Garden Candy Basics Tips

Dec 112016

Fresh & Healthy Microwave Popcorn

Popcorn – the perfect snack that comes from the garden.

Don’t you love the convenience that comes from tossing a bag of microwavable popcorn into the microwave and moments later your enjoying a warm fresh, healthy snack. But with all the concern over microwavable bags containing PFOA, a suspected carcinogen, why take the chance if you don’t have to? Especially when you can microwave your own in a bag or bowl, just as easily and for a lot less money.

  1. Measure 1/2 cup popcorn into a large brown PAPER lunch bag
  2. Roll the top over twice to keep the kernels in
  3. Place in microwave
  4. Set for 5 minutes on regular power.
  5. Start listening after 4 minutes. When there’s 2-3 seconds between the popping sound, your popcorn is ready!

Add melted butter, garlic powder, or whatever flavors you like.

Oct 132016

Seven Smart Soup Freezing Tips

Soups are so easy to freeze, so go ahead and make that big pot full of goodness—even if you’re dining alone tonight. Store the rest for later. Here are some of our favorite tips for successful soup freezing.

Follow these simple pointers and months from now you’ll be enjoying soups that are as satisfying as they day they were made.

Skill: Easy
Skills: Portioning, freezing, labeling
Garden Candy Basics - fundamental vegucation for everybody!

  1. Don’t overcook the vegetables. It’s best to undercook the veggies in a soup you’re planning to freeze, as they’ll continue to cook when you’re warming your soup. Potatoes for example can turn to complete mush in reheated soup if they’re fully cooked. If you’re making a soup for now and later, ladle out the portion that will be frozen just before the vegetables are cooked all the way through.
  2. Nix the Cream. You will be much happier serving your thawed, reheated soup if you add the dairy—cream, milk, soft cheeses—while you’re warming it up.
  3. Hold the pastas. Frozen pasta in soup can turn your meal into gruel when reheated. Boil it fresh and add it during the reheating stage.
  4. Hold back ingredients called for at the end of the recipe like fresh herbs, eggs, cream (see #2). These will all be better added before eating, not before freezing.
  5. Note the amount of soup in a portion , especially stocks that will be used in other recipes. Use zipper seal bags. You can freeze your soup in any freezable container you like, from plastic food storage containers to mason jars, but we like the space-saving efficiency of zipper seal bags. Simply fill, seal, lay on a baking sheet that fits in your freezer. With the soup frozen flat, it’s stackable, or can slip vertically between other things.
  6. Freeze in measured portions. This is especially useful for soups and stocks, but makes sense for all your freezing. Rather than dump an entire pot of soup into a two gallon freezer bag, portion it out in smaller quart bags so you can thaw as little or as much as you need when it’s time to enjoy it.
  7. Label, label, label. Mark your containers with all the important information: type of soup (you’d be shocked by how similar different soups look when frozen!), date, and notes for what to add at the reheating stage, (especially helpful if someone other than you will be reheating the soup).

Leave instructions for reheating and add-ins so other family members know what to do

What practices do you follow when freezing prepared foods?


Oct 012016

Essentials: Baking & Peeling Butternut Squash

If we’re honest, we have to admit we don’t like peeling winter squash either. So we get around it whenever we can, and here’s one way.

The next time you’re preparing squash that will be used in it’s mashed or pureed form—like in soups or lasagne—try this:

Skill: Easy
Skills: Cutting, roasting, peeling
Garden Candy Basics - fundamental vegucation for everybody!

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F
  2. Cut the squash in half.
  3. Remove seeds and pulp.
  4. Lightly coat cut side with oil or cooking spray.
  5. Lay squash on baking pan cut side down.
  6. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a fork slides through the skin and into the flesh very easily and the skin is browned and blistered.
  7. Remove from the oven and let sit a couple of minutes until the skin starts to wrinkle.
  8. With the prong of a fork, pierce the skin at a blistering/wrinkled spot and carefully lift the skin away from the flesh. The skin should peel off in good size pieces.  You probably guessed it, the squash is still hot at this point, so be careful.
  9. Continue removing all of the skin.
  10. Discard skin and use the flesh in your recipe.

There you go. Cooked, peeled squash with not a bit wasted.

Butternut squash baked, ready to be easily peeled

butternut squash no fuss peeled


Jul 212016

Chef Tip: Pepper Infused Olive Oil

Red pepper flakes turns olive oil into olive VOILA!This is something we see a lot in Europe. A few pepper flakes sprinkled into a carafe of olive oil will impart the perfect little zing of flavor that’s not at all overpowering.

We keep two carafes on the counter, one with the pepper and one without. Usually when roasting most vegetables, we’ll grab the one with the pepper flakes. Bet you will too.

Oct 212015

Chef Tip: Preheat that roasting pan!

Roasting vegetables in the oven? Leave your roasting pan in the oven while you pre-heat it.

Lightly coat your veggies with oil then turn them onto the hot pan, spreading them out evenly. You’ll wind up with better browned, crisper vegetables and less of them stuck to the pan when you’re done.

Do this one time, and you will do it always.