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.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

CSA Week 2!

In our box today:

2 heads of lettuce (different kinds)
1 head of arrowhead cabbage
1 bag of dill
1 bunch of collard greens
1 bunch of beets with greens
1 bag of sugar snap peas (these are 1/2 gone now because the boy and I ate them in the car!)
1 giant onion with greens
probably about 10 garlic curls 
1/2 dozen eggs

I am still mostly looking forward to the beets, though I might make some collard greens with whatever we eat for dinner tonight! Yum!

CSA Food Budgeting, plus Beets!!

Not Money Budgeting, really, but budgeting the actual food that we receive from our CSA is proving to be a challenge. This week, I must get better at incorporating the fresh veggies into our weekly eating routine. Even with the freezer meals, we can be more easily eating fresh vegetables on the side, rather than the frozen ones that came with the meals. As of yesterday we had a lot of left over veggies from last week still sitting in the fridge. 

Last night, in an effort to blow through a lot of vegetables, I made a HUGE salad of 1/2 a head of small cabbage, all of our remaining mixed greens, the remaining onion tops, and some (non-CSA) carrots and celery. I served it with goat cheese and lemon-tahini dressing from the farmer's market, and altogether, it was a side dish to pasta shells with meatballs (from the freezer from last time I made meatballs)

Well, the kiddo didn't want the salad, and mostly ate meatballs and pasta. Truthfully, the salad was so good that we basically said, "OK! No problem kid!" and ate all of the salad without him. Oh by the way, the child seems to have moved from "will eat only carbs if they are on the plate" to "will eat meat first and carbs after if there is room." I suppose that a toddler appetite really is different from week to week. 

My friend Kristen, who picks up a smaller share from our CSA on Tuesdays, says that we have beets this week! I love beets! I know that beets are somehow some kind of childhood trauma food for some people, but I'm so excited about the beets. I make this awesome side dish of beets with beet greens--it uses the whole vegetable in one dish and everyone loves it! Very messy to make of course, but worth it for the awesome mix of flavors. You just roast the beets and then dice them when they are done, and steam the leaves and chop them up, then put them in a bowl together with some salt & pepper. So you get the sweet from the beets, bitter from the greens, and salty from the salt, and have a perfect mix of flavors all in one dish. Yum! I can't wait!

It looks like we'll be getting garlic curls again--I really need to get out to the store and get some other ingredients for Garlic Pesto. Kristen made hers with walnuts (we are going to use almonds) and she said it was strong but delicious. She also froze a lot of pesto in ice cube trays for later. Great idea, and I will probably do the same.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Strawberry Madness

Today was a day of strawberry madness.

Madness I say!

Yesterday, knowing that it was most likely the last week for strawberries at our farmer's market, we did a crazy thing--we bought a flat (8 quarts) of strawberry seconds, advertised as "for jam" along with 1/2 a flat (we shared a flat with a friend) of "firsts."

So today, the most important thing that had to happen was we had to process the seconds before they rotted away. I found an awesome recipe for strawberry rhubarb pie, so I started there. Oh yes, I bought 6 giant stalks of rhubarb too.

I went though 2 quarts of strawberries, tossing the very bad ones, cutting out the bad parts of others, and simply de-stemming the rest. In the end I had the 4 cups of strawberries needed for my pie recipe. 2 stalks of rhubarb were cut up and added, and Pie was had. It was excellent. Oh and I used Pillsbury crust because I do not make pie crust under any circumstances. Not since the cherry pie incident of 1994. Just don't ask.

Once we decided that the pie was SO GOOD, we decided to put together freezer bags with strawberries and rhubarb, processed and ready to be made into pies! So Adam helped me because it is kind of dull work. We went through several more quarts of seconds and ended up with 2 freezer bags filled with sliced strawberries and rhubarb, for pies, and 2 smaller freezer bags filled with unsliced strawberries with no stems and bad parts cut out. We are going to thank ourselves later in the summer when we want strawberry pie and can have it! 

Meanwhile, there are 4 quarts of fresh delicious strawberries still in the fridge. These will become:

1) strawberry salad, of course
2) strawberry shortcake
3) (as my son would say): "strawberries in a bowl!"

Believe me, they will be eaten. 

