Showing posts with label freezer cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label freezer cooking. Show all posts

Friday, May 17, 2019

Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs

Use the Instant Pot to make spaghetti and meatballs the easy way--simple ingredients and only one pot to clean! This is a terrific recipe for campus cooking as it uses few ingredients and simple prep.

image of a shallow pasta bowl with pressure cooked spaghetti and meatballs and a side of garlic bread

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Hi and welcome to the first post in a new series I've started called Instant Pot on Campus. This summer I'm teaching my son how to use an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker to make simple meals. Later I'll stuff an Instant Pot box* into the already overloaded car and send him off to school, confident that I've built a foundation for success in the kitchen. *Military spouse tip--save your boxes.

Each Instant Pot on Campus post will have the following categories:
  • What to buy at the store
  • What you need in the kitchen
  • How to Level Up
  • The Recipe
  • What to do when something goes wrong
Please share this post with folks who are just starting out in the kitchen. Thank you!

Let's get to the first post in the series, Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs!

What to buy at the store

photo of the ingredients needed to make 2 batches of Instant Pot spaghetti and meatballs (meatballs, noodles, spaghetti sauce)

You might as well buy the ingredients for a double batch, otherwise you're left with half a box of spaghetti in the cupboard and half a bag of meatballs in the freezer. Avoid the temptation to just dump the whole box of noodles in--you'll get a burn error message and probably won't end up with an edible meal.
  • 1 pound box of spaghetti noodles (thin, thick, regular . . . your choice)
  • 1 bag (24-32 ounces) of frozen meatballs
  • 2 cans or jars (24 ounces each) of spaghetti sauce
Since you're going to use the whole can or jar of spaghetti sauce at one time, go with the can. It's usually a better deal--unless you don't have a can opener. Cheaper items are usually located on the lowest shelves in the grocery store since companies pay extra to have their products displayed at eye level (and their prices reflect that).

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Instant Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

An Instant Pot version of the classic creamy chicken & wild rice soup. Laden with mushrooms, carrots & celery, this soup cooks from frozen chicken breasts in under an hour in an electric pressure cooker.

photo of a bowl of chicken & wild rice soup on a plate with a pile of oyster crackers (no oysters were harmed in the making of the crackers)

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Yes, it's been a while. I've been teaching a series of Instant Pot Basics cooking classes for the past two months. We make this recipe in Class 2:  Cooking from Frozen. My students have inspired me to create some new recipes for the Instant Pot that I'll be sharing here now that I'm in between classes for a bit, so stay tuned!

I love using my IP for soup. The ability to sauté the veggies, deglaze the pan, and then add the rest of the ingredients and walk away is heavenly! Because I'm sharing soups with my folks and my girlie as well, I've had days this winter when I've made 3 different soups in a single morning. My days are not All Soup All The Time, though. Mostly I've been spending my time shoveling since Minnesota decided to welcome me in a Big Way. We live on a corner, so after the first 5 or 6 snowfalls we really got the hang of shoveling this place. I even shoveled a racetrack in the backyard since there's so much snow. (You can see video of the dogs running their track on my FB and IG feeds.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Cranberry Honey Butter

This compound butter is tangy and slightly sweet, terrific on seasonal veggies, desserts, or breads. It's a terrific last minute homemade addition to a Thanksgiving or holiday meal.

image of a ramekin of cranberry honey butter surrounded by cranberries

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I couldn't decide if I should post this recipe for Thanksgiving, Thanksgivukkah, or Christmas meals, so I opted for the 'throw it up there the day before Thanksgiving and call it a last-minute homemade addition' strategy.

Did it work?

If you're reading this in a turkey coma, I hope to give you ideas for upcoming meals or a reason to toss a bag of cranberries (on sale now, impossible to find later) into the freezer.

This compound butter is tangy and slightly sweet, terrific on seasonal veggies, desserts, or breads. It's a terrific last minute homemade addition to a Thanksgiving or holiday meal.

