Friday, June 29, 2012

New CSA Pickup

Pretty much every time I've talked about Tangerini's Farm since last April, I've mentioned that I'm looking forward to the time when Colin can eat ice cream when we go to our CSA pickup.  Jon thinks I'm crazy for this, and many other reasons.  Colin is not quite there yet (although we are discussing giving bananas a try), so instead I longingly look at the ice cream stand as we pass by at the farm.  I don't want to be that girl attempting to eat ice cream while my baby uses all his strength and energy lunging himself at said ice cream.  At least when I go with Jon he'll take care of the important things, like paying, so I can take care of keeping ice cream out of Colin's reach. 

We picked up our second batch of CSA vegetables this week, but no ice cream.  There are, however, a ton of delicious looking vegetables I'm looking forward to cooking and eating.  We have here the largest head of lettuce I've ever seen (and we got two!), chinese cabbage, kale, garlic scapes, summer squash, pickling cucumbers, kohlrabi, and japanese turnips.  Not pictured because I forgot to take them out of the bag are the sugar snap peas, basil and parsley.  My plans include kale chips (of course), a spicy coleslaw, a salad with apple, kohlrabi and japanese turnips, a tiny batch of refrigerator pickles with those tiny cucumbers, roasted squash, and green goddess dressing.  Will be sure to share everything that turns out well!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad

For many years I thought I didn't like corn off the cob.  I'm not sure why, but I suspect it had something to do with canned corn at some point.  Last summer during the great CSA corn influx, when we were given 8 ears every two weeks for over a month, I gave it a try just to escape from under the sheer weight of corn piling up.  It's good!  And you don't need to follow it up with floss.

Corn and Black Bean Salad is nothing new, in fact I've made a version of it before.  The variation this time was to grill the corn, though.  We had a grilled pork tenderloin this past weekend, and whenever Jon gets the grill fired up, I always have him toss on some sort of vegetable as well.   I love grilled vegetables, but I am scared of the grill because I think it's going to blow up in my face, and it seems silly to get the charcoal going just for a couple ears of corn.  All about the multi-tasking.  And not having things blow up in my face.

To grill the corn, I soaked the shucked ears in water for at least 20 minutes.  This helps the corn cook with a little steam instead of just burning immediately over the fire.  Jon took over at this point and drizzled the corn with a little olive oil, and sprinkled with salt, pepper and chili powder.  I believe he grilled over medium heat, turning frequently, for about 15 minutes. 

Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad

3 ears corn, grilled
1 28 oz. can (or 4 cups) black beans
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 mango, chopped
1 avocado, chopped

1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Combine all salad ingredients. 
Whisk together dressing and pour over salad, stirring well to combine.

We ate this as a side dish with pulled pork sandwiches, but you could eat it on it's own, with chips, or even in a wrap with a little cheddar or pepper jack, if you like. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mediterranean Couscous Salad - Take Two

I've made Mediterranean Couscous salad many times before.  It's one of my favorite cold summer salads, perfect for a side or main dish.  Excellent to take to parties, and excellent eaten straight out of the fridge.  Perhaps I should stop sharing that I eat food straight from the fridge, fork in hand, lest you think I have no manners. 

Last year, I shared a version of it here.  The Lemon Tahini Dressing on that one is amazing, and I highly recommend you make it.  This is essentially the same salad, just with an easy, light vinaigrette dressing instead. 

My in-laws came over yesterday to visit Colin, and we had this with lunch.  Colin had been shorted on his morning nap and wasn't his usual cheerful self the whole time, but at least everyone seemed to like the couscous. 

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

1 cup whole wheat pearl couscous (also called Israeli couscous)
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 english cucumber, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups chickpeas
2 green onions, sliced
1 cup kalamata olives
4-8 ounces feta cheese, cubed
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper

Cook couscous according to package directions.  Mine is from Bob's Red Mill and called for simmering in 1 1/4 cups water for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  As usual, I was distracted in the middle of cooking, and mine went a few minutes over before Jon came in from grilling and rescued it.

In a large bowl, combine chopped vegetables (you want to make them all roughly the same size), chickpeas, olives and cheese.

Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper.  Pour over couscous and adjust to taste.

This is even better if it sits for a few hours to let the flavors marry.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Salmon, Asparagus and Orzo Salad

It was a million degrees here on Wednesday.  I used to relish the hot summer days, but it's different when you are carrying a little sweaty inferno with you everywhere.  We usually take a walk in the later afternoon, but there was no way that was happening, so we headed out to do some errands.  We took advantage of the air conditioning and samples while wandering around Whole Foods.  After several laps and one near disaster getting wheat germ in the bulk foods aisle, we came upon the sushi bar.  I should have listened to my cravings and picked us up sushi for dinner, but I stuck with my planned menu of red lentil curry.  I love curry, but it wasn't exactly light and refreshing. 

This is my long-winded way of saying that last night I knew I wanted to keep dinner light.  I loved this dish, it fit the bill perfectly.  Plus, it only took about 20 minutes to prepare, and can be served warm, cold or at room temperature. 

Salmon, Asparagus and Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
modified from Cooking Light

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo
1 pound salmon fillets
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (can use salt and pepper instead)
Cooking spray
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Preheat broiler.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook asparagus for 3 minutes until crisp tender.  Using a slotted spoon, remove asparagus and immediately immerse in ice water to stop cooking and keep it looking pretty and green.
Add orzo to boiling water and cook according to package directions (8-9 minutes).
Line a baking sheet or broiler pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.
Place salmon fillets on pan and sprinkle liberally with Old Bay.
Broil for 5-10 minutes, depending on thickness, flipping once.  Flake into pieces.
Add sliced onion onto baking sheet for 5 minutes or broiling.
In a large bowl, combine orzo, asparagus, salmon and onion.  Pour dressing over and toss to combine.

Lemon Vinaigrette
This is actually the same dressing I used on the Lemony Garlic Sugar Snap Peas, I just doubled it here.  My measurements were as follows.

1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about one lemon)
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, grated
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients until emulsified.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Strawberry Banana Muffins

I am a firm believer in the philosophy that food eaten while standing in your kitchen does not count towards your daily allowance.  This especially applies to anything eaten straight out of the refrigerator.  This can be problematic when you find yourself doing nearly all your eating standing up the kitchen, or when you are supposed to be sharing with your husband and brother-in-law. 

I swear I only taste-tested one of these muffins fresh from the oven, but my batch only made 11, so now it looks like I ate two.  But I didn't!  Not yet, at least.  I should have just said the batch only made six. 

A few notes, as this recipe is somewhat a work in progress.  I think one egg would be sufficient, the banana works as a binder.  I like chunks of fruit in my muffins, but it doesn't work well for mini muffins.  You end up with no fruit or only fruit.  To make mini muffins, I would try pureeing the strawberries and bananas together before adding to the wet ingredients.  It would be like a smoothie muffin.  Clearly I need another test batch soon!

Strawberry Banana Muffins

Yield: 11-12 muffins

1 2/3 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
1 banana, mashed
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Raw sugar, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, stir together strawberries, banana, sugar, applesauce, vanilla and eggs. 
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. 
Fold wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined.
Pour into a prepared muffin tin (I sprayed mine with cooking spray, low fat muffins sometime stick to paper liners).
Sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake at 375 for 16 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chicken Sausage, Mushroom and Broccoli Rabe Pasta

Sometimes I spend hours thinking about what to cook.  Usually these hours occur in the middle of the night while I'm up with Colin.  Then I get hungry.  Then I start counting down to breakfast.  And that's how I end up eating an entire batch of vegan banana pancakes.  This post isn't about pancakes, though, it's about a dinner that did not have much planning at all.  Chicken sausage was on sale at the market.  As were baby portobello mushrooms.  Broccoli rabe came from the CSA, we had leftover garlic scapes, and I always have some whole wheat pasta on hand. And thus, this dinner was born.  It didn't hurt that the whole thing came together in the time it took to boil the pasta. 

