8 Recipes to Make With Fruit and Vegetable Scraps

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iStock

Each year, Americans toss roughly one-fifth of the groceries they buy into the trash. Some of the waste is food that's been left to spoil, but a lot of it consists of ingredients that could be turned into wholesome meals with a little creativity. Next time you have fruit and vegetable scraps on your cutting board, set them aside. You'll need them to make these recipes.

1. STRAWBERRY TOP-INFUSED WATER

Strawberries in water.
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If you want to squeeze every last drop of flavor out of your strawberries, save the leafy tops. You may not be able to eat them whole, but you can use them to brew a refreshingly sweet beverage. Just drop a handful or two of tops into a jar, fill it with water, and let it sit for about an hour. That’s enough time for the strawberry flavor to infuse into water, making it taste subtly sweet without a bunch of added sugar.

2. PICKLED WATERMELON RINDS

Pickled watermelon rinds in jars.
snickclunk, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A little time and attention can turn a tough, inedible watermelon rind into a delectable salad or side. After eating or saving the flesh of a watermelon, Alton Brown says to peel the dark-green skin off the rind and slice it into 1-inch cubes. Bring a syrup of water, vinegar, sugar, and spices to a boil and pour the liquid over the rind pieces. After the mixture has had a chance to cool, add it to a jar and give it time to cool further at room temperature. The pickles will keep in your refrigerator long after watermelon season has ended.

3. BROCCOLI STALK FRIES

Broccoli stalk cut in half.
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Most broccoli recipes focus on the pretty, dark-green florets on top of the plant, but the stalks can be just as tasty if you treat them right. Once you peel the tough outer layer off the stems you can use them in almost any recipe that calls for broccoli. The food blog What’s Cooking Good Looking recommends cutting them into spears to make broccoli stalk fries. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal, salt, and seasonings to give them a crunchy coating. Bake your fries in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes, or until golden-brown, and serve them with the dipping sauce of your choice.

4. CRISPY ROASTED POTATO PEELS

Crispy potato skins.
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As is often the case with fruit and vegetable skins, the peel of a potato is packed with nutrients. It also lends itself well to crisping, making it the perfect snack food to prepare at home. After making a big batch of mashed potatoes, take your saved potato skins, toss them with oil and seasonings, and roast them in a 400°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The result tastes like French fries, but only the dark and crispy bits (a.k.a. the best parts).

5. VEGETABLE STOCK

Vegetable stock in pot.
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Bone broth is all the rage, but you don’t need animal products to create a rich and flavorful stock. Save all the vegetable scraps you can’t repurpose into other dishes and simmer them in a pot of water for about an hour or so to make a stock you can use in all your vegan recipes. There are no rules here: Corn cobs, onion tops, asparagus ends, carrot peels, garlic skins, and parsley stems are all fair game.

6. CANDIED CITRUS PEELS

Candied orange peel in jar.
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If you have a sweet tooth, save up your lemon, orange, and grapefruit peels. According to this recipe from Martha Stewart, some sugar is all you need to make these colorful scraps into fruit candy. After slicing the peels into strips, boil them for about 10 minutes. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and allow them to dry on a wire rack. Create your syrup by boiling one cup of water with one cup of sugar and add in your peels, letting them stew for eight to 10 minutes. Remove the strips from the liquid and let them dry fully before tossing them in granulated sugar. The chewy, citrusy morsels taste great dipped in dark chocolate, baked into cookies, or eaten as they are.

7. CARROT TOP PESTO

Pesto in cup with bread and pasta.
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You really can make pesto out of any leafy green—even carrot tops. If you know how to make traditional pesto, just swap out the basil for carrot scraps and proceed as usual. In a food processor, pulse together the tops, garlic, a nut like cashews, and an herb like parsley for brightness. Once all the ingredients have been incorporated, slowly drizzle olive oil into your processor while continuing to blend. Finish by mixing in parmesan and salt. You can slather your sauce onto sandwiches, stir it into pasta, or use it as a dip for the carrots the tops came from.

8. PUMPKIN SEED GRANOLA

Granola in a bowl.
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Every Halloween season, countless families cut open pumpkins and hollow them out only to toss their guts in the garbage. Next time you carve a jack-o’-lantern, don’t forget about the seeds: They’re edible and can be used to add crunch to both sweet and savory dishes. For an especially pumpkin seed-forward recipe, try making this granola from the blog Little Vienna. Start by combining the seeds with chopped almonds, sunflower seeds, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk together honey and oil and toss this with the seed and nut mixture, and bake in a sheet pan at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes, turning the granola halfway through. Sprinkle on dried cranberries once it's out of the oven.

11 Facts About French Bulldogs

iStock/carolinemaryan
iStock/carolinemaryan

These cute little dogs are enjoying a serious comeback. Here’s the scoop on the fourth most popular dog breed in America. 

