Cooking Technique: Caramelize

Vegetables like onions are pretty hard to eat raw (except for in salsa right?!) but are a really yummy when caramelized! 

Caramelizing is when you cook food until its sugars (or carbohydrates) turn brown. Go ahead, cook an onion on low heat for a little while and watch it turn brown and soft. This usually takes about 10-20 mins depending on your heat setting. 

Take a whiff and then a bite — we’re talking CARAMEL. If you missed it the first time, that’s SUGAR! and it’s a natural sweet flavor from a whole food that’s A-OK for your body!


Cooking Technique: Blanch

Some veggies, like broccoli or cauliflower just don’t taste great raw. 

If you want to take the raw edge of a veggie, you blanch it. Boil some water, then throw in your veggies for just a minute or so, and it brings out better color, flavor or texture. As soon as your veggies are a little cooked, you may want to SHOCK them – that’s when you stop the cooking by throwing them in ice water. Shocking your veggies let’s you store them and they won’t get mushy. Then you can reheat them later or eat them cold with our homemade Ranch Dressing! 

Cooking Technique: Acids

You know when you taste a soup or sauce and it’s just missing a little something but you can’t quite figure out what? There are times when seasoning more with more salt, pepper and herbs just isn't the answer. For those times, the missing ingredient is usually a dash of Acid. It’s an acidic ingredient such as: 

  • vinegar
  • wine
  • citrus juice (lemon, lime, or orange)  

A few drops can go a long way for flavor!

Super Easy and Delicious Zucchini Butter / Spread

Makes about 2 cups. Recipe from

Jennie Cook.

2 pounds zucchini, more or less*
1/4 cup olive oil or butter, if you prefer
2 minced shallots, garlic, or combination of both
Salt and pepper

Coarsely grate the zucchini. Let it drain in a colander for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are ready to begin cooking. To hasten cooking time, squeeze the water out of the zucchini by wringing it in a clean cloth towel.

In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil/butter. Sauté the shallots briefly. Add the zucchini and toss. Cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the zucchini reaches a spreadable consistency. If you scorch the bottom, turn the flame down! (And scrape those delicious bits into the marmalade for added flavor.) The zucchini will hold its bright green color and slowly caramelize into a nice vegetable jam.

Enjoy on toast, or as a side dish all summer long!

*Feel free to add extra zucchini. It may take a little longer to cook, but this recipe keeps well and can be stored in the refrigerator for about a month.

Tomato Basil Coconut Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 to 50 minutes Serves 6 to 8 (about 2 quarts)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups puréed or diced tomatoes (fresh or canned), with juice

Scant teaspoon baking soda (it acts as a stabilizer)

1 to 2 cups water
2 teaspoons dried basil
3 stalks fresh basil
1 14- to 16-ounce can coconut milk, light or regular
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons light-colored vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Dash cayenne or other spicy pepper

In a stockpot, heat oil over medium heat and cook carrots, onion, and garlic until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle flour on the vegetables and cook 3 minutes longer, slightly browning the flour. Working quickly, add the tomatoes, baking soda, and 1 cup water to the pot and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and add herbs, coconut milk, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper, and cayenne, stirring to combine. Simmer for 30 minutes, thinning with water if desired. Allow to cool slightly. Remove herb sprigs and purée the soup in batches, either in a blender or using an immersion blender, until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

The moral of the recipe; go for it. Make supper. I didn’t simmer or add water, my garlic was a little old, and like I said, no carrots or basil. And still, delicious. I served it with a grilled Cashew Bettah Cheddah sandwich for a  very satisfying meatless Monday.  So get in there and make something delicious.

Ranch Dressing – the Root Down way!

It starts with Ranch.  When we start working with a new group of kids, they are almost always willing to eat at least SOME kind of veggie if they can dip it in – guess what – Ranch Dressing

Why do we make our own ranch dressing?

Many store-bought dressings have unhealthy ingredients like MSG and high fructose corn syrup.  We like this Ranch because it doesn’t have all the chemicals and preservatives that many store bought brands do.  You can make it just the way YOU like and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to eat your favorite salad or veggies. (You can also smother your less favorite veggies in it if it helps you eat your veggies!)  Lots of veggies +  healthier Ranch = healthy eating!


1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup buttermilk and 1.5 tablespoons (more or less to get correct thickness)
1 teaspoon dried chives
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1.5 teaspoons dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, parsley, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.   Add the buttermilk until it’s as thick as you want it – more for a salad dressing and less for a dip.
Adjust salt & pepper and spices to taste
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving (or not but flavors will mix better if given a little time to hang out together).

Jennie Cook's Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini squash are growing in abundance in summer.  We use our Gratingtechnique to break down these little veggies, light fry them until they are crisp, and serve them with sour cream, salsa or tomato sauce!

