What We’ve Been Eating…

This is almost a brain dump of sorts – I’ve been meaning to post but honestly, I’ve been working a lot of evenings at the bakery so kitchen experimentation has been at best, a lull. 😦

HOWEVER! I’ve got several day shifts this week, plus band camp next week (I know…already!?) so I’ll have more time to find cook and share recipes with you all. Trust me, I’m excited.

Here’s what we’ve been doing with our CSA vegetables as of late:

  •  Inspired by a recipe posted by a longtime friend of mine on Facebook, I added swiss chard to enchiladas! In a crockpot, I threw in chicken thighs, a runny can of homemade salsa, and some chopped swiss chard. I let it simmer all day while I was at work, then assembled the enchiladas once I got home and topped them with green enchilada sauce. It was delish and fast.
  • Roasted beets are wonderful. Chop off the greens (save & eat ’em if you want), wash & wrap in foil. Roast at 400* for 1 hour. They’re great sliced in salads, or by themselves – I like them with Catalina dressing (that’s how I ate them growing up).
  • I’m a real canner now. I made dilly beans!
  • I found a recipe in my vegetarian bible for a ‘summer vegetable stew’. It had a Latin flavor to it and was so incredibly filling; it used corn, green beans, tomatoes, pinto beans, and peppers. I froze half of it for a quick meal later.
  • Is sauteed zucchini & summer squash not a summer staple in anyone’s dinner line-up right now?
  • Chicken breast in fridge without a plan + head of lettuce + I got home from work late = yummy quick salad

Have you been having fun with your CSA?

 

CSA ’14: Week 3

This week, we have even more color and variety. Our farmers up here are battling some unseasonably cool temperatures, so I’m especially glad to see everything this week!

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– zucchini and squash
– beets
– turnips – What!!?? I’ve never dealt with those before…
– red leaf lettuce
– green beans
– snap peas
– onions
– Swiss chard
– broccoli
– cauliflower

I’ve already used the chard, with spaghetti and meatballs. Broccoli and cauliflower are on the docket for tonight in a lemon chicken dish. Beets will be in a salad, at least…

…what to do with the turnips?! Any suggestions?

CSA ’14: Week 2

I think it’s safe to say that I am getting back into the swing of things with CSA Tuesdays. Now, if I could just get used to blogging about it all the time 🙂 It being a holiday week didn’t exactly help my blogging habits, but I have to say that it was an amazing weekend spent with my husband, parents, siblings & their significant others. Canoeing, fireworks, shopping, and of course lots of walking, drinking, and eating!

Week 2 of CSA was still mostly green, but I was very happy to see a bit more variety!

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  • garlic scapes – as you’ve guessed, I’m making another round of pesto. Just can’t get enough!
  • snow peas – for stir fry
  • purple kohlrabi – These were slicedand eaten raw. I always struggle to use up kohlrabi, but I knew that my parents like to eat it raw so I didn’t have any trouble this time around!
  • broccoli & cauliflower – blanched & frozen for a future dish
  • red leaf lettuce – for lunches
  • romaine lettuce – used in a salad for dinner on Thursday night
  • zucchini & squash – I will be using two smaller ones for stir fry, and the two larger ones as a side dish this week

I hope you had as wonderful of a 4th of July weekend as I did 🙂

 

 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

As you saw from the first CSA of the summer, I received a bundle of rhubarb and had no idea what to do with it. After a bit of thinking and a purchase of a quart of strawberries from the market, I decided to go with the ‘strawberry-rhubarb’ route and make a dessert. I know, I know – desserts on this blog are (sadly) few and far between.

I decided to research crumbles and crisps to see what I could come up with, especially with not having a lot of ‘extra’ ingredients on hand in my pantry. All I needed to buy for this recipe was some quick oats – and since I needed to go to the store to get coffee anyways, I could easily get my hands on the exact amount I needed from their bulk ingredient section. We all know I have to have my coffee…so I consider this a win.

ANYWAYS – here’s a dessert for anyone who is holding on to the tail end of strawberry and rhubarb season tightly. I admit, it does have a lot of sugar in it…but it’s well worth it when it’s all done baking.

