What We’re Eating 3/11 – 3/15

It’s menu time! Between work trips and meetings, dinner has been rather, uh, spontaneous around here. And while I like to fly by the seat of my pants for 90% of life, a little bit of structure in the kitchen makes me a happier cook. 🙂

Monday 3/11 – Leftovers. Exciting, I know, but I won’t be home until after 7:30, so it’s every man for himself when it comes to dinner.
Tuesday 3/12 – Tortellini soup
Wednesday 3/13 – Roasted shrimp with feta and green beans. It’s been ages since I’ve made this dish, so I’m looking forward to it! (Hopefully it’s as good as I remember.) 
Thursday 3/14 – Shredded beef tacos! (I’m not observing pi day this year… whoops.) But, I might get home late Thursday night, so it’s winner winner, crockpot dinner.
Friday 3/15 – BBQ chicken pizza on my favorite sourdough crust. I just fed Fester this afternoon, so I can mix up the crust later this week.

In other food-related news, I have a hold request at the library for one of the newest books from America’s Test Kitchen, Vegetables Illustrated. I can’t wait to check it out, and I’m sure it’s going to make me want fresh, in-season produce even more! My goal is to check it out before farmer’s market season and see if it’s worth adding to my personal collection!

Finally, Andy and I spent a quick weekend in San Diego last month, and while we failed at my goal of getting tacos, we did enjoy some great beer and food at Legacy Brewing Tap & Kitchen. The peanut butter milk stout was like drinking a peanut butter cup. Too bad I couldn’t figure out a way to get a growler on the plane. 😉

Farmer’s Market Finds, Week 2

Happy almost-July, everyone! It’s a sizzling hot weekend around here, but we got up early to beat the heat (and some of the crowds) for our fresh produce.

We started the day out at Cuff Farms for one last round of strawberry picking. It was the best picking we’ve seen all season, so we each filled a flat and came home with about 27 pounds of berries. The only question is what to bake first! 😉 StrawberryPicking2018

We stopped at the farmer’s market on our way home, and I snagged a lot of tasty veggies. This week, I brought home:

  • 1 bunch of beets
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • nearly 2 pounds of sugar snap peas
  • 3 zucchini

2018-FarmersMarketFindsWeek2

So, what are my plans for this pile of goodies? I’m super excited to make this pasta dish again, and, if I’m being honest, that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. I might do a stir-fry or some rice bowls with some of the other veggies. Our lettuce is going strong in our garden, so I’m working lots of salads into our menu as well.  The cucumbers in our garden are coming along nicely, so it won’t be long before we’re enjoying some pickles along with all of our meals.

Have a great 4th of July!

Farmer’s Market Finds, Week 1

It’s finally farmer’s market season around here! We stopped by Olden Organic’s stand to pick up our punch card, and I decided to do a little shopping at the same time.

2018-FarmersMarketFindsWeek1

I picked up a head of lettuce, and more than a pound of sugar snap peas. I also learned that we’ll need to get to the stand before 9:30 AM to have a chance at getting asparagus or garlic scapes.

The lettuce is destined for a bunch of salads, and we’ve been snacking on the peas already. More of the peas will end up in a stir-fry later on this week.

Speaking of scapes, they’re just starting to appear on our garlic. Garlic scape pesto, here we come! Strawberry season has started here as well, so we’re planning to go picking sometime soon. Yay for summer produce!

Hello, June!

Oh look at that… I let May go right by without writing ANYTHING. Whoops. I’d like to promise that it won’t happen again, but let’s be honest… we’ve been here before. (Plus, I’d hate to lie to all five of the people still reading this blog. Ha.) 

I might not be writing, but I am still cooking. I’ve acquired a new cookbook (thanks to Karen!), and the more I read it, the more I’m convinced that I could be friends with Bridget and Julia. (That’s not weird, right? I’m just cooking their recipes; not camping out at ATK in Boston.) 😀

Cookbooks

I’m also monopolizing the library’s copy of The Perfect Cake, which is counteracting all of my summer exercise. So far, I’ve tried one of the mug cakes, the chocolate sheet cake,  the icebox Margarita cheesecake, the strawberry dream cake, and the Boston cream pie. I’m hoping to make at least a couple more cakes before I hit the renewal limit in a couple weeks. 🙂

We also planted our garden! We’ve added a raised bed, so things are a little less crowded (in theory… somehow we still ran out of room), and our lettuce just started to poke up through the ground yesterday.  Grow, baby, grow! Our rhubarb is up and thriving, so I’m going to start filling the freezer and make a few desserts along the way.

newgardenbed.jpg

For the first time in five years, we aren’t participating in a CSA. Our CSA farm isn’t offering a CSA share this season, so we’re going to try their market share instead. I have mixed feelings about it, but I am excited for the season to start! (I’ll definitely miss the “grab bag” aspect of a CSA, since it forces me out of my comfort zone, but it will be nice to get to the farmer’s market regularly. And I won’t miss trying to find ways to use the kohlrabi.) 

