The Task Tamer

Cabinet Cleanout

Teri 09/01/2014 Comments

Labor Day! Yep, it is official: the year is flying by! The start of a new school year and a new season are sort of like New Year’s Day. Holidays are over and everyone starts thinking about getting back to a routine. To me it is a time to clean out cabinets and closets, restock kitchen staples and assess what my wardrobe needs. I clear out unused products and clothes, donating what I can and get everything organized so I can find what I want quickly. Often I discover items I forgot I had! This is true in the kitchen and my closet! Tucked behind my trusty oils I will find a bottle of flavored balsamic I forgot about and my wheels start turning about what to make. Or in my closet I will find a sweater or blazer I bought at the end of the season last year and didn't get a chance to wear and now I can! Making these discoveries is like shopping in your own cupboards! 


I have talked before about what staples I have on hand in my kitchen to ensure I can throw together a quick meal. This article from Vegetarian Times sums up my cupboards pretty well. Beans, whole grains, spices, nuts, frozen fruits and veggies. You can find all of these items in my kitchen. When I am at a loss about what to make I will ask my husband what he wants for dinner and he reminds me how easy it is to create a healthy, tasty meal by saying “how about some veggies and risotto or couscous?” I toss in some beans or nuts and dinner is created! Last night was a good example of this. We have had a busy weekend and I did not get to the Public Market on Saturday nor did I feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I had eggs, bread (yes, whole grain) and frozen veggies. In fifteen minutes I made egg sandwiches with a side of peas. I also use the internet as a resource. I will put in a couple ingredients I have or want to use up and search for recipes. I did this recently with leeks and burrata cheese. The recipe I found I am sharing this week and it was easy to complete because I had the staples needed. Mustard seeds, whole grain mustard, fresh lemons, broth and cooking wine are in my cupboard all the time. To add some more protein and nutrients I added in toasted walnuts. I always have raw nuts on hand (walnuts, almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds) for snacking and cooking. 


Of course I have to make sure not to overindulge too much in all these yummy foods because I want to fit into the clothes I bought last season and haven’t worn yet!


If you would like my help in cleaning out and/or organizing your cabinets and closets, please let me know! You can contact me through my website, The Task Tamer, message me on Facebook or, if you receive my blog via email, simple send me a reply. Also, if you know of anyone who could use some personal assistance, I would appreciate the recommendation! 


As I mentioned, this week’s recipe uses leeks and burrata cheese. I always have this cheese on hand because it makes a fast and tasty appetizer. When we have impromptu get togethers with the neighbors I can throw a ball on a plate with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of chopped rosemary and serve with crackers or bread. Leeks are great to have on hand as well, because they can be made into a delicious soup or sauce. In this recipe roasting them brings out their natural sweetness and makes them very soft and creamy. Combined with the creaminess of the cheese and the crunch from the croutons and walnuts along with the tartness of the lemon creates a gourmet meal that is relatively easy to make.



Burrata Cheese and Roasted Leeks with Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette

Adapted from

Serves 2



1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds (or 1/4 tablespoon mustard powder if you do not have seeds)leeks

2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard, divided

1 tablespoon dry vermouth (or other dry wine or light flavored vinegar such as    champagne or white balsamic)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil such as canola or grape seed

1 small ciabatta roll or other favorite bread, cut into cubes

2 good size leeks, cut into 6” lengths, halved lengthwise, roots trimmed and rinsed well to remove dirt (make sure to separate leaves and let water run through until clear)

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1/2 tablespoon olive oil (does not have to be extra virgin as it will be cooked)

1 lemon: finely grate 1/4 teaspoon peel; cut in half. Juice half and thinly slice remaining half

2 large thyme sprigs

3 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped parsley

Small handful raw walnuts (or roasted if that is what you have)

1 ball burrata cheese, cut in half



  1. Make croutons: Preheat oven to 250 degrees (I used my toaster oven for this). Toast mustard seeds in dry skillet over medium heat until they darken and begin to pop (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a bowl to cool. While they are cooling use the same pan to roast the walnuts. Once they start to get more golden and you can smell a nutty deliciousness, remove from heat and transfer to a different bowl to cool, then coarsely chop (I use my pastry blender to do this quickly). Grind mustard seeds in a spice mill or an old coffee grinder and whisk with 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, vermouth and oil. Toss bread cubes to coat and spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 30-40 minutes, until dried and crunchy. All ovens are different, so start checking around 20 minutes. You may need a longer or shorter time.
  2. Roast Leeks: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange leeks, cut side down, in a baking dish just large enough to fit them without crowding. Pour broth over and drizzle with olive oil. Top with thyme sprigs and sliced lemons. Cover tightly with foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover, discard lemons and return to oven. Continue baking until leeks are very tender and liquid is almost evaporated, about 25 minutes, give or take. Again, it will depend on your oven, original recipe called for over an hour of baking. My oven cooked them much faster. Keep an eye on liquid or you could have a baked on mess to clean up!
  3. Make vinaigrette: Whisk lemon juice, remaining tablespoon of dijon mustard and lemon peel together. Slowly whisk in extra virgin olive oil until incorporated.
  4. Arrange 2 leek halves on plate. Place half of burrata cheese ball next to them. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Top with parsley, croutons and walnuts. 
  5. Enjoy!


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