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What We’re Eating 9/8 – 9/12

Last week, I put a great menu together, including two new recipes. I was excited. I was organized. I was going to conquer the mountain of vegetables in my fridge. And then, Andy went out of town for work, leaving me with leftover pizza, brats and risotto. Needless to say, last week’s menu didn’t happen.

So, let’s try this again.

Monday 9/8 – Leftover chili (Andy will be at a cookout at church, so it’s just me for dinner) 
Tuesday 9/9 – Thai chicken wraps, corn on the cob
Wednesday 9/10 – Kale pesto pizza
Thursday 9/11 – Grilled pork chops, roasted kohlrabi and beets
Friday 9/12 – Dinner with friends! (I think I’m supposed to bring a salad… I should verify that.) :)

We’ll see if I have better luck this week!

Editor’s Note: WordPress tells me that this is my 200th post. Crazy stuff. Can’t believe that people are actually reading my ramblings. :)

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Who Wouldn’t Want This?

Remember me? You know, the long-lost blogger who has been MIA most of the summer? I’m going to blame my latest absence on our two-week vacation to Maine and New Hampshire, OK? And, for what it’s worth, I thought about blogging on our trip, but somehow never got around to it. (It’s the thought that counts, right?) We thoroughly enjoyed our time off and did our very best to eat New England out of seafood, ice cream and wild blueberries. I kid you not – we picked this vacation solely because blueberries were in season. See?

Pickingblueberries

Andy and his brother picking blueberries for our pancake dinner.

We were lucky enough to pick up some tomatoes from Andy’s parents on our way home from Maine, and we spent a steamy Friday evening processing tomatoes. (Literally. It was 80+ outside when we got started, and with three cauldrons pots of boiling water, our kitchen turned into a sauna in no time at all.) We put up 7 quarts and 27 pints of tomatoes, so I think we’re going to call that good for the year.

In other news, I feel like this has been the summer of the zucchini for me. I don’t remember receiving nearly as many zucchini and summer squash in our CSA last year. And while we love our fritters, I can only handle so much of the same thing. (Unless that same thing is chocolate. I have yet to reach my limit there.) So when this  recipe popped up in my Facebook feed, I figured it was worth a try… after I made a few modifications, that is. I eliminated the mushrooms (still don’t like them, sorry Mom!), added sausage (I tried it with bacon as well, but it’s better with sausage), added some broccoli and onions, and used Swiss chard instead of spinach.

And… we have a keeper here. It’s filling and hearty without being too heavy. It’s loaded with summer veggies, which helps keep the crisper drawer under control. The leftovers reheat well too. As Andy likes to say, “Who wouldn’t want this?!” :D

ZucchiniPastaBake

First thing, you’ll have to forgive the questionable picture. I was hungry. This picture is from the time I used bacon, but you get the idea…

Zucchini / Summer Squash Pasta Bake

8 ounces penne pasta, uncooked
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium-large zucchini or summer squash, sliced and cut into half-moons
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium head of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
6 ounces spinach or Swiss chard, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken stock
3 ounces cooked sausage, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 ounces cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, cut into 1″ chunks
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly oil a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, saute the onions until they begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini and garlic and saute for another minute or two, until the zucchini begins to brown. Add the flour to the pan and cook for a minute or so, stirring often. Add the spices to the pan, and then add the stock, scraping up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the broth has thickened and cheese has melted, about 1-2 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccoli about 3 minutes before the pasta is done. Drain the cooked pasta and broccoli and set aside.

Spread the pasta and broccoli mixture into the prepared baking pan. Stir in the zucchini mixture, sausage, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and spinach/chard. Gently stir until pasta is coated and everything is well-combined. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta.

Bake, uncovered, until cheese is browned and bubbly and mixture is heated through, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve hot.

Adapted from Taste of Home

Click here for a printable version

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Main Dishes, Pasta

 

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CSA 2014: Weeks 6 & 7

August? Seriously? When did that happen? Crazy stuff. Let’s not focus on the fact that summer is flying by. Instead, let’s talk about the awesomeness of sweet corn and blueberries. And we should also talk about the new recipe I found for zucchini/summer squash – it’s a little more involved than fritters, but it’s definitely worth it. :)

Anyway… here’s the latest from our CSA.

CSA2014 week 6

Week 6 included four ears of sweet corn (YAY!), three cucumbers, red onions, a zucchini and a summer squash, two heads of red lettuce, blueberries and a kohlrabi that weighed 3 1/4 POUNDS. Holy kohlrabi. (It’s still taking up a crazy amount of space in my crisper drawer.)

CSA2014 week 7

Week 7 included six ears of sweet corn, two summer squash, one zucchini, a head of broccoli, a red onion, two cucumbers, a pound of snap peas, and, in keeping with the previous week’s theme of overly large vegetables, a FIVE POUND cabbage. Coleslaw, anyone?

