Showing posts with label winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label winter. Show all posts

Monday, October 7, 2013

Savory Butternut Squash Soaked Oat Muffins

As the weather turns colder and my farm share starts including butternut squashes, I tend to do one of two things:  I roast them or I pile them up in a cold corner of my breakfast nook to make my Strategic Winter Squash Reserve (link to my FB page photo of SWSR 2013).  With the roasted squash, I make different main dishes or side dishes.

Late last winter, however, when the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve was the only source of 'fresh' CSA farm share vegetables [still had stuff put up in the freezer and pantry], I got creative.  I shredded the squash.  Shredding a vegetable that you normally use in a mashed form gives you all sorts of options (like Chicken Saltimbocca).  I've revamped my Visual Recipe Index! For more ideas on what to do with your butternut squash, click here.

Savory Butternut Squash Soaked Oat Muffins | Farm Fresh Feasts

Since I'm crazy flexible enough to add vegetables to oatmeal and buttermilk and make muffins, I thought I'd throw a cup of shredded butternut squash in the bowl and see what happened.  The lovely thing about this soaked oat muffin recipe is that you toss the first few ingredients together, then have plenty of time to figure out just what you're going to make in the hour before you finish the muffin batter and start baking.  Plenty of time to dither between sweet and savory muffins.

In the end, I veered into the savory muffin direction (oh come on, the title of today's post gave it away). I had a bit of leftover dribs and drabs from a ham, and figured I'd chop them up and add them to the batter.  I added a bit of cornmeal for crunch, and a bit of thyme because I could, and honey in place of sugar for a hint of sweetness--not too much.   For a rather virtuous muffin (whole grain, no processed sugar) they are delicious.  Come see!

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 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.

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!

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 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 3, 2013

Sweet Corn and Blueberry Waffles

Sometimes it takes my subconscious a bit of time to catch up with the rest of my brain.

The other day I was looking at a recipe round up email digest when these cornmeal waffles with a blueberry compote caught my fancy.  I thought I'd throw some of my freezer stash of blueberries into the cornmeal waffles instead of a compote on top.  Then I thought I'd toss in some frozen sweet corn that I'd also put up, because for some reason sweet corn and blueberries sounded good.

What I didn't realize, until the day after I'd made these, was that I'd taken the flavor combo from this amazing corn, cucumber, and blueberry salad and stuck it in a waffle iron.  Without the cucumber--cucumber waffles do not sound appealing.

Corn and blueberries are amazing together.  The salad was delicious, as are these waffles.  I love fresh corn, and fresh blueberries, in the summer.  When you have them both fresh in your kitchen, I recommend making the salad.  I'm not much of a chunky waffle fan (and my son cannot stand oozing blueberries in his waffles) so I knew I wanted to chop up the frozen corn and blueberries from my freezer stash into smaller bits.  When you have both corn and blueberries frozen, I recommend making these waffles.  Besides, I tend to prefer summer salads and winter waffles.  And alliteration.  You do what you like.

Note:  these waffles are a bit softer straight out of the iron than other waffles that I've made.  Flip 'em over--they'll be sturdy enough for the buttery spread and real local maple syrup.  These freeze well and can be toasted for weekday breakfasts.  I tripled the recipe and made waffles for 7 hungry folks with 2 breakfasts worth of leftovers, but I'm sharing the recipe that serves 2-3 folks.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Fish Taco Enchiladas

My dining room table is a battlefield.

I don't mean the battle over homework, though that also occurs at the dining room table, the breakfast nook table, and the Lego table.  I also don't mean the battle for Europe, or orange train cars, or vending cart cards, or goats for women.
Though as an aside, if you want to add more board games to your Game Nights I highly recommend the Board Game Family's recommendations. My spouse, with that site's advice, kickstarted our twice weekly FGNs after years of trying and failing to get a FGN routine going. And these games we play?  Great for adults without kids, too--they are just plain fun, unless you're malicious like my daughter playing Spot It--she always wins.
No, in fact I mean the How To Fold A Burrito Properly battle.  There are 4 of us eating, and we each fold our burritos in a different way.  And of course each one of us thinks we're right.  (My spouse is.) You'll notice in my Mu Shu (ish) Chicken Burrito post that I completely sidestepped the folding debate.  I'm sidestepping it again here, this time by making enchiladas! (I'm sure this says something about my personality or birth order or whatnot, but perhaps it's just that in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter to me how you fold your burrito.  Your sushi rolling is a different story.) I'm sharing this now because it is a tasty recipe and helped me to add variety in the proteins that we eat.