Old-Fashioned Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

from Food & Wine

For the Filling:

  • 2 lb rhubarb stalks, sliced into small 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 lb strawberries, hulled & quartered
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Topping:

  • 1 stick (or 4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose
  • 1 1/4 cups quick oats
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  1. Make the topping: Combine all of the topping ingredients into a medium bowl. Use the dough hook on your KitchenAid mixer, a pastry blender, or your fingers, to mix everything together until large crumbs form. You CAN make this a day ahead of time and refrigerate overnight; make sure you bring it to room temperature before using.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375*. In a bowl, toss the rhubarb and 3/4 cup of the sugar, and let it stand for 15 minutes (stirring occasionally). In another bowl, toss the strawberries with the remain 1/2 cup sugar and let stand for 10 minutes, also stirring occasionally.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rhubarb to the strawberries and discard any rhubarb juice. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a 9×13 glass baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the filling and bake for 30 minutes. Then, turn the temperature down to 325* and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. The filling should be nice and bubbly and the topping browned.
  5. Remove from oven and let the crisp rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  6. SERVE WARM WITH VANILLA ICE CREAM.

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This dessert really hit the spot on a warm, humid summer night. It’s not the most healthy dessert out there, but it’s great for a crowd or cookout. Don’t let the rhubarb scare you, either – there’s enough sugar in this recipe to cut the tartness. If the texture of rhubarb bothers you, make sure you chop it into small enough pieces.

As Step #6 states  – you have to eat it with vanilla ice cream. It just isn’t the same without (trust me, I tried). You’ll be glad you did!

 

 

CSA ’14: Week 1

I have to say that CSA days are one of the most exciting days of the week. It’s almost like getting a care package in college – the possibilities in the cardboard box are endless! So of course you can imagine my anticipation when I woke up on Tuesday morning.

Being that we’ve had a late start to spring/summer, nearly everything in our box this week was green. Plenty of old favorites:

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– rhubarb – what?! I’ve never received this in a share before so I’m not quite sure where to start…
– two heads of green butter lettuce (one being a top-off choice)
– spinach
– rainbow Swiss chard
– garlic scapes!!!!!! (I tripled my quantity as a top-off choice)
– 1 head of red butter lettuce
– bok choy
– kale

So, now begins the the challenge of figuring out what to make with it all. The lettuces will be easy; with the kale, we’ll be trying our hand at kale chips. Garlic scapes will (of course) be made into garlic scape pesto. I’m leaning towards a pasta with the spinach, and a stir fry with the bok choy.

The Swiss chard is always fun to try and work with…so I’m open to new ideas if anyone has any out there! 😉 But, what about the rhubarb?…any tips?

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

Chicken parmesan has been one of my most favorite foods for as long as I can remember. Serve it with a salad, some spaghetti, and maybe some garlic bread or breadsticks…yum. Then again, I’m also Italian. How could I not like this dish? 😉 It’s another one of those comfort foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. And, with the weather as cold as it’s been (I saw -26 on my thermometer on the way to work. WTF), you all know that I just can’t get enough of comfort food.

But, I’m away from my home anywhere from 8 to 15 hours a day – depending on what band event is going on – and sadly, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to really put some love into weeknight cooking.

That’s where this recipe comes in. It’s one where you can make it ahead of time on a lazy Sunday, or mix up in 10 minutes.  You can fix it, and forget about it for a little while – but still tastes good (unlike some of the meals that my crockpot has been overcooking lately). I believe it put it all together, threw it in the oven, and worked on laundry and grading for a while.

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

adapted from What’s Cookin’ Chicago?

  • 1 lb ground chicken (ground turkey is okay, too)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp minced onion (the dried kind)
  • salt & pepper (just a dash of each)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • pasta sauce
  • shredded Italian cheese blend (mozzarella is okay as well)
  • minced/dried parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Lightly grease loaf pan with cooking spray & set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the meat, egg, breadcrumbs, spices (except the parsley), and Parmesan cheese. Mix until combined.
  3. Place the mixture into the greased loaf pan & press down to make a loaf. Top the meatloaf with pasta sauce.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and top with the Italian blend cheese and parsley; put back into the oven and bake until the cheese is nice and bubbly.

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I paired this with a green salad and some spaghetti, mixed up with some garlic scape pesto we had in the freezer – which, may I add, froze really well and was so wonderful to thaw and use in the dead of winter. Our house smelled amazing as this was cooking.bNext time I’m going to make a few batches of this and freeze it, so we have some quick meals for busy nights. Since I have that lovely deep freezer, I have plenty of room! 🙂 The instructions for baking from frozen should be on the original post.

Enjoy! Stay warm!

