Valentine’s Chocolate Mousse

After recently watching Robert Irvine whip up a chocolate mousse on Chopped, I needed to experiment and make my own. I made one or two as a kid, but I had somehow tricked myself into believing that they were too difficult for me to make now, boy, was I wrong! This treat came together in just minutes, sat for the afternoon and was the perfect chocolate bite after dinner. These would be great for a dinner party when you want to make dessert ahead of time, as a chocolately delight for your Valentine or just for those nights when chocolate starts calling your name.finish

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Salmon Poke Lettuce Wraps

I love sushi. No really; I have an uncommon amount of love for this food. I love the technique, the quality, the beauty, the whole thing. That said, my wallet does not share my love for this gorgeous food. Every once in a while I’ll go all out and try to make my own sushi at home but I’ve been looking for something simpler that gives me all the enjoyment of sushi at a fraction of the price and time-enter poke. These wraps come together in minutes, are made from healthy, fresh ingredients and can be a special lunch or appetizer that you (yes, you!) can make at home.

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Back to Basics: Homemade Chicken Stock

Ever wander through somewhere, pick up a certain smell and immediately find yourself lost in a sea of memories? You’re not alone. The human brain’s anatomy is designed to link your sense of smell to the parts of your brain linked with memory (Interesting read https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-babble/201501/smells-ring-bells-how-smell-triggers-memories-and-emotions). For me, the smell of chicken stock immediately reminds me of winter at mom’s house. Mom makes some of the best chicken noodle soup out there and always makes her own chicken stock from scratch. The smell of it bubbling away brings me back to memories of slurping away at soup over dinner or the one time I ate 7 bowls of it in one sitting and instantly cured the bronchitis I had been suffering from. Knowing how to make your own stock will help you waste fewer food scraps, improve the depth of flavor in any dish you’re making, fill you with a sense of self-sufficiency and fill your home with some wonderful smells.finished

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Pork Chops and (Ugly) Pear Chutney

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I stood there aghast watching as the supermarket employee casually pulled up the nearest trash can and plucked pear after pear from the display and threw each one away. Just threw them away. Were they moldy? No. Were they recalled for a health reason? No. Their crime was that they were bruised. Not pretty enough. I couldn’t believe it. He must have thrown away 50 pears before I asked him if I could have a couple. “Sure,” he said, “but they’re ugly”. I told him that was precisely why I wanted them.

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Our food waste statistics in this country are staggering. Feeding America estimates that we waste approximately 70 billion pounds of food in America each year (http://www.feedingamerica.org/about-us/how-we-work/securing-meals/reducing-food-waste.html), and a recent report from UNEP and the World Resources Institute, estimates that “one-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. When this figure is converted to calories, this means that about 1 in 4 calories intended for consumption is never actually eaten” (http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/food_waste_the_facts).

So, what can we do? Start with education. Educate yourselves and your families about cooking, meal planning and how to use fresh foods. Save and reuse leftovers, and craft recipes like this one that use bruised or leftover foods from your fridge. Most importantly though, let’s all work together to craft a community of food consciousness. Let’s work together in our food banks this Thanksgiving, let’s get our hands dirty in the garden and let’s get cooking!

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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This season’s garden has been a learning lesson. First, I approached it with more pre-thought and planning than I’ve ever put into a garden. I planned seedling start dates, crop yields, test soil pH and balance, and plotted and schemed about every aspect of my would-be bounty. Now, some of that planning time was well spent. I have bell peppers for the first time ever, more arugula than I know what to do with and a gorgeous eggplant plant that I was certain I would kill immediately. All that planning, but it turns out it was a plant that I didn’t plant, didn’t tend to, and thought was a weed initially, that produced my first batch of tomatillos.

Tomatillos, aka “Mexican husk tomatoes”, are a member of the nightshade family; a group of vegetables that also include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Tomatillos are originally from Mexico as the name suggests, and taste like a slightly sweeter version of a green tomato. Slightly tart and citrusy, these fruits need to be peeled out of their husk and are extremely versatile and great in salsas just like this one!

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Mini Meatloaves with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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Happy fall everyone! I have to say, this is my favorite season. The golden colors, the crisp bite to the air, the gentleness of the air and the promise of snow, I love it all. This is finally the time when I can start wearing sweaters again, drinking cider like its water and making warming, comfort-food meals. This recipe for mini meatloves with garlic mashed potatoes is a new favorite of mine. It comes together simply, makes for a great dinner and makes some wonderful leftovers for lunch the next day.

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Sunny Summer Pizza

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The summer squash are coming in at our community garden. Golden and sweet, their misshapen bodies offer some wonderful summer flavors. After excitedly harvesting several from the thicket of squash leaves, we were faced with the-“well now what?” moment. Grilled with some olive oil and rosemary, these squash are delicious but we wanted something a bit further out of the box, hence the creation of the summer sunny pizza! This light pizza starts with zesty basil pesto, and finishes with creamy fontina cheese and salty, crispy proscuitto. Sure to be a summer favorite, this makes for a beautiful weeknight dinner or an easy meal to share with friends and family.

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