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!

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

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 🙂

One-Pot Pizza Pasta Bake

I may not be a parent yet, but I am a teacher, so back-to-school in our house is a zero-to-sixty time of year with school days, school nights, and marching season! The concept of the one-pot meal is one that, as a busy teacher and lazy pan washer, I absolutely adore. They’re very user-friendly, especially for the multi-tasker. You fix the meal, cover the pot, and go do something else while dinner cooks…in my case, it’s usually laundry or a cleaning chore of some sort.

I came across a round-up of 15 Best Back-To-School Recipes over at Damn Delicious. If you haven’t come across this blog yet, click to it! It’s full of amazing recipes that are easy to cook and true to the blog title. This pasta bake caught my eye and I knew I had to try it. Including prep time it took about 30 minutes. I adapted it based upon the meat and vegetables that I had on hand.

One-Pot Pizza Pasta Bake

adapted from Damn Delicious

  •  1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz ground turkey
  • 1 medium zucchini; peeled, sliced and quartered
  • 4 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni, divided – slice regular-sized pepperoni into quarters, or use the mini ones
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp oregano, divided
  • 1 tsp dried basil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder, divided
  • 8 oz dry rotini pasta
  • sat & pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the ground turkey and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes; break it up as you go so it gets nice and crumbly. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, and half of the oregano, basil and garlic powder. Cook for two minutes until the zucchini starts to get some color. Add half of pepperoni and cook until heated through.
  3. Preheat the oven to broil.
  4. To the skillet add the tomato sauce, pasta, and the rest of the oregano, basil and garlic powder. Pour in 1 1/2 cups water and season with salt and pepper; stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil; then cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese, remaining pepperoni, and parsley on top. Place into the heated oven and cook until the cheese has melted and browns a little (about 2 minutes). Serve immediately!

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This was a hit in our house and my husband said it was ‘really good’, too – so I call that an absolute win. This may sound kind of weird – but this tasted a lot like Hamburger Helper but without all the weird additives in it. It look about as long to prepare, included vegetables and was, well, real food. This dish was good on it’s own, but can be served with a green salad if you want, too. You can also customize the vegetables you use,  especially if you like several toppings on your pizza. You can also adapt this to be meatless but omitting the pepperoni and turkey, and adding more veggies.

It’s a basic dish that’s packed with flavor – and only uses one pot. What’s not to love? Enjoy 🙂

Harissa Ravioli

I have a fun one for you today!

We’re now combining the concept of ‘eating less meat’ and ‘Lent’. I’ve been searching high and low for a few new meatless meals that aren’t all about grains and dairy (which we all know hold the first several spots in my list of favorite foods) and may be relative nice on the waistline.

I came across this one in a cookbook that had been circulating around the bakery; lately we’ve been passing around a cookbook or two to get inspired in our own kitchens. I came across this recipe and was hooked because of its use of harissa.

Harissa is a spicy chili pepper paste that is THE condiment of Tunisia. It has a very rich, spicy flavor and is used for meats, vegetables, dips…you name it. There are several different variations of harissa; all of which vary based upon household preferences and regions. Our version that I found at Spice Merchants (I loooooove this store) includes caraway, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and dried chiles. It has such a neat flavor profile and after trying this recipe, I cannot wait to use it again (I’m thinking roasted veggies).

 

Harissa Ravioli

adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day

  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp harissa paste/powder
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12-oz cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen) (tortellini works too)
  • 8 oz broccoli florets, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces (broccolini/rapini works too)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (almonds or pepitas work, too)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 5 or 6 kalamata olives, sliced
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While it’s heating up, prepare the harissa mixture: Take the smashed garlic clove and sprinkle the salt over it. Then, chop into a paste. Transfer this to a small bowl and stir in the lemon juice, harissa, and olive oil. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the ravioli. Cook until they float to the top of the water (usually 1-2 minutes is all it takes). About 30 seconds before the ravioli has finished cooking, add the broccoli to the pot. Boil for about 30 seconds to a minute, then remove from heat.
  3. Put the ravioli and broccoli in a large mixing bowl. Add the harissa mixutre, nuts, cheese and olives. Toss to combine and serve.

