CSA ’14: Week 5

I started to get a little excited this past weekend since the weather was nice and sunny…and above 70*! And then…today, 65* and overcast. Where, oh where is my summer? This is making everything grow so slowwwwwly…

…though despite the weather, our CSA share this week was plentiful nonetheless!

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– beets
– sweet onions
– romaine lettuce (it was huge!)
– a bag o’ basil
– cucumber
– pattypan squash
– broccoli and cauliflower
– fennel
– green beans
– lacinato kale – We’ve already eaten this…saut√©ed with olive oil and garlic, yum!

Just like in years past, the challenge will be deciding what to do with the fennel…

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 ūüôā 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 ūüôā

 

 

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! ūüėČ But, what about the rhubarb?…any tips?

Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce and Spring Vegetables

Lately it seems as though many food bloggers are jumping into spring flavors – lots of citrus and lemon…spring vegetables…I think we’re all a little *over* those winter soups and stews. Then again, it’s still cool enough for casseroles ¬†(or at least it is in my neck of the woods). Okay, okay, and tomato soup. But that’s besides the point ūüôā

I knew once the weather started to “turn” that I too was in the mood for a light pasta with plenty of fresh, spring vegetables. I’m not really one for alfredo and cream sauces as I feel they’re so thick, heavy, and pretty terrible for you – much to the dismay of my husband. I was really pleased to come across this recipe from Cooking Light – they’re constantly working on lightening up dishes without sacrificing flavor. Thus, a cream sauce that was ‘lightened up’ would please both the palates and waistlines in our home!

Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce and Spring Vegetables

adapted from Cooking Light

  • 8 ounces¬†uncooked¬†rotini or fusilli (aka ‘curly pasta’)
  • 1/2 lb asparagus – woody ends snapped off, and sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup¬†frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 tbsp¬†butter
  • 1¬†garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup¬†vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp¬†cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup¬†heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons¬†fresh lemon juice¬†(or the juice of one lemon)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • a dash of cayenne pepper, if you like
  • OPTIONAL: Parmesan cheese & dried parsley, for topping
  1. Cook pasta until just al dente. Add the sliced asparagus during the last minute of the pasta boil. Drain the pasta mixture and return to the pot; add the peas and mix around (the heat will thaw the peas).
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; melt the butter. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for a minute.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the broth and cornstarch until well-blended. Add this broth mixture to pan and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  4. To the pan, add the cream, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add in the pasta & vegetables and toss to coat.  Serve immediately, with parmesan and parsley on top (if you like).

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This dish was incredibly delicious and perfect for a lazy Sunday evening. It was fast and very easy to make. The cream and lemon flavors balance each other out really well and highlights the asparagus and peas. There were absolutely¬†zero¬†leftovers for the next day, so I’m not quite sure how well this would reheat – though I imagine it would be just as fantastic the next day.

I would make this again in a flash – good thing asparagus is still relatively in season! ūüôā

**Shared on the Homemade Mondays series at Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity**

Risotto with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Risotto is one of my most favorite comfort foods; one I only discovered about four years ago. I’ve finally started to broaden my horizons and make versions other than my absolute favorite¬†recipe. This one was on my meal plan for a few weeks, as I had some spinach and sun-dried tomatoes that I really needed to use up. But because risotto takes a lot of time – it’s not a meal that you can quickly cook – I kept bumping it further and further back. Finally, I found a little bit of free time to make this version of risotto – I’m very pleased with the result, and I also feel that Liz will be especially relieved that I finally made it!