The pretty pink color would look nice on a variety of tablescapes--Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's day--tragically I am not a tablescape kind of person. I can cook the food. Don't rely on me to make it look pretty, too.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Blueberry Banana Muffins with Steel Cut Oats #MuffinMonday

Bananas and blueberries are the sweet fruit and steel cut oats are the hearty grains packed into a healthy breakfast treat to power you thru until lunchtime. These muffins contain whole fat dairy instead of oil.

image of a plate of blueberry banana muffins with steel cut oats

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I think I'm more fond of baking with bananas than eating them fresh. There's a small window of banana perfection for me--I prefer mine just barely ripe with a bit of green on the stem. Once the bunch of bananas has moved on to full ripeness I'm more likely to make a Banana PB and Spinach Smoothie, or Banana Blender Waffles, or a Ham & Banana Pizza. Or muffins!

photo of a plate of banana blueberry muffins made with steel cut oats

It's easy to store ripe bananas in the freezer--just open the door and slip them inside! There's no need to remove the skin and store in a different container, since the banana skin is the perfect covering for the banana no matter what the outer environment is like. That's better for the environment as well. Bananas take just a few minutes to thaw on the counter (put them on a plate if you think they'll get weepy) and they are ready to use in all sorts of baked goods. I made a video about how to deal with overripe bananas, another in my Cooking Hacks series. Please enjoy!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Chorizo and Green Tomato Chili

Green tomatoes simmered with ground pork and chorizo sausage makes an amazing green & white chili. Served over spaghetti noodles and topped with cheese, this is a great Fall meal.

photo of a bowl of chorizo and green tomato chili atop spaghetti noodles

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This post is sponsored by the Ohio Pork Council. My goal is to share a recipe using ground pork, but I've got much more for you today. First off, I've got a little video I put together about the many uses of ground pork. When I visited the Surber farm I knew I was going to do a post about ground pork later in the summer, but I didn't know that Connie Surber was going to give me such a wonderful content about the uses of ground pork! I'm really glad I happened to have my phone on video, to record her conversation, although I apologize for standing near a wind chime. I'm still learning this video stuff, and if I knew how to make the images of my recipes into clickable links within the video I'd've done that. Instead, scroll down to the bottom to find links to my recipes that appear in this video.

I credit my spouse as the inspiration for this chili. I knew I wanted to make something special with the chorizo given to me during my visit with the Runyan family of Oakview Farms, so I asked my husband if he'd be game to try a Chorizo Chili. He'd just returned from a 2 week trip eating at a dining facility on a base in Alabama, so he was up for anything other than institutional food. Since he's a fan of Cincinnati chili, he asked, "can we eat it over spaghetti, with cheese?" and BOOM! I was inspired.

Monday, August 7, 2017

How to Make Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker

Bring the luau out of the back yard and into the slow cooker with this simple 3 ingredient recipe for slow cooked pork. This is a great meal to take to friends, and the leftovers freeze well.

a plate of slow cooker kalua pig with fresh pineapple, hot cooked rice, sweet Hawaiian roll, and cabbage

Disclosure--there is nothing to disclose. This post is not sponsored by anyone--it's just for me. I'm putting on the 'blogger' hat and writing a web log about recent events, primarily to help me debrief myself as much as to have a record on my website of this recipe, this experience. Scroll down (there's a video!) if you're just interested in the recipe and not my life.

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Earlier this year I read a book called The Year of Yes [Amazon link below with some other stuff. You click, you find something else to buy, and I may get a couple of pennies for my annual website costs. Up to you. Thanks.] In the book, Shonda Rhimes wrote about choosing to say Yes to projects outside her comfort zone, and I decided to do the same thing. When my local community center asked me to teach another canning class I said yes and developed a pickling class I'll be teaching next month. When Jennifer of the Ohio Pork Council asked me to do a cooking demo at the Ohio state fair? Of course I said yes.

Bring the luau out of the back yard and into the slow cooker with this simple 3 ingredient recipe for slow cooked pork. This is a great meal to take to friends, and the leftovers freeze well.

The schedule looked busy. The dates of Fair Week included the time I'd be up in Minnesota having a family reunion celebrating my folks' 60th anniversary and visiting my spouse at his new assignment, meaning I'd come off driving 2200+ miles and jump right into cooking? It seemed reasonable 3 months ago, and in fact it was just fine. I was crazed and harried, but just fine. Jennifer asked me to cook something easy, and after about 30 seconds of thought I knew I'd be grabbing a lei and channeling my time in Hawaii. I could cook this with my eyes closed, although there are knives involved so I don't recommend you try it.

