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?