Showing posts with label CSA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CSA. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Special Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Coconut Bars

Special Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Coconut Bars
A tree, and Timon, during the 10 seconds of The Lion King where he's dressed in drag and doing the hula.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

As a mother, who has pulled more things out of her ear at the last minute invented a number of memorable meals based entirely on what's on hand in the fridge or pantry, I get this statement.  It doesn't apply only to food--you want to be a tree for Halloween?  They don't sell tree costumes in the store.  You need a Wilbur Wright costume for social studies tomorrow morning?  Which one is Wilbur anyway?*

The recipe I am posting today is one of those such inventions.  I'd roasted a pie pumpkin merely because I had some in the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve (don't rush to eat all your CSA winter squash--it will keep for a few months in a cool dry place) and I had the oven on already.  Truthfully, I tossed it in the oven after baking some muffins (that will be up in December, when you've got Band Fruit Fundraiser Citrus) and utterly forgot about it for a few hours.  I stuck the very-roasted pumpkin in the fridge until I could decide its fate--then fate stepped in, in the form of an email requesting parents bring a sweet treat for the band concert.

I had a cake mix, and I knew we always have success with Cake Mix Doctor® recipes, so I checked the Cake Mix Doctor® website and found this.  I hesitate to use peanut butter in anything for a school function, in case of allergies, so I swapped in my roasted pumpkin and made Chocolate Pumpkin Bars instead.  Actually, I made the pumpkin part, and I took photos of my tree sapling daughter making the rest.  Check it out!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Chicken Cider Stew (from Kitchen Parade): My Personal Fall In A Bowl!

Kristy of Gastronomical Sovereignty is on vacation in Merrye Olde Englande, so I'm sharing with her readers how I get two 'storage amounts' of my favorite cook's crops--garlic and basil--out of one garden plot over the course of a year.  The time to start this endeavor is now, and if you like to cook with garlic and pesto, you need to check it out!  You can read all about it here.
I'm doing this whole "I've got a guest post up, go see" thing completely wrong. Instead of just directing you to Kristy's blog today and calling it good, in fact I'm sharing the second installment (but first post) of my Food Bloggers Change My Life series.  Confusing?  Yes, sorry--I shared Rebecca at Foodie With Family's Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala previously, but I started the series because of Alanna of Kitchen Parade and A Veggie Venture.  She is my friend and Food Blogging Mentor (and I'm so grateful last year that she didn't laugh at my email of 'I'm thinking of starting a food blog').

Chicken Cider Stew is a savory stovetop dish that comes together quickly and uses the great stuff I'm getting from my CSA and my garden right now:  sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, onions and apples.

We like this served with a hunk of sharp cheddar cheese.

Every time I read a food blog, I get inspired to try all sorts of new flavor combinations, and sometimes I actually follow through with my ideas.  Rarely, though, does a recipe--exactly as written--become part of my regular menu rotation.
I'll digress at this point and say by 'menu rotation' that would imply that I actually have a menu plan.  Ha!  During the CSA farm share season (mid-May to Thanksgiving-ish for me) I never know what I'm going to get in the farm share crate.  And other than the cow in the freezer I never know what protein I'll have on hand.  So I just kind of wing it on a daily/weekly basis.  However, there are some meals that, when the right elements collide, I already know what I'm making for supper.
This recipe is one of those.  I read it when Alanna put it up on Kitchen Parade in 2007, had almost all the ingredients--still don't have savory--and made it.  Loved it.  The following Fall when it cooled off and my thoughts turned to stew, my farm share box had sweet potatoes, apple cider appeared in the farmer's market and the stores, I craved it again.  The next year, again.

And so it goes.  Reading that recipe six years ago made a permanent change in my Fall menu rotation. See, food bloggers are making a difference!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cheddar Apple Onion Bacon Pizza

Two notes!  First, I've installed a print button, with options to remove images and non-recipe verbiage, in case you'd like to print a recipe.  It's down at the bottom of the post, let me know if you like it.
Second, I wrote the CSA Cookoff segment this week on, since I was merely walking a half marathon while Jennifer was having a blast at Farm Aid.  You can check out my Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Chicken Curry recipe here!

