Don’t Waste, Make Apple Sauce
We buy bulk organic apples. They are great to have on hand for quick and easy snacks. Sometimes we aren’t the best at eating them in a timely matter. They tend to start going soft making them not great to grab and go. While we could put them in the compost bin, I usually make apple sauce instead. Why waste them when you still can create something yummy?
Let’s talk about waste.
Turns out the wasting of food is a global problem. According to the World Food Program USA, nearly one-third of all food produced each year is spoiled before it can be consumed. It is noted that between 30 to 40 percent of the US food supply is wasted. That comes out to be roughly 20 pounds of food per person per month. Yes, 20 pounds per person per month. That’s shocking to me, but yet I can see that happening.
I try to use everything I buy especially fresh produce, but more times than I’d like to admit, a lot of it goes into the compost bin. I am embarrassed by this and I need to change how I meal plan and shop. We try to do the right thing with having a compost bin to cut down on what is going to the landfill and a rain barrel to collect water to use on plants.
I buy too much food. It is so easy to do so in the US with prepackaged produce and retail warehouse clubs. I go into these places with good intentions that I’m going to make this or that. And, well, the making of the meal doesn’t happen. I’m usually good at making something else, but sometimes the produce gets stuck in my veg bin.
Changing how I shop.
I need to change how I plan meals and shop. Going to the grocery store once a week is really convenient. We lead busy lives. I work part-time, run a business, go to graduate school, and volunteer outside of being a wife and mother. I need to make cutting food waste a priority. Not only for the planet but our budget. We’re on a tight budget right now so food wasted is money wasted.
I’ve tried to meal plan, but my changes taste on a daily basis. I look forward to dinner every night. That is the highlight of my food day so I have to really want it. And often meals changes as my taste of something does. It is hard to explain. I should do groceries every other day and pick loose produce over the pre-packaged.
Back to the Apple Sauce
Now back to the apple sauce. It is very easy and quick to do. Peel and chop the apples then add them to a pot with water, sugar, and cinnamon cooking until apples are soft. It doesn’t matter what kind of apples. I just use what I have on hand which is usually Gala apples. You can cut down on the sugar if you’d like just maybe add more cinnamon to keep the flavor high.
If you like the apple sauce, try the Cranberry Chutney.
- 4 apples cored, peeled, and chopped
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Place apples in sauce pan with sugar, water, and cinnamon.
- Stir until mixed.
- Cook over medium heat until apples are soft usually 20-30 minutes.
- Store in glass jar in fridge.
Indian Fried Cabbage and Peas Breaks the Cabbage Image
Cabbage. This vegetable has an image problem. Cabbage, like many vegetables, has a bad reputation. It has been cooked to death without much thought to flavor. It is known as dreary, boring veg that is served in gulags. It was a poor person’s food. Easily available and cheap. Plenty of butter and salt makes it ok to eat. Back in the day, spices were a luxury, but it is 2019 and spices are abundant. So let’s move away from cabbage boiled to mush. There are other ways to prepare cabbage where you will want to eat it. Without being threatened that there will be no dessert until you finish it.
Sometimes I just buy veg at Aldi on a whim and cabbage was my most recent purchase. I do like a challenge. I had an idea to use a recipe out of the Thug Kitchen for roasted cabbage, but I decided to go South Asian with a curry base. Indian Fried Cabbage and Peas breaks the cycle of bland and boiled. While it is soft, it is bursting with flavor and color. If you are trying to cut down on rice, then this is a good substitute in texture if you chop it finely enough. I used my food processor. It was efficient getting the pieces to a perfect size for quick cooking.
While I love kitchen gadgets, none of my kitchens have been big as well as moving a lot, I have had to be very selective with my gadgets. My Kitchen Aid food processor is twenty or so odd years old and I am glad I have it. It is a workhorse making hummus, sauces, and shredding veg. Gadgets have to have a purpose and used weekly for me to keep them in the kitchen or at all. Guess I am the Marie Kondo of kitchen stuff. My list of must-have for the kitchen is electric tea kettle, slow cooker, toaster oven, stand mixer, air fryer, and food processor. I do not own a hand mixer, an electric can opener nor juicer.
Fried Cabbage and Peas
Back to the Indian Fried Cabbage and Peas. This recipe was quick and simple. Cabbage, cumin seeds, coriander, paprika, salt, pepper, fresh ginger, and green peas. All should be pantry items. I use fresh ginger in a bottle. It is just great to have on hand ready to go into a recipe. Same with bottle minced garlic. All the flavor without the fuss.
While Indian Fried Cabbage and Peas can be the main dish if you add another veg dish such as Okra Tomato Curry. Instead of rice, I served this with Coconut Cilantro Curry Grilled Chicken.
Indian Fried Cabbage and Peas
- 1 Cabbage, shredded or finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive or veg oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin Seeds
- 1 inch ginger, grated or a tablespoon of squeezable ginger
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 cup frozen or fresh Green Peas
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a pan over med-high heat and add cumin seeds and ginger sautéing for a minute
- Add cabbage, paprika, coriander powder and salt mixing well
- Add 1/4 cup water.