I lived in Hawaii, on Oahu, twice--both times courtesy of the military. During my first stay, my son was born in a Pepto bismol pink hospital on the side of a mountain while I was assigned to the patient squadron and waddled around exploring as much of the island as I cared in my heavily pregnant/postpartum state. [You might think that's not much, but you don't know my spouse. He had us hiking up to see waterfalls the day after our baby was released from the NICU--2 weeks after my C section.] My spouse was the one stationed in Hawaii the next time we lived on Oahu. He likes to refer to the assignment as my 3½ year "Hawaiian Honeymoon". [We had a JoP wedding in the States and I'd flown back to Germany 2 days later, so no honeymoon. The marriage was the important part, not the vacation.] When we arrived in Hawaii, our kids were 2½ years old (returning to his birthplace) and 8 months (our baby girl). They were 6 and 4 when we left. Yes, I changed a lot of  diapers. I don't think you're supposed to wash diapers on a honeymoon, nor have your spouse go on a deployment, so I'm still waiting for my trip.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Chicken Meatballs with Garlic Scape Pesto

Ground chicken and garlic scape pesto makes a flavorful meatball. Serve this tasty Spring treat over pasta, in a meatball sub, as an appetizer or on a pizza!

photo of a plate of garlic scape chicken meatballs on a bed of creamy noodles

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Garlic scapes are one of the weirder items in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share box. They are a strange green hook that packs a mild garlic flavor into a curlicue shape, shown below. I think they're one of the best savory ways to kick off a new growing season and I hope to share the love with you.

photo of a garlic scape in the garden with the world's most handsome basset hound in the background

When I get garlic scapes in the farm share they are usually accompanied by loads of greens. Spinach, salad mix, cooking greens . . . all of these are more fragile than the hardy garlic scape. While I need to perform Vegetable Triage to ensure none of the delicate greens go to waste, I can toss a bag of garlic scapes into the crisper and remember it in a week without any problems. Once I've gathered all of the season's scapes, I make a massive batch of Garlic Scape Pesto. You can find my Garlic Scape & Pistachio Pesto recipe here. I freeze this pesto in small amounts to use throughout the year, whenever I want to add a flavor boost to pizza, or muffins, or even meatballs.

garlic scape pesto cubes in vacuum-packed bag ready to be frozen

Monday, May 29, 2017

Garlic Scape Pesto & Ricotta Muffins #MuffinMonday

These savory muffins are flavored with garlic scape pesto & ricotta cheese. They bake up quickly for an easy bread to serve alongside pasta, chicken, or fish.

a plate of savory muffins flavored with garlic scape pesto and ricotta cheese

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Ever make a main dish and think at the last moment, "you know, some hot bread would be great with this"? That's one of the reasons I like muffins--they come together quickly (as in, thrown together while an entree is baking) and usually require just pantry ingredients. Simply pop them into the already hot oven and a few minutes later you've got yourself a hot bread to accompany your meal.  Take that, yeast breads!

These savory muffins are flavored with garlic scape pesto & ricotta cheese. They bake up quickly for an easy bread to serve alongside pasta or chicken.

I envisioned these muffins alongside a plate of lasagna, spaghetti & meatballs, or a crock pot pizza casserole where the pesto-ricotta combination can enhance the entree. They'd be terrific with my Pesto Ricotta Baked Swai recipe or my Chicken Spinach Artichoke Pesto Pasta recipe. When I made them I was just craving a savory quick bread I could slather in buttery spread and snarf down while standing in the kitchen with my wiener dog, Vincent, at my feet catching the crumbs. True story! These muffins assuaged the craving.

pic of a pile of garlic scape pesto and ricotta muffins

I was not interested in having a full pan of muffins to feed a larger group--I just wanted enough for our family--so I filled my muffin cups much fuller than usual. The resulting large muffins took a few more minutes to bake, but Vincent and I didn't mind. This recipe could be stretched into a dozen if you make them smaller than I did.

