Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Cookies

Well, the cookies are done, and packed, and ready to take a trip to Florida or be shipped to Chicago, and I simply hope that they all make it intact. I am worried about the lace ones. They are tasty, but fragile. I couldn't find great cookie tins so they are in boxes. I lined each box with saran wrap, then layered cookies in between paper towels, and then closed up the saran wrap at the top before putting on the lid. I *hope* this serves to keep them fresh as well as cushioned. My husband said it reminded him of his 5th grade project where he had to prep a box such that an egg would survive a fall.

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies were by far our favorite of the bunch, so here is the recipe (from WW, with my changes):

3/4 cup all purpose flour
2T unsweetened cocoa (we used Hershey's Dark Cocoa)
1t baking soda
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t salt
3/4 c butter at room temperature
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 c uncooked oatmeal (we used quick oats)
1/2 c dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cut any large cherries into 2 or 4 pieces. This is tedious but it will give your cookies a more uniform amount of cherriness.
Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl using a paddle attachment and beat until fluffy. Add brown sugar and beat until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl.
Beat in eggs one at a time until incorporated. Slowly add flour mixture and beat until incorporated.
Stir in oatmeal and cherries by hand until incorporated and uniform looking.
Drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto a nonstick pan or silpat but DO NOT USE A BAKING STONE BECAUSE THEY WILL STICK AND YOU WILL CRY.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, but if your oven has been on all day and you are baking lots and lots and lots, then check them after 8 minutes because they will probably bake fast.


(and 2 points per cookie)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cranberry Madness

About a day and a half after filling my freezer with fabulous goodness from Dinner Zen, the compressor died on my refrigerator. I noticed because none of my new food was frozen yet, and other things were actively defrosting. After a panicked day, and $350 in repairs later, I have a working fridge and freezer again, but some things were defrosted beyond re-freezing, including a bag of cranberries.

I quickly went to the Weight Watchers web site and looked up cranberry recipes. They had a 1-point recipe for cranberry meringues, and on closer inspection I learned that they were actually 4-for-1-point recipes, and who can really argue with that? It called for egg whites, cream of tartar, cranberry sauce, and dried cranberries. A quick lookup online showed that the cream of tartar could be replaced with some white vinegar in a meringue, and I was on my way.

First the cranberry sauce. Since this was for making cookies, I didn't do anything weird. Just plain cranberry sauce. If you don't know how, here it is:

Plain Cranberry Sauce
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 cups cranberries

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Add cranberries. Bring back to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and chill. You won't use it all for the cookies, so plan on some turkey or chicken the next day.

I had about 2 cups of cranberries left, so I decided to dry them. I don't have a dehydrator, so I did it in the oven. Just sprinkle cranberries with sugar, place on a baking sheet (best to use parchment paper, which I didn't have, and now I have a mess of a baking sheet!) and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours.

Once all that was done, I was ready to make my meringues! Here is my version of the recipe, which came out great and which did not change the points value at all:

Cranberry Meringue Kisses
3 egg whites
1/4 t white vinegar
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c cranberry sauce
about 80 dried cranberries (obviously this will work just as well with Craisins as with the homemade kind!)

Preheat oven to 200

Beat egg whites and vinegar until stiff peaks form. You really really really want to do this in a stand mixer. It will take a long time. Also, they transform faster if you start them at room temperature. Once stiff peaks form, add sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, and continue beating until the mix is glossy. Gently fold in cranberry sauce.

You will probably need 2 large cookie sheets. Either line them with parchment or spray with cooking spray. Drop Meringues in teaspoon sized "kisses" and top each one with a dried cranberry. You should have about 80-85 kisses. Bake them at 200 degrees for 2 hours, rotating the cookie sheets after an hour. Allow them to cool completely before removing from the pans, and store them in an airtight container. Try not to eat them all at once.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Freezer is Now Full

Dinner Zen trip happened this morning and my freezer is now full! We had a great group of people -- 7 orders and 9 people (2 husbands came!) and some people made a small amount of food and others (like me) made a great amount of food. Jolie, the owner, served scones that were so yummy I prefer to call them cookies, along with coffee and tea for all who attended. We have pretty much all agreed that next time we have to do a private party. If we got 7 orders we can surely get 12! We just need to spread the word a little more.

As it was, I did most of my own meal prep, though Amy only did 8 meals so she made my Chicken Marsala. It was great fun, as usual, and we even remembered to leave something out of the freezer to eat today, this time. We had the shrimp scampi, and boy was it fabulous. YUM. Tomorrow we'll have one of the quiches, too, because although I did some great freezer prep, I actually did run out of room. (I would not have run out of room, but on my way out I checked the Grab and Go freezer, and they had a few fabulous sounding dishes that I could not pass up--so I ended up with 3 additional meals that I was not counting on!

SO!! In the next several weeks, we will be eating:

Big Bleu Chops--a lot of them, because I made 2 full batches
Mexican Lasagna
Raspberry Chipotle Pork Tenderloin
Shrimp Scampi
Sundried Tomato Shrimp Scampi
Chicken "Wellington"
Chicken Marsala
Taco Chicken Tenders
Asian Salmon Cakes
Quiche Florentine
Two Mustard Tilapia
Honey Curry Chicken (picked up out of the Grab and Go Freezer)
Slow Cooked Cranberry Orange Roast Beef (also out of the Grab and Go)

I mean, with options like that, how can you not pick up those extras at the last minute!? I mean, unless you don't check the freezer!

SO... Certain things were surprising to me. I have found that a lot of meal prep items are fairly easy dump recipes, but a lot of these were really work intensive. For example, the Chicken Wellington had us working with puff pastry. The Big Bleu Chops have a cheese stuffing stuffed into pork chops. Not so much just dumping into a bag for those!

I do like, though, that if you are making chicken tenders, for instance, you get a set of chicken tenders ready to pop in the oven or fry. When I got a package of meals from Let's Dish, I had to crumble the tortilla chips and do the dipping into the chip breading at home. I'd rather take the extra time to do it there, even if the freezing method is in a tray rather than in plastic bags.

Every thing I made this time made me excited for dinner. I also commented that every time I go the tilapia filets look bigger than the previous time. Two of them really feeds the three of us, and I have no complaints about that!

So, next time will probably be February, and we're thinking private party. Can we get 12 people to place orders? Who wants to join us next time?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Trip to Dinner Zen

In preparation for my Saturday trip to Dinner Zen, I have been rearranging and eating out of my freezer. Tonight, Micah and I will be sharing the final tilapia filet from my last trip, and after that I have 2 squash wraps left from that trip. They will be fine lunches next week, or maybe even a dinner.

For those of you who are going with me this time (we have a group of 8 and may become 9 soon), here are some freezer tips for getting your freezer ready for a DZ trip:

1) In the future, you'll realize that freezing liquids takes up a lot of room if you freeze them in hard tupperware/rubbermaid containers. Freeze soups, broths, stews, and sauces in freezer bags, packed flat. You can fit a lot more in the freezer that way. If it's too late, it's time to eat or use your soups, stews, and sauces to make room for your meals :)

2) If you have giant bags of frozen foods (like perogies, fish filets, etc), you can re-package them into freezer bags. Package by however many you need for a family meal, and then you can fit them into small spaces left over by your large meals. This is a good way to use the unused door space.

3) Suck the air out of stuff. If you don't have a vacuum sealer (I don't!) then just close your freezer bag nearly to sealed, stick in a straw, and suck out the remaining air before closing the seal. You'll save a lot of space that way.

4) Repackage if you have to. Dinner Zen and a lot of other places have meals prepared into a tin for baking. When you bring your food home, you can pack everything in to over-full, then take out the tins and repackage into freezer bags. Don't let your packaging take up valuable food space! When it's time to make some of these meals, you can get out a reusable/washable pan, and defrost it into that pan.

I'm really looking forward to this trip! They have Big Bleu Chops again, and based on our last experience with them, I ordered 2 full orders of them! Yum.

OK, off to check on dinner.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Orange Chicken with Singapore Seasoning

I've been branching out and trying my hand at mixing perhaps surprising ingredients. Today, it was a great success! I did use two specialty items, but I'm pretty sure you could replace them if you needed to (that is, I used the Pampered Chef Covered Baker and Penzey's Singapore Seasoning.

Orange Chicken with Singapore Seasoning (serves 2)

2 four-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
one onion, sliced thinly
one navel orange, cleaned well, and sliced thinly
5 cloves garlic, sliced in half.
Penzey's Singapore Seasoning
Pampered Chef Covered Baker

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line the bottom of the Pampered Chef covered baker with oranges. Place chicken breasts on top of oranges, and sprinkle lightly with salt and liberally with Singapore Seasoning. Place remaining orange slices on top of chicken, top with onions garlic. Cover the baker, and bake for 45-50 minutes. (You can actually leave it in longer if you need to if you use the covered baker; we were in a conversation with a friend and it went over an hour and was still awesome).

Serve chicken breasts topped with oranges, onions, and garlic. We had this with some broccoli on the side and it was lovely.

Aaaaaand.... according to Weight Watchers' Recipe Builder, it's 5 points per serving!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cranberry Cous-Cous fabulousness

WW has a recipe for Cranberry-Sage Cous Cous, and it is remarkably good. I was actually planning to make this for Thanksgiving but ended up making stuffing instead.

This is sweet and savory and tart all together, and it's 3 points per 1-cup serving, so I foresee making it again soon. We had it with cider-glazed pork chops and glazed apples. I changed a little bit from the original recipe and my changes are reflected here (they do not change the points values)

Cranberry Sage Couscous.

