Fresh Fork Basket 9/16/15

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A busy week at our house!

I think that most exciting thing about our new CSA is that we get other foods in addition to just vegetables. We are true omnivores in our house and the Small Omnivore Basket that we receive each week is just perfect! As this post is ridiculously late, here is a recap of our 2nd week, as well as how we prepared these foods:

  • pears – I am not a fan of pears, but Hubs is, so most of these were consumed as breakfast
  • roma tomatoes – These were sliced and roasted with some garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
  • red leaf lettuce – Salads. Perfect with those beets
  • golden beets – Roasted for an hour in the oven; holding court in our fridge and used in salads
  • eggplant – One was used in eggplant parmesan. The other is still in the fridge and needs to be used ASAP!
  • zucchini – Shredded and frozen; zucchini fritters TBM.
  • spaghetti squash – Thankfully squash keeps for a little while! Perfect for a weeknight meal.
  • cider – This was gone pretty quickly; a certain Hubs of mine loves cider this time of year
  • turkey patties – These were put in the freezer and thawed when we had family over for lunch. It was a perfect lunch before traveling out of town for the night.

I am loving the variety, and like I said before, really loving having a kitchen of my own again 🙂

A Locavorian Summer

“Jenn, how many days of school do you have left?”

“One half.”

Finally…summer is just about here! All i have to do is finish exams on Monday and pack up my room. It was a long school year (and an extremely long winter, let’s be honest here) so I’m, well, ecstatic that it’s June.

Many teachers take summers off, but since I’m one of those people that a) likes to be busy, b) likes to be social, and c) likes to make some extra cash – I’m spending another summer at Breadworks. Seriously, our bread & pastries are amazing – and you can order it online…my neighbor (seriously…she lives two doors down from us) does a great job with packaging and shipping. In all honesty – I love the product and the people, and they’re flexible with me when family comes in town, when I have to do band director things or when I want to help out at the farmers market…

…yep. I’m going to be helping out at the Harbor Springs Farmers Market this summer – they received their equipment this spring for processing SNAP benefits so I am going to be lending a helping hand with that. I think it’s awesome that we’ll be able to process those funds, and that people who use SNAP will be able to purchase locally grown, healthy, and (mostly) organic food from the Farmer’s Market.

Speaking of organic food, our CSA Farm, Coveyou Scenic Farm, recently became a USDA Certified Organic Farm. How cool is that? First pick up is on June 24th and I am counting down the days  – literally, look at the app on my phone. I bought a book to go along with my CSA this year so that we have as little waste as possible and really make use of the vegetables we receive this summer. So far I really have loved what I’ve found in there and again, I can’t wait!

If you’ve made it this far through my major brain dump, rest assured that I think that’s about it for today. 😉 A new menu plan for the week is in the works, so stay tuned as we really dive into summer vacation!

Superbowl 2014

In honor of Superbowl Sunday (I still don’t know who I’m rooting for tonight), here’s a few recipes you may wany to try this evening at your party for the Big Game:

This is the first year in a long time that either a) my husband doesn’t have to work, or b) we’re not going anywhere. We’re planning on Slingboxing the game (thanks to my father-in-law) and taking it easy. I’m personally looking forward to seeing Bruno Mars at halftime 🙂

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Happy 2014!

Happy New Year!

My husband and I have been spending the week in Ohio visiting family and friends. It’s been such an eventful trip that we’re going to need a vacation from our vacation 🙂 The snow even followed us down from northern Michigan and my sister was especially elated that we ended up with a white Christmas.

For my kitchen adventures, I received an 8-cup food processor from my parents. My days of making pesto 2 cups at a time are over and I am absolutely elated. I’m also excited to use it for making more soups and sauces – as well as using it as a shortcut for chopping up vegetables! Thanks, Mom & Dad 😉

I don’t have anything ‘new’ to post regarding recipes I’ve recently made – granted, we haven’t been home – but I can at least give you a quick recap of the top recipes of 2013…in case you’re looking for some quick inspiration!

