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Spontaneous Success!

Let me start by admitting that I did not plan for this one. Aldi had a sale on mangoes last week, so I violated grocery shopping rule #1 (STICK TO THE LIST!) and put one in the cart. I had no idea what I’d do with it, but 69-cent mangoes are not to be passed up.

Not only did I go off-list at the grocery store, but I also slacked off on the meal planning for the week. I put the fun important things down (dinner with friends Monday night and tacos with friends on Friday night), but that left me with three dinner-less days, and man cannot (or should not) live on Christmas cookies alone. (Not that we aren’t giving it our best shot… 😉 )  And then Andy went on a last-minute work trip, which kind of killed the meal-planning motivation. I would just scrounge up something with what was in the house.

Hmm. One mango. Roughly half of a head of Napa cabbage from our last CSA share (Don’t be grossed out by that. I promise it was still good. Those produce saver bags are AMAZING.) Limes. Onions. Hmm.

Smitten Kitchen to the rescue again! This slaw was incredibly addicting. It was sweet (from the mango), sour (from the lime) and spicy (not sure if it was the red pepper flakes or my red onion) all at the same time. I subbed green pepper for the red pepper (because that’s what I had in the fridge). I didn’t have mint or cashews, so I toasted some almonds and chopped up some cilantro instead.

I was going to cook some shrimp to go with it, but, as I said before, my motivation was dwindling. Plus, I was kind of going to town on the slaw, so I decided to make a meal out of just that. And then I ate the rest for lunch the next day. Like I said, addicting. Good thing Andy was gone so I didn’t have to share. 😉

MangoSlaw

Cabbage & Mango Slaw

1 pound of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1-2 mangoes, thinly sliced (Deb’s recipe calls for 2 mangoes. I only had one on hand, but I would definitely go for 2. More mango is never a bad thing.) 
1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
1/3 of a large red onion, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Combine the cabbage, mangoes, green pepper and red onion in a large bowl.

Whisk the lime juice, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and oil together in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and add the cilantro to the bowl. Toss the salad a few times to make sure the dressing is well-distributed.

Just before serving, sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on December 13, 2015 in Side Dishes

 

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Our Kind of Coleslaw

As a kid, I was staunchly opposed to mayo. I knew it had its place in tuna salad, but I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why anyone would want it on a sandwich or a burger. And those people who dip their french fries in mayonnaise? Ugh. Not for me, thank you very much.

Of course, this meant that I avoided coleslaw like the plague. Soggy, shredded cabbage and carrots drowning in a mayonnaise bath? Umm, no thanks. When I finally grew up matured, I realized that mayo isn’t nearly as terrible as my 10-year-old taste buds had feared. (Not that it’s my favorite condiment – that spot is reserved for mustards of all types.) But I didn’t hate it anymore, and I could appreciate a traditional coleslaw for what it was.

Andy on the hand? Not so much. He still hasn’t outgrown his distaste for mayonnaise (and at his age, I’m guessing that it may never happen), which meant that for the first few years of our marriage, I didn’t make coleslaw. Not that this was an issue – after all, neither of us had a burning desire for the stuff. Then we joined a CSA, which meant that all kinds of vegetables ended up in our kitchen. And when your CSA cabbages regularly come in weighing more than some newborns, you realize that you’d better come up with something to do with ALL.THAT.CABBAGE. (Besides the ever-popular cabbage and noodles, that is.)

Thankfully, friends of ours introduced us to fish tacos, and with them, a vinegar-based slaw. I don’t know why I never thought of it before, but that’s when I realized that coleslaw could be more than just mayo and soggy veggies. And Andy liked it! So, I asked Josiah for his recipe, and I started making slaw whenever we had fish tacos. Pretty soon, I was making slaw just because we had a cabbage in the house. No problems, right?

Well… I kind of get bored if I make the same thing over and over again. Not that you’d ever guess that, right? 😉 I needed a new slaw in the rotation, and thankfully, my favorite cookbook came through for me. Again.

It’s like coleslaw and my favorite “quick pickles” got together for a party.There’s the tang from the vinegar and the crunch of the fresh cucumbers and cabbage.  I made it for a work picnic earlier this summer, and then I made it again just because we had all of the ingredients in the fridge. It’s crisp and refreshing, and it goes well with brats and burgers, making it the perfect summer side. It’s easy to put together, which means that I can make it in the morning before work and have one less thing to do at the end of the day when I’m making dinner. It keeps well in the fridge, and I also think it would travel well in the cooler, which means I need to buy some more vinegar before our camping adventures at the end of the month.

CucumberVinegarSlaw

This is all that was left 24 hours after I’d made the coleslaw, thanks to Andy sitting down and eating it straight from the serving bowl while I prepped the rest of dinner. 😉

 

Vinegar Slaw with Cucumbers and Dill

1 medium head of cabbage, about 2 pounds, thinly sliced or shredded (I used about 2/3rds of a CSA cabbage clocked in at 3+ pounds.)
2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced (Deb says to use English cucumbers; I used the regular seeded ones that came in our CSA.) 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (I used half fresh and half dried, since my dill plant isn’t as prolific as I’d like.) 
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons kosher salt*
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup cold water

In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers,dill and shredded cabbage together.