It just makes sense that eating a variety of foods in our diet is best, you know?  My family is fortunate that eating seasonally from our CSA farm share means that the produce in our diet (and that of the composting guinea pigs) is naturally varied.
I mean, I'm not going to the grocery store on Saturday and buying a head of lettuce, a package of tomatoes, a bag of carrots, and a bunch of bananas each and every week all year 'round.  Instead I'm yearning for tomatoes amidst the greens in May and overrun with squash and eggplant in August.  Such is the life of a CSA subscriber!  And that's the way I like it--eating from my CSA farm share appeals to me in ways I never considered when we started 8 years ago. I thought it would be similar when we got part of a cow for our freezer.  And it was, in part--we tried beef tongue tacos and ox tail stew for the first time.
What I didn't realize was that we'd end up eating more beef than we usually do, just because we have it in the house.  I have to work at eating protein sources other than beef--which is why I was tickled to see frozen Swai (aka Pangasius or Basa) fillets for $1.99/pound at the store.  Swai is a white fleshed fish in the "Good Alternative" category on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website.  Protein that is a Good Alternative, that is a great price, is good for me.

But what to do with the Swai fillets?

I had some leftover shredded cabbage/coleslaw mix, cilantro, Greek yogurt, some of my home-canned salsa verde made with farm share tomatillos and roasted Hatch chiles from the grocery store down the street, and enchilada-size tortillas, so you can easily see why I went in the direction I did here.  While it is technically an enchilada, it's not covered with a ton of cheese and a rich sauce.  The cabbage still had a bit of crunch to it, the fish was firm, the whole dish just worked.  If you have Swai or any firm white-fleshed fish (tilapia, cod, perch and whitefish are all on the approved list of the website) try this twist on the traditional fish taco, avoid the burrito-folding battles, and add variety to your plate.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Beef, Mushroom, Fresh Tomato Pesto FFF-a-boli (Pizza Night!)

I did warn you mention that I'd tried a couple of variations when I was rocking and rolling in the pizza.

Since my spouse also likes mushrooms, I made a mushroom variation of the Birthday 'boli.  Not one to waste perfectly good browned ground beef, I added a generous cup of sliced mushrooms to the meat left in the skillet from the basic 'boli.  Coupled with a Fresh Tomato Pesto then cooked down until thick, it turned out most excellent.

This got me thinking about more veggilicious 'boli fillings, so in addition to the Thanksgiving Leftover Remake 'boli that's in the can already, stay tuned for more rolled pizzas.  This is fun! Just the way a Friday night should be, you know?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Frugal Refrigerator Bran Muffins
The tops are cracked open already because I just nestled in the butter to melt.

Having a bucket of muffin batter in your fridge is a happy thing.  It means that warm, tasty goodness is 15 minutes + oven preheating away.  It's been a while since I've done a Monday Muffins post, so I wanted to give you an inexpensive, long-lasting recipe that just does a body good.

I first tried these muffins when Debbie, of Salmon with Oranges fame, gave me a hot one oozing with a pat of butter.  Oh goodness, that was delish!  Of course, I asked for the recipe.  It involved buying a name brand bran cereal and soaking it in hot water until the cereal turned into mush.  So--I'd first pay to have that bran processed into a cereal shape, then in order to use it in the recipe I'd undo the processing I'd already paid for?  Must be a more frugal way, I thought.

And there is!  Buying a box of unprocessed bran saves a bunch of money on these muffins.  Making your own buttermilk saves a bit more!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Jill's Very Veggie Pizza
I don't have a 'finished' photo of this pizza, and there's a very good reason for it.

I worked at a restaurant during college, but I never created dishes from scratch.  I just followed recipes, opened cans and cartons, and spent a lot of time cleaning up with my buddy Hobart.  When I bring foods to other people, it's usually a recipe I'm comfortable with--though not always.  Never before had I made a unique dish and just hoped it would turn out OK as I delivered it to someone else.  I didn't eat this pizza:  Jill did. [And I didn't snap a quick photo of the finished pizza because I was racing to get it to her while still hot.  I like to think I've got the 'make a pizza at home' thing down, but I'm hopeless with the pizza delivery part.]