Cheddar Apple Onion Bacon Pizza | Farm Fresh Feasts

In the pre-braces life, a favorite 'I don't want to cook' supper when it was just me and the kids was popcorn, apple slices, and cheese cubes.  I liked to make it with Gala apples, though my favorite apple is the delicious Larry variety from the Shenandoah valley that I got in a fruit share in our first ever CSA farm share. That easy meal satisfied the sweet, the salty, the need to chew and the desire not to be hungry in an hour.
Until we embark on the post-braces life, I will miss that meal . . . and corn on the cob, and everything bagels with lox, cream cheese, red onion, capers, and summer tomato.  Note to self, sneak out and get a bagel with the fixings before all the tomatoes are gone.  I never was a fan of Laffy Taffy, so I can't say I'm missing it.
Last week my mom brought me a red delicious apple, and since I'm not a fan of eating red delicious plain, I was primed to think of pizza.  When I saw this Apple Harvest Cheddar at Costco (with apple pieces and cinnamon--how cool does that sound?), I thought it would be good on a pizza with apples and something else, so I bought it.  I didn't really think I wanted to try corn on the pizza to recreate my easy supper, but caramelized onions and bacon sounded like good replacements.
Conveniently, I'd caramelized a mess of onions in the crock pot (I used and love Dorothy's method, though I'm going to try Alanna's Sweet, Dark and Dreamy method next time.  For research purposes) and froze them in recipe-size portions, so it was easy to grab what I needed.  I also had bacon baked and frozen.  My freezer can be a magical place.  Is yours?
Cheddar Apple Onion Bacon Pizza | Farm Fresh Feasts
In the interests of full disclosure, in addition to my mom giving me the apple, my neighbor gave me a big bag of onions that I used to make these caramelized onions.  I bought the rest of the stuff.
It's possible I'm becoming a foodie.  The jury is still out, but go ahead and try this pizza (with any type of cheddar cheese, of course, if you're not near a Costco) while the deliberations continue.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Green Tomato, Pork, and White Bean Chili in a Slow Cooker

Green Tomato, Pork, and White Bean Chili in a Slow Cooker | Farm Fresh Feasts

Hello, my name is Kirsten and I have a problem.

(Hello, Kirsten.)

I like to make chili using not-the-usual vegetable suspects.  It all started with this Green Tomato Garlic chili recipe a year ago.  I liked it so much I put up a couple of quarts of chopped green tomatoes in the freezer for winter chili.  Instead of making more green tomato chili, however, I veered off in a squash and beet direction with Acorn Squash, Beet, and Sweet Potato chili.  Then I used a quart of the green tomatoes for Green Tomato Bacon Jam.

This chili has cubes of pork, Great Northern beans, and my put up salsa verde.  I wanted a thick chili, so I added some grits and wow--that did it for me.  We liked this chili with a swirl of sour cream stirred into each bowl.  I bet my corn cheddar bacon muffins would be great with it.  If you're having a chili cook off, this would be a little something different.  It's easy to fix (the slow cooker does most of the work) and the flavor is wonderful.  This is also great for a work day meal--brown the pork the night before while the kitchen is still active with dinner, chill it overnight, and dump all the ingredients into the slow cooker the next morning.

Note to self--this fall, put up more quarts of chopped green tomatoes!  In fact, I think I'll put the word out with my neighbors that if they don't want their tomatoes still on the vine when the first frost is predicted, I'll be happy to come harvest.  The cool thing about green tomatoes is that they can hang out on your counter for a few days until you can process them.  What's the worst that can happen--they start to ripen?  Oh, the horrors.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fried Rice with Massaged Kale

I'm probably the last one on the massaged kale bandwagon, and I'm OK with that.  Alanna taught me that you could massage olive oil into torn pieces of kale to soften it for a great raw kale salad.  What I took a chance on was the idea of using massaged kale in a quickly-cooked dish--would it work?

Fried Rice with Massaged Kale | Farm Fresh Feasts

I'm happy to share that it does work.  Our fried rice repertoire has now expanded to include kale, and my kids are enjoying kale not only in soup and in pizza dough, but also in fried rice. Green smoothies, too.  Tomorrow, the world! This is huge in my book.  I mean, my spouse and I enjoy every item in our large CSA share, one way or another.  Our farmers are amazing, their land is very productive, and the kids seem to want to eat multiple times a day, so it really works well if I can use the CSA bounty in a way that also feeds my children.  Double win!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Roasted Acorn and Butternut Squash with Corn and Smoked Sausage

A savory late summer or early fall supper of roasted cubes of simply seasoned winter squash, topped with corn and optional bits of smoked sausage.

