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Happy New Year!

Greetings, 2017! It’s good to see you.

Things have been quiet around the blog lately, which explains why my post count is down from the previous year (38 instead of 41, whoops). The year started strong, but when life picks up, my time for writing and taking pictures gets pushed aside.

While I may not have written as much as I’d hoped to last year, I did a halfway decent job of cooking more things from my cookbooks and magazines. In fact, my copy of Cook it in Cast Iron has an almost-permanent spot on the kitchen counter.

I finally got around to sharing some of our very favorite things. The more we like something, the harder it is to get a picture of it!

I was a little disappointed that the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap didn’t happen this year. Maybe that will change in 2017.

Here’s a few observations from 2016:

  1. We like ice cream. Lots of ice cream.

     

  2. Pork roast is my new go-to.
  3. We still like our veggies (even if they come with hitchhikers).

     

  4. Chocolate cake is the best. ChocolateChocolateCake

     

    I’m hoping that 2017 will be the year of bread in my kitchen. Thanks to some not-so-subtle hints (AKA a Christmas list to some wonderful friends), I’m now the proud owner of Bread Illustrated. Plus, my awesome friend Karen gifted me everything I’d need to get going with sourdough. (That’s my late January project. I’m traveling a bunch this month, and since sourdough is essentially a pet, I didn’t want to stick Andy with the hassle of feeding and tending a jar of starter.) Of course, all of these extra carbs mean that I should probably spend a little more time on the bike trainer this winter. Details. 😉

Here’s to another year of adventures, both in and out of the kitchen!

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Upgraded Hamburger Helper

I did not grow up eating Hamburger Helper, or Tuna Helper, or any of those “add a pound of meat and enjoy” type meals. It just wasn’t something my mom bought. My dad did make his own version though, adding ground beef, onions and peas to mac and cheese. While I haven’t had that in a really long time, it was always a hit in our house growing up, and it’s easy to see why: cheese, pasta and meat, all in one pan.

Now that I’m responsible for making dinner every night, I can totally appreciate the convenience of a one-pot meal. Especially one that’s full of pasta and cheese. If I’m really on the ball with things, I can have all of the prep dishes (which are just a couple measuring cups / spoons, a cutting board, cheese grater and a knife) washed before dinner’s ready.

When I first saw this recipe, I thought it had a lot of potential. I mean, we love pasta, beef, cheese and Tex-Mex flavors. The sour cream and cream cheese worried Andy at first, but he was hooked after one bite, and now it’s one of our favorite comfort food dinners. Sometimes I take a page from my dad’s playbook and throw in frozen peas for a true, one-dish dinner. It’s also great with a side salad if peas in your Tex-Mex sounds weird to you. 😉

creamytacomac
Creamy Taco Mac

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 green (or red or yellow) pepper, diced
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
3 cups beef broth
4 tablespoons taco seasoning (I always make my own.)
8 ounces small / short pasta
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups frozen peas (optional)
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped cilantro

Brown the ground beef in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the meat is close to being browned, add the onion and chopped pepper. Cook until the onion had turned translucent. Drain any extra fat off of the pan, if necessary.

Add the diced tomatoes, taco seasoning and beef broth to the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then stir in the pasta. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender (about 7-10 minutes).

Add the cream cheese to the pot and stir until it has melted into the broth. Add the peas, if using. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sour cream. Stir until the sour cream is well-incorporated. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Ladle into bowls and garnish each serving with cheese and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Barely adapted from Elly Says Opa, who adapted it from Delish

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2016 in Beef, Main Dishes

 

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CSA 2016: Late Season Share

Each season, we receive 18 weeks of freshly picked farm goodness from Olden Organics. It’s a great way to eat lots of veggies throughout the summer, especially since our garden doesn’t always live up to our expectations. The summer always seems to fly by though, and before I know it, we’re done with our weekly produce pick ups.

Thankfully, our CSA program includes one final “late season” share that stocks our fridge for a few more weeks. We picked it up in early November, and I still have some of these items in the pantry and fridge.

csa-2016-late-share

This year’s share included:

  • 4 apples
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 bunch of collard greens
  • 1 head of romanesco
  • 1 bunch of radishes
  • several russet potatoes
  • 1 bag of fresh cranberries
  • 3 heads of garlic
  • celeriac
  • 1 bag of sweet potatoes
  • onions
  • butternut squash
  • fennel
  • 1 jar of Hippie Wayne’s marinated mushrooms

In true “addicted to fruit” fashion, we ate the apples. I made cabbage and noodles with the head of cabbage, and I tried a new recipe for the collard greens. I ended up roasting the romanesco with olive oil, salt and pepper, and it should go without saying that I’m putting the onions and garlic in almost everything I make.

The cranberries are stashed in the freezer, waiting for the perfect recipe. (Or, if we’re being honest, they’re waiting for me to decide which recipe to make.)