When I offered to bring supper to her family one Friday Night Pizza Night, I asked Jill to tell me exactly what kind of pizza she liked.  I know exactly what I like on a pizza and I wanted to give Jill what she wanted.  She said "oh, I love veggies."  With no "I hate mushrooms and onions" or "I'm sensitive to gluten" guidelines, I was pretty much free to do whatever I wanted.  I figured I'd play a little bit by starting with a spinach crust, but keep it not too crazy extreme.  Spinach, feta, pesto, mushroom and artichoke all play well together, so that's what I did.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Veggie-Pumped Picadillo--Tax Day Meat Stretching

A flavorful hearty main dish of ground meat and vegetables, seasoned with raisins, olives and sherry. Served over rice, this is a family-friendly way to stretch a pound of ground meat and use loads of vegetables.

My spouse eats a lot of olives during his deployments.  He tells me it's a combination of wanting to eat more vegetables yet not trusting the safety of the raw veggies available.  He returns from deployments dumping Tabasco on everything and asking me to fry eggs (only powdered "scrambled" eggs in theatre) and buy olives.  Lots of olives.

If you had asked before my spouse ever deployed to the Middle East if I liked olives, I would have told you a resounding "No!".  I'd tried but not liked black olives on a pizza, and I'd avoid green olives on a relish tray because I tarred them with the same olive branch brush.  So it surprised me, when he returned and ordered a pizza* with green olives on it, that I actually loved green olives on pizza.  In fact, I liked eating green olives off a relish tray.  I do like green olives after all.
Insert your own Dr. Seuss reference here.  I've already done a Dr Seuss-themed post
With my new-found love of green olives, their use in a recipe from my mom's old cookbook caught my eye.  I thought I could change it up (brown 1 pound of ground beef in 1 cup of oil?  really?) and it would be an excellent way to throw in extra put up veggies to stretch meat.  The result is sort of like "weird sloppy joes" according to my kids.  Unusual, but tasty all the same.

If you've waited until the last minute to file your taxes because you are not anticipating a refund, consider this recipe as a different way to stretch a pound of ground meat.  It works with beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, probably even venison.  Please note that this recipe calls for marinating the meat for a couple of hours before cooking.  You could do this in the morning and leave it in the fridge for the day, or throw it together in the afternoon if you are around.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spam Musubi Chirashi Sushi [Food Bloggers Against Hunger]

I started this blog because I've picked up a number of clues for what to do when you're overwhelmed with fresh produce--from your CSA farm share, your garden, your neighbor's garden, or a deal at the store you couldn't pass up.  Got too much of a certain vegetable, say, kohlrabi?  I can help you.

The flip side of the coin, having too little food, is what we're on about today.

I have never truly experienced food insecurity.  I had weeks in college where I couldn't afford to buy food and pay rent, but I worked at a restaurant so I managed to eat on the days I worked, and even take home a doggie bag for my days off (and I was only responsible for myself and my dog).  That's not food insecurity.
The Feeding America website defines food insecurity as not always knowing where your next meal is coming from.  As a person who has the skills, supplies, and space to put up whatever my garden decides to grow, it's very troubling to me that nearly 1 in 5 children in America, and more than a quarter of all kids here in Ohio, live in households with uncertain nutritionally adequate and safe supplies of food (source).

I'm happy to join with Food Bloggers Against Hunger to dedicate today's post to bring awareness and inspire action to end childhood hunger.

What can you do?
Well, certainly donating to Scouting for Food, or Stamp Out Hunger (coming May 11th), or your community canned food drive helps. Buying a few extra super sale items during your regular grocery shopping and dropping them at the food pantry helps.  Donating your excess garden produce helps. Teaching gardening at your kids' school, and donating the excess produce at harvest time, helps (and is so fun!).
If your CSA farm share provides you with something you just can't find a way to like (have you checked my Recipe Index By Ingredient?) please donate that item to your local food pantry each week when you get your box.  I remember I was surprised to learn that fresh produce can be donated directly to many food pantries.  Last year my local Foodbank distributed 1.2 million pounds of fresh produce (source: Feedwire Spring 2013) to hungry folks in a 3 county region--more than double the previous year's distribution!

When my young daughter said one December, after seeing all the holiday-time donation barrels at her school, "what do the people eat next month?", I realized that seasonal charity is not enough.

Help end hunger on a national scale.

