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What We’re Eating & CSA 2015: Week 6

Would you believe that I didn’t put a meal plan together for the last couple of weeks? I guess that’s what happens when you’re gone more than you’re home. I blame the airplanes. ;) In an attempt to get organized after a week of craziness, here’s our meal plan for this week.

Monday 7/27 – Burgers, corn on the cob and cucumbers (I have a tomato and corn from our CSA for the burgers, along with cucumbers from our garden to use! So excited!)
Tuesday 7/28 – Zucchini fritters, peaches and broccoli
Wednesday 7/29 – Grilled chicken and pasta with kale and garlic scape pesto
Thursday 7/30 – Maple-glazed salmon, a TBD vegetable (waiting to see what comes in Wednesday’s CSA delivery!), bread and cheesecake for dessert. (We’re having some friends over for dinner, and she’s making the bread. We also heard it was national cheesecake day – definitely a holiday worth celebrating.) ;)
Friday 8/1 – French dip sandwiches and a TBD vegetable

CSA 2015 Week 6

My friend Bethany was kind enough to pick up our CSA veggies last Wednesday while we were at EAA. It was so nice to come home to a fridge full of vegetables (and a hilarious note on the kitchen table). Here’s our loot from week #6:

  • 4 ears of sweet corn
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • Summer squash (I can’t decide if this is one or two… they’ve grown together!)
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 cucumbers

I put some of the tomatoes on a pizza and in a salad for lunch. The last one went on our burgers last night, and obviously, the corn went last night too. We’ve been snacking on the broccoli and the cucumbers. I’m kind of at a loss for what to do with the carrots. Should I cook with them, or just eat them on their own? It always amazes me how much more flavor home-grown carrots have, compared to their grocery-store cousins.

In garden news, our beans have started to produce (although not in great numbers, which has me concerned that I won’t get to can any this year). Our cucumber/pickle plants are going like crazy though! We planted “bush pickles” since the plants would be smaller, and they are giving us at least two cucumbers every day or so! I’m going to try making some pickles with them tonight – now I just need to decide if I’ll make refrigerator pickles, or if I should can them. (Slicing cucumbers and putting them in the refrigerator sounds much nicer than breaking out the canner on a 90+ degree day.) 

Our tomato plants are looking rather sad as well. I don’t know what’s going on, but three of the six plants look like they’re about ready to give up the ghost. I may have to buy extra tomatoes to can this fall. We did harvest our garlic this past weekend, digging nine cloves from the ground. Now I have to decide if we should put anything else in its place – a fresh crop of lettuce, maybe? We’ll see…

 

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Summer Snacking

Guess what day week it is!

EAA 2014 038

Yes, this is one of last year’s pictures. I haven’t made it down to the brown arch for my 2015 picture yet.

That’s right, we are smack-dab in the middle of EAA Airventure. It’s arguably the world’s largest aviation celebration/event/convention/party, and we are lucky enough to live just up the highway from the excitement. Andy and I share a love for all things aviation, and we spend as much time as we possibly can down in Oshkosh this week. (Side note – and shameless plug – for the event: Even though the airplanes are cool, the people are the real reason for going. Yesterday, we got to hear three WWII vets talk about their experiences in a B-17. Priceless.) 

Several days at an airshow means several days of packed lunches and dinners. (Yes, we could buy food there, but this is cheaper, healthier AND tastier.) Our typical airshow snacks include fresh veggies (cucumbers and green beans from our garden), cheese and crackers, fruit and whatever else sounds good when I’m packing the cooler. This year, I decided to make something new for airshow snacking.

Several years ago, I saved a recipe for a maple nut snack mix from the now-defunct Cooking for Two magazine. I don’t know why it took me so long to make this, but I’m glad I finally did. It was easy to make, and I had nearly all of the ingredients on hand. I substituted pecans for the walnuts, since that’s what was in my pantry, and I added some dried cranberries to the mix after it came out of the oven. The result was a super-addicting, sweet-salty snack that’s perfect for enjoying on the flight line (or wherever your summer adventures take you).

Maple Snack Mix

Maple Pecan Snack Mix

6 cups of rice chex cereal
1 1/2 cups pretzels
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 cup real maple syrup
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the cereal, pretzels, pecans and sesame seeds. In a glass measuring cup (yet another use for the 2-cup Pyrex cup!), whisk together the maple syrup and butter. Pour the butter-syrup mixture over the cereal mixture and gently stir until it is completely coated.

Spread the mixture on the prepared pan and bake until crisp, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before adding the cranberries to the mixture. Store in an airtight container.