Dinner Zen!!

Yesterday was my BIG TRIP to Dinner Zen!

My friend Amy and I arrived just in time to start. We had about a 10-minute orientation on food safety and how to prep the meals. The place was quite awesome. They had coffee and water if you needed it, and also had a baker going around with mini pastries for people to munch on!

Our first station was the crock pot barbeque. It was a good one to start with--a true dump recipe. Start with a pork roast in a bag, dump in barbeque sauce and vegetables, seal up, get your side dish, grab a bag of buns, and store in your bin in the cooler. Move on.

Some of the others were not quite as easy. The Big Bleu Chops, for instance, involved making a filling and then stuffing pork chops! The Mexican Lasagna was also fun but labor intensive. Things like the Bombay Shrimp Bowl, however, were easy and took just a few minutes to do.

As for the portions, OH MY GOSH.

What we signed up for was 12 full meals, to feed 4-6 people each. In almost all instances, they allowed you to split the meal. The only one where you couldn't was the pork roast. So in that case, we might have company, or just plan on eating left overs.

So let's look at the menu again:

Firecracker Chicken Quesadillas: Actually I was running behind and Amy made these for me. But they are so big that I think that 2 people can probably eat one for lunch. So we have 6 quesadillas, but it could be a total of 12 lunches.

Big Bleu Chops: As I said, labor intensive but they are going to be awesome. There were 6 and they are individually wrapped. I think since my son likes pork chops that this will be 2 dinners.

Mexican Lasagna: Lots of work here too. But fun! Think a lasagna only with tortillas instead of noodles, mexican cheese instead of italian, and mexican spices instead of italian. Yum. I split it into 2 pans instead of the 1 and I think they will each be a meal.

Asian Infused Flank Steak: Easy to make. And oh my gosh the steaks are so big. There were 2 steaks, and I think that it will equate to 2 dinners for the family and at least two lunch portions.

Scallion Sesame Burgers: Can I just say YUM. Really messy to make, but fun. You were supposed to make 6 but I made burgers the size we like to have them, and it ended up being 8 burgers.

Crockpot Pork Barbeque: as I said, I'm expecting this will be 2 dinners, just cooked at the same time :)

Bombay Shrimp Bowl: My husband is so excited about this one that we are going to eat it tonight! Very easy to put together, and to split. I split it in two and I forsee it being 2 meals.

Bourbon Chicken: Another dump recipe. Very easy. Split into 2 for 2 dinners.

Asian Pomegranite Salmon Packets: These were individually wrapped! Since my son usually rejects salmon we will probably have these as three meals. The salmon filets are huge too, so even if he likes it 2 are probably enough for all of us.

Quiche Florentine: No prep work at all--they have them pre-packaged. Now, as for our eating them--they are pretty big, and we remain only 2 adults and a toddler. I forsee 2 meals from each quiche.

Lemonade Chicken: How much fun is this? Easy to prep too. There were 6 chicken filets, and I'm now thinking I should have split it into 3 bags, but I did 2. We are used to eating small amounts of meat with more veggies in this house. That said, each dinner should be a dinner for the three of us and a lunch for either my husband to take to work or for me and the kiddo to share the next day. So in all, I'm thinking it's still 3-ish meals.

Pretzel Roll Toastie with Turkey: Have I saved the best for last? Haha. These are rolls that are made of pretzel dough, spread with honey mustard on both sides, with swiss and cheddar cheese, and turkey in the middle. You can bake them from frozen and they get crispy and melty. YUM. Can't wait. We have 6 of them, and they will probably be shared lunches for me and the boy (though I think the husband will probably take some to work too!)

All in all I am guessing that we have over 30 meals in the freezer right now. For $240. Worth it? YES. I seriously love how packed my freezer is today! I feel like I can make it for the next month with nothing more than defrosting and baking/crockpotting. My friend Oz asked me if I was going to do it again before the baby is born. I think that it would be a really good idea, though I might have to send my husband to actually do the work! It was two hours on my feet, and then I had to go out and show houses!

OK I suppose that if I hadn't had to show houses yesterday, two hours of standing would not have been so bad!

I mentioned to one of the staff that I was shocked at how much food there was. He told me that the owners like to err on the side of bigger portions. It was really cool. I can't wait to eat all of it!

