theboxexperiment

Attempting to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Cake Pops June 22, 2011

Filed under: Dessert,Snack — theboxexperiment @ 11:29 am
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JEM read an article about cake pops and became pretty excited about making them. So, I told AbEm about them and she got also got excited. What’s a woman to do when 2 people in your house are excited about a desert? Get them the means to make them and then put them to work. That is exactly what I did, helped them prep, found a recipe, and then directed 🙂 Cake pops are somewhat time-consuming and definitely messy. But well worth it, JEM and AbEm had fun making them and had fun eating them (so did I!).

Ingredients

  • 1 box of cake any flavor you like (we used chocolate- I have heard it is denser so the balls hold better to the stick…it was also what we had in the house at the time)
  • 1 can of frosting (or if your more skilled at baking have the time, make your own. We used cream cheese frosting but you can use any flavor you like.)
  • chocolate for melting
  • popsicle sticks
  • sprinkles
Steps
  1. Make a 13Ă—9 cake.
  2. Let it cool. Crumble the cake and mix in 1 can of frosting.
  3. Throw it into the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  4. After refrigerating, roll the mixture into balls.
  5. Place a sucker stick into the top of each cake ball. (If you have a styrofoam block, you can hold this step until after you dip them in chocolate. See step 10)
  6. Put them back into the refrigerator for another 15 mins-24 hours.
  7. Once your ready to finish making them, start melting your chocolate. (We used a microwavable variety- Baker’s.)
  8. Dip and swirl each pop into your candy melt.
  9. Once you’ve got an even coating on the cake pop, roll them in sprinkles or sprinkle on top.
  10. Place upside down on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper (for easy cleanup). If you have a styrofoam block- you could stick the pops in there and there avoid the flat top they’ll get from sitting on a cookie sheet.
  11. Put back into the fridge until the chocolate hardens.
  12. ENJOY
 

Macaroni and Cheese June 21, 2011

Filed under: Dinner,Lunch,Vegetable — theboxexperiment @ 10:47 am
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My youngest sister, AbEm, is in town and is a very active kid, so yesterday she and I went on a hike at Great Falls on the Maryland side. We had planned on doing the Billy Goat Trail Section A but I ran a 10 mile race on Saturday and my legs were still very sore. The B.G. trail is supposed to be a good hike, but with some steep rock scrambles that I was worried about being able to do. So we went on a flatter hike, the Gold Mine Hike. It was so beautiful, everything was the bright green and because it was a weekday without many people there we got to see 15-18 deer. The first on our drive in, then one that was about 5 feet from us on a trail, and a family of 5 (2 babies, 1 mom, and 1 male)!  The gold mine is slightly disappointing (mostly because we didn’t do enough research about it before we headed out.) It was in operation from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. The mine doesn’t look like much, at this point its a falling down shack with a chain link fence around it. Post-hike research says the mine shaft is dangerous so the average hiker is prohibited from getting close to it.

It was a good long hike so we were quite hungry by early afternoon and were very excited for the mac cheese that we planned to make. This is by far the best macaroni and cheese recipes I have ever made. It came from JEM’s family and both AbEm and J love it. It is flavorful, cheesy, and very easy to make (though a bit time consuming). This is a make ahead type dish. Depending on your schedule you could make the pasta ahead of time or make all of it ahead of time then seal it and bake it later. If you need to travel with it, you could also make it, bake it for half the time, wrap it up, and finish baking it when you get to your place.

 

 

Farmer’s Market and Surprise Box June 15, 2011

Filed under: Box,Vegetable — theboxexperiment @ 8:16 pm
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We went to the farmer’s market again last Saturday. As we get further into summer there are more stands and more shoppers at the farmers market. There are big sellers (one stop produce shops with the longest lines), your small sellers (just a few items and no line), meat, cheese (run by an Amish family), bakeries, plants, and a lettuce speciality stand. I always want to buy things from everyone…and want to buy much more than we actually need. This past Sunday I kept myself in check and only grabbed 2 zucchini (forgetting we had 1 zucchini at home) and 2 lovely tomatoes for a very reasonable $4.92. I had to pull myself away from the strawberries and from the asparagus we had both at home already but fresh strawberries taste so much better and the asparagus at the farmers market was nice and thick (perfect for grilling) unlike the stringy asparagus we had from Teeter (which when cooked did not taste very good).