2 cups fresh cranberries
5 oz whole wheat couscous (Trader Joe's has this)
1 cup fat free chicken broth
3 sage leaves, chopped finely
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
salt & pepper
1T olive oil

Boil cranberries in water until several have popped, and drain. At the same time, boil the chicken broth and pour it over the couscous.

Saute onion, celery, sage, and salt/pepper in olive oil until onion softens. Add the cranberries and couscous, and mix well. Pour into a baker (spray with a little cooking spray first) and bake at 350 for 3o minutes.

WW says that a serving is a little more than a cup (think a heaping cupful!) It's a lot and it's filling and delicious!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holidays and Weight Loss

I lost a pound the week of Thanksgiving, which is, frankly, amazing, as I went 18 points over my weekly allowance points, completely by accident, because I didn't go to a restaurant prepared beforehand.

That said, I did go to Thanksgiving dinners (both of them) prepared for just about anything, and I even offered to make the sweet potatoes and stuffing for the first one so that I could control the ingredients. The stuffing didn't come out so great (I mean, it still tasted great but I would do it differently next time) but here's the sweet potato recipe:

Maple Sweet Potatoes
3 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite sized pieces (leave skin on)
1 large onion, sliced thinly
3 T maple syrup
2T olive oil
salt, pepper, and fresh thyme for seasoning

Mix all ingredients, place in a large baking dish, and bake for 1 hour, stirring around the potatoes at least once.

Serves 10 people, 2 points per serving (according to WW's recipe builder), and it's much more interesting than plain glazed sweet potatoes or ones with marshmallows on top!

There are, of course, more holidays coming, and I want to do a mix of enjoying myself while not gaining back all of the weight I lost up to now. We are going to my parents in Florida for Christmas, and that will also, of course, include Disney. Fortunately, there's a lot of walking there to help out on the eating front!

SO here's to the next month being as successful as the last one, and I'll be sharing food ideas as I have them!

Monday, November 16, 2009

WW Week 1 done! In which I eat a lot of food, but lose weight.

My weigh-in was great, and I was down 3.2 pounds the first week! That probably would have been more if I had not completely gorged myself at the Melting Pot last night. I saved up all 35 of my flex points and had a really light breakfast and no lunch in anticipation of the night out, too. But I did eat so much that I had weird dreams. Still, first night out without kids since the baby was born.

By the way, the Melting Pot is evil. Tasty Tasty Evil. I was trying to figure out WHICH course you could leave out, and Adam said "salad," but even the salad is so tasty that you wouldn't want to drop it out. Of course the least healthy is probably the cheese course. For pure price, you could leave out the main course and go for cheese fondue, salad, and chocolate fondue, but then you wouldn't have tasty tasty meats and sauces. Oh the Evil. Seriously.

Meanwhile, I saved up ALL of my flex points for that meal, and I was sure that I probably gained a ton, but I didn't! Most excellent.

I also found out this week that IHOP has a diet menu and it's pretty awesome if you're going to go out.

So anyway, I went to my meeting while Micah was in school today (since I have plans tonight). We talked about Thanksgiving. We all had to pick from a list of foods what we were planning to eat for Thanksgiving and then add up the points. Mine came to 35 so that sounds to me like just saving my flex points for Thursday next week, but other people talked about cutting back on stuff. I guess I could do that too. Also, I volunteered to make the stuffing so I can control what goes into it. Because I am clever. I shared this tip at the meeting too.

Liz (today's meeting leader) shared her recipe for Liz's Lazy Soup. This is what she does:

Saute onion and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (it's for a whole pot and so each individual serving will have less than a point of oil). When it gets clear, throw in 2 bags of broccoli wokkoli. When they turn really green, throw in 2-3 boxes of mushrooms. Add 2 or 3 boxes of vegetable broth. Thow in a whole bag of frozen spinach. Bring to a boil and then reduce and cook for 30 minutes.

Now, you have a lazy 0 point soup. Store it in the fridge. Sometime after you do this, cook up some whole wheat pasta and refrigerate. When you are ready to eat, weigh out 2 points of pasta, scoop on some soup, and microwave it for a 2 point meal.

I think I'll probably do this :) It sounds lazy and easy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

I can't eat this many points


I started WW and did my calculations and it came to 24 points, but I'm exclusively breastfeeding, so that means an extra 10 points per day, which is 34 points. THIRTY FOUR POINTS!

I can't eat 34 points per day. I really can't. I mean, I'm sure that I was eating way more than that before joining WW, but now that I'm eating healthy foods, I just can't get enough points. I like too many things that have zero points.

I think it comes from having done Core WW before, because those are the foods I gravitate towards.

So anyway, I got to dinnertime tonight and had 19 points left. I had a 9 point dinner. I swear I started thinking of going to get some ice cream, but instead for dessert I had vanilla granola and a peach yogurt, all of which came to a WHOPPING 7 points.

I really don't want to eat anything else. I had a glass of Gatorade (1 pt) so I'm down to 2 for the day. I guess i could have a piece of cheese. But I really don't want to.

I'm going to be in a lot of trouble when I stop nursing and have to give up those extra 10 points.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Weight Loss Attempt + Acorn Squash

So I joined Weight Watchers. The baby is 3 months old, and even though I am still nursing, I get an extra 10 points per day while nursing, so it shouldn't be too bad. I suspect my husband won't start losing weight until I am cooking for far fewer points. I get to start with 34 per day! I had an 8 point breakfast and it's an hour later and I'm still full, so that's a really good thing.

I also started putting some of my recipes into WW's recipe builder online, and honestly it's not so bad. I made an acorn squash curry the other night and, without the rice, it was 4 points per serving. AND it was really filling.

Now I just have to stop making pies.

Here's the Acorn Squash Curry recipe:

1 Acorn Squash
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 large carrots, sliced
2 T sweet curry powder (I used Penzey's)
2T Crackpot Gourmet curry mix
small amount of beef, trimmed of fat, cubed very small
1c reduced fat sour cream
1 can chopped tomatoes

Microwave the whole squash for 5 minutes. Slice in half, scoop out seeds and discard, and scoop out flesh & chop. Set aside.

Saute onion & garlic in cooking spray until onion is clear. Add squash, carrots, tomatoes, and spices. Continue cooking on medium until carrots start to soften. Add meat and cook until meat looks cooked on the outside. Add sour cream and warm through. Serve with brown basmati rice.

Serves 4. (4 points per serving before rice)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Market!

Today was the final farmer's market of the season, and although it was overcast, everyone had a really great time. We visited with all of our favorite vendors and friends, made sure we were signed up for winter drop-offs, gave our hugs, and stocked up for the winter. Brought home:

2 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
1 pumpkin (for eating--we had another for carving)
a whole lot of apples
a bunch of turnips
a big bag of potatoes
2 packs of sweet Italian sausage
2 packs of bacon
1 pack of scrapple
2 jars of jam (blueberry and peach)
2 rounds of goat cheese
1 gallon of cider

I probably would have gotten more but (1) we did not have enough money for more, (2) we found out the pork guy would be setting up on the plaza on Saturdays until Thanksgiving, and (2) the Lamb people and the goat cheese people are doing winter shares/drops so we can actually get some of that in the coming months. In fact, the Virginia Lamb stand did not have any ground lamb today, so I skipped them knowing I could get some in the near future.

Overall the market was fun as usual and it was a little sad to say goodbye. It's really our summer social event of the weekend!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Butternut squash and potato soup

I was going to make my other version of Butternut Squash soup, and then it morphed into something else entirely! Last week I bought this fabulous chutney-like tomatoey Indian spice mix from the Crackpot Gourmet, and to me it was screaming to be tossed in to something with butternut squash. I was intending to blend the final product but when I tasted it I really loved the texture and flavor as it was so I didn't.

1 roasted butternut squash, cut into small pieces
3 red potatoes, medium sized, diced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
2-3 stalks celery, sliced
3 packs of Trader Joe's Condensed chicken broth packets
6 cups of water
1/3 of a container of the Crackpot Gourmet's tomatoey Indian spice mix
sprinkle of salt and pepper
A little bit of butter

Saute the onion, carrot, and celery with salt and pepper in butter until onion is soft. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, and then simmer for about an hour. Eat.

I had intended to bring some to Smita at the farmer's market on Saturday but it was raining cats and dogs and I just couldn't bring the kids out to the market in that mess. I even packed it up and was going to have Adam bring it, and then Micah wanted to go with him and then M. fell asleep in the car and they didn't go and well you get the picture. Meanwhile, it was awesome. It fed my family plus a friend very well for dinner as a side dish to a pork roast from Dinner Zen, and I still have a quart of the stuff in the freezer. Fantastic.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Party Planning

Lillian's Baptism is on Sunday and we are going to have people over for lunch afterward. There should be around 15--maybe a few more--and I realized that I did NOT want to cook. At least not too much.

So we decided to semi-cater it through Dinner Zen! Last night I went and made 2 of the dishes. Then I'll make 2 more and my MIL will bring an appetizer. I ordered a cake from Safeway. So here is the menu:

Sweet meatballs (as Lawrence calls them, "crack balls")--crockpot dish easy peasy.
Spinach artichoke dip -- will pre-make this and re-heat when we get home from church
Veggie platter -- from MIL
Shrimp -- from MIL
Wild Rice and Squash Wraps -- from Dinner Zen. Will need to heat when we get home from church
Bourbon Chicken and Rice -- also from DZ. Will partial-prep and finish when we get home from church.
White cake with strawberry filling and buttercream frosting--need to pick up at 10 on Sunday morning.

I think this was a good way to plan a party without going insane. I hope it all goes well!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stuffed Peppers

Sometimes I think that my recipes are informed by my having looked at so many medieval recipes. You know, the ones that say "take thou a measure of meat and throw your spices thereon" and such. I should write down what I do when I do it.