That pretty much brings us up to the present. I do have an ice cream recipe to share soon, so hopefully June isn’t as quiet here as May was!

What We’re Eating: 4/23 – 4/27

It’s time for a weekly menu! I haven’t done a great job of sticking to a menu lately, so I’m putting this out there so I have a little bit of accountability. 😉

Monday 4/23 – Meatless Monday this week with Zucchini fritters!
Tuesday 4/24 – I’m leaving Andy to fend for himself while I get tacos with some girlfriends. Hopefully there are still leftovers by the time we get to Tuesday night. 😉
Wednesday 4/25 – Skillet Lasagna. This is one of my favorite things from Cook it in Cast Iron. I’m pretty pumped for dinner on Wednesday.
Thursday 4/26 – Brats with TBD sides. I have almost no inspiration right now, so we’ll see what sounds good when Thursday actually rolls around.
Friday 4/27 – Pizza! I think we’ll order out this time. Glass Nickel sounds like a good way to start the weekend.

What We’re Eating: 2/11 – 2/16

So, that weekly menu. I’ve been fairly consistent about it for the last month or so, which means it’s probably about time for me to fall off the meal-planning wagon. In an attempt to stay organized, here’s what I’m making next week.

Sunday 2/11 – Baked Butternut Squash Pasta and roasted Brussels sprouts
Monday 2/12 – Couscous pilaf with roasted carrots, chicken and feta (new recipe from Southern Living)
Tuesday 2/13 – Salmon of some sort, corn, and roasted beets
Wednesday 2/14 – Pork chops, roasted potatoes, salad, and since it’s Valentine’s Day, chocolate pots de creme from Cooking at Home with Bridget & Julia (I might be using Valentine’s Day as a way to justify fancy desserts on a Wednesday.) 
Thursday 2/15 – Grilled cheese or leftovers, since we’re going to a lecture about the battle of Midway.
Friday 2/16 – Indoor pulled chicken, a vegetable of some sort, and biscuits. I’m pretty excited to try this recipe from the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

There you have it! We’ll see how well I stick to the plan this week.

CSA 2017: The Rest of The Story

Eating locally is something that I’ve been excited about for the last several years. (If you’ve been here for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that.) It’s why I pick local restaurants and gravitate toward the “made in Wisconsin” label on my cheese, wine and beer. It’s also why I’ve opted to get my veggies through a CSA from a local farm each summer.

I typically share a recap of our produce share each week, but this season just got away from me. (And I became the world’s laziest blogger, which I’m working on fixing.) So, here’s a year-end photo round up of 16 of the 19 weeks of home-grown goodness from Olden Organics. (Yes, I only blogged through week 3. MAJOR FAIL.) And technically, we’re missing photos of two weeks because we spent a couple weeks in Washington state this August.

Since I obviously don’t remember what I made with each vegetable, I’ll give you  the run-down of  what does stick out in my mind from this summer.

Corn on the cob. We eat it as-is 99.9% of the time because nothing says summertime like fresh corn.

Cucumbers. In addition to our CSA, our cucumber plants went crazy this summer. I made quick pickles, and I tried a new-to-me orzo pasta salad with cucumbers, mint, feta and red onion. Yum yum yum.

Fennel. It’s still not my favorite CSA vegetable, but I’ve figured out how to make the best of it. This root vegetable gratin is my go-to, but if I don’t have the other vegetables on hand, I discovered that caramelized onions and fennel is an excellent pizza topping. I actually froze a big container of this mixture before our vacation this summer, and it’s just waiting for the next pizza night.

Garlic scapes. I’m a garlic junkie, and scapes are just one more way for me to get my fix. I turn most of them into pesto. My favorite “fast dinner” is pasta with garlic scape pesto sauce and a bit of Parmesan cheese.

Thai basil. I just discovered this variety of my favorite herb, and I cannot get enough of it. We had two plants in our garden this summer, and I loved it. It adds a little extra oomph to dishes, and I liked putting it in stir fries.

Golden beets. They’re similar to regular beets in flavor, but they are so pretty. If you’re someone who eats with your eyes, these are the beets for you.

Carrots. Our late season share had some beautiful rainbow-colored carrots. I tried a new recipe for glazed carrots with dried cherries and orange zest, and it was as beautiful as it was delicious.

Cranberries. We received a big bag in our late season share (and I also stocked up on more at the grocery store). I’ve made cranberry bars and cranberry sauce, and I can’t wait to try a pan of these breakfast buns.

That’s the whirlwind tour of our produce for the year. I can’t wait to see what 2018 holds!

Cookie Time! 

Look at my latest library find!

THePerfectCooki

Unfortunately, it was a short loan, so I had to give it back after only two weeks, but it was fun to look through! There were lots of recipes that caught my eye, but I only had a chance to try three  – butterscotch meringue bars, s’mores blossom cookies, lemon sour cream cookies and salted peanut butter pretzel chocolate chip cookies. Out of those four, the peanut butter pretzel cookies were my favorite, and I got to make them with two of my nieces over Thanksgiving. (I brought the book back to Ohio, and they picked out the recipe I wanted to try most. They have excellent taste!) 