As far as the corn goes, it’s safe to say that I won’t be turning it into ice cream anytime soon. Pass the butter and salt, OK? I may try a batch of refrigerator pickles with the cucumber, and it’s safe to say that we’ll be snacking on snap peas for the next week or so. I need to either start shredding and freezing my zucchini or make a lot more zucchini bread and fritters. ;) I discovered that summer squash does not keep nearly as well as zucchini (even in my food saver bags!), so I think I will make another batch of this pasta. I made a heavily-altered version of it last week, and Andy rated it as a five. I will do my best to photograph the next batch and share it soon, but in case you’re wondering, these were my tweaks:

Switched spinach for Swiss chard (because of garden availability) 
Switched mushrooms for broccoli (because we aren’t into fungus around here)
Sauteed onions with the squash
Used penne pasta instead of rigatoni
Added three ounces of cooked sausage for extra flavor and bulk

We loved it, and I felt like it used quite a bit of the veggies in the fridge. I may try it with bacon next time. :)

One last piece of summer news: Our tomatoes are ALMOST ripe. I am hoping for BLTs in another week or so.

 

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Minty Deliciousness

So, apparently, July is national ice cream month. An entire month to celebrate one of my favorite things, and it has taken me 27 DAYS to get this post together. Never fear – we’ve been eating ice cream all month long – it’s just been insanely busy in our house, so I am just now getting around to sharing this with everyone.

I have been planning this one for months. Mint and chocolate are one of my favorite combinations, right behind chocolate and peanut butter, and I was getting tired of eating plain old vanilla ice cream. I stocked up on extra Thin Mints this spring and squirreled them away until my mint started growing like a weed. Once that happened, I just needed to find a good base recipe to work with. Thankfully David Lebovitz came through for me. (No surprise there, right? The man is kind of known for desserts.) 

I did a little tweaking based on what I had on hand. I used one ounce of fresh mint, since that was all I harvested from my plant. I ended up using four egg yolks, instead of five, because that was what was in the fridge. (Clearly, I planned well for this one.) And, obviously, I used a Thin Mints instead of melted chocolate or chocolate chips. It ended up being everything I had hoped for – fresh, minty custard with Thin Mints crumbled in all of the right places. Totally worth spending the $3.50 on an extra box of Thin Mints. :D

Thin Mint Ice Cream

Thin Mint Ice Cream

1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1 ounce fresh mint leaves (about a packed cup) 
pinch of salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
4 egg yolks
1 sleeve of Thin Mint cookies, coarsely chopped (about 16 cookies, depending on whether or not you’ve snacked on one or two while you were chopping them) 

In a medium saucepan, combine the half and half, 1 cup of cream, sugar, salt and mint. Heat over medium heat until the mixture is steaming and the sugar has dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and let it stand, covered, for about an hour.

After the mint flavor has steeped into the milk, remove the mint leaves with a strainer. Squeeze the mint leaves over the milk, extracting as much flavor (and color) as possible. Discard the mint leaves.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they are smooth. Rewarm the milk mixture over medium heat. Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking them constantly. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the warm milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until the custard has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the mixture from heat.

Pour the remaining cup of cream into a large bowl. Set a fine mesh strainer over the bowl and pour the custard through the strainer and into the cream. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it is cold (at least two hours, preferably overnight).

Freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream has finished churning, mix the chopped cookie pieces into the ice cream before storing in a freezer-safe container. Freeze until firm.

Adapted from David Lebovitz

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Dessert, Ice Cream

 

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Catching Up: CSA 2014 Weeks 4 & 5

Two weeks in one post! That’s a sure sign that my summer is getting busier by the minute, and I don’t see things slowing down anytime soon. After all, we are coming up on the most wonderful time of the year, at least in my world. Plus, things are booming in my garden and with our CSA, and because I’m a glutton for punishment we love our fruit, I ordered massive amounts of blueberries again this year. They’ll probably show up about the same time as the airplanes. Thank goodness blueberries are easy to process.

Here’s a recap of the last two weeks of CSA goodness.

CSA2014 week 4

Week 4 brought us summer squash, zucchini, shelling peas, one bunch of kale, a head of broccoli, a bunch of beets and two cucumbers. The fennel was my “what am I going to do with this?” item of the week. I ended up roasting it with Parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt and pepper. While it was definitely edible, I don’t think it’s in line for our favorite veggie anytime soon. I sauteed the beet greens (still have the beets in the fridge), and I am saving the kale for another batch of chips, I think. (Maybe tomorrow, since it’s cooling down a bit here.) In an attempt to eat more vegetables during the day, I sliced the cucumbers and packed them in our lunches during the week.

The real wins though, were the new recipes for the zucchini and summer squash. I didn’t have a chance to make fritters, and my fridge was dangerously close to being overrun by squash, so I went looking for some new ideas. I made zucchini muffins (complete with chocolate chips, per Andy’s request), and a savory squash bread, loaded with Parmesan cheese. The muffins were good, but the cheese bread was amazing. We ate it all before I could take a picture, but I am sure that I’ll make this bread again, so I’m sure to share it here sooner or later.