Chicken Sausage, Mushroom and Broccoli Rabe Pasta

Serves 6

12 oz. package pre-cooked chicken sausage, sliced (I used spicy jalapeno)
16 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic scapes, sliced (or 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped)
Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch broccoli rabe (or broccoli, or spinach, or anything green)
1 box (I think mine was 14 oz.) whole wheat pasta
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar, for serving

In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add in sliced sausage and saute for a few minutes until lightly browned.
Add in mushrooms and cook until softened and browned.
If using garlic scapes, add at any time while the mushrooms are cooking.  If using garlic cloves, wait until a little water has been released into the pan so it doesn't burn.
Season with crushed red pepper flakes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Add in the pasta and cook according to package directions.
With five minutes remaining, add in broccoli rabe.
After pasta is cooked, drain and add to mushroom and sausage mixture.
Stir well to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with parmesan cheese and a little balsamic vinegar, if that sounds good to you.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Oven Crispy Chicken with Lemony Garlic Sugar Snap Peas

The U-Pick item at our CSA this week was sugar snap peas.  I have fond memories of picking these in our garden growing up and eating one for every one I put in the basket.  They are like vegetable candy, you know, if candy tasted like vegetables.  I was excited to take Colin out into the fields at the farm and fill up our little basket.  As it turns out, Colin was excited to be out in the fields as well because as I was trying to balance while crouching down, he was leaning as far back as possible in the Ergo to look around.  This made the whole balancing thing a bit of a challenge, but totally worth it.  And I snuck a few snap peas straight from the vine into my mouth.

I am a big dork and always get extra happy about cooking vegetables I picked myself, and go on and on to my taste testers about how they couldn't be any fresher and are totally perfect.  This very simple salad met with good reviews, although the consensus was that they were extra garlicky.  Good, but garlicky.  I would recommend sticking to a small clove of garlic.

As you know, I take several hours to make dinner every night because I do it in stages depending on how long my sidekick feels like amusing himself.  As the afternoon wears on, those periods of time get shorter and shorter, so anything I can make early in the day is a bonus.   We ate this dish at room temperature, but you could also stick it in the fridge, so it was ideal.  It took about 5 minutes total start to finish.

Lemony Sugar Snap Peas
original recipe from Cooking Light

12 ounces sugar snap peas
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 shallot, minced (I subbed a garlic clove - use a small one!)

In a large pot, boil 6 cups water. (Enough to easily cook the peas.)
Add in the sugar snap peas and cook for 30-45 seconds, until crisp tender.
Drain peas and immediately put in a large bowl filled with ice water.
Make the dressing.  Whisk together remaining ingredients and toss with drained sugar snap peas.

I highly suggest serving these with some french bread so you can mop up the extra dressing. 

Cooking Light offered some variations on this, as well, which all sound delicious.  Follow the link to their site above if you'd like to check them out. 

Two recipes today!  I had thin sliced chicken breasts that were destined to be part of dinner.  I flip-flopped on what to make with them.  Something Asian?  We had Chinese takeout and stir fry already this week.  Something Mexican?  Taco Salads are on the menu for next week.  Some sort of salad?  That was appealing.  Somehow I landed at glorified chicken fingers, and they were perfect.  I'm thinking of using the leftovers sliced over salad for dinner tonight.  

Oven Crispy Chicken
recipe from Gimme Some Oven 

1 1/2 lbs thin sliced chicken breasts or tenders 
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a foil lined baking sheet with cooking spray.
Set up your breading station.
Dish one: flour mixed with salt and pepper
Dish two: whisked eggs 
Dish three: breadcrumbs mixed with oregano, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne 

Using tongs, coat each chicken breast (or tender) lightly in flour, shake to remove excess.
Coat in egg and then toss in breadcrumbs.
Place on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, flipping once.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

CSA Season

I am so excited we are participating in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) with Tangerini's Farm again this year! Last year I loved getting all the vegetables every other week, picking the u-pick crops in the fields, trying new things, and enjoying locally grown, organic food at the peak of freshness.  I think we'll enjoy it even more this year now that I know what to expect in terms of variety and quantity.  Colin will be starting on solid foods before too long, especially since he spends mealtimes staring at me, smacking his gums,  and trying to grab everything.  I'm happy that we will be able to give him super healthy, organic vegetables. 

