Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Homemade Vegetable Stock in a Crock Pot

I had trouble naming this post. I wasn't sure if I should call it vegetable stock or broth. My understanding was that stock is made with bones and vegetables, and since this recipe is based on all vegetables I was confused. When I started searching on the internet about this question I realized I wasn't the only one who was asking about it. I found these posts from fine Cooking and TheKitchn very helpful. Like my "Homemade Chicken Stock in a Crock Pot" and "Homemade Beef Broth in a Crock Pot" I love putting everything together before I go to sleep at night. I set the cooker on low and wake up in the morning to delicious smells. In the morning I turn off the crock pot, let the concoction cool down, throw out the scraps, strain the stock through cheese cloth, and place the stock in various sized jars for freezer storage (unless I have an immediate use). This is the perfect thing to make on a rainy day so that you will never have to buy store bought vegetable broth which is just not the same as homemade.

Homemade Vegetable Stock in a Crock Pot
1 10 oz bag of frozen mushrooms (I used Woodstock shiitake)
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 cloves of garlic
1 small handful of peppercorns (about 15)
2 onions, quartered
4 carrots, roughly chopped
1 leek cut in half
4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 parsnip, roughly chopped
2 large swiss chard leaves
1 small handful of fresh parsley sprigs
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 quarts of water (I have a 5 quart crock pot)

1. Place the frozen mushrooms, bay leaf, thyme, garlic and peppercorns in the bottom of a crock pot.

2. Add the chopped vegetables to the mix.

3. Top with the swiss chard leaves, parsley sprigs, tomato paste, and water. Seal in the goodness and set to low for 8 hours.

4. After the vegetables simmer for 8 hours cool the stock completely.  Scoop out the vegetable scraps with tongs, pour the stock through cheese cloth and store jars. I freeze these jars until I need the stock.

5. Note: I have wasted several jars of tomato paste by not using them fast enough. Now I place 1 tablespoon dollops on a cookie sheet, place the cookie sheet in the freezer, then put the frozen tomato paste dollops in a container ready for my next use.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Spinach, Tomato, and Feta Frittata

I have been on a major frittata kick lately. It seems that between leftovers and the staples I have in my my refrigerator I can make a frittata out of just about anything. The flavor combination of spinach, tomato, and feta makes for an especially delicious frittata. Therefore, it must be recorded on the blog for posterity! Why a frittata kick? My husband and I have been losing weight using the methodology of The New Atkins diet rather than The South Beach Diet that we typically follow when we want to lose weight. We lost all the weight we gained between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2 weeks, and now we are working on losing weight that we've gained over the last several years. Recently, I asked my husband how he liked The New Atkins diet compared to The South Beach Diet. He said, "any diet where I can have eggs, cheese, sausage and hot wings - I'm in." I can't wait until he finds out there is an ice cream recipe that I can make while still sticking to this new way of eating. The New Atkins Diet has been a bit easier for us to follow than The South Beach Diet because it's not as concerned with low fat dairy and low fat cuts of meat. I recently took a 3 day business trip and had no problem keeping to the diet. I have hope again that slowly but surely I'll be able to wear clothes that I used to wear years ago. Recipes like this will help! This recipe can be easily adapted to phase 1 of The South Beach Diet by using low fat cheeses, or as is for phase 1 of The New Atkins.

Spinach, Tomato, and Feta Frittata
10 oz package of frozen cut leaf spinach (or chop equivilqant fresh spinach)
2 - 3 fresh Roma tomatoes, diced, or 1 (14.5) oz can of dices tomatoes, drained
1 small to medium onion, small dice
4 - 5 large eggs
4 oz feta (use low fat for The South Beach and regular for The New Atkins)
4 oz shredded Mozzarella (use low fat for South Beach and regular for The New Atkins)
olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 pinch of thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Gather and prep the ingredients. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a 10-inch non-stick oven-proof frying pan until it shimmers, and add the diced onion. Cook the onion on medium heat until it is translucent about 5 minutes.

2. Slice the tomato from stem to root in three even slices, remove the core, and then cut the slices to create the dices.

3. Add the diced tomatoes to the onions, add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for another minute or two or until the tomatoes have melted into the onions.

4. Incorporate the drained spinach with the tomato mixture and sauté for another minute. Shut off the heat to the pan.

5. Crack and beat the eggs in a small bowl. Pour the eggs evenly over the spinach and tomato mixture. Using a fork or spatula gently work the eggs evenly into the vegetables.

6. Sprinkle the frittata with 4 oz of feta cheese.

7. Add another 4oz of shredded mozzarella cheese.

8. Bake the frittata in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is lightly brown and bubbly. Slice to create 6 pieces or in quarters for a generous portion.


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