Homemade Vegetable Stock

Like many cooks, I use stock and broth all the time to boost the flavors of the food I make. It’s not too expensive — I like to buy the cardboard containers from Whole Foods for about two bucks. But what I never knew was how easy it is to make your own stock. And you don’t even have to buy new ingredients for it! Just use scraps from the veggies you use in your everyday cooking. So as somebody who hates wasting ingredients and loves experimenting in the kitchen, I had to try it.

All I do is add my food scraps into a gallon-sized bag in my freezer. Once the bag fills up, it’s time to make stock! It’s so easy — there’s almost no work involved. Just get in the habit of throwing your vegetable scraps in the freezer instead of the garbage and then boil some water. Let it sit over a flame, strain it, and you’ve got delicious homemade broth from nothing but odds and ends. Essentially, this is a free way to flavor your food.

Click here to read which vegetable scraps are ideal for making stock…


Cauliflower (and Indian Bitter Melon) Curry

indian bitter melon and cauliflower with indian spices

As a food blogger, I am starting to look at vegetables in the grocery store in a completely new way. Before, I used to just pass by unfamiliar food in the store. I thought, “What am I going to do with that?” or, “Wow, I can’t even imagine how that would taste!” But I decided to step outside my comfort zone and start buying one new or unfamiliar vegetable at least once a week. And that’s how I stumbled onto Indian bitter melon, otherwise known as karela. I thought it looked like a zucchini with reptile skin and I was totally fascinated.

indian bitter melon karela

I brought home 3 of them and did some research online. The recipes I found seemed too complicated or called for spices that I didn’t already have in my kitchen. So I decided to make up a recipe. I cut off the tops of the melons and scooped out the insides to make boats. I figured I could chop up the third I had taken off the top, stir fry them with onions and spices, and then stuff the bitter melons and bake them up. Kind of like zucchini boats.

karela boats

But my plan was derailed. I started the stir fry but when I tasted it, it was way way way too bitter! I realized I couldn’t possibly stuff the boats and have the entire outside be that bitter tasting stuff. I did add some sugar to balance out the flavor, but it would have been too overwhelming to use all 3 melons. So instead, I cut up a head of cauliflower and added it to the stir fry. I threw out the boats because the flavor was just too strong.

My verdict? The small amount of bitter melon in the stir fry added an interesting background flavor and contrasted nicely with the sweet cauliflower. Will I buy it again? Probably not. There are so many other interesting vegetables in the grocery store that I could experiment with! Honestly, I think this curry (or is it a stir fry? I’m not really sure) would taste just as good without the bitter melon. So the veggie I wanted to be the star of the recipe ended up being a background player. That’s why it’s in parentheses — the recipe could totally do without it.

However, I did eat that whole bowl myself (that’s an entire head of cauliflower) so it couldn’t have been that bad. 😉 Whether or not you try this recipe, I encourage you to go out and buy something new or unexpected this week and flex your own culinary muscles.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Balsamic Roasted Green Beans

I love green beans. I usually make them the same way every time (sautéed with garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar and hot sauce), but I thought I would try something different this time. Roasting with balsamic vinegar and honey gives them a sweet and mellow flavor. The onions and walnuts are a great complement to the beans. I would prefer them crunchier since that texture is one of the reasons I love green beans so much, but I know I wouldn’t be able to get the same deep flavor as I got in this recipe without roasting them.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here

Sesame Soba Noodles with Shrimp

I love the Pioneer Woman’s blog. She takes tons of photos and walks her readers through each step of a recipe. And when I saw her post on sesame noodles, I knew I had to make them. I had every single ingredient in my pantry and fridge. They were calling out to me. I did make some adjustments, though. Her recipes usually call for too much oil or butter or sugar. I prefer lighter cooking. I also don’t like dishes that are just pasta so I took her advice to add veggies and shrimp. I had soba noodles in the pantry which is an Asian buckwheat noodle. You can use any kind of noodle you have or go to the store and try something new!

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Green Pea Risotto with White Wine and Parsley

I love risotto. It’s one of those dishes that people think is fancy and complicated, but it’s really not. Sure, it takes some time, but it’s not rocket science. I chose this recipe because I had all the ingredients on hand. Risotto is so versatile that you can add anything you have in your fridge — asparagus, bell peppers, mushrooms, shrimp, the list goes on.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Roasted Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

I served these vegetables alongside the tandoori-style chicken. Roasted cauliflower is completely different from the raw stuff. The flavor is sweet and a little nutty and very pleasant. I roasted these for twice the time called for in the recipe, just to make sure that the cauliflower flavors developed nicely. Yukon Gold potatoes are great because they hold their shape while roasting – Russet or Idaho potatoes would fall apart if you kept them in the oven this long.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Lemon Zucchini Pasta

Summer’s coming to a close and it makes me really sad. I love summer and this pasta recipe is my way of extending the season. The lemon, basil, zucchini, and beans really brighten up the flavors in this pasta dish.

We actually used brown rice pasta, making this a gluten-free recipe. You can use whatever pasta you have available.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…