Adapted from Cooking for Two, Spring 2007

Click here for printable version.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2015 in Appetizer

 

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Strawberry Ice Cream, All Grown Up

So, July is national ice cream month, and for once in my food-blogging existence, I am actually sharing a recipe before the “season” is over. Not that ice cream has a season, at least in our house. We eat it year round. (Although, we have been on a popsicle kick lately. Best investment of the summer.) :D

A few months ago, one of my friends gave me a bottle of strawberry balsamic vinegar. The stuff is amazing. I’m talking “drink it straight from the bottle” good. It took my salads to another level (especially with some crumbled blue cheese and sliced strawberries). It was perfect in one of my favorite summer pizzas. I drizzled it on top of my birthday cake (chocolate red wine cake with a strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream, in case you wondered). And then, I saw this recipe and realized that my fancy vinegar would be perfect for ice cream too.

I know that strawberry season is over, at least for most of the Midwest. (We’ve moved onto blueberries, raspberries and peaches now. Oh, how I love summer produce). However, one of the best things about strawberry ice cream is the fact that you can use frozen berries and still end up with a great-tasting ice cream (at least in my opinion). So if you were crazy lucky enough to put 40+ pounds of berries in the freezer, you’re all set.

This recipe is a little more involved than some other ice creams that I’ve made, since you cook the strawberries and then the custard base, but overall, it’s not too much work, and the flavor is definitely worth it. The vinegar isn’t overpowering; it just makes it a little more “grown up.” And while it won’t rival chocolate or moose tracks for my favorite flavor, it’s definitely good enough to make again. You know, since we have a few berries in the freezer. ;)

Strawberry Balsamic Ice CreamStrawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

3 cups of strawberries (fresh if they’re in season, frozen if not)
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup of sugar, divided
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, divided (I used my fancy strawberry balsamic, but any good balsamic vinegar would work fine.) 
5 egg yolks
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large, nonreactive saucepan, combine the strawberries, 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries are softened and the juices have thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, puree the strawberries until smooth. Refrigerate the puree until you’re ready to churn the ice cream.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar and salt. Heat the milk mixture over medium heat until it simmers, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar together in a medium bowl or measuring cup. (I use my 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup for this.) Reduce the heat on the saucepan to medium.

Slowly add the warm cream to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. (I use my 1/2 cup measuring cup to transfer the milk from the pan to the measuring cup.) You want to gradually add about 1 cup of warm cream to the egg yolks. Then, gradually add the yolk mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining milk, stirring constantly. Cook the mixture until it thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove the custard from the heat.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour the cooked custard through the strainer. Chill the custard in the refrigerator until it’s fully cooled, or overnight.

When you’re ready to churn the ice cream, whisk the strawberry puree and the remaining 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar into the custard. Freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Remove the ice cream from the ice cream maker and place in a freezer-safe container. Freeze until firm.

From Pink Parlsey, who adapted it from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2015 in Dessert, Ice Cream

 

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CSA 2015: Weeks 3, 4 & 5

It’s been a while, so let’s catch up on veggies, shall we? We’ve had some favorites (woohoo for garlic scapes) and some veggies that are difficult to love. (Seriously. I am open to ideas for the fennel, people. Anything.)

CSA 2015 Week 3

Week 3 was pretty exciting. I had my first experience with Napa cabbage, which I turned into a cucumber cabbage slaw, courtesy of my go-to cookbook. We also enjoyed our first fritters of the season. We received:

  • 1 bunch of garlic scapes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 head of Napa cabbage
  • I head of Bibb lettuce
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 kohlrabi
  • Broccoli
  • Sugar snap peasCSA 2015 Week 4

Week 4 was pretty exciting too. More scapes! (I made pesto, which has been great over pasta.) The zuchinni, summer squash and beet greens ended up in our favorite summer pasta.

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 bunch of garlic scapes
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 bunch of beets
  • sugar snap peas
  • 1 head of romanie lettuce
  • 1 bulb of fennel

CSA 2015 Week 5Week 5 is like a tale of cities: The best of times (SWEET CORN!) and the worst of times (more fennel). For the middle of summer, it felt like a rather light week, so we’ll see what week 6 brings. Here’s the scoop on week 5:

  • 4 ears of sweet corn
  • 1 bunch of garlic scapes
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 kohlrabi
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 bunch of kale

 

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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A New Favorite

As far as Andy is concerned, there are two types of cookies in the world: chocolate chip cookies and everything else. And while I have yet to see him turn down almost any baked good, his first choice is always the tried-and-true chocolate chip cookie. After all, it goes well with his other favorite, vanilla bean ice cream.

However, making the same cookie all the time makes for a boring food blog. (So does infrequent posting, but let’s not get bogged down in the details.) I love trying new recipes, and when I stumbled on a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie in the Smitten Kitchen archives, I knew that I had to give it a whirl. I mean, peanut butter and chocolate? It’s practically the pinnacle of dessert greatness, at least in my world.

Well, it turns out that these cookies are also practically the pinnacle of greatness for Andy too. They disappeared in record time, both at home and at my company picnic. When I asked Andy how they compared to his gold chocolate standard, he said that they might even be a little better than the classic. “These have chocolate chips AND peanut butter chips in them,” he said. There you go. New recipe success. :D

PB Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup chunky peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup for rolling the dough
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter and peanut butter together until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and brown sugar to the mixing bowl and beat until the mixture is smooth. Add the egg and beat until well-combined, and then add the milk and vanilla.

Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder to the bowl. Mix until combined, and then add the chocolate and peanut butter chips. Once the chips are mixed into the dough, roll the cookies into 1 1/2″ balls. Roll the balls in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Place the cookie dough balls on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving about 3″ of space between each cookie. Use a fork to flatten the cookies a little.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a minute before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

From Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Cookies, Dessert

 

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CSA 2015: Week 2

We may have gotten an extra second on the clock today, but I don’t feel like it added much to my summer. We’re only two weeks into our CSA share, and it’s already taking me almost a week to write about it. Seriously, where do my summers go?

CSA 2015 Week 2This week’s share included: 

  • 1 bunch of radishes
  • 1 head of Bib lettuce
  • 1 beautiful, giant head of romaine lettuce
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 kohlrabi
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1/2 pound of sugar snap peas

So, what did I do with all of this bounty? I added the radishes to my “stash” from last week. (Still saving them for the brown butter treatment. Thankfully, they keep well in my produce saver bags.) The snap peas went into our lunches the day after they arrived at our house. We munched on the broccoli while we enjoyed one of my favorite seasonal pizzas one night. I’ll probably make chips out of the kale (unless I add it to a pasta dish), and I’m saving the kohlrabi for some fritters.

The lettuce has made its way into some beautiful salads, and we tried using some of the Bib lettuce for lettuce wraps for our tacos tonight. Let’s just say that I’m not skilled enough to actually make that work – most of my taco filling ended up on my plate, rather than wrapped in the lettuce. (Of course, Andy tells me that’s because I overfill my taco… details…) 

Rumor has it that week three’s share will include things like zucchini and summer squash, so it looks like we’re rounding the corner into true “summer” veggies. I can’t wait. :)

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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One Worth Getting Up For

Last weekend, we got up at the crack of dawn just so we could pick some strawberries. (OK, 5:30 A.M. Not quite the crack of dawn here in June, but still.) As I’ve mentioned before, we lack self-control when it comes to fresh fruit, which meant that we came home with more than 60 pounds of fresh, sweet, ruby-red strawberries. We froze 40 pounds (perfect for off-season snacking), and I made a batch of strawberry-vanilla jam. I also tried a couple more desserts (popsicles, ice cream and ice cream pie, if you must know), but that still left a lot for eating.

I put them on salads for dinner. We ate them at breakfast and with lunch. They just seemed so snackable. All was well, until the strawberries were almost gone, and I realized that I still had so many things I wanted to make. Scones! Cake! Biscuits! Shortcake! I was trying to decide which recipe was worthy of the final few berries, when Andy caught wind of my plans.

“You’re going to BAKE WITH ALL OF THEM?! What about eating them? There are never enough to eat!”

“ALL you want to do is eat them! I’ve only made ONE batch of shortcake this year!”

So, naturally, we did what any rational person would do. We got up at the crack of dawn (again) and picked 25 MORE pounds of strawberries. After filling my largest Pryex bowl with sliced berries for snacking, I went right to work, checking recipes off of my strawberry bucket list.

Scones in the freezer, check. Biscuits in the freezer, check. Strawberry vinaigrette dressing for dinner, check. Strawberry cake for immediate enjoyment, check.

Immediate enjoyment for sure. This cake was amazing. The batter mixed up in no time (all pantry staples), which is perfect for a busy summer Saturday. After pouring the batter into the prepared pan, you cover the batter with an entire pound of strawberries, giving you an incredible berry-to-batter ratio. The batter puffs up and around the berries, which get soft and jam-like in the oven. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool before cutting into it.

The cake is supposed to be baked in either a 9″ deep-dish pie pan or a 10″ standard pie pan. Since my largest pie pan is only 9.5″, I opted for my 10″ cast-iron skillet. (Plus, I love serving food out of the skillet. It just looks so pretty.) :) I think the skillet helped speed up the baking time too, as my cake tested “done” with about 12 minutes left on the timer.

Andy gave this a 6 out of 5, so it’s safe to say that he won’t mind if the last few berries wind up in another cake. After all, we won’t be picking any more berries… right?

Strawberry Summer Cake

Strawberry Summer Cake

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the pan
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 egg
1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound of strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10″ cake pan or cast-iron skillet. Set the pan aside while you prepare the batter.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and one cup of sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and milk, and then add the vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing just until the batter is smooth.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Place the berries, cut side down, in an even layer on the top of the batter. (I did have a few berries that overlapped.) Sprinkle the reserved sugar over the berries.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until the cake is golden brown and tests done with a toothpick, anywhere from 38-60 more minutes. (Deb’s recipe said 60 minutes; mine was done at about 38.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

From Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Martha Stewart

Click here for a printable version.

 

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Cakes & Frostings, Dessert

 

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