Please take a moment, using this link, to tell Congress you support Federal nutrition legislation.  I just did, and it took me under 3 minutes and I even personalized the heck out of my message. Try it!  Now!

I'll get the recipe ready while you do.

There are some foods that seem to sharply divide the population.  For example, you love cilantro or you think it tastes like soap.  Me, I think it tastes like soap and love it anyway. Trend bucker.

Spam seems to be one of those foods.  Growing up I don't think I was much aware of Spam.  As an adult I observed it was an item that was often ridiculed:  called "mystery meat"or "poor people's food", Spam was definitely not the kind of food fit for a Discerning Palate.  Even recently, when I was helping pack boxes for the mobile food pantry at The Foodbank, I heard comments belittling a can of Spam that was unloaded from a donation barrel.  Why?  It's an inexpensive protein source that is shelf stable, doesn't require special tools to open or prepare, and can be used in a variety of ways.

My thoughts on Spam changed when I lived in Hawaii.  In the convenience stores across the US, you can find hot dogs, sausages, and taquitos hanging out under heat laps, ready to eat if you've got the munchies.  But in Hawaii, in addition to those usual suspects, there's this sushi-looking thing.  Spam musubi.  It's a slab of marinated cooked Spam (in place of fish) seatbelted onto a pad of rice with some nori.  I had to try it (I've never had to try a tacquito) and it's good eating!  Heck, even Martha Stewart likes Spam (browned in butter and put between thick slices of good bread, according to an interview I heard on an NPR show).

Because I'm happily inundated with veggies when I get my CSA farm share, I add vegetables to as many things as I can.  I once happened to have a kohlrabi burning a hole in my crisper (hey, it happens) when my son asked for Spam Musubi, so I made these rolls.  But if we're not needing a portable meal, or I have less time to prepare supper, it's fun to make Spam Musubi Chirashi style.  My friend Lasar introduced me to this scattered style of sushi, and I've expanded on her technique (though her original recipe card lives in a stack clipped on my fridge--for 3 moves/4 fridges now!).
Yes, my kohlrabi is naked.  I used the greens in this pizza.

Most of the ingredients should be available at your local grocery store, all except furikake and you don't even need that.  If you're in an Asian market getting supplies for this, look around for furikake.  It's a rice seasoning blend.  It keeps forever and is delicious on popcorn, though, note to vegetarians, it frequently contains bonito flakes or dried egg.  There are many different flavors of furikake.  I've tried 3, and my favorite remains the one that Lasar handed to me before she moved to Europe:  Katsuo Fumi Furikake.  My son and I sprinkle this on our plated servings.  My spouse and daughter do not.

Like cilantro, you either love it or you don't.

If you have preconceived notions about Spam, but have never even tried it, give this a try.  Listen to some Hawaiian music (Home In These Islands by the Brothers Cazimero is playing now) and transport yourself.  It's technically Spring and this taste of the islands 'ohana style helps me to feel the balmy breezes.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sunset Pizza: Mango, Pepperoni, Red Onion and Yellow Pepper (Pizza Night!)
Crystal is on the left, Quartz on the right--pre-manicure.

If you've ever spent time around guinea pigs you know they are quite comfortable expressing their preferences.  My female guinea pig, Crystal, loves cantaloupe.  [Her cage-mate, Quartz, will eat anything.]  Because I have a tender spot for these pampered spoiled rescued pigs, I keep an eye out for cantaloupe out of season.  When I saw a marked down container of mixed cut fruit, heavy on the cantaloupe, I picked it up for Crystal.
Why am I blogging about this?  The container also had mango in it, and I wanted to try mango on a pizza.  Sorry, Quartz.  That stuff is mine.
 I've wanted to try mango on a pizza for a while now.  I find banana on a pizza delicious, and pineapple on a pizza is commonly accepted, so why not mango?  Because we are living in the midwest, tropical fruits are not part of our CSA farm share.  We get strawberries, blackberries, and pears.  So I shop my grocery store for seasonal fruit and put up the amazing deals that I can't pass up.  Usually, though, mango is not a regular purchase, so I was thrilled with this opportunity.

So was Crystal.

