2014 in review…The Spicy Simmer

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 57 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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CSA ’14: Week 8

We had so much produce in our box this week that for about two minutes, I felt slightly panicked. Talk about getting our money’s worth!

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– beets – Rumor has it that my husband the Brewmaster is brewing with beets…:-)
– purple peppers
– zucchini and squash – It is time for the tried and true zucchini bread recipe. I tried a chocolate chip one and it was a huge fail.
– celery – I immediately chopped it up and froze both the stalks and the leaves. Leaves for stock and flavoring, stalks for soups.
– cucumbers
– onions
– eggplant
– kale
– broccoli
– cauliflower
– tomatoes – The cherry ones are now part of a caprese salad in my fridge. Yum!
– lettuce

My FoodSaver bags will be hopefully arriving today, so I can process more veggies for our deep freeze. I bought a little handheld one off of Amazon and it works really well; I’ve noticed a difference in how everything freezes and thaws.

On a completely different note – and unrelated to cooking – I have purchased a steam mop. All I can say is “wow…why did I wait so long to purchase one?!” I’m in love.

CSA ’14: Week 4

And so the summer continues. I’m hoping that the weather begins to turn around at some point; I think I’ve only worn a tank-top, oh, twice?

Mike got to bring home the CSA once again as I was at the bakery. I like when he picks it up as well because he can choose our “top-off” options.

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– beets
– Swiss chard
– Napa cabbage
– red onion
– cucumber!
– kohlrabi
– summer squash
– zucchini
– lettuce blend
– basil
– kale

The basil is gone already, as I got to make one final batch of garlic scape pesto.

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As for everything else…it’s a new week! Time to plan 🙂

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?

Happy Easter, 2014!

Happy Easter!

Since we have work tomorrow, we’re staying home for Easter. However, we are by no means spending it alone!

We’ve lived here long enough now that we have our own ‘family’ up here – wonderful friends & neighbors – who are going to be coming over today for dinner…and probably board games. This is the first year we’ve had anyone other than just the two of us at our home for a holiday meal, and we are so excited!!!!! Plus, we have a new dining room table that seats 6+ people…so what better way to enjoy it?

Here’s what’s for Easter dinner today over at our house:

  • hot cross buns** (I’ve never had them before!)
  • salad**
  • glazed ham
  • garlic mashed potatoes**
  • green bean casserole**
  • corn casserole (Mike’s favorite)
  • pasta & sauce (a tradition from my family Easters)
  • beet horseradish for the ham (a tradition from my mother-in-law’s Easters)
  • Cake**

** – Our friends are bringing them over…one less thing to cook 😉

I hope that you enjoy your Sunday today, be it Easter Sunday or just another Sunday. Enjoy!

Meal Plan 3/9-3/15

Hi everyone! I’m not quite sure where the last week went…but it sure went. It was my first week off from pep band & the start of spring concert season, so I suppose you could say I really enjoyed the extra free time. I have to admit, though – I didn’t make anything too ‘spectacular’ for dinner – we also went out to eat on Friday night because yours truly didn’t want to cook.

So, here we are. A new week, Daylight Savings Time; spring is trying desperately to arrive in Northern Michigan and it’s going to be really interesting to see how long it takes for all this snow to melt. I’m so ready for warmer weather; I’ve even purchased a gardening book in anticipation of having another garden this year. I’m starting to forget what it looks like up here without snow.

I’ve decided to try and post our dinner plans for the week here, as a means of trying to plan ahead for the week and to make sure that I’m not constantly opting to go out to eat for dinner, “because we can”. I’ve also got a huge ‘Saved’ list on my Feedly & likes on WordPress that I’d like to start going through 🙂

Week of March 9-15, 2014

Lunches: Sesame Noodle Salad, sandwiches, leftovers

Sunday – Lunch, leftovers or soup. Dinner is Sunday Night Pizza Night.

Monday – Buffalo Chili

Tuesday – Baked Chicken with Roasted Potatoes & a veggie

Wednesday – Baked Broccoli Macaroni & Cheese (I’m at honors band so Mike gets to make this one)

Thursday – Kielbasa, Sauerkraut, & pierogi (and a veggie of some sort)

Friday – Risotto with Chard & Sun-dried Tomatoes

Saturday – Lunch, freezer food or soup. Dinner, TBD.

I suppose it’s time to head out to the grocery store…have a wonderful, relaxing Sunday!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Oddly enough, as much as I enjoy cooking, when it comes to baking I am very sporadic. I have to really *plan* ahead when I want to bake something, and I often get impatient halfway through – which will have an end result of something going a little wrong with what I’m making. I know darn well that baking=chemistry, and when following a bakery recipe you don’t stray from the measurements or else whatever you’re making will end up somewhere along the lines of dry or crunchy, under or overcooked, or too flat.

I think it’s safe to say that I did okay with these!

Even though they are double chocolate, they are muffins (though my husband said they were more like cupcakes) and I admit that I did eat them over the course of the week for breakfast. I do love me some chocolate for breakfast (as anyone from high school and/or college can tell you…and my husband for that matter). A great chocolate fix, and there’s vegetables it! Woohoo!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

adapted from For the Love of Cooking

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded raw zucchini
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Take your muffin tin and a) line it with with paper liners (like I did) or b) spray it with cooking spray.
  2. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a bowl until well-blended. Add the chocolate chips and mix in.
  3. In a seperate bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla together until they’re well-combined. Add the zucchini and mix.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until just combined. Spoon or pour (depending on your bowl) evenly into the muffin tin.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Once you remove the tin from the oven, let it cool for a few minutes before removing the muffins & letting them cool some more.
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Mmm…chocolate

Yet again, this is another one of those recipes that I saw on a blog & couldn’t quite get out of my head. I’m not sure if it was because of the usage of zucchini, the double-chocolate-ness, or both. But I have to vouch that they are easy, delicious, and definitely worth making again – if any of you have some large zucchini that you need want to get rid of, make these.

In addition to the chocolate, I loved the fact that these muffins were very moist (as much as I hate that word but whatever). They didn’t dry out and honestly, I couldn’t see nor taste the zucchini in them – which can be either a good or a bad thing. They were, however, also very easy to make and as I said before, a great way to use up some zucchini that’s been there a while in the fridge (like mine was). These were a fun and delicious kick-off to my first week of school and if you decide to make them, I’m sure you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.