Roasted Acorn and Butternut Squash with Corn and Smoked Sausage

My friend Heather, of garlic oil on a pizza fame, knows her way around good food.  No, she doesn't cook it much--her spouse does--but she sure has great ideas for what goes well together.  She was raving about her leftovers for lunch and the combination sounded so good I had to try it.  Heather's lunch was loosely patterned after Ina Garten's Caramelized Butternut Squash, but her spouse added canned corn to pump up the veggies.  Heather combined another leftover and cheese on top for her leftover remix.
I'm a gardener who has helped teach elementary school aged kids about gardening, so when I hear "squash and corn" I immediately think of a Three Sisters garden.  Native Americans would companion plant squash, beans, and corn together--known as the Three Sisters.  The Three Sisters helped each other:  the corn would provide the scaffolding for the beans to climb and the squash would spread around the base, shading the soil, holding in the moisture, and preventing weeds.  When it works, it's a thing of beauty.
I had both acorn and butternut squash, as well as some corn I'd put up [boil briefly aka blanch, cut off the cob, spread on a tray to freeze, and store in a bag], so I figured 2 out of 3 I'll call it Two Sisters.  I wanted to add bit more protein, however, so I chopped up a piece of smoked sausage.  Now it's more like Two Sisters--and a Brother?  I've been busy canning lately (you can see the results on my FB page) so an easy filling recipe like this is wonderful for cool nights.  And Heather's right--the leftovers are terrific!
I've revamped my Visual Recipe Index! For more ideas on what to do with your butternut squash, click here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Shaved Kohlrabi Meat/No Meat Pizza

Shaved Kohlrabi Meat/No Meat Pizza | Farm Fresh Feasts

I'm still working on the 'elevator speech' about what I do here on this blog.  At work the other day I was trying to describe this to Sharon (I'm paraphrasing here).
Me:  I blog about feeding my family from the CSA farm share.  Have you heard of a Community Supported Agriculture farm share?
Sharon:  No.  What is it?
Me:  It's where you pay the farmer a chunk of money in late winter/early spring when they are gearing up for the season, and in return you get a box of vegetables each week during the growing season.
Sharon:  My friend did that . . . she got kohlrabi.  What do you even do with kohlrabi?
Me:  Sushi!  Pizza!  See, that's why I started the blog!  I've been figuring out how to use the fresh veggies from the farm share for so many seasons that I've got several ideas for kohlrabi!  I hate to waste food.
Sharon:  Me, too.
My elevator speech may not be slick or smooth--yet--but the conversation reminded me that I made a couple of kohlrabi pizzas that I'd like to share with you.  I'd already made pizza using the greens from kohlrabi (of course they're edible--not just for composting pigs or worms, just like chard stems) but I was intrigued at the thought of shaving wafer-thin slices of kohlrabi onto a pizza pie.

As usual, dithering ensued, so I'm sharing a pair of pizzas--with or without meat.  I was a mite ambitious this particular Friday Night Pizza Night, and to keep track of what all went on each one I ended up scribbling the toppings on the parchment paper.  Who knew parchment paper was good for more than preventing my children from hearing unsavory language when I attempt to transfer the dough into the oven keeping the dough from sticking to the peel?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Roasted Shrimp and Potato Salad with Grapes and Celery

A savory and sweet, crunchy and filling late summer salad with roasted potatoes and shrimp, chopped celery, and whole grapes in a dilled yogurt-mayonnaise-lemon dressing.

Roasted Shrimp and Potato Salad with Grapes and Celery

I've been doing a lot of walking to train for a half marathon, and part of my walking has been to pick up milk at the local grocery store.  Normally I have Simon (the photobombing dog below) with me, waiting patiently at the dog tie up & water station, so I don't linger in the aisles.  The other morning, however, my daughter and I walked together, and after walking in the woods (just found out there's elevation changes on the course, so I need to get some hills in) she and Simon headed home and I headed to the store for milk (and to pad my mileage).  I had time to linger over the deli section, and two salads in particular caught my eye--a dilled shrimp, celery, and grape salad and a dilled lemon potato salad.

On the way home (lugging a gallon of milk is not the hassle it used to be--a side benefit of having kids who go through a gallon every 36 hours) I wondered what would happen if I combined the two salads and, for grins and giggles, roasted the potatoes and shrimp instead of boiling or steaming them.