Since I've been making some crazy pizzas for the family lately (2 words:  egg. nog.  and not for dessert) I decided to keep this one pretty standard.  A standard half white flour and half whole wheat flour crust.  A standard pizza sauce.  Standard cheese.  And a bit of pepperoni.  But I am all about using what I've got, and what I've got today is yellow pepper and red onion, so they are going on this pizza too.  All these red and yellow ingredients make us (the moms at wheelchair basketball practice where I am writing this up on Saturday morning) think of a sunset.  So, Sunset Pizza it is.

Friday, March 29, 2013

(Leftover) Ham and Sweet Potatoes on a Butternut Squash Crust (Pizza Night!)

I was really torn as to when to put this pizza post up.  Yes, on a Friday, of course, because around here we eat pizza on Fridays.

But when?  Easter ham leftovers?  Fall sweet potato season?  I looked at my calendars . . .
Is it weird that I print out a calendar, a month per 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, and jot down all the recipes that I'm planning on putting up here?  It helps me see what I'm doing easier  than the long list on Blogger, and helps me see if I'm getting a good balance of vegetable-centric vs more meat-oriented pizzas, entrees, etc.  Perhaps living with my spouse the Planner for so long has rubbed off on me.
and decided to just make this entire week Leftover Ham Week on Farm Fresh Feasts.  There are other uses for leftover ham that I recommend (like fried rice or yakisoba).  If you do not have ham in your fridge, check back next week for Taco Farro, My Favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwich, and something else that's also good--maybe a Sunset Mango pizza.

Since I made 2 crusts worth of this shredded butternut squash crust, I figured I'd play around with the second pie.  My mother-in-law serves ham paired with sweet potatoes (when she's not being treated to someone else cooking her dinner in her own home).  The combination is so pretty--and tasty--on my plate that I thought it would transfer well to a pizza.  I was right.  It did.
Thanks, yet again, to my friend Heather for turning me on to the garlic-oil-as-a-pizza-sauce because that's what I used as the base.
Ok, technically the shredded butternut squash crust is in the base, then the garlic oil on top.  Even though I get a head of garlic nearly each week in my farm share, I'm so glad I roasted my own garlic crop and put it up in the freezer.  A thawed clove just smushed down into warmed oil and makes a simply delicious sauce.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

(Leftover Ham Week) Ham and Broccoli Stem Quesadillas (Quick Take)

I can appreciate the head-scratching that a vegetarian would do upon seeing me wash the farm share broccoli, remove the cabbage white caterpillars that had been feasting on it, escort them outside--away from my garden but with a leaf so they won't starve--then head back inside to dice ham.

What can I say?  I love food, and currently have no medical reason prohibiting me from eating all of it.  Not all at once, of course.  And I love that my farm share doesn't use pesticides on the food my family and I eat.  I can escort a few bugs outside knowing that the food us critters are eating is safe.

I'm happy to say I've finally mailed in my check for this year's summer CSA.  I'd been meaning to for weeks, but now it's a done deal.  Let the countdown begin!  I don't know how we'll handle a large farm share with only 3 eaters, so expect a lot of posts about the 'putting up' of anything that I can put up.  Thanks to Tammy of Agrigirl I've got ideas for lettuces, but today, we're talking about broccoli stems.

You know I hate to waste Swiss chard stems, and broccoli stems are no different.  While living in Richmond I learned how to make a delicious black bean soup that called for diced broccoli stem, and ever since then haven't looked at them as an afterthought.
Note to self--make that soup and blog about it.

After I wrote up this post, I saw this post by Karen of Soup Addict about making an open faced quesadilla with a fried egg on top.  Next time, I'm totally trying that--ham and eggs and broccoli? Yum!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Leftover Remake: Ham and Bean Soup--No Salt Added + Slow Cooker option (Leftover Ham Week)
My spouse took this photo.  This flower that has sprouted in a seam between the tiles on the roof of the Believer's Palace in Baghdad, which was actually a decoy building to hide a bunker that was built underneath the palace.  On my FB page I've shared what it looked like just to the right of the photo.
Bloom where you are planted.
To me, this quote exemplifies the best of military spouses.  Due to our spouses' careers, we often find ourselves re-creating our lives every few years as we move across the globe.  So many military spouses I know are enthusiastic, energetic people genuinely interested in exploring what makes this new location different than the last home.

