Purging the Unused: How to Organize & Simplify Your Recipes

Want to purge your recipes? If you haven’t cooked, baked, or tried a recipe in your file in the last couple years, then it’s time to clean out your recipes. Learn what you can do with new and old recipes.

I cleaned out my recipe book today; you probably have one like mine. I have this used 9” x 11” black photo book with several stiff pages that have a clear overlay on each side along with several insertable paper protectors inside. I think I’ve had it now for at least a decade and a half.

I have several recipes that I cut out of magazines, newspapers, copied from a cookbook and also ones that friends wrote on neat 3 x 5 and 4 x 6 “From the Kitchen of…” note cards. I even have a few that I took from my Mother’s recipe box (yes, you remember those don’t you) that are in her Mother’s handwriting, like the cornbread stuffing she made at Thanksgiving and the cornbread biscuits that she made for almost every meal that I remember. These recipes are written on the original notepad paper in faded blue ink and the memorable penmanship that has been passed onto my own Mother.

Then I also have a couple other 3 x 5 “Kitchen” note cards that are in my own youthful printed ink and one is dated from …..1987! Wow! Upon closer examination, I see it is a pretzel recipe from a Single Living class taken in high school. I think I made pretzels at home a couple times while still in high school and maybe a couple more times a few years later, but haven’t touched the card since. I toss this one out too. Some reminders of high school don’t need to stay in my kitchen. Another note card has a recipe of a double batch of lasagna that I wrote down from a cooking show a few years ago. I did make this double batch which lasted for 2 weeks worth of dinners between my son and me. I decide to keep this one.

Other recipes neatly cut from magazines or newspaper inserts that I have never made, and will probably not make in the next year, and even if I did, I could find it again somewhere else. Anything that contains cheesecake, whipped cream and high fat ingredients is pulled out and put in the recycling bin (do recycle paper, even if it’s small as a recipe). I also take out anything that could have been baked for my son’s kindergarten to second grade class such as brownie bites, cupcake cones (or any type of cupcakes) and cookie pizza. My son is now a senior in high school and instead of taking cupcakes to school he bakes his own triple chocolate brownies to appease the girls in his business class.

Now my black binder is less cumbersome and I have several empty acetate free pages that are kept in the back in case I find a recipe that I like and will actually use. Then I do a little reorganizing of the recipes that I have kept in more meaningful sections such as Helpful Tips and How-to’s: how to store vegetables, how to increase fiber in your diet; Soups, Egg Dishes, Meat Dishes, Pastas, Vegetarian, and my favorite, Desserts. I found more dessert recipes in my binder than any other type of dish. And yes, I have made each of them, and those that I haven’t made in the last 5 years were recycled.

What kind of recipes do you have stuffed in your recipe book, binder, or box? Have you taken an inventory of what you’re keeping, using or just saving for memory’s sake? Take a look today, purge those recipes that you haven’t cooked or baked in the last couple years. Recycle these recipes or pass them along to a friend, then pull out a couple that you and your family would like to have this week. Have a dinner party with your family, invite each member to select a recipe that he or she would like to make and bring to the dinner party. I’m sure you’ll be surprised by all the delicious and variety of food that you have. Come back and let me know what you purged, kept and cooked!

Berry, Berry Bran Muffin Recipe

Michigan blueberries are the best of their kind that I know of, and although I spent many summers in Michigan picking this little succulent berry while camping, I only like it when it’s baked in something. Like bran muffins.

This yummy berry recipe is from Natural Home, which is among many other delicious recipes and natural products. Make a batch on Sunday morning (makes 18 muffins) and enjoy them all week!

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup oat bran flour
1/4 cup flaxseed (I like ground golden)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup lowfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces organic (or fresh picked) blueberries
6 ounces organic (or fresh picked) raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place paper liners in 18 muffin cups.

2. Whisk whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, oat bran flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl until blended.

3. Stir yogurt, oil, eggs, orange juice and vanilla in a small bowl. Stir yogurt mixture into flour just until moist.

4. Fold in blueberries and raspberries until just combined. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.

5. Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Helpful Tip: Over-stirring muffin batter tends to cause peaked tops. Use a flexible spatula or wooden spoon to combine wet and dry ingredients, and gently fold in the berries to avoid crushing.

• Instead of plain yogurt, substitute your favorite flavored yogurt.
• Substitute chopped walnuts or almonds for flaxseed.
• Substitute almond extract for vanilla.
• Substitute apple juice for orange juice.