1. FRENCH BULLDOGS HAVE ROOTS IN ENGLAND.


iStock/malrok

The French bulldog’s origins are murky, but most sources trace their roots to English bulldogs. Lace makers in England were drawn to the toy version of the dog and would use the smaller pups as lap warmers while they worked. When the lace industry moved to France, they took their dogs with them. There, the English bulldogs probably bred with terriers to create bouledogues français, or French bulldogs. 

2. THEY WERE BRED TO BE GREAT COMPANIONS.

Frenchies are affectionate, friendly dogs that were bred to be companions. Although they’re somewhat slow to be housebroken, they get along well with other dogs and aren’t big barkers. The dogs don’t need much exercise, so they are fine in small areas and enjoy the safety of a crate.

3. THEY CAN'T SWIM.


iStock/ginastancel

As a result of their squat frame and bulbous head, French bulldogs can’t swim, so pool owners should keep a watchful eye on their pups. Keep in mind that if you plan a beach vacation, your furry friend might feel a little left out. 

4. FLYING IS A PROBLEM FOR THEM, TOO.

French Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed, meaning they have shorter snouts than other dogs. These pushed-in faces can lead to a variety of breathing problems. This facial structure, coupled with high stress and uncomfortably warm temperatures, can lead to fatal situations for dogs with smaller snouts. Many breeds like bulldogs and pugs have perished while flying, so as a result, many airlines have banned them. 

Luckily there are special airlines just for pets, like Pet Jets. These companies will transport dogs with special needs on their own flights separate from their owners. There's a human on board to take care of any pups that get sick or panic. 

5. THEY MAKE GREAT BABYSITTERS.

When a baby orangutan named Malone was abandoned by his mother, the Twycross Zoo in England didn’t know if he would make it. Luckily, a 9-year-old French bulldog named Bugsy stepped in and took care of the little guy. The pair became fast friends and would even fall asleep together. When Malone was big enough, he joined the other orangutans at the zoo. 

6. THEY'RE SENSITIVE TO CRITICISM.

Frenchies are very sensitive, so they do not take criticism lightly. If you scold a French bulldog, it might take it very seriously and mope around the house. French bulldogs respond better to positive reinforcement and encouragement. 

7. THEY'RE A TALKATIVE BREED. 

French bulldogs might not bark much, but they do like to “talk.” Using a complex system of yawns, yips, and gargles, the dogs can convey the illusion of their own language. Sometimes they will even sing along with you in the car. 

8. THEY HAVE TWO STYLES OF EARS. 


iStock/IvonneW

Originally, French bulldogs had rose-shaped ears, similar to their larger relative, the English bulldog. English breeders much preferred the shape, but American breeders liked the unique bat ears. When a rose-eared bulldog was featured at the Westminster Kennel Club in 1897, American dog fanciers were very angry

9. THIS CONTROVERSY LED TO THE FORMATION OF THE FRENCH BULL DOG CLUB OF AMERICA.

The FBDCA was founded in protest of the rose-shaped ears. The organization threw its first specialty show in 1898 at New York City’s famed Waldorf-Astoria. The FBDCA website described the event: “amid palms, potted plants, rich rugs and soft divans. Hundreds of engraved invitations were sent out and the cream of New York society showed up. And, of course, rose-eared dogs were not welcomed.”

The somewhat catty efforts of the club led to the breed moving away from rose-shaped ears entirely. Today, French bulldogs feature the bat-shaped ears American breeders fought to showcase. 

10. MOST FRENCH BULLDOGS ARE BORN THROUGH ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION. 

Due to their unusual proportions, the dogs have a little trouble copulating. Males have a hard time reaching the females, and they often get overheated and exhausted when trying to get things going. As a result, a large majority of French bulldogs are created through artificial insemination. While this measure makes each litter of pups more expensive, it also allows breeders to check for potential problems during the process. 

French bulldogs often also have problems giving birth, so many must undergo a C-section. The operation ensures the dog will not have to weather too much stress and prevents future health complications.

11. CELEBRITIES LOVE FRENCHIES.

Frenchies make plenty of appearances in the tabloids. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Hugh Jackman, and The Rock have all been seen frolicking with their French bulldogs. Even Leonardo DiCaprio has one—aptly named Django. Hugh Jackman’s Frenchie is named Dali, after the way the dog’s mouth curls like the famous artist’s mustache. 

This article originally ran in 2015.

12 Festive Facts About A Christmas Story

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Which Oscar-winning star wanted to play Ralphie Parker's dad? Which actor went on to have a seedy career in the adult film industry? Can you really get your tongue stuck to a metal pole? On the 35th anniversary of A Christmas Story's debut, here are a few tidbits about the holiday classic to tide you over until TNT's 24-hour Christmas marathon.