It was with this spirit of adventure that I joined the local military spouse group for a tour of Dorothy Lane Market.  DLM is an amazing grocery store less than one mile (according to Map My Walk) from my home.  You may know of Wegman's--the Northeast US chain of grocery stores known for amazing customer service, happy employees, and terrific products.  DLM is a 3 store midwestern version.  During our tour of DLM, the thing that struck me was how similar to my kitchen the store is run.
Stores, they're just like us.
I make no secret that I'm partial to marked down produce, day old bread, and discounted meat and dairy products.  I'd noticed that I never saw magical markdown stickers at DLM, and during the tour I learned why.  Primarily, most of the baked goods and dairy products are picked up by different shelters each day.  But the rest of the stuff?  Tom told us it gets made into soups for the hot foods area, into salads, and into prepared foods sold in the ready-to-eat section.  Have you ever looked at your fridge and thought, "well, I need to use up that half onion, that baked potato, that bit of chard, that ham . . ."?  Can you imagine having an entire produce section/meat department/dairy department at your disposal?  Wowza.

During our tour we went from the top of the store to the basement, checking out different departments along the way and enjoying samples--including amazing fresh mozzarella made by the very talented Tracey.  Wow, that on a pizza, with some cherry tomato pesto and CSA farm share spinach?  We checked out the kitchens--does anyone other than Hobart make commercial dishwashers?  I really appreciated the chance to peek behind the scenes of a place I shop at frequently--all because of a curious military spouse's initiative.  Thanks, Aileen!

When we moved in to our home, our neighbors welcomed us with a box of cookies and Killer Brownies® and I was just blown away.  Seriously amazing goodies.  I'd known that we could walk down to Graeter's ice cream before we moved in, but this DLM store was new to me.

I was delighted when my daughter went Christmas shopping at Dorothy Lane Market.  No, she did not give me a Killer Brownie.  Instead, she gave me a container of beans + a recipe for Heavenly Ham® Bean Soup.  Recently she helped me make the soup--and her interpretation of the seasonings turned it into a delicious soup without any additional salt (the ham is salty enough, we think).

I used to buy the bags of Ham Been soup that contained such a pretty array of beans plus a seasoning packet.  I'd follow the recipe, using my leftover ham bone, and make a delicious soup.  Then I read the contents of that seasoning packet and resolved to make my soup without it, and it never really turned out right.  Something was just off.

I'm so glad I had my daughter help me make this recipe I'm sharing with you today.

There are 2 cool things about this recipe.  First, the recipe includes the amounts and kinds of dry beans*, so if I wanted to make up quart jars of my own pretty bean mix for gift giving I could.  Second, I got to use a jar of crushed tomatoes that I put up in the fall (which, come to think of it, would make a good pair of jars to give:  a jar of crushed tomatoes plus a jar of dried beans plus the recipe to use both to make soup).
*If you want to make your own pretty bean mix, here's what the recipe suggests:  1/2 cup (dry) each of lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, navy beans, black beans, red kidney beans and lima beans.  Four cups total of mixed beans.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken (And Chick Pea) Tikka Masala (Food Bloggers Change My Life #2)

Have you ever made a recipe for the first time, in someone else's kitchen, for a crowd?

Scary thought, no?  I'd bookmarked this recipe, Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala by Rebecca of Foodie With Family because my family loves Indian food, I love my slow cooker, and her directions seemed clear, easy, and very do-able for me.  I just didn't know when I'd get around to making it.

The wonderful thing about joining a CSA is that you've got seasonal farm fresh vegetables flooding into your kitchen every week.  The annoying thing about being in a CSA is that you've got seasonal farm fresh vegetables flooding into your kitchen every week.

What if you feel like eating tomatoes, the canned ones you've put up, but you've got fresh spinach, Band Fruit Fundraiser citrus, and the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve staring at you reproachfully?

You use the spinach in this, or this, or this.
You use the citrus in this, or this, or this.
You use the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve in this, or this, or this.

You regretfully turn away from your canned tomatoes, knowing that they will be waiting for you when you've dealt with all the fresh stuff.  And then you run away!

You run away to visit your in-laws.  You know that everyone likes to sit down together around the big table and enjoy a meal, and it's awfully nice not to always be the one to make the meal.  So you offer to make a meal one of the nights of your visit.  But what to make?  What will appeal to 4 generations of eaters?

I decided to go for it and make this meal. For the first time.  Not in my own kitchen.  Not just for my family.  Sure, I played it safe and brought with me almost all the ingredients (since I had everything but cilantro on hand already).  I brought my own slow cooker and my own rice cooker.  I even brought my own measuring spoons!

