Be Cool. Freeze your Trash!

Ok, by trash, I really mean all the food scraps from cooking!  A few years ago, after watching “Dirt! The Movie“, I was inspired to start composting.  In a space-challenged city apartment, having a worm bin is out of the question, but that didn’t stop me.  I went on to discover the awesome GrowNYC community compost program and never turned back.

I can’t say that I was there for the beginnings of the program, but “back in the day” (lol), this program was only available in the Union Square Green Market.  Every 2 weekends, I would lug pounds of compost for the 45 minute journey downtown. It sucked, but I did it.

The program has since expanded and I was so thrilled when community compost arrived right outside our doorstep on the Upper West Side 2 years ago!

Urban Composter

Reasons why you should compost:

  • Less stinky trash = you don’t have to take your trash out as often. WOOT!
  • Say goodbye to the Mickeys in your neighborhood by taking their food source away. YAAAS!
  • Community compost makes it SO EASY (& all the cool kids do it)! Instructions below.
  • It reduces our waste stream, provides great nutrition to the Earth, AND can be used to produce renewable energy. SAY WHAT?!?!

 

Instructions on How to become a Cool Urban Composter:

Step 1: Read up on the rules and locations near you 

Step 2: Decide on the container you want to use for composting! You can go for something fancy, OR we just use an air tight jar. Other ideas include, an old plastic bag, empty yogurt container etc. etc.

Step 3: Collect your food scraps in the container. Freeze it when the container’s full!

Step 4: Drop off your scraps at the Community Compost

Rinse and repeat. You’re now an URBAN COMPOSTER. BOOM!

Smokin’ Chipotle Corn Soup

Oh my cob!  I was at the farmer’s market this past weekend and was devastated by the dwindling supply of plump corn.  Folks, corn season is quickly coming to an end (and dare I say… so is summer?), gahhhhh! Naturally, we need to celebrate this quintessential summer treat and this summer’s bounty with another soup recipe (duh).

CHOW’s Chipotle Corn Soup recipe brings in just the right amount of spice and smokiness to highlight the sweetness of the star ingredient. I served this with a simple tomato, cucumber salad with sliced grilled chicken. UM UM UMMM!

Chipotle Corn Soup with Grilled Chicken Salad

Chipotle Corn Soup with Grilled Chicken Salad

I took out the scallions in this recipe so I can use leftover avocados to garnish the dish.  I regretted that decision.  The creaminess and taste of the avocado was lost in the soup.  So I’m posting the original recipes here with scallions, with notes and modifications. Lastly, straining the mixture made for a super silky soup, but hubby likes the grittiness of the corn puree, so we left his bowl unstrained and it was still tasty!

INGREDIENTS

- 8 ears white or yellow corn, shucked <I used 5 big ears of bi-color corn>

- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)

- 1 teaspoon minced chipotles in adobo sauce

- 2 teaspoons kosher salt

- Freshly ground black pepper

- 6 scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)

- 1 1/2 cups whole milk

- 1 1/2 cups water

INSTRUCTIONS:
- Remove the corn kernels from the cobs.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add the chipotles, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, a pinch of black pepper, and about two-thirds of the scallions. (Set aside the remaining scallions to use as a garnish.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the corn kernels, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, milk, and water and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the flavors have melded and the corn kernels are crisp yet tender (not mushy), about 15 minutes.
- <Skip this step if you like the grittiness of corn> Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large, heatproof bowl. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Pour the blended soup through the strainer, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula; discard the solids.
- Stir in the reserved 1/2 cup corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper as needed. If serving chilled, refrigerate the soup until cold, at least 3 hours. Garnish with the remaining scallions and serve.

Holy Crab! … and Avocado Soup

First of all, SO SORRY for my laziness over the past 9 months. Rest assured I have been cooking and feeding my now hubby, but wedding planning over the past few months really took a toll.  Hopefully, I will get to write about that journey one day, but now that the wedding is over… let’s get cookin again!

After 2 weeks of the summer’s delicious sweet corn and grilled chicken, the law of diminishing returns has set in.  To rescue us from the summer food doldrums, I browsed through the list of saved recipes I’d intended to try over the years but ended up collecting cyber dust.

The Crab & Avocado soup (easier than it sounds) is exactly what I needed to maintain my “good wife” status! This DELICIOUS cold summer soup packed with all the goodness from avocados and sweet crab meat served with some sourdough bread is the perfect light summer dinner.

