Friday, February 27, 2009

In the CSA box this week

Better late than never right? In the box we got on Wednesday, we got:

10 oz of spinach
a bunch of swiss chard
a bunch of kale
a bunch of collards
broccoli florets
a head of cabbage
a bunch of parsley
a bunch of mint
a stalk of brussel sprouts
two huge grapefruit
a dozen eggs
a bunch of carrots

I must admit, I am a little behind in using my produce. I still had things left from last week that I had the best intentions of using, but ran out of steam before I could use them. I need to be much more focused this week about using veggies, however, I already feel like I am behind.

I am still lacking a menu for the next week. Here's the thoughts I have so far:

Thursday: Spinach Manicotti, peas, chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream icing for J's birthday (I'll post the chocolate cake and icing recipe this weekend)
Friday: Not quite sure....maybe pizza and some roasted kale or a side of broccoli?
Saturday: Cabbage Bread Soup--cool front is supposed to move in and that would use up some cabbage

I need to do a little searching to figure out more than that. We were pretty focused on J's birthday the past few days so I am little behind with menu planning. We are on track for our split quarter of cow in April. I am quite excited about that. I am missing having a freezer full of beef at our disposal. We are going for the whole split quarter this year instead of splitting it with someone, maybe then it will make it an entire year!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Greek Fish

I bought a beautiful bunch of dill fronds at the Farmer's Market last Saturday on a whim. Upon getting it home and in a cup on my counter (absolutely beautiful!!), I realized there is no way I could possibly use all that dill without making lots and lots of dill pickles (alas, there are no cucumbers in February). I searched for a recipe that would use at least little dill and adapted one to my liking.

For those of us who ate (J boycotted food tonight for some reason--let's blame it on being almost 2), it was a great hit. M ate an entire fillet plus a little more, as did Curtis and I. I served it over rice. As often happens, I realized as I was dishing the meal, that I had forgotten my vegetable so we had orange slices with dinner as well. M didn't eat the goat cheese (which she called cream) or onion slices, but that was fine with Curtis and I. We served it over a bed of rice. The picture is before the fish was cooked, sometimes it is easiest to take pictures before everyone is sitting at the table, ravenous.

Greek Fish
1 1/2 lb white fish fillets (tilapia is good)
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 T dill fronds, chopped
2 - 3 T black olives, chopped
1/4 c (or up to as much as 1/2 c) goat cheese, crumbled
juice of one lemon

Lay fish in a 9 x 13 (or larger) lightly oiled baking pan. Layer sweet onion slices on top, followed by dill, black olives, and goat cheese. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Bake in preheated 350 degrees oven for 20 - 30 minutes, depending on thickness of fish, until fish flakes with a fork.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Menu for Week

This will probably change and overlap with the menu I posted last week. We'll see what we get in our box on Wednesday to see what the rest of the week holds.

Monday: Lentils with Sausage and Fennel
Tuesday: A recipe with fish, dill, and goat cheese (hopefully) with a side of roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts
Wednesday: Pancake Supper at church (yes, this is the typical German Shrove Tuesday dinner, just a day late)
Thursday: J's 2nd birthday! Birthday dinner of spinach manicotti with a side of peas (two of J's favorite foods) and bread. A train birthday cake and homemade ice cream for dessert. Strawberry cupcakes (with vanilla icing---he doesn't need pink icing!) for his preschool on Friday.

The rest of the week will be determined once I get the CSA box on Wednesday.

Pasta Carbonara Florentine Pasta Carbonara, but with some color! The spinach goes wonderfully. The whole family loved it and didn't even pick out the spinach (until they weren't as hungry). This is a quick, easy meal to make, especially if you have the ingredients close by when you start cooking. Be careful not to overcook the pasta once you add the eggs---you don't want to scramble them!

The recipe calls for 6 slices of bacon. If you use local, farmers' market bacon, you only need 3 slices. I have found farmer's market bacon to be thicker, longer, meatier slices. It is divine. Now that I've found bacon I love at the farmers' market, I buy 2 pounds at a time, whenever they have bacon. (The farmer I buy from only has bacon right after he slaughters a pig and it sells out fast). Bacon....I am salivating just thinking about it!