Tuesday we came home to a surprise box! I went onto WGG a while ago and like I told everyone, canceled several weeks of boxes, unbeknownst to us- we caught up and got a box.In the box: butter lettuce, green beans, eggplant, 2 more zucchini (we recently made Zucchini and Rice using 2 of them), a green bell pepper, bananas, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, and blackberries. I need to admit I ADORE peaches, nectarines, and plums so I was quite excited. I also love blueberries and blackberries so this box was very welcome. If it had apples, oranges, bananas, and mangos I’m not sure what we would’ve done. We definitely need a time out from those.

Apologies for the lack of recipes- we haven’t made much new stuff recently just revisited some old favorites. Monday we made the Zucchini w/Rice and tonight we reheated the leftovers. I was going to use it as the filling of stuffed red bell peppers but the peppers we not stuffable ( too skinny and would not have sat flat). So I halved the bells, drizzled them w/ evoo, salt and peppered and baked them at 350* for 15 mins then 400* for 5 mins until they were tender. The combination was fantastic!

Tomorrow we’ll be doing a new creamy pasta and eggplant dish that I will definitely post for you!

 

Potato Salad May 29, 2011

Filed under: Dinner,Lunch,Snack,Vegetable — theboxexperiment @ 11:13 am
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It’s officially summertime and with summer comes barbecues, picnics, and hot weather. That can only mean grilling and cold salads. I made our first batch of potato salad yesterday and it turned out pretty well. I never remember what I put into it, so I’m here to share with you (and give myself a permanent record!).

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs of potatoes (red, white, yukon…)
  • 1/4 cup of mayo
  • 1 tsp of dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/4 yellow or red onion or scallions
When I made this I was using 5 lbs of potatoes, so the proportions might be slightly off.
Steps
  1. Wash and cut potatoes into similar sized pieces.
  2. Put in a pot and fill with water until the potatoes are just covered.
  3. Bring potatoes to a boil, once boiling lower the temperature till its lightly boiling. Keep on heat for ~15 mins, until potatoes are tender but not mushy. (If you stick a knife, it should go in and slide off easily.)
  4. Drain and fill pot with cold water. Let sit for a few minutes, drain and rinse with cold water again.
  5. While the potatoes are boiling, chop the pepper and onion into small pieces. (Onion to add flavor so you can omit if you don’t like it, peppers to add color and flavor)
  6. Mix the mayo and dijon mustard.
  7. Once the potatoes are slightly cool, mix the potatoes, peppers, onion, and mayo/dijon mixture together until the potatoes are coated.
  8. Salt and pepper to taste.
  9. At this point you can serve immediately or you can store in the fridge for up to a day. (Making this a great make ahead dish!)
  10. Enjoy!!
 

Farmer’s Market, Memorial Day, and Candy Cookies May 28, 2011

Filed under: Dessert — theboxexperiment @ 3:25 pm
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Happy Memorial Day Weekend! We ventured to the farmers market this morning and ran into some friends we know who live in town. We talked to some vendors everyone was super friendly. They had tons of fresh strawberries, lettuces, herbs, potted plants, etc. In the end we came home with 2 bunches of asparagus for $8, 1 very long zucchini for $2, 1 doz eggs for $4 (no-hormone, no-chemicals, free range), a mint plant for $2.75, and a big rosemary for $3.75.

