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There’s nothing worse than wasted ingredients. And yet I can’t quite bring myself to save carrot scraps and tops and celery ends in baggies in the freezer’s few vacancies for some stock I might make one day. I wish I felt the same way about not hoarding yarn for potential sweaters or socks for potential jogging impulses, but so far the urge has applied only to those scraps of vegetation that better cooks/composters/planners than I are economically amassing right now.

There are other ways to be seriously resourceful (phew!), to cater to future appetites with food purchased in the past. Here’s how that philosophy has swooped into my kitchen recently, taking would-be leftover cilantro and parsley and turning them into green sauce. This works better than the stash and save approach because you can make green sauce in the same fit of cooking motivation that brought the enormous bunch of cilantro into your life in the first place. Leave the bunch out while you eat dinner and work on your green sauce when you do the dishes.

Once pulverized into salsa verdes and pestos and covered in olive oil, fragile leaves last much longer than they would have if left to their own limp devices.

The first sauce, Italian salsa verde, is good piled on anything remotely plain: roasted chicken, avocado toast, scrambled eggs, roasted vegetables. There’s richness and brininess to complement all those herbs, and I can’t say no to heaping dollops.  To make, put a minced shallot in a little bowl and cover with cider vinegar. Leave that to steep for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put your bunch of parsley (some stems are fine), an anchovy, 1 teaspoon capers, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mini food processor. When the shallot is ready, drain and save its vinegar, and add the shallot to the mix. Pulse to pulverize. Then add up to 1/2 a cup of olive oil to make a sauce. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

The second, a sort of Mexican cilantro pesto sits pretty on a plate of rice and beans or a more trumped-up burrito bowl. I added minced ginger and scallions to a few spoonfuls of my recent batch, then mixed that new stuff in with fresh ramen noodles for a sort of pan-Asian pesto that reminded me of ginger-scallion sauce and was unbelievably good with a fried egg on top. To make, combine 1 clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup toasted pepitas (or whatever nut you have), your bunch of cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice or a pour of mild vinegar in the food processor. Pulse to pulverize, adding up to 1/2 cup of olive oil as you go, to make a sauce. Add 1 tablespoon minced ginger and 4 minced scallions to migrate the sauce from Mexico to Asia.

In a pinch, these sauces add both flavor and real nutrition to your meals–herbs are really vegetables, after all! If you want to bulk out either one, a few handfuls of baby spinach or arugula leaves leftover from salads are welcome too.

More saucy ways to use up your herbs: herby avocado hummusSarah’s green sauce, green harissa, green goddess soup, whole wheat pesto pasta with rabe.

Imagine a cookie. Okay, now imagine a brownie. Which one do you want? If you answered one of each, then this recipe is for you.

In high school, when my sister Kate and I baked a lot, the cookie-brownie debate extended beyond what we felt like eating. It was more about what we were in the mood to bake. Cookies promised a little more of an activity–you had to cream the butter, choose the mix-ins, and roll ball after heaping-tablespoon-sized ball to place on cookie sheets. They baked quickly, however, and didn’t require much rest time in between baking and downing that first bite. Brownies came together miraculously quickly but baked for longer, and, technically at least, needed to cool some before becoming sliceable into neat squares. Back then, I wish we’d thought of this hybrid: if you’d like to make both cookie and brownie, this chocolate & peanut butter recipe is for you as well.

The chocolate chip cookie is the classic recipe, rich in brown sugar and chocolate chips. Instead of making cookies, you press all the dough into a pan and par-bake. This is the first layer.

The second layer, the brownies, almost acts like an icing–a peanut butter-studded icing. I poured rich, creamy REESE’S Peanut Butter Chips right into the brownie batter. The chips, to me, look like the yin to the cookie layer’s chocolate chip yang.

Before I give you the recipe–which was a huge hit with peanut butter lovers, chocolate lovers, cookie lovers, and bar cookie lovers–I wanted to share a note about Hershey and the company’s support of Dr. Mark Manary’s Project Peanut Butter. In Ghana, which maintains big peanut and cocoa production, malnutrition persists among children. Project Peanut Butter’s goal, therefore, is to distribute packets of nutrient-packed Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods. The core ingredient in the packets is the peanut; they also contain the vitamins needed to help kids survive malnourishment. Founded in Malawi in 2004, the project has been recognized by the United Nations, World Health Organization, and World Food Program as the standard of in-home care for malnutrition.

