Sunday, September 14, 2014

CSA Week 8

Here's what's in the box this week:
bell pepper
hot peppers

zucchini from work friend
pumpkin puree

Cheesy corn bake. Allison got to use her roux skills again this week with this dish. Yum yum yum.

Zucchini Buffalo chicken bites. I'm not sure what the zucchini really adds to this's in the breading, but overall the chicken was very tasty and buffalo-y. The breading had A LOT of components and then just gets covered with hot sauce....not that I am saying that's a bad thing! And for those of you that don't know what to do with the left over buttermilk that you always seem to have around, I use buttermilk powder for these type of things. I found mine on Amazon.

Zucchini Fries. I keep seeing these on Pinterest and so decided to give them a try. I just love zucchini...think this may be my last batch since the days are getting colder.  :(

Southwest Pizza. We took some liberties with this recipe. As you can tell from the grill marks, we decided to throw the dough on the grill. Since we were doing that, I mixed all the topping ingredients together so I could just spread them on the pizza. It was very tasty. I also made the avocado cream with yogurt instead. The dough was one of my no knead bread recipes, I used an olive oil whole wheat dough.

Spiced Pumpkin Syrup. I came across this recipe while going through my rss feed on Saturday morning. It was pretty chilly in the house and it sounded sooooo good. I had some squash puree in my freezer from last season and thought this would be a good use for it. I had 1 cup of squash so I doubled the recipe and added in the whole amount of squash (what would I do with that extra 1/2 cup anyway???). When doubling the syrup, I didn't double my sugar (maybe 1.5 rather than 2x), so in the end this wasn't too candy sweet as some syrups can be. This would be great over pancakes or french toast...or of course in your morning coffee.

Since I now have all this wonderful syrup, I decided to find a zucchini bread recipe that used maple syrup and just swapped them out. This happens to also have whole wheat flour...guess I'm making up for the sins of our casseroles from last week.

Roasted eggplant spread. This is when having a food processor really comes in handy. You roughly chop your veggies then roast them. Add them to your processor and whiz away. I don't usually have tahini in my house since I don't have much use for it other than hummus so I subbed almond butter instead. Yum! Great with tortilla chips, but would also be a great sandwich spread with something sweet like honey roasted ham...

Sausage and pepper pasta. I still had 2 bell peppers left over from last week so needed something to use them up. I like the idea of sausage and peppers but didn't want to make a sandwich, so trolled the internet for a reinvention of these flavors and found it in a casserole. Last week I grilled up some chicketta patties thinking I would put them in a pasta later on and thought they would be great in this dish. Chicketta is like porchetta only with chicken not pork. It's an Italian slow roasted dish with lots of herbs and fennel. These smell and taste a lot like sausage, so that's why I used it here. I get these at the Italian market down the street from my house, and I don't let myself go in there that often...they have real prosciutto there...deadly to my wallet!

Not pictured is the broccoli cheese potato soup, as I haven't made it yet. Will probably get to it tomorrow. I also have decided to make hot sauce with my hot peppers. I found a recipe that uses a similar approach to how Tabasco makes their hot sauce and it involves fermenting...I'm very excited!! Just waiting for the peppers that are turning red to fully turn, then I will be on my way to hot sauce!!

Extra weekend project:

I also decided to try making my own liquid soap from some bar soap I had laying around (and probably wouldn't use). I used this recipe. I came across it a while back on Pinterest. The above photo isn't totally accurate as I had to use 2 bars of cetaphil to get the 8 oz needed for the 1 gal of water. I had read that bars with extra moisturizing ended up being too liquidy so I added in an extra bar from Bath and Body Works for insurance. I don't think I let my soap completely dissolve the first time around since I still had some foam on top 12 hours later. I heated it up again and added more glycerin and gave it another go.

I now have a gallon of this stuff. It's still a bit more liquid than soap you buy but I think it would work great for what I want and I used stuff I probably wasn't going to! Score!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

CSA Week 7

In the box this week:
Bell pepper
Red chile
Poblano pepper
Cherry bomb pepper


Well, it's finally happened - I have veggies left over for next week - lots of peppers. There may be roasted peppers in my future. Also, for some reason this week seems to be very carb loaded...this is what happens when I have potatoes coming out of my ears. Apparently I'm not a huge potato eater. Who knew. 

Beer braised cabbage. I used Guinness, since I still have some left over from St Patty's. It's probably not all that great to drink, but I was great in this dish. Better than it's current use as my back door stop! I added some flour at the end to thicken the sauce. It was great for breakfast with a fried egg on top.