I wasn’t sure what to do with the fennel and celeriac, but then I saw this recipe. I think I’m going try it! I plan to share the mushrooms with some fungus-loving friends, since neither of us are fans.

That wraps things up for the year. I can’t wait to see what next year brings. (Here’s hoping that 2017 goes a little lighter on the kohlrabi!) 

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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New Reading Material

Look at what I have for two weeks!

I’ve had this on my library wish list for several weeks, and I finally made it to the top of the waiting list. I will probably read through it, and hopefully get to try at least a few recipes. I am so excited! If I’m on top of things, I will get a few pictures too. 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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CSA 2016: Weeks 13-18

OK, so I really dropped the ball when it came to writing about our weekly CSA deliveries. Thank goodness I didn’t forget to pick up the veggies each week. We just received our final regular season share two weeks ago, which means that we’ll have one more late season share in November. Sigh. 18 weeks goes so fast!

Week 13 was the last hurrah for the true summer foods, in my opinion, since it was the last batch of sweet corn for the season. The melon was a little disappointing, if I’m being honest. I don’t know if it wasn’t ripe when we cut into it, but it wasn’t very sweet. The sweet corn was though. 🙂

csa-2016-week-14

Week 13 included:

  • Sweet Corn
  • Green/Yellow Beans
  • Melons
  • Onions
  • Patty Pans
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Banana Peppers
  • Jalapenos
  • Romaine Lettuce

The melon was much better the next week!

csa-2016-week-14

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Melon
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Sweet Onions
  • Kohlrabi
  • Green Beans

Week 15 was the start of fall foods in our weekly share. I love summer sweet corn and zucchini just as much as the next girl, but fall food holds a special place in my heart. I made coleslaw for shrimp tacos and our favorite cabbage dish with the head of cabbage, and the carrots ended up in our latest mid-week dinner win.

csa-2016-week-15

Week 15 included:

  • Tomatoes
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Sweet Potato Leaves (I sautéed them with onions in bacon grease for breakfast one day. Delicious.) 

I was pretty excited about week 16. I mean, potatoes and acorn squash?? I wish I could say that I did something creative with the green tomatoes, but I just let them ripen on the counter. 🙂

csa-2016-week-16

Week 16 also included:

  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Green Tomatoes
  • Onions

csa-2016-week-17

Week 17: AKA, the week of the worms. Seriously.Do you see that giant thing on the broccoli in the picture?? Eww.

Now, we’ve been eating from a CSA for several years, and I grew up eating garden-fresh produce (thanks to my green-thumb, garden-loving parents), so I know that sometimes you get bugs in your veggies. It’s a fact of life. (It’s also the reason I don’t plant broccoli in our garden.) I have vivid memories of running out of the house as a kid because there was a worm in the ear of corn I was husking. My dad always said, “It’s just some extra protein.” Umm.. no thanks.

Anyway… Andy killed the giant worm that you see in the picture, plus another couple that he found on / in the head of broccoli. He assured me that he had gotten them all. I still had him cook the broccoli, and before he roasted it, he said that yes, he had looked it over. There were no worms, he promised. We ate the broccoli, and it was delicious. Andy packed up the leftovers for lunches the next day, because he’s just that nice.

As I was sitting at my desk, finishing my lunch, I decided to scrape the pieces of roasted garlic out of the bowl and eat them. And that’s when I realized that the crunchy brown piece in the bowl was NOT a delicious, crispy piece of garlic but a ROASTED, CRISPY WORM. EW. EW. EW. Appetite = gone.

I fired off a text to my lunch-packer: THERE IS A WORM IN MY BROCCOLI.

His response? “Don’t look before you eat it next time. 😀 “

Besides the head of broccoli and the “extra protein,” week 17 included:

  • Stripetti Squash (It’s a cross between Delicata & Spaghetti. I prepped it just like a spaghetti squash.)
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Swiss Chard
  • Sun Jewel Asian Melons (They taste just like a pear and a cantaloupe got together, and seeing as how those are two of my least favorite fruits, I let Andy enjoy the whole thing.)
  • Kohlrabi
  • Onions

Anyway. On to week 18.

csa-2016-week-18

This time, I made sure Andy inspected the broccoli and the romanesco. He did remove a few green, wiggly hitchhikers. Eww.

Moving on… we received:

  • Radishes
  • Pea Shoots
  • Kale
  • Fennel
  • Peppers
  • Hubbard Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Romanesco
  • Onions

 

csa-romenesco

The romanesco was a new vegetable for us, and we roasted it with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. We thought it tasted kind of like cauliflower, so it was a hit at our house! The cute Christmas-tree shape was fun too. 🙂

That brings us up to the present, at least as far as vegetables are concerned. Maybe it won’t take 6 weeks for me to write about our late season share.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Mid-Week Winner

A few weeks ago, I was looking for some inspiration. I was in the mood for fall food, and I needed some fast, easy meals. I pulled several issues of Everyday Food off the shelf and started leafing through the pages. Nothing seemed to catch my attention until I hit page 44 of the September 2012 issue. (And this is why I hang on to my cooking magazines. If I’d recycled that one, we’d have missed dinner!) At a glance, it looked like something that I could make without going to the grocery store. The recipe also promised one-dish ease, something I am always down with. 🙂

I swapped the sweet potatoes for carrots, since that’s what we had from our CSA. One orange vegetable is as good as another, right? I decided that no roast is complete without onions, and some fresh thyme seemed like the perfect complement to the fall flavors. And while the recipe called for a roasting pan, I saw no reason not to use my favorite skillet.