Roasted Shrimp and Potato Salad with Grapes and Celery

Since the celery I'm regrowing in my garden is doing amazingly well (of course it is, since I'm only meh on celery by itself, though I love it in soup packs and to help stretch a pound of ground meat) I figured I'd try and combine the recipes.  Our farmers have a nifty new tool, a potato digger, and we've been getting lovely harvests of red potatoes lately, so I had most everything I needed.  I played around with my kitchen scale again, like I did in my Chicken Salad by the Ounce recipe, but this time in metric form.  The volumes in this recipe are my estimation of the weights I used.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Low and Slow Pear Butter Waffles

Low and Slow Pear Butter Waffles

Last year, the folks who grow the farm share spent a few autumn days gleaning pears off of many unloved and unmanaged pear trees in the city.  They shared the pears with us.  The pears weren't ripe yet, so I set them on the counter and moved on to the more pressing items in the share.  When I noticed that the pears were ripening, I moved them into the crisper and continued to deal with the more perishable foods.  Then I needed to make room for the incoming Fruit Fundraiser influx.
Apparently my son takes after me.  While doing a personality test in Science class he learned he's an Otter--that means he procrastinates.  Hmmm, wonder where he gets that from?
What to do with all those pears?  Farmgirl Fare to the rescue!
I made pear butter in the oven following Susan's recipe.  It's simple as can be.  Pears, an acid (lime juice for me since I was out of lemon) and a sweet (honey for me).  I attempted for a brief and futile moment to smush my pears through a fine mesh strainer (forget that!), then considered hopping in the car to use a coupon at BB&B to get the recommended Foley Food Mill, and ended up just chopping stuff up with my immersion blender.  The result, after a few low and slow hours in the oven, was delicious.
I'd taken unattractive free local produce, procured by my CSA farmers, and turned it into something delicious!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Grapes, Goat cheese and Red Onion with Fennel Focaccia

Sweet purple grapes, fresh red onion, and tangy goat cheese on a chewy light fennel focaccia.

Grapes, Goat cheese and Red Onion with Fennel Focaccia

After sharing a pair of peach pizzas last Friday, and a raspberry pizza the Friday before, I thought I should move back to vegetable pizzas for my Friday Night Pizza Night posts.  After all, I've got a sweet potato dough and a roasted pumpkin dough that I want to share with you.

However, I don't want this focaccia to drop off my radar.

I had a very productive period making and poorly photographing--but not writing up headnotes for--a pile of tasty recipes, and I thought I'd get them all written up over the summer.

Didn't happen.

I don't want everything to slip through the cracks, or rather fall off the stacks of recipe notes on my work table or dissolve into rows of scrolled-past photos in my ever-expanding photo library.  I don't want to start posting every day, either.  Three days a week is working for me (is it working for you?  too much? I should do a survey sometime.  After I've gotten all those blogs written up I'll ponder it).

I'm going to share a third fruity Friday Night Pizza Night (that's a link to my board of the same name on Pinterest) and then switch over to vegetables next week.  The chicken, peach, Hatch chile, spinach, red onion BBQ pizza will have to wait until next summer, as will the cantaloupe and prosciutto.  Something to look forward to, my spouse always says.

This focaccia uses fennel seeds in the dough.  I bought a bag of them because Alyssa's Skinny Italian Wedding Soup With Kale recipe over at Everyday Maven sounded good, and I figured the seeds could be useful to have on hand.  I'm glad I did--I now use fennel seeds in sourdough bread, Italian sausage, and spaghetti sauce.  Fennel seeds (for me at least) are versatile and not a seldom-used spice around here (I'm talking about you, sumac-for-fattoush and dill-seed-for-pickles).

Grapes, Goat cheese and Red Onion with Fennel Focaccia

This is not my first focaccia rodeo, though apparently all of the focaccias I've been making, photographing (and not writing up blog posts about) have yet to grace the screen.  So I'm going to refer you to my Arugula Pesto Focaccia with Artichokes, Feta, Goat Cheese and Green Olives if you want a thorough write up about what to do with your focaccia dough to turn it into focaccia, or why you should listen to my spouse and try focaccia.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Layered Summer Veggie Appetizer

When you think about appetizers, do you throw a bone to the healthy contingent and include some carrot sticks and hummus?  Is your conscience soothed by adding celery sticks to your Buffalo chicken dip?  Do you pick up a veggie tray at the store and call it good?

Are vegetable appetizers an afterthought?
I want to change that.