- Cover the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes till the cabbage is tender.
- Add in the green peas and cook for another minute or too.
Homemade Hummus Made Fresh
Hummus is a quick and delicious snack or meal. It is easy to stop at the grocery store picking up a tub. While store-bought is good, hummus made fresh is the best. When you make it yourself, it just tastes so much better and you can adjust it to your tastes. Everyone has their own recipe for hummus.
Reader’s Digest Hummus
My hummus recipe came from an old Reader’s Digest magazine. The page is crumbled and covered in stains of olive oil and tahini it has been used so much. You’d think I’d have it memorized after all of those years, but I still need it. The hummus recipe was to be used for a healthy fried chicken recipe so it wasn’t as creamy. While I have that fried chicken recipe, I’ve never made it. I just use the hummus recipe. Maybe sometime soon I’ll make that chicken recipe since it does look rather tasty. I may try it in the Air Fryer.
The recipe wasn’t creamy, but more stick to the chicken kind and that’s what it is designed to do. It was tasty but creamy and smooth hummus is so nice. I had to modify it. Not a fan of the overpowering flavor of garlic, I keep the garlic under control only using one small clove since I’m pretty sure Newport does not have a vampire problem. I add spices like cumin into the mix. I’m generous with all the other ingredients. What I have found the key to the smooth hummus is ice cubes. You blend them in one at a time until you get the texture you want. Now there is a huge debate with the Middle East as to who invented it and who makes it the best.
Not Just for Pretzels
While it is a dip, it makes a delicious spread as the filling of a fresh simple roasted Vegetable Hummus Tart. Serviced with a salad, it makes for a simple yet stunning dinner. It can also be a side such as with Imam Bayildi or Turkish Eggplant Tomato Casserole, pita, and a salad. At BJ’s, the stock really pitas. There are big, soft, and chewy which brings the whole meal together. Simple, fresh, healthy foods.
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 Tablespoon Tahini
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon sea salt
- 1 Teaspoon cumin
- 1 Teaspoon paprika
- 3-5 ice cubes
- Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth adding an ice cube for desired creaminess.
Nothing Beats Homemade Gnocchi
Being Irish with the DNA test to show I have no southern European genes, pasta came out of a box and the sauce from a jar growing up. Fresh pasta was unknown. In the late 70s and early 80s, my mom learned how to make tomato sauce and meatballs from our Italian-American neighbors who wanted to share their love of food with us. That was the beginning of the love of Italian food.
Fast forward 30 or so years, I got the nerve to make pasta. I have been making my own sauces for years so it shouldn’t be too much of a leap for me to make my own pasta. Gnocchi is a versatile pasta working with many different sauces and soups. It is a potato dumpling.
The Gnocchi Process
Gnocchi is easy to make if you follow the recipe. There is a process to this humble food. Make it a family affair getting kids in involved in making their dinner.
Here is the low down on making them:
- The potatoes are key. Boil them with their skins on until fork tender about 20 minutes. This helps the potato not to absorb access water. Remember dry potatoes are good and water potatoes are bad. Over-boiling the potatoes causes them to become mushy.
- Invest in a potato ricer. I wish I did. I mashed my potatoes and they weren’t fine enough leaving the gnocchi lumpy.
- When you go knead the dough, be careful not to over-knead. Also be careful at this point of adding flour. By adding too much flour will give you hard gnocchi.
Maybe I will attempt to make another type of pasta.
Gnocchi Making in Photos
- - 2 1/2 lbs. of potato, approx. 4 lg. potatoes
- - 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup or more for working dough
- - 1/2 tsp. salt
- - 1 egg
- - Boil potatoes with their skins on a large pot with just enough water to cover them, boil potatoes with their skins on for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Don't over-boiling will cause potatoes to become mushy and too wet.
- - Drain the potatoes well allowing them to cool in a colander.
- - Peel the potatoes removing any brown spots that might be below the skin.
- - Using a potato ricer, rice the peeled potatoes.
- - Mound riced potato on the middle of a wooden board or a clean, dry countertop. Top with flour.
- - Sprinkle with salt.
- - Make a well using your hands, scoop out the center of your mound.
- - Add the egg into the center of the well the beat the egg with a fork.
- - Incorporate ingredients using the fork, slowly start to pull in flour and potato to mix ingredients.
- - Begin to form the dough using your.
- - Knead the dough by pulling together ingredients and knead to form dough. Be careful not to over-knead. Be weary of adding flour at this point. Too much flour will give you hard gnocchi.
- - Shape the dough into a long, wide rectangle for cutting.
- - Cut dough into 8-10 pieces, about 4 inches long.
- - Roll into ropes by gently pushing with fingers spread.
- - Cut dough ropes using a pastry cutter or non-serrated knife into 1-inch pieces then cut ends at an angle.
- - Ridges or indents using a fork to create ridges or indent gently with your thumb.
