Tag Archives: tabouleh

Pumpkin Custard and How to Use Leftover Ingredients

Let me tell you something about myself:  I hate wasting food.

One of my pet peeves used to be recipes that only used a small amount of an ingredient, as in one tablespoon of chopped, fresh parsley or two tablespoons of tomato paste, etc.  The leftovers would languish and eventually go bad in the refrigerator — only to be discovered later.  I say “used to be” because I’ve found ways around wasting the rest of the ingredients through various methods.

I realized I did not clarify that with the last recipe I posted! The pumpkin granola bars only call for 1/4 cup each of pumpkin puree and applesauce.   So I wanted to use this as an opportunity to share some tips for using leftover ingredients.

Whenever I have extra, I either use it up right away (e.g. we ate the leftover applesauce over the next days), or I freeze it.  It can drive my patient husband crazy, but I’ve been known to fill our ice cube trays with all sorts of leftover ingredients:  Coconut milk (leftover from curry —  frozen coconut milk is great in smoothies!), tomato paste, marinara sauce, chicken and beef broths, apple sauce, milk and coffee creamer (before we go on a long trip and I know it would go bad otherwise — these are also great in smoothies and frapuccinos!)  Yes, I’ve even frozen pumpkin puree in ice cube trays.  The resulting pumpkin cubes are great in smoothies and this terrific pumpkin frappucino (I use the frozen pumpkin and less ice, so it has more flavor).

My ice cube molds hold about 2 tablespoons.  I freeze the food in them and then transfer the cubes to a labelled freezer bag — the key word being labelled!
Don’t skip this step — believe me, frozen chicken broth looks a lot like applesauce.  To defrost, I zap them in the microwave.  I know each cube is 2 tablespoons, so two cubes are 1/4 cup and four cubes are 1/2, etc.

Frozen coconut milk cubes.

For the leftover pumpkin from the pumpkin granola in the last post, I decided not to freeze the rest of the pumpkin puree and instead made a simple pumpkin pie dessert minus the crust.

I blended the pumpkin, sweetener (I used stevia), cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and milk to taste  in a blender.  Then I added an egg and blended some more. I transferred the mixture to little ramekins and nuked them in the microwave for 2 minutes, then 1 1/2 minutes each until they looked done.  They were delicious with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice on top.

A less decadent pumpkin “pie” dessert.

For leftover ingredients that do not lend themselves easily to freezing, I make other things.  For leftover parsley, I always make tabouleh.  Here is a crunchy version inspired by Mark Bittman.  When I have leftover basil, I always make fresh pesto (which you can freeze or use immediately).  Here’s a recipe that I used when I had leftover basil after making stuffed zucchini.

Recently, I threw together a shrimp curry and had leftover coconut milk (which I froze as mentioned above) and chick peas.  A great way to use leftover chick peas is to puree them with tahini, lemon, garlic, salt, and olive oil to taste and make hummus.  If you only have a little bit though, I would recommend roasting them at a high temperature.  They make a yummy snack or salty treat to throw on your salad.  Just coat with oil or nonstick spray, kosher salt, and/or other seasoning and roast at 400 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes or so.  Roast until they are crunchy.  They are SO good.  I usually end up eating them all in one sitting.  They would probably be good mixed with popcorn, but I never save enough to try it out!

Do you have tricks for using up or saving leftover recipe ingredients?  Do share — I’d love to hear about them!

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On a literary note — I just want to let you all know that this weekend Denis and I will be on a panel with other authors of Halloween themed books at the wonderful Books of Wonder this Saturday at 12-2 pm to share Hush Little Monster.

Oct 27th
Saturday

12pm -2pm
HAUNTED HALLOWEEN FUN!
KARINA WOLF – The Insomniacs
MICHAEL LEVITON- My First Ghost
LEO LANDRY- Trick or Treat
DENNIS MARKELL – Hush, Little Monster
MELISSA IWAI – Hush, Little Monster
GIANNA MARINO – Too Tall Houses

On Sunday, we will be at Book Court in Brooklyn at 11 am.  I will be bringing these (mini) monster cookies to pass out.  If you are in the area, please stop by and say “boo!” 🙂

For info on upcoming events, check here.

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Now for the “recipes” — these are really just guidelines!  It depends on how much of the ingredient you have.

Pumpkin Custard

almost a can of pumpkin puree

sweetener of choice to taste

cinnamon to taste

pumpkin pie spice to taste

1-2 tablespoons or more milk, depending on how thick you like it-for a richer flavor and texture, use heavy cream

1 egg

1.  Blend everything in a blender except egg.  Then taste and adjust spices and milk.  Then add egg and blend some more.  You could also do this in a food processor.

2.  Transfer mixture to ramekins.  Microwave for 2 minutes.  Then again for about 1 1/2 minutes until custard looks cooked.  Serve with whipped cream and extra cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.

These are quite addicting. If you like them a lot, just go for a whole can!

Roasted Chickpeas

Leftover chickpeas

Non-stick spray

salt and or other seasonings of your choice

1.  Spray chickpeas with spray and sprinkle with salt on foil or parchment lined baking sheet.  Roast at 400 degrees F, shaking pan every 15 minutes, until chickpeas are crunchy — about 30-45 minutes.

