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!