Risotto with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

adapted from My Favourite Pastime

  • ¬†6-8 cups¬†stock/broth
  • 1¬†tbsp olive oil
  • 1¬†tablespoons butter
  • ¬Ĺ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups¬†Arborio rice
  • ¬Ĺ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups spinach, washed & shredded
  • 6 sundried tomatoes,¬†drained and chopped (mine were vacuum sealed, not in oil)
  • ¬Ĺ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • salt & pepper
  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil & butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the garlic and rice and stir for about 2 minutes until it just starts to brown a little.
  3. Add the wine and reduce the heat. Stir constantly until the wine has been absorbed.
  4. Add a cup of your stock to the rice, and stir. When the rice has fully absorbed the liqud, add more stock – a little at a time.
  5. One all the stick has been absorbed, your right should be nice and soft, with a creamy texture. Add the spinach and tomatoes. Add salt & pepper to taste, then add the parmesan cheese. Toss into the rice, and serve hot.

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It’s a¬†colorful meal, isn’t it?

I will absolutely make this again, especially once CSA season rolls around¬†again¬†and I have plenty of fresh chard & spinach. If you don’t like parmesan, you can always change the cheese to mozzarella – I think that would taste just as great. I also wonder what this would taste like with a little lemon zest. I ended up taking the leftovers for lunch; I honestly don’t mind leftover risotto, unlike someone else I know ūüėČ

In the meantime, if you’re expecting yet another winter storm, I highly suggest putting this on the docket for dinner. It’s comforting, flavorful and warms you right up!

 

Colcannon

I don’t know about you, but I’m officially ready for all things green, and it’s not even St. Patrick’s Day anymore. I’ve bookmarked so many festive, spring-y recipes in the past three days alone that I may have to spend extra time in my kitchen once our water troubles are over, just so I can get into the spirit. I’m quite tired of the winter blues.

This year for St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to bake our corned beef brisket rather than boil with vegetables. In previous years, we always end up with a ton of leftover cabbage, and not a lot of the really flavorful ‘stuff’. ¬†Plus, since we’re grown-ups and had to work, neither of us could stay home and¬†drink¬†cook all day. Ah, those were the days…

…anyway, this was the recipe that I made to go along with our corned beef. We needed something tasty, yet easy to whip up – you all know how Mondays are! What’s even better is that I didn’t have to buy any cabbage – I had a half-head of it in my freezer, leftover from our CSA. It was the perfect amount needed to whip up this recipe for colcannon.

Colcannon

adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

  • 1-2 tbsp bacon bits
  • 2 lbs small red potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. In a pot, bring the potatoes to a boil. Continue until the potatoes are fork tender (around 15-20 minutes).
  2. Around ten minutes into the potato boil, heat the oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until lightly browned.
  3. Add the cabbage and periodically toss as it cooks down. Add some salt & pepper as you go. Add the bacon bits and toss to combine. At this point, make sure to check the potatoes – if they are nowhere near done, turn off the cabbage so that it does not burn.
  4. Once the potatoes are finished cooking, drain and return them back to the pot. Add the milk, butter and a dash of salt and pepper; mash away!
  5. Add the cabbage mixture to the potatoes and mix well.
Staying classy on a paper plate. I blame the pipes.

Staying classy on a paper plate. I blame the pipes.

I never really thought about putting bacon into colcannon until I found the original recipe for this post. It really adds a little something extra to the dish (and probably to my waistline, too). Obviously, you are more than welcome to omit the bacon if you so choose. I used bacon bits because that’s what I had in my refrigerator, and I didn’t really feel it was necessary to really grease up the skillet any more than I needed to (especially with all the plumbing issues we’ve been having).

This dish is delicious, easy on the wallet, and definitely not the worst thing you could consume on St. Patrick’s Day.

Valentine’s Day Fondue

I suppose I should let you in on a little secret as to one of our favorite “traditions” that we have, just the two of us.

For our Valentine’s Day celebration, we like to fondue.¬†We’ll clear off the coffee table, set out bowls of dippable fruit, vegetables, & proteins…and have ourselves a wonderful & relaxing meal while watching movies. We received a fondue pot (the kind you can use Sterno with) as a wedding shower gift – it came with both a glass pot and a metal pot. The glass one broke…so a few years ago my sister gave us a new, electric one for Christmas.

