theboxexperiment

Attempting to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Sweet Potato Fries January 30, 2011

Filed under: Snack,Vegetable — theboxexperiment @ 7:18 pm
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It’s Sunday and we have a stuffed fridge, but are unsure of what it actually in there and a countertop full of produce that’s steadily progressing toward being useless. We had nothing to do today but go grocery shopping and assess the state of our food and food consumption. A few lazy Sunday ideas came to us:

  1. We don’t know how to store certain produce. A squash sat perfectly on the counter for a 2 weeks, the carrots and zucchini that moved from the counter to fridge became rubber within 5 days. The conclusion: a)research how to store veggies and b) we need to plan our meals better.
  2. We feel like we’ve tossed a lot of produce partly because we don’t know how to store veggies, partly because all the oranges we received at Christmas headed for the compost today, partly because aren’t totally sure of how to cook some of the veggies we get, and (I think) partly we are exaggerating.

So today, we cleaned the fridge and composted tons of old produce. Then I cooked a dinner full of food JEM doesn’t love, or even particularly like. It started with Sweet Potatoes Fries.

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • cayenne pepper

Steps

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425*.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes. I rinsed mine off lightly after because I left peelings dust all over them.
  3. Pat the sweet potatoes dry otherwise the olive oil won’t stick to them.
  4. Cut in half then slice into wedges. JEM cut them to about 1/3″ thick by 2″ long. We also attempted sweet potato chips but cut them too thin. They looked awesome, but need to be cut at least 1/3″ think. While cooking they will reduce in size.
  5. Lay out chips/wedges on a baking sheet.

  1. Drizzle with olive oil, just enough to make them shiny. But they should not sit in pools of EVOO.
  2. Salt and pepper to taste (I over peppered and under salted)–Sea salt and cracked pepper are fantastic combinations.
  3. Mix up the potatoes with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Make sure the potatoes get coated all the way around.
  4. Dash with just a bit of cayenne pepper.
  5. Put in the oven for 20 mins. Half way through, pull them out and them over.

  1. Done when golden and crisp (my wedges came out under crisp but still awesome).
  2. Serve immediately with ketchup and/or mustard.

JEM really enjoyed the fries, making this  a great recipe for a non-sweet potato eater.

 

Snow Day and 6 Ready to Go Bananas January 27, 2011

Filed under: Bread,Breakfast,Dessert,Fruit — theboxexperiment @ 9:02 pm
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…sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. Wonderfully, DC had its first snow day today and just in time for my birthday! I brought tons of work home to do but instead JEM went out to a birthday lunch and then I did some serious baking.

My baking from scratch recipe list is pretty limited but I can make a mean apple pie, banana bread, and Uncle Pete’s Dessert (a pudding-y goodness concoction that is all together awful for you but sooo good). We had 6 bananas that were about to turn into compost so I searched and found these recipes on For the Love of Cooking.net.

Banana Cinnamon Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas, about 3 small bananas
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fresh nutmeg, grated

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pull out a non-stick baking sheet (or a sticky one and coat with Pam)
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla
  4. Continue to beat until the mixture is well combined.
  5. Mash the bananas in a bowl with the baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. (This gives the cookies their lift.)
  6. Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture.
  7. Mix together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  8. Add to the butter and banana mixture then stir until just mixed.
  9. Drop by the spoonful onto the cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown.
  11. Let cool on wire racks.
  12. Mangia.

Like I’ve said, I’ve never really done baking from scratch. All the cookies I’ve done are Tollhouse and generally the pre-made stuff that you just need to drop onto a cookies sheet. I ALWAYS over cook them and they come out flat and crunchy. These are exactly the opposite, fluffy and moist–SO good.

