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CSA 2014: Week 15 & 16

Look! Only two weeks worth of veggies this time. I’m practically caught up. Ha!

Week 15: I was pretty pumped – leeks AND sweet corn? I had a hard time deciding what to do with the leeks, but I finally decided on these leek toasts. (In case you’re wondering, they’re ideal football food – portable, not too messy and good fresh out of the oven or at room temperature. We enjoyed them while the Cowboys embarrassed the Saints Sunday night.) We ended up just eating the sweet corn right off the cob, with butter and salt. Why mess with a good thing?

We also receive loads of cherry tomatoes, potatoes, sweet peppers, green beans, celery and a few sprigs of fresh parsley. The puzzling item of the week – the 3/4 of a pound of serrano peppers. I have NO idea what to do with all of them. Any ideas? My current plan is to deseed them, then chop and freeze them for use in chili, etc. over the winter. However… that might be a lifetime supply of hot peppers for me!

CSA2014 week 15

Week 16: Holy huge cabbage, AGAIN. This one clocked in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces. I need cabbage suggestions… we can only eat so much cabbage and noodles and coleslaw. Any ideas?? We also have more tomatillos, fresh greens, zucchini, sweet peppers, banana peppers, green beans, two acorn squash and more cherry tomatoes. I am really looking forward to making stuffed squash with the acorn squash. It’s one of our favorite fall dinners. I will probably pickle the banana peppers, unless I can talk Andy into my favorite pizza combination – pepperoni, pineapple and banana peppers.

CSA2014 week 16

And there you have it! We have a few more weeks left in our CSA, so I plan to enjoy every bit of it before the inevitable (a.k.a. winter) happens.

 

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Fall Wonderfulness (a.k.a. Our Apple Crisp)

Last weekend, Andy and I picked 130 pounds of apples. Yes, 130 pounds. Clearly, we have zero restraint around fruit. (After all, we’re the same people who picked 50 pounds of strawberries and bought 30 pounds of blueberries earlier this year.) Thank goodness that apples have a pretty long shelf life. And while a lot of those apples will end up in sauce, a fair amount of them will wind up in Andy’s other favorite* dessert: apple crisp.

Over the last seven years, we’ve refined our process and created the perfect system for cranking out batches of crisp. Andy peels, cores and slices the apples. While he’s busy filling the baking pan, I mix up the crumb topping. (Yes, I clearly have the better end of the deal. Don’t tell him though.) Once the pan is full, I toss the apples in cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle on the topping. If we time it right, I can mix up a batch of crumb topping while I’m prepping dinner, which means that the crisp goes in the oven just as we’re sitting down to eat. The result is warm apple crisp for dessert, and if Andy’s lucky, there’ll be vanilla ice cream to go with it. :D

AppleCrisp

*His favorite, right after vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate chip cookies, anyway.

I’ve made this more times than I can count, and this is the first time I’ve bothered to write down the recipe. This is another one of those recipes that I do by “feel” – if it looks like it needs more oatmeal, brown sugar or cinnamon, I add some. Feel free to do the same. :) 

Apple Crisp 

8-10 cups of sliced apples
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Spread the apple slices in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon on the apples. Gently stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, mix the oats, flour, brown sugar and remaining cinnamon. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the oat mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the apples. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon if desired.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature.

Barely adapted from A Taste of the Country, Fifth Edition

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Dessert

 

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CSA 2014: Weeks 8-14

Oh my, I have been slacking on sharing our CSA goodness. Seven weeks without a CSA update? Yikes. To make matters worse, I don’t even have pictures of weeks nine and 10, since we were out of town, but my friend Laura was kind enough to pick up my veggies and enjoy them.

So, without further delay, here’s a look at our veggies for the last two months:

Week 8: Most of this went on vacation with us – except for the kohlrabi, which keeps exceptionally well in the fridge. Seriously. I think we ate it just last week.

CSA2014 week 8

Week 11: The watermelon and sweet corn were welcome additions to our Labor Day cookout. I stuffed the peppers with a Mexican-flavored risotto (thank you, SK cookbook!) and stored the beets in the fridge. (Thankfully, they keep just as well as kohlrabi!)

CSA2014 week 11

Week 12: The week of the melons. We had a cantaloupe and an Asian melon, which tasted a little like a honeydew. We also had an eggplant, which meant trying a new recipe, and we ended up loving it. (I think it was the feta, more than the eggplant…) More peppers, corn and tomatoes too.

CSA2014 week 12

Week 13: I weighed the cabbage. 6 lbs., 10 oz., in case you were wondering. Sounds like a birth announcement, doesn’t it? I have been making lots of coleslaw, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll make a batch of cabbage and noodles soon too. More peppers, which make an excellent snack in our lunches. More sweet corn and tomatoes. Another zucchini, which found its way into double-chocolate bread. Thank you, King Arthur Flour. Honestly, though, I was most excited about the green beans. It’s the simple things in life, right?

CSA2014 week 13

 

Week 14: LEEKS! Tomatillos! Sweet Potatoes! AND sweet corn! (Seriously… mid-September, and I’m still getting sweet corn? I’ll take it.) As soon as I saw the tomatillos, I knew exactly what I was doing with them. Making these enchiladas. I’ll use the poblano instead of hatch chiles (because I have never seen them here in Wisconsin). I think I’m going to try a new recipe with the kale, and I did something new with the corn tonight.

CSA2014 week 14

 

And there you have it. I’m all caught up… just in time to get more veggies on Wednesday. :)

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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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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