozen corn kernels

6 cups home-made chicken broth

3 cups whole milk

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add white part of scallion, carrot, chili powder, and oregano; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until scallion is soft, about 2 minutes. Add potato, corn, broth, and milk.

Bring to a boil over medium-high, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until potato is easily pierced with the tip of a knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in green part of scallion, and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 day.

For more Real Food Wednesday, check out Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

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