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What We’re Eating: 1/30 – 2/4

January has been unusually busy for me this year. Between a work trip to Florida and a wedding in Ohio, I spent a lot of time NOT cooking this month.

I’ve been trying to make up for lost time over the last week or so though. I finally got the ball rolling with my sourdough starter (which we’re affectionately referring to as “Fester”), and it seems to be growing nicely. Last night was the first time I had to discard some of the starter as part of the feeding process, and I decided to use the discarded portion to make some cinnamon raisin bread. It’s rising now, and I can’t wait to see if it’s a keeper. Andy came home from work, observed the bread-making process and declared this sourdough adventure a “good thing.” 😀

We also celebrated Andy’s birthday this past week, and he wanted to stay in, rather than go out, so we invited Andy, Bethany, Judah and Sadie over for birthday burgers. I made the fried onion burgers from Cook it in Cast Iron, and we finished off the meal with the monkey bread from Bread Illustrated and vanilla bean ice cream. (The monkey bread, by the way, was incredible. I will never make monkey bread any other way again.) 

Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Monday 1/30 – Ham and cheese pie and salad
Tuesday 1/31 – Salmon and root vegetable gratin  (I actually made this in November and froze half of it. I figure now’s as good a time as any to eat the second half!) 
Wednesday 2/1 – Pasta e Fagioli (New recipe for the week!) 
Thursday 2/2 – Chipotle chicken tacos
Friday 2 /3 – Homemade pizza (It’s Friday, after all!) 

It’s safe to say that I’m glad to be back in the kitchen again. 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Toast: Not Just for Breakfast

I first tried this recipe in an attempt to use up some ricotta cheese before it went south. I had all of the ingredients on hand, and it seemed better than letting the cheese mold in the back of the fridge. I didn’t know how Andy would feel about them, but I went ahead and served them for dinner anyway. (Yep, my kitchen is a dictatorship. I like to think of it as a benevolent dictatorship though…) Turns out, we both loved them.

I can’t decide what takes these things over the top. Maybe it’s the caramelized onions. Or the cheese. Or the bread. Maybe it’s everything put together. Either way, this is our new favorite appetizer. I may never make soup again. (Just kidding, Andy. Mostly.) 

I like to tell myself that, as far as appetizers go, this one is relatively healthy. Yes, there’s cheese and bread, but it’s buried underneath a hearty serving of squash and onions. Which meant that cramming several of these in my face on New Year’s Eve was perfectly acceptable.

It’s best on fresh, homemade bread, but it’s not bad on crusty Italian bread from the grocery store bakery. I’ve garnished it with mint (per the recipe) and with parsley (after my mint was done for the year), and we’ve liked it with both. And, as you can see from the picture, it’s just as good if you forget to buy something green.

I’m not sure how Deb figures that four slices of bread is enough for all of the squash. Maybe her bread is bigger than mine, or she heaps the squash more heavily. I’ve also given up measuring the ricotta for the toasts. Instead, I just take a spoon and smear a generous scoop of cheese on the warm toast before piling the delicious squash-onion mixture on top. (Of course, this means my “instructions” will be more like guidelines. Oh well.)

squashtoasts

Squash Toasts with Caramelized Onions and Ricotta Cheese

olive oil
1 loaf of Italian bread
1 2-1/2 to 3 lb. butternut squash
pinch red pepper flakes
coarse salt
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 – 1 cup ricotta cheese
finely chopped parsley or mint, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and the cut each half into slices that are about 1″ thick. Toss the squash with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and then sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and the red pepper flakes. Spread the squash in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast until tender (usually 25-40 minutes, depending on how thick your squash slices were). Remove from the oven and let the squash cool until you can handle it (about 20 minutes).

Scrape the squash from its skin and put the roasted squash into a large mixing bowl. Discard the skin.

Meanwhile, heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. (I use my 12″ Lodge.) Add three tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and then add the onion slices. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to soften and turn brown. Reduce the heat and let the onions cook until they are golden brown and delicious. Add the vinegar and maple syrup to the pan and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is jam-like.

Remove the onions from the heat and add them to cooked squash. Use a fork to mix the squash and onions together. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Slice the bread into 1″ thick pieces. Heat a large skillet (again, I use the cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Toast the slices of bread in the skillet until they are golden brown on each side. Depending on how many slices of bread you have, you may need to add more olive oil to the pan. Place the bread on paper towels to drain while you finish cooking the bread.

Spread a generous spoonful of ricotta cheese on each piece of bread, and then top with a scoop of the onion-squash mixture. Garnish with the chopped mint or parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers (if you’re lucky enough to have them) in the refrigerator.

Barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen, via NYTimes Cooking

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in Appetizer

 

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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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