Greetings, 2017!

Hello there! It’s a new year and a LOT has changed in my corner of the universe since I last wrote in May. Same job, same house, same(ish) CSA…but our family has expanded! Miss MJ joined our family on Thanksgiving Day this year.

eedless to say, I have been busy, and was a little busy most of last year growing a human. The first trimester was full of takeout. The second trimester was full of grilling and working in our *huge* vegetable garden – which we struggled with, but hey – live and learn, better luck next year. The third trimester was marching season – which as you can imagine, was hectic, painful, crazy, and slightly badass. And full of Chipotle.

But fear not! Mommy needs a creative outlet other than something musical…so, here I am. MJ is almost two months old and I return to work in 4 weeks :(. As the “new baby” meals have sadly gone away, I have started cooking again in the evenings while Hubs hangs out with MJ. We are trying hard to not get takeout as much (though it’s so easy with a newborn) and we are hoping to start making better strides to eat better…which, as you can imagine, is a challenge. But again – here I am. New year, and hopefully you’ll at least see me once a month?!

So, for those of you who have followed me in the past year during the drought – welcome! And for those of you who have followed me for some time, thanks for still reading. 🙂

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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?

Epic Return

HI!!!!!!!!

Remember me? I am happy to report that I am back. Really, really back.

In June we sold our house and moved to Cleveland.

In July we bought our new house and I accepted a full-time teaching position.

In August we moved into our new house, celebrated 7 years of marriage and have unpacked most of our belongings.

In September, actually as of 9:30am this morning, we are members of a CSA again – with our first share available for pick up tomorrow. 🙂

So, as I said…I am back! New posts headed your way SOON!

Mushroom, Corn and Bacon Chowder

My oh my…it’s been a very hectic six weeks. Exciting, but hectic…

My husband was offered and accepted a new position with a new company, back “home” in our old stomping grounds of northeast Ohio. He started his job last week and I’ve been batching it up here in northern Michigan. It’s very bittersweet; this place has become our home and we’ve made a lot of wonderful friends up here. My last day at the bakery is May 9; my last day of school is June 4. Things are moving very quickly and life has changed very quickly, but I know that the ending result will be absolutely fantastic and I may as well enjoy the ride while I am at it. I’ve begun the process of going through many of our worldly belongings and trying to determine what stays, what goes, and why do we still have this? It’s also time to put the house on the market – which means lots of cleaning, painting, fixing, hiring…I’m tired already. At least, I am enjoying having a cleaner house? 😉

Needless to say it’s been a challenge learning how to cook for one once again, as I haven’t needed to do that in seven years! At least I know I can pack up my slow cooker for the move and it can go ‘on vacation’ until we buy our new house. The KitchenAid is already in storage…which I miss already!

I first made this chowder about three weeks ago; I had one bowl and the Mister managed to eat all the leftovers in like, one day – which normally I wouldn’t mind, beacuse I’m not a fan of leftovers – but I was actually disappointed. So, once he moved down to CLE, this was the first meal I made for myself. It’s very satisfying, filling, and relatively nutritious. It’s definitely been a great meal to eat on the colder springs days that we’ve had (and are still having…thanks for that half inch of snow today, Mother Nature).

Mushroom, Corn and Bacon Chowder

adapted from Damn Delicious

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms – OP says shiitake, but I have used both cremini and white, and have been happy with the results
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb potatoes, diced – I have used red and purple(!!!!!) potatoes!
  • 2 cups baby spinach OR kale leaves (trim off the stems)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  1. Heat a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until it starts to get slightly crispy. Remove from pot; set aside in a bowl lined with a paper towel to drain the excess grease. Drain the excess grease from the pot and return to medium heat.
  2. Melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and onion; cook for two minutes, then add the garlic and stir occasionally until the veggies soften. Stir in the thyme and dill.
  3. Whisk in the flour, little by little, until everything begins to lightly brown. Add the broth and whisk it to combine as you go. The mixture will begin to thicken; keep stirring and add the bay leaf. After about five minutes, add the potatoes.
  4. Bring the soup to a boil; reduce the heat. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked through.
  5. Add the leafy greens and corn. Stir to combine.
  6. Once the greens are wilted, stir in the half-and-half and season with salt and pepper. Taste and seeif you need to add more. Garnish with bacon and parsley; serve hot with crusty bread.