Acorn Squash Soup

I just did a calculation and there’s only 4 more months until warm weather – March, April, May, June! Granted, February just started, but some of us up here are snowed in and frozen solid…

…anyway, the squash that we received during our CSA this past summer has lasted a relatively long time. In fact, I still have some laying around and it needs to be used up. This soup that I made utilized the acorn squash that I hadn’t used yet. This really hit the spot on a cold snowy day when basketball & pep band were cancelled. 

You need to do one of two things with this recipe: either 1) roast the squash ahead of time, or 2) have a good 2+ hours to make dinner. Trust me on this one.

Acorn Squash Soup

Adapted from Guy Fieri

  • 3 whole acorn squash
  • 6 shallots (3 whole, 3 diced)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups stock (I used chicken)
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper (white pepper is so…weird)
  • 1 tsp sage (dry)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. DO THIS STEP AHEAD OF TIME IF NEEDED: Preheat the oven to 350*. Cut the squash in half on the equator and remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut a flat spot on each end so the squash will lay flat. Line a baking sheet with foil and on, lay the squash, cut side up. To 3 of the halves, add a whole shallot. To the other 3 add 2 cloves of garlic. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and drizzle with 2 tbsp of the oil. Roast in the oven until very tender; approximately 1 hour. Remove from oven & when cool enough to touch, scoop the squash from the skin, keeping the roasted shallots & garlic with the scooped squash.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp of oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Add the raw, diced shallots & saute until they begin to carmelize.
  3. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of the stock and stir to remove any bits of shallot off of the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat and add the squash, roasted shallots & roasted garlic. Stir,then add in the remaining stock. Stir to combine, then puree with a stick blender.
  4. Add in the cayenne, white pepper, and herbs. Stir to combine, then add the cream and Worcestershire. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until it begins to simmer.
  5. Once you have a slow simmer going, use the stick blender again to puree the soup until it is nice and smooth. Stir in the parmesan and reduce the heat to low.

You can serve the soup topped with black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of Parmesan, or even some Tabasco sauce, like we did:

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We had some fresh bread with ours…mmm!

While making this soup, I finally realized why I haven’t used up all of my squash yet – I really don’t like all the scooping & scraping that comes with its preparation. If only there were an easier way…I really do like how squash is such a palette for flavors, but I really don’t like all the work that goes into it.

Sadly, I have 4 more squashes to go…

Make sure that if you can, get some fresh bread to eat with this soup! I picked up a loaf of Breadworks Italian and it was really fantastic for getting the last spoonfuls out of the bowl. The older I get, the more I realize that soup can truly be a comfort food.

Crew Picnic Pepper Relish

Happy Halloween! 🙂

Tonight we’re having some friends over to help pass out candy (they barely get trick-or-treaters at their house), play a game or two, & have some pizza. We are having a very rainy day today up here and I’m a little thankful that I don’t have a little one to take around door-to-door tonight. 🙂

Today’s recipe is a bit on the side of “Throwback Thursday” as it takes me back to fond memories from high school. Back then, I was very active in not only the music department, but the drama department. I loved to participate on the stage, but as I got older I started to get more hands-on with stage production. The group of people I met while on stage crew are still many of my friends to date, even though it’s been 10 years since I graduated high school (whoa.).

dianne

Diiiiannnne!

As a high school teacher now, I completely understand what our fearless leader & brave supervisor-adult Dianne meant when she said we were giving her grey hair. I could write, and write, and write about all the hilarity that ensued during those hours I spent after school. But, some stories are best kept amongst “the few, the proud, the crew”. 😉 One of our many traditions was the “crew barbecue” (or as our fearless leader, Dianne called it, the crew picnic). We’d all come in on a Saturday (we’d normally just meet after school) and work on sets, painting, etc., all while having a grand old time goofing around and pulling shenanigans. For lunch, we would fire up a grill and grill out some hambugers. Dianne would bring this pepper relish that she made herself during the summer.

hamburgers

Grilling at a crew barbecue

While I’m not sure if I was the only kid that ate it, what I do know is that for at least three of crew barbecues (we had one for every show, even when it was snowing), I would end up coming home with a jar of pepper relish and proceed to eat with sandwiches, crackers, hambugers, hotdogs, you name it.

I’ve seen Dianne several times since I’ve graduated high school and I’ve actually even met up with her twice since I’ve moved to northern Michigan…it’s a small world after all, and she has a family cabin about a half hour away from us and come up here every once in a while. We have plenty more to catch up on other than stage crew and pepper relish (she had a lot of fun touring our house and giving her two cents on what the original floorplan probably was – I tell ya she is one smart woman).