That said, today I made stuffed peppers. I was trying to remember the last time I made them, and I think the answer is "never." I remember my dad making them when I was young, but I never made them myself.

So, I winged it. Here it is:

1 lb ground beef (we use Laura's Organic, which is 94% lean)
about a cup of cooked rice
dried oregano
dried basil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 peppers
pasta sauce

Saute onion and garlic in cooking spray until onion starts to brown. Mix onion and garlic into rice and beef, and sprinkle on oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and sugar. (Yes, this is where I am being very medieval. I just sprinkled stuff on and didn't measure!) Mix it all in.

Cut off the tops of the peppers fairly close to the stem, and pull out the stem and seeds. Stuff peppers with meat mixture, place in a covered baker, and top with sauce. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Serve with pasta, or not, and extra sauce.

500 years from now some re-enactor is going to be cursing me and my inability to write down amounts of spices. Hey, at least I didn't, without listing any spices, write "and add all the spices and cook until it is done!"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Farmer's Market Saturday

I was on my own with the kiddos today at the Farmer's Market--actually my mother in law came along to help wrangle them while I attempted to buy food!

We had a nice haul, and I didn't even spend all the money I had--just most of it :)

red peppers
heirloom mini tomatoes
apples--many many apples
turnips w/ greens
butternut squash
goat cheese
a yummy Indian spice paste

I think that this will be lovely for the week. I find it very hard to figure out what vegetables to buy these days. Having had the CSA for so long, I feel like the choice was made for me and I just worked with what I had. This season we are in this strange place where you see tomatoes and zucchini next to winter squash and root vegetables. What to do? As for us, Micah asked for broccoli, and the spinach looked great, and everything else just called to me to buy it.

I am thinking of making turnip and tomato salad, and using the greens for something else. The carrots will probably be eaten raw. The peppers are intended for stuffed peppers. And the squash will likely become soup. I reserve the right to change my mind of course :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dinner Zen!

I just got back from making a TON of food at Dinner Zen. I think that my freezer has never been so full. I may have to double check that the door completely closed.

Anyway, here was my menu:

Turkey Meatloaf with Sun-dried Tomatoes1
Wild Rice & Butternut Squash Wrap1
Wasabi Crusted Chicken1
Tilapia Parmigiano Packets1
Harvest Pork Tenderloin With Herbed Stuffing1
Baked Shrimp & Feta with Orzo1
Bourbon Chicken1
Cider Glazed Pork Chops with NEW! Apple Orzo1
Finger Lickin' Chicken & Sweet Potato Fries1
Pretzel Roll Toastie: Ham & Swiss (Pre-assembled)2
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp & Grits1

Let's go through this and how the evening went. I got to skip the orientation because I had been there before. I stashed my stuff, got my apron, washed my hands, and got my menu.

I started with the wraps because they were the closest to the sink. Easy peasy. They had wild rice, butternut squash, onions, cheese, ham, and some other stuff, and wrapped up like a burrito. They are HUGE. I forsee Micah and me sharing one of these for lunch. For our family, I am going to estimate that this was really 3 meals (6 wraps).

Next I was on to the Finger Lickin' Chicken. This was awesome. The chicken was soaked in buttermilk, hot sauce, and a bunch of spices and then rolled in panko, flour, and spices. It went into 2 trays, each of which will make 1 meal. So 2 meals there. I can't wait for this one.

I moved on to the pork tenderloin. Now, I was pretty sure that this would not be able to be split because it's a tenderloin. But I was wrong! It was two tenderloins! each was dressed with olive oil, garlic, and poultry seasoning and packaged in individual tins with stuffing next to the pork. I'm fairly certain that for my family, each tin will feed us one dinner for all 3 of us plus a lunch for 1 of us, so call this 3 meals.

Keeping with the pork theme, I went onto the cider glazed pork chops. Here I made a mistake and forgot to split the glaze mix, but I split it afterward. I hope it comes out OK. Here, too, there was disappointment, as it did not actually come with apple orzo but rather with cinnamon apples. I think I will probably make some orzo and turn the apples into apple orzo, but as one of the other women there said, "that is not what I signed up for." This was my first and so far only disappointment with Dinner Zen. I'm not sure what happened because there was plenty of orzo on site for the shrimp w/ orzo dish. So, weird. Anyway, this will be 2 meals since Micah really likes pork chops.

Next I went onto Turkey Meatloaf. I wasn't 100% sure of whether I wanted to make this, as I have a great meatloaf recipe myself, and my family likes it. But when I put it together it smelled great, and I think it will be awesome. It's in 2 loaf pans and I foresee leftovers, so call it 3 full meals for my family.

Onto Bourbon Chicken, which doesn't actually contain Bourbon. But we've had it before and we know it's awesome. It's really a dump recipe (chicken in one bag, sauce in another, rice in a third) and really easy to make. I wish i could sneak a picture of the recipe one of these times. It contains apple juice, soy sauce, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes. We know this will feed us 2 times and no more because it's SO GOOD.

BBQ Shrimp and Grits--actually I can't for the life of me remember what's in this. I hope it's good. It'll probably feed us 2 times as we love shrimp. And grits.

Wasabi Crusted Chicken--it was like the Finger Lickin Chicken only with an egg wash and panko with wasabi powder. YOW! Can't wait. 2 meals for sure.

Next I did the Shrimp w/ Feta and Orzo. Again I split this into 2 and it will probably feed us just two times, not because of the amount of food but because we love shrimp so much. The majority of this was prepping the Orzo, which included tomatoes, feta, spices, and I don't remember what else. You spread it in a pan and put a ton of shrimp on top. It looks awesome.

The funny thing was that there were about 4 of us there doing major cooking plans and 2 who were there for 1/2 hour and then gone. Of the 4 of us doing the major cooking plans, all 4 of us left our tilapia dishes for last. So I got to the tilapia station and there were already three people there. So I got some coffee and hung out. (actually 2 of the women actually had other dishes to make, but we all got to the tilapia at the same time). Anyway, the packets had a scoop of rice, a GIANT piece of fish, coated in this parmasean paste, sprinkled with panko, sprinkled with salt, and wrapped up. I think it's going to taste pretty good. I also see it feeding us for 3 meals because the fish is so huge.

I didn't have to make my pretzel roll toasties because they were pre-assembled. I got 2 orders because we love them so much. In fact, three sandwiches are in the fridge so we can just make them soon. These are HUGE and so we usually have two among the three of us. Since I have 12 sandwiches, call it 6 meals.

I like to do this add-up because I need to see what the average price per meal is. So total we ordered 12 meals, but for us it comes to 30 meals. At $246 including tax, that's $8.20 per meal. You certainly can't eat out for that, and you can hardly eat out at a fast food place for that. And if you're me, you can't even easily make food at home for it either.

I would say that I now need to just make a few more meals to round out my freezer meals but I literally have NO room in my freezer for anything else. I nearly had to have Adam take his coffee out of the freezer. Haha.

OK all done for now :) Can't wait to eat!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Herbed Cod with Fresh Vegetables

My husband decided to buy cod today--I wasn't even sure why and I didn't really know how to make it, but I have these recipe cards that I grab from Harris Teeter whenever I'm there, and one of them seemed like a reasonable recipe to use. I modified it, because I did not have many of the ingredients in the recipe, but at least it gave me an idea and I went from there.

Herbed Cod with Fresh Vegetables

1.5 lb cod fillet
Herbes de Provence
Garlic powder
1/2 a large onion, sliced thinly
1 roasting pepper, sliced thinly
1 T capers
10 grape tomatoes, cut in half
olive oil
3T water

Cut fish into medium sized pieces and sprinkle pieces with garlic, pepper, and herbes de provence. Coat a large nonstick pan with a small amount of olive oil and heat on high. Place fish pieces in the pan and reduce heat to medium. Combine onion, pepper, capers, and tomatoes in a bowl and toss with olive oil and a little more of the seasonings. Pour vegetable mix over fish, add 3T water, and cover. Cook for 12 minutes on medium-low until fish is flaky. Serve with rice or cous cous.

Not only did this taste incredible but it looked awesome too.

Strawberries in October!

Remember the Strawberry Madness? From back in June when I was on modified bedrest and before I went on total bedrest? If you don't care to click, the short version is that back in June we bought a flat of strawberry seconds and, after making pie, we processed the remainder of the strawberries and a lot of rhubarb and stuck them in the freezer in packs the right size to make into pie.

Well right now, as I am typing this, there is a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie in my oven! In October!

I can't wait for dessert!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Getting the Itch...

I'm getting the itch to do a major cooking day to fill my freezer. I want to do Dinner Zen for certain, but that is only 12 meals (well 24 for us). I need to supplement that with additional dinners and some lunches. I'm thinking:

Pork Chops with peppers, onions and tomatoes (stored in a freezer bag), 4 meals
Mango Curry Chicken (dump recipe, stored in freezer bag), at least 2 but probably 4 meals
Some kind of soup or stew (3 bags)
Pot Pies (2 or 3 but no more because they take up a lot of space)
Mexican lasagna (2 or 3 but no more as they also take up space)

That's 5 dishes and about 15 meals. In terms of time, I know I can do the Mango Curry Chicken in about 15 minutes, as it is mostly measuring spices and dumping into bags. The soup or stew can be a crockpot dish. Should take about 3 hours.

Hmm. Maybe next weekend?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stolen Moments Cooking

There's a great blog out there called Cooking During Stolen Moments (link in the sidebar on my main blog at which I know no one actually goes to because everyone reads the Facebook feed but you should check it out and become a fan and stuff.) Anyway, I love that blog because the woman has a bunch of kids and there is no time to get into the kitchen and just do a meal just before dinner time. Being at home with a toddler and an infant, I find I have the same problem.