This chowder is so good – damn delicious, in fact! – that I didn’t even get a picture of it. I thought I did…bummer!

I really liked how well the flavors of this chowder worked so well together; it also heated up really well. There is just the right amount of flavor and herbs, and there are plenty of vegetables. It’s very filling – a cup of it is the perfect lunch.

If you’re feeling a little chilled out by this spring weather, try this chowder! You will not be disappointed.

Chicken Cacciatore

Okay – I feel better now 🙂 I made a dish that didn’t fail; granted it’s a tried and true recipe and the previous ones were ones that I hadn’t tried before. Even so, I feel like less of a failure and I feel that it’s relatively post-worthy.

red pot Look at one of my pretty Christmas gifts from my husband! A gorgeous red Le Creuset dutch oven. I’m so in love with it. I’ve been wanting one for quite a while and he remembered…I wasn’t picky about the color, but I do like red things for my kitchen so again, he remembered!

I’m not very well-versed in cookware like this, so I still have a lot to learn in terms of what I can and cannot cook in it. I figure “low and slow” is a good mantra for this pot – soups, stews, and dishes that need at least a good 30-45 minutes to meld together. I am proud of the fact, however, that I remembered that it’s a coated cast iron pot – meaning that you need to wear oven mitts whenever dealing with it or else you risk some major burns.  This is also a step in the right direction for me, as I’m that person that will carelessly forget when a pan has been in the oven, and will accidentally grab it with my bare hands when I’m ready to serve it (my husband will vouch for me on this one).

Anyways – it’s winter time. It’s pep band season. We’re working a lot, and to save a little bit of cash, we need dinners that are going to last us a while so we’re not stopping at the store for a quick meal or even *ugh* fast food. Dinners that are still delicious and (relatively) healthy, but still stick to the ribs to keep us warm. Know what I mean? I thought about something to cook this week with my new pot, and immediately thought of chicken cacciatore!

Chicken cacciatore is “hunter-style” chicken; chicken with mushrooms, onion, and tomatoes. It’s a hearty dish that fills you up, goes a long way and tastes amazing. The recipe that I based my dish off of, however, doesn’t include mushrooms! I think I’ll have to make a note in my cookbook for next time.

Chicken Cacciatore

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, cut in half
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, quartered (or 4-6 tenders, halved)
  • salt and pepper (just a sprinkle of each)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (based on your preference)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 3 tbsp drained capers
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  1. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. On a plate or in a shallow bowl, dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat.
  2. In a large heavy saute pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and saute just until they’re just brown (~5 minutes). Do not crowd the pan; feel free to brown the chicken in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and wait two minutes. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute until the onion softens. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid reduced by half (~3-5 minutes). Add the entire can of diced tomatoes (including the juice), broth, capers and oregano. Stir to combine.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan and coat it in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until all the chicken is cooked through and the flavors have melded together.
  6. Serve hot, sprinkled with basil and with pasta if desired.

cacciatore

As I said in the recipe, you can serve with or without pasta. This makes a lot of sauce and leftovers reheat really well. I had mine with a piece of baguette from work on the side to pick up any last sauce that was leftover in the dish.

I cannot recommend this recipe enough this time of year – it really warms you up and sticks to your ribs!  Delicious Italian food in the dead of winter. How can you go wrong!? Enjoy 🙂

 

Out of Practice

I am sad to admit that in slightly out of practice in the kitchen lately. I’ve had two dinner fails in a week – two! – and my husband is on a new shift, so I’m readjusting to the concept of “cooking for leftovers” once again. I feel as though its like a game of baseball…even my Christmas cookies didn’t turn out right (my cookie press broke midway through making spritz cookies 😦 )

On the flip side, though, Santa brought me a beautiful Le Crueset Dutch oven for Christmas! And Grandma bought us a new rice cooker, which is great, seeing as rice is the one food i just cannot seem to get right! Especially brown rice…

I promise that I haven’t forgotten about you all – I just seem to be in a slump of sorts. I’m also considering starting “fresh” in my blog reader to get some new inspiration. Thus, fear not! I’ll be simmering again shortly!