Tag Archives: homemade

Squash Dumplings

I’m still alive! (sort of).  I’m actually home sick today so I figured I could FINALLY update my blog.  Since the semester has started back up I have been busy teaching, taking a class, and doing research.  This usually accounts for 10-16 hour workdays.  By the time I get home I make something quick and easy (omelette, 10 bowls of cereal, oatmeal…) but occasionally I have a particularly bad day and need to cook.  I think I have 4 or 5 recipes that I will be posting today, so stay tuned!

When my CSA decided to call it quits, they cleared out their farm and gave each of us 2 boxes – about 40 pounds – of produce.  In the end, I probably received as much as I would have over the following weeks.  Among my bounty was 17 squash, an enormous bag filled with garlic (I would estimate 30-40 bulbs), bags of potatoes, and lots and  lots of greens.  Also, my CSA gave us this link http://www.localgrowers.org/csa-programs/ to help us find a new farm to support.  I joined a winter CSA and am very excited about it.

So, I have a lot of squash.  Becca and I took a cute date to Nashville, Indiana, and I bought a down home, kitschy squash cookbook.  I’ve been getting ideas from it, but mostly for breads.  When I have a lot of squash, I typically roast 2 or 3 at a time and just keep the roasted sqash in the fridge to put on oatmeal, bake into a casserole, or make breads.  I wanted pasta the other day so I had the idea to adapt my gnocchi recipe for squash.  I got lazy so instead of making “pillows” I just rolled the dough into balls.

Squash Dumplings

-In a mixing bowl combine 1 egg and 1.5 cups roasted squash
-Continue mixing in 2 cups flour (I use wheat) and 1/4 teaspoon salt
-Once dough reaches dough-like consistency, roll into balls and boil until no longer chewy

Mizuna Pesto
-combine (with a mortar and pestle, blender, imersion blender, or however you want) chopped mizuna, 1-2 cloves crushed or finely chopped garlic, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper

It’s really tough to quantify how much any of this costs because of how I got 4 week’s worth of vegetables at once.  These are my best estimates:

Total Cost: $3.29

organic squash: $0.75
organic garlic clove: $0.10
2 cups organic flour: $0.52
1 organic egg: $0.17
Mizuna: $0.75
1/4 cup paremean cheese: $1.00


Beet Pasta with Balsamic Vinegar-Garlic Scape reduction

I have to admit it.

no beet relief!

I am getting sick of beets.  This week’s CSA contained beets, kale, mint, kohlrabi, and garlic scapes.

I still haven’t eaten all of my beetes (or turnips, or kohlrabi) from last week.  This week I will be better.  More cooking this week!  I don’t know what happened last week, but I ended up being stuck with a lot of quick meals (aka cereal).

I have actually been thinking of making beet pasta for a few days now because I thought the color would be fabulous.  I did a little searching and found a recipe that included ingredients I actually had here.  I also think beets are unparralled when combined with balsamic vinegar, so I thought a balsamic vinegar reduction would be a perfect sauce.  To make it better, I sauteed chopped garlic scapes in the reduction.  (don’t know what garlic scapes are?  neither did I- they’re the flower of the garlic bulb).  You can see them in the plastic bag in the picture.

When I put it all together, the pasta was clearly missing something.  No worries, manager’s markdown specials had me covered.  In went the AWESOME goat cheese I just got at Bloomingfoods on sale- Capriole’s Fromage a trois caliente torta.  It’s creamy and spicy and was the perfect addition to my pasta.

As an aside, you know what helps me keep from spending too much at the grocery store?  Biking to/from the store and only being able to carry back as much as I can fit in my messenger bag.  It was so hard to carry all this!

it doesn’t look like a lot, but try biking up a long ass hill with this in your messenger bag

Beet Pasta with Balsamic Vinegar-Garlic Scape reduction

peel and slice 4 large beets
-toss in olive oil
-roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees or until beets are fork tender
-puree beets
-combine 1/4 cup pureed beets, 2-1/4 cup wheat flour, 2 eggs, and a pinch of salt in a food processor and blend until a ball of dough forms *note- I had to add water to my dough in order to get a dough consistency
-coat a cutting board with flour and roll out the dough into flat sheets
-cut into noodles using a pizza cutter
-boil until desired doneness

my new favorite trick! placing a wooden spoon over the boiling water keeps it from boiling over

-for the baslamic vinegar reduction, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a sauce pan, then pour in ~1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
-sautee chopped garlic scapes in the balsamic vinegar

beautiful colors and flavor

-once the balsamic vinegar has reached its desired thickness, toss with drained pasta
-stir in cheese

Total Price: $3.48
-2 organic beets: $0.50
-2-1/4 cup organic wheat flour: $0.59
-2 organic eggs: $0.34
-6 organic garlic scapes: $0.25
-1/2 cup balsamic vinegar: $0.30
-organic cheese: $1.50

That’s it?  Definitely more labor intensive than expensive.

