Monday, October 5, 2015

Pantry Dinners

We eat dinner at home almost every night.  While I love eating out, we learned early on that it's not fun or relaxing with two little ones, and usually involves us eating as quickly as possible to end the experience.  On Saturday nights Jon usually takes the wheel and treats us to his famous pizza in the winter and something from the grill in the summer.  I meal plan for the week based on the specials for whatever store I'm shopping at, any recipes that have recently caught my eye, and one or two meals based on what is in our pantry and freezer.

Here are a couple of our favorite meals based on ingredients I keep on hand.

Salmon Cakes
One of my all time favorite dinners.
Ingredients to keep on hand:
Canned Salmon
Almond Meal or Breadcrumbs
Sweet Potatoes

Black Bean Burgers
Ingredients to keep on hand:
Black Beans (canned or dry)
Any fresh vegetable in the fridge (carrots, celery, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms)
Rolls (freezer)

Burrito Bowls
Ingredients to keep on hand:
Black Beans
Corn (freezer)
Chicken (freezer)
Rice or Quinoa

Steam rice or quinoa.  In the crock pot, cook chicken with salsa and shred. Heat black beans and corn with salsa until warmed through.  Create burritos or bowls and top as you like.  Leftovers are great for breakfast with an egg on top.
These can be easily customized with whatever you have on hand.  In the version pictured below, I used a bed of black beans and rice topped with kale, roasted delicata squash, fresh corn, salsa chicken and pickled jalapenos.  CSA veggies for the win. It's a good way to clean out the fridge, top it with cheese, and call it dinner.

Pan Seared Salmon
I always buy frozen wild salmon fillets when they are on sale.  As long as you remember to stick them in the fridge in the morning, they are ready to go for dinner.
I mix equal parts of soy sauce and maple syrup.  Heat a pan to medium heat with a little oil.  Sear salmon on both sides for a few minutes until cooked through.  Drizzle some of the sauce over the salmon while cooking, and also when serving.

Quinoa with Chickpeas, Apples, and Cranberries
Ingredients to keep on hand:
Dried Cranberries

BBQ Crockpot Chicken Sandwiches with Sweet Potato Fries
Chicken (freezer)
BBQ sauce
Rolls (freezer)
Sweet Potatoes

Frozen chicken breasts go into the crock pot with bbq sauce.  Cook on low all day until chicken shreds easily with a fork.  Serve on rolls, and top with pickles and lettuce if you have some.
Sweet Potato fries are a favorite in our house.  Sweet potatoes are cut into fry shapes or rounds, tossed with olive oil, and roasted at 425 for 30-40 minutes, flipping once.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cantaloupe Sherbet

Last week I brought a cantaloupe to Maine.  As did my mom.  And my sister.  There was no hope to get through it all so I brought back a slightly old cantaloupe, and two children who were a little sick of snacking on it.  Never one to pass up an icy treat, my sidekicks and I made this the other day. Super simple and refreshing.

Cantaloupe Sherbet

1 large cantaloupe, seeds and rind removed, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons limoncello (or 2 Tablespoons vodka and 1 Tablespoon lemon juice)
1/2 cup cream

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer, add limoncello and cook for 5 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
In a blender or food processor, puree cantaloupe.
Add in simple syrup (water and sugar), and cream.
Blend to combine.
Depending on the machine you use and your preferences, you may want to pour the mixture through a sieve.  I used the Vitamix and it was plenty smooth.
Chill for as long as you can wait, preferably at least an hour.
Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and run according to directions.

Is it ready yet??
We took ours out a little early due to impatience, so it was a very soft serve consistency.
It hardens completely in the freezer, so allow it to soften on the counter for about 20 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer Breakfast Scramble

Last week our upick option at the farm was kale.  It was way out in a field that required quite a bit of a walk, but the wonder of kale makes it all worth it.  Colin hitched a ride back on the front of the stroller, which is always a nice chorus of James screeching and Colin complaining that he's kicking him.  At the end of the day, we had a big bunch of kale I've been making into chips and sneaking into their smoothies.

Friday morning we went out for a family run.  Thanks to a big hill and a big stroller filled with big kids, all being pushed by Jon, I was able to pull ahead of the crew for all of 10 yards or so before they smoked me to the finish line.  After we got home, I wanted to make a healthy breakfast, and the summer breakfast scramble came to be.  Colin mentioned several times that it smelled awful, so it might not be a hit with the younger set, but I thought it was delicious.