Quinoa side. Sometimes I should really read the recipe before I start cooking - maybe that would help! I started cooking the quinoa separately before I realized it was to be like a pilaf. Oops. It still turned out well and was tasty, so I guess I didn't perform a fatal mistake.

Jalapeno popper mac and cheese. Kinda hard to see the pasta at this angle. Once again, I should read my recipes before I start to make them. I was under the impression that this was baked in the oven, but it is actually a stovetop dish. This week could also be known as "teach Allison how to make a roux week". A roux is a very powerful tool in the kitchen. A roux is equal parts fat (usually butter) and flour that is cooked into a paste. This is then used as a thickening agent in a bechamel sauce - add milk to roux and you have bechamel (as an aside, if you add chicken stock instead of milk you get veloute, these would be 2 of the 5 classic sauces of French cooking. A veloute would be used for something like chicken pot pie). Then add cheese to bechamel and you have a cheese sauce and for our purposes, mac and cheese. This was very yummy and creamy with the addition of cream cheese.

To add insult to the carb injury, we have pierogi casserole. Basically the components of pierogis in casserole form - mashed potatoes, pasta and deliciousness. It was really easy to put together and in the end very good. I did have to do some advanced math to determine how many potatoes would make 4 cups of mashed potato - after some research, I decided that 2.5 lbs of potatoes would make about 4 cups mashed, if you were wondering. We used turkey bacon for both the quinoa and this dish, so that we don't feel totally bad about all of this very heavy food. I think I need to make a green salad....

And finally moussaka. I knew once we were getting eggplant, I wanted to make moussaka. This also goes along with "teach Allison to make roux week" - that's her bechamel handiwork there. The thing I love about moussaka is the meat - there's cinnamon in the meat and it's not enough for you to know it's cinnamon but you know it's different. It is sooo delicious. Perfect for today, which is nice and cool compared to yesterday.

The cantaloupe was devoured quickly with prosciutto. The corn was stripped from the cob and put in the freezer. All that is left is chiles...roasting sounds like a great idea...maybe then preserve in oil? Will have to think on that for next week. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

CSA Week 6

In the box this week:
cherry bomb peppers
bell peppers
japanese eggplant

large baking zucchini
thai basil
sweet basil

Basil and Oregano. Look at the size of that!!

Thai Basil

Bruised, overripe and ugly tomatoes. Perfect for sauce!

Caprese Salad
Zucchini bread
Cabbage Thoran
Thai Corn Soup
Soba Noodle Salad
Yellow Curry Eggplant
Apple Zucchini Muffins
Zucchini Pizza Casserole
Spicy Savory Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickles
Pickled Watermelon Rind Salad with Feta and Salami
Southwest One Pot Pasta

Well the box this week was super full - guess it's a good thing I had an extra day to cook it all because I needed it!!

Pesto galore! Both the sweet basil and the oregano pesto were made in the typical pesto way - nuts, oil, cheese, herbs. I didn't have pine nuts so I used walnuts, just as good and not as expensive. Amazing how so many herbs can pack down into something so small! I decided to put the pesto in ice cube trays then pop them in the freezer. The Thai basil was mixed with coconut oil and cashews. Looking at some recipes online AFTER I made the pesto, some people added fish sauce and sesame oil, which would be a nice addition. I may add that to what's left after making the soba noodle salad...

Here's my version of a Caprese salad - tomato, mozzarella and a pesto vinaigrette. Yum!

Zucchini bread. Different recipe than I have used before. We made these at my friend, Patty's house. We were very liberal with the add ins - cranberries, golden raisins, almonds, cherries, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips and Heath Toffee bits. Very tasty.

Cabbage Thoran. This is an Indian dish we made at Patty's house. She just had her cousin visit and had all fresh new spices for us to play with. It is a very quick dish - so the shredded cabbage is still somewhat crunchy. There's nice heat from the chiles and the coconut helps cool the heat some. Very good.

Now on to Thailand. Found this recipe for a corn soup without cream. Was disappointed to not be able to find Kaffir lime leaves but used lime zest as a replacement. Subtle heat and complex flavors in a short time.

This soba salad was something I made up on the fly. I knew I wanted to use the Thai basil pesto in a cold noodle salad, so then added some broccoli, grated carrot and sesame oil. It turned out better than I would have thought!