Electric fondue pots are where it’s at. Easy to heat, easy to clean, easy easy EASY! ūüôā

This year one of the movies we watched was¬†West Side Story. I’ve seen this movie so many times, yet Mike never had. It was really hilarious to watch this with him and hear all of his commentary. As you can imagine, it’s those comments that often people just keep to themselves ūüôā The best part is that my husband truthfully¬†does appreciate musical theater – he just likes to make comments to make me laugh!

We never did get to the chocolate fondue – as yours truly fell asleep (I ended up coming down with a chest cold the next day, also in true Valentine’s Day tradition – I’m sick almost every year on VDay. How’s that for romance?) We ended up cooking up cheese fondue as an appetizer, and broth fondue for the main course. Chocolate will just have to wait until this cough subsides…

Cheese Fondue

adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 2 dashes garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup beer (we used homebrewed Saison or spitless Chicha, can’t recall)
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, diced into cubes
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  1. Turn on your fondue pot.
  2. Combine first four ingredients and stir until the cheese is melted.
  3. Add hot sauce & worcestershire sauce (to taste) and stir to combine.
  4. Serve with your favorite dippables!

Behold the power of cheese.

Alright, so maybe it’s a little odd that we drank red wine with our beer-y cheese? Oh well. It was awesome anyway. We ate our cheese fondue with some crusty French bread from Breadworks. I also bought some broccoli & an apple to slice, but in the end we decided to keep this course a bit simple.

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For our next course, we opted for a broth fondue to be a bit healthier. I had a quart of mushroom broth lurking in my pantry. I supplemented it with some chicken broth as we cooked along, and threw in a clove of garlic.

Our favorite dippables (cookables?) for our broth fondue were some chicken, beef, mushrooms (my favorite), red onion, and potato. Next time I may copy what Kristin did on Iowa Girl Eats¬†¬†and try some tots or french fries. Bell pepper and zucchini can taste pretty good, too. Truthfully, whatever you feel like cooking up in the pot – try it. You won’t be disappointed (and if you are, just don’t make it next time).

Oh – I can’t forget about the sauces! We made a simple soy sauce/teriyaki/ginger/sriracha one, a horseradish-mayo sauce, some honey mustard, and some barbecue sauce. All were delicious – I made them up on the fly, but next time I think I’ll do a bit more internet research so I can make (and memorize!) some winners.

Fondue is great any time, and for any families whose members can be trusted with pointy objects. ūüėČ

Do you ever fondue? What are your favorite things to fondue?

Shallot, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta

Greetings! I have to say, thank you to all of you who have come visited the blog while I’ve been a little, um,¬†preoccupied with work. Granted, we had two snow days last week (one of which was on my birthday so it was the best day ever), but I definitely hit the ground running when I came back from Christmas break with pep band and exam preparations. Mike was in charge of cooking a few times as my ETA from school was after 8:00pm. It’s¬†so nice to not have to worry about cooking dinner some nights – as much as I love to do it!

You know it’s an awesome recipe when your husband texts you that the dinner he made (and the recipe that I picked) was “really good”. ūüėČ It was a nice change from all the visits to restaurant dining, epic grilled cheese, fantastic family dinners, and alcohol consumed during our visit to Cleveland. Even better, it’s a meatless meal.

Shallot, Spinach & Goat Cheese Pasta

adapted from How Sweet It Is

  • 8 oz pasta (we used fusilli)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • salt & crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 12 oz (1 package) fresh spinach
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 log (~4 oz) goat cheese, crumbled
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over low heat and add the oil. Add the shallots & salt. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Try not to let the shallots get too dark.
  3. Add the brown sugar and cook for about 5 more minutes. By this time, the water should be boiling and the pasta should go in.
  4. Add the spinach to the skillet and stir constantly until the spinach wilts down.
  5. In a small saucepan (we’re using 3 burners, what?), over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk constantly until the butter starts to brown. As soon as you see brown bits start to appear, turn off the heat and remove the saucepan from the stove. Whisk for another 15-20 seconds. Whisk in the minced garlic and keep mixing for another 30 seconds.
  6. Drain the pasta and add it to the large skillet – where the spinach & shallots are. Toss to combine, then add the garlic brown butter and toss to coat. Add the goat cheese and stir; sprinkle pasta with crushed red pepper and serve immediately.
Like my plastic fork? Classy teacher right here.

