Archive for October 31, 2014

Pantry Challenge, Day 9: Leftover Stuffed Chicken Breast and Carrots

Breakfast today was toast and peppermint tea.

For lunch I was going to reheat our leftovers from last night, but it turned out my husband had a work lunch to attend, so for myself I kept it simple and reheated some beans (with a bit of ground beef) that were still left from burritos a couple nights, and some of the extra carrots from last night’s supper.

I was going to cook pizza for supper tonight, but since I didn’t use the leftover stuffed chicken breast at lunch, I decided to use that for a very simple, easy supper, and possibly make pizza on Saturday. (We do have some social stuff going on that will affect our  meal options, so I don’t know if I’ll end up having time to make pizza or not.)

FAIL (mostly): Fermented Carrot Apple Relish

FAIL: Fermented Carrot Apple Relish

 I really wanted this to work. It’s such a good idea: a combination of fall foods that go well together, fermented for extra nutritional punch. It should have been the ultimate fall condiment.

The worst part is, it really isn’t bad. The flavors almost work the way I want them to, and if you can just get past the tongue twisting sourness at the front, it could be pretty good. In theory, I still think this would go well on a pork chop or something similar, but when I tried it on a hot dog I just kept thinking that it would have been better without the relish.

Please, if anyone has any ideas for how to use up a pint of almost good, very healthy fermented autumnal relish, comment below and let me know! If I get enough interesting ideas, maybe I’ll do a video episode all about uses for Carrot Apple Relish. 🙂

Healthiness Rating: Healthy

This relish would be a perfect part of a fall cleanse: probiotics, apples, carrots, ginger… It’s really quite amazingly good for you.

Yumminess Rating: Yuck

It’s not that it’s actually disgusting, it’s just that it’s not worth eating.

Fermented Carrot Apple Relish

3/4 cup grated apple

1 1/4 cups grated carrot

1 TBSP sea salt

1 TBSP turbinado sugar (if you’re going to make this despite my rating, try increasing the sugar for enough sweetness to balance the tang)

1 TBSP raw apple cider vinegar (optional…)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp powdered ginger

Mix all ingredients and pack tightly into a pint jar. If needed, add enough filtered water to cover the carrots and apples completely. Cap loosely and leave it on the counter to ferment for 3-7 days. Refrigerate.

Pantry Challenge, Day 8: Stuffed Chicken Breasts and *gasp* Buying Squash

Breakfast today was eggs for my husband and creamy spicy chicken broth plus and apple for me.

Lunch was leftover burrito stuff.

Supper was stuffed chicken breast and pan fried carrots. I discovered the stuffed chicken breast recipe while I was looking for a way to use up the half a jar of artichoke hearts I had sitting in the fridge. I looked down the list of ingredients, and nearly everything on the list was also sitting in my fridge needing to be used up: most of a can of black olives… feta cheese (okay, we probably would have used that for something anyway, but it’s always a little dangerous that I might forget about an ingredient I don’t always keep on hand)…. capers (since I bought a giant jar at Costco)…

The only thing I didn’t have was italian dressing for the marinade. I figured I could substitute a homemade italian dressing, and then I forgot to marinate the chicken anyway, so I guess that all worked out. I did sprinkle the chicken breast with basil, garlic and parsley since I hadn’t marinated it.

And now, it’s time for true pantry challenge confessions: I bought four giant butternut squash today at the farmer’s market.

I hadn’t bought any squash yet this fall, and I really didn’t want the pantry challenge to prevent me from missing the squash season altogether. I especially didn’t want it to prevent me from getting some squash in the freezer for the winter.

So, here’s the deal. Remembering the general pantry challenge guidelines I set up (especially I am allowed to make limited purchases for items it is unreasonable to go without), I want you all to vote by commenting below: Did I break the rules of the pantry challenge?

A. Nah, it’s all good. Missing the squash season would definitely be unreasonable. completely defeated the purpose of the pantry challenge and all further efforts are invalid.