1. JACK NICHOLSON WAS INTERESTED IN PLAYING RALPHIE'S DAD.

Though Jack Nicholson was reportedly offered the role of The Old Man Parker, and interested, casting—and paying—him would have meant doubling the budget. But director Bob Clark, who didn't know Nicholson was interested, said Darren McGavin was the perfect choice for the role.

2. IT OWES A DEBT TO PORKY'S.

What does Porky's—a raunchy 1980s teen sex comedy—have to do with a wholesome film like A Christmas Story? Bob Clark directed both: Porky's in 1982 and A Christmas Story in 1983. If Porky's hadn't given him the professional and financial success he needed, he wouldn't have been able to bring A Christmas Story to the big screen.

3. RALPHIE SAYS HE WANTS A RED RYDER BB GUN A LOT.

For anyone keeping count, Ralphie says he wants the Red Ryder BB Gun 28 times throughout the course of the movie. That's approximately once every three minutes and 20 seconds.

4. THESE DAYS, PETER BILLINGSLEY SPENDS HIS TIME BEHIND THE CAMERA.

Peter Billingsley, a.k.a. Ralphie, has been good friends with Vince Vaughn since they both appeared in a CBS Schoolbreak Special together in the early 1990s. He doesn't do much acting these days, though he has popped up in cameos (including one in Elf, another holiday classic). Instead, Billingsley prefers to spend his time behind the camera as a director and producer. He has done a lot of work with Vaughn and Jon Favreau, including serving as an executive producer on Iron Man (in which he also made a cameo).

5. YES, YOU CAN GET YOUR TONGUE STUCK ON A PIECE OF COLD METAL.

Mythbusters tested whether it was possible to get your tongue truly stuck on a piece of cold metal. Guess what? It is. So don't triple dog dare your best friend to try it.

6. ONE OF THE YOUNG ACTORS MOVED ON TO A CAREER IN ADULT FILMS.

Scott Schwartz, who played Flick (the kid who stuck his tongue to the frozen flagpole), spent several years working in the adult film industry. In 2000, he turned his attention back to mainstream films. His most recent role was as "Disco City Hot Dog Vendor" in the 2017 TV movie Vape Warz.

7. RALPHIE'S HOUSE IS NOW A MUSEUM.

Next time you're in Cleveland, you can visit the original house from the movie. It was sold on eBay in 2004 for $150,000. Collector Brian Jones bought the house and restored it to its movie glory and stocked it up with some of the original props from the film, including Randy's snowsuit.

8. THE IDEA FOR THE FILM CAME TO BOB CLARK WHILE HE WAS DRIVING TO PICK UP A DATE.

Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, and Ian Petrella in A Christmas Story (1983)
Warner Home Video

Director Bob Clark got the idea for the movie when he was driving to pick up a date. He heard Jean Shepherd on the radio doing a reading of his short story collection, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, which included some bits that eventually ended up in A Christmas Story. Clark said he drove around the block for an hour until the program ended (which his date was not too happy about).

9. IT PARTLY INSPIRED THE WONDER YEARS.

The Wonder Years was inspired in part by A Christmas Story. In fact, toward the very end of the series, Peter Billingsley even played one of Kevin Arnold's roommates.

10. YOU CAN STILL BUY A RED RYDER BB GUN.

The real Red Ryder BB Gun was first made in 1938 and was named after a comic strip cowboy. You can still buy it today for the low, low price of $39.99. But the original wasn't quite the same as the one in the movie; it lacked the compass and sundial that both the Jean Shepherd story and the movie call for. Special versions had to be made just for A Christmas Story.

11. THE LEG LAMP CAN ALSO BE YOURS.

Peter Billingsley and Melinda Dillon in A Christmas Story (1983)
Warner Home Video

While we're talking shopping: you know you want the leg lamp. Put it in your window! Be the envy of your neighbors! It's a Major Award! You can buy it on Amazon (there's a 40-inch version, as well as a 20-inch replica). If you're not feeling quite so flamboyant, they also make a nightlight version.

12. IT SPAWNED A TRIO OF SEQUELS.

A Christmas Story led to two little-talked-about sequels. The first one was a 1988 made-for-TV movie, Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss. Jerry O'Connell played 14-year-old Ralphie, who is excited about his first job—as a furniture mover. Of course, it ends up being awful, and it might make him miss the annual family vacation at Mr. Hopnoodle's lakeside cabins.

My Summer Story, a.k.a. It Runs in the Family, debuted on the big screen in 1994. Kieran Culkin plays Ralphie, Mary Steenburgen is his mom, and Charles Grodin is his dad.

And in 2012, the direct-to-video sequel A Christmas Story 2 picked up five years after the original movie left off, with Ralphie attempting to get his parents to buy him a car.

An earlier version of this story appeared in 2008.

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