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.

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Squash with Stuffing!

I don’t remember eating a lot of squash when I was a kid. I remember my mom sauteing zucchini sometimes in the summer, but that’s about it. Fall and winter squashes weren’t really on the menu as far as I can recall. Especially acorn squash. Apparently my mom had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad experience with acorn squash when she was a kid, so she never served it to us. (Ironically, I suffered a similar experience with meatloaf, and now I never serve that…) So, when we started receiving all kinds of squash in our CSA, I didn’t know what to do with it.

I started with the least intimidating ones: butternut and spaghetti squash. They’re easy to prepare, and butternut squash has quickly become one of my favorite fall foods. Of course, with a CSA, you don’t always get butternut squash. Sometimes, you get a new-to-you vegetable, and you have to find a way to fall in love with it. Thank you, internet. (Seriously. What did we do before Google? I would have had to use my cookbooks.) 

In my experience, there are a few sure-fire ways to fall in love with a new vegetable.

  1. Roast it.
  2. Add meat (ideally bacon or sausage).
  3. Add cheese.

This recipe uses all three methods. You halve the squash and roast it with garlic, sage, and butter. Once the squash is tender, you fill each squash with a sausage-apple-onion-parm-bread crumb mixture. In other words, you fill the vegetable with my all-time favorite Thanksgiving side – the stuffing. What’s not to love?

The original recipe calls for acorn squash, but when our CSA didn’t deliver acorn squash, I decided to see how it worked with other squashes.  (I’m a risk taker, I know.) Turns out, it works just as well with delicata squash as it does with acorn squash. Now, we’re not limited to one type of squash, which means we can have this more often. Win-win!

StuffedSquash
Not my best photography, but it’s one of our favorite meals. 

Apple and Sausage Stuffed Squash

2 large acorn squash, cut in half, with the seeds removed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground sage, divided
12 oz. bulk Italian sausage
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup) 
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 apple, cored and finely chopped
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon sage. Brush the insides of each squash with the butter mixture. Place the squash on a cookie sheet, cut side up, and bake until fork tender, about an hour.

While the squash bakes, prepare the filling. Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat. (I use either my 10″ or 12″ cast iron skillet.) Once the sausage is brown, take it out of the pan and drain it on a paper towel-lined plate. Put the onion and celery in the now-empty skillet, and cook it until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add the apples to the pan and cook for a couple minutes more.

Put the drained sausage back into the skillet, and then take the pan off the heat. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon sage and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the panko and Parmesan cheese, and then add the beaten egg. Stir until the mixture is completely combined.

Evenly divide the stuffing mixture among the four squash halves. Return the squash to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Originally seen on Peace, Love and French Fries, which has since gone under. However, PL&FF adapted the recipe from Prevention RD,  who adapted it from Food.com.

Click here for a printable version.

Cast Iron Cookies

It’s no secret that I love my cast iron skillets. I use them about three times a week (sometimes more), and my copy of “Cook it in Cast Iron” spends more time on the counter than it does in the closet.

It’s also no secret that we love chocolate chip cookies around here. Out of all the cookies in the world, chocolate chip cookies are Andy’s favorite. So, when I saw the giant skillet cookie recipe in the dessert section of “Cook it in Cast Iron,” I figured it would be a hit.

Of course, it is a recipe from Cook’s Country / America’s Test Kitchen, which means it’s going to be different from your standard chocolate chip cookie recipe. There’s browned butter (be still my beating heart… all that extra flavor), and there’s also this process of whisking the ingredients for 30 seconds, then letting them rest for a few minutes, and then repeating the whole process a couple more times. And, unfortunately, the book doesn’t explain WHY this step is important. And who knows, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s ATK’s way of messing with us rule-followers. Maybe Jack Bishop is secretly laughing about all of us suckers who are whisking and resting, whisking and resting. Who knows. I don’t even care, actually. This cookie so good that I’ll keep whisking and resting, even if it doesn’t make sense.