Pasta Carbonara Florentine
1/2 t salt
1/2 lb spinach, coarsely chopped
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 c onion, finely chopped
2 T dry white wine
8 oz uncooked spaghetti or cappellini
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 t black pepper
2 large eggs
3 T fresh parsley, chopped

Cook 1/4 t salt and spinach in warmed olive oil in a large skillet. Cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly. Remove spinach and set aside. Cook pasta until al dente in a large pot of boiling water. Drain, reserving 1 T cooking liquid. Meanwhile, add bacon to skillet and cook until crisp, stirring frequently (you can also cook the slices and crumble it after it is cooked instead of chopping it before hand). Remove bacon, reserving 2 t of bacon drippings in pan. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add wine, cook 1 minute or until liquid is reduced in half. Add pasta and reserved cooking liquid, spinach, and bacon to the onions, stirring well to combine. Place over low heat. Combine remaining salt, cheese, pepper, and eggs, stirring with a whisk. Add to pasta mixture, tossing well to coat. Cook 1 minute or until egg is slightly cooked (not scrambled egg consistency). Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

I adapted a recipe I found on epicurious for tonight's supper. I didn't use all of the broccoli---I am saving the rest to steam for lunch tomorrow to dip in my sesame mayonnaise. Mmm. We all enjoyed it. J ate mushrooms for the first time and even tried the broccoli, he liked it so well. A slice of grapefruit yogurt cake for dessert went perfectly to counter the saltiness of stir fry.

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
1 lb flank steak (or other steak, I won't admit the expensive cut I used because that was all I had), thinly sliced
3 T water
1 T olive oil
1 T sesame oil
2 T soy sauce
2 t cornstarch

6 T chicken broth
2 T soy sauce (I'll use less than this last time--it tasted too salty)
6 t cornstarch
1/4 c white wine
1 T fish sauce (or oyster sauce)
1 T + 1 t sesame oil
1/2 t sugar

Vegetables and such
1/2 - 1 lb broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms

rice (cooked, start it cooking once beef is marinading in the fridge)

Combine marinade ingredients (except beef) in a large bowl. Add beef and stir to coat. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve cornstarch completely. You'll need to stir it well again right before adding to the stir fry. Heat 2 T oil in a large wok or heavy skillet over high heat. Add beef (discarding marinade) and stir fry until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer to platter (leaving juices in skillet). Add broccoli and stir fry 1 minutes. Add 1/2 c broth, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer broccoli to platter with beef (leaving juices in skillet). Add mushrooms and cook 2 minutes. Return beef and broccoli to skillet. Stir sauce, add to skillet, and stir until sauce thickens, a couple of minutes at the most. Serve immediately over cooked rice.

Grapefruit Yogurt Cake

Ever since seeing this recipe on Joy the Baker, I've wanted to make it. I've been looking all winter for recipes that use grapefruit and for the most part have come up with not much of anything at all except fancy fruit salads. This is the recipe I've been looking for.

It was pretty easy to make. M had fun helping me stir, I didn't even use an electric mixer--it was easy to do all by hand. By far my favorite part of the whole recipe was mixing the grapefruit rind into the sugar. The smell reminded me of the chewy grapefruit candy I buy in bulk at Central Market when I splurge. It was divine. I could have stood there and just inhaled all afternoon.

The recipe tells you to use a bundt springform pan. I had a bundt pan and a springform pan, but not a bundt springform pan. I resisted the urge to run to Crate and Barrel in search of one and decided in favor of the bundt pan over the springform pan. I made sure to generously butter and flour the bottoms, sides, and center tube of the pan, but still worried as I put the wonderful smelling cake in the oven that I would never ever, ever get it out of the pan in one piece. I needn't worried as the picture attests. A well greased and floured bundt pan will work just fine.

The cake was a hit with everyone. M at first balked at eating it because Curtis said it reminded him of lemon cake. M's response-I don't like this. I don't like lemons. That didn't bother us. Eventually (when she learned there was no other dessert options), she had a piece and decided it was pretty good.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sesame Mayonnaise

There are several things that continue to intimidate me in my cooking: 1) Frying things. 2) Sauces. 3) Thickening things with cornstarch (with the exception of pudding). This morning I decided to attempt a sauce--homemade mayonnaise.