Banana, Blueberry, Lemon Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups of blueberries
  • 2 tbsp grated lemon zest, divided
  • 3 tbsp sugar

**Mentally replace the baking soda w/ baking powder 🙂

Steps

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Coat a muffin tray with cooking spray.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest together in a small bowl.
  4. Beat together the bananas, eggs, brown sugar, melted butter, lemon juice, and vanilla until well blended. (Probably easier if you have an electric blender, I don’t but it worked just as well to do it by hand.)
  5. Stir in the dry ingredients until just mixed.
  6. Carefully add 1 cup of blueberries and gently mix together.
  7. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining blueberries evenly over the tops of each muffin (push them down a bit).
  9. Combine the sugar and remaining tablespoon of lemon zest together and sprinkle evenly on top of each muffin.
  10. Bake for 25-27 minutes or until a knife (or toothpick) comes out clean.
  11. Let cook on a wire rack.
  12. Consume

 

Box #2

Filed under: Box — theboxexperiment @ 9:40 am
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Box #2 arrived Tuesday. We definitely don’t have a lack of produce, unlike before we started this experiment. Honestly, it’s a little refreshing. We are taking greater control of the food we eat at home. It hasn’t been that long since I could open our fridge and see all sorts of things that were a) overpriced, b) over-processed, and c) not particularly healthy for you. Now I open the fridge and see homemade humus, homemade bread, fruits and veggies (that I’m certain came from a good place). I am thinking about other culinary projects I want to undertake: making my own jams or jellies, canning homemade pasta sauce, making homemade pasta: all things that help us gain better control and understanding of our food.

But I digress, back to box #2. In the box, we found

  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 1 carton of grape tomatoes
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 zucchini
  • 3 navel oranges
  • 3 mangos
  • 3 fuji apples
  • 1 bunch of bananas
  • 2 green bells
  • a bunch of baby bellas

This is all wonderful but there is one issue. For 2 people we have a ton of bananas and oranges. For Christmas my grandparents (S&J W) bought us 14 lbs of tangelos, JEM’s aunt H then sent us 6 more oranges….we still haven’t finished them all and the amount keeps growing. I’m at a minor loss about what to do with all the oranges. Bananas are easy, I’ll make more banana bread. The apples are easy too, I can make either an apple pie or an apple bread. But oranges are going to prove tricky.

What will get interesting is cooking the zucchini and sweet potatoes, these are vegetables that I’ve never cooked. I’m not sure if either of us actually like zucchini and sweet potatoes. I guess we’ll be finding out!

Recipes to look out for:

Orange Chicken Salad–boring, but I gotta do something w/ all the oranges

Butternut Squash Soup

Zucchini Coins

Apple Bread

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

 

Chicken Thai Basil Rice January 26, 2011

Filed under: Dessert,Poutlry,Vegetable — theboxexperiment @ 2:05 am
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JEM and I really enjoy Thai food, so for his birthday last year I bought him a wok, a Thai cook book, and an Indian cookbook. We haven’t tried many of the recipes yet, though many have been dog eared and we want to try them. One of the recipes in the Thai book is a favorite of mine, and a dish I order whenever we are out at a Thai restaurant: Chicken Thai Basil Rice.

This dish can easily be more vegetarian by omitting the chicken and adding in more vegetables. It does call for fish sauce, so it might be difficult for a purist but I assume a substitute can be found. We generally do add in more vegetables, namely slices of red and green pepper and chopped carrots. Tonight we were going for simplicity and omitted them.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbls vegetable oil (the recipe calls for 3 tbls and we typically use no more than 1 tbls)
  • 1 tbl coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 red or yellow onion thinly sliced or roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red and/or green bell peppers
  • 5-15 baby carrots (we throw in some random amount every time)
  • ~1 lb boneless chicken, either ground or cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbls fish sauce
  • 1 tbls dark soy sauce or soy sauce
  • 2 tbls water
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 coarsely chopped hot green chilies (we typically use a Thai chili or a Serrano)
  • 1 c fresh basil (Asian basil or Italian basil)

Steps:

  1. Heat the oil in a wok (a deep skillet would also work) over medium-high heat and then add the garlic, onions, and carrots.
  2. Toss well and when they begin smelling awesome add the chicken.
  3. Toss well to help the meat brown evenly (and/or to break up big chunks of ground chicken.
  4. Add the bell peppers, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar.
  5. Cook 2-4 minutes, tossing until the meat is cooked and the seasonings form a thin, smooth sauce.
  6. Add the chilies, basil, and toss well.