I'm on a quest to create awesome vegetable appetizers--ones that are demolished before the cocktail weenies or cheese balls, because they are just damn good.  I've got a Pinterest board, Awesome Veggie Apps and Snacks, and as I find new ways to turn vegetables into desirable appetizers I'm pinning them there.  Please leave suggestions in the comments so I can add them--thanks!

Layered Summer Veggie Appetizer
Cherry tomato confit, cucumbers, banana peppers, artichoke hearts, olives and feta
Last winter, I started things off here with a Slow Cooker Salmon Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip and a Skillet Mushroom Dip for Two.  In the spring I started a craving for Five Layer Mediterranean Chicken (or Chick Pea) Dip that continues today.  Lately, I've been kinda dippy, with Fattoush Dip with Kale and Sumac Hummus and Indian-spiced Eggplant Yogurt Dip.  Today I want to share another delicious way to incorporate seasonal vegetables into your happy hour, cook out, tail gate, or indulgent dinner for one:  the Layered Summer Vegetable Appetizer.

While the autumnal equinox is weeks away here in North America, the mood has shifted to autumn.  The kids are in school, football marching band season is in full swing, and the sled hockey gear is back out. However, the garden and the farm share are packed with late summer vegetables--peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and squash are filling up my weekly box.  I created this layered appetizer to show off the best of late summer produce.

Layered Summer Veggie Appetizer
Grilled red peppers, grilled red onion, grilled yellow squash, artichoke hearts and feta

Discerning readers will say "hey, that looks like the Fattoush Dip she posted 3 weeks ago" and you'd be correct.  Other clever followers will think "what, another Wednesday eggplant dip recipe?"  Right again.  However, I'm sharing this recipe now, not next summer, for a few reasons:
  • the base of this appetizer, roasted eggplant, is still very much in season and you might be looking for new ways to enjoy it
  • I think this is a party-worthy appetizer, and while I'm not hosting anything until Fall, you may be looking for new appetizer recipes
  • with the variety of special diets around, vegetables are a great way to create a dish that nearly everyone can enjoy

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Indian Spiced Eggplant Yogurt Dip

Roasted CSA farm share eggplant seasoned with Indian spices and tempered with yogurt for a spicy, tangy kid-friendly appetizer.

Indian-Spiced Eggplant Yogurt Dip

Eggplant in the CSA farm share, as I have admitted recently, is something that requires thought on my part.  It's not like carrots or broccoli, familiar enough to eat any old way.  It's not like a tomato that can be delicious on a sandwich or put up when we get too many all at once.  It's not like beets, that I hog all to myself enjoy in a myriad of ways (check the Visual Recipe Index for recipe ideas by vegetable).

Eggplant is in a (very small) class of vegetables that the kids will eat, and happily, one particular way.  This summer I'm trying to change that.  When I made my Baked Eggplant Chips for the same-named Pizza the kids were not big fans.  I tried an Indian-spiced eggplant chip and the texture put my daughter off, but I was on to something--keep the flavor, use the food processor.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Slow Cooker Squash and Beef Masala

Indian spices, patty pan squash and ground beef comingle in this slow cooker supper.  A tasty way to feed the family from the farm share on a busy afternoon.

Slow Cooker Squash and Beef Masala

With school starting I feel like I'm supposed to say our days will get busier, but more than the busier Fall days, I am looking forward to the structure of the coming weeks.  Without any structure to each week (my activities have been irregular this summer), meals and meal times have really been fluid.  We'll eat lunch at 2 pm, then not really be hungry for dinner.  Having the kids up at ___ time, out the door at ___ time, with evening activities at ___ time will give me a framework on which to hang meals.  Then my spouse will return, and we'll soon be in the swing our our family routine again.  I'm looking forward to that.

I use my slow cooker year round, but not often enough for it to get Pride of Place in the kitchen.  It lives in the basement Active Storage area.  Technically I have 3 slow cookers, so they live in this area.
[My spouse has an engineer brain, so we have an Active Storage area and a Cold Storage area--which doesn't store food, but does store less frequently accessed items like Christmas decorations.]  I primarily use my ancient 3-4 Quart Crock pot, but I love to heat spaghetti sauce in my little one (for the days when my son is in charge of boiling the noodles right before the rest of us get home) and make Kalua Pig or soup stock in my large one.

