Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Freezer Cooking (Part I)

Hey everyone! I have good news. Last friday my summer semester at school officially ended. I have two weeks of break and I have many things planned to do while I am off.
I spent Sunday hanging out with my wonderful friend Jessica in Atlanta. We hiked the trails at Chattahoochee Recreational Park, visited an international market and ate some wonderful Greek and Indian food. Yummy! 
Yesterday, I hung out with my Mom and 5 of my younger siblings on the lake. We had a great day of swimming, laying out in the sun, playing card games and eating lots of good food. I have enjoyed getting some time to relax with good company and good food.

Now for my upcoming plans....

Freezer Cooking!

I am jumping on the freezer cooking bandwagon. Growing up, my Mom would do freezer cooking every year, making over 200 meals at one time. I have learned from the best and I figured it was high time I started doing it myself. 

I am not making 200 meals, but I do have plans to try to get 40-50 meals in the freezer this time. I started planning last week. I compiled and multiplied recipes, wrote up a massive shopping list, and organized my kitchen (I will write another post on that later).

Today was shopping day.

This is the view from the back of my kitchen table. Some of the items on this table include 30 lbs. of dried beans, 5 lbs. of brown rice, over 100 assorted chilies and peppers, and 8 heads of broccoli. 

 Here is the view from the front. I did most of my shopping at the Super-H in Atlanta. It is the closest international market and has great prices on everything from produce and spices to rice noodles and dried beans. 

I also went to Costco and some of the items I purchased included 30 lbs. of onions, 5 lbs. of organic sugar (for my kefir), 10 lbs. of carrots and 5 big cans of tomatoes. 

 I was too tired to start cooking today. But I did manage to get some beans soaking to cook tomorrow. 

Here is the list of meals I am making. 

White Chicken Chili
Pot pie filling to serve over rice
Coconut Curry Soup
Chicken, broccoli and brown rice casserole
Bolognese Sauce

I am also making smaller portions of cooked meat, cooked beans, and cooked brown rice to pull out for easy meals this fall. 

So, there you have it. I am looking forward to cooking and also to having lots of ready-made meals in the freezer for the busy days of fall. I will post again soon with more pictures.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

White bean cake. With options.

Blueberry White Bean Coffee Cake

I would like to present to you my all time favorite way to eat beans. White Bean Vanilla Cake. Several months ago I found this recipe on The Spunky Coconut blog, and since my discovery I have made it at least a dozen times. It utilizes white beans, lots of eggs, coconut flour, honey, coconut oil, and the essentials like salt, vanilla, baking soda, etc. This cake is delicious for breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything in-between. From someone who chronically forgets to pack snacks, my solution is to eat a huge breakfast that will tide me over until lunch or whenever I get home from work. Eating just one piece of this cake for breakfast will keep me feeling satisfied for hours. Of course it also tastes great between lunch and dinner, or after dinner for dessert. 

Being the recipe rebel that I am, I always do something different each time I make it. Like the cake pictured above. I made the normal recipe but added 2 cups blueberries, 1 tsp cinnamon, and a streusel topping of unsweetened coconut, oats, coconut oil and honey. 

One time I made Zucchini Bean Cake. 

I used one less egg, added two cups of shredded zucchini, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and added 1/2 cup of oats to soak up the extra liquid from the veggies. 


Other variations that I have made that are not pictured are Sweet Potato Bean Cake with one less egg, 1/2 cup sweet potato, spices, and 1/4 cup extra of oat flour. Banana Bean Cake with 2 mashed up bananas and  of course cinnamon and other spices. I have made it with only coconut flour, with a blend of coconut flour and oat flour, with brown rice flour only, oat flour only, and one time with a blend of sorghum and corn flour. I have also used butter and olive oil in place of the coconut oil when I ran out. I have also experimented with different types of sweeteners. I have topped it with an avocado fudge frosting, chocolate tofu frosting, and of course streusel toppings. Future flavors I would like to try are chocolate and coconut for a sweeter dessert cake, cornmeal and fresh corn instead of coconut flour to make it like cornbread, and pumpkin. 

I hope this has inspired you to try something new. With a basic recipe, the options for adaptations and experimentation are endless! I have enjoyed every variation and I look forward to making many more recipes of this white bean cake in the future. 

Now for the big question. How do you feel about beans in your desserts?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Tomatoes Have Arrived!

Thanks to the rain and the Georgia summer heat we are getting lots of tomatoes! Today I walked out to the garden and seemingly overnight many tomatoes were ripe and ready to pick. 

These tomatoes are from my two roma plants. Many of them are a little less than ripe because they were getting spots on them. They are chilling by our kitchen window and I am sure they will be ready soon! You better believe a HUGE batch of pico de gallo is in the near future :).

The darker tomatoes are cherokee purple, the yellow ones are striped and of course the red ones are cherry tomatoes. I picked so many cherry tomatoes today. Many of them had split because of so much rain recently. So, after I brought them inside I sorted through them and placed the smooth ones in the bowl for us to eat fresh. 

The split tomatoes were divided up. Half of them went into a pot with garlic, a little bit of chicken broth, olive oil and salt and pepper. I cooked it down for about 30 minutes and hit it with my trusty immersion blender. My most used appliance in my kitchen at the moment. I plan on chilling it and drinking it cold. It will be like V8, only better! :) 

The other half of the cracked tomatoes were cut in half and drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and baked at 350 for about an hour. The finished tomatoes are SO delicious. I plan on freezing them and using them in the winter in soups and stir fry's. In addition to ALL of that, I also froze two sandwich bags full of fresh cherry tomatoes to put in soups in the winter. 

I harvested a large bunch of stevia. I am going to dry it and grind it to a powder to make homemade raw powdered stevia. I am hoping this experiment goes well! 

I also harvested about 3 cups of basil that went into a batch of pesto that I am freezing in an ice cube tray to have pesto for the winter. Come December, I know I will be thankful for some pesto cubes to brighten up a meal. 

Finally, I got a batch of cold brew coffee in our french press to steep overnight. We don't make this very often, but it makes the best iced coffee in the mornings! To make it, we grind about 1/4 cup of coarsely ground beans, dump the grounds in the french press and fill with filtered water. We normally let it steep in the fridge between 12-24 hours. I have read that you can also leave it out on the counter to steep. 

I am pleased with how productive today has been so far. In the kitchen at least. Now I am going to type up about 20 pages of history notes for school and do my workout for today. 

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!