•    3 pounds (approx. 5-6 medium sized) zucchini
•    1 1/3 cups plain fine dry bread crumbs
•    1 tsp baking powder
•    2 large eggs, lightly beaten
•    1/2 teaspoon dried basil (Try oregano, fresh mint or cayenne too!)
•    Approx one cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil for frying
•    Salt and pepper

Grate zucchini on a box grater or in a food processor with the medium shredding disc.  Transfer zucchini to a bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons of salt.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Squeeze zucchini in batches in a kitchen towel to remove as much water from them as possible.  Transfer zucchini to a large bowl and stir in bread crumbs, eggs, basil or other spices, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees now if you are serving immediately and want to keep these warm.  You can also reheat these in a pan later.
Heat 1/3 cup oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Scoop 2 tablespoons of the mixture and drop it onto the skillet, flattening it with a fork slightly so it cooks evenly.  Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.  Transfer to a paper-towel lined baking sheet to keep in the oven.

Carrot Mint Salad

Carrots can taste pretty boring if you don’t add some flavor to them.  Believe it or not, if you didn’t like carrots before, you’ll like’em now!  Want to take an added risk?  Throw in some BEETS! They’ll add some color and taste even better than the carrots.  No joke.  People who say they hate beets love them grated in salads!

$$ Money saving tip: You can use green onions/scallions or even some finely grated white or yellow onion instead of chives, for extra flavor.

Whisk together:

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of ground pepper
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Toss in:
1 lb carrots, peeled, coarsely grated and salted. (And don’t forget those gratedbeets for more color and nutrients!)

Add in:
2 Tbs fresh chives
3 Tbs fresh minced mint leaves
Served slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Tuna Salad with Tumany Veggies

Ok no joke, when Warren brought this recipe in recently I said, “Oh sure Warren, I can hardly choke down tuna with celery if it’s not cut super fine.  You think these kids are gonna wanna eat tuna with onions, carrots, cucumber AND celery?”

BOY WAS I WRONG!  “In my FACE!” The kids were too polite to say…
During our Friday tastings at Jefferson High, even the kids who’d never COOKED with us before were eating it up.

2 cans tuna
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 carrots, grated
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
3 Tbs fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3 Tbs fresh lime juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Season to taste!


Beets and Greens Quesadillas

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium-size onion, sliced thinly
1 unpeeled beet, sliced very thinly
1 bunch 4 to 5 cups beets greens, chopped finely
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp water
6 (8 inch) or 3 (10 inch) tortillas
1 heaping cup of Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese

1. Heat the oil in a 10 or 12 inch skillet. Add the onion and beet, and sautee over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add the greens, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and water, and stir until the spices and salt are well distributed. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and all the water has evaporated.

3. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a bowl, then wash and dry the skillet. Heat the clean skillet over medium-low heat and oil lightly. Lay a tortilla in the pan, then spread about 2 tablespoons of cheese over half of the tortilla. Cover the cheese with 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of the cooked vegetables. Spread another tablespoon of cheese over the vegetables, then fold the tortilla in half and flip it with a spatula. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until the tortilla is nicely browned and the cheese is melted through.


Remolacha y los Verdes Quesadillas

1 cucharada de aceite vegetal
1 / 2 cebolla mediana, en rodajas finas
1 remolacha sin pelar, en rodajas muy finas
1 manojo de 4 a 5 tazas de hojas de remolacha, finamente picado
1 cucharadita de chile en polvo
1 / 2 cucharadita de comino molido
1 / 2 cucharadita orégano seco
1 / 2 cucharadita de sal
2 cucharadas de agua
6 (8 pulgadas) o 3 (10 pulgadas) tortillas
1 taza colmada de Monterey Jack o queso cheddar

1. Calentar el aceite en una sartén de 10 o 12 pulgadas. Añadir la cebolla y la remolacha, y cocine a fuego medio-alto durante unos 6 minutos, revolviendo con frecuencia.

2. Añadir las verduras, el chile en polvo, comino, orégano, sal y agua, y revuelva hasta que las especias y la sal están bien distribuidos. Cocine a fuego medio durante 2 ó 3 minutos, o hasta que las verduras estén blandas y toda el agua se haya evaporado.

3. Transferir el verduras cocidas en un bol, a continuación, lavar y secar la sartén. Calentar la sartén limpia sobre fuego medio-bajo y ligeramente grande. Coloque una tortilla en la sartén, luego se extendió alrededor de 2 cucharadas de queso más de la mitad de la tortilla. Cubra el queso con 2 a 3 cucharadas colmadas de las verduras cocidas. Extender otra cucharada de queso sobre los vegetales, luego doble la tortilla por la mitad y tapa con una espátula. Cocine durante 1 a 2 minutos por cada lado, hasta que la tortilla se dore bien y el queso se derrita a través.