JEM likes to mix his rice and chicken basil separately, so his was dished first. He also likes to have cilantro on the top of it.

I like to have my rice and the mixture tossed together in the pan. I’ve convinced myself that the in the few minute the rice and sauce together really help the flavor.

Recipe: Quick & Easy Thai by Nancie McDermott

 

Twice Baked Potatoes January 24, 2011

Filed under: Snack,Vegetable — theboxexperiment @ 1:51 am
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Friday rolls around and I’m staring at these 3 Idaho potatoes that we have. J and I both love mashed, he likes them with dill and I like them with pesto. We have all the ingredients necessary to make some awesome mashed potatoes. But then I think, mashed are awesome but baked potatoes are really awesome…maybe there is a way to get the best of both worlds. Inspiration strikes, I’ll do some SPINACH TWICE BAKED POTATOES. The result, just as awesome as plain ol’ mashed.

Ingredients:

  • 3 mashed potatoes
  • Dollops of low-fat sour cream
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 cups of chopped fresh spinach
  • Alternates: 1-2 tablespoons of pesto, bacon crumbles, 1-2 tbls of dill, soft cheeses (instead of cheddar cheese)

Steps:

  • Pre-heat oven to 425*
  • Scrub the potatoes really well, since you’ll be eating the skins
  • Make sure to stab the potatoes on “both” sides w/ a fork or knife (I forgot to this till the potatoes were about 1/2 way done…woops)
  • Place the potatoes straight on the middle rack and bake for about an hour. They’ll be ready when a knife slides easily in and out.
  • When done, place aside to cool until you can handle them.
  • Wash and chop the spinach and gather the rest of your ingredients.
  • Halve the potatoes and scoop out the insides leaving the crispy skins as shells. (This was much easier than I expected, before this step I was expected to abort mission and just make some mashed.)
  • Mix the potato guts with spinach, 3/4 c. cheddar cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Load the empty potato skins with the yummy potato, cheese, spinach mixture.
  • Top with the remaining cheese.
  • Put back into the oven at ~400* for 20-30 mins in a baking dish.
  • Enjoy

We served these as a side with chicken, homemade spicy barbecue sauce, and the rest of the spinach.

 

Banana Bread January 23, 2011

Filed under: Bread,Dessert,Fruit — theboxexperiment @ 3:52 pm
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I also want to use this site as a way to track and manage the recipes JEM and I are collecting. We currently have a Google Docs “Family Recipes” document which is good for now, but it isn’t the easiest document to manage. We’ve also had family and friends ask us for recipes. If they are listed here, we can be lazy and say: go to the blog!

So here is a banana bread recipe that I used to finish up our bananas that we had pre-box. I suspect I’ll be making another banana bread, or looking for a banana based recipe. We typically buy 4-5 bananas for the 2 of us for a week, the box brought us 10…

Ingredients:

Wet

  • Mash 3 rip bananas
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs (blended)

Dry

  • 1-1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Fun

  • 1 c of chocolate chips (I used mini chips and it turned out awesome. Use more than 1 c if you want über chocolately bread)
  • 1 c of  chopped walnuts (I didn’t use for the most recent batch)

Steps:

Pre-heat oven to 375*, grease a bread pan (9″ x 4″ x 3″)

Mix wet and dry ingredients

Add nuts and chocolate

Bake on middle rack for 1+ hour

Let cool for ~ 1 hour

Enjoy….

 

Box #1

Filed under: Box — theboxexperiment @ 3:38 pm
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On Tuesday I came home late after an awesome Restaurant Week dinner w/ AM and LR (aka The Ladies) at Cedar to discover the FIRST BOX came a day earlier than I had expected it to. It was pretty awesome, we have a ton of vegetables that will most likely overlap into the second box. It was a pretty busy week in our life so we didn’t really get to use much of the produce till Friday.

The first box contained:

  • 2 bunches of spinach
  • 1 large bunch of bananas
  • 1 head of butter lettuce
  • 3 granny smith apples
  • 3 Anjou pears
  • 2 grapefruit
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 Idaho potatoes
  • 1 squash
  • 1 broccoli crown
  • snap peas