So yesterday, my toddler was in school for Four Whole Hours, and the infant fell asleep during that time, and I thought "Excellent! Time to cook!" I headed into the kitchen and made six chicken quesadillas for the freezer. I even took pictures, because Lady Ozma keeps telling me that I need to photoblog (this is a stolen moments blog post so I'm not going to include them here, yet! Baby is asleep but Toddler is running around like a crazy boy.)

Later in the day, when the older one was napping and the baby was napping too, I made zucchini bread. I won't be posting that recipe as I didn't like it very much. I think part of the problem is that it called for nuts and we don't eat nuts in this house (ok, we eat almonds, but I didn't have any so I made it without.) It also called for currants, which I also didn't have, and the baby started crying so I couldn't think about the logical addition of raisins. Yeah, so all in all it's kind of dense and not very sweet and kind of tastes more like bread than cake, only with spices. It's weird. Micah seems to like it though.

Earlier in the week, I spent about 1/2 hour chopping veggies, and then later in the day sauteed them with meat for pasta sauce that I eventually made two days later.

I think that this stolen moments thing--whether I get a freezer meal done or a portion of a meal that can be set aside later--might help me keep up the cooking bug even when I feel like I have no time to do a whole meal. And if I can get some freezer meals done during that time, it should make most of our evenings just a little bit less hectic.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I'm all Tomatoed Out

The remaining tomatoes have been cooked, with the exception of one box of mini pear tomatoes for salads and one Celebrity that I didn't see so it got to live on as a whole tomato for one more day.

The rest became 2 quarts of Fresh Corn & Tomato Soup and 3+ quarts of Pasta Sauce. This time I made it with meat, mushrooms, garlic & onion, and roasted red peppers. It is quite tasty. I had some Opal Basil to add in and it gave it a certain yummy something. Hooray. It's all chilling in the fridge now and will be frozen once it is cooled.

I mentioned to someone at the farmer's market today that I was all tomatoed out. Seriously? If I don't see another tomato for another month it'll be too soon. It's not that I don't want to eat them. No, actually it is that I don't want to eat them. There is such a thing as too many tomatoes, and I think if I had known how many great tomatoes we would get from our share I would never have even considered getting the extra 25 lbs for sauce. There was plenty for sauce with what we had. At least I'll know for next year.

By the way, the woman to whom I was speaking said she could never have enough tomatoes. I believe that she did not get 10-12 tomatoes per week for the last 5 weeks. I am also peached out but that is my own fault, or rather the fault of the fabulous farm where we get our peaches from. See, they have awesome peaches. And let's say we only want 6. Well, it costs the same to buy 6 as it costs to buy a large basket of them, and well you may as well take the 9 or 10 in the large basket for the same price, right? Fortunately we have had great peach cobbler, peach crisp, peach muffins, and peach pie in the last few weeks. But that's enough. ENOUGH PEACHES. Thank you.

Today at the market, I bought plums, apples, asian pears, zucchini (to augment what I have so that I can make zucchini bread), onions, peppers (for the sauce), grapes, fig jam, lamb stew, and goat cheese. We have no market next week and our farm share is done, but we can go to the farm stand if we need to, and there is another market in Oakton on Saturdays, and another in Herndon on Thursdays. I'm fairly certain we won't be wanting for fruit or veggies before then though.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Salsa Madness

I can't take credit for the recipe. My CSA had a bunch of Salsa Kits in our shares. All you do is put everything in a food processor, blend it all together, and add vinegar or lime juice and salt. I made up the first kit and it lasted WEEKS. I had 2 more kits in the fridge and just made them up. I'm just posting this so I remember what was in each of the kits:

Roma tomatoes
peppers (early ones had jalapenos, and others had other kinds of peppers)

Really that was it. And it is fabulous. :-D

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Pasta Sauce

Truly, if I had known how many tomatoes we would get from our farm share over the course of the summer, I would have skipped the box of tomato seconds and just used the "firsts" to make sauce for the winter.

That said, we still have a ton of tomatoes in the house, so I am plotting a second round of sauce. Not as much this time--7 quarts is a lot of sauce and a LOT of tomatoes.

This batch is going to contain onions, garlic, mushrooms, meat (the last batch was vegetarian) and maybe roasted red peppers, because I also have a bunch of peppers from the farm. Since I'm kind of doing "stolen moments cooking"--cooking when I have a stolen moment here or there--I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to end up doing. Right now I am one handed again, holding a baby in one arm and typing one-handed with the other. But before this particular waking, I cooked up the meat, onions, garlic, and mushrooms, with a bunch of fresh herbs (I have opal basil again this week so that has gone into it). I'm not entirely looking forward to peeling tomatoes on my own, as it is much more fun with company. Adam will be home tomorrow so I might leave it until then.

After cooking up the meat, etc, it all fit into a quart container, so I anticipate this will be at least three quarts when all is done. Since I used up 2 of the 7 quarts of sauce from the last batch, that will give us 8 quarts frozen for the non-tomato season. Excellent.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Swiss Chard and Chicken Quesadillas

Last week our CSA newsletter came with a recipe for Chard Quesadillas. I made them this weekend and Omnomnom. We thought that if we added chicken it might be very good too.

So I did. And Double Omnomnom mostly because they have a different texture with the chicken. So here's your recipe. I prepped 8, cooked one to share with my kiddo, and froze the rest.

Swiss Chard and Chicken Quesadillas
1 lb bag of shredded mexican cheese
8 large flour tortillas
2 chicken breasts
sazon goya and adobo or whatever you like to season your chicken breasts
1 large bunch of chard

Chop up chard into small pieces, stems and leaves together. Place in a microwave safe bowl with a lid (or a plate for a lid) and cook for 4 minutes. You shouldn't need to add water if you have washed the chard--whatever water sticks to the leaves is enough to steam it.

Cook chicken breasts, seasoned however you like. I used 1 packet of sazon goya and a sprinkle of adobo. You can cook them however you like to--I used my Pampered Chef covered baker and cooked them from frozen in the microwave in 10 minutes, but if you don't have one, you can boil, broil, pan fry or whatever it takes to get it cooked and seasoned. Then chop the chicken really well.

If you are going to freeze these, prep 8 pieces of aluminum foil large enough to hold an open tortilla. Build your quesadillas by layering ingredients on one side of the tortilla (so you can fold it over). Layer Cheese, Chard, Chicken, Salsa, and more Cheese. Fold over.

If you are freezing them, fold over the foil and wrap it up. If not, spray a pan with cooking spray, place quesadilla on the pan, and spray the top. Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes on the first side and another 5 on the other side.

If you are cooking from frozen, spray both sides of the quesadilla with cooking spray and bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes on the first side and 10 minutes on the second side. (potentially will come back to fix this after baking one from frozen, but quesadillas from Dinner Zen cooked well this way).

This was a HUGE hit with my toddler. I haven't seen him devour anything so quickly in a long time.

CSA Last Week!

It's with a tear in my eye that I post that this is our last CSA Week! I'm so sad. Next year I think we'll do the Fall share, to keep it going for another 4 weeks.

This week:

Watermelon (from the "everyone take a watermelon" box)
Opal Basil
Some other herb (need to look it up)
cherry tomatoes
LOTS of cucumbers
chard (from the "take what you want" pile)

Tonight I'm making chard and chicken quesadillas. We made quesadillas with just chard the other day and OMG they were so good. But I thought they might be nice with some chicken added, too. I made a TON of chard though so I might just make the chicken ones for tonight and prep the chard ones for the freezer.

Will post the recipe if they come out well.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

CSA Next to Last Week, With Raspberries!

Today's pickup was beautiful and bountiful as usual!

Spaghetti Squash
Swiss Chard
Chinese Long Beans
Pole Beans

Surprisingly, there were no potatoes as we have had in the last several weeks! That's OK though--I have plenty PLENTY of potatoes still. Our newsletter came with a recipe for swiss chard quesadillas, and actually it sounds not just pretty good, but potentially freezable as well. We had some pretty tasty chicken quesadillas from Dinner Zen, and they froze beautifully and reheated great. So I'm thinking of doing maybe a swiss chard, corn, and chicken quesadilla and making it more of a dinner than a snack. I'll post if they come out yummy.

Meanwhile, only one week to go! I'm so sad. I was sorely tempted to add the fall share (they had some openings at the East Farm, which is where I go), but I think that instead we will just go to the farm stand and farmer's market for our fall veggies. It's supposed to be very leafy and rooty again, so it will nice to see what they have at the stands. If we like it, then next year we'll add the fall share when we do our initial share purchase. Meanwhile, one more week to go! Hooray!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Adventures with Chinese Long Beans

They're purple!

No really, Chinese Long Beans are purple! This made me all kinds of happy. But what to do with them? Well, some internet searching and conversing with Smita (who is now my go-to woman for all spice-related questions) led me to doing an experiment last night. And the experiment was universally accepted, even by the toddler. Simplicity was the word of the day, and we had Side Dish Win!

Simple but Savory Chinese Long Beans
1 bunch Chinese Long beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
large pinch of salt
Penzey's Singapore Seasoning
1/4 c water
1 T olive oil

In a pan that comes with a lid, heat the olive oil. Add the long beans and onions. Saute for about 4 minutes and add the garlic and a pinch of salt, and then season liberally with the singapore seasoning. Continue sauteing another 5 minutes. Add water and quickly add the lid to the pan, then turn heat down to low. This will steam the beans so that they are done all the way through. Allow to steam for about 10 minutes.