- - Cook the gnocchi until they float to the top in a pot of boiling water for about 2-4 minutes. Gently remove them with a slotted spoon, drain very well. Toss them in a saucepan with your favorite sauce and cook together for about 2 minutes.
Quick and Easy Black Bean Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Attempting to lead hardened meat-lovers towards a plant-based diet is difficult. Black Bean Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes goes a long way in getting them to stop saying, “some chicken would taste nice in this.” That’s a huge hurdle is jumped.
Moving folks closer to a plant-based diet is hard. The biggest issue is the mindset. When I was a vegetarian over twenty years ago, I have to admit, vegetarian food was boring and tasteless unless you ate Indian. There was salad, potatoes, pasta, and cooked veg — western European food without meat. I would go into the local co-op buying canned soups and chili, and honestly, they weren’t delicious. Add in fact, that people believed it isn’t going to be filling as meat and that it is expensive, it is a tough sell.
Times have changed.
With an influx of spices, veggies, and cooking techniques from around the globe, vegetarian food has become more robust with flavors and textures. One of my goals in writing Well Worn Apron is to share with folks that plant-based meals are just as tasty, filling, and affordable as meals incorporating meat. Don’t be afraid to use spices, onions, and garlic in your cooking. In my kitchen, I use a lot of chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, thyme, dill, rosemary, gram masala, and curry powder. Pack your fridge with bottled minced garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. I keep spice mixes such as Montreal and Lemon Pepper seasonings. And eating more plant-based meals doesn’t have to be expensive if you stock your pantry. Buy lentils, beans, coconut milk, and veggie broth in bulk then add in the fresh veg or frozen veg. Slow cookers are great for vegetarian meals.
Black Bean Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes is an excellent recipe to sample as a yummy vegetarian meal. Even though my photo doesn’t do the meal justice. It tastes pretty darn good.
Black Bean Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- - 6 small sweet potatoes
- - 1 cup cooked quinoa
- - 1 tablespoon olive oil
- - 1 yellow onion — diced
- - 1 red or yellow bell pepper — diced
- - 1 jalapeño — cored, seeded, and finely chopped
- - 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- - 2 teaspoons minced cloves garlic
- - 2 teaspoons chili powder
- - 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- - 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- - 1 (15-ounce) can black beans — rinsed and drained
- - 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
- - Juice from 1 lime
- - 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- - Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- - Line rimmed baking sheet with foil.
- - Scrub sweet potatoes, pat dry, and prick sweet potatoes with fork.
- - Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake until fork tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size.
- - Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. Leave the oven turned on.
- - Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to package instructions. You should have about 1 cup cooked total. Set aside.
- While the sweet potatoes bake and the quinoa cooks, prepare the filling.
- - Heat the olive oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium.
- - Add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, and salt.
- - Cook until the vegetables soften and the onion begins to brown.
- - Add the garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika, and cumin.
- - Stir to coat the vegetables in the spices, then cook until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- - Stir in the black beans and quinoa. Remove from the heat.
- - Stir in the sour cream/yogurt, lime juice, and 1/2 cup cheese.
- - Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.
- Assemble the meal.
- - With a fork, make a split then open the split and lightly fluff the insides to make space for the toppings.
- - Place the sweet potatoes back on the baking sheet, then stuff with the quinoa–black bean mixture - Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, then return the sweet potatoes to the oven.
- - Cook until the filling is heated through and the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.
Cranberry Chutney – A Multipurpose Condiment
Most American holiday tables from Thanksgiving to Christmas have some sort of cranberry dish. I grew up the jellied kind that came out of a can. Just slice it up and serve it. Sometimes my Mom would make a cranberry mold. All of it was good. It felt like I was eating dessert with my main course.
I never got my Mom’s cranberry mold recipe before she passed and she never wrote her recipes down so I had to make my own way. And maybe why it is important to me to write this blog for my son’s sake. I want to preserve and share family favorite recipes. I want my son to be able to have access to them to make for his friends and family when I am gone hopefully passing them on family traditions.
In our first year in Newport, we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. And what is a Thanksgiving dinner without a cranberry product? Not Thanksgiving that’s what.
As I wandered through BJ’s, I came across a huge bag of cranberries from New England. On the back of this bag of Cape Cod Select cranberries was a recipe for a cranberry chutney. Why not I thought. Let’s just go for it. The huge bag of cranberry was in my cart.
This is a super easy recipe. A tart apple like a Granny Smith is best, I use Gala or whatever apples I have on hand. I recently made a batch and added overly ripe pear with the apple to the mixture. And very versatile. While you can serve this with turkey, you can serve it with other food. Warm some brie up and top it with this cranberry chutney. You can serve it with roasted pork. Top plain yogurt for an added punch to breakfast
- 4 cups cranberries
- 1 large apple
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1. Chop up an apple. A tart apple is recommended, but use whatever you have on hand.
- 2. Combine all ingredients in saucepan.
- 3. Bring to a boil stirring along the way.
- 4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Apple should be tender and the mixture thickens.
- 5. Serve warm or chilled.