Like my plastic fork? Classy teacher right here.

I absolutely loved this dish. Granted, I didn’t get to eat it right away since I was at school, but the leftovers were fantastic. The original recipe says that it should take about 30 minutes to make, but I can’t vouch for it since I didn’t make it, and I doubt that my husband kept track ūüėČ One of the ingredients that surprised me the most was the brown sugar; it added¬†just enough sweetness without it being too sweet. It really complimented the shallots and the brown butter nicely. Again, this is a meatless dish – but truthfully, it didn’t need any whatsoever. There are so many flavors going on that the dish kept my attention from first to last bite.

This is an absolutely wonderful dish with which to kick off 2014.

Shared at Frugal by Choice, Cheap By Necessity’s “Homemade Mondays”

Reader Request: Pumpkin Enchiladas

Good things happen to those who finally have time to cook, and end up cooking something awesome!

I took a day off on Friday and lo & behold, did nothing work-related the entire day. Thus I now feel recharged, refreshed, and ready to get some major work done this week for our holiday concerts coming up on December 11 & 12. It’s amazing what a day off can do for the soul.

With the turn of the weather heading towards winter (and who would believe that, as it was storming at 60* out today), I’m finding myself getting anxious about vegetarian meals again, so the making of this recipe is accidentally perfect timing.¬†Since I finally had some major free time to myself on Friday, I decided to finally tackle a reader’s request that I had been sitting on for a few weeks. A friend of mine from our¬†community garden¬†“nominated” me to try a recipe out and “report back” how it went, and if it was any good.¬†

PUMPKIN ENCHILADAS.

At first I was like, “ew, what?!” All I could immediately think of was Mexican flavor fused with pumpkin pie spice – bleh. But then, I clicked on the link & saw that it was a) a crockpot recipe, and b) did not use pumpkin pie spice at all.¬†Challenge accepted, Cyndi¬†ūüôā

Pumpkin Enchiladas

adapted from Eat Local Grown

Into your crockpot/slow cooker, add the following & stir:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 16-oz bag frozen corn
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 dashes of cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water or broth

Cook on low for 6-8 hours (the original recipe says high, but my slow cooker is kinda evil & will burn if left on high that long). When you get home or start getting a rumbly in your tumbly, move on to the next part of the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375*. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray – depending on the number you want to make, use either 8×8 or 9×13.

To make the enchiladas, fill a tortilla with some filling, plus a sprinkle of cheese if you so wish (in my house, that is a necessity). If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try some salsa-flavored cream cheese in there (we had it lying around so I figured why not?!) Wrap up the enchilada and place it seam-side-down in the pan. Repeat until the pan is full.¬†Top the enchiladas with enchilada sauce. I had a taste for tomatillos so I used the green chile sauce made by Frontera. Sprinkle with some cheese (if you’d like) and bake until the sauce is nice and bubbly, and the cheese is melted.

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I honestly don’t know what excited me more as I dug into these enchiladas – that I now had another use for the stash of pumpkins in my dining room, I had a new vegetarian recipe that didn’t suck, that someone requested a post for my blog and it actually worked – maybe a bit of all of those.

I topped my enchiladas with sour cream & some habanero hot sauce – because I’m awesome like that and love the heat. You could easily add chicken or beef to these enchiladas if you really want some, but truthfully, the meat wasn’t missed. These had great flavor and were very filling. Since we’re big fans of leftovers in our house (for use in lunches), I made a big pan of them and so far they’ve reheated quite well.

So, thank you, Cyndi, for the challenge! I hope you enjoy the results and that you’ll enjoy making/eating these enchiladas as much as I did.

P.S. If any of my lovely readers out there have a recipe for me to try out on here, let me know anytime!