From my internet research, I've learned that Chinese Long Beans are in the same family as green beans, only they are purple, longer, and much more fibrous, which is why they have to steam after they are sauteed. We served this next to one of our gifted freezer meals of chicken and broccoli in a casserole, so it served to bring a little extra spice, kick, and interest to the plates. My toddler ate only this and left the chicken and broccoli on his plate. Next year I will not be so hesitant to make these! It seems we have found some more beans that my husband is not allergic to! (anything in the green bean family is fine for him, and these as well as pole beans are fine! Yay!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

CSA this week-- with Watermelon!

Holy cow! Watermelon!

My CSA box was crazy heavy today due to the addition of a watermelon. My son is thrilled.

Today's haul:

cherry tomatoes
yet another salsa kit
purslane (looks like a jade plant--you just pick off the leaves and add to a salad)
pole beans
2 eggplants

I can't see the figs making it beyond today. They are magic figs that jump right out of the box and into my mouth!

Due to having 2 sick kids, my plan for today had been to bake something from the freezer--that is still my plan but I think we will have tomato and onion salad on the side. Too bad there is a basil blight here and most of the basil is no longer good. Sad.

By the way, try carrying all of that plus a baby in an infant seat and wrangle a 3 year old at the same time. I think I need a trip to the chiropractor.

Back when I was on bedrest, some friends brought me a salad from a restaurant that had in it watermelon, onions, blueberries, and some kind of sweet vinaigrette over spinach. I wonder how that would taste with blackberries instead of blueberries. I would try it tonight only I have no spinach. Sad.

Thoughts on Food Ministry/ Thoughts on an idea from Smita

I was talking with Smita from the Crackpot Gourmet this week at the Reston Farmer's Market, and she suggested I should write a cook book of salads, because I, myself, have crackpot ideas of what would taste good in a salad, and I should share that with everyone and you know, make some money too. It's definitely an idea. But I might have to do maybe soups, salads, and appetizers and make it arranged seasonally around a farm share or farmer's market. Thoughts? The big problem is the pictures. I could write out everything I've done but now that the summer is ending I won't have the ingredients to do them again until next year.

That said, I could write over the winter and test out everything next year.

Anyway, my church has a food ministry for new moms. It's really awesome, and we have been gifted with many many meals since my daughter was born. Some were awesome and some were plain (when you tell people there is an allergy in your family they automatically think "I have to cook bland food" instead of "I have to not use nuts or beans") but all were delicious. Last night we got what I think is our last meal, and the woman who made it really went all out! She stuffed chicken with pepperoni and cheese and baked it with pasta sauce and Omnomnom. Then she included glazed carrots, a bottle of wine, a crusty bread, and cupcakes! We had everything but the wine (with Lillian sick I can't pump and dump because she wants to nurse all the time).

Anyway, all of the meals we got have given me some more cooking ideas, and also told me what kinds of meals would be great to give people when I am doing the cooking. I tend to do a pasta dish but I think in the future I'll do something a bit more exotic. I'm always worried that people will not have the same taste as I do, so I tend to err on the side of caution. But it occurs to me that if everyone does that, you get 5 trays of pasta and a shepherd's pie (haha). I really appreciated the meals that were a bit different! One woman made meatball subs; how cool is that? So maybe in the future I will do my baked pork chops, or mango curry chicken and rice! Why be boring, right?

CSA trip this afternoon. I think we are getting more potatoes. Anyone have a good potato recipe?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

CSA This week

It's hard to believe we are coming to the end of our CSA! We didn't do the full summer and fall, so our last pickup is going to be on September 16th! Crazy!

This week:

1/2 dozen eggs
a whole lot of potatoes
2 eggplants
yellow mini tomatoes
12 or so heirloom tomatoes
chinese long beans (anyone know what these are? How to cook them?)

The eggplants and many of the tomatoes have already become more caponata. I made about 2 quarts and gave some away to a friend today. We have so many potatoes it's hard to remember to cook them all the time. Today I made some cheesy potatoes to have with dinner and they were kind of a hit. The blackberries were, as usual, fabulous.

Our farmer's market goes until November, so after our share ends we'll still be buying locally grown produce, just from the market instead of from our share. It would have been an extra $100 for our share to include four weeks of autumn veggies, and I think we figured we wouldn't spend that much in that amount of time on things like squash. We'll track our spending though, and see if we do, and if we do, we may opt to take the extra weeks next year. Meanwhile, I'll be sad when it is no longer part of our ritual to go to the farm every Wednesday to get our veggies.

Here's a quickie salad that tasted way better than it probably ought to have tasted. Don't ask me why I thought to do this, but it seemed like a good idea and it was very tasty.

some greens (mostly romaine)
top with blackberries
add some crumbled goat cheese (I used Cherry Glen Monocacy Silver)
drizzle with ranch dressing
drizzle with a little bit of Big Fig Jam from The Crackpot Gourmet
Eat and wonder why it tastes so good.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pasta Sauce Recipe--of sorts

In my last post I talked about making pasta sauce.

This isn't really so much a recipe as a "what I did and you can do something like it too." Really, pasta sauce isn't so specific a practice that you need to have a full-on recipe. Just a good sense of what you like.

We started with 25 lbs of tomato seconds from our farm share. The night before the Big Cook, we peeled, seeded, and either chopped or pureed the tomatoes. I chopped about a little less than 1/4 of the tomatoes, then refrigerated everything. (We really had to process them that night as they were very ripe and we didn't want anything to start spoiling.)

The next day (during nap time) I headed to the supermarket for more ingredients. We decided to NOT make meat sauce, as this was going to be our base pasta sauce for several months to come, and we might want to use it with some meatless or chicken dishes.

I came home and started on the cooking. I had a 3 gallon pot which turned out to not be big enough, so if you do this you might want to start with 2 pots and split everything (this may also let you do a meat and a meatless batch)

Chopped up 2 very large onions and minced a head of garlic. Started these in olive oil and added fresh chopped basil, oregano, and flat leaf parsley, as well as salt and pepper. When the onions were soft I added the tomatoes, at which point I realized I had forgotten the 4 boxes of mushrooms that I had purchased.

So I sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil and added them to the sauce. It was fine. But don't be like me. Do the mushrooms with the onions and garlic and you'll be less likely to get splattered with hot oil like I did (I'm ok).

From here I added sugar to the mix and also realized that we needed to split into 2 pots or else the mushrooms would displace enough sauce that we'd overflow. So I got my 2nd largest pot and transferred about 3 quarts of sauce. Note that the sauce in the smaller pot ended up getting thicker than the sauce in the big pot. Not a big deal either, but you might want to re-mix them back together if you want consistent packs of sauce.

From here we just let everything cook, then tasted and adjusted seasonings (I did end up adding a little garlic powder to the bigger pot but not to the smaller one). I also added 3 small cans of tomato paste to the big pot and 1 to the smaller pot, which gave it a bit of a richer flavor. These cooked for several hours, and we actually cooked the bigger pot for longer to get it to thicken more.

When all was done, we had dinner, then went to packaging. We do not do canning, but we do do freezing, so we split out the sauce into quart sized containers to cool. When they were cool enough to freeze, we transferred the sauce into quart sized ziploc bags, pressed out the extra air, and froze flat. We kept one quart in the refrigerator to use this week and had six quarts in the freezer.

All in all, it worked pretty well. The hardest part truly was the peeling/seeding/pureeing (would have been nicer to have a better food processor) and the rest I was able to do during baby naptimes. This is a nice basic sauce that can be adjusted when used to become spicier, sweeter, etc. for different recipes.

I like how much stuff came from our CSA--the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and basil were all from our CSA and the other herbs were fresh herbs from the supermarket. The mushrooms were from the supermarket too.

Now, do I freeze peaches next week?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I'm making pasta sauce

I really don't have a recipe to share. But we're making pasta sauce. Suffice to say we started with 25 lbs of tomatoes, a bunch of onions and garlic, fresh basil, parsley, and oregano, and 4 boxes of mushrooms. We just went from there.

(My CSA had tomato seconds on sale for $20 for a 25 lb box. We could not pass this up. Adam and I did the peeling/seeding/pureeing late last night when both kiddos were asleep, and I did the cooking during naptime today. One large and one giant pot are on the stove cooking away. My house smells awesome.)

I anticipate we will have much sauce to last us through much of the fall and winter.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CSA Pickup, plus Caponata

I decided to make Caponata, because I had an eggplant and more tomatoes than you can shake a stick at. I had never made it before so I went online, looked at many recipes, and then did my own thing based on what I remembered from Caponata of my Childhood (tm)

It was fabulous.

1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced fairly small (too big and this will get oily)
3 medium sized tomatoes (I used mixed heirloom), diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 T capers, drained
10 (or more) black olives, pitted and chopped well
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Italian Seasoning
about 2 T chopped fresh basil
pepper to taste
olive oil

Start with your burner on high. Pour olive oil into a saute pan until it covers the bottom of the pan. It may look like a lot but the eggplant is going to soak it up. Use really good olive oil because of this. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant and stir until all of the eggplant is coated. If you have to add more olive oil, do so. Turn down to medium-high and allow eggplant to cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the onions, garlic, italian seasoning, and basil and cook until onions are soft and beginning to get clear. Add the olives, capers, and tomatoes, and pepper. Stir well and allow to cook until tomatoes start to fall apart.

This is intended to be eaten cold with or without bread, but if you care to, you can also toss some with some pasta and eat it hot, then chill the rest.

Today we picked up our farm share. We did really well yet again!