making garlic scape pesto and ricotta muffins
the wet ingredients

Seasonal eaters will delight in the inclusion of garlic scape pesto in this recipe. If you know what it is and you've got some--go for it. If you're not sure where in the grocery store you'd buy garlic scape pesto, let me give you a Top Tip: it's not there. Use a prepared pesto instead, and check out this Garlic Scape Recipe Round Up to learn more about the wonders of garlic scapes.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Fresh Strawberry Sundae Ice Cream Pie

This Fresh Strawberry Sundae Ice Cream Pie takes the flavor of a strawberry sundae and makes it easy to serve a small crowd all at once. Great for graduation parties, Memorial day cookouts, or just because local strawberry season should be celebrated.

This Fresh Strawberry Sundae Ice Cream Pie takes the flavor of a strawberry sundae and makes it easy to serve a small crowd all at once. Great for graduation parties, Memorial day cookouts, or just because local strawberry season should be celebrated.

Ice cream pies are a fun way to make a special dessert and still keep the house cool in the summertime. A few shortcuts (I use store bought everything but the local berries, but you could make each component from scratch) and you've got a sweet treat to eat with very little effort.

This Fresh Strawberry Sundae Ice Cream Pie takes the flavor of a strawberry sundae and makes it easy to serve a small crowd all at once. Great for graduation parties, Memorial day cookouts, or just because local strawberry season should be celebrated.

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This Fresh Strawberry Sundae Ice Cream Pie takes the flavor of a strawberry sundae and makes it easy to serve a small crowd all at once. Great for graduation parties, Memorial day cookouts, or just because local strawberry season should be celebrated.

Strawberry season has arrived here in Ohio, and it's the perfect time to appreciate the sweetness of a locally grown berry. Kick off the summer with this pie--you could serve it for a Memorial day cookout, or a graduation celebration, or just because you deserve a treat.

This Fresh Strawberry Sundae Ice Cream Pie takes the flavor of a strawberry sundae and makes it easy to serve a small crowd all at once. Great for graduation parties, Memorial day cookouts, or just because local strawberry season should be celebrated.

If you're new to making ice cream pies, I've shared a photo-rich How To Make An Ice Cream Pie At Home tutorial. I put my years of experience making ice cream desserts at Baskin Robbins to good use, and shared all the tips and tricks I've picked up along the way. You can find that ice cream pie recipe here.

My son walking during his preschool graduation at Hickam Elementary School in Hawaii.

My son is graduating high school today and family has flown/driven in for the occasion, so there's a lot more of us around than usual to commemorate the event. When you're a military family and move often, you tend to be a pretty self-contained nuclear family unit at school functions because you haven't been part of the community for generations.   
It was nice to fill up a pew at baccalaureate last night, even though I didn't have any tissues in my purse. You need an emergency chocolate or dog biscuit? Need to floss, have a cup of decaf tea, or repair a hem? I've got you covered. I have catheters and ear plugs, but do I have a hankie when I need one? No.
What's in my purse? A child's knife, hand lotion, band aids, a catheter, emergency toilet paper, chocolates, gum, ear plugs, a dog biscuit, a sewing kit. No tissues.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Potato, Tatsoi, and Caramelized Onion Enchiladas

Creamy mashed potatoes and tender tatsoi greens, flavored with caramelized onions and salsa verde, fill these vegetarian enchiladas. Topped with plenty more salsa verde and cheese, it's a filling meal.

Creamy mashed potatoes and tender tatsoi greens, flavored with caramelized onions and salsa verde, fill these vegetarian enchiladas. Topped with plenty more salsa verde and cheese, it's a filling meal.

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You can make this dish ahead, freeze it, and thaw it to bake later. I did--just to see if it worked and report back here.

In the months after the fresh farm share vegetables are long gone, when there's at best one pie pumpkin left in the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve, I turn to my freezer stash to keep us fed. I frequently freeze components of meals like pesto, caramelized onions, pizza dough, or grilled vegetables. I'll thaw and use these components later in the year, one of the ways I feed my family local foods throughout the year while living in a place with winter.

Creamy mashed potatoes and tender tatsoi greens, flavored with caramelized onions and salsa verde, fill these vegetarian enchiladas. Topped with plenty more salsa verde and cheese, it's a filling meal.