I was amazed at how incredibly easy this was to throw together. I made it the evening before we left for our most recent adventure (a backpacking trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore), and I had enough time to make dinner, make cookies for the trip AND pack my backpack. Win-win.

ci-pork-roast

Cast Iron Pork Roast with Apples, Onions and Carrots

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 2-1/2 lb. pork roast
3 Gala apples, quartered and cored
3 medium-large carrots, cut into 2-3″ chunks
1 red onion, cut into wedges
2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 to 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 475°. Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with two teaspoons of olive oil. Place the pork roast in the center of the pan, fat side up, and generously season it with salt and pepper.

Roast until the top of the pork is golden, about 15-20 minutes.

While the pork is roasting, toss the apples, carrots and onion together in a large bowl with the remaining two teaspoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the pork from the oven and place the vegetables in the pan around the pork. Sprinkle the thyme on top of the vegetables and pork. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender and the pork registers 140°, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

Let the pork rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board, and scoop the vegetables into a bowl. Place the pan on a burner over medium heat. Whisk 1 tablespoon of flour into the drippings and cook for a couple of minutes. Slowly whisk the chicken stock into the roux and cook, whisking constantly, until the pan sauce has thickened.

Slice the pork roast, then return the meat and vegetables to the pan, coating them with the pan sauce. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine, September 2012

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2016 in Main Dishes

 

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Beer Cookies and Cream

Remember when I first made beer cookies? I was convinced that they’d be perfect for ice cream sandwiches. It may have taken me more than six months to test that theory, but good things come to those who wait, right?

That theory definitely held true in this case. The frozen cookies aren’t quite as soft and chewy straight as the fresh-from-the-oven cookies (no surprise there, right?), but the flavor goes perfectly with vanilla ice cream.

I used the same ice cream base from the rhubarb ice cream sandwiches, and it worked perfectly. I lined a 9″ x 13″ pan with waxed paper and spread the freshly-churned ice cream in the bottom of the pan before putting it in the freezer for a few hours. Once it was frozen solid, I used a round cookie cutter to cut out perfectly round circles of ice cream. (I have several round “biscuit cutters,” so I chose one that was closest in size to the cookies.)

I had stashed half a batch of cookie dough in the freezer, so all I had to do was mix up the ice cream base and bake a few cookies while the ice cream hung out in the freezer. Easy, and perfect for a football Saturday.

The only downside to my plan was the fact that we had been snacking on the frozen cookie  dough for a while, so when I went to bake the cookies, I discovered that there were only 16 balls of dough left in the bag. And, naturally, Andy and I each had to “sample” a plain cookie after they came out of the oven (for quality control purposes, of course), which left me with 14 cookies. Which means I only got 7 sandwiches. I’ll have to plan better next time.

beercookieicecreamsandwiches

Brown Sugar & Ale Ice Cream Sandwiches

Note: I am not sure how many sandwiches this will yield. It will depend on how many cookies you have and what size the cookies are. If you start with a full batch of cookie dough, it’s possible that you will need more than one batch of ice cream. 

For the cookies: 
1 batch (more or less… we had significantly less) of Brown Sugar & Ale Cookies

For the ice cream:
5 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the ice cream, combine the milk, one cup of the cream, sugar, salt and the vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks together in a small bowl until smooth. Gradually add the warmed milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly, until the mixture is warm and well-combined. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.

Place the remaining cup of cream in a large glass bowl and set a fine mesh strainer over the top of the bowl. Pour the cooked custard through the strainer and into the cream. Mix the custard and the cream together and add the vanilla extract.

Cover the bowl and cool the ice cream base in the refrigerator until it’s thoroughly chilled. 

Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, line a 9″ x 13″ pan with waxed paper, leaving an overhang on the edges. Spread the churned ice cream in an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the freezer until the ice cream is frozen solid.

While the ice cream is firming up, pair up the cookies by size and select a round cookie cutter to cut the ice cream.

To assemble, use a cookie cutter to cut out rounds of ice cream. Sandwich the ice cream rounds between two cookies. Continue until you run out of cookies or ice cream, whichever comes first. Place the sandwiches in an airtight, freezer-safe container and return them to the freezer so they can firm up before serving.

Cookies from Erin’s Food Files, originally adapted from the Beeroness. Ice cream base adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally adapted from “The Perfect Scoop” by David  Lebovitz.

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2016 in Dessert

 

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