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.


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.


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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Brought to you by Cook’s Illustrated

Andy was worried when he saw this recipe on the dinner menu. Not because he doesn’t like barbecued chicken (especially barbecued chicken with bacon!), but because it was a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. In his mind, that could only mean one thing: We were going to eat dinner at 8 p.m. I told him that it didn’t look too involved, and, by the way, there’s bacon in it, but he was still skeptical. When I told him that the side dishes were CI recipes too, he revised his original estimate. Forget eating at 8 p.m. Dinner wasn’t going to be ready until 10.

I suppose I can’t blame him too much for jumping to that conclusion, especially after my other CI experiences. I’m not completely unrealistic though. I stuck with easy side dishes – “Perfect Boiled Sweet Corn” and “Sauteed Swiss Chard.” And yes, true to form, dinner did take a little while, but it wasn’t ridiculous. We ate well before 10 p.m. Plus, I got to use my new food processor, so that was fun.🙂

The chicken cubes are tossed with salt while you make the sauce and prepare the bacon paste. Yes, I said bacon paste – raw bacon is whirled through the food processor and then mixed with sugar and paprika. The chicken chunks are coated with the paste before being threaded onto the skewers. They’re brushed with sauce and grilled to perfection. Using thighs instead of breasts helps keep the chicken moist, and the sauce is sweet and tangy, all at the same time. It’s a definite keeper here.


We did have sweet corn with dinner too, but it didn’t last long enough for the picture. 

Barbecued Chicken Kabobs

For the sauce:
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup light or mild molasses (I used whatever molasses was in my pantry, so it was a little darker than they recommended.)
2 tablespoons grated onion (I used the large holes on the side of my box grater.)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

For the chicken kabobs:
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1″ cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
4 teaspoons sugar
2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens to a ketchup-like consistency and has reduced to about one cup. Remove the sauce from the heat and transfer about 1/2 cup to a small bowl to serve with the chicken. Reserve the remaining sauce for brushing on the skewers.

To prepare the chicken, place the chicken cubes in a large bowl and toss with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30-60 minutes.

While the chicken is chilling, prepare the bacon paste. Mix the sugar and paprika together in a small bowl and set aside. Place the bacon in the bowl of a food processor and process until the bacon becomes a smooth paste, about 30-45 seconds. Scrape the bowl down twice during the process. Mix the bacon paste into the sugar-spice mix. (This is my deviation from the recipe – I see that CI says to mix the bacon in with the chicken and then add the sugar-paprika mix. I think either would work.) 

Prior to threading the chicken on the skewers, preheat the grill to high for at least 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the fridge and pat the pieces dry with a paper towel. Add the bacon paste to the chicken and mix until all pieces are thoroughly coated. Thread the chicken onto skewers, rolling or folding pieces as necessary to keep them all in 1″ cubes.

To grill the chicken, turn one of the burners off (on a gas grill) and leave one on high. Place the skewers on the lit side of the grill. Grill the skewers, turning them one quarter turn every 2 1/2 minutes, until they are well-browned and slightly charred, moving the skewers to the cool side of the grill if flare-ups occur. Brush 1/4 cup of sauce on the top of the skewers, then flip and cook until the sauce is brown in spots, about 1 minute. Brush the second side of the skewers with the remaining 1/4 cup of sauce and flip again, cooking until the sauce is brown in spots, about another minute. The chicken should read 175° on an instant thermometer (if you used thighs; breasts will read 160°). Remove the skewers from the grill and allow them to rest for 5 minutes. Serve with reserved sauce.

From Cook’s Illustrated, May 2011

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on September 20, 2016 in Chicken, Main Dishes


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CSA 2016: Weeks 11 & 12

Hey there! Andy and I are back from our off-grid adventures, so I figured I’d take a few minutes to catch up with things here. For those who wondered where we went, we spent 10 days in Glacier National Park and managed to hike more than 95 miles (if my math is right), which is a personal best for us on a trip! It was an incredible trip, and pictures won’t do the place justice.

Of course, the downside to late summer travel is that it makes using our CSA produce and garden veggies a little more challenging. I picked up week 11’s share right before we left.