10 tomatoes
1 box blackberries
1 box figs
4 ears corn
2 yellow squash
1 bunch of some kind of greens. I think these are sweet potato greens.
some kind of herb--maybe thyme?
1/2 dozen eggs
salsa kit
sweet peppers


Monday, August 17, 2009

Breakfast Experiment: Baked Peach French Toast

My friend Heather brought over a giant dinner the other night (thank you Heather!) and included with it was this awesome bread. It was crusty like a french bread but the inside was eggy and it was so so yummy. Adam immediately thought, "hey French Toast!" for the leftovers, and I suddenly had this memory of a baked French Toast with peaches that I had had at a bed & breakfast in Cape Charles probably about 10 years ago. Obviously it stuck with me! So I made something up! Of course, I just dragged this recipe out of my ear so I have no real proportions. Next time I'll figure out how much of everything I used!

Baked Peach French Toast
a 9x13 baking dish, greased on the bottom
Enough bread to cover the bottom of the baking dish. Use a bread like french or some kind of eggy bread, cut into about 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch slices
1 very large peach, or 2 small peaches, peeled and sliced very thinly
2 eggs
an equal volume of milk to the egg volume
1 t of vanilla
1/8 c (or thereabouts) of sugar
a sprinkle of cinnamon
powdered sugar

The night before, Line the bottom of the greased baking dish with bread slices. Cover bread with peach slices.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon and whisk well. Pour evenly over the bread and peaches. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 10 minutes. Serve with sifted powdered sugar. 

Serves 3 people unless you're really hungry, and then it serves 2.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CSA Pickup--Tomatoed again!

Have I mentioned it's tomato season here?

This week our CSA decided that instead of packing up our tomatoes for us, they would leave out a selection and tell you how many to take, with the caveat that this week it's ok to be greedy and take more. My husband did the pickup and came back with 10 heirloom tomatoes, plus a box of cherry tomatoes that was in our share already and a salsa kit, which is just what it sounds like--take all ingredients from the salsa kit, put in a food processor, and add salt, vinegar, and anything else you want to add (I added a bit of sugar).

I haven't actually looked at everything we got but I'm pretty sure it included:

10 heirloom tomatoes
1 box of cherry tomatoes
1 salsa kit (it had several tomatoes, 3 small tomatillos, garlic, onion, and 2 kinds of peppers)
a giant box of blackberries
2 small heads of garlic
4 ears of corn
a whole lot of potatoes
onions (not sure how many but my son announced that we had onions!)
1/2 dozen eggs
1 medium sized eggplant
handful of basil (they have a box of "take if you want" stuff and the basil came from there. I asked Adam to get me some so that I can use it with the tomatoes and onion)

Not sure if I missed anything. I already made the salsa and it is fantastic. I'm going to try to contain myself and not make more tomato corn soup because I do know how much my son loves corn on the cob. I guess I can always get him more corn at the market.

I am considering what to do with the eggplant. The volume of tomatoes that we have suggests Caponata, but I know most of my friends would suggest Dusted Eggplant instead (and I do have fresh garlic to go with it). I'll have to think on that one.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fresh Corn & Tomato Soup, Now With a Kick!

I have been making Fresh Corn and Tomato Soup for YEARS. I mean, so many years that the recipe is actually on my old web site here. But I rarely look at the recipe anymore, and I've found that it has evolved significantly and can use a revisiting.

Yesterday morning I was at the Reston Farmer's Market and talking to The Jam Lady from Crackpot Gourmet. She has recently added a bunch of spice mixes to her inventory, so she is now the Jam and Spice Lady. Anyway, we were talking about cooking and what's in season, and I lamented that there is NO cilantro anywhere this year, because the weather is so hot and muggy that it's all wilting. I was specifically sad because this is one of the few weeks when there are tomatoes and corn and cilantro (usually) and they are all peaking at the same time and therefore make the BEST fresh corn and tomato soup EVER! 

Anyway, she agreed. And then she pointed out that she had a spice mix that used a lot of cilantro--her cilantro jalapeno salsa verde. We gave it a taste and decided that it would be the perfect replacement, to both give the soup a cilantro glow but also to give it a bit of a kick!

So here it is. The revised revised and revised again version of Fresh Corn & Tomato Soup, originally from Laurel's Kitchen but now a new and kicky thing! Of course, if you want to make this, try making your own spice mix with cilantro, jalapenos, lime juice, some garlic, salt, sugar, and oil to hold it all together. Or just do the original version, and chop cilantro to mix in at the very end!

Fresh Corn & Tomato Soup, Now with a Kick!
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 T Smart Balance
5 ears of corn
5-7 mixed heirloom tomatoes (think 6 medium and go from there)
1 box of vegetable broth
1/2 - 1 t salt

Cilantro-Jalapeno Salsa Verde (for mixing in at the end)

Saute onion, celery, and garlic in Smart Balance until tender. Strip the corn from the cobs, and chop tomatoes coarsely. Add corn, tomatoes, broth, and salt to the sauteed vegetables, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for 1/2 hour. 

Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of the salsa to be stirred in. Or, stir in cilantro leaves, and it's ready to serve.

Egg Pie

Not really a quiche, not really a frittata, this Egg Pie is something in between. Again, a CSA/Market recipe. 

The general consensus was OMGWTFOmnomnom. In those words exactly :)

Vegetable Egg Pie
1 summer squash (zucchini-like)
1 small onion
6 or so fingerling potatoes (I used the largest fingerlings I had)
4 eggs
splash of milk
handful of shredded parmasean cheese
2 T garlic curl pesto
Some Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt 

As usual, you can replace the garlic curls with your seasoning paste/spice mix of choice. Also, Krazy Salt can be replaced with your favorite seasoned salt, of course.

Slice potatoes length-wise into very thin slices--about 4-6 per potato. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes. 

While they are microwaving and cooling, slice zucchini and onion into very thin slices and saute in cooking spray. 

Mix eggs, milk, garlic curl pesto, cheese, and Krazy Salt in a bowl and whisk well. 

Line a 9" (or whatever you have) greased (with cooking spray) pie plate with the potatoes, covering the bottom and coming up the sides as much as you can. Add the sauteed vegetables and spread evenly over the potatoes. Pour egg mixture over all and pat down any cheese that tries to stick up.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 1/2 hour or until the top begins to brown and the egg is completely set.

Slice and eat. Serves about 3 people (increase number of eggs and cooking time to feed more!)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Leftover Chicken

The other day my husband was on his way home from class, and asked if he should pick up dinner. I suggested a Safeway roasted chicken, and then made some side dishes from our farm share food.

Of course, with a family of 3, we always end up with leftover chicken, usually dark meat. So what to do with it? Since we are in a state of needing quick meals, the answer was either soup or salad, but who makes dark meat chicken salad? 

Well, after making THIS dark meat chicken salad, I think the answer is "us."

So here you go, Leftover Chicken Salad (the dark meat version)

Dark meat pulled from leftover roasted chicken
1 T romesco sauce bought from the Crackpot Gourmet 
2 small ribs celery, chopped finely
2 shallots, diced
mayonnaise to taste
salt to taste
small amount of fresh parsley

Chop chicken, parsley, celery, and shallots together, and mix in sauce, mayo, and salt. Serve on very good bread with a slice of heirloom tomato, and say YUM a lot.

Coming soon: Fresh Corn and Tomato Soup. Now with a kick!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

CSA Week I lost Track! But OMG TOMATOES!

We have been Tomatoed! Here was our haul this week. There was so much food!

A BAG of mixed heirloom tomatoes
a BOX of Italian tomatoes
1 bunch of rainbow swiss chard
3 onions
1 quart of blackberries
2 small eggplants
4 small summer squash (green)
2 long cucumbers
1/2 dozen eggs
1 big bunch of some kind of very lemony smelling herb (they say this is thai basil but I think it is more like Thai Lemon Basil).
4 ears of corn
1 bag of pole beans 
1 bunch of parsley

I have no idea what to do with pole beans.

But it looks like this is the week to make Tomato and Corn Soup. It generally calls for cilantro, but no one locally has any because apparently it is too hot to grow right now. Very sad as I like to get as many of my ingredients locally as possible. I might just make it with parsley instead. I learned my lesson about making it with basil last year--it tasted more like pasta sauce than soup! 

Speaking of sauce, I might just have to make some pasta sauce, too. Because I really have no idea what to do with all of these tomatoes. We still have 5 left over from last week! I also think we will have to make the swiss chard pies again, because they have been a hit all around. They reheat out of the freezer really well, and 2 pies seem to make a good lunch (I might just make them bigger this time and then one pie will make a lunch!)

So, any suggestions for what to do with pole beans? And any good recipes that use Thai Lemon Basil?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

To start off, here is a great article by Michael Pollan called "Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch" that is very very long but worth the read. I, too, remember when cooking shows were about teaching you how to cook. Pollan never writes anything short, but if you have an hour for reading a good article about cooking and eating and the evolution of the modern cooking show, take a look at it.

Meanwhile, summer chugs along and Fairytale Eggplant season has arrived. If you have never seen Fairytale eggplant, go do a google image search to see the wee cuteness of them! They are itty bitty and are striped white and purple and are delicious for eating. 

Our favorite way to make Fairytale Eggplant is sliced in half lengthwise and simply grilled with olive oil, a little salt and pepper, and some Italian seasoning. If you don't mind turning on the oven, you can also broil it this way and sprinkle with some parmasean cheese for a fabulous side dish. 

Fairytale Eggplant just says summer to me.

Even if you don't like eggplant, this is a completely different flavor. Grilling it gives these eggplant a creamy texture, and the skin is thin enough to eat and has no bitter taste like the skin of your everyday regular giant purple eggplant. I highly suggest you give it a try while they are in season!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Swiss Chard Pastries and Garlic Curl Pesto

One of the things I missed most while on bed rest was the ability to cook! With all of the awesome vegetables coming in every week, I was disappointed that so many recipes never got made. 

