...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Using Our Preserves Creatively

Peach Thumbprints
Last class season I had planned to teach a couple of Urban Homesteading courses called "Using Your Preserves Creatively" to encourage food preserves to think outside the box in using their beautiful jars of local fruits and vegetables.  I love to make jams and jellies, but personally I don't eat them much on toast.  In the past I've posted recipes for working some of these fruit preserves into cobblers and crisps or as a substitute to "fruit-on-the-bottom" yogurt, but I experimented with even more ideas this past week.

Thumbprint Cookies (Gluten-Free)
Makes 15 cookies

This is a fun recipe to make with kids, especially when you get to the thumbprint step.
Hot outta the oven--we used peach preserves

1 c. butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar/xylitol
1/2 t. almond extract
2 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. xanthan gum
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. homemade jam/jelly

Cream the butter, sugar/xylitol, and extract for about 2 min.  Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl then combine with creamed mixture until dough forms.  Chill dough 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Shape dough in balls;  place on a lined/greased baking sheet.  Make a small indentation in the center of each ball with your thumb; bake 5 min.  Remove from oven and fill each indentation with 1/4 or so of jam/jelly.  Bake an additional 10 min.  Cool for 2 min.; transfer to a rack.

Slow-Cooker Four Grain Breakfast Cereal with Fruit Preserves (Gluten-Free)
Serves 4-6

You can take liberties with the whole grains you use here.  Also, the water could be completely substituted for milk of your choice.

2 c. water
2 c. milk (cow's, almond, rice, etc.)
1/2 c. quinoa
1/2 c. millet
1/2 c. amaranth
1/2 c. steel-cut oats
1/2-1 c. homemade fruit preserves
1/2 c. chopped nuts

Maple Syrup (optional)
Supplemental toppings: hemp seeds, drizzle of flaxseed oil, flaxmeal, seeds/nuts

Put all ingredients into a slow cooker.  Before going to bed, turn on low.  Cook for 8 hours (b/c I know we all sleep for at least 8 hours, right?!)  Stir upon waking and serve with additional milk and optional toppings.  

My husband's first client at his new job is what I call a sustainable weight loss company.  One of the perks is that he gets a free session of this plan, which is also helping him learn how/why to market this company in his new communications position.  Along with the regimen comes a spiral-bound book filled with lots of new, healthy recipes.  The dietitian that he's working with  has been sending him meal plans on a weekly basis.  Admittedly, I was a bit unsure about how I'd feel having someone else tell me what to cook from day to day.  But now I realize it's made my life a bit easier because I can pick and choose which of those suggested recipes I will try for our evenings meals.  Our favorite so far was a pasta dish last night.  Again, I was able to incorporate some of my preserves--both frozen and canned.  And it also lead us to a delicious cilantro pesto recipe that we'll most certainly use next summer when the cilantro is overabundant in our garden.

Pasta with Cilantro-Lime Pesto (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
Serves 2

I adapted this recipe to be gluten-free, but one could use any kind of pasta.  In fact, the original recipe called for orzo, a rice-shaped pasta.  This dish is actually vegan as well.  I was tempted to add cheese somewhere as I'm often tempted to do, but the creaminess of the pesto satisfied any cheesy cravings I thought I was having.  This dish is also good cold and would be great for a picnic.

8 oz. brown rice spaghetti
1 c. fresh cilantro
1/4 c. lime juice
2 t. olive oil
2 T. pine nuts
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (we love lots of garlic, especially in winter, but 1 clove will suffice)
Salt, to taste
1 c. black beans (canned/rinsed/drained or dried/soaked/cooked)
1/2 c. chopped roasted red peppers (I used homemade)
1/2 c. frozen corn, thawed/drained

Cook pasta fully in highly salted water.  Drain and keep warm in pot.  In food processor with blade attachment, puree cilantro, lime juice, oil, pine nuts, and garlic to make pesto.  Season with salt as needed.  Add pesto, beans, and corn to pasta pot and toss to fully combine.  Serve immediately or chill for later.

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