Freezing entire meals, though? Not my usual style. However, I had plenty of filling and tortillas and only 3 eaters while my spouse was deployed, so I figured instead of loads of leftovers I'd try freezing a pan of these to eat later.  It worked. You can do this, too.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Deep Dish Pizza with Artichokes, Kalamata Olives, and Garlic Scape Pesto

This pizza is layered with mozzarella cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, and kalamata olives tucked under an Italian sausage blanket spread with garlic scape pesto.

This pizza is layered with mozzarella cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, kalamata olives tucked under an Italian sausage blanket spread with garlic scape pesto.

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I'm working on refining my "elevator speech", a way to describe what it is I do to people I meet.

In the 30 second version, I'll touch on the flavor of a freshly picked tomato or strawberry vs their store bought counterparts and comment that it's easy to choose to eat locally for the flavor. In the longer version, I'll bring up garlic scapes--one of the more unusual, you've never seen this before therefore it must be locally grown, items in a Spring farm share basket. I specify Spring because, even though you'll only find garlic scapes right after they are harvested in the early part of the growing season--you can put up garlic scapes to enjoy year round.

I'll be giving a talk about local eating at my neighborhood community center in May, and I'm hoping for a couple of garlic scapes to harvest as props. Conveniently I missed a few bulbs of garlic when I harvested last June, and those older established bulbs have a jump on the garlic I planted last October so it's possible I'll have my 'visual aids'. If you're puzzled by what a garlic scape is--it's just what would be the flowering portion of garlic. You can see some gorgeous shots of a scape here on my Garlic Scape Recipe Round Up. I plant my garlic cloves, just like my daddy plants daffodils, in the Fall. Instead of enjoying the pretty flowers, though, I cut off the curly scape while the blossom is still a tight bud, and pulverize those stems for their mild garlic flavor.  With no energy needed to go for a showy floral display, the resulting garlic bulb is bigger--my end goal.

Now, I'll rave about garlic scapes to anyone who will listen, but the way I love them most is in pesto. I will freeze scoops of pesto (I make it thick so it stays in a clump when freezing) for up to a year. Initially I'm hoarding my garlic scape pesto stash, but this time of year I'm seeing the garlic pop up (and sharing it on my Instagram feed) and knowing that scape season is approaching so I can be free and easy with my stash.

This pizza is layered with mozzarella cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, kalamata olives tucked under an Italian sausage blanket spread with garlic scape pesto.

This ^^ is all to say that, in this pizza, I used some of my garlic scape pesto as the sauce. If you don't have a stash in your freezer, use any pesto you feel like using. It will be delicious because you made it with love, and that's what matters the most, right?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Blueberry Breakfast Cobbler with Grits

Blueberries, fresh or frozen, in a sweetened filling layered under a topping of grits?! Here's a breakfast or brunch treat that is sweet enough for a dessert and hearty enough to start your day.

Make the most of what you've got is my near-daily kitchen mantra.  I was inspired to buy a canister of quick-cooking grits for a side dish, but my family didn't go for the finished product at all, and I was left with an open canister of perfectly good grits.
Aside to grits lovers:  I know grits are good--I like them! My folks now live in a place where breakfast is provided, and when grits are on the menu mom pops back up to their apartment and fetches a package of pepper jack cheese to make her grits cheesy. Apple . . . tree . . . I know!
My family members didn't spend years working across the street from the Museum of the White House of the Confederacy, however, and in addition to not loving grits these family members don't share in my love for collard greens either, so all the more for me.  Except I didn't want to eat most of a canister of grits all by myself, so I started searching for other ways to use them.  This recipe was inspired by combining this blueberry cobbler filling (that my daughter found on the internets) with this coffee cake topping (that I found on the internets). Since dessert teamwork works well in our household, my daughter prepared the filling while I prepared the topping.

The topping ended up kind of heavy for a dessert--if you're looking for a light pillowy dumpling to absorb your blueberry goodness, try the Brown Eyed Baker where we found the filling inspiration.  This was a sturdier, chewier, heartier topping, which is why I let my daughter eat a bowl for breakfast the next morning.  I know there's a ton of sugar in it, and it will never become a staple breakfast or even dessert in my home, but the combination of grits and blueberries really is tasty, so it's worth having as an option for a brunch.