One of those was a recipe for "Swiss Chard Empanadas" that came in our CSA's newsletter. I was really excited to try to make them, but they seemed kind of labor intensive. Yesterday, though, with the baby asleep and about an hour on my hands, I went to work. I didn't actually use the recipe in the newsletter but kind of put my own spin on it.

Swiss Chard Pastries
1 package refrigerated pie crusts (2 to a pack)
1 bunch swiss chard, separated into leaves and stems
1 onion
3 T garlic curl pesto (recipe below)
2 T Harissa (pre-made--I got mine at the Reston Farmer's Market but it is available elsewhere)
cooking spray
sprinkle of salt
1/4 cup (give or take) of grated parmesean cheese

Clean the swiss chard really well. Dice onions and chop the chard stems. Break the chard leaves into small pieces. Saute onion and chard stems in some cooking spray with a small amount of salt. When the onion begins to soften, add the chard leaves. When they start to wilt, add the garlic curl pesto and Harissa and mix well. Continue cooking until all of the leaves are wilted down and cooked. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

Remove from refrigerator and add the cheese.

Take your 2 pie crusts and cut them into 6 even pieces each (12 total). Fill pastries by placing a spoon full of mix onto each crust, folding them over, and crimping them shut. Bake on a stone or cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until they begin to brown.

These are delicious hot or at room temperature (as we discovered when I was putting them away and broke one and decided to just eat it).  If you don't have the energy or materials to make garlic curl pesto, just add some ground almonds and pressed garlic to the mix. 

Garlic Curl Pesto
This one is straight from the farm newsletter, with a small change

1 bunch of garlic curls (also called scapes)
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesean cheese

Process in a food processor. Use as a topping on pasta, as a spread for garlic bread, or in recipes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

CSA--Half way through the summer!

The last few weeks I have not actually been aware of what was coming in our CSA share, as I have been on bedrest and friends have been picking it up, delivering it, and making it disappear into my fridge. Then my husband makes salad. 

But today I was downstairs on the sofa when Kristen and Howard showed up with the share, so I know what we have and boy is it a beauty!

Swiss Chard
Onions--three kinds
Opal Basil (it's Purple!)
More fingerling potatoes than you can shake a stick at 

I have a feeling that tomorrow, I will be eating some sort of tomato, onion, and basil all together. Perhaps on a bagel (my parents are coming into town and they are bagel people) but also perhaps as a salad or just by slicing up tomatoes and putting the onion and basil on top. Who can say?  What I do know is that I am having a baby in 4 days and I am not going to let those tomatoes go to waste!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Have not been cooking

I'm still on bed rest for another 9 days, so I haven't been cooking.

That said, Maggie went to go pick up Pho for dinner tonight while Adam and the kiddo went to a ballgame. Hooray for Pho! 

If you have never had it, Pho is Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup. It comes with very thin noodles, beef cut of your choice (you can be adventurous or not), a delicious broth, and a whole lot of side veggies and spices that you can choose to add or not. I managed to add some of nearly everything--bean sprouts, onions, basil, hot peppers, and spicy sauce (sraracha and hoisin mixed and yum). I over spiced mine but I didn't care because I have been Craving Spice for days now.

Maggie tells me that I need to remind everyone that it is also the world's tastiest laxative. 

I can't wait to getting back to cooking, but for now, Pho and other delicious take out items will do just fine!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Chicken with Cherry Sauce, also, My husband, the cooking fiend

It's Cherry Season!!!

Last year at Cherry Season, my friend Maggie and I invented the Best Cherry Sauce Recipe There Ever Was. This year, I had to ask my husband to make it, based on some very nebulous directions that I had scribbled into my Livejournal. These included directions like "Add a whole lot of Five Spice." Well, he followed my crazy directions but then told me exactly what he did so that we can emulate it in the future. So today, I present Chicken with Cherry Sauce!

Chicken with Cherry Sauce
by Lynne Powell, Maggie Kolb, and formalized by Adam Terio
1 whole roasting chicken
olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika
1 cup sour cherries, pitted
1/2 cup sweet cherries, pitted
1/4 cup Smart Balance 
2t salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 of a bottle of red wine (estimate here)
1t five spice
1/2t black pepper
splash of apple juice

Coat chicken with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, garlic, paprika. Roast chicken. While chicken is roasting, start the sauce.

Saute sweet and sour cherries in Smart Balance. Add salt and sugar and continue to saute until cherries are coated. Add wine, five spice, black pepper, and a splash of apple juice. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Smash cherries with a fork or potato masher and allow to continue reducing until chicken is ready to eat. 

We serve the chicken with the sauce on the side, as if you do have leftovers of both, they reheat better separately. This is traditionally (both times) served with cous cous and corn on the cob. 

In other news, my husband has been a cooking fiend today. He started out making breakfast burritos with eggs, cheese and chorizo. On our list of things to cook or prep are this fabulous dinner, a cherry pie (which he made, and we had for dessert), swiss chard empanadas, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and beer. And since I can't stand up, he has been doing everything himself! I did help pit the cherries because I could sit and do it in about 10 minutes now that we have a cherry pitter. I know it's a uni-tasker. But it's probably even more useful than my favorite gadget, the mango pitter, because cherry season lasts longer. 

So he's been cooking. The ice cream is cooling before we put it in the ice cream maker, the pie has been partially eaten, the dinner was demolished, and the water for the beer has been boiled. If we don't get to the empanadas, oh well, there's always tomorrow (it's more important that the beer get made actually, based on my due date!) When I met him, my husband knew how to make three things--Boboli pizza, chicken stir fry, and taco salad. (He claims he knew how to make other things but that's all we ever ate at his house unless I cooked!) So after today he has made a believer of me!! He even noticed that he had extra heavy cream from the ice cream, so he made whipped cream for the pie! I'm seriously impressed, and I love him dearly!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Good Friends Who Cook for You

My friend Melanie came over this week to watch my son while I was doing lab tests, and she not only watched the kiddo but cooked dinner for us too! She knew we had our farm share, and she asked what we had in the house, then brought over some stuff to supplement what we had. 

Now I might be biased from all of the hospital food, but what she made was quite likely the best thing I've eaten in ages. :-D

I'm copying it here though, so I never lose the recipe! Here is her post, and I do hope some of you get to make this considering it *is* zucchini season! She used pork and lamb because it was on sale, and now I don't think I could eat it any other way. Though I could certainly try :) She also lists her alterations that she made for us based on our farm share. Make sure to add the bell pepper because it made it Extra Yummy. 

Pop's Zucchini Goulash (Crock pot...or not)
Since we're getting into that season when everyone foolish enough to plant zucchini now has it growing out their ears, I thought i'd post the recipe for tonight's supper. This is one of those "throw whatever you have in the pot" that I remember from my grandfather (the one my new son Robbie is named for). I think his had a bit less meat and a bit more tomato--and he always made it in a big electric frying pan rather than the crock pot, so do what you like-- it is very forgiving.

2 lbs ground meat (beef, turkey, pork, lamb, or a mix)
1 large can of peeled tomatoes (cut them in half) - don't drain!
1 large can chopped tomatoes
"a whole lot" of zucchini, sliced to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (I used 4 6 inchers and one 10 inch)
1 medium/large onion, chopped
1 TB chopped garlic
1 TB dried oregano
1 TB dried basil
1 TB paprika
salt & pepper to taste

Sautee the onion and ground meat. Drain and add to the crock pot. Add all remaining ingredients and cook on low 6-8 hours. If you don't want to use the crock, keep everything in one large pot and simmer until the zucchini is tender. Serve as is, or over rice or pasta.

Because I was fortunate enough to have access to a friend's coop farm share, I made some changes: I substituted two large chopped garlic curls for the garlic, I subbed three fresh tomatoes for one of the cans, I used about half a leftover bell pepper, and the basil was fresh--yum!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hospital Food--it could kill you

First of all, I have no idea what's in our CSA share this week, as I'm on complete bedrest now. I think there is some bibb lettuce, some zucchini, more garlic curls, and potentially some lemon basil but I haven't seen for myself yet. I guess this week will be a big week of food surprises from my husband.

I spent 2 days in the hospital this week, and who would have thought that my awesome diet would be completely thwarted by hospital food. I mean, I understand that it's institutional food, but must it be so completely bad for you?  

While I was still laying in triage, heading into my fifth hour, I begged for some food, and the nurses brought me some snacks from the maternity snack fridge. A banana, some graham crackers, and a ginger ale. All but the banana were sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup, which I haven't had any of in months. Boy was that a shock to the system.

After they admitted me, most of the meals were mystery meat smothered in gravy, vegetables that had had the life cooked out of them, and desserts that undoubtedly were again made with HFCS. Even when I started requesting iced tea, what came was some kind of industrial blend of tea-like substance. Even the juices were sweetened with HFCS--as if fruit juice needs to be sweetened at all.

The most remarkable dinner that I had, and by remarkable I do not mean that in a good way, was the "chicken pot pie." I figured, ok, institutional food. TONS of frozen food companies make perfectly decent chicken pot pie. How bad could it be?

What came was what appeared to be semi-condensed cream of chicken soup with a biscuit thrown in the middle. It was mostly broth, about 4 small chunks of chicken, 5 peas, and 2 carrot slices. I kid you not. I had ordered spinach on the side as a choice that was not mashed potatoes, and it was, of course, cooked to death. 

It's a recipe for disaster. And constipation. If I'm going to eat this crap, I thought, I may as well let my husband bring me a whopper. 