Roasted Tilapia with Sage Polenta

Best. Meal. Ever.

Super Picky Boyfriend was in town over the weekend, so we had the usual debate- go out to dinner, or cook?  Apparently the food I make isn’t substantial enough for growing boys.  I said seafood sounded really good to me, so the debate became: go to Red Lobster or buy some fish from B-foods and make it ourselves.  I told him since he would have to buy dinner, it depended on whether he wanted to spend $10 on the fish, or $40 on the meal.  Clearly he thinks like the big city accountant that he is 🙂

Super Picky Boyfriend also really likes polenta (even though he first wanted to try it thinking it may be something crescent roll-like (?) (I’m still confused on that one)).  I told him I would make polenta with this, so he could pick out the fish.  I was pretty impressed when he came back with tilapia and said he had thought ahead that it would go well with the cornmeal.

I rarely buy fresh fish and cook it the same day, so this was a huge treat for me.  There’s something insane satisfying about a fresh piece of fish.

I have never really had polenta before, so I was a little unsure about how to make it.  I have a couple Taste of Home/Betty Crocker cookbooks that are my go to when I want to make comforty food for the first time.  I adapted a recipe from Taste of Home and really, really enjoyed it.

Oven Roasted Tilapia
-preheat oven to 375 degrees C
-rub both sides of fish in olive oil.  Season with tea smoked salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, lemon juice, and white balsamic vinegar


-bake for 15 minutes, or until done (for us this was when there was barely any resistance when a fork was placed into the deepest point of the fish)



Sage Polenta

(do this at least 1 hour ahead of when you want dinner on the table)

-sautee 1/2 an onion, a clove of garlic, and 2 stalks swiss chard (greens and stalk) in olive oil
-add contents of frying pan to a pot, add 3 cups water and 1 cup 2% milk; bring to a boil
-slowly add 1 cup cornmeal, whisking as you do it to avoid clumps
-let simmer for 8-10 minutes until cornmeal is creamy

-add 1/4 cup parmesan, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon sage
-pour into a greased 9×9 square baking pan and let chill in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes

sooo goood



this is actually a much harder process than it should be


Total Price: $11.43, or $5.72/person

1 lb tilapia: $9.00

-1 cup organic milk: $0.42
-1 cup organic cornmeal: $0.30
-1/2 organic onion: $0.15
-1 clove organic garlic: $0.10
-2 stalks swiss chard: $0.46
-1/4 cup parmesan: $1.00

So this was obviously a little bit more than I typically spend on dinner, but it was SO worth it.  It definitely beat spending $40 on a mediocre dinner, too 🙂


DIY Yogurt

I have always turned my nose up at plain yogurt.

I take that back.  I turned my nose up once I realized plain yogurt is different than vanilla yogurt.  (aside:  If vanilla wasn’t white, do you think it would be considered less plain?  This is a question I ask myself often).

Anyway, I was a little bit skeptical about making my own plainyogurt, but I figured for the amount of money I would be saving, it would be worth a try.

This recipe is also adapted from DIY Delicious by Vanessa Barrington

Organic Yogurt

special equipment needed: candy thermometer, sanitized quart sized mason jar (place in boiling water for 5 minutes), water bath heated to 90-100 degrees C, plain yogurt (for cultures)

-pour 1 quart milk (I used 2%) into a saucepan

why does a picture of milk in a saucpan improve this blog?

slowly heat the milk to 185 degrees C.  (It’s really easy to scorch the milk when it’s in a sauce pan)
-hold the milk at 185 degrees C for 5 minutes.
-let cool to 115 degrees C
-place 2 tablespoons plain yogurt in mason jar
-add 1/2 cup milk to mason jar at a time and whisk
-once all the milk is added, place mason jar in water bath and let sit for 8 hours.

One thing I do is make the yogurt before bed, throw the water bath in the oven, and just turn the oven light on.  It keeps the water warm enough.

I really like  this plain yogurt.  It is definitely less tangy than store bought plain yogurt, which is great for me.  I don’t think I could eat it plain..it has a bit of a milky/cheesy taste.

Yogurt ideas:

-mix in almond butter, honey, bananas (my favorite)
-spread on pancakes or toast
-use to thicken sauces
-freeze with almond butter mixed in for frozen yogurt!!

Total Price: $1.50/quart

“Creamy” Manhattan Clam Chowder

Back to reality..

