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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Couscous with Spring Veggies

We made this as a side dish for our parmesan and sage crusted pork chops.  We got the beautiful summer squash in our CSA box this week and I thought it would make a nice side for the pork.  We also decided on couscous, and then I thought, well why not mix the two together?  So often couscous can be bland and plain, which is nice as a base for a dish with a spicy sauce, but the pork did not have that quality.  So I decided to saute up the veggies and then mix the couscous in at the end to give it a little more flavor.  I like to cook couscous in chicken broth instead of water, again it helps add another layer of flavor.  I used to use the boxed couscous mixes, you know kinda like rice-a-roni, or the packets of noodles and sauce.  But, once I realized how much cheaper it is to just buy a larger container of couscous, those boxes were history.  Also, we like to eat whole wheat options when possible, and you can get whole wheat couscous in bulk, but they don't use it in those box mixes!



Couscous with Spring Veggies
an original recipe!

Ingredients:
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small summer squash (or zuchinni), quartered and sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons butter

Directions:
  • Bring chicken broth to a boil.  When boiling, add couscous, stir.  Cover pot and remove from heat.  Let stand 5 minutes and then fluff with fork.  
  • While waiting for the broth to boil heat the olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet.  add in onion, bell pepper and squash.  Saute 1-2 minutes, add salt, pepper and oregano.  Saute 4-5 minutes more. 
  • When the veggies are tender-crisp, add couscous to the pan along with butter.  Stir to combine and serve!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops

These were delicious!  I found the recipe while searching for something to do with our sage.  The sage plant went crazy and we had a ton of it.  So far I had just a few sage-centric recipes, a polenta and a pasta, but we wanted to try something else.  I searched my usual resources -- CookingLight.com, google reader and my shoebox of magazine clippings and this recipe from Cooking Light became one of the top contenders.

We put it on the menu for this week and when reading through the ingredients were pleasantly surprised to find out we didn't need to buy anything at the store!  I love when that happens, and it shows that having a well stocked pantry and freezer pays off!  For example, we had the pork chops leftover from another recipe.  We needed 4 for that recipe, but it's a lot cheaper (per pound) to buy the bulk pack of 8.  So, we got 8 and threw the other four in the freezer for later.  We cut the recipe in half since we used just 2 pork chops, but it was still great.  It's definitely a "keeper" recipe.  The changes I made were to some of the portions as mentioned above and I used bredcrumbs we already had instead of making fresh ones. 



Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops
adapted from CookingLight.com 
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 pork chop)

Ingredients
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 large egg white
2 boneless pork chops
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

Directions
  • Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, sage, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Place flour in another shallow dish. Combine mustard and egg whit in another shallow dish, stirring with a whisk.
  • Working with one pork chop at a time, dredge pork in flour, shaking off excess. Dip pork into egg white mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat pork completely with breadcrumb mixture. Set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining pork, flour, egg white mixture, and breadcrumb mixture.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add pork; cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned and done.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Turkey Taco Burgers with Guacamole

This was a super yummy recipe!  It's one I found on Rachael Ray's website.  I know lots of people don't like her show/personality/over-used phrases/scratchy voice, and I myself tend to avoid her in any manner except print (I love her EveryDay magazine!).  But, say what you will about her, she knows how to concoct a good burger!  I like to try different flavor combinations in burgers, especially turkey/chicken burgers since they can get rather bland without some sort of add-in.  So, if I am looking for a new burger idea I usually go to Rachael first.  This was a winner, it had really great flavor and the guacamole was super easy.  I did not not make the salsa from the recipe as I figured one topping was enough, but I added in some tomatoes, cilantro and onion to the guacamole.  We served with a side of refried pinto beans and some baked whole wheat tortillas for dipping with the remaing guacamole. 