This yellow curry eggplant is a real winner. Simple to make with coconut milk and curry paste. Just throw in your ingredients and it's done pretty quick. Lots of flavor!!! The recipe calls for sweet potato but I substituted regular potatoes, since that is what I have the abundance of. Served over rice, it would be a great weeknight take out substitute.

These strusel topped apple zucchini muffins are sooo delicious. We used applesauce I canned last year in my first canning adventure (still delicious, by the way) and apples from the farmstand. Homemade at it's best!

Taste of Home has something here with this zucchini pizza casserole. It's really good and filling. It also uses a lot of zucchini, for when you have a lot! We used our homemade sauce for this, and that may be why it's soo good. I was quite surprised how much the sauce cooked down! We took half and put that in the oven to make tomato paste and the other half to make sauce. I think we got 3 dishes worth out of the batch - so one went into zucchini pizza casserole, one went to Patty and I took the last. Kinda sad how all that work went into so I need to think of the perfect dish for that delicious sauce!! The tomato paste went into the ice cube trays and now in the freezer - you only use a few tablespoons at a time anyway...

More watermelon rind pickles! This is a sweet pickle, which I will have to decide what to do with. It is also much softer, since you boil the rinds before you pickle them. Probably would be good with roasted meat on a sandwich, or anytime you want a sweet pickle. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the salad I made with the other pickled watermelon rind...probably because I was so excited to eat it each time I made it that I dug in before getting the picture! Check out the recipe, it sounds weird, but it's really good.

The only thing left to make is the Southwest One Pot Pasta. I'm about to start on that for dinner. It will use of the last of the corn and I'll probably end up putting most of it in the freezer for later. Happy Labor Day everyone!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

CSA Week 5

Here's what's in the box this week:
6 ears of corn
2 zucchini
sm watermelon
4 jalapenos, 4 small round green chiles
red onion, yellow onion
red potatoes
sm head broccoli
3 tomatoes

Extras from friends:
2 peppers (also had 1 left over from last week)

All the peppers went into the brine. I only had 1 jar's worth, so I used 1/2 a recipe for the pickle. I also didn't have palm sugar, so I used brown sugar. And I decided to heat it up in the microwave rather than on the stove - pouring out of a saucepan is tricky and I would just get the pickle everywhere! About a min and a half was enough to warm it enough to dissolve the salt and sugar. I've been seeing a lot of recipes for jalapeno popper dip and some use pickled that might be the future of these...

Ah, ratatouille! I think my mom and I make this every year. It's a great dish for using up too many tomatoes and zucchini. We also seem to have an eggplant that doesn't look too good that needs to be ratatouille it is! This year I have lovely fresh veggies, but it all ends up being delicious. I didn't have peppers (they were used in another recipe), but this dish is very forgiving. I also made a half recipe and it was tons! I did add my own version of Herbs de Provence by adding in Italian Seasoning then a pinch of lavender...yum!! Planning to have this either on top of, or next to some grilled chicken.

After looking at a few recipes online, I kinda made up my own version of this salad. Watermelon, feta, mint and pickled red onion. Enjoy!

There's this great blog called Purple Kale Kitchenworks, I think they are a cooking school in Brooklyn. They have a recurring theme called "Not Trash" where they take things that you would otherwise throw out and turn into something you can eat. This recipe for pickled watermelon rinds comes from that. They then use the pickled rind in a salad, so I'll be making that next week! And yes, mom, I took the outer edge of the watermelon rind off. I looked at a lot of recipes and most have you take it you were right...

Still have an excess of potatoes, so was looking for a potato broccoli casserole recipe - this one is a winner. I was a little worried since there isn't really a sauce, but there's more than enough cheese to make up for it. Yum!

This is stuffed pepper stoup. It's a Rachel Ray recipe. She says a stoup is not as thick as a stew but thicker than a soup. This recipe is a real winner, tastes like a stuffed pepper but without the work of making them. Yum!!

Oh, the corn went to my neighbor, who was sooo happy to get them. I'm a bit corned out at the moment. If I get more next week, I'll probably throw it in the freezer.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

CSA Week 4

Here's what's in the box this week:
red potatoes
6 ears of corn
2 zucchini
3 tomatoes
6 jalapeno (+1 leftover from last week)
2 bell pepper

Jalapeno Roasted Chicken
Jalapeno Cornbread
Southwest Meatloaf Minis
Provencal Potato Salad
Tortilla Soup

This is the first week I got too much of something in my box. When I saw that bag of jalapenos, my first thought was to pickle them. But that seemed too easy, plus the box wasn't all that full this week, so if I pickled the jalapenos, I wouldn't have much to I am getting tired of corn, so I needed to do some dishes that would have corn but not only corn. That brings to mind Mexican, so Mexican week it is! First thing to do was get the whole chicken out of the freezer I got from my friend the other week when we were making cheese. She suggested roasting it, so when I found the jalapeno roasted chicken recipe, it sounded like a match made in heaven! 