I developed this recipe from a desire to use some of the cow in the freezer and the patty pan squash from the CSA farm share in a form that my kids would enjoy over multiple meals.  They loved Rebecca of Foodie With Family's Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala when I riffed off it to make my Slow Cooker Chicken and Chick Pea Tikka Masala.  I figured I'd do something similar.  Since tikka = chicken it makes no sense to title this dish "Tikka" anything as there's no chicken in it, but since masala = a sauce, usually with tomatoes and spices and cream, I'm good with my title.  This makes a lot, and the leftovers are good in a thermos for a school or work lunch.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Waffles

Chocolate Zucchini Waffles

I never set out to make zucchini waffles.  I'm such a fan of shredded zucchini pancakes/latkes, with butter and parmesan, that I think of zucchini nearly always as a savory, not a sweet. [Heed the words!  Pay no attention to this cake or these muffins!]
When I get overwhelmed with zucchini in the summer I reflexively grab the Food Processor, slap on the 'fine shred' disc, and shred those puppies up before freezing cups of shredded squash in bags.  I've noticed I get about 1/2 cup of squash back, when it's thawed and I've squeezed all the water out, so this summer I will be packing 2 cup bags, though right now all the garden volunteers are pie pumpkins, not zucchini, so I'm not overwhelmed.  Yet.  
Chocolate Zucchini Waffles
Just another week in Squashzilla-land.
In the dead of winter (see photo below), when even my never-say-die Swiss chard has given up, these bags of green goodness cheer me and make me want to celebrate. With chocolate.  It's good to celebrate with chocolate, right?

Try these now, or shred and freeze some zucchini to have a mini summer celebration this winter.  Either way, you're in for a treat.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mediterranean Tomato Tart (artichokes, green olives, arugula, feta)

A savory tart of tomatoes topped with an artichoke, arugula pesto, and green olive mixture with plenty of cheeses.

I know I've been about the Mediterranean lately, with my Fattoush dip, the slow cooker Greek chicken tacos, and the five layer Mediterranean dip.  Is it my subconscious calling for a vacation?  I took a vacation last week (and thankfully did this post all up well beforehand so I didn't have to rush around and write in the post-endless driving/massive laundry doing/when do I get to kick back? phase).  The pictures are not as good as some I've taken since I learned how to take better ones, but the flavor of this tart is delicious.

I created this recipe from a desire to have a less 'cheesy rich' version of the Basil Tomato Tart.  It has the tasty combination of artichoke hearts and green olives.  I first tried that on pizza and wow!  I'd never cared for olives until I had an artichoke and green olive pizza.  Now I love them and can eat them any way.  If you don't have arugula pesto, any pesto would substitute.  But if you're overrun with arugula, try this pesto.  I got the pesto recipe from Farmer John's The Real Dirt on Vegetables.  It's a great cookbook I bought through my CSA back in Virginia, Blenheim Organic Gardens.
Hey guess what?  Store bought pie crust still.  One of these days . . . but no, first things first.  Since I've been reading Cooked by Michael Pollan with the HOMEGROWN book club I'm more interested in sourdough bread and kimchi than in pie crust.  This morning I start my sourdough starter, so in a week I'll be rolling in the dough . . .

Friday, August 9, 2013

Baked Eggplant Chip Pesto Pizza

Cheesy, crunchy, breaded eggplant slices on a pesto pizza crust spread with extra pesto and topped with shredded Italian and crumbled feta cheeses.
If you've been or known a picky eater, could you ever imagine that picky eater to say "this spaghetti sauce needs more cowbell some eggplant"?  
My kids were picky, or at least not game for any vegetable, when we first started getting a CSA farm share.  Ever since I figured out that I could take the farm share eggplant and puree it with other vegetables to make spaghetti sauce (my first ever posted-on-the-internet recipe, at Tasty Kitchen, is here) I haven't had eggplant the way I love to eat it--breaded and covered with cheese.  Since the kids will eat eggplant in spaghetti sauce, that's what we do with our farm share eggplant.  Period.

Until this blog happened along, which probably coincided with me thinking that, just this once, I'd like to eat eggplant as the star of its own show, not as a bit player in an ensemble.  I've been all about treating myself this summer, making foods that I want to eat, and this is another one of those.  It's my hope that you'll also benefit from my self-pampering.