I haven’t really been cooking lately…actually, the last time I cooked was Friday night, I think.  I was super spoiled over the weekend with nice pre-Valentine’s Day meals + I had tons of leftover pizza.  Honestly, I probably would have run out of food otherwise!

I was not feeling any more grains today, so I decided to make soup.  (More evidence I am out of food – here is what I ate today:  oatmeal, left over pizza, a granola bar, more oatmeal).  I was definitely feeling a bit of a change.  Unfortunately, I also had to dip into my emergency canned food section of the pantry.  Here is what I had to work with:

random much?

From left I have whey, organic whole tomatoes, baby clams, chorizo flavored refried beans, organic onion, organic garlic, and organic turnip.

A major reason I went for the clams was because I’m starting to feel like my iron might be a little low.  Little known fact- shellfish contain much more iron than beef.  I’ve struggled with anemia for the past 6-ish years, so cooking with iron in mind is something I feel like I’ve perfected over the years.  Because I wanted to get the most iron possible, I actually eliminated the whey.  I’m not positive what the calcium content in whey is, but calcium inhibits the absorption of iron.  Vitamin C, however, helps the absorption of iron so making a tomato based clam chowder seemed like a no brainer.  I wanted to add the beans to the soup to add iron and also a fuller, creamier texture and flavor since dairy was out.  Also, I didn’t have any potatoes so I figured the turnip could be a good substitute.  It def=initely was, and I can see myself making that substitution again.

I’ve made clam chowder quite a bit and this adaptation is one of my favorites.  The chorizo flavor in the beans went well with the clams, and the turnips added extra flavor.  Here’s what I did:

Creamy Manhattan Clam Chowder

-combine a 28 oz can tomatoes, 14 oz can refried beans, 12 oz can baby clams in a large pot
-add 1/2 a diced onion, 1/2 cup julienned turnip, 1 clove garlic
-season with bay leaf, salt, pepper, thyme, and crushed red pepper flakes
-simmer for ~20 minutes

needs more green..story of my life

Sooo easy.  This actually made quite a bit, too.  I ate two bowls tonight and have 2-3 bowls left.  Hooray for lunch tomorrow 🙂

Total Price: $5.48 (for 4-5 servings)

Tomatos: $2.89
Clams (not organic): $1.29
Refried Beans: (not organic) $1.10
Onion: $0.19
Turnip: $0.10
Garlic: $0.10

Considering that Darn Good Soup (an amazing soup place in B-town) sells a bowl for ~ the price of my entire pot, I think that’s a pretty good deal.

Whine…and Cheese!

Okay, so my last post was me being mopey about the grocery store.

HOWEVER, I did make some fantastic cheese tonight.  It’s so freaking easy.  This recipe came from DIY Delicious by Vanessa Barrington.

Step 1: pour 1 gallon of milk into a large pot

I would cry if I spilled all of this

Step 2: Heat milk to 185 degrees F, while stirring.

Step 3: At 185 degrees, turn off heat and add 1/3 cup white vinegar.  Stir to distribute the vinegar, then let it sit for 5-8 minutes.

this effect is infinitely more disgusting when you are teaching the milk separation lab for general chemistry..

Step 4:  Remove clumps of cheese with a slotted spoon and place in a cheese cloth lined strainer.  If you want dry cheese, use less layers of cloth; soft cheese, use more.  (I used two layers)

starting to look less disgusting

Step 5: Once the cheese reaches the desired consistency, add salt (to taste), and store in a tupperware.

Cheese is obviously stored best in an old chop suey container

There you have it.  This whole process probably takes about an hour, but most of that time is waiting for the milk to reach the correct temperature.  It’s really nice if you have work in the kitchen that needs to be done, or if you can sit around and do homework or drink tea while you chat with your roommate and watch ridiculous videos on college humor.

Price?  Crazy cheap.  This was 3/4 of a gallon and 1/4 cup of vinegar so it ended up being $4.50 for ~1 lb?  1.5 lb?  of organic cheese.  A great bonus is that I also have A TON of whey left over.


1.  Sahara Mart fail – I stopped here on my way back from errands this morning to buy some organic wheat flour since I noticed they had it in bulk for $1.79.  That sounded cheap, except that I failed to really do the math.  5 lbs cost me $8.91, when a 5 lb bag of the same thing cost me $6.99 last month.

2.  Squash Part 4 – The squash has been great as mix in for oatmeal.  I’ve been doing 2 heaping spoonfuls of squash with brown sugar and honey.

3.  Squash Part 5 – I roasted the seeds and am using it in a recipe for sour dough – cornmeal – pumpkin seed bread.  More to come on that later.