At our last trip to the library I found a cookbook that really made me excited: Fresh from the Garden. This cookbook was published before the whole locavore movement took off--in the 1990's. The cookbook is organized by season that vegetables grow and give advice for how to pick vegetables and how to grow them. It's fun reading. Most of the recipes how easy to find ingredients and for the most part aren't too intimidating in their technique. It is also not a vegetarian cookbook, which I appreciate as well. The author was raised in Europe where some of our "strange" vegetables, like kohlrabi are commonplace so there is a larger variety for some "not as sexy" vegetables like kohlrabi, cauliflower and brussel sprouts.

I digress. I found in this cookbook a recipe for homemade mayo to top lightly steamed broccoli. It seemed like the perfect vegetable side for our picnic lunch for our playgroup today. If you are squeamish about raw eggs, this isn't a recipe for you. It does contain two raw eggs. I probably somewhat incorrectly tell myself that since the eggs are from free range, organic chickens, my risks of salmonella is lower than store bought eggs. Probably scientifically incorrect, but it works for me. I loved the final product--the garlic and sesame oil are wonderful flavors. I steamed the broccoli for 2 minutes before eating it, but that's just a personal preference. I think steaming takes away a little of the strong flavor of raw broccoli. I somehow managed to emulsify (break up the molecules of oil) into the eggs so it didn't separate. I think the key is adding the oil really, really slowly, even taking breaks to check on kids as you do it. I used a food processor to make this, although the recipe suggested a blender. Either will do. All in all, I must admit I am proud of myself for successfully conquering a sauce.

Sesame Mayonnaise
1/2 c olive oil
1 T sesame oil
1 extra-large egg
1 extra-large egg yolk
1 T rice vinegar (or cider vinegar)
ground black pepper
dash of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 small garlic clove, minced
3 T scallions, finely minced (optional--I didn't have so I didn't use)
1 T sesame seeds, lightly toasted.

Combine the olive oil and sesame oil in a liquid measuring cup. Set aside. In a food processor or blender, combine the egg, egg yolk, vinegar, salt, pepper, and cayenne and blend at high speed for at least 30 seconds. With processor still running, add the oil mixture by droplets until the mixture begins to emulsify and thicken. Add the remaining oil in a slow steady drizzle until all has been incorporated. Take your time while doing this--take breaks, letting the processor run to check on the children, let the dog in, etc while adding the oil. The consistency of the mayonnaise should be sauce-like rather than a very thick store bought like mayonnaise. Remove from processor and stir in garlic, scallions, and sesame seeds. Adjust seasoning as needing, adding drops of lemon juice to taste if desired (I didn't do this, it tasted great as it was!). Serve drizzled over fresh veggies or use a dip for fresh veggies. (I prefer lightly steamed broccoli and raw carrots for this).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In the CSA box today

I am going to need to change my menu a little---I got no spinach. How sad. That's easy to remedy at the farmers market, but I'll need to wait until Saturday (because we can't make the FM today). In the box:

2 grapefruit
2 oranges
a head of broccoli + a bunch of loose florets
two heads of Romanesco cauliflower
a stem of brussel sprouts
fresh mint
fresh parsley
a dozen eggs
a small bunch of kale
a small head of bok choy
a beautiful bunch of bright orange carrots.

Changes to the menu are slight:

Friday: Probably a stir fry dish using the broccoli
Saturday: Pasta Carbonara Florentine with a side of roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts (I'll need to go snip some rosemary from one of the very public rosemary bushes)

I suspect the carrots will go quickly between Curtis and M. I plan using the grapefruit from a yummy looking Grapefruit Yogurt cake from Joy the Baker (again, I love her website!!!). I think I may roast the kale again, that was a great snack and we are short on snacks these days.

I am excited about the herbs as well. It is taking some getting used not being able to just go out a trim a fresh herb for a meal. I bought some parsley, cilantro and mint at the farmer's market on Saturday that I hope to plant tomorrow. I think I found a good spot for them....we'll see how they do. It, unfortunately, takes a few years for me to find the perfect spot for herbs.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Menu for the Week (plus some)

Monday-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with a side of broccoli
Tuesday-Still deciding, it's just the kids and I
Wednesday-Black Bean Tostadas
Thursday-Chicken Pot Pie
Friday-Pasta Carbonara Florentine
Saturday-Still deciding
Sunday-leftovers for lunch
Monday- Lentils with Fennel and Sausage

I figure some of the gaps will be filled in and things shuffled once I know for sure what I am getting in my CSA box this week. A lot of these things are repeats so maybe I'll do more baking this week to post about.