5. Rich Chicken Noodle Soup – A great twist on an old classic

4. Cheeseburger Casserole – An easy, healthy recipe that satisfies that craving for a cheeseburger

3. Chicken Tortilla Soup – A perfect soup for a snow day, that can easily become a vegetarian meal

2. King’s Hawaiian Roast Beef Sandwiches – A tasty appetizer for when company comes

1. Crispy Honey-Soy Tofu – If you’re curious about cooking/eating tofu, this is a great recipe with which to get your feet wet! I am a little surprised that this was the #1 recipe of 2013. But then again, it’s what the people want/like, so it’s all good 🙂

As always, thanks to my wonderful readers for supporting my blog & giving me a fun creative outlet. Even when I’m busy with things at work or having an ‘off’ week of making sad, boring dinners, you keep coming back for more. Thank you!

I’m really excited to see what 2014 brings on both my blog and as well as my personal life. It’s going to be a fun one. I’m not making resolutions of any sort, but I do know that my husband & I want to start being even more mindful of what we eat on a daily basis and to improve our health. Obviously, you may see a few ‘healthier’ recipes come about…but I can assure you that if they are up here, they are awesome 🙂

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

Bacon Bombs

‘Tis the season, everyone. We’ve had a continuous snowfall over the past few days, holiday concerts are abound, and I have yet to really make a dent in our Christmas gift list. The other night we had a few friends over after our town open house (where they close the streets, stores stay open late, the steel drum band plays, and everyone walks around eating, drinking, and being merry).  Afterward we had a few friends over and snacked while we played a board game or two. Our appetizers included Bacon Bombs – one of my husband’s most favorite finger foods to make and to eat. And I’ll admit that it’s not very good for your waistline…but they do taste awesome!

Bacon Bombs

adapted from Paula Deen (surprised?)

  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers
  • 1 wedge Parmesan or blue cheese, cut into small chunks
  • 1 lb thin-sliced bacon, cut in half
  1. Preheat your oven to 250*.
  2. Place a piece of cheese on a Ritz cracker and wrap snugly with a piece of bacon. Place on a broiler pan (so the grease drains). Repeat as necessary.
  3. Bake in the oven for two hours, or until the bacon is done. Remove from oven and drain any excess grease on paper towels.
Bacon. Cheese. Ritz crackers. Yeah, buddy.

Bacon. Cheese. Ritz crackers. Yeah, buddy.

I did forget to take a picture of the final product (oops!) so I apologize for the ugly photo of my lower oven. We used Parmesan for these ‘bombs’, as we were having a small gathering and didn’t want to make too many. As you can see by the picture, my husband didn’t use a broiler pan, so our bombs ended up a bit greasier than I would have liked. I am glad, however, that he did use foil so that cleanup wasn’t as obnoxious as it could be (I hate washing pots and pans). Leftovers were stored in a plastic container, in the fridge, and only lasted 2-3 days. 

One of the things that I like about this recipe, other than bacon & cheese as ingredients, as that we could put it in the oven and go walk around downtown for a little while. If you’re getting ready for company, you can just set these in the oven, set a timer, and go about preparing other thing and/or cleaning. They’re easy.

Not good for you by any means, but easy and delicious!

Steak Day

Today in our house, it is Browns Bye Week, which is also known as Steak Day. Since the family often gets together on Sundays to watch the Cleveland Browns play, it became a tradition to get together on the off-week and eat steak. It’s such a delicious & fun tradition and I’m glad to partake, even though I live in Michigan. Which reminds me…I need to go buy some steak!

Sorry things have been quiet around here. Truth be told, it’s because lately the meals I’ve made have been absolute fails. Totally not even blog-worthy. So, there you have it. It’s been sad and lame.

Hopefully this week I’ll get a few things that end up turning out better!

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.

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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 🙂

 

How to Barbecue Chicken Thighs…

Hey! This is my 100th post! 🙂  Thank you to all my wonderful friends & readers, who enjoy reading about what I do in my kitchen, The idea all started when several of my friends had been asking me for some of my recipes via Facebook (of all things). Since it was the same few recipes, I decided to make this blog as a means of everybody being able to see what I create in my little yellow kitchen. I’ve had a lot of fun blogging and I’m looking forward to sharing many more delicious recipes and such with you all. So again, thank you for stopping by and reading my spicy simmers 🙂

Today, we’re hosting a party today for Labor Day – and Mike is planning on making chicken thighs.