CSA 2016 week 11

We received:

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1 banana pepper
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • several slicing / eating tomatoes
  • red and yellow onions
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 pound of green and yellow beans

I put the eggplant, beets and pepper in the fridge in my magic produce-saver bags, hoping that they would still look OK when we came home. (And they did. Yay for modern technology!) I knew the onions would keep, so they stayed home as well. Everything else was loaded into the cooler (or the food bin, in the case of the tomatoes – I never refrigerate a fresh tomato) for the trip. I pan-fried the zucchini and summer squash in some butter with a little bit of oregano one day after hiking, and we ate lots of steamed green beans throughout the trip.

Here’s what happened to the sweet corn and cherry tomatoes:

CSA while camping

Just because we’re camping doesn’t mean we have to subsist on hot dogs and instant soup. I roasted the cherry tomatoes in a foil packet with butter, salt, pepper and oregano. Andy really enjoyed them this way – more so than eating them plain. I soaked the corn in water before we put it on the fire, and it turned out really well too.

I don’t have a picture of the week 12 share, as my friend Bethany picked it up, but it looks like it was a good week for her! According to our newsletter, she received:

  • Kale
  • Sweet corn
  • Snap beans
  • Leeks
  • Slicing tomatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Golden beets
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers

Bethany did put a cucumber and a zucchini in our fridge for us, along with the beets. I haven’t convinced her that they’re delicious. Yet.😉

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Posted by on September 5, 2016 in Uncategorized


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CSA 2016: Week 7 – Week 10

I. Am. So. Far. Behind. I’d blame our busy summer schedule, but since I say the same thing ever year, I don’t think that’s a good excuse. Whatever the reason, I am just now getting around to talking about weeks 7 and 8 (even though we are eating the goodies from week 9 10 as I write this). We’ll be lucky if I even get a post up about week 11, since I plan to pick it up on my way home from work tomorrow, throw it in the cooler and drive it across the country. Veggies on vacation! (That sounds so much healthier than our other vacation staple, ice cream.) 

CSA 2016 Week 7

We picked up week 7 during EAA Airventure, which meant that most of it ended up in produce saver bags to wait until  the airplanes flew home. Except the blueberries, of course. We ate those by the handful until the pint was gone, which, as you can probably imagine, didn’t take long. Here’s what we received:

  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 red onions
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1 kohlrabi
  • 1 1/4 lbs. of green and yellow beans

CSA 2016 Week 8

For week 8, we received:

  • 2 yellow onions
  • 3 red onions
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 4 ears of sweet corn
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 lb. of snap peas
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 bunch of beets

Neither of us were overly thrilled about eggplant. However, I think I found our preferred method of eating it, thanks to Cook’s Illustrated. Eggplant involtini (especially with the homemade tomato sauce) isn’t half bad.

CSA 2016 week 9

Here’s week 9:

  • 4 ears of sweet corn
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard
  • 5 red onions
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 4 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 bag of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bag of baby red potatoes
  • 6 tomatoes

I did lots of typical stuff with a lot of this: corn on the cob (boiled to perfection thanks to Cook’s Illustrated), pico de gallo and caprese. It may not be fancy, but it was all delicious.

CSA 2016 Week 10

OK, week 10. (Not only is my writing getting shorter, but my pictures are getting worse. Some blogger I am!) 

  • 2 pints of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 leeks
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 4 ears of sweet corn
  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 1 bunch of beets

The cherry tomatoes ended up in another batch of caprese, and I caramelized the fennel with some onions. I roasted the cauliflower and the broccoli. Thank goodness beets keep well in the fridge, since most of our CSA beets are still hanging out in the crisper drawer. When we get back from vacation, I’d like to use a bunch of them in this beautiful tart. We ate half of the corn on the cob. I used the last two ears of corn (along with the leeks and some Swiss chard from our garden) to make this tasty flatbread / pizza for dinner last night.

Whew! I think we’re all caught up now… or at least until tomorrow’s pick up.🙂

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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Our Raspberry Rendezvous

Last month, Andy and I met some friends in Michigan for the 4th of July. We made it our goal to find the best ice cream place near our campground, which led us to Bud’s. Not only do they have an award-winning chocolate milkshake (made with chocolate and love, I’m told), they also have delicious ice cream. Three of us had the raspberry rendezvous, which is a raspberry ice cream with raspberry-filled chocolate cups. It was pretty great.