This is the third time recently that I've posted a recipe-within-a-recipe, and I hope I'm not violating some sort of blogger laws or setting up some unrealistic expectations.  Just like you don't need to make pizza with your Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, nor do you need to use Kale Hummus in your Fattoush Dip, you don't need to make Baked Eggplant Chips the way I describe below in order to make Baked Eggplant Chip Pizza.  You can make them another way.  The first eggplant chip recipe I ever had was from my CSA in Virginia, Blenheim Organic Gardens, and you can find Becky's tasty eggplant chip recipe here at the Washington Post.

I wanted a breaded cheesy crunchy sort of eggplant chip, and I had a hunch, when I got a great coupon for Kraft Fresh Takes (not sponsored, I bought this because it was a good deal and I wanted to play), that instead of coating chicken or fish I could coat slices of summer vegetables.  I tried it with zucchini,  patty pan squash, and eggplant.

I got a little carried away.

With the leftover eggplant (because it's frequently about the leftovers around here) I decided to toss it onto a pizza.  This was a good call--the breaded eggplant slices retained their crunchy cheesy eggplant goodness.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fattoush Dip with Kale Hummus

Subtitle:  A Fast Farm Share Dip Dinner

Freshly chopped summer produce and preserved vegetables layered over a bed of kale hummus and topped with pita chip croutons.

The other day I shared how I can or freeze summer produce to enjoy during the winter.  Today I'm sharing how I can take the fresh farm share bounty and make a fast supper (for one) or appetizer (for two) in minutes.

I've travelled across the middle of the US recently, and many non-highway roads I've been on have had farm stands.  These stands are selling tomatoes, melons, corn, peaches, cucumbers, squash--the bulk of the summer produce is ripe and ready from Michigan to Delaware (and probably other places, but I haven't been to them this week).
A CSA farm share haul from a few weeks back.
With all this ripe fresh goodness at your fingertips, making a quick and delicious dinner is easy.  I brought home the farm share box, realized we had plenty of leftovers for the kids to scrounge dinner, and decided to treat myself to a riff on my Five Layer Mediterranean Chicken Dip.  I'd first made that dip before cucumbers and tomatoes were in season, and I'd thought the concept (base of dip topped with goodies and eaten with pita chips) was a good one. Mine started with a base of Kale and Sumac Hummus (recipe below) but any hummus will do.  I also keep a few jarred vegetables on hand (olives and artichoke hearts) to add some layers of flavor to the fresh produce.
As an aside, in my Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient (a page on the bar above) I have a category for Veggies in Jars where I index my recipes that use artichokes and olives, as well as capers and sun dried tomatoes and probably something else.
All I needed to do was grab a cucumber, a banana pepper, a couple of tomatoes, and after a few minutes of chopping I had a fresh crunchy cool zingy dinner ready to go.  When I realized that I'd unwittingly combined many elements of Fattoush into an appetizer, I decided to call this Fattoush Dip with Kale Hummus.

Only one problem--I was at the end of the bag of pita chips.  So I quickly regrouped (I am a military spouse, after all, and plan F or U or B or R is my specialty), used the pita chip crumbs as croutons, and turned this into an appetizer eaten with a spoon.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Green Pork, Corn and Zucchini Enchiladas (Can you can? Yes, you can!)

Ground pork sautéed with zucchini and corn makes the filling for these green salsa verde enchiladas. Home-canned sauces enjoyed all year long.

Do you can?  I've made jam over the years, but I really need to give a shout out to Marisa of Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round because a year ago, through her wonderful blog, she gave me permission to can 'just a little bit' of something without making a Big Production out of it.

Last summer, when my local grocery store was roasting fresh Hatch chilies in the parking lot and the farm share had tomatillos every single week, I decided to try my hand at canning salsa verde.  I first tried salsa verde the previous winter when I made tongue tacos from the cow in the freezer.  My family tolerated the tongue, but we all loved the salsa verde and I resolved to learn how to make it when the farm share tomatillos overwhelmed me appeared in the box.  I followed the Ball® Blue Book recipe, subbed the roasted Hatch chilies, and this was the result--six lovely jelly jars of salsa verde.
Since I had the canning pot up from the basement and hot water anyway, I figured I'd make some peach jam from peaches that had been hanging out in the freezer, awaiting a canning day and some pectin.