In spite of the extra whisking steps, it’s not a hard recipe to make. It mixes up quickly, and it takes less than 30 minutes to bake. And if you use a kitchen scale, you won’t even have to get out your measuring cups. (Fewer dishes! Yay!) The hardest part is waiting for the cookie to cool slightly so you don’t burn your tongue on melted chocolate chips. The only change I make is to sprinkle some flaky sea salt on top of the cookie prior to baking for that sweet-salty flavor combination.

SkilletCookie

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

12 tablespoons unsalted, butter, divided
5 1/4 ounces (3/4 cup, packed) dark brown sugar
3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
8 3/4 ounces (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
flaky sea salt, for finishing, optional (but not really…) 

Preheat the oven to 375° and make sure the rack is adjusted to the upper-middle position.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda together, and then set it aside.

In a 12″ cast iron skillet, melt nine tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the butter is a deep golden brown and smells nutty. The butter will foam at first, but this should die down as the butter cooks.

Place the remaining three tablespoons of butter in a large mixing bowl and pour the browned butter over it. Stir the butter until the last three tablespoons melt completely.

Whisk the sugars, vanilla and salt into the butter until smooth, then whisk in the egg and egg yolk. Whisk this mixture for about 30 seconds, then all the mixture to rest for three minutes. Whisk the mixture for another 30 seconds, and then allow it to rest again for three minutes. Repeat this whisk-rest process two more times. By the end, the mixture will be thick, smooth and shiny.

Add your flour mixture to the egg-butter-sugar mixture, and stir until just combined. Mix in the chocolate chips, making sure that no pockets of flour are left in the dough.

Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel, and then spread the dough into the pan. Smooth the dough into an even layer and top with a pinch of sea salt, if using.

Bake the cookie until it is golden brown and the edges are set, about 20 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and allow cookie to cool slightly before serving. (Cook’s Country says to wait 30 minutes for this. If you can make it that long, you have more willpower than anyone I know.) Cut into slices and serve.

From Cook It In Cast Iron

Click here for a printable version.

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!

Cabbage and Noodles 2.0

Once upon a time, in the very early days of this blog, I wrote about our favorite way to prepare cabbage. The post has a terrible picture and is more of a “guideline” than an actual recipe, but it’s one of my most popular posts. People like cabbage, apparently. (Or, maybe they’re just here for the bacon.) 

While cabbage and noodles is still a popular option in our house, sometimes you need something a little different. I’ve been flipping through old issues of Everyday Food lately, and I stumbled on this recipe. I’d obviously made it before, since I’d put four stars on the top of the page. I had a head of Savoy cabbage from one of our last CSA shares, so I thought I’d put it on the menu again.

It’s a fast, easy meal, which is just what we needed this week. The Savoy cabbage seems to cook up faster than regular green cabbage, and I used angel hair pasta instead of spaghetti, which shaved off a few minutes of prep time. We really liked the flavor that the sausage added to the dish too.

So there you have it, cabbage and noodles 2.0. And both Andy and I agree with our original four-star rating. This one’s a keeper. Just like him. 🙂

CabbageSausageNoodles

Spaghetti with Sweet Sausage and Cabbage

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 head Savoy or green cabbage, halved, cored and thinly sliced
8 ounces angel hair pasta
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil, optional (I didn’t use this – I felt like my sausage released enough grease on its own.) 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to the pan, if using. Brown the sausage, breaking it up with a spoon. When the sausage is browned and cooked through, remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet. Drain the cooked sausage on a plate lined with paper towels.

Add the two tablespoons of water to the hot skillet, scraping any of the browned fond off the bottom of the pan, and then add the onions. Place as much cabbage into the skillet as you can fit and season it with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook until the cabbage is tender, tossing it occasionally. Add any remaining cabbage to the pot as the cabbage cooks down and makes more room.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente, then drain the pasta, reserving about one cup of pasta water.

Return the sausage to the pot with the cooked cabbage and stir in the pasta. Add enough pasta water to the pot to create a thin sauce. (I used about half a cup.) Add the vinegar to the pan. Stir to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately .

From Everyday Food, November 2009

Click here for a printable version.

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?