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Filed under Books, Desserts, Sides, Vegetarian

Crunchy Tabouleh and Savory and Sweet Breakfast Millet


I recently read Mark Bittman’s Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with more than 75 Recipes.  Along the lines of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, it chronicles the many ways in which the way we eat is damaging to both our bodies and the environment.  But it also offers concrete advice in the form of easy, nutritious recipes that you can incorporate into your diet.  His mantra is basically:  Eat less meat.  Eat less animal products.  Eat very little processed food.  Eat a lot of plants.

I always enjoy his recipes because they are written to be experimented with — nothing is set in stone, and he always gives tips on how you can change things up to suit your tastes.

The biggest thing I took away from the book is that I was inspired to start cooking more whole grains other than wheat and oatmeal.

Looking in my pantry and refrigerator, I found that I already had bulgur wheat and millet from who knows when!  I actually use bulgur wheat semi-regularly to make tabouleh whenever I have extra parsley on hand.  Don’t you hate it when a recipe just calls for a “few sprigs of parsley”?  Then you are left with a bunch of parsley that you forget about that gets wilted and worse, slimy, in the vegetable bin.  To avoid this unfortunate situation, I try to wash all the parsley at once when I come home from the green grocer, use what I need, and then use the rest to make Tabouleh.  This time I decided to make it crunchy and add some nutty flavor and protein and threw in some almonds.  It was a really great combination.  You could also add cucumber, scallions, grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, chopped olives, other herbs, such as mint.

I made it my lunch and stuffed it in a pita pocket with a few fried slices of tofu and chopped olives.  The flavors actually worked well together!

As for the millet, I decided to cook up a batch and come up with a way to use it later.  Millet is high in protein and gluten free, so it’s a good grain choice for people who are gluten sensitive.  I like the texture — it is kind of like small rice grains.

I incorporated it into a couple of breakfasts — both savory and sweet, and also ate for lunch with some leftover vegetables and marinara sauce.  It is quite versatile!

For the savory breakfast, I scrambled an egg, heated the millet in the skillet with a bit of water to soften it, and then threw them together in a bowl.  I seasoned it with a bit of Japanese seasoning I had on hand, called Furikake.

It comes in different flavors. This one is just salt, sesame seeds and seaweed.  You could probably make your own if you have nori (dried seaweed) and sesame seeds on hand.

The sweet breakfast was heated millet mixed with a dash of agave syrup, thawed frozen blueberries, and toasted chopped pecans.  SO delicious.  Millet is a nice alternative to oatmeal in the morning — it is chewier and not “gloppy” if you are not in the mood for that texture for breakfast.
I’ll keep experimenting with it and try it out in different dishes.  There are also a wide variety of different grains to try:  amaranth and quinoa, pearl barley — there are so many I have never worked with before!

What are your favorite grains and grain dishes?

Mark Bittman’s basic recipe for cooking any grain is this:

Whole Grains Without Measuring

Adapted from: Food Matters:  Conscious Eating with over 75 Recipes

Makes 8-6 servings

2 cups brown rice (any size), quinoa, barley (any type), oat grats, buckweat groats, steel-cut oats, millet, cracked wheat, hominy, whole rye, farro, kamut, or wild rice; or 1 1/2 cups wheat berries

Salt

Olive oil or other vegetable oil (optional)

1.  Rinse the grain in a strainer, and put it in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid along with a big pinch of salt.  Add enough water to cover by about an inch; if you want the grains on the dry side, cover with closer to 1/2 inch of water.  Use 3 cupt water for pearled barley.  Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently.

2.  Cook stirring once in a while, until the grain is tender.  This will take as little as 7 or 8 minutes for steel-cut oats, about 40 minutes for brown rice, and as long as 1 hour for more for wheat berries, hulled or unpearled barley, and other unhulled grains.  Add boiling water as necessary to keep the grains just submerged — don’t let them get dry.

3.  Every now and then test a grain.  They are done when they are barely tender and have some chew.  If the water is all absorbed at this point, cover and remove from heat.  If some water still remains, drain and the grains and immediately return to pot, cover and remove from the heat.

4.  Toss with oil if you like and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Bulgur:  Pour 5 cups boiling water over 2 cups bulgur.  Stir once and let sit.  Fine bulgur will be tender in 10 to 15 minutes, medium in15 to 20 minutes, and coarse in 20 to 25.  Strain using a fine mesh straining, pressing down with a spoon to remove excess water.  Return to bowl and fluff with fork.

Couscous:  Put 2 cups of couscous in a pot with a tight-fitting lid and add 3 cups of water and pinch of salt  Bring the water to a boil, then cover and remove from heat.  Let steep for 5 to 10 minutes (10 minutes for whole wheat), or up to 20.  Fluff with a fork and serve.

Crunchy Tabouleh

About 2/3 cup bulgur wheat

One bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped

About 2 tablespoons minced onion

1 plum tomato, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoons olive oil

1 oz. roasted salted almonds, chopped

1. Place bulgur wheat in a medium sized bowl.  Boil 2 cups of water.  When it comes to a boil, pour over bulgur wheat and let sit about 10 minutes.  Drain in a fine mesh sieve, pressing down with a wooden spoon to remove excess water. Transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.
2.  Add parsley, onion, and tomato to bulgur.  Season with a pinch of salt and toss to combine.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over bulgur mixture.  Fold in almonds. Serve immediately.

Note, if you want almonds to stay crunchy, only add as needed at one serving.

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Filed under Breakfast, Lunch, Sides, Uncategorized, Vegetables