Monday, September 1, 2014

Throwing a Little Something Together...

     I've got friends who have an obsessive desire to follow recipes exactly.  I used to be this person.  It's what you do when you're first learning how to cook.  But I think it makes you afraid a little.  Afraid you might mess something up.  You know what?  You almost never do and a lot of times what you come up with is better than what the Internet says, especially one of those recipes from TV, blerg.  AND most of the time the recipe has got one or twelve things you don't have sitting in your fridge at the moment.  So let's talk about what is in your fridge.  At any moment I have every ingredient necessary for a good soup, Italian anything, stir-fry, and hummus.  Always have the ingredients for hummus.  All you need for hummus is any bean variety, oil, garlic, and salt.  All you need for soup is a can or two of tomatoes and a variety of vegetables, and sometimes you can pull it off without the tomatoes!  Italian needs tomatoes, basil and garlic.  Mushrooms are good, other herbs, or onions, but really all you need are tomatoes, basil, and garlic.  Let's get to that stir-fry now.

I started on this because I had some peanut sauce from the Farmer's Market calling my name all week.  I also had purple cauliflower, red cabbage, carrots, a squash from my garden, oyster mushrooms, a white bell pepper, half an onion, and some garlic.  Sounds like stir-fry to me.  Does it matter what color your vegetables are?  Nope.  Do you need all those vegetables to make a stir-fry?  Nope, though it does help to feed a larger group to have a variety if you only have small quantities of each like I had.  Do you have to have fancy soba noodles like I did?  Not even.  I wasn't even thinking of noodles when I realized I had the makings for stir-fry.  I was going to do rice first, but realized I hadn't left enough time to pull it off, so noodles it was!  What I'm trying to say here is relax.  Take a deep breath.  It's just one dinner.  You can do it.  If all else fails, there's always peanut butter or grilled cheese, or whatever sandwich combination your family is allowed to eat in this day of allergens and intolerances.

The biggest thing to remember when doing a stir-fry for a family is not to cook everything in the same pan unless you have a huge pan.  I like my stir-fry veggies warmed and nearly raw, cooking everything in the same pan tends to steam everything and take forever so you're left with a long cook time and mushy veg.

Refrigerator Clean-Out Stir Fry
Serves 4

3 large carrots, sliced
1/2 large onion, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 medium cabbage, sliced
1 large or 2 small yellow squash, sliced
1/2 lb oyster mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup cauliflower florets
1 bell pepper, sliced
2 green onions, sliced
1 Tbs sesame seeds
1 bunch of soba noodles, boiled and drained
1 tsp high heat oil
1 Tbs peanut sauce, soy sauce, or tamari sauce

On medium/high heat, cook onions first in a small amount of oil until they have softened slightly, then set them aside, then carrots cooked until slightly soft and set aside, continue cooking vegetables one at a time until all are cooked, excluding the green onions and sesame seeds, mushrooms and garlic can go in together.  Mix all the veggies together.  Plate noodles and top with cooked veggies, finish with the sauce of your choice.

Now, go to your fridge and start experimenting!!  Here's a few more ideas to get you started:
Chicken, pork, or tofu, eggplant, peas, bok choi, broccoli, any color of bell pepper, zucchini, green beans, water chestnuts, baby corn, bamboo shoots.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Congratulations, Winners!

Congratulations to RayeHawk who wanted to freeze her yogurt mixed with a little fruit puree, Joanne Kemp who wants to try making fudgsicles, and Rebekah Whitlock who thought up like a bazillion uses including salad dressing and Jell-o shot pops!  You three have won a pack of Zipzicle pouches!  Please e-mail me your addresses and Zipzicle will send out your prizes!  Thank you to all who entered!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ice-Pops, Ideas, and a Give Away...

12 Ways to use Zipzicles Ice-Pop Pouches

So these are Zipzicles.

Zipzicle Ice-Pop Pouches
     You want these.  My friend Cara from Fork and Beans found some at Cost Plus World Market and went on to make some lovely homemade Otter-type pops.  I fiddled around on the Internet a bit and found that WizCo is just a few miles from my house!  They graciously sent me a sample pack and I went a little bonkers, ya'll.  I just kept on thinking of things to use these little pouches for!

Zipzicle Ice-Pops, Use 1 of 12
     First off, I did make pops.  'Cuz yeah, Summer.  These are each a different type of juice.  The clear one is a simple infused water concoction of nasturtium and mint.  Not sweet for the kiddles, but so nice for me on hot days!  Each pouch contains almost 1/2 a cup, so to make my grown-up Zipzicle:

Nasturtium and Mint Ice-Pop
1/2 C water per pop
2 nasturtium flowers per
1 two inch sprig fresh mint (about 5 leaves) per

Combine in a cup and let steep for 30 minutes.  You can muddle it a bit at the end if you like.  I chopped up a few blossoms to make it pretty, but you don't need to.  If you are using flowers, place a few chopped blossoms into the pouch, pour infused water in to the fill line, close bag, and tilt it back and forth gently to distribute the flowers evenly.  Lay flat for a few hours to freeze.