The roasted chicken tonight was incredible. I absolutely love the sweet onions cooked with the potatoes. However, Curtis informed me that they don't count as a vegetable if they soaked in chicken juices (fat). Nah, that can't be true.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

I made these cupcakes for M's valentine's party at her preschool. The recipe makes enough to fill 2 large cupcake tins (24 regular sized cupcakes) or 2 mini cupcake tins plus almost one large cupcake tin (24 mini cupcakes plus 11 large cupcakes). Thanks to the strawberries, no food coloring was involved. I used frozen strawberries we picked last year at Sweet Berry Farms and froze. Mmm....quite tasty!

Strawberry Cupcakes
1 c fresh or frozen strawberries**
1 (3 -oz) package jello
1/2 c boiling water
3/4 c vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 (18-oz) white cake mix

1/2 c butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
about 1/3 c strawberry juice

**If using fresh strawberries, sprinkle with 1/4 c sugar. Let stand 1 - 2 hours. Then drain. If frozen, thaw, then drain. Reserve juice.

Combine jello and boiling water, stirring until dissolved. Cool (you can put in refrigerator to speed things up). Combine oil, eggs, strawberries, and jello. Sift cake mix into mixer bowl. Add strawberry mixture to cake mix, blending on low speed. Then beat on high speed for 4 minutes. Pour into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers. Bake 15 - 20 minutes (10 - 15 minutes for mini-cupcakes) in preheated 350 degrees oven. (I recommend putting the pans on two separate racks. From prior experience, if they are on the same rack, they burn because the hot air can't circulate properly around them.) Remove from oven and cool on wire racks. To make icing, beat together butter and powdered sugar until smooth, adding just enough strawberry juice to make a good spreading consistency. Ice the cooled cupcakes.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Paprika Chicken

We have "the sickness" at our house, so I am going to keep this very brief. I made the Hungarian Paprika Chicken from the Joy the Baker website tonight (there's even a nice picture of the dish). For those of us who could taste our food, it was a big hit. For those of us who couldn't, there was nothing to complain about it. It's an easy meal. I thought it could use more seasoning, but I am one of those who couldn't taste her food. It could have just been that my paprika was old (you shouldn't let spices hang out in your cabinet for very long....they lose their flavor quickly). Needless to say, M ate two chicken thighs.

One nice thing about this meal, is that it is very inexpensive to make. Chicken thighs are one of the cheaper cuts of chicken. I paid $2.30/pound for organic chicken. Not bad.

We'll definitely make this again when we can all taste things.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I don't think I need to say much about everyone enjoying the lasagne. I made a few changes to my original recipe, including using gluten-free lasagne noodles. No real reason behind the noodle switch, except that when Curtis stopped to pick them up on the way home from work, Whole Foods was most directly on his way. Did you know that Whole Foods doesn't carry lasagne noodles that are chock full of wheat? Apparently not (at least according to Curtis). The verdict on gluten free pasta---taste was similar in lasagne and it wasn't soft and mushy. However, I didn't have a single whole noodle to use....I had to piece together the noodles to cover the pan, one four inch piece here, a two inch piece there. It definitely broke up much easier than normal pasta. That said, we still enjoyed it and the kids didn't notice a difference in the noodles.

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t dried basil
1 t dried oregano
2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 t salt
1 (29-oz) can diced tomatoes
2 (6 -oz) cans tomato paste
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
12 dry lasagne noodles
2 eggs, beaten
1 pint cottage cheese (or ricotta, I just wanted to use the cottage cheese I already had)
1/2 c Parmesan, grated
2 T dried parsley (1/4 c fresh)
1 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
additional 2 T Parmesan cheese, grated

In a skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef, onion, and garlic. Drain fat. Mix in basil, oregano, brown sugar, 1 1/2 t salt, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and mushrooms. Simmer 30 - 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Preheat oven to 375. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add lasagne noodles and cook according to package (or until al dente. Gluten free takes much longer!). Drain. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, cottage cheese (try to not get too much liquid), 1/2 c Parmesan, and parsley. Layer 1/3 of lasagne noodles in the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking dish. Cover noodles with 1/2 ricotta mixture, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese, and 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles and sauce. Sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Menu for Week

This week's menu has more meat than usual. We have another week off from our CSA box and so I don't have an overabundance of veggies to plan around. I've used most of my vegetables from last week's box already (I'll explain what I did with everything). I am not sure if I'll be able to be in my kitchen this afternoon or not, the workers are finishing everything up so we can get our final inspection on Wednesday. I am guessing tonight's dish will be put on hold, I don't see how they are going to get done by the time we need to eat supper!