In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk the vinegar, salt and sugar together. When the sugar and salt have dissolved, add the cold water to the mix. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss the salad with a pair of tongs.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour, tossing occasionally to distribute the dressing. Serve cold.

*Deb recommends the Diamond brand kosher salt and says that other brands are going to be “more densely salty.” I used a heaping tablespoon of my Morton brand kosher salt, so I’d recommend starting with a tablespoon and seeing how it tastes from there. 

From the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2015 in Side Dishes

 

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Coming to a close… CSA Weeks 18, 19 & 20

Somehow, I thought that I would have more time to blog this fall. You know, after the summer produce had been processed and the vacation pictures had been ordered. (Ha! This still hasn’t happened…) Clearly, that hasn’t been the case. So rather than three separate CSA posts, I’ll just do a big recap of the final three weeks of our CSA season.

The biggest theme for the last few weeks was “that’s a new veggie!” We came home with Chinese cabbage, bok choy and a couple new-to-me squashes (sunspot? buttercup? I’m taking suggestions).

CSA2013 week 18

Week 18: Peppers. Lots of them. We ate them raw, in tacos, in chili… you name it. I couldn’t tell you where exactly the onions ended up, because, well, we put them in everything. (And then we eat leftovers for lunch at work. My apologies to our coworkers.)

There was an eggplant, two tiny squash, a bunch of radishes, a buttercup squash, a sunspot squash and a watermelon! Yes, a watermelon. In October. It’s the striped green item in the back of the picture, and it was bright yellow on the inside and super sweet. As always, my favorite thing was the bag of potatoes. I actually don’t remember how I prepared them (roasted, perhaps?), but it’s safe to say that I loved them.

CSA2013 week 19

Week 19: A week of favorites, for sure! Beets! Potatoes! Onions! Butternut squash! Tender, baby greens! And then… what the heck is a Chinese cabbage? I was at a loss for what to do with this giant, prickly, green thing. Thank goodness for the internet, specifically Kirsten’s veggie-loaded blog. (Do you follow this one? You should. She does great things with produce. And pizza!) I sauteed some of the cabbage with olive oil, onions, salt and pepper and then forced our friends to eat it. Not bad, although we all decided it would be better sauteed with some bacon. (Then again, what isn’t better with bacon?) I used some more of it for a riff on my cabbage and noodles dish, using Chinese cabbage and kielbasi instead of the standard cabbage and bacon. Now to find a use for the remaining third of the head… (I told you it was giant!) 

One more thing about week 19 – the potatoes were pink and purple. Not just the skins, but the flesh too. How fun! They even kept most of their color during cooking! (I roasted these with garlic and salt and pepper. Mmmmm.) I had seen blue potatoes as a kid, but these were much more vibrant.

CSA2013 week 20
Week 20: Sigh. It’s the last week! (Well, we’re participating in the late-season share too. But this is the last week of the regular share. WHY DOES SUMMER GO SO FAST?!) Anyway… more squash! And a pumpkin! And radishes, peppers, onions, potatoes, bok choy and oh look, turnips. Another new one. I’m 99% sure I’ll roast them. Everything is better roasted, right?

The large red pepper in front is actually a “mystery pepper,” according to our CSA guy. All I know is that it was sweet, not spicy, and went perfectly with the bok choy in our stir-fry. (The bok choy was also new to me – I’d seen it before, but never cooked with it.) 

Which brings us to the end, I guess. Boo. How long until spring??

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Cabbage & Noodles

We have wonderful neighbors, who seem to to have the world’s greenest thumb (after my parents and grandparents, anyway). They often share things from their garden, which I really appreciate (especially since our   gardening skills leave a lot to be desired). A few years ago, they gave us what might known as the world’s biggest cabbage. As this was before Andy decided he like coleslaw, I was at a loss as to what to do with a head of cabbage bigger than a basketball.

With the cabbage staring at me from the kitchen table, I went straight to my computer and emailed my sister-in-law, Kim. (My logic: She’s married to Andy’s brother. If Dan likes her cabbage dish, odds are, Andy will too.) 

“HELP! I have a giant cabbage! What do I do?!”

She came through for me, and this has become our go-to solution for cabbage (along with a tangy, vinegar-based coleslaw that I serve with fish tacos, but that’s a post for another day…).

Cabbage & Noodles with Bacon

1 head of cabbage, chopped
1 pound of bacon*
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 large handfuls of egg noodles*
Black pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels, then break into bite-sized pieces. (Warning: there’s a chance that you could end up snacking on the bacon bits while you’re finishing dinner. It’s been known to happen here.)

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the egg noodles. Add the noodles and cook until done. Drain the noodles and set aside.

Drain some of the bacon fat from the pan, reserving enough to cook the onions. Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften. Add the cabbage to the skillet and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. When the cabbage is tender, add the egg noodles and bacon, mixing thoroughly. Season with pepper. Serve immediately.

*I use these amounts as guidelines, rather than strict rules that must be obeyed OR ELSE. Last time I made this, I used about three quarters of a head of cabbage, six slices of bacon (because that’s what I had on hand) and a couple handfuls of egg noodles. You can play with the amounts to get proportions that seem “right” to you. 

From my sister-in-law Kim

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Main Dishes, Pasta

 

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