For other recipes using blueberries, please see my Blueberry Recipes Collection, part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient. For other dessert ideas, there's a drop down menu on the right sidebar with ideas. For more ideas using fruit, I've got a Fruit Board on Pinterest, and I share some creations on my FB page. Want to know how to Use this Blog? Click here!

Friday, July 31, 2015

What is Tomato Pesto? Why Put it on a Pizza?

A vegetarian's delight: pizza with marinated artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and pickled banana peppers on fresh tomato pesto, topped with salty feta crumbles and creamy burrata cheese, finished with fresh summer savory.

Have you made Fresh Tomato Pesto yet? It's one of my most popular posts every summer, and with good reason. This flexible dairy free recipe uses ANY type of tomato (I've tried cherry to Roma), assorted nuts--or sunflower seeds--and whatever herbs you've got handy. I prefer a combo of flat Italian parsley and basil, but I'll be experimenting with cilantro this year.
This is after thawing!
Eat it fresh, and if you've got a bunch of ripe tomatoes--put some up for later by freezing! I like these reusable storage caps for freezing (Amazon affiliate link) and freeze my pesto in half pint size jars. I use a piece of clear tape to write down the contents so I don't get mixed up--for example between arugula pesto and  garlic scape pesto. The lids wash up fine and only break when you swing the freezer door open too quickly and everything falls out and rolls on the floor to the delight of Robert Barker. [I'm sure that only happens to me, though].

I like to dip a variety of veggies and crackers into my fresh tomato pesto, but I really like to use it on pizza. I thaw a jar a day or so in advance, in the fridge, and drain off any water that rises to the top [For use as a pasta sauce I just stir it in.] Then I've got a flavorful sauce that adds a homemade touch to pizza.

Go make Fresh Tomato Pesto. My tutorial is here. For other recipes using tomatoes, please see my Red & Yellow Tomato Recipes Collection, part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient. For other Awesome Veggie Apps and Snacks, please see my Pinterest board. For more vegetarian pizzas, please check out my Visual Pizza Recipe Index and my Friday Night Pizza Night Pinterest board. Wanna know how to Use This Blog? Click here!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How to Make My Family's Favorite CSA Vegetable Spaghetti Sauce

Practical advice for how to save ripe summer farm share vegetables--by roasting--for use in a kid-friendly spaghetti sauce all year long.

The purpose and timing of this post reflects my mission for this blog: to provide practical support for local eating. We chose to get a large Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share not because I'm a masochist and like to torture myself with overwhelming quantities of vegetables for the kids and I to eat while my spouse is deployed because it's a good value and I know if I put up the produce properly, I'll be feeding my family from the farm share all year long. With a couple of tried-and-true techniques, including #4 from this post, and a substantial Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient filled with ideas for what's in the box, my goal is to help you feed your people from your farm share as well.

Let's talk fantasy versus reality, especially as it pertains to spaghetti sauce. In a fantasy world, I'd start with ingredients like this and spend a leisurely day chopping and simmering in my spotless kitchen [this is my fantasy, after all]. Tomatoes would always be ripening in m weed-free back yard [no need to watch where you step either], basil would be fresh for the plucking, and I'd have an interesting assortment of eggplant, peppers, fennel and squash to make flavorful sauce. [Oh, and plenty of freezer space while we're talking fantasies].

In reality, this is what the start of my spaghetti sauce often looks like. It's a bit beetier, no? I grab a bag of vegetables and a piece of Parm rind out of the freezer, a jar of tomatoes out of the pantry, and 30 minutes later I've got sauce. Homemade sauce in a half an hour is possible only because I did some prep work in the late summer, as in right about this time of year. Typically I roast my vegetable surplus and freeze it in bags as shown, but this year I'll be throwing the farm share on the grill.
When I have more propane.
Funny, how propane is a necessary ingredient when you have a gas grill. Sunday night I came back from sled hockey camp [my son plays, I'm a hockey mom] planning to Grill All The Things in the crispers. I'd forgotten I was almost out of propane when I made pizza last. I turned on the oven instead. Using my previous little grill, a tank lasted almost 2 years. Now it lasts about 4 months. Just like you need lids and jars when you're ready to get canning, or a fresh roll of bags when you're freezing produce (Amazon affiliate link), you need propane to grill. If you have a gas grill, that is. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Easy Artichoke Arugula Pesto Burrata Pasta

A fast-to-fix vegetarian pasta dish using farm share greens, marinated artichokes, and creamy burrata cheese. Putting up pesto is one way I keep from being overwhelmed when the farm share greens are in abundance.