There were so many flavors that we had to go back to Bud’s the a second day, and we were surprised to find that we’d made an impression. (Apparently we had a lot of questions. In our defense, how do you know what’s in “happy camper” ice cream unless you ask? Marshmallow and crushed graham cracker, in case you wondered.) I ordered the award-winning shake the second day, and, while it was good, I should have stuck with the raspberry rendezvous from the day before. Turns out the shake only won second place.😉

I meant to share this with you last month. Not only is July national ice cream month, but Andy and I also found a place to pick raspberries and some of them found their way into my own version of this ice cream. Perfect timing, right? Well, just like every summer, things got busy, and before I knew it, July was over! Good thing I’m not limited by manufactured holidays. Any month is ice cream month around here. And since this recipe should work with both fresh and frozen berries, you won’t have to drive to Michigan to try it.


Raspberry Rendezvous Ice Cream

18 ounces (approximately 4 cups) raspberries
3/4 cup sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup mini dark chocolate raspberry cups (I found these at my local bulk food store.)

Combine the berries and 1/4 cup of sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the berries soften and begin to release their juices, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook until the mixture thickens slightly, stirring often so it doesn’t stick or burn.

Remove the pan from the heat and reserve 1/2 cup of the sauce. Use an immersion blender to puree the remaining sauce until smooth. Strain the mixture into a glass bowl through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any stray seeds. (Save yourself a dish and use the same saucepan to cook the custard in the next step!) Let the sauce cool.

In a medium bowl (or glass measuring cup for easy pouring), whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar together. Pour 1 cup of cream into a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually pour the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return the egg-sugar-cream mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large glass bowl (or my often-used Pyrex measuring cup) and pour the custard through the strainer. Add the berry puree (not the reserved 1/2 cup), lemon juice and remaining 1/2 cup of cream to the custard. Stir to combine, then cover and chill until cold.

Freeze the custard in a ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream is done, add the chocolate raspberry cups, letting the machine distribute them through the ice cream. Ladle about one-third of your reserved raspberry sauce into the bottom of the airtight, freezer-safe container that you plan to store the ice cream in. Transfer about one-third of the ice cream to the container and use a butter knife to swirl the raspberry sauce through the ice cream. Layer some more of the raspberry sauce in the container and then top with more ice cream. Swirl the sauce through the ice cream again, then top with the remaining ice cream and any remaining sauce. Give the sauce one more swirl to distribute it through the ice cream. Cover the ice cream. Freeze until firm.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, inspired by the Raspberry Rendezvous at Bud’s in Interlochen, Mich.

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on August 4, 2016 in Dessert, Ice Cream


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CSA 2016: Week 6

Let’s start with the important stuff this week. Do you see what I see?!? TOMATOES! I was extra excited to see these in our share Tuesday night. My friends and I had were talking about menus for the week, and Bethany said she was going to make bruschetta, which sounded like a really good idea, except for the fact that the tomatoes in my garden are completely green. And no one should make bruschetta with grocery store tomatoes in July.

Our CSA came through for me though, with four beautiful tomatoes! So, bruschetta it is. I actually think it will make a good snack next week at Airventure, as long as I prep the bread at home before we go.

CSA 2016 Week 6

Here’s the rundown for week 6:

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 small heads of fennel
  • 1 kohlrabi
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pound of green and yellow beans
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 bunch of garlic scapes

The cucumbers are probably going to wind up in our cooler next week. The scapes are destined for pesto, and I am probably going to caramelize the fennel. We started eating through our kohlrabi stash this week, so now I am down to just three in the fridge. I took my sister-in-law’s advice and oven-roasted them with olive oil, salt and pepper. They were all right, but I may turn the next batch into fritters.

I’ll probably roast the cauliflower, since that’s our favorite way to enjoy it. As for the onion, well, I put onion is almost everything, so I’m sure it will be consumed rather quickly. I’d like to use the zucchini and summer squash in this galette.

Which brings us to the green beans. When they are fresh from the garden, they are one of my favorites. I steamed some with dinner the other night, and I’ve been taking a handful to work each day for easy snacking. Between our garden, the CSA and our generous neighbors, we have a LOT of green beans in the fridge. I might get to can some for winter enjoyment at this rate!



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Posted by on July 22, 2016 in Uncategorized


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