This meal from start to finish took approximately 20 minutes to make and was absolutely perfect for a weeknight meal and a Lenten Friday, at that. I used spinach & cheese ravioli; you can use whatever kind you wish, however. The leftovers heated up very well for my hubby and it really was a nice change from our usual meal line-up as of late. The harissa does have a kick, so if you are a bit wary of the heat, use less sauce when you mix up the ravioli for serving.  It’s simple, flavorful and relatively healthy, too.

If you see harissa at your local store, pick some up and give it a try. It’s a really neat condiment that adds depth, heat and flavor to what are otherwise ordinary ingredients. As I said before, I’m thinking that roasted veggies with harissa will be next 🙂

Lemon Parmesan Tortellini

One of the first cooking blogs that I ever started reading was Stephanie Cooks.  Stephanie’s tastes are very similar to my own and I really like her down-to-earth, simple writing style. Her recipes are easy to follow and really user-friendly, too. And, I can’t help but love that she’s also a teacher! 🙂

I too am not the biggest fan of cream sauces, – I feel that they can become extremely ‘heavy’ and almost a little to decadent. The opposite goes for my husband – he loves them and will be the first to admit that I do not cook with them enough! I decided to trust Stephanie’s judgement on the consistency and flavor of this sauce; since I love lemon 24/7, I figured this would be a good compromise for dinner.

Lemon Parmesan Tortellini

adapted from Stephanie Cooks

 

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound tortellini
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Heat up a pot of hot water to boil.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, heat up the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the broth and turn up the heat to high. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the cream, lemon juice and zest, and Italian seasoning. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Once you’ve got your sauce going and the water is boiling, cook the tortellini (according to the package directions).
  5. After about 10 minutes, add the parmesan cheese to the sauce and stir to combine, allowing the cheese to melt. Add the peas, stirring constantly so that they begin to thaw. Add the tortellini to the sauce as they finish cooking. Toss and serve.

 

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As you can see, I added peas to the original recipe to get a vegetable into the main dish. You can definitely leave these out if you wish! This dish was filling and decadent, without being too heavy, as some cream sauces tend to do. The lemon in the cream sauce takes it to the next level and makes this meal really shine on a cold winter’s night. It also came together fairly quickly, which you know I never complain about 🙂

If you’ve been an avid fan of my cooking, I definitely recommend you head on over to Stephanie Cooks! You won’t be disappointed.

Mediterranean Chicken with Roasted Garlic Orzo

Hey look – I’m posting a recipe! Imagine that 🙂

I hope you all are doing well. Sorry it’s been so long! I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. For real this time, I swear!

Chicken, pan-roasted with herbs, is a perfect compliment to garlicky pasta and vegetables. You can’t really ever go wrong with a combination like that. It’s great comfort food for when the weather is starting to change and you want something to savor after a long day. This dish has a great amount of flavor to it and really isn’t too complicated to make – it just uses a few pots and pans. However – please make sure that you read through the entire recipe first, so that everything is timed relatively well and that you have all the ingredients you need!


 

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Mediterranean Chicken with Roasted Garlic Orzo

adapted from For the Love of Cooking and Epicurious

For the chicken:

  • Zest and juice from 1 large lemon (about 2 tbsp juice)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh minced parsley (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, fat removed
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts (if desired)
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese (if desired)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (if desired)
  • Lemon wedges (if desired)

For the orzo:

  • 5 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (or 1 tbsp dried)
  • 1 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  1. In a large Ziploc bag or glass dish (with lid), combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, and herbs. Add the chicken breasts, then seal/cover and let marinate for at least 30-1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 450*. Tightly wrap the unpeeled garlic cloves in foil so that it makes a little pouch. Place in middle of oven and roast for about 25 minutes. Carefully unwrap garlic and let cool slightly. Remove skin from cloves and mash into a paste. Transfer garlic paste to a bowl and stir in butter and parsley.
  3. Reduce the oven to 375*. Coat an OVEN-PROOF saute pan with cooking spray and heat over med-high heat. Add the chicken breasts to the HOT pan and cook until brown, about 2-3 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Flip the chicken over and place the saute pan into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Keep the marinade, as you’ll need it for later.
  4. As the chicken bakes, begin your vegetables. Caramelize the diced onion by heating a sauté pan over med-low heat with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. (Note – If the pan and/or onion start to get a little dry, add a little bit of water and toss to coat). Continue cooking until the onions are nice and caramelized. Once the onions are just about ready, get water boiling for your orzo.
  5. To your onions, add the grape tomatoes and cook until they’re about to burst (about 5 minutes). Add the baby spinach then season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Check on your chicken in the oven; pour the remaining marinade into the pan, and place back into the oven. Continue baking for 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly.
  6. The water should be boiling now; cook the orzo until tender and reserve about 1/4 cup cooking water. Drain orzo well and add to garlic mixture with enough reserved cooking water to melt butter and prevent orzo from sticking together. Season orzo with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve by placing a big scoop of orzo into a bowl. Add the vegetables, followed by the chicken. If desired, top with some toasted pine nuts, feta cheese, and fresh parsley. Use some lemon wedges to add a even more lemon flavored, if you wish.

