5 Awesomely Useful Things Most People Throw Away – Kitchen Edition

Dear readers… I have a confession. I hoard butter wrappers and a few other things most people consider to be garbage. Now, don’t go turning me in to the reality T.V. networks just yet. I promise you that there are indeed applications for all of these items aside from  making me sound like a crazy person.

Whomever coined the phrase “waste not want not” really knew what they were talking about. If you’re willing to relegate a section of your freezer to storing a few things, you can save yourself a significant amount of money, improve some of your recipes and reduce your waste. Sounds like a win-win-win to me.

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Roasted Heirloom Carrots with Carrot Green and Walnut Pesto

These lovely carrots were among the dishes that we served on Christmas day. When I saw them in the market, I knew that they would be coming home with me. The carrots are beautiful in their own right, and roasting them whole seemed to be the best way to present them. The rainbow root veggies looked beautiful on our Christmas table. The red purple and yellow colors looked vibrant and festive with the green pesto. The flavor of the carrot was intense and sweet, each color variation tasting a bit different. Roasting them to crisp/tender amplified their natural sweetness, and allowed the natural sugar to caramelize. The carrot green pesto was a beautiful bright contrast to the sweet roasted carrots. It’s fresh and nutty, with a sharp bite of Parmesan cheese and creamy, buttery walnuts. A perfect pairing straight from the garden – carrots dressed with a pesto of their own greens.

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Pulled Pork with Apricot Reduction

This weekend, we hosted our very first Christmas dinner. We managed to feed 8 people from our tiny kitchen without too much stress, and I believe the reason things went so smoothly is the simplicity and forgiving nature of the pulled pork we served. Everyone loves pulled pork and with a family of picky eaters, we needed something that would be a crowd pleaser. It’s pretty hard to argue with slow braised pork, so tender it falls apart when you look at it. Even our most skeptical guest (my father-in-law would gladly eat cake over any savoury dish you put in front of him) gobbled it up quickly. The meat is juicy with a slight sweetness, and a beautiful depth of flavor as a result of being slow braised with a generous amount of herbs. In short – yum.

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Peppermint Bark Lollipop Buttons

Okay my lovely and wonderfully patient readers. I have another chocolate and peppermint post. Yes, another one. As if the peppermint bark and the chocolate candy canes weren’t enough…..I bring you – peppermint bark lollipops. If this blog were your only source of nutrition, you would probably have scurvy by now. My bad, I promise I’ll start posting real, nourishing food again next week. You see, my dessert making skills are somewhat limited, BUT I am really good at melting chocolate (yay microwave). Being messy with melty chocolate is pretty fun – so naturally, I bought a 10 pound bag of chocolate chips from our local wholesale mart in some sort of weird Christmas shopping hysteria. Naturally.

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Chocolate Dipped Candy Canes – Peppermint Mocha on a Stick

These were so fun to make! Delicious, easy and super quick – these would make a lovely addition to your Christmas morning coffee bar. I love to stir my morning latte with a candy cane. It adds a zippy bit of peppermint to my morning ritual. Add a bit of chocolate, and you have a peppermint mocha. It’s a peppermint mocha on a stick. The warm coffee melts the chocolate. When you stir, the minty sugar from the candy cane sweetens it to perfection. The longer you leave in the candy, the stronger the peppermint flavor becomes. Voila – instant peppermint mocha.

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Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

To me, it’s not Christmas without gingerbread. Making it fills your kitchen (or entire loft) with an unmistakable aroma. The warm and spicy scent of homemade gingerbread makes me want to do silly Christmas things like make paper garland, and watch holiday movies. Actually, that’s exactly what happened. We ate cupcakes, and made paper garland while watching my favorite seasonal movie….”Elf.” I blame it all on the cupcakes. They were so festive, they inspired spontaneous shower caroling and puppy waltzing. If you’re needing a bit of silly holiday fun, perhaps a batch of these little cuties will be just the thing.

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Phyllo Pizza with Roasted Beets, Parsnips and Beet Greens

I had a  hard time naming this creation. It’s not quite a tart, not quite a galette, and almost a  pizza. Pizza has a soft spot in my heart…so let’s call it a pizza. Continuing in the spirit of my pesto post earlier this week, this recipe takes a look at another way we can make the most out of our produce purchases. Beets and beet greens were just meant to be together. It’s a perfect pairing straight from the garden. Beet greens are great raw, or cooked. Make a salad, saute them with a shallot and bacon. Or, try them on a pizza.

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Carrot Green and Walnut Pesto

I bought a lovely bunch of carrots this week, tops intact. Big fluffy green fronds that smelled slightly of pepper, citrus and grass. I wanted to eat them, but found myself asking, are carrot tops edible? I turned to the power of google for my answer, and was happy to learn – YES! They are edible, and they are delicious.

I made the leafy beauties into a pesto with the addition of walnuts and a bit of Parmesan cheese. The delicate sweetness and buttery texture of the walnuts paired swimmingly with the fresh peppery taste of the greens and the nutty, salty bite of good cheese. The pesto was a success.

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White and Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark

It’s Christmas time in the city. Waking up to rainy days, a latte and a piece of homemade peppermint bark makes the holiday spirit (yoda voice) strong with this one.

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