This is the method he swears by.

It’s a great technique for cooking chicken thighs, and the article is pretty hilarious, too. Mike has used the author’s method before and they turned out delicious! I expect nothing less from the grill & grillmaster today.

My job for the day is simply putting together a veggie plate and getting the house in order, since it’s looking like it may rain right around party time. Mike has been a big help today; he got the garage ready to and will be doing some last minute grocery pick-up while I finish up the house. So, thank you, Hubs! 😀

Tomorrow I’ll be doing some baking…whatwhat? And getting ready for school on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to sharing those goodies with you this week!

Happy Labor Day Eve & Day!

CSA 2013: Week 9

Mother Nature turned the heat back on 🙂 Just in time for a visit from my  in-laws this coming weekend and my last true weekend of summer vacation (teacher meetings & open houses next week). I know that many of you out there are not fans of hot weather, so I won’t gloat anymore!

This week’s pick-up was a heavy one!

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  • corn – 6 ears! Which is perfect because whenever I make corn, my husband will eat 2 ears.
  • a white pepper – ok, maybe yellowish white?
  • banana peppers (two were a top-off)
  • a jalapeno pepper
  • green cauliflower
  • fresh thyme
  • onion
  • eggplant
  • lettuce
  • zucchini
  • summer squash
  • a patty pan squash & a round squash
  • tomatoes (two were a top-off)

With last week’s haul, I dried the basil in my oven and found a great way to freeze parsley. I also diced up the squashes & froze them for soup. Several pints of salsa (I gave in and used Mrs. Wages), dill pickles, and pickled jalapenos are all now stashed away on a shelf in my basement stairwell; it’s looking as though I have canned enough to move everything downstairs – which is both a blessing & a curse, as I have a cool-temp Michigan basement full of lots of cobwebs 😦

As I mentioned before, one set of in-laws is coming to visit this weekend & we will be cooking a meal or two for them. We haven’t exactly figured out what to make yet, though…but we’re getting there 🙂

CSA 2013 – Week 6

What wacky, wacky weather. Last weekend it felt like fall – thankfully we are back up to perfect summer temperatures; not too hot, not too cold.

This past week was Week 1 of Band Camp – so it was my husband’s job to pick up the CSA (meaning he got to choose our top-off veggies!). I’m glad that the farm is on his route home, so he can take care of things while I am working late – thank you, Hubs 🙂

This week included a nice variety of produce:

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Week 6, with my kitchen ‘helper’, Bandit

  • zucchini
  • beets (top-off)
  • eggplant
  • thyme
  • an onion! (Coveyou grows the best onions)
  • tomatoes (one was a top-off)
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower – it has hues of purple in it
  • green beans
  • a ginormous basil plant, roots and all

Today will be spent playing ‘catch-up’ with making sure our CSA vegetables are processed for canning or the freezer, or ready to go for this week’s meals. This past week we ended up dining out twice – once because our potluck fell through, and the other because it was our 5-year anniversary.

My gift from Hubs

My gift from Hubs

Our tradition for our anniversaries is to stick to the “traditional gift” theme. The traditional gift for the 5-year anniversary (as much of a milestone as it is), is wood. I purchased an oak barrel for my husband – who doesn’t hit at gifts very often, but hinted again and again for a barrel so that he can brew a bourbon beer of some sort.

For me, my husband purchased a beautiful bread & oil board, made out of maple. It’s so pretty! He also purchased some wine, cheese, & crackers so that we could break it in before we went out for the evening. We weren’t sure, though, if it was okay to put cheese on it, so we put it on a plate – I’ll have to do some research between now and the next time we plan to use it (which will probably be soon, as we have some leftover cheese in the fridge! Mmm….:-))

Well, it’s off to the store for some grocery shopping before our productive day commences…if this blog seems a little quiet this week, it’s because I ran out of time to schedule posts – it’s Week 2 of Band Camp! Have a lovely Sunday 😀