Jalapeno count: 1. Jalapeno butter for the chicken. The recipe used shallot, but the store didn't have them, so I used onions from the CSA box.

Hello, chicken. This turned out lovely - 400 degrees for an hour. Nice and browned. I had the chicken breasts for lunch with some oven roasted potatoes. Then the whole thing went into the stock pot to make soup, jalapeno count: 2. (one went into the stock)

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread. This 9x13 pan is 12 servings, yikes! Could definitely double the count. For some reason, after all the recipes I looked at, I choose one that didn't have corn in it, so I added 1 cup. Jalapeno count: 4. I cut it up and put most of it in the freezer for when I make chili. One thought, there's 2 sticks of butter in the recipe, it adds a nice butter flavor, but I almost think it's too buttery (is there such a thing?!?) so I might cut back on that in the future. I also didn't get much jalapeno, so I might add even more to the batter next time.

Southwest Meatloaf Minis. Jalapeno count: 6. These are a skinny recipe - I used ground chicken I got from the market last week. Also going in the freezer for later, will be a good lunch.

I baked them in foil cupcake liners, made for a pretty nice clean up. Aren't they cute??

Straying from the Mexican theme is this potato salad. Was getting up there with the potatoes, so knew I had to do something this week. Found this recipe that also happens to have zucchini and tomato, so works out well. Sooooo delicious. You take tuna in oil and use it to make the dressing. Reminds me of being back in Italy. I don't have a steaming apparatus, so I decided to boil the potatoes and sauteed the zucchini. I will have NO trouble eating this up.

Chicken tortilla soup. I followed the recipe by the Pioneer Woman, after I made stock. First, I took the 6 corn cobs and made a corn broth. Then when the roasted chicken was done, everything went into the pot (took the cobs out first). I added in a whole jalapeno that I cross hatched and let it all boil down until the chicken fell apart, a few hours (somewhere in there I added the rest of the can of crushed tomatoes that was used in the Southwest Meatloaf Minis). Then I let the stock cool a bit then put in the fridge overnight. The next day, I skimmed off the fat and picked through the carcass to get out most of the bones and shred up the chicken. After that, I pretty much followed the recipe. In a saute pan, I browned the pepper, onion and garlic, added the spices and tomato paste then added that to the stock pot with some beans I cooked from dry and the can of Rotel - cook for 45 min, add in the cornmeal then cook for 30 min more. After that, I let cool and put into tupperware...which by the way, I am officially out of tupperware.

So at the end of the day, I have 1 jalapeno left. I actually deseeded it because I was thinking I would put it into the meatloaf but had enough. I'd say that was pretty good. Plus I'm counting on getting as many peppers next week and will pickle them then. But then I thought I was getting more cabbage this you never know. I am getting tired of corn and had some leftover to add into the soup and put into the freezer, so if I get more corn, I think I will take a week off corn and put it in the freezer for when I can appreciate it again.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

CSA Week 3

Here's what's in the box this week:
yukon gold potatoes
2 jalapenos
red onion
yellow onion
2 tomatoes
6 ears corn
yellow squash
1 pint raspberries
1 head cabbage

Extras leftover from last week:
2 green mangos
large tub pickled carrot and daikon
1 head cabbage

Extras from the gardens of friends:
large patty pan squash
large zucchini
3 yellow squash
2 zucchini

Peanut, carrot and cabbage slaw
Green mango salad
BBQ cabbage and sausage stuffed sandwich
Cabbage roll casserole
Summer squash gratin
Zucchini butter
Roasted corn tabouli
Stuffed patty pan

Well guess this is a lesson on making sure that I prep the veggies if I plan to use them later. Never got around to that head of cabbage, so I had 2 heads to deal with this week - made sure I used them up!

Step one on dispatching the cabbage is slaw. This is an asian style slaw with peanut dressing. I also used the leftover picked carrot and daikon in place of the carrot and radish called for in the recipe. Pretty tasty. Unfortunately, the vinegar from my pickles somewhat overpowered the peanut dressing, so I didn't get much of that. Sometimes the shortcuts and hacks work out, sometimes they don't.