Today, we are having a barbecue with several friends, one of whom came from Boston for the weekend (not just for the bbq 🙂 )! We are very pumped to have her here. The bbq today will be your traditional, relatively unhealthy variety with hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, potato salad, corn on the cob, and for dessert…candy cookies!! These are great, I’ve made them for my students and for adults and everyone loves them. They are a special treat for every once in a while!

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup of butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • M & M’s
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, cut into bite size pieces

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray or line the cookie sheet with a silpat baking mat. (Cooking spray only required if your pan is not “non-stick”
  3. In a large bowl, mix the butter, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until creamy and smooth.
  4. Slowly beat in the eggs.
  5. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt together thoroughly.
  6. Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixtures until well blended.
  7. Add most of the M&M’s and most of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and mix carefully.
  8. Drop by rounded spoonfuls on cookie sheets.
  9. Add the remaining M&M’s and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup pieces to the top of the cookies.
  10. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. (Today I made gi-normous cookies that are taking longer to bake.
  11. Allow to cool before moving them to a wire rack.
  12. Enjoy.


 

Taking a Break May 15, 2011

Filed under: Box — theboxexperiment @ 8:21 pm
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We will be taking a break from receiving the box for a while. The same issues have persisted:too much food for the two of us to go through, not enough variety, too much fruit, and veggies we don’t enjoy. We’ve tried all veggies sent to us, as long as we get to them in time, and have found ones we don’t particularly enjoy. So we’ll be taking a break and trying to find sources other than the grocery store.

In discussions we keep coming back to wanting to know where our food comes from. It not WGG’s fault that we signed up during the non-growing season in the area and that doesn’t change our desire to know who grows our food.

Yesterday was the first day of the Rockville Farmers Market. We went and walked around. There was a winery, meat venders, bread, a bakery, produce sellers, and florist/herbists.Everything looked fantastic but we didn’t pick anything up (mostly because we had a lot of  fresh food still in the house.)

The plan for the rest of the summer will be to take the $31.50 we use on the box to the farmers market. We’ll get to know one of the produce stands (or several of them) and get exactly the produce we want and need (among other things). Thus solving several issues: knowing where our food comes from and having just the right amount of fresh food.

I’ll continue to post, especially once we get our first batch of farmers market food. I’ll also keep posting recipes and such. Keep an eye out for  candy cookies coming soon. And  a post on oddly inexpensive foods.

 

Pasta w/ Meatballs! May 8, 2011

Filed under: Dinner,Meat,Poutlry — theboxexperiment @ 9:18 pm
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Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there. We celebrated the day working on the house and then we headed over to be with JEM’s sister’s family and my in-laws. To help keep the day easy for both mom’s we offered to cook dinner. Keepin’ it easy and yummy we made meatballs, fettucine, and garlic bread. Tonight I used store-bought sauce to save time, but it is better with homemade sauce, though I’ll save that for a future post.

Ingredients (for 6 plus 2 babies)

  • 2 1/2 lbs meatloaf mix (could substitute ground chicken or turkey but the spices might need to be adjusted)
  • 1 box spaghetti/fettucine/linguine/pasta on hand
  • 1/4 of a large Vidalia onion (chopped small)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4-1/2 c. plain bread crumbs
  • 1 tbls dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tbls dried basil
  • 1 tbls dried oregano
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 jars of pasta sauce of choice (we used Spicy tomato and basil)
Steps:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350*.
  2. Mix meat, onion, egg, bread crumbs, and all the spices together.
  3. Ball the meat into sizes of your choice I tend to like them bigger, JEM likes small, so we compromise and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 350* for 3o mins. Half way through flip them over.
  5. While the meatballs are baking, boil water for the pasta (salt and oil if you want–I always do).
  6. Once the water is boiling add the pasta.
  7. Also while the meatballs are baking, start heating the sauce on med-low.
  8. Once the meatballs are done, add them to the sauce. Allow them to finish baking in the sauce, if needed, otherwise allow the flavors to combine (I always keep them in there for 10-15 mins).
  9. Once everything is cooked, ENJOY!