B. Yep, you’ve completely defeated the purpose of the pantry challenge and all further efforts are invalid.

C. Yes, but as long as you freeze the squash and don’t use any of it during the pantry challenge we’ll overlook it.

D. Other

Pantry Challenge, Day 7: Burritos

Breakfast today was toast from the homemade bread I made yesterday. My husband ate his with peanut butter and honey, as is his habit. I also had my creamy, spicy broth, just a little later in the morning as a snack.

Lunch was grilled cheese sandwiches with leftover tomato soup, and a small glass of water kefir fermented ginger ale. (This batch had just a bit of cinnamon, which I think provided a nice depth of background flavor without being overhwelming, but I’m definitely going to keep experimenting with flavor variations.)

Supper is burritos using uncooked flour tortillas I got at Costco. They come in a monster size package, containing two packs of 25 tortillas each. I actually had to throw away some of the tortillas from the first pack we opened because they got moldy before we ate them all, so I’m feeling motivated to come up with lots of uses for tortillas now that we’ve opened the second pack. Maybe I could make a big batch of Cinnamon Crisps for a party or something…

For burrito fillings we have ground beef (from the freezer), rice (leftover from serving the Grave of Small Birds–I figured a bit of chicken flavor wouldn’t hurt anything, and we ended up with quite a bit of rice that needed to be used up from that meal), beans (from the pantry), sour cream, salsa and cheese.

Fortunately, I do have a block of cheese in the fridge for when we run out of shredded cheese, but I may have to hoard my cheese just a bit to get it to last through this pantry challenge. I think there’s some mozzerella in the freezer though, so I guess our cheese situation won’t get too desperate.

For dessert, I came up with a brownie pudding to use up some heavy whipping cream that’s near expiration and some nearly stale brownies. (Yes, brownies do sometimes sit around until they get stale at our house.) I whipped the cream, mixed in cream cheese and bit of turbinado sugar, then crumbled the brownies into it. I’m not saying that I’ve been sneaking tastes of it already, but I will say that I’m quite confident it turned out well.

Menu Plan 10/30/14-11/5/14

Those of you who have been following my pantry challenge already have a pretty good idea what I’ve been cooking this week, so I won’t go into as much detail as normal in this post. I did mostly follow the menu plan, I just switched days on a couple of meals and replace the orange chicken thighs with Grave of Small Birds.

This weeks menu plan is mostly focused on using up leftovers from the fridge, as I currently have half a jar of artichoke hearts, half a jar of black olives and various raw veggies that really need to be used up. I will, of course, be using those in the context of my pantry challenge and supplementing those with foods from the freezer and pantry that need to be used up.


Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Roasted Carrots

New York Style Pizza with Sprout Salad

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

Crockpot Lasagna (for church fellowship meal)


Sushi and Miso Soup

Shepherd’s Pie


If we run short on leftovers, I’ll probably make some sort of stir-fry or hash using some of the extra veggies I have hanging around and whatever meat I can scrounge up (and possibly potatoes).


The eggs and broth for breakfasts is still going well, often with toast, which will work even better now that I made bread again. (I found that eating a couple of loaves of Ezekiel bread was very inspiring for me to make soft, fluffy homemade bread again.)

Baking and Extras:

I got my water kefir grains going very nicely, and while I may need to cut down on the fermentation time so it doesn’t lose it’s carbonation during that process, my husband likes it and said it tastes like ginger beer. So, I’m going to keep going with ginger water kefir, get another batch of kombucha going, make pickled ginger ahead of time to go with our sushi, make bonfire taffy (for our 5th of November party) and make pancake bread pudding out of the leftover pancakes still sitting in my fridge. (I already made a ‘brownie pudding’, kind of like a mixed together trifle, out of the brownies that were starting to go stale on our counter. I put off making that dutch apple pie again though, so that should probably get done this week if possible…)

I think that should be quite enough for one week, though if we happen to run out of ketchup in the mean time, I’ll have to also make a new batch of ketchup.

Shopping List:

No, I’m not shopping this week, though for the record I did order maple syrup and honey, because those are both things that I can only order at certain times, and it was NOT reasonable to do without them for a longer period of time. (Though I was able to split a gallon of honey and only order a quart to tide me over until the next time I have chance to get a gallon.)