Another thing in my fridge that I keep forgetting about are 2 green mangoes I bought at the Asian market in Philly. They had been sitting in my fruit drawer and oops, forgot about them. One of them almost turned into a ripe mango! The recipe suggested using a mandolin slicer for the fruit, but I had some trouble with it, so I just cut mine with a knife. The dressing was killer - that spicy dressing you get at Thai/Vietnamese restaurants on a green papaya salad? This is it! I used sambal oelek in place of the Thai chile. Soooo good.

Cabbage step 2. These sounded so good, I just couldn't resist. When I was talking about them with my coworkers, my cabbage hating friend said she might even be interested in these! Mainly because she thinks you won't taste the cabbage with the BBQ sauce, sausage and cheese, she's right. You do get some nice crunch, since I tried not to over cook the cabbage. I got the sausage from a stand at the farmer's market when I was picking up my box this week - I never really looked around the market before! This was a great find! So was this recipe.

Word to the wise though - it says 1 lb of dough to make 8 rolls, well I ended up using a whole recipe from my Artisan Bread in 5 min a day book to make 16 rolls (wheat of course), that's 4 lbs of dough! The recipe uses 1/4c of filling in each bun, so I used 1/4lb sections of dough for each bun and some were harder to close than others! The filling is really good and each bun got wrapped and placed in the freezer for future lunches.

The final cabbage recipe is the Stuffed Cabbage Casserole. This takes the ingredients of stuffed cabbage (a staple out here) and puts them all together in a casserole - much easier than stuffing all those rolls. This is not a dish I have had much of, so I took a few liberties. I used brown rice - since the intent was to cook the rice in the oven while in the casserole, I par cooked the rice before adding. I also used less beef - who really makes a recipe that uses 1.5lbs of beef, when every package comes in 1lb? Really this was my fault for not really reading the recipe, but seriously, what would I do with that other 1/2 lb? I also felt that the recipe did not have enough seasoning, so I added much more salt, pepper and some sugar to make the tomato sauce stand out.

This also makes enough for a crowd - in the freezer you go!

This is the zucchini/squash gratin - I originally was going to use a recipe from the Food Network, but it became very clear that I had way too much squash to make a bechamel and coat and bake and such - might try it in the future though, don't think I'm going to run out of zucchini! So I precooked the squash in a giant bowl in the microwave for about 12 min (in 4 min bursts) then shingled the squash into the dish like I would if I was making a potato gratin. I varied the layers - all squash then all zucchini. Added some salt, pepper and herbs then some cheese. I used a preshredded package of sharp cheddar and so used 2 cups cheese for the whole dish. I topped it off with more cheese and panko, then sprayed the top with olive oil spray to make the topping crunchy. For moisture, I added in some corn-chicken stock I made out of the corn cobs from the tabouli recipe, below.

Zucchini butter. I have had this recipe for a while and keep coming back to it since it sounds so weird and interesting. Mine is not as nicely green as the one on the site, but that may be because I used the very large zucchini for this dish and the inside to outside ratio is different than with a batch of smaller zucchinis. I also used a red onion from the box instead of shallots so that might also contribute to the muddy color. It does taste good. Kinda like a caramelized onion, which is how I think I will use this. Would be great in a quiche or omelette. I was also thinking it would be good in a lasagna as one of the layers. So into the freezer you go to await use in the future.

Roasted corn tabouli. Pretty simple salad - roast corn in oven, cook bulghur then toss with lemon and parsley. Since I was cutting off the kernels from the cob, I made a corn stock with some chicken broth to cook the bulghur in (why cook grains with just water??) then also added it in my gratin.

The only thing left is a large patty pan squash, perfect for stuffing. While looking for a recipe, I found many for smaller patty pans but this is a large one - I did find something that I will use as a guide - thinking you need to par cook it a bit - so boil for 10 min then let cool. Then scrape out the insides and add your stuffing ingredients. Since I have corn and jalapeno, was thinking I would go for the Mexican vibe. Add some pinto beans, brown rice and feta cheese and you have a pretty good sounding dinner. Pop back into the oven to fully cook the squash and you are golden...brown that is.

Phew! My cooking buddy is out of town this week, so I guess that is why I'm feeling so pooped! Definitely have a start on stocking the freezer...maybe if I play my cards right, I will have a full freezer to get me through the winter once the CSA is over? One can only hope.

Update: here's the stuffed patty pan