Roasted Beets with Feta

It’s beet season! I think beets are one of those vegetables that can often get a bad rap. They look kind of funny when you pull them out of the ground…they stain everything…and they do have an earthy taste. Then again, I grew up eating beets (albeit out of a can, but I did eat them) so I guess it’s one of those vegetables where you love ’em, or you don’t.

The best way to get your beets ready to eat is to roast them. Because of the sugar, they carmelize really nicely and sweeten right up. All you need to do to roast them is trim off the greens, wrap each beet with aluminum foil, and roast for about an hour or two or until they soften (see recipe below). Let them cool and use your hands to gently peel off the skin under running cold water (it seriously rubs right off). You may or may not want to wear gloves during the peeling process because there is plenty of magenta-colored juice under that skin!

This recipe was given to me by my husband’s step mom, who made this with some beets they had also received from their Fresh Fork basket. My father-in-law is not a fan of beets, but really liked this dish. I’m not sure if it made him a believer (beet-leiver? Ha!) of sorts, but she was was really pleased with the result and forwarded it to me. And now, I share the love with you.

Roasted Beets with Feta

from Allrecipes.com

  • 4 beets, trimmed of greens
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400*F. Wrap each beet individually in aluminum foil, and place onto a baking sheet or into a muffin pan (to keep them from rolling around). Bake the beets in the preheated oven until easily pierced with a fork, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. While the beets are in the oven, make your vinaigrette: whisk together the shallot, parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegar in a bowl until it blends. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside. Periodically whisk together to keep the dressing emulsified.
  3. Once the beets are done, remove them from the oven and let cool. Discard the foil and peel the beets under cold running water, and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Again, you may want to wear gloves or you risk staining your hands!
  4. Place the sliced beets onto a serving dish or into a bowl and pour the vinaigrette over the beets, and sprinkle with feta cheese.

imageI have to admit, my picture is a bit terrible…but you get the idea.

This is a great side dish to share with others, or just to keep all for yourself (if you like beets, like I do). The leftovers lasted maybe a day or two, tops.

Maybe my recipe will make a beet-liever out of you. Maybe you’ll make it and still hate beets! But I figure it’s at least worth a shot, especially if you are looking for a vegetable that is a bit more in season for this time of year.

Enjoy!

Mac ‘n Cheese ‘n Burger

It’s been a long winter. A long, long winter. Not necessarily from the weather-side, but just from the life side. But never fear – I’m still here! And finally back into a groove of cooking. I’ve noticed that the things I cook often reflect my mood. If I’m feeling good, my recipes turn out great…but if I have the blues, then my dishes just really, well, stink.

It almost sounds cliche – and isn’t there a movie somewhere about this? But a long story short, I feel like I’m back in the game!🙂

Several weeks ago, this was made on a snowy Saturday night. We had no place to be, no plans to be had, so my husband and I made a date with our couch. It was definitely one of those nights where you wanted to just sit there, veg out, and watch TV. And, I confess, a night where you want to eat dinner on the couch. A perfect night for comfort food.

I had all the ingredients on hand for this recipe and decided it would be the perfect night to try it. And boy oh boy, it was a winner.

Mac ‘n Cheese ‘n Burger

adapted from Rachael Ray

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound cavatappi (curlicue pasta) or elbow pasta
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (or more to taste)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 2 cups milk (we used 2%)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or a ‘mac & cheese blend’ if available)
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill pickles (optional)
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded and diced (optional)

  1. For the pasta, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and a dash of salt and cook until al dente.
  2. As the pasta cooks, heat a nonstick skillet with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown it, breaking it up into bite-size pieces as you go. Add in the onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to the skillet to season the meat.
  3. As the meat and pasta cook, heat a saucepot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the butter and whisk in the flour as the butter melts, making a roux.  If necessary, adjust heat to make sure the butter does not burn.
  4. Once the roux is nice and smooth, whisk in the stock and milk. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a bubble, then thicken it up a few minutes. Keep an eye on the pot so that the mixture does not bubble over. Stir the mustard into the sauce, then add the cheese a few handfuls at a time to the pot. Stir the mixture well so that the cheese melts, but does not burn at the bottom.
  5. At this point, your meat and pasta should be done. Drain the pasta and add it back to hot pasta pot.  Add the beef,  then the cheese sauce to it. Stir to combine the mac ‘n cheese ‘n burger altogether. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  6. Serve in shallow bowls with chopped pickles and tomatoes for garnish, if you’d like.