For those who are shopping this week, you may be interested to note that Aldi has once again starting carrying seasonal items such as canned pumkpin (.89) and walnuts (3.99/8oz), dropped prices on a few items such as green olives (.99), and has avocados on sale for .49 this week.


Pantry Challenge, Day 6: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Breakfast today was back to our standards: eggs for my husband, creamy spicy chicken broth for me.

Lunch was leftover rice and Grave of Small Birds. (I put out some raw veggies and dip too, but I seemed to be coming down with a cold today, and didn’t eat much for lunch in general, and barely any veggies.)

Despite not feeling that great, I did finish making the bread that I started soaking yesterday. It’s amazing how much eating Ezekiel bread inspires me to start baking again! I’ve been missing soft whole wheat bread…

Since was feeling pretty tired though, it seemed like a good day to use the simple meal that I skipped making yesterday in favor of using up leftovers. So, for supper I used my fresh bread to make grilled cheese sandwiches and made tomato soup out of tomato paste, milk and spices. (I like using tomato paste for tomato soup because I can use plenty of milk to counteract the acidity and still have fairly thick soup.)

It’s not that thrilling as far as the pantry challenge goes (I used up a couple of cups of wheat from my five gallon bucket and a tablespoon of yeast from the quart jar of yeast in my fridge) but it made a really good meal.

Pantry Challenge, Days 4 & 5: Grave of Small Birds (with broccoli and rice)

Here’s yesterday pantry challenge post, which I mostly wrote, but didn’t quite manage to get posted in the evening.

For our church fellowship meal we took a Costco rotisserie chicken that I had in the freezer, but that’s the last time during our pantry challenge that I’ll be able to fall back on that easy meal, so I’m going to have to get more creative (and use more energy) for church fellowship meals.

Sunday afternoon we went to a St Crispin’s Day party which revolved around watching Henry V for the the St Crispin’s Day speech before the battle of Agincourt. Though there wasn’t a specific medieval theme for the food (which was potluckish), I thought it would be fun to try to make something that at least suggested the right era.

I found this recipe for Grave of Small Birds (apparently that’s an early way of saying chicken and gravy) that fit the bill perfectly. I spent a little extra time boiling down the wine sauce to make it a bit thicker and more gravyish, which only slightly worked, but it still had a good flavor despite the thin sauce.

Today (Monday) we had leftover oyster chowder for lunch, along with my first attempt at water kefir ginger ale, which turned out pretty well. I may need to cut back on the fermentation time so that it stays a bit more carbonated, but my husband approved it anyway and said it tasted like ginger beer. We also had some apple slices for our official fruit or vegetable representation.

For supper we had leftover Grave of Small Birds, which I reheated over some cooked rice I had in the freezer to soak up all the lovely thin gravy, and garlic broccoli on the side.

Pantry Challenge, Day 3: Salmon and Hummus

No video today, but I snapped a couple pictures of our pantry challenge dinner.

For breakfast we went out to Einstein Bros Bagels, and for lunch we ate hot dogs with the last bit of leftover chili, (naturally there was also fermented ketchup involved) and broccoli and pepper strips with french onion dip.

For supper I would have warmed up the leftover oyster chowder, but for some reason my husband and I were both wanting a more protein heavy meal, so I dug some salmon fillets out of the freezer. This is where the first element of the pantry challenge started to kick in. Normally, I would serve salmon fillets with a mayo or yogurt sauce, but I neglected to buy plain yogurt before the beginning of the challenge (a large oversight, because with just a little bit of yogurt I could have continued making my own yogurt from our weekly milk as long as I needed to) and I’m already hoarding the amount of mayo we have left, hoping it will stretch nearly to the end of the pantry challenge if I’m careful.

The solution: hummus.

pantry challenge day 3

 I had a can of garbanzo beans sitting in the pantry, and I didn’t mind at all adding even more protein to our meal, so made a quick batch of hummus to go with our salmon fillets. Didn’t it turn out pretty?