This past summer, with the exhorbitant amount of peppers in my fridge (about 4-5 different varieties and 30+ to count) I needed to do something with them. And I had a major taste for some pepper relish. So, I got to work doing some research to see what I could come up with on my own…and I came up with something pretty close. It’s a perfect balance of sweet and savory, with a bit of a bite, because I used some jalapenos & serranos.

Pepper Relish

Inspired by BonAppetit, Diana Rattray, and of course, Dianne

  • 20 peppers – you can adjust the ratios to your pepper preference*
  • 1/2 large sweet onion
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt

* I used 5 jalapenos, 6 green/purple peppers, and 9 sweet peppers (some were the small, sweet peppers)

  1. Heat a medium pot over medium-high heat. Wash all of your peppers, chop them up, and add them to the pot. Chop your onion and add it in as well.
  2. Cook down the peppers until they are nice and soft – about an hour. Do not let them burn; turn down the heat as necessary. Let cool when finished (they will cook down).
  3. Use a food processor to chop the pepper mixture down to a relish-sized texture. One all the mixture has been processed, put it back into the pot and add the vinegar, sugar and salt.
  4. Boil the peppers for 15 minutes until everything is evenly distributed.
  5. Store in a glass jar. This made a pint and a half for me.

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So far I’ve managed to eat this on pulled pork, sloppy joes, and turkey sandwiches. I just can’t get enough! It is awesome. I’m not sure how long this will keep in the fridge, but I’m pretty sure that it will last me for a little while. If you make more than one batch, the processing time is either 10 or 15 minutes – honestly, I don’t remember what I read in the planning stages.

All I can currently think about is how this would also be fantastic with cream cheese and crackers. Mmmm.

I hope you all enjoy your evening tonight, be it with your young’ins, just passing out candy, watching scary movies (not my thing much to my husband’s dismay), playing games, or just relaxing 🙂

 

CSA ’13 – Week 18

Here we are…the final week of the CSA season. Needless to say, I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. Even on the nights when I stayed up later than I wanted to, processing salsa, it’s been worth it. It was very appropriate that this week was the last, as our area of Michigan saw it’s first snowflakes of the season (Mother Nature decided it would be comedic to even have about 4″ of snow on the ground east of us, where I teach). It was also my last week of football season – I’m very proud of my ‘kids’, who bundled up well and did the best that they could in weather that was windy & felt like 30*.

This means that Friday night, I have no plans. And it feels good! 🙂

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  • cherry tomatoes
  • kabocha squash!
  • tomatoes
  • assorted peppers
  • lettuce
  • swiss chard
  • acorn squash

I honestly did not know the name of that squash until I sat down to write this post. I typed in ‘ugly squash’ into my Chrome browser. No joke. But seriously, I was a little afraid to touch it – it looks like it has warts! Though I’m sure it’s pretty tasty… 😉

All in all, I really enjoyed our CSA this year. Considering that I’ve gotten my feet wet with preserving and canning, I really enjoyed all the tomatoes. I got to revisit some recipes and try new twists on old favorites. But best of all, we got fantastic produce from a really terrific local farm. I can’t speak enough of how awesome it is to buy local & support local agriculture. If you have the opportunity to do so where you live, do it. You won’t be disappointed!

CSA ’13 – Week 17

This week I came down with some sort of upper respiratory thing. It started out as a cold, and has slowly moved down to my lungs. I’ve spent all day on my couch trying to get some true R & R and I’m (hopefully) on the mend, just in time for one more football game…which is forecasted to be very cold and wet…

…such is the life of a secondary band director in Michigan!

This week’s box had a few surprised that I was excited to receive, especially with the rapid change in the weather:

As usual, Bandit is helping me unload the bounty!

As usual, Bandit is helping me unload the bounty!

  • Dinosaur kale
  • Red Russian Kale
  • lots of sweet peppers!
  • more bell papers
  • eggplant
  • tomatoes, still! 🙂
  • 2 winter squash
  • lettuce
  • a small celery

The bell peppers were chopped & frozen for soups & crock pot meals this winter (as well as when Mike wants any green peppers for pizza/egg dishes). The tomatoes made another batch of tomato puree for my freezer since I used up two batches already in making sauce for our murder mystery dinner. The celery, eggplant, and red kale went into three separate dinners this week.

Provided I’m feeling better tomorrow, I’ve got a game plan for all the sweet peppers that are taking up major real estate in my refrigerator – have I ever mentioned that I want a new refrigerator? 😉