But what to make with it?  We haven't finished up the first cow, and most cows only have 1 tongue [not that we were pantingly eager to experience those tacos again].  We are loving enchiladas these days, so I figured an enchilada recipe would be a neat way to take my salsa verde for a test drive.  I found some ground pork marked down at the grocery store and grabbed a bag of zucchini out of the freezer.
Freezer?  Yes, I wrote this post up during the snowy winter, dreaming of temps above the single digits while sharing how I feed my family from our garden and CSA farm share all year 'round.  If you're overrun with zucchini this summer, shred some up--I love my food processor because it has a fine shred disc which is perfect for zucchini, carrots, or cheese.  I freeze bags of shredded zucchini flat in 1 cup portions.
But I digress . . .  where was I?  Oh, right. Ground pork, zucchini, and you know what else would be good stuffed into that tortilla?  Corn.  Grabbed some of that, too.  You'll notice that this enchilada recipe serves 6, but only uses 1/2 pound of meat.  We are omnivores, but I like to serve less meat and more veggies, so this is another way to stretch a pound of meat.  And tasty, too!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Baked Swai with Pesto and Ricotta

A simple sauce of prepared pesto and ricotta cheese makes a moist and  flavorful coating for fish, pasta, or roasted vegetables

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen the photos of my first cheese-making efforts.  I got a gallon of milk marked down and made 2 balls of mozzarella with a cheese making kit I bought from Standing Stone Farms.  With the leftover whey (boy howdy there's a lot of whey) I made a bonus batch of ricotta cheese.
There was still a lot of whey leftover after making the ricotta and mozzarella, and I've been experimenting with it.  So far whey-soaked oven oatcake is a hit, and pizza crust using whey instead of water is also a winner.  Details to come.
Here's the thing, though--normally I'll use ricotta in something hearty, like my Quadruple Roasted Mock Lasagna.  This summer has been gloriously--and unusually--cool, but not cool enough for that.  I decided to use up the very last cubes of last fall's pestopalooza with the ricotta cheese, and play around.

All of the recipes I'm sharing today involve the oven or stovetop, but when it's really hot I think it'd be great to toss freshly grilled items (chicken thighs, fish fillets, eggplant or zucchini) with this ricotta-pesto mixture and keep your kitchen cool.  It would be delicious as the dressing in a pasta salad, with cherry tomatoes, onion, cucumber, and squash.  It's probably good on a cracker.  Since I thawed my put-up pesto to make these dishes, I'm positive this idea will work with winter fare (peeled, sliced, roasted sweet potatoes or delicata squash?).

Friday, July 26, 2013

Grilled Veggie Ciabatta Pizza

This was a fun, fast, and easy pizza to make--and to eat.  I'm sharing this today in part because while I find it pretty easy to throw together pizza dough most weeks due to near-constant practice, I know that making your own dough can seem very intimidating (pie crust intimidates me).
That's a big reason why I brain-dumped my Pizza Primer blog post, to demystify the whole thing.  But I don't always make my own dough--or buy a ball of pre-made dough from the store.  Some times I get pre-baked pizza crusts, like here or here.
And sometimes, I'm in the mood for pizza without all the pizza crust foolishness.  Plenty of folks rave about naan or pita pizzas--they sound great to me, if only my kids would save me some naan.  Milk and naan--they don't stick around in our house waiting to be consumed.  Reminds me--I'm thinking the Indian-spiced slow cooker patty pan and beef dish to appear on Monday? Yes? No?  Back to pizza . . . I like to experiment with different breads for our pizzas.

You know French bread pizzas?  When I make them, from a loaf of day old French or Italian bread (I still call them all French bread pizzas after Stouffer's started the trend for me) they are usually too thick and too hard to bite after baking.  I do love how easy it is to make them, though--no dough skills or extra time necessary--so I keep on trying.  When I saw take & bake ciabatta bread marked down, I initially wasn't thinking pizza, but when a recent Friday afternoon loomed and I didn't have dough made, inspiration struck.

Using the par-baked bread means that the crust is just crisp enough when the toppings are warmed and the cheese is melted.  This crust is an excellent vehicle for a wide range of toppings--but to keep it on the easy side, check your refrigerator.  You've grilled veggies this summer, right?  Got any leftovers?

I tossed my leftover veggies (zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, radish and red onion) with goat cheese, fresh parsley and a bit of cooked sausage and used that as one of my toppings.  Just plain cheese on the other half for those in the household who aren't embracing the grilled veggie concept.  Yet.  I'm working on them her.

I think this would make an excellent appetizer, or an excellent pizza for a party--you throw it together in minutes, shoot, it takes longer to preheat the oven--and each half can be its own blank canvas to decorate as you desire.