I forgot to take finished, plated, photos of this dish. I also had the grill going and it just slipped my mind. I debated sharing this recipe today, seeing how it's the first day of the the farm share season and I had the potential for new and returning readers arriving on the blog and did I want to start off with less than my best foot forward?

I decided that I did. Hope you understand!

The idea that you don't have to Eat All The Greens in a Week was a revelation to me when I adjusted to eating from a CSA, and putting some items up for later use is one of the ways I feed my family from our seasonal farm share year round. We're starting our 10th year enjoying the fruits of CSA farmers' labors, and recipes like this are one the tips and tricks for farm share success. For other tips, please check out this post

When we get a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share box filled with assorted greens I am emphatically not looking to throw them all into salads. There are only so many salads we can eat in a week. Instead, I'm looking to turn anything not expressly salad-like into a recipe ingredient, and I give myself bonus points if it becomes a long-storing ingredient. I've shared a concept recipe for incorporating farm share greens into pasta dishes here, which is a terrific quick use for a bunch of greens. If you've got a bit of time to do some prep work, though, you'll be reaping the benefits for months by putting up some of your greens as pesto.

Arugula pesto fits the long-storing ingredient category--typically we're getting arugula in the farm share side by side with a bag of salad greens and other cooking greens. It's useful to be able to put up a batch of pesto. I store mine in the freezer in half pint jars, with a splash of olive oil on top, using these terrific lids (Amazon affiliate link). I don't just want to share how I put up this stuff, though--I want to show you how I use what I put up.

This pasta dish is my second version of a fast burrata pasta meal. The first one, that I've made three times now [unheard of in my family] uses meat and winter squash so it will debut in the Fall. Oh, so worth the wait. I wanted a vegetarian and summer-friendly version, good for a quick supper, so I took the burrata pasta concept and here we are. Adding in artichokes just elevates a simple pasta dish into a snazzier one, though we are in danger of the kids becoming artichoke fans and eating all the leftovers. The same thing happened to us with take out Indian food, and now my picky eater tells me the spaghetti sauce needs more eggplant. Educated palates. Harrumph.

Burrata cheese was new to me, and my spellcheck keeps trying to change it to burrito. When I first bought it I thought it was just like fresh mozzarella and was sorely disappointed when the creamy center oozed all over my pizza dough. Once I embraced the gooey center I came to appreciate it for what it is (creamy), not for what it's not (solid). I've found burrata cheese at the fancy cheese counter of my local Kroger. It's pricey but perishable, which means whenever I see it marked half off/quick sale I pick it up. [Yes, I cruise the fancy cheese counter looking for magical markdown stickers--I'm married, I don't cruise bars anymore.] I know we'll enjoy burrata pasta dishes so it's worth the splurge--at half price at least.

For other recipes using arugula, please see my Arugula Recipes Collection. For other recipes using marinated artichokes, you're looking for the Recipes Using Veggies In Jars Collection. These are part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for ideas when you're facing an unfamiliar ingredient. You can also find me sharing ideas via my Pinterest boards and my FB page. Want to know how to Use This Blog? Click here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Grilled Garlic Scape Pesto Smashed Potatoes

Crispy grilled potatoes smashed and seasoned with garlic scape pesto.

Subtitle:  Yet Another Reason Why You Should Put Up Garlic Scape Pesto This Year

I will shamelessly admit that this post is a Call to Action. I want you to find garlic scapes (if it's not too late in your neck of the woods) and make pesto with them. Make lots and lots of pesto, then freeze some of it because pesto lasts a long time and can be enjoyed in so many ways.