I later remembered the advice a nurse had given to my dad when he was in the hospital ten years ago--always order the sandwich. Haha! It's apparently really hard to mess up a sandwich, and because of health regulations it has to be made much more freshly than, say, a "chicken pot pie." I'll keep this in mind when I am in the hospital next time (I'm not being pessimistic. This baby does in fact have to come out and I will be in the hospital for it!)

Meanwhile, some real food should be had tonight! Yesterday my husband had to go into work and he left me a cooler of food--veggies, fruit, yogurt, a yummy sandwich, and a pitcher of lemonade. Much better :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

CSA Week 3, plus some more CSA & Farm Recipes

Our share this week is lovely!

1 bag of basil
1 head of lettuce
1 napa cabbage
1 regular cabbage
2 zucchini (one big, one little)
more garlic curls
1 bunch of swiss chard
1/2 dozen eggs

So as it turns out, according to the newsletter, all this rain is playing havoc on the farms around here. Stuff that's already growing seems to be doing well, but stuff that is waiting in the greenhouses can't be planted. It's really sad.  But as it is, at least we know that we'll be getting more lettuce, greens, and garlic products for a while!

I'm glad we have basil this week. I want to get some tomatoes at the market (there is  place that has good hydroponic ones) so that we can have a fabulous salad of tomatoes, onions, and basil. YUM.

Meanwhile, we had some veggies from the previous 2 weeks to use! Since I am actually on bedrest now, I am not so much cooking as directing. Tonight, my awesome husband was going to make hamburgers and mashed potatoes. He suggested using garlic curls and onion tops in the potatoes, and I suggested adding kale, since we had it. Kale is one of those greens that just keeps growing and growing, and if you have a CSA share around here, you are sure to get a lot of it, so it's good to have some recipes! So here is my recipe for Mashed Potatoes with Greens

Mashed Potatoes with Greens

5 medium potatoes, cut up with skins on
1 bunch of kale, stripped of the hard stems and torn into smallish pieces
3-4 garlic curls, chopped
4 onion or scallion tops, chopped
2 T smart balance
1/4-1/3 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste

Boil potatoes, and at the same time steam the kale with garlic curls and onion tops. When the potatoes are done, remove everything from heat. Chop the kale mixture and mash the potatoes. Add the kale mix to the potatoes, add smart balance and milk (start with less and add more if needed), salt and pepper. Continue mashing until milk is mixed in well, and serve.

We made it without salt because my husband is all about salt but I am on bedrest with high blood pressure. I did end up adding a tiny bit of salt to mine, but it was very little. It was yummy.

For one final recipe, I leave you with the idea that I have to drink a LOT of water these days. Well, water can be boring. But I had some leftover mint from the cold cucumber soup, and so I decided to make Sekanjabin syrup. This is an old old old middle eastern recipe. You make the syrup and it stores for ages, not that it will last that long. Slightly diluted, it makes a fantastic salad dressing. Extra diluted, it makes water taste much more refreshing and  minty! Here's the recipe:


2 cups sugar
1 and 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup wine vinegar
handful of fresh mint

Bring sugar and water to a boil. When it comes to a boil, add vinegar and reduce heat. Simmer for 1/2 hour. Make sure you are simmering and not boiling or you will get sekanjabin candy! Add mint and cool. Remove mint and transfer to a container to store. It will store well unrefrigerated, but I like to keep mine cold. For a drink, use one part syrup to 10 parts water. 


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Time for: Cold Cucumber Soup!

This is definitively a Farmer's Market recipe!! Just about everything in the recipe was gotten from our CSA share or our local farmer's market! When Dill arrived in our share this week, this is what I thought of.

I have made this recipe before, but I changed it around this time, both to use more local ingredients and because my knowledge has changed somewhat since I first made the recipe. The original is here on my old web site. It is good but came out thin. Since then I have learned about greek style yogurt. The new version is below.

Note that I use Persian Cucumbers. This is because I can get them. If you can't find any, use kirby or any small cucumber with small seeds. I also used garlic curls (also known as scapes), because they are milder than garlic. But if you can't find any, 2 garlic cloves will work just as well)

Cold Cucumber Soup
3 cups Greek Style Yogurt (I get mine at Trader Joe's)
2 cups milk (I use 2%)
4 Persian Cucumbers
2 garlic curls, chopped very finely
2 T finely chopped fresh dill
1T finely chopped fresh mint
2T fresh lemon juice
1/2t salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Leave the skins on the cucumbers. Finely grate two of the cucumbers, and finely slice the other two (cut the ones you are slicing lengthwise first and then finely slice them. If you are using Persian or kirby cucumbers there is no need to remove the seeds. If you are using a larger cucumber, peel and seed them first)

Whisk the milk into the yogurt until well blended. Add in the cucumbers, garlic curls, dill, mint, lemon, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and serve ice cold.

Goodbye Strawberries, Hello Cherries and Blueberries!!

I was sitting with a quart of strawberries left from the Strawberry Madness, and my friend Ozma sent me this recipe from another blog. I gave it a whirl.

Part way through prepping, I noticed I had no milk!! But I did have sour cream. So I replaced milk with equal parts sour cream, and ended up with the most delicious muffins, maybe ever. WOW. I'm going to reprint the recipe here in case the other blog eventually goes away. Only with my changes :)

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries (I measured out 2 cups and then chopped them. I would use more next time)
3 tsps sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to butter mixture. Add vanilla. Gently stir in strawberries.
Spoon batter into greased muffin pans.
Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over muffins
Bake at 400ยบ for 20-25 minutes.
Makes one dozen muffins.

I was kind of hoping for one more quart of strawberries this week, just to taper myself off, but we got to the market -- not late but not early either -- and there were none left. However, Mt. Olympus Berry Farm had Blueberries! And Glassock's had Cherries! I am in heaven. The first week of any new fruit I usually don't make recipes*, but just eat them fresh and new and YUMMY. Oh my gosh, I am so happy right now.

Enjoy berry season!

*That said, the husband and kiddo made blueberry pancakes today and how can I say no to that?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Eating Beets!

Short entry today. I had quite a long day and was supposed to show houses tonight, which would have left the husband and the boy eating fish sticks.

Instead, I made the fish sticks for all of us :)

Let's face it, I may have a toddler who will eat nearly everything, but it's not nice to challenge his taste buds every night. Sometimes, you just want fish sticks!

That said, when we have something as unhealthy as fish sticks, I like to have something really healthful on the side! Since our CSA Share contained sweet little beets, I decided to make my favorite beet dish ever!

Beets With Beet Greens

Buy beets that are small and still have their greens. Cut off the greens and stems and soak in water to remove the dirt. Meanwhile, spray a baking pan with cooking spray and add the beets, skins still on. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, turning 1/2 way.

While the beets are cooking, swish around the greens and drain, then repeat to remove any extra dirt. During the last 10 minutes of cooking your beets, steam the greens.

Remove beets from the oven and run under cold water. You should be able to peel them quite easily--the skins just slip right off. Slice beets and add them to the steamed greens. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. YUM!

The kiddo doesn't eat greens at this point in his toddlerhood, but he ate the beets and exclaimed, "I LOVE BEETS!!" He probably ate more beets than fish sticks, which is really just amazing.

So enjoy beets while they are in season! And don't forget to eat the greens!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Making Collards Taste Great! Plus, a link

A friend of mine linked to this article about making your brown-bag lunches more appealing. Great ideas. 

Last night, we were supposed to go to a baseball game in DC. But we found out that traffic would be appalling in the aftermath of the shootings downtown, plus we assumed that the Metro would be awful due to people avoiding the traffic, and it was also supposed to rain. So we stayed home. 

Unfortunately, this meant that I did not have anything ready to cook for dinner, as most frozen meals need at least some thaw time before you can eat them. I quickly rummaged through what I had and found that the Firecracker Chicken Quesadillas could be cooked from frozen, so score! I also decided that it might be a nice chance to make up some collards since we got a bunch from our CSA.

Two Quesadillas, as expected, fed the three of us quite well, especially with the greens on the side. And everyone loved them. There was just nothing bad about them at all--a clear winner yet again from Dinner Zen.

As for the greens, my friend Liz had given me a recipe that I love. Actually, I completely left out the vinegar and they were still awesome, though I do recall them being better according to the original recipe. This does contain bacon, though you can replace with veggie bacon if you want, or turkey bacon, or, I suppose, Bacon Salt

1 bunch of collard greens, stripped of their hard stems, washed, and chopped coarsely
4 slices of cooked bacon
1 medium onion (I actually used spring onions with their tops because I had them)
1 T wine vinegar (red or white or raspberry or whatever you have)
2 T maple syrup

Spray bottom of a fairly large pot with cooking spray, and cook onions on medium until they are soft. Add greens and about 1/2 to 1 cup of water, and bacon. Cover tightly and cook on medium for about 1/2 hour.  Taste greens to make sure they are soft enough, if not continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Remove from pot, draining any remaining water. Stir in vinegar and maple syrup and serve.

The thing about collards is that they really need a long time to cook in order to taste really yummy. But you can slightly undercook them (as we have done here) and add some yum to them by adding in the syrup and vinegar. I think that, with the bacon and the vinegar and sugar mixed in, you get a really cool blend of different tastes that hit all of your taste buds. The greens are a bit bitter, plus you get sweet, sour, and salty too. They were a big hit. My son didn't eat them, but hey, they are new to him so we'll give him a few more tries. 

Oh and we're down to a quart and a half of strawberries. I forsee the 1/2 quart disappearing by the time we go to sleep tonight, and I double forsee a strawberry smoothie in my future.