You know what happened?  Thanks to the clear directions, great photos, and excellent recipe it worked out just fine.  It went together easily, the whole crowd ate it, and some even went back for seconds.

This recipe is easy to make.  Click here to read it!  This post is the second in an on-going series about how Food Bloggers Change My Life.  You don't remember reading the first in the series?  Yeah, you're fine, it's not live yet.  I wrote it up after making Chicken Cider Stew from Alanna of Kitchen Parade and A Veggie Venture, but since I'm all about seasonal eating and it's really not cider season, it will be up in the fall.  Meantime, since you've hopefully got jars of crushed tomatoes you put up in the fall . . .

Monday, March 18, 2013

Molasses Date Oatmeal Muffins (Monday Muffins)

I started posting Monday Muffins when I realized I was accumulating a pile of muffin recipes and I ought to get them posted with some sort of regularity.  So on my old-fashioned paper calendar pages <gasp> I plotted out all the recipes I had in the can.  So to speak.
Some of these were easy to schedule.  Pink Beet and Horseradish muffins?  They go in February before Valentine's day.  Butternut Squash and Ham muffins?  They will go in the fall.  Creamy Banana and Dark Chocolate Chip muffins?  They can go up any time (and will appear in a month, if you're worried the link isn't yet live).
I'd originally scheduled a batch of Nutella and Zucchini muffins to appear here today.  They are the Matt Damon of muffins on the Jimmy Kimmel of this blog--they keep getting bumped!  It's a great recipe, but I've decided that most other people don't have bags of shredded zucchini in their freezer in late winter, and teasing you with the enchiladas was enough, so I've permanently moved Nutella and Zucchini muffins to the summertime.  You can see them here!
Why did I bump those muffins?  Because I could. not. wait. to share this recipe with you.  It's delicious!  I picked up a vat of dates at Costco during sled hockey practice, and after we enjoyed a bunch straight outta out of the container I started thinking about cooking with them.  For my first attempt, I chopped up the dates, ate a few, chopped a bit more . . . and decided that they were so sweet I didn't need to use sugar.  I added extra buttermilk, but it still wasn't quite right.  I knew for the next batch I would process the dates in the small cup of my smaller and cheaper version of this Food Processor, but I was hoping to do another muffin without refined white or brown sugar.  Then I hit on it--molasses!  Sweet, but not too sweet.  Adds a bit of iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium to go with the whole oats and whole wheat.  And the color pairs marvelously with the dates.

Because I thought of this at suppertime, I was able to soak the oats, dates, and buttermilk overnight.  I like soaking oats overnight, but even an hour helps break down the whole oats into great-for-baking consistency.
If you have fresh dates--eat some.  When you get sick of them, or if you have a package of dried out dates in the back of the pantry--make these muffins!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mushroom Medley with Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola on Boboli (Pizza Night!)

I've been sharing a lot of meat-heavy recipes this week, so I thought I'd change it up a bit and share a meatless pizza.  It's inspired by a pizza I had when we got invited out for pizza by some friends.

I will never turn down a chance to share a meal with others, even if it's at a local pizza place and I already make a great pizza, exactly the way I like it, in my own home, nearly every Friday night (sled hockey/wheelchair basketball seasons and marching band season notwithstanding).

Do I sound like a Pizza Snob?  I hope not.  I really love food, especially when someone else makes it for me.  I do think that I make each pizza for my family with more love and care than the machines at the frozen pizza factory or the under-appreciated minimum wage workers at the local delivery place.  You can see it in the finicky way I separate and space my toppings, if not from the farm fresh and wholesome ingredients.

I'm so glad my friend Rose Ann invited the kids and I to join her family out for pizza at Pie-tanza.  I got a chance to scope out some different pizza topping combinations.  My favorite was caramelized onion and gorgonzola.

I was planning to make that pizza for this post--I had caramelized onion packages in the freezer and there was fresh gorgonzola marked down.  But we'd just come in from out of town, had no dough made, and were at the grocery store on a beer/milk/eggs/pizza crust run.

At the store, a box of marked down Gourmet Medley mushrooms caught my eye.  Why not?  To the best of my knowledge I've never had oyster, cremini, or shiiiiiiitake (say it like a penguin) mushrooms on a pizza.  First time for everything.  Glad I tried it--those mushrooms took an already awesome combination over the top!