In our first pickup we have: green leaf lettuce, broccoli rabe, bok choy, garlic scapes, scallions, sugar snap peas and radishes.  Aside from a lot of big salads, I'm planning a stir fry and made the white bean garlic scape dip below.

White Bean and Garlic Scapes Dip
recipe from Tangerini's Farm

  • 1/3 cup sliced garlic scapes (3 to 4)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, more to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling.
In a food processor, process garlic scapes with lemon juice, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add in a few tablespoons of water to form a paste.
Add cannellini beans and process to a purée.
With motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through feed tube and process until smooth.
Add more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice, if desired.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups.

This has some garlic bite to it, so don't be the only one eating it on a date!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thai Chickpea Burgers

Summer calls for burgers.  Beef, turkey, fish, veggie, any kind will do.  I've been making some type of burger about once a week lately, and these Thai veggies were a perfect way to mix things up from the traditional flavors.  The original recipe is from the Peas and Thank You cookbook, but I've altered it a bit to make it my own, so I can share it here.  I was busy complimenting myself on my stellar parenting and cooking skills as I began to serve this dinner at the exact minute before Jon pulled into the driveway.  This, of course, resulted in a well-timed freak-out by my sidekick, who just minutes before had been sleeping peacefully, and separate (cold) dinners for us.  Ah well, they were still good!

Thai Chickpea Burgers
recipe modified from Peas and Thank You

1 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup oats
1 medium carrot, shredded (about 1/3 cup)
2 broccoli crown stalks, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 lime, juiced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 garlic cloves, grated (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons peanut, almond, soy nut or sunflower seed butter
Canola oil, for cooking
Toppings: pineapple rings, teriyaki sauce, romaine lettuce

In the bowl of a food processor, grind oats until the texture of coarse flour.
Switch to the grating blade, and shred the carrot and broccoli.
Put the regular blade back in the processor, add the chickpeas, soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, garlic, ginger and nut butter.  Pulse until well mixed, but chunks of chickpeas remain.
Portion the mixture into four patties, squeezing them firmly so they stick together.  Chill patties in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. (This is key for all veggie burgers so they stay together while cooking.)
In a skillet, heat canola or cooking spray over medium high heat.
Cook patties about 5-6 minutes per side, until lightly browned and crispy on the outside.

I recommend serving on toasted whole wheat rolls with romaine lettuce, pineapple slices and teriyaki sauce. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Return of Pizza Night

 I love homemade pizza.  We used to have pizza night often on the weekends, but it fell by the wayside about when a little person with an unpredictable sleeping schedule came into our lives.  After a particularly rough sleepless week, I am happy to report the pollen has abated and sleeping is much better.  So much better, in fact, that we felt like we had the time to make pizza and eat it while hanging out on the porch.

The whole wheat pizza dough recipe is here.  It works every time.  If for some crazy reason you don't want to make two pizzas, it also freezes well. 

Let's take a step back in time to last Saturday night.  It was pouring rain, the kind of unrelenting pouring rain that splashes up from the ground and drenches your pants, making them uncomfortable and difficult to take off.  It was also the night before a small party we were having to celebrate Colin's baptism.  Part of the menu for that party was a platter of grilled vegetables.  Jon, being the wonderful guy that he is, spent hours standing out in the rain trying to hold my pink polka-dot umbrella with his chin while grilling trays and trays of vegetables.  They were delicious at the party, and yielded a lot of leftovers which I happily snacked on all week.  The last of the grilled vegetables ended up on the first pizza. 

Pizza Number One:
Tomato sauce (I use the sauce from the can, and then season the way I like it.  The little cans are only about 30 cents, and then I sprinkle with dried oregano and basil.)
Chopped leftover grilled eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini and summer squash mixed with red onion, chopped grape tomatoes and garlic sauteed in olive oil.
Half mozzarella cheese and half crumbled goat cheese.

The other pizza was inspired by a combination of The Uncommon from The Upper Crust (bacon, jalapeno and pineapple), and barbecue chickpea from Mama Pea.   It was a whole lot of flavors.

