Spotlight Ingredient: Beets (Recipe: Beet & Orzo Salad with Feta)

Last November, when roadside produce stands were closing down shop for the winter, I snagged a ten-pound bag of young beets for ninety-nine cents. Thrilled at the great deal I had just made, I imagined the beets lasting us through the winter – and all for pennies.

They were gone by Christmas. Apparently I like beets, a lot. There’s something about their firm texture and earthy I-can-taste-the-garden flavor that satisfies my hankering for vegetables in January.

I’ve since discovered that my ardor for this hearty, affordable, vegetable is shared by few; too few, in my opinion. Perhaps cooks are deterred by the length of cooking time, as beets must be first roasted or boiled properly, but then again, so do potatoes.

I believe, as is often the case with lesser-known ingredients, that people just don’t know what to do with beets. Hopefully by the end of this post, I’ll have planted a few ideas for incorporating the mildly sweet, crimson-red beet into your cooking repertoire.

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9 Foods to Stock in Your Pantry in 2012

Every January, my pantry inevitably needs an in-depth examination. So I clear out the remnants of holiday foodstuffs that have collected – candy canes, cracker fragments, sprinkles and other cookie decorations – and take a good look at what is left.

A lot of my homemade jam and preserves have been given away as gifts; my stash of nuts, dried fruit and olives has dwindled (as it should over the entertaining season), and there is plenty of space for starting over.

With my intentional food-related goals for the new year at the forefront of my planning, I sit down to write a list of staples I need to stock. I take notice of low granola supplies, the absence of canned beans, and other clues that point to my need for a grocery haul.

The result is a list of basic staples that I think anyone striving to serve wholesome family food should stockpile and I’m sharing it here with you today.

If you’re serious about maintaining a diet of nourishing foods, one of the best things you can do is stock your pantry with quality ingredients. You’ll be inspired to try new recipes – and have the resources to follow through with them – and more inclined to steer clear of prepackaged and processed foods.

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23 Ways to Use Up Leftover Pumpkin Purée

Written by Cheri of Kitchen Simplicity.

Last year Lynn gave a wonderful tutorial on how to make your own pumpkin purée. Whether you make your own or use a can, it seems you’re almost guaranteed to always have just a little bit left over. And, nobody likes to waste any precious pumpkin purée.

Today’s post is all about ways to use up that little bit of extra pumpkin so you can squeeze every last drop out of pumpkin season.

If you’re anything like me you like to find as many recipes as possible to help use up that last half a cup (or less) of pumpkin purée. I wanted to compile a list of recipes and ideas for doing just that and I thought I would share it with you. Make sure to tuck these ideas away for reference later. If you save them for that little extra, you’ll have something to look forward to and no reason to get bored of eating pumpkin the same way over and over.

Sometimes it makes sense to simply freeze the leftovers (especially when using canned purée) but if you already thawed your own pumpkin purée, you probably don’t want to stick it back in the freezer.

Here are a couple of ideas (and some recipes too) that use half a cup or less of pumpkin purée.

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Seasonings and Spices for Fall Cooking {Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Blend}

Written by Kristen of Dine and Dish.

With fall comes the yearning for food, which brings overall comfort and warmth to those who eat it. We retreat into our kitchens, hoping to provide our family with a meal that will “stick to their ribs”, bringing them warmth from the inside out. Hearty, rich dishes, full of flavor and made with spices and seasonings reminiscent of the season adorn our tables as we gather together in celebration of the cooler days.

There are certain spices and seasonings associated with this season. We draw on their use to provide essence to our favorite comfort foods, add them to our most beloved beverages and use candles reminiscent of their aroma to bring us refuge from the chilly temperatures outside.

Among the most common autumn spices and seasonings, cinnamon, ginger and cloves seem to be firmly associated with the season, making appearances in many of the recipes we associate with this time of year. [Read more…]

Spotlight Ingredient: Cabbage (Recipe: Cabbage & Leeks with Apples)

Last Sunday night, as my weekly menu plan started to take shape, an autumnal influence became obvious. Cabbage, apples, leeks and carrots all had a featured spot over the week. And why not? This produce is beckoning from the market stalls: firm, vibrant and, best of all, a bargain. It deserves to be snapped up and served for dinner.

Cabbage just might be the best bargain out there. At this time of the year the heads are tight, bright green and so crisp, they practically snap in two at the nudge of a knife. Green, red and savoy cabbage are all competing for attention, but I’ve been buying the green for its versatility.

Today, I’d like to offer you 4 easy ways to prepare this leafy fall vegetable.

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