Summer Breakfast Scramble (for 2)

3 leaves kale, stem removed and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 scallion, sliced
2-3 eggs, whisked
olive oil or butter
goat cheese, crumbled
fresh jalapeno, sliced

In a skillet, heat butter or olive oil (or both) over medium low.
Saute kale until wilted.  Add in scallion.
Pour eggs over kale and stir until scrambled.
Top with crumbled goat cheese and sliced jalapenos.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Steak Tip Marinade

One of the things we love about our new house is the back yard.  It's big, flat, completely private, has a porch and patio, and backs up to conservation land.  We've been spending hours outside every day, and it makes me very happy.  We knew we wanted to get a nice outdoor dining set so we could eat on the patio all summer.  Before we even closed on the house we were scouring the internet to find the right set, and finally found the perfect one at Pottery Barn.  We ordered it right after moving in, thinking it would come within a week or so, most certainly before James' big birthday party.  After much cursing of Pottery Barn and threats not to ever shop there again, it arrived this weekend.  It's everything I hoped for, and makes our yard an even more lovely place to be.
Since we're spending so much time outside, Jon is also grilling every weekend night.  This steak tip marinade is a favorite, and my little carnivore can easily out eat me in the steak department.  We narrowly avoided a meltdown when we ran out of steak this weekend by plying him with a cupcake.  Parenting at it's best.
Oh, and in case you're wondering how much weight my threats carry, we've ordered two more things from Pottery Barn in the meantime.

Steak Tip Marinade
recipe from All Recipes  (1800 reviews can't be wrong)

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons garlic powder
3 Tablespoons dried basil
1 1/2 Tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Combine all ingredients and whisk or shake well to mix.
Pour over steak tips (or whatever steak you like) and marinate for several hours.
Grill to your preference.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cucumber Coolers

In this steamy weather, I'm craving cold, refreshing drinks.  Smoothies are a mainstay of our lunch menu, and these cucumber coolers were super hydrating.  We've been getting a lot of cucumbers from our CSA, and while I like salads and pickles as much as the next girl, it's good to change it up.  Plus, a certain 3yo I know claims not to like cucumbers.  His younger brother, on the other hand, will eat anything he can get his hands on- food or not.  I'm happy to say both of them happily drank these.

The blueberries were also fresh from Tangerini's Farm.  I dragged the kids out to pick in the 90 degree heat one afternoon last week.  The aisle we walked down was next to an anti-bird machine which periodically screeched to deter birds from eating the berries.  A relaxing sound.  Colin's basket was perpetually empty, and I had to supply James with a steady stream of berries, but we came home with a few pints and have been enjoying them all week.

Cucumber Coolers
1 cucumber, peeled
equal part fruit (blueberries, strawberries)
1/2 cup yogurt
water, as needed, to get the blender going
handful of ice cubes, if using fresh fruit

Blend, pour, and drink!

And if these don't cool you down, I recommend a float in the pool.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Thai Cabbage Salad with Chicken and Peanut Sauce

We're rolling right along with our CSA share at Tangerini's Farm and I'm happy to report nothing has gone to waste so far.  I usually misplace some bag of pickling cucumbers in the back of the refrigerator and find them again when they look really scary.  I confess that when faced with a bunch of vegetables, I often throw them in a stir fry with a peanut soy sauce and call it a day.  Today, I branched out a bit, and the result was a filling dinner salad that was refreshing in the midst of this hot and sticky weather. The dressing flavors were a bit strong for my tiny taste testers, so I simply portioned out the vegetables and some chicken before topping with sauce to make them mini plates.

Thai Cabbage Salad with Chicken and Peanut Sauce
recipe modified from My Kitchen Escapades

About 4 chicken breasts, cooked (I used boneless skinless, but you could easily pick off a roaster or rotisserie chicken, or use shredded chicken cooked in the crock pot)
1 head of cabbage, shredded(or use 1/2 cabbage, 1/2 lettuce)
1 cucumber, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 green onions, sliced
handful cilantro

Salad dressing:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sweet red chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper

Peanut sauce:
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon sweet red chili sauce
Water, as needed, to thin

Whisk together dressing ingredients in a large bowl.
Add in salad ingredients and toss to combine.
In a small saucepan, combine ingredients for peanut sauce and heat over low heat until pourable.  Alternatively, you can heat it a few seconds at a time in the microwave.
Drizzle peanut sauce over salad to serve.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

For Sarah

Today marks one year since my sister's bone marrow transplant.  For those of you in the know about that sort of thing, it's a pretty big milestone.  This weekend she is celebrating with a big group of friends, but sadly I can't be there. If I were, I'd stand up and make this toast:

It was late August 2010 when Sarah called to tell me she had cancer.  Acute Myeloid Leukemia, to be precise.  She told me what that meant and what her treatment plan was, but I heard it in a blur. One thing she said stuck with me, she assured me that everything would be ok because she had no intention of leaving her children.
She went into chemo and things got worse, but then they got better.  She was in remission and went back to her life.  Then in January 2014 things got much worse.  Cancer was back and she needed more chemo and a bone marrow transplant.  She endured those treatments and the side effects so horrendous I wouldn't wish them on anyone.  She did it all with quiet grace, and dug deep to come out the other side.  Last summer she went through hell fires, and her words still resonated, she would not leave her children.  For those boys, she would do it all again, but today we celebrate the fact that she may never have to.
To Sarah, her strength, and her boys.

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