Turkey Taco Burgers with Guacamole
adapted from RachaelRay.com

1 pound ground turkey breast
1 small red onion, 1/2 grated, 1/2 minced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup taco or chili sauce
Salt and pepper
3 ripe avocados, flesh removed from skin, pit removed and discarded
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 lime
1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and minced
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Kaiser rolls
Your choice of tortilla chips

Directions:
  • Place the ground turkey in a mixing bowl, then add the grated red onion, shredded cheddar, ground cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, taco or chili sauce, salt and some pepper. Mix to combine, divide into 4 patties.
  • Grill burgers on each side for 6-7 minutes, or until cooked through.
  • While the burgers are cooking, put together the guacamole.  Place the avocados in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Add the minced garlic, the juice of the lime and the minced jalapeƱo. Mash together, taste and add more salt and pepper, to taste.  Stir in the tomatoes, remaining minced onion and cilantro.  
  • Toast the rolls until golden brown. Place the burgers on the bottom of the toasted rolls, then top with a spoonful of guacamole. Arrange the tops of the toasted rolls. Serve the burgers alongside some tortilla chips and the remaining guacamole.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Salsa Verde

I made this recipe because I was in the mood for salsa verde, and the cilantro was groing wild in our herb garden.  Once I started looking for recipes and I found this one from Rick Bayless on Foodnetwork.com, I knew I could stop looking.  He's famous for his Mexican dishes, so why bother to look anywhere else?  Plus, we have reservations this July at one of his restaurants in Chicago.  We've been fans of his style of cooking since before he won Top Chef Masters and love wathcing his show on PBS.  I don't have one of his cookbooks yet, but it's only a matter of time, I've got several on my Amazon WishList! 


Salsa Verde

Ingredients:
8 ounces (5 to 6 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded
5 or 6 sprigs fresh cilantro, roughly chopped 
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup water
Salt
 
Directions
  • Roughly chop the tomatillos and the chiles. 
  • In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos, chiles, cilantro and water. Process to a coarse puree, then scrape into a serving dish. 
  • Rinse the onion under cold water, then shake to remove excess moisture. Stir into the salsa and season with salt, usually a generous 1/4 teaspoon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pickled Radishes

Zach doesn't like radishes, I'm flexible about them - I don't despise them, but I don't seek them out either.  But, because of his dislike for them I knew we'd have to find a creative recipe to use up the bunches we kept getting in our CSA boxes.  He does like pickles, so I thought this might be a good way for him to like radishes too.  It was super, super easy and they were quite good!  They reminded me of salt and vinegar chips -- that initial lip-puckering sourness, but then a few seconds later you're reaching back for more. 


Pickled Radishes

Ingredients:

4 bunches radishes, washed and spit down the middle with a little stem (about 1/2-inch) still attached
 
Pickling mix:
1 quart champagne vinegar
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup pickling spices
2 cloves smashed garlic
 
Directions: 
  • Take a large deep dish and lay the radishes out in it. 
  • In a large pot add the pickling ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour the boiling mix over the radishes in each dish. 
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap immediately and set aside. Once cooled to room temperature, strain and serve.  Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a month.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

This is our first selection from the cookbook of the month for June -- Good Eats: The Early Years.  We decided to make strawberry shortcake after getting 4 pints of strawberries in our CSA box one week.  I've never been disappointed in any recipe I've made of Alton Brown's, so I figured this would be a winner.  It was.  The shortcakes were tender and delicious.  The strawberries were great as well.  The hint of spiciness from the pepper was a nice compliment to the very sweet, perhaps a tad overripe berries.  The pictures aren't the greatest, so I apologize for that, but Zach was on camera duty. 



 
Shortcakes with Macerated Strawberries
From Good Eats: The Early Years, and can also found on FoodNetwork.com (Shortcakes and Strawberries)

Macerated Strawberries

Ingredients:
2 pints medium size strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 (750 milliliter) bottle red wine
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup sugar
 
Directions
  • In a bowl combine all ingredients. Let stand in refrigerator for 2 hours. 