So if you want to come with me in July, let me know, and we'll see what we can do!

Friday, June 5, 2009

OAMC Waffles

I have been resistant to doing breakfast as part of Once A Month Cooking, because, frankly, my freezer is small and making room for something that doesn't take a long time to make in the first place seems an unwise use of space to me.

That said, we recently started making waffles using Bisquick. Now, we have tried, and I mean tried HARD, to have healthy waffles. We buy the Oat Bran Mix or the Multigrain Mix, and let's face it--they don't taste like waffles. They come out soggy or just plain wrong. And anything with flax in the mix, as healthful as flax is, makes our dishwasher into a seedy mess. It's just impossible to get anything clean. 

So, Bisquick. The problem is, we are a small family of three, and the recipe calls for one egg, and you end up with 6 or 7 waffles. We were trying to save the extra batter, but we really don't like eating waffles that often, and cleaning the waffle iron multiple times each week is a pain.

So last weekend, when my husband made waffles, I asked him to make all of them, rather than letting the batter go bad in the fridge. Now, these are not Eggos. There's no way they were going to fit in my toaster. But I recently got a pizza stone from Pampered Chef, and I thought that they might reheat well on there. Adam made 6 waffles, we ate 3, and I froze the rest.

When you freeze waffles, you MUST tray freeze them first, and then store them in a gallon freezer bag. Fortunately, I knew this tip. They only took about 15 minutes of tray freezing, and they were then ready to be packaged.

This morning, the kiddo and I got up early and I decided it would be our waffle day. I set the oven temp to 350, spread out 3 waffles on my pizza stone, and threw them in for 5 minutes. I came back, flipped them, turned the oven down to 300 and left them in for another 5 minutes.

And they were Awesome. With no mixing, no messing up the waffle iron, no bowls filled with mix, and with all three of them finished at the same time, the kiddo and I had an awesome breakfast of waffles and strawberries (the end of the strawberries from our CSA share!) They were, perhaps, even crispier than the ones that came straight from the waffle iron last weekend. I was amazed.

So, what do I think? Is it worth doing a month's worth of waffles? Maybe, maybe not. My husband really likes cooking breakfast for us on the weekends, and I hate to take that away from him. But we will certainly be freezing the leftovers again, for another weekday breakfast like the one we had today!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

More CSA Meals

So the mystery herb was definitely oregano! Tonight we had a fantastic dinner of sausage and peppers.

Now, I made it differently than usual because I had so many fresh ingredients. Here's the recipe I used tonight:

4 sweet Italian sausages (from the farm market)
The head of the giant spring onion from the CSA, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 garlic curl, chopped
large pinch of salt 
some freshly ground pepper
leaves from 2 stems of fresh oregano (from our CSA--yay!)
scant cup of water

Brown sausages on all sides, remove from pan, slice into bite-sized pieces, and return to pan.  Add pepper, onions, garlic curls, salt, pepper, and oregano and mix. Add slightly less than 1 cup of water to the pan and scrape anything from the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly with a lid and continue cooking about 10 minutes.  Serve over pasta.

We also had salad, since we have a lot of lettuce. We used romaine lettuce, mixed greens, a carrot, a couple of stalks of celery, and lemon tahini dressing that we bought at the farm market last week. 

We still have a lot of lettuce. I'm not entirely sure what we are going to do with all this lettuce, but I'm going to make a genuine effort!  My friend is also sending me a recipe for the escarole, which should be excellent. The Potomac Vegetable Farms web site has a recipe for garlic curl pesto, so I think I might make some of that, too. 

I am fairly certain I am going to make some lasagna or something similarly Italian-ish :) Maybe a veggie lasagna. 

CSA Meals!!

Since I was excited but not mentally prepared for the amount of food that showed up in my home yesterday, dinner was stir fry. Let's face it, large number of veggies + no ideas = stir fry.

So, our stir fry:

One head of Mei Qing Choi, chopped coarsely
2 spring onions (from the farm market last week), chopped
1 garlic curl, chopped
2 small chicken breasts, marinated for 1/2 hour in harissa (from the farm market) and soy sauce

Stir fry in olive oil. Serve.