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This is a fantastic combination of cheeseburgers and macaroni & cheese – which are two great comfort foods (but not necessary great on the waistline…). You can easily tweak the add-ins and cheese to incorporate your favorite burgers and toppings:

  • mushrooms and swiss cheese
  • blue cheese and cajun seasoning
  • hellooo, bacon anyone?
  • toppings: ketchup (Hubs did this!), BBQ sauce, hot sauce, red onions,

I figure this can also work with turkey, chicken, or veggie burgers as well. Whatever your heart desires, I suppose🙂  The only things I would not recommend adding are mayonnaise and lettuce – it would become very soggy, wilty, and just…ick.

After writing this post I have to admit…I want to go make this again, right now. Yes, it’s that good!

 

Chicken Curry

My husband has a soft spot for Indian and curry dishes. I on the other hand could take them or leave them. Curry isn’t exactly on my list of top dishes to consider making on any given day, but every now and then I do oblige and make something curried for my husband.  Our most recent endeavor involving making a curry dish was a few weeks ago, when I wasn’t feeling too adventurous but my husband really had a taste for it.

I came across this recipe and it sounded a) right up his alley and b) along the lines as to what I was feeling like cooking. This ended up *gasp* being a hit for the both of us, and maybe – just maybe – I may start liking curry dishes after all.

Chicken Curry

adapted from Once Upon a Chef

  • 1 lb boneless/skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 1/2 tsp curry powder, divided
  • 3 tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (avoid nonfat, or else the sauce will be too runny)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  1. On a cutting board, sprinkle the chicken strips with 1 teaspoon of the curry powder, as well as some salt and pepper.
  2. Heat half of the oil (about 1 1/2 tbsp) in a large skillet until very hot. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set the chicken aside in a small bowl.
  3. Return the skillet to the heat and reduce to medium. Add the remaining canola oil. Add the onions to the skillet and stir occasionally as they brown and soften. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and remaining curry powder and combine all ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the chicken broth and cornstarch. Once the cornstarch is dissolved, pour the mixture into the pan and add the sugar. Add a pinch of salt as well. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer until the sauce thickens. Stir occasionally.
  5. imageOnce the sauce has thickened, add the peas and reserved chicken. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add the yogurt and cilantro. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve with rice, of course!

 

This dish was nicely balanced. It had a great flavor to it and the curry wasn’t very overpowering. Who knows, maybe this dish has gotten me even slightly interested in trying more curries. It really hit the spot on a cooler night and I plan on making it again, soon – much to the pleasure of my husband!🙂

Fresh Fork: Transitioning to Winter!

Marching season is over and I am relishing in my newly acquired amount of free time. Which so far has amounted to attending a yoga class and falling asleep on our new couch. Instead of marching rehearsal, I get to take advantage of this gorgeous weather this afternoon and force my husband to rake leaves while I cut back bushes and shrubs. With a new house comes new options in decorating so I’m half toying with the idea of getting some Christmas lights ready to go…which we all know is ‘normal’ around these parts. Tomorrow is Friday and I get to go (gasp!) out on a date with my husband. It’s the little things🙂

The last two weeks of marching season included a frost, so shares were a little smaller.

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Celeriac root, green onion brats, acorn squash, apples, collard greens, broccoli

Does anyone else out there think “celeriac” sounds like an illness you catch in the dead of winter? The greens were awesome; they were cooked with bacon and served with chicken and waffles. The broccoli was frozen, for use during the winter on an ‘off week’ from our share.

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Apples, red cabbage, butternut squash, beets, broccoli, red leaf lettuce, ground pork

This photo was from last week. The broccoli was used up in cheesy broccoli rice. We’re still noshing away on those apples and I’m way overdue to make some butternut squash soup. I’m still not quite sure of what to do with that cabbage.

With the coming winter season arrives a whole different animal of locally sourced foods. Up in Michigan we didn’t have a Winter CSA option, though we still had some winter markets available (but let’s be honest here…the past few years on November 5th we were scrambling to get leaves up because we had several inches of snow in our weather forecast). I’ve signed up for the Winter Share of Fresh Fork and this week was the first week. The bag was overwhelmingly heavy, a sure sign that it was full of good things – but I find myself getting a little intimidated as this is really going to push my envelope of adding new vegetables to my culinary arsenal.

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Holy brassica, Batman.