Here is my garlic scape pesto (GSP) recipe, using pistachios, parsley and basil for that whole Green on Green action, but use the recipe that appeals to you the most. There are many pesto options in my Garlic Scape Recipe Round Up and on my Garlic Scapes Pinterest Board. If you get enough scapes, you could try them all!

I use a bit less olive oil in my recipe so the result is a thicker pesto, easy to scoop (Amazon affiliate link to my scoop) onto a tray to freeze. [I prefer not to use my ice cube trays since I use them to make ice and never have enough ice in the summer.] I often whisk thawed scoops of GSP with additional oil before using, like I did in today's recipe.

The first time I heard about smashed potatoes was while skimming through a Pioneer Woman cookbook in the bookstore. I failed at my first attempt to make them [I was too vigorous with my smashing] but they still tasted good. I tried them again on our old grill, but when your grill is optimized for portability and powered by a creme brûlée torch-sized can of propane, you learn not to expect much. The third time was the charm for these spuds--I didn't crash too vigorously and the grill was big enough, and hot enough [and gosh darn it, people like it] to make this concept work.
These were rounds 3 and 4 for the grill--I'd already grilled green beans and zucchini for later use.
My daughter filled up a 3 quart saucepan with potatoes because I know that no matter how they are prepared, my family loves potatoes. I only grilled what would fit on my grill sheet because I didn't want overcrowding, and because we can always find a use for cooked & cooled potatoes. [In this case, some went onto a pizza, some went into a spinach and potato quesadilla, and some were fried up with onions and eggs for breakfast.]

For other recipes using Garlic Scapes, please see my Garlic & Garlic Scapes Recipe Collection, part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient. I've got a Pinterest board of Garlic Scape Recipes here, and a Round Up of 28+ Food Blogger Recipes Using Garlic Scapes here.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Toffee Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies #ChristmasWeek

[the title pretty much says it all]
Welcome to Day Four of Christmas Week. This event is hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen. We hope to inspire you to break out those holiday sprinkles and get your bake on!

There are times when I feel like an utter failure as a food blogger. It's not the recipes/writing/photography/technical computer stuff, you know, the business of blogging, that gets to me--it's the capital F Foodie part.

I may have 6 different vinegars in my pantry and 20 recipes for beets in my Beet Recipes Collection, but I am not a real Foodie. I have eaten at only one of the 20+ fancy schmancy restaurants in my town [and that was because my book group met there!]. In fact, I'm perfectly happy with a Five Guys burger and fries or a plate of Waffle House Chocolate Chip Waffles. The recipes I share on this blog are, for the most part, pretty basic stuff like these Toffee Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I'm sharing them today for #ChristmasWeek simply because I like to celebrate all that is simple and good--from a breakfast of beet greens or a side dish of Chinese cabbage from our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share to a tasty and flavorful cookie like these.

I like to bake chocolate chip cookies because the whole process fits in with my schedule. Unlike brownies which need to be mixed and baked all at once [and when you're making 8 dozen Pecan Brownie Bites for a Cookie Drive that's a big chunk of time], chocolate chip cookies taste better when they are done in installments. When I expect to have 30 minutes free I'll set the butter out to soften ahead of time, then mix up the dough when I'm ready. I will chill this dough overnight or up to a couple of days. When I'm ready to bake I scoop up what I want to use, and I can re-chill or even freeze the rest until I need it. Making cookies this way--in small chunks of kitchen time--fits with my schedule best and leaves me more time to try and get a decent shot of the dogs in their thrift shop holiday finery. Here's an outtake:
Simon is patiently waiting to be allowed to leave while Robert Barker keeps trying to eat his hat  (it tastes yummy) and Vincent in his Santa Paws coat just wishes everyone would cooperate so he can have his turn to shine. Oh, and I went and got my hair done did. It's been a year--it was time.
Swing by all the #ChristmasWeek participants to see what they've been whipping up for the holidays:
Coconut Filled Sandwich Cookies by Cravings of a Lunatic
Peppermint Sugar Cookie Bars by Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts
Cranberry Ginger Margaritas by Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks
Rocky Road Chocolate Bark by Cooking In Stilettos
Apple Streusel Bars by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Rum Blondies with Cinnamon Chips by From Gate to Plate