Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"All I need is food and creative love" Part Deux

I am a bargain hunter. When it comes to shopping for food, clothes, even nights out on the town, I plan ahead. I clip coupons from the newspaper, print them online, read grocery fliers, and keep my trusty Sam's Club card close. Unfortunately, even my best made plans often go awry. We eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in our house, and the selection is usually determined by what's on sale. Sometimes though, I buy way too much. Eric often has unplanned meals out with clients, which can sometimes blow my dinner plans, leaving a bag of slowly wilting salad greens or a pint of mushy raspberries to rot. Nothing irritates me more than throwing away spoiled food. I'm now on a mission to never do it again. The "never" may come back to bite me, but I'm working on it. I'm getting good at creating recipes that include produce that has seen better days. Now, we're not talking fuzzy mold or slimy ick here. If you see that in your vegetable drawer, by all means, chuck it and fast! I'm just talking about spinach that is a little too wilted for a nice salad, or fruit that has gone a little soft. Here are some ways you can use up produce that is just past its prime.

If you have:
Yes you can always saute it up with a little olive oil and serve it as a side dish, but that gets old. I used a big bag of baby spinach and adapted a Martha Stewart Recipe for this Spinach Quinoa Bake. I added more vegetables and cut out several of the prep steps to simplify things. It was really delicious, and a fantastic vegetarian option. It was also a good way to help me figure out what the heck to do with quinoa, since I bought it for one dish and then felt lost. Now I love it!

If you have carrots, peppers, squash, or even more spinach, soup is the easiest way to go! This recipe works well for leftovers as well as the stuff in the bottom of your crisper. Since it is pureed, you can use anything you want. Plus, its vegetarian, so you can please all of your friends with this one.
If you aren't into soups, Scrap Wraps are the way to go. All you need are some sandwich wraps and creativity. Saute up any veggies you want in a little olive oil. Then spread a whole wheat wrap with a little hummus, mayo, or anything you like and go crazy with toppings. I love whole wheat wraps with garlic hummus, sauteed onions and mushrooms, and roasted red peppers! You can even do sweet wraps when you have too many apples. Slice and saute them in a pan and wrap them with peanut butter and walnuts, yum!

Overripe berries are the bane of my existence, since they can be very expensive and are often cheaper when bought in bulk. It's easy to toss them into a blender with some yogurt and whip up a smoothie, but a little more time and effort can give you more impressive results. A pint of quickly softening strawberries was turned into the Strawberry Key Lime Muffins you see above. They are so moist and sweet I'll be sending the rest of them to the office with Eric to stop myself from eating the whole batch. I then used a half pint of raspberries for the frosting of these Sweet Crescent Rolls. I'm a little late to the crescent roll party, but better late than never. I know people have used them forever and ever, but I'm just lately discovering their versatility. I also love that they are now available in a reduced fat version! We used to wrap them around hot dogs or ham and cheese to make lunches for Delaynie, but I like them sweet! The extra raspberry frosting can be refrigerated in an air tight container for several weeks, so you can use it for fresh fruit, vanilla cupcakes, or my favorite, brownies.


Toni D. said...

I agree I hate to toss food away. I try to do the same things you do. I often make soups. I also make my own croutons when bread is getting a little hard.
Thanks for the ideas

jen said...

you are the best joanna - these ideas can't be beat. Your photos are amazing! I want to lick the computer screen!!

Danielle said...

I hate to throw away food as well. Thanks for the great ideas.

Creations By Cindy said...

Thanks for the tips. I must say, that is one thing I don't do often! (Throw food away) I was raised by a grandmother that you ate leftovers, you shared your bounty with others, you froze what you could and well, with 3 daughters and their families, there is no food waste! Ha! Thanks for sharing, Be blessed. Cindy