Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Organizing and Purging Old Food

Yesterday I woke up in the mood to clean. This was weird for me. I generally have to force myself to clean, but occasionally I just get into a mood where I feel like clutter is taking over my house and I just can't stand it for one more second! So, I started with the basement. We're having the carpet replaced in the basement which means everything has to come out of the basement - minus the couch (hopefully) and the pool table. We're replacing it with tile, so I think it should be possible to work around those.
I diverge.
Anyway, I set to clearing out all the boxes I have stashed down there, but I didn't want to get rid of them all because they're useful for shipping/wrapping things. And let's be honest 'tis the season for wrapping and shipping! So, I organized them a little better and moved them into the storage area under the stairs. I suppose that's where they'll stay until I can find a better place for them.
In the midst of this I realized we had a heaping pile of laundry that needed to be attended to, so I got started on that and was working myself into a frenzy going up and down the stairs finding random things that were out of place then figuring out where they should go. I almost let myself start on the front room, but that's a whole week's worth of sorting in and of itself, so I stuck with the rest of the house - something I could accomplish (for the most part) in one day.
Anyway, since we had just gotten home from Thanksgiving I desperately needed to go grocery shopping (I had let most of our staples run out before we left). So, I eventually took a break from organizing and ran to the store. When I got back and started putting away the food I realized the cabinet was getting full. This was crazy because we JUST had extra cabinets put in a few months ago. There's no way they could already be full! My husband and I don't eat THAT MUCH food. *Sigh* But apparently we ...errr...I BUY that much food and don't eat it... That's when I noticed all the expired food we had in our cabinets.
Since I was already in "purge mode" I started going through all the food in our cabinets and fridge and made a pile of everything that was expired. Sadly, the pile was pretty big. But, we have a lot more space in our cabinets now :)
I was also able to find a few items that are going to expire soon if we don't use them. So, I pulled them from the cabinets and put them on the counter so I can make sure we use them before they expire.
After the purge, I was curious what the oldest expiration date was. The oldest item I found was some ground Cayenne Red Pepper that expired July 28, 2006 . Sadly - that was not the only thing that expired in 2006 in our cabinets :-/
Does anyone else out there have any spectacularly old food sitting around in their kitchen?

Butternut Squash "Fries"

Since we're now fully into fall (it's sometimes hard for me to admit that summer is officially over) and that means we get to enjoy all the yummy flavors of fall. Butternut squash is one of my favorite parts of fall, and I have recently tried to find new ways to cook the squash. I had the idea to make "butternut squash fries" one day when I was reminiscing about how delicious sweet potato fries are - a sweet potato and a butternut squash aren't so different, so I figured I'd give it a shot.
I bought a butternut squash then peeled it and cut it into "fry sized" strips. I then put all the strips in a bowl and seasoned them with a little bit of olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar. I then cooked them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
I served them up with some chicken for dinner and both my husband and I agreed that they were good enough to make again. The "fries" didn't turn out very crispy, so next time I'll either up the oven temperature or maybe I'll actually try frying them.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweet Potato Quesedillas

I got this recipe from my sister one Christmas when she gave me her "Casa G Recipes" cookbook. It's a cookbook she and her Jesuit Volunteer roommates made of their favorite recipes from their year serving in San Antonio. There are lots of great recipes in the cookbook. One of those is this Sweet Potato Quesedillas recipe.

1 1/2 C onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 T vegetable oil
4 C grated peeled sweet potato (you don't actually need to do the grating, I'll talk about this later)
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
generous pinch cayenne
1 C grated cheddar
8 tortillas
salsa, sour cream and whatever other "mexican" toppings you like

Saute onions and garlic in oil.
Add sweet potatoes, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne.
Cook covered for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat.
Spread 1/2 C filling and 2 T cheese on each tortilla.
Serve immediately or warm in oven.
Serve with "mexican" toppings.

When I (and my sister) cook this I don't bother to grate the sweet potato. That takes some serious effort and time and it makes quite a mess. Instead I just cook the sweet potatoes in the oven. I also just serve it up like a burrito (I'm not exactly sure why it has "quesedilla" in the name).  Here's are a few pictures from when I made this for my husband and I last week.

peeled sweet potatoes with garlic and oil
(my husband doesn't like onion, so I cook mine without)
Sweet potatoes with spices mixed in - ready to be served up!
My sweet potato "quesedilla." I usually have lettuce, tomato and maybe some black beans,
but we were headed out of town the following weekend so I didn't buy any new produce.
My husband didn't even complain that there wasn't any meat in the meal (although he did have some chicken wings after dinner)! Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010


A few weeks ago I had a couple friends over for lunch and decided to try my hand at making quiche. It's a dish I have always liked, but never tried to make. So, I went online and found this recipe. Although I didn't follow the recipe exactly, I made sure to keep the key ingredients (butter, eggs, salt, flower, and milk) and changed out the rest. For my friends I put in onion, ham, tomato and cheese (a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella). But, you can put in any combination of ingredients you like. When I cooked the quiche for dinner I put in potatoes, ham and tomatoes the first time and potatoes, ham and spinach the second time.

By the way - for the ham I just went to the deli counter at the grocery store and asked them to cut me 1 slice of ham as thick as they could cut it. One slice turned out to be nearly 1/2 pound. I took that slice and cubed it for the quiche each time, but you could always buy a ham or use of leftover ham or no ham at all (of course).
Also, I decided to serve the quiche with cinnamon rolls each time. We all know how much of a sweet tooth I have and just having quiche for dinner wasn't gonna cut it.

The spinach, ham and potato quiche before it went in the oven.

My favorite part of this recipe is that it doesn't require that you purchase or make a crust. I wasn't quite sure how it was going to turn out at first or if I would like it, but the flower sort of sinks to the bottom and makes a quasi-crust on the bottom of the pan.

This recipe will definitely go in the "rotation" of meals I cook because of how easy it is to make and because I can use random leftovers in it!