 


 

I feel that this dish was ‘timed right’. Everything seemed to be done at once, and it was a dish were if I needed to walk away and put the wash into the dryer (or some other quick chore), I could do so without anything burning. It was very low maintenance, which was perfect for a Monday evening meal.

It tasted so good that I even hid the leftovers in the back of the fridge, so that I could take them for lunch the next day (my husband takes the majority of our leftovers – I’m not much of a fan of them, but when they’re good, they’re oh-so-good and I have to fight for ’em).

 

CSA ‘ 14: Weeks 16-17

Alright, alright.

I KNOW! I’m a slacker.

But at least I’m starting to be creative in the kitchen again – give me some credit here! And marching season is officially over so I’m a little less occupied with writing drill, football games, and such. ANYWAY…we’re in the tail end of CSA season and have one more box to go after this post!

Week 16

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  • cauliflower
  • Swiss chard
  • Brussel sprouts – roasted with olive oil and topped with salt, pepper & balsamic vinegar
  • cayenne peppers
  • tomatoes
  • Fresno peppers
  • shallots
  • potatoes – Perfect for beef stew
  • onions
  • ARTICHOKES – how cool is that?!
  • pie pumpkin

Week 17

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Not sure how a filter got put on this one…I think it was late at night?

  • zucchini and squash
  • red sweet peppers – Perfect for sausage and peppers on a Sunday afternoon
  • potatoes
  • kale – I used this in a recipe for risotto instead of baby spinach
  • cauliflower
  • green and purples peppers (and a poblano, too)
  • Brussel sprouts – roasted with olive oil and topped with salt, pepper & balsamic vinegar
  • celery
  • onions – French onion soup, anyone?
  • tomato

One more week to go before it’s back to purchasing our weekly fruits and veggies. It’s hard to believe…and with the summer that we had I’m still thankful for the variety that we were able to receive from the farm.

Anything fun in your CSA this week?

 

 

CSA ’14, Weeks 14-15

Today you get a two-for-one post, because I seriously am that behind up here on The Spicy Simmer. Don’t get me wrong – I love to blog! – but life has gotten in the way lately and by the time I get some free time to blog, I end up horizontal on the couch falling asleep watching The Tonight Show on Hulu. So, that’s where I’ve been…sorry!!

Week 14 seemed a little bit smaller than what we’re used to, but I’m not complaining one bit. With my schedule as crazy as it’s been, there has been a lot more preserving and a lot less creativity. Oh well – it is what it is!

Week 14

Week 14

We ended up getting a watermelon – imagine that! We also had the first squash of the fall season (I’m so glad those keep!) and tomatoes are still making an appearance. I was especially thankful for the garlic; I just can’t seem to get enough!

Week 15

Week 15

I feel as though Week 15 made up for whatever Week 14 may have been lacking. Look at the difference in the amount of produce! Lettuce, onions, garlic, parsley, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, a celery & celery root, and zucchini. The celery root & celery immediately went into the freezer for use in winter soups. I’ve blanched the peppers and put the parsley into a glass of water in the refrigerator.

While this post may be a bit lacking, rest assured that I do have some recipes on the way to share with you! Hopefully by the end of this week I’ll get them finally up and running. Thanks for sticking by me thus far – I know there are some of you out there who are faithful readers and haven’t given up on me yet, so thanks for sticking by me during this dry spell of sorts 🙂