Salmon and Hummus

 My husband said it actually tasted good together too, so that may go in my normal rotation as a salmon fillet sauce even after our pantry challenge ends.

 We also ate slices of apple, but we finished them off while we were waiting for the salmon fillets to cook, so they didn’t make it into the picture.

Pantry Challenge, Day 2: Oyster Chowder

On day 2 of the pantry challenge I’m still just cooking with normal ingredients. I used a can of oysters I’ve had sitting in the pantry for a few weeks, chicken stock from the freezer, and milk that was probably going to go bad soon if I didn’t use it up, but nothing spectacularly interesting from a pantry challenge perspective.

I made a super short video showing the ingredients I used in my oyster chowder, but I had about 15 minutes between walking in the door after having coffee with a friend and walking out the door to pick up my husband for our 40 Days For Life prayer slot. I spent 1 minute videoing ingredients and the rest of my time chopping potatoes, making a roux and throwing ingredients in the crockpot to cook while I was gone.

I was going to add some broccoli (chopped very fine) but forgot until it was too late.

I realized this morning that in about a week I’m going to have start getting creative about breakfasts, or break down and buy more eggs for my husband’s breakfasts. We’ll see which way I go… (For myself, I’ve been happy with creamy, spicy broth for breakfast most days.)

For lunch today we finished off the freezer lasagna and had some orange pepper strips for our veggie.

Creamy Spicy Chicken Broth

Creamy Spicy Broth

When I first ran across a recipe for Thai broth I thought it looked amazing. I knew my husband wasn’t likely to go for it as a thin, brothy soup though, so I filed it away on Pinterest, waiting for a flash of inspiration. Maybe I could make a reduction sauce based on Thai broth and serve it as a gravy? Maybe turn it into a noodle soup?

Every time I ran across it again it still sounded good, but I never wanted to go to the trouble of making coconut milk that day just to try it. Then one day it suddenly dawned on me that I could give a try with the regular cow’s milk I always have on hand. (I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me, the queen of changing recipes, to come up with that idea.)

Once I started changing it though, I just couldn’t stop. I didn’t have fresh herbs on hand either, so I fell back on my standbys garlic powder and ginger powder, and of course, I had to add turmeric, that powerhouse of adding anti-inflammatories and richness of flavor at the same time. I salted it heavily and added just a dash of cayenne (especially because I was going to be drinking it instead of eating it as a soup, I was skeptical of the chili flakes, and their tendency to burst unexpected waves of heat in unpredictable intervals).

The result was a rich and creamy broth, with lot of flavor and just a bit of spice on the back end. For the first time in my life I found myself drinking chicken stock every morning, and even enjoying the experience.

Now, I’ll tell you that my husband does not like intense flavors first thing in the morning, so I haven’t gotten a good read on whether he will like this broth or not. I’ll let  you know when I get some kind of conclusion one way or the other. I’m thinking maybe adding homemade ramen noodles for supper one night would be good way to introduce him to this broth…

Healthiness Rating: Healthy

This is one of those recipes that just about everyone can agree is healthy. (Except angry vegans, but I generally try to ignore them.) You have all the minerals and gut healing gelatin from the chicken stock, the enzymes and minerals from the raw milk, and the metabolism boosting and immune boosting spices to top it all off.

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

As I mentioned, I don’t yet have my husband’s opinion on the yumminess factor, but myself, I give it a completely yummy rating.

Creamy Spicy Broth

4 servings

4 cups chicken stock

1-2 tsp salt*

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ginger powder

1/8 tsp cayenne, or to taste

4 cups milk (preferably raw and organic)

Heat chicken stock to just below boiling. (If you like your broth very hot, go ahead and heat it to boiling–I prefer more moderate temperature for drinking broth, and a moderate temperature also preserves some of the enzymes in the raw milk.)

Whisk in spices and salt.

Add milk.

Drink as is, or use as the base for a soup.

*NOTE: I use homemade chicken stock which has not yet been salted when making this recipe. If using store bought or pre-salted homemade stock, you will need a lot less salt, and possibly none at all.

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