We wrapped the kiddo's into an egg roll, and everyone else just ate it plain with no starch or anything, and it was great!

I need to look up some recipes for escarole and kale, but we should be eating very well this week. Also, with three heads of lettuce, I think we will be eating salad. A lot of it.

The unidentified herb was identified by my husband as oregano. Since we have that and basil, I forsee something Italian, too!

Any ideas?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

CSA Week 1!!

Today was our first pickup day from our Potomac Vegetable Farms CSA, and OH MY GOSH what a haul we brought home. I haven't completely identified everything yet, but here's what I think we have added to our fridge today!

1 bag of mixed salad greens
1 bag containing 3 small heads of lettuce
some kind of small cabbage
3 heads of baby Mei Qing Choi 
a head of escarole
some kind of green that looks like kale from the stems but isn't quite as curly. It may be in the kale family based on the stem though (and based on the fact that our "In the Bag" info says we have kale)
an unidentified spicy herb. It's very peppery. It's not on the "in the bag" sheet so I don't know what it is.
a small bag of basil
a whole lot of garlic curls
a large onion with the greens still on top
a box of strawberries
1/2 dozen eggs

Now, we paid for our CSA back in February, and when you divide what we paid by the number of weeks we have, it comes out to about $30 per week for this food. OH MY GOSH. I just never expected there would be so much food for $30 per week. And yes, I'm aware that we're looking at a lot of salad and greens in the next week, but they are going to be awesome salads and greens! My friend Amy came with me to watch the kiddo in the car while I went to pick up the share (I didn't know how long a walk it would be), and we were tasting everything in the car on the way back. I even gave her a garlic curl to use tonight, because I have way too many of them now (though apparently I now have a recipe for garlic curl pesto which I may have to try).

From what I hear, the amounts of food just keep increasing as the summer goes on, so I can't imagine what we'll be getting in a few weeks! How exciting!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Looking Forward to Dinner Zen!!

I have been looking forward to this for a few months now. On Saturday morning at 10:00 am, right after going to the market to get my new flat of strawberries, I will be heading over to Dinner Zen to make my meals for the next month. I am SO INCREDIBLY looking forward to having my Once a Month Cooking Prep done by someone else this month, I cannot even describe my glee.

I really have to fix the freezer issue before I go. Thanks to a zealous husband, and I love him dearly, we have way too many convenience foods in the freezer right now. I may move some to the teeny tiny freezer in the teeny tiny refrigerator in the basement. We really don't need 3 bags of fish sticks in the freezer, even if they were really cheap. Meanwhile, we'll be having a Mango Curry Chicken meal tonight, which is great and will remove one bag of meals, and I can see the last of the pork chops being eaten this week as well. Mainly I have to move around the frozen veggies and convenience foods.

So here's my menu.

Dinner Zen MealsQty
Firecracker Chicken Quesadillas1
Big Bleu Chops1
Mexican Lasagna1
Asian Infused Flank Steak1
Burger of the Month: Scallion Sesame1
Slow Cooked Southern Pork BBQ (Crockpot)1
Bombay Shrimp Bowl1
Bourbon Chicken1
Asian Pomegranate Salmon Packets1
Quiche Florentine (Pre-Assembled)1
New! Lemonade Chicken1
Pretzel Roll Toastie with Turkey1

There are 12 different meals, each of which makes 4-6 servings. My plan is to gauge the serving size and split each into 2 or 3 portions. I'm SO excited. Doesn't that look awesome?! The Pretzel Roll Toasties are made to pop in the oven and become a melty delicious lunch! I don't even have to make the quiche, just pick up the 2 pies and add them to my order! 

I know this is not something I'll get to do every month for the rest of my life, but give me a moment while I revel in the one part of the end of my pregnancy that I'm really looking forward to. NOT COOKING. They say it should take about 2 hours to put together the 12 (really 11) meals, and then I will have food for 24 or more meals! Plus, I still have my convenience foods and a few bags of things I've made recently and had extras of (meatballs and taco meat). So we should be GREAT through at least the end of June, and probably longer as I can definitely forsee a few nights of spaghetti and other boxed convenience foods. 

I have one friend joining me already! If you are local and want to come at the same time, head over to the web site and put together your own menu, and join us on 6/6 at 10 am. :)