Homemade Nasturtium Mint Ice-Pops from Crackers on the Couch

The other pops are juices I bought at Trader Joe's, one is the Very Green Smoothie, one is carrot, and one is Tart Cherry.  The cherry one is especially good.  We also enjoy orange, grape, and fruit puree pops regularly!

And now for the rest!

Zipzicle Yogurt Tubes Use 2 of 12
     Next up, can we just talk about how long I've been wanting to make yogurt tubes?  I don't like store bought ones that are full of sugar and chemicals, and the organic frilly ones are few and far between.  I have thought for years that there had to be a better way.  Some way to make yogurt tubes at home.  This is it, yo!  These are homemade yogurt sweetened with a bit of honey.  No cane, beet or corn sugar, no rBST, just milk, bacteria, and honey.  Yummers.

Zipzicle Applesauce pouches Use 3 of 12!
     Number 3 is applesauce pouches.  1/2 C is a good portion of sauce.  You can fill past the fill line if you're not going to freeze it.  I found that the best way to fill these pouches with thicker things like yogurt and applesauce is to use a pastry bag to fill them half way, tap it once or twice to get out the bubble, and then fill the rest of the way.  For thicker substances or tough bubbles, a poke or two with a chop-stick will go a long way.

Zipzicle cracker pouch, use 4 of 12!
     Fourth up, any small, amusingly shaped cracker will fit beautifully into these pouches.  It's slightly less than a serving size, but just right for a lunchbox or a quick snack after karate.

Cute little s'mores treat sacks: Use 5 of 12! And speaking of snacks, let's talk dessert, shall we?  A few mini chocolate chips, some tiny marshmallows, and a graham cracker bear or two.  A large pastry tip makes a nice funnel for the chocolate chips.  I know this is the complete embodiment of opposite from what I said about the yogurt tubes, but you know, cute is cute sometimes and dessert is dessert and s'mores is s'mores.

Zipzicle pouches for trail mix: Use 6 of 12!
     For a healthier alternative while camping or hiking, Good Old Raisins and Peanuts really hit the spot.  A serving of peanuts almost fills up to the fill line, mix in a few raisins and GORP's your uncle!

Zipzicle pouches for packing hummus: Use 7 of 12!
     For flying, camping, or car trips, hummus makes a great snack, and 1/2 a cup of hummus makes a pretty healthy portion!  The flexibility of the pouches makes it really easy to get all of it out.  I've got a straw brush that I used to clean the pouches out after the hummus.

Zipzicles for Jello!  Use 8 of 12
    Again, with the food coloring, but you know what?  There's exactly enough room in these pouches for Jell-o.  I used the quick-set method so that the heat wouldn't melt the plastic.  Sets up faster that way, too!  I wonder if agar agar jello would work in these, but I think that by the time it was cool enough to pour, it would be set too far.  An experiment for another day, perhaps.
Zipzicles as party favor bags!  Use 9 of 12!
     Need a sweet little pouch for party favors?  Fill them up with candy, jewelry, or confetti!  (Maybe don't give out the confetti filled ones until the end of the party...)

Zipzicle soup pouches!  A great snack and use 10 of 12!
     I think this is my favorite idea: A little tomato soup and a pouch of oyster crackers!  Again, I poured the soup in cold, and served it at room temp.  It's a nice, healthy change-of-pace snack for the kid who's tired of cheese sticks and fruit slices.

Zipzicle craft packs!  Use 11 of 12.
     And then there are the non-food options.  Let's talk art-on-the-go, shall we?  Four thin markers fit very well in here, four or five colored pencils would do nicely, as well.  Just right for trips!  You can fit a few pipe-cleaners in here, too I bet, though I haven't tried it.  I did try Rainbow Loom bands and they were near impossible to get back out. Think, long and thin, and things that shake out easily.

Zipzicle small toy pouch.  Use 12 of 12.
     Speaking of things that shake out easily, a few Lego bricks are just the thing for a quick creation on the go.  Nanoblocks fit well, Micro Machines, too.

Here's a few more ideas!   
I haven't tested them, but you can!
  • Make your own "Pedialyte" pops.  Coconut water is an excellent (and more tasty) electrolyte replenisher!
  • Try these for pureed baby foods or toddler snacks like Cheerios.
  • Going camping? Fill one with ketchup, one with mayo, and one with mustard.
  • Maybe a small First-Aid Kit, a couple of Band-aids and a tube of Neosporin.
  • What about filling one with mouthwash for weekend trips?
And Now, A Give Away!!
Have some ideas for these lovely little bags?  Wanna get some for free?  Well, you, my friend are in the right place!  WizCo is allowing me to give three lucky people a free 12-pack of Zipzicle pouches!  Leave me a comment here or on my facebook page with your favorite ice-pop flavor or a new idea for the bags and you'll be entered to win!  Contest ends on Friday so chime in!

*Give Away Has Now Ended*

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