Pizza Number Two:
Barbecue sauce coated chickpeas. (I used spicy hot Stubbs, but would opt for something a little sweeter next time.)
Crumbled cooked bacon
Chopped pineapple
Pickled Jalapeno slices
Mozzarella for cheese eaters (You can see in the picture that my half was cheeseless- still good!)

The absolute best thing about pizza night (and the reason we make two pizzas), is, of course, leftovers.  It's only 10:30 and I'm already thinking about eating them for lunch!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Five Months Later

And just like that, we have a five month old baby.  Here are some highlights on what is new, what is awesome, and what is slightly less than awesome.

Colin wants to eat everything.  His hands, my hands, my hair, his blankets, toys, books, the signs I make for his weekly photo shoots, photos on the fridge, my camera, and anything I'm eating, for starters. 

Along with wanting to eat things, he wants to hold them.  This means that I haven't worn my hair down in months (he pulls hard!), and have had help with such important tasks as spilling water while I'm trying to drink and pulling my camera off the desk.  Fortunately I have very fast hands, but I've learned to be a little more careful about where I leave things.

After last month's monumental back-to-front roll, he has shown less interest in flipping over and more interest in scooting.  If I put him on his tummy and leave him to his own devices, he will scoot and pivot around in his spot, all 360 degrees, amid much grunting and drooling.

The drool.  Oh, the drool.  It's everywhere and non-stop.

He has a new party trick which involves me putting him down anywhere near a blanket or cloth diaper.  Within seconds he has put the fabric up over his face and is flailing his arms and giggling.  I assume this means he is trying to smother himself, and run over to rescue him.  He laughs.  Repeat 8,000,000 times a day. 

In the past month we have had both our best night's sleep to date (11 uninterrupted hours!), and our worse (it's hard to keep track when you spend the whole night sitting in a chair in the nursery).  The crazy pollen we have is making it tough for the poor guy to breathe easily when he's lying down, so I'll be glad when it passes. 

We went to the beach with him for the first time.  The first weekend it was a little breezy and chilly, so he hung out and watched the waves.  The second weekend he tried out the water.  He also wore the most hysterical sunglasses I have ever seen.

Overall, he is perfect, life is wonderful, and I am happy and adore every second we spend together (even the ones at 3 AM). 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Teriyaki Chicken Salad

This was my first time cooking with napa cabbage.  At my market apparently the smallest napa cabbage you can buy weighs over 4 pounds, so I was a little nervous.  After conferring with my sister on alternative cabbage recipes, I'm planning to use the leftovers in some miso soup for lunch, but that has nothing to do with this.

This salad is a mixture of textures, and the fresh crunch of the vegetables is complimented nicely by the saucy chicken.  You can substitute any meat, fish, or tofu you like here, or leave it out altogether because the edamame has protein.  It does call for a good amount of chopping, which might take you a while (or the entire afternoon, in my case), if you are being helped by someone whose new party trick is putting a blanket over their face and flailing around until you come take it off.  Over and over again. 

Teriyaki Chicken Salad
Serves 6-7

1 small head of romaine lettuce, cut into thin strips
1/2 head (equal to amount of romaine) napa cabbage, cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 carrots, julienned
1 cucumber, julienned
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cups edamame (thawed if frozen)
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice, steamed and cooled
1 package chicken breasts (mine was 1.25 pounds), cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon sesame oil
canola oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons mirin or rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon grated garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons sugar
Roasted cashews or peanuts

In a large bowl, combine lettuce and vegetables (romaine through edamame).  Add in rice when cooked and cooled.
In a frying pan, saute chicken in a mixture of sesame and canola oil until browned and cooked through.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine soy sauce through sugar.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.  Cook for several minutes until slightly reduced. 
Once chicken is cooked, add it to the sauce and remove from heat. 
Serve chicken oven salad and drizzle sauce as dressing.
Top with roasted cashews and peanuts and a little sriracha if you like it hot (you know we do!).

This picture doesn't show the rice, because I included it for the second night, but it soaked up the sauce nicely and added another texture element.  Also, I had a couple of pickled cucumbers leftover from the salmon burgers, and tossed those into the mix.

photo 1-1 photo 1-2