Then, in 2012, with funding from The Hershey Company, Project Peanut Butter announced an expansion into Ghana, where not only did it plan to distribute the remedies but to source the peanuts and produce the packets too. Over the summer, PPB’s Ghana team began test runs of the local factory they’d built along with Hershey’s manufacturing expertise, and hopes to feed two-thirds of Ghana’s hungry kids.  You can get updates about the Ghana project here.

Thanks for reading!

This post is sponsored by The Hershey Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep Big Girls, Small Kitchen delicious!

I got it in my head to do some kitchen travel, to Texas for chili.

If you’ve ever wondered why some of us find food fascinating long after the dinner dishes are cleared, look no further than the case of curry.

When I say curry, you might think of a leaf, a paste, or a powder. You might begin to crave savory Indian stews, dream about bowls of spicy Thai soup, imagine portions of sauce-smothered Japanese katsu, or salivate after thoughts of German currywurst. You might even think of Singapore Noodles, an entry in the dry–not stew-like–curry list. All are valid food fantasies. There are a lot of curries!

Classic Chicken Chili

Posted by on Wednesday Jan 28th, 2015

In the fall, I went on a tour of Lambeau Field. I was in Green Bay for work, and after a late-night fried cheese curd snack and the next morning’s tour of a demi-glace production facility, one introduction led to another and we wound up in the care of the executive sous chef of the stadium, who, before we knew what was happening, began to lead us on a behind-the-scenes-culinary tour. He showed us the prep kitchens and the serving kitchens, the beautiful new dining rooms, and the catering facilities where cheesehead couples get married.

Now you’ll hear a lot of sports atheists like me proclaiming that we’re only into the Super Bowl for the food (if we’re into football at all). But as I learned that day, the football stadiums, with their teams of cooks, specialty stands, and exclusive club room buffets–they’re really in it for the food too.

On the day we visited, most of the kitchens were quiet: there were 11 days until the Bears arrived for the next home game. In the lobby, the sausage stands’ menus broadcast this year’s Sunday specialty–the 22-inch cheese-topped kielbasa called the Horse Collar–but there were none flaming on the turned-off grills. Nearby, the fill-your-own-beer-mug kiosks were totally tapped out. Still, the in-stadium smokers were running, delivery trucks were backing into loading docks, and a tiny batch of chili simmered–just a couple of gallons for an upcoming meeting at one of the clubs.

I say tiny because normally, the Lambeau chefs go through 200 gallons of chili in one game day. 200 gallons!

Anyway, enough about the Packers. Even this non-fan knows they don’t get to play this weekend. So, for your home team–especially if it’s a crew looking to watch the game over a relatively light meal–today’s chicken chili actually does brew a small batch. The recipe takes inspiration from the classic beans-tomato-chili powder combo we grew up with as Yankees, but swaps out the beef for a smaller portion of shredded chicken thighs. There are also a few more vegetables hidden in each bowl than normal.

Want more chili? Here’s Chicken Chili with Barley, Chili Con Carne, Brisket Chili, and Black Bean-Sweet Potato Chili.

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just lemons, lemons, and more lemons.  Want even more gf desserts? Check out Natalie’s Baked Apples

To paraphrase the French philosopher Albert Camus, “in the depths of winter, I learned there was an invincible summer at the grocery store.” Well, that “summer” turns out to be lemons, deliciously in season in the frozen winter months, somehow a harbinger of all things spring.

This lemony dessert blends the comforting, wintry nature of a home-cooked pudding with the ethereal sunshine of lemon, topped with vanilla whipped cream and a cheerful candied lemon slice.

Moroccan Beet Salad

Posted by on Wednesday Jan 21st, 2015

If you missed Monday’s post, here’s the summary: I used to hate beets and now kind of like them. Prodding yourself to enjoy foods you didn’t think you wanted to ingest, out of culinary FOMA, seems to be worthwhile.

Two tricks I learned during my conversion are in play in this second winner: use acid to season beets and add crunch to mitigate their gummy softness. Plus, this divine little salad gets better the longer you forget about it in the back of the fridge. Tons of parsley brightens the salad, which is better for the addition of marinated shallots and very toasted almonds. I throw in just a pinch of dried coriander which has a mysterious, North African effect.

I think I said everything I ever wanted to about beets in the earlier post except this: if you’re still feeling so-so about them but are aching to improve your feelings towards the ringed root, try making salad with half beets and half roasted carrots (or even a quarter beets and the rest roasted carrots! or roasted sweet potatoes!).