This week we received a LOT in comparison to last week:

  • carrots
  • apples
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • kohlrabi
  • onion
  • brussel sprouts (on the stalk!)
  • parsley
  • a ginormous cauliflower that was somewhere between 5-10 lbs. No, really.
  • shallots
  • a rutabaga. What on earth do I do with that?
  • sweet potatoes
  • radishes
  • 1 whole chicken

I am trying to figure out what to do with my root vegetables. Any suggestions?

Italian Plum Cake

Last month in our Fresh Fork basket we received some Stanley plums (aka “Italian plums”). I had no idea how I was going to use them and I knew that my husband wouldn’t eat all of them as I am the pickiest of picky when it comes to fruit. No, really. The list of fruits I don’t like is much longer than the list of fruits that I actually do like. Granted, I’ve come a long way from my childhood where I would eat only apples, grapes, and raspberries – but I still have a ways to go.

We were invited to my inlaws’ house one night for dinner back in September and I needed to throw something together last minute to bring along and share. I settled on this plum cake, as I haven’t really cooked much with fruit and needed to use these plums. Plus, my husband loves cake – so why not?

Italian Plum Cake

adapted from Serious Eats

  • 1 cup unblanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus another 1/4 cup for topping
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 lbs Italian plums, pitted and sliced (I used about a quart)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter the surface of a 10-inch tart pan or springform pan.
  2. Put the almonds and 1/2 cup sugar in a blender or food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add the flour and salt and pulse once more. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Stir in the melted butter. Add this mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk until the batter becomes nice and smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the plum slices on top on a circular pattern. Sprinkle sugar generously over the plums. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden and a pairing knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Serve warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired.

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This cake was, for lack of a better word, devoured. There was not a piece left to take home and a pint of ice cream was a perfect accompaniment to the cake. The almonds and sugar take the sweetness of the plums to the next level…and well, who doesn’t love cake? I was very proud to have made a dessert that was a win with not only family but myself included! I intend to make this again next fall when Italian/Stanley plums are in season.

Fresh Fork Market – Fall Backlog

We are blessed with the overabundance of produce and cursed with a shortage of time in the evenings. The weeks have run together and I realize that I completely forgot to blog!! Then again, I’m still getting back into the swing of things and I’m in the tail end of marching season…so there😉

September 30, 2015

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– breakfast sausage patties – these were delicious on a Saturday morning
– pinto beans – went into a failed tamale pie. I am not used to cooking with fresh beans!
– acorn squash
– apples
– eggplant (2) – eggplant rollatini was made. Not too shabby!
– green beans – made into a delicious potato & green bean salad on a Sunday with friends
– kale
– green leaf lettuce


October 7, 2015

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– beets – I love that they last forever, like the squash. There’s not a rush to get to them!
– cornmeal – Some was used for soaking clams and for the failed tamale pie. I still have some leftover so I may instruct a certain husband to make some cornbread…
– onion
– broccoli – Used in the chicken & broccoli dish I made after the tamale pie failed
– sweet potatoes – baked in our Sunday night clambake
– cabbage – Made into stuffed cabbage casserole. Post to (hopefully) come!
– chicken patties
– spaghetti squash


October 14, 2015

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– kale
– cherry tomatoes
– concord grapes
– green beans
– green cauliflower
– potatoes
– romaine lettuce
– carrots
– green peppers

Fresh Fork Basket 9/23/15

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Told you I was behind. This past week was even crazier! Thankfully the coming week is going to be a bit more low key – but just a bit, mind you. Irregardless we are munching away with another delicious week of Fresh Fork.

  • Beets – again, roasted and awaiting consumption, probably Monday night.
  • fresh pasta – How cool is this!!!??? We received Butternut Sage linguine. The bag includes 3 servings; one of which has been consumed by Hubs on a night where I was fed at conferences and he was left on his own. Tossed with pesto from the freezer and a few tomatoes, it’s a satisfying meal!
  • carrots – To be roasted for dinner…yummy!
  • butternut squash – to the pantry it goes…I have enough for soup now
  • yellow onion
  • a gigantic kohlrabi – probably to be diced and frozen for winter stir fry
  • yellow summer squash – This was sauteed with the cherry tomatoes and some garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil
  • cherry tomatoes – I wonder how much longer we’ll be receiving these…they’re just oh-so-good
  • green peppers – Not my favorite, but always necessary for casseroles and crock pot meals. 
  • potatoes