Here's the menu for the past several days and the coming week:

Thursday: Tuna Tostadas
Friday: I didn't cook (couldn't get in my kitchen)
Saturday: Reuben sandwiches or PB& J for lunch with oranges and baby carrots from our old garden. Dinner: Black Olive and Mushroom Pizza (M's choice of toppings)
Sunday: Fettuccine with Greens (I made some adaptations I need to blog about!) and sliced tomatoes
Monday: Cabbage Bread Soup (Valle d'Aosta Soup)
Tuesday: Lasagne and a vegetable (unsure of that one yet)
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: Hungarian Paprika Chicken on noodles with a side of braised root vegetables
Friday: Cabbage Bread Soup if I don't make it today or something other dish TBD
Saturday: Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

I have discovered my new favorite food blog: Joy the Baker. It's mostly baking, but the paprika chicken recipe I am trying this week is from her. I like her style of writing and I love the great pictures of the mostly desserts she makes. I am a sucker for baking of any sort so this is right up my alley. Speaking of baking, we are slowly breaking in our new kitchen by making some old standbys: Cowboy Cookies last Thursday (we make one tray at a time, so we get many days of fresh, warm cookies!) and Coffee Cake Sunday morning for breakfast. I am slowly feeling like I am moved in here. I just need to make chocolate pudding to truly initiate the kitchen.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tuna Tostadas

As we were eating supper tonight, Curtis and I had a debate about whether or not our greens were arugula or mustard greens. We are still unsure. The greens were more bitter than usual, but I didn't mind them. They still could have been arugula though, because the bigger arugula grows, the more bitter they tend to get. Regardless of what kind of greens they were, they worked fine for the tuna tostadas we had for supper.

I must admit, I am a little bit at a loss about what to do with fresh tomatoes in February. Making some homemade Salsa Cruda seemed like the perfect use for the tomatoes. I was saddened while making it because I had to buy my cilantro at the store instead of walking out my front door and just trimming some. I fear it will be a little while before I get around to tearing out the old vine beds that we inherited with house and planting some herb gardens.

Curtis and I thought supper was great. The kids are getting and getting over a virus and neither had much of an appetite (an example, M turned down a second choc chip cookie we made this afternoon. That never happens!). Any fish will do with these, we just happened to have one remaining bag of tuna in our freezer that we discovered when we moved.

Tuna Tostadas
1/2 c vegetable oil
6 - 8 corn tortillas (6" across)
1 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 lb fish (tuna or catfish is recommended)
1 clove garlic, halved
2 T fresh lemon juice
3 c arugula

Salsa Cruda
1 - 2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
jalapeno or hot pepper as desired (I omit entirely on the rare chance the little people may eat it)

Fry tortillas in hot vegetable oil. Drain on paper towels. Combine cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Rub each fish fillet with the cut side of the garlic clove and then with the spice mixture. Arrange on broiling pan or aluminum foil and sprinkle with lemon juice. Broil the fish 3 inches from heat for 5 - 10 minutes or until juices run clear. (For me, the easiest way to broil this is in my toaster oven---not toaster, but toaster oven.) Cut into chunks.

To make salsa, combine salsa ingredients. Adjust ingredients to taste. To serve tostadas, top tortilla with arugula, then fish, and then salsa.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In this week's CSA box

After a week's break from the CSA, we are getting our weekly box again. It was rather exciting to get after a week of trying to scrouge around figuring out what was for dinner without the benefits of a working/stocked kitchen. Last night was the first night back to cooking and it was nice to get acquainted with the new kitchen. (Dinner was Rumpledethumps....working on that reproducing cabbage in the fridge!).

Anyway, this week's box consisted of:

2 small bags of arugula (I got one from the trade box)
2 grapefruit
a couple of broccoli florets
a couple of small cauliflower heads
4 tomatoes
a few small turnips
3 scallions
a head of cabbage
a few small beets
3 navel oranges
a bunch of collards
a dozen eggs

Hopefully, by tomorrow I will come up with a menu for the week.