CSA2014 week 5

OK, so here’s week five. More lettuce. More kale. More broccoli. More squash and zucchini. (Can you say fritters and bread? Again?) The pickles and beans were the newbies this week. (Yay! I’m going to make this potato and bean salad with the beans!) The kale is headed for chipville, and we have been eating the lettuce on burgers and sandwiches. (I learned that lettuce, while great on a BLT, isn’t really ideal on a grilled cheese. What can I say? I’m just trying to use up the stuff!) I plan on “quick pickling” the pickles with our go-to recipe, although this idea intrigues me.

I also have a giant bag of green beans from our garden, and I can’t decide if we should just keep snacking on them or if I should can them. It’s probably enough to get four quarts… is that worth heating up the kitchen with giant kettles of water? Decisions, decisions….

I can’t wait to see what comes next! I’m hoping for tomatoes and sweet corn! :)

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Childhood Favorites

Conventional wisdom says that it’s not a good idea to bake once the weather warms up for the summer. Especially if you aren’t running the air conditioning. (Which we almost never do. I’ll take the fresh air and a ceiling fan over the chill of the air conditioner almost any day.) Warm temps or not, sometimes you just have to bake something. Especially when it’s berry season. And while it’d be a crime to NOT eat hundreds of berries in their perfect, natural form, it’d also be a crime to let a summer slip by without making some fantastic fruit desserts.

Shortcake is near the top of the list when it comes to my favorite childhood desserts. (And that’s a long list. What can I say? I have ALWAYS been a dessert girl.) When I was a kid, strawberry shortcake meant Bisquick biscuits topped with strawberries and Cool Whip. And while I’ve moved beyond Bisquick and Cool Whip in most things, that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of shortcake. So, while I have tried (and enjoyed) the “cake” shortcake, I was on a mission to recreate the stuff of my childhood dreams.

I used our last two quarts of strawberries for this shortcake, almost in a “farewell to strawberry season” tribute, and, rather than simply macerating the sliced berries with sugar, I pureed some of them to help create extra juice for drizzling. (“Extra juice” was the only way Andy was on board with shortcake. “No one wants a dry biscuit,” he said.) I used buttermilk instead of regular milk and winged it with the strawberry mixture. The best part about this recipe, though? (Aside from things like cream and berries, obviously?) How ridiculously easy it is.

Seriously. We are talking 20 minutes, start to finish. From the time you get the mixing bowl out of the cupboard to the time you are pulling warm, delicious biscuits from the oven. There’s no rolling, no cutting, no greasing of the pan. Just mixing, dropping and baking. Totally worth preheating the oven on a summer day. :)

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake 

For the shortcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk

For the berries:
2 quarts of strawberries, washed, hulled, and quartered if small
2-4 tablespoons of sugar, to taste

For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of small peas and the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Pour the buttermilk into the dry ingredients and stir until it is just combined.

Using a large spoon, divide the dough in eight mounds (blobs? piles? none of this sounds appetizing) on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

While the biscuits are baking, puree 1/2 cup of the strawberries with a tablespoon of sugar. Gently toss the rest of the berries with the pureed strawberry sauce. Taste the berries and add additional sugar if necessary. Cover the berries and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve the shortcake.

To make the whipped cream, combine the cream, vanilla and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. (I used a Pyrex bowl and my hand mixer, but this could be done with a stand mixer as well.) Beat/whisk on medium speed until stiff peaks form.

To serve, split the biscuits in half and fill with strawberries. Place the biscuit top on the berries, add more strawberries and top with whipped cream.

Adapted from Taste of Home

Click here for a printable version.

 

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Dessert

 

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CSA 2014: Week 3

Happy July! It’s official; we are moving out of the spring produce and in to summer veggies! Sure, we still received lettuce and peas, and there were our first garlic scapes, but we also had zucchini for the second week in a row AND cucumbers. Hello summer. :) (Maybe tomatoes will be next!)

CSA2014 week 3

Week number three included:

1 head of lettuce
1 + lb. of peas (shelling peas, not sugar snaps)
2 cucumbers
2 kohlrabi
2 garlic scapes
1 zucchini
2 summer squash
1 bag of popcorn

We are working our way through the lettuce, slowly but surely. (It doesn’t help that the lettuce in our garden is growing like a weed as well… lots of salads for us.) I wish there was a way to “put up” lettuce for the winter… any ideas? Lettuce pesto? Does that work?

I made our favorite “quick pickles” with some of the cucumbers, and I have been enjoying the rest of them with hummus for lunch. Speaking of hummus, I may make garlic hummus with this week’s scapes. I’m actually undecided about the zucchini and the summer squash. Do I make my go-to fritters or do I make these unpronounceable-yet-totally-delicious-looking Greek fritters that Elly shared? Decisions, decisions. Maybe week four will bring us more zucchini so I won’t have to take sides.

While I won’t make all of the popcorn at once, I will pop some up for our movie date on Friday. (Our city shows movies outdoors during the summer, so this week, we are going to spend some quality time with everyone’s favorite minions.) Total side note… did you see the World Cup as done by the minions? My favorite thing about soccer, for sure. :D

No inspiration yet on the kohlrabi. Thankfully, it’s keeping well in the fridge. Still undecided on the peas too… I think I may have left my inspiration at the beach over the 4th of July… :)

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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