Crab & Avocado Soup

Crab & Avocado Soup

I modified this Epicurious recipe to make it a bit soupier and doubled the amount of crab (hey, why not) so I can serve this as a main.  Also, if you don’t already have an immersion blender, get it, it’s da bomb!!

Yields 2 Main Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lump crab meat (I used back fin crab meat due to cost)
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

- Mix crabmeat, celery, dried parsley, and lemon zest in a bowl.  Cover and chill crab salad.

- Cube and pit avocados; scoop flesh into a large mixing bowl. Add vegetable stock, crème fraîche, lime juice, kosher salt, and 1 1/4 cups water. Purée with immersion blender until smooth. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper; chill.

- Divide soup amongst 2 bowls.  Spoon crab salad into center of each bowl.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Mini Loaves – Yay Fall!!!

Ready or not, the weather’s gettin’ nippy. But it also means the arrival of pumpkin and apple season – and it’s the best!!!  What better way to welcome the fall than some Pumpkin Ginger Bread?

This Buzzfeed post led me to this delicious Good Thymes & Good Food recipe.  To make it super irresistible and easy for gifting, I used these Paper Mini Loaf Molds from Sur la Table and added some personal touches to it (the unfortunate consequence of late night baking is my mis-spelling of the word Pumpkin, oops!).

Pumpkin Ginger Bread

Pumpkin Ginger Bread

The added bonus about these paper loaf molds is that they are oven-safe (up to 450F) and lined with parchment paper.  You do not have to pre-grease them and the loaf also slides right off!  Here’s the recipe with my modifications and notes (the original recipe was a tad sweet for my taste).

Ingredients (Yielded 7 1/2 mini loaves for my batter)
– 2 1/12 cups granulated sugar
– ½ cup vegetable oil
– ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
– 4 eggs
– ⅔ cup water
– 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
– 2 tsp. ground ginger
– 1 tsp. ground allspice
– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp. ground cloves
– 3½ cups all-purpose flour
– 2 tsp. baking soda
– 1½ tsp. salt
– ½ tsp. baking powder

Directions
– Preheat oven to 350°F

- In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil, applesauce, and eggs.  Use an electric beater and beat until smooth, then add water and beat until well blended.

- Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon. Make sure to get any “lumps” out to make for a smooth batter!

- In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture 1/3 at a time and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Do not over-mix.

- Divide batter between the loaf molds, leave a good 1/4″ between the batter and the top of the mold to avoid overflowing of batter (as the cake does expand in the oven).

- Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes for mini loaf pans (begin checking around 30 minutes for mini pans).

Pumpkin Ginger Bread

Pumpkin Ginger Bread

Wednesday Quickie: Chicken Stir fry with Zucchini & Mushrooms

As quickly as summer arrived, it’s slowly slipping away!! Well, hold on to your zucchinis before they go out of season, we’re going to make some summer stir-fry!

Chicken Stirfry with Zucchini and Mushrooms

Chicken Stirfry with Zucchini and Mushrooms

This is my latest quick dinner favorite, especially after a long day at work and a swim at the pool.  Including prep and cook time, this can be in your tummy in just about 30 minutes. Celebration!

Ingredients (4 servings)

- 2 organic chicken breasts

- 3/4 pound organic crimini mushrooms

- 2 medium – large organic zucchinis

- 1 stalk organic scallions

- 1/2 tsp ginger powder

- Dash of white pepper

- Dash of garlic powder

- 2 tbs soy sauce

- 1 tbs balsamic vinegar

- 1/2 tbs roasted / salted sesame seeds (Optional)

- Drizzle of sesame oil (Optional)

Preparation

- Cube Chicken, Zucchini, Mushrooms into bite-size pieces. The smaller the pieces, the shorter the cook time.

- In a medium saucepan, add olive oil, sauté cubed chicken for 8-10 min on medium heat until cooked through.  Set aside.

- In the same saucepan, (add oil if needed) add in zucchini and mushrooms, season with ginger powder, white pepper, garlic powder, stir to coat. Sauté for 8-10 min until wilted but not mushy.

- Once mushrooms / zucchinis cook down, add chicken, sesame, soy sauce, vinegar and combine well.

- Serve on a bed of rice, top with scallions and sesame oil