I snapped pictures of a few more recipes that look intriguing, and I’ll probably try those out over the next few weeks. It’s cookie season, after all!

Speaking of cookies, would you believe that I didn’t make a single Christmas cookie this year? Food blogger fail. Things just got away from me this year. I won’t have time before Christmas to bake anything now, but Andy pointed out that I could make a batch the day afte Christmas. It’s supposed to be crazy cold, so spending some time with the oven wouldn’t be the worst thing. 🙂

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Taste the Rainbow!

I picked up our final CSA share of the 2017 season today, and while I plan to do a wrap-up post on the entire season (especially since I dropped the ball on weekly updates), I decided to share this picture right away. 

These have to be the prettiest carrots I’ve ever brought home. Any suggestions for them? 

Fall Fritters

Remember when I first looked through Cook It In Cast Iron? Lots of recipes caught my attention, and it’s been an almost-permanent fixture on my kitchen counter ever since I got my own copy. (Seriously. The chocolate chip cookie is my easy dessert go-to.) 

I showed Andy the apple fritter recipe, and he was on board immediately. Apple fritters are his doughnut kryptonite. I’d never made fried doughnuts of any kind, so I was eager to try them as well. Of course, this was back in April (of 2016! I’m a terrible blogger), and since the recipe calls for apple cider, I put it on the “things to make in the fall” list. I told Bethany about my plans, and we decided that it would be the perfect Saturday morning activity.

So, while our Andys were out volunteering one morning, we made it happen.

Since I knew we’d have eager helpers, I prepped as much as I could before Bethany, Judah and Sadie arrived. I used Empires from our over-zealous apple picking, which worked well. I had everything measured out and ready to go when they arrived, so the kids could easily help add things to the bowl and mix the batter.

I’d never fried anything before this, and I was pleased to discover that it’s not nearly as intimidating as I thought it’d be. I think the biggest trick is to have everything ready to go before you start frying so you’re not scrambling to find a cookie sheet for the finished fritters when they’re ready. Having an accurate thermometer for the oil really helps too. We used Bethany’s for this project, and it made a believer out of me. (So much so that I took advantage of Thermoworks Black Friday deals last fall and purchased a ThermoPop for myself.) Once the kid-friendly activities were done, Judah lost interest in the process (until we were ready to ice the fritters), but Sadie pulled a chair up to the counter and watched us fry every fritter!

The guys came home just in time to help us eat the fritters (which I served with bacon because a Saturday breakfast without bacon is not one I want to attend), and everyone loved them. The cider in the fritters added a lot of flavor, and there were apple pieces in almost every bite. They’re not going to be an every-weekend thing, but I think we’ll make it a point to enjoy them at least once each fall.

applefritters

Apple Fritters

2 apples (6 1/2 ounces each), Granny Smith, Cortland or Empire, peeled, cored, halved and cut into 1/4″ pieces
10 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 1/3 ounces (1/3 cup) sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, divided
1 cup apple cider, divided
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
8 ounces (2 cups) powdered sugar
4 cups vegetable oil, for frying

Preheat the oven to 200° and place the oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and lay the apples in a single layer on the sheet. Pat the apples with a paper towel until they are nice and dry.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, one teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg together. In a separate, bowl, combine the melted butter, 3/4 cup of cider and the eggs. Whisk them until smooth.

Add the dried apple pieces to the flour mixture and toss to combine. Stir the cider mixture into the flour mixture, and mix until the wet ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet lined with a triple layer of paper towels. Set aside. Pour the oil into a 12″ cast iron skillet (you want the oil to be 1/2″ deep) and heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 325°.

When the oil is hot, grease a 1/3 cup dry measuring cup and use it to scoop five heaping mounds of batter into the oil. Use the back of a spoon to flatten the batter in the oil. Fry the fritters until they are a deep golden brown, about six to eight minutes. Flip the fritters halfway through the frying process. Be sure to maintain the oil temperature, adjusting the burner’s heat if necessary.

Transfer the finished fritters to the wire rack on the prepared sheet and move them to the oven to keep them warm while you finish the rest of the fritters. (Before adding the next batch of batter to the pan, make sure the oil is still 325°. If the oil has cooled, wait until it comes back to temperature before adding the batter.) Repeat the process with the rest of the fritters, placing them in the warm oven when they are done.

Next, prepare the glaze. Whisk the powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and the remaining 1/4 cup of cider together in a large measuring cup. (You could use a bowl, but a measuring cup with a pour spout will make it easier to drizzle the icing over the fritters.) Drizzle a generous tablespoon of icing over each fritter. Allow the icing to set for 10 minutes before serving, which should give you enough time to scramble some eggs or fry some bacon to serve alongside your fritters.

From Cook it in Cast Iron

Click here for a printable version.