Shortcakes
Ingredients:
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup half and half
Melted butter to brush shortcakes 
Macerated Strawberries (see above)
Whipped cream
 
Directions  
  • Heat oven 450 degrees. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening. Mix in half-and-half. 
  • Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Cool and eat with berries and/or whipped cream.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Indian Chicken Curry


I found this recipe while on a search for things to make with swiss chard.  We had gotten swiss chard in our CSA box and I hadn't really cooked with it before.  This was a definite winner.  It was very delicious and had a great Indian/curry flavor.  I was surprised at how complex the flavors were for an easy weeknight meal.  I'd definitely make it again, and you could definitely use spinach instead.  We had it with some whole wheat naan.  I love soaking up the spicy, coconut-y liquid with the naan bread - mmmmmm!

 
Indian Chicken Curry 
From CookingLight.com
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup chicken mixture and 1/2 cup rice)

Ingredients:

4 cups sliced Swiss chard (about 12 ounces)
1  pound skinned, boned chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into thin slices
1  tablespoon cornstarch
1  tablespoon olive oil
1  cup diced onion
1 1/3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup sliced baby carrots
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

 
Directions:

  • Steam Swiss chard, covered, 2 minutes or until crisp tender. Drain. 
  • Combine chicken and cornstarch in a small bowl. 
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, and stir-fry 2 minutes. Stir in chicken, and cook 4 minutes or until browned. Stir in broth, carrots, coconut milk, tomato paste, cumin, curry powder, cinnamon, salt and red pepper. Reduce heat to medium. 
  • Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add Swiss chard, and cook 2 minutes. 
  • Serve with rice.

Nutritional Information 

Calories:392
Fat:10.4g 
Fiber:4.1g
WW Points per serving: 8

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pesto Pizza with Tomatoes and Pancetta

After we got garlic scapes for the second week in a row in our CSA Box, we figured we would make the pesto again.  It's great because we can freeze half of it, and use half of it now.  We went with a different application this week, pizza instead of pasta.  It was delicious!  We used the pesto as the sauce and then added toppings we thought would work well -- pancetta, fresh tomatoes and cheese.  When it came out of the oven we added fresh basil leaves, which you can see in the second picture.  They got a bit discolored by the heat, but they tasted just fine!  You can use any kind of pizza dough, either homemade, store-bought dough or a store-bought partially baked crust.  






Pesto Pizza with Tomatoes and Pancetta
Serves 4


Ingredients:
pizza dough (I used the recipe below)
1/2 cup pesto 
2 ounces pancetta, cubed
2 tomatoes (I used 1 roma and 1 orange), seeded and sliced into strips
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella


Directions:

  • Prepare pizza dough or crust on stone with cornmeal, or as directed.  Preheat oven as appropriate for the dough you choose.  
  • Cook pancetta in skillet over medium heat until crispy.  Drain on paper towels.
  • Spread pesto on prepared pizza dough.
  • Sprinkle pancetta on pesto.
  • Arrange tomato slices on pizza.
  • Top with mozzarella.
  • Bake according to directions for pizza dough.  


Pizza Dough 
from The Best of Cooking Light
Makes 2 12 inch pizza crusts

Ingredients:
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (1 package)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
3 1/2 to 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
cooking spray

Directions
  • Dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water in a large bowl.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Add 3 1/4 cups flour, oil and salt to yeast mixture, stirring until well blended.  
  • Knead until smooth and elastic, about ten minutes.  I use my stand mixture, but you could do it by hand on a floured work surface.  Add remaining flour as needed to prevent dough from being too sticky.
  • Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray.  Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.  
  • Punch dough down, cover and let rest 5 minutes.  
  • Divide dough in half , shape each half into a 12 inch circle on a floured surface.  
  • Top and bake at 450 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

NOTE: This dough may be frozen.  After the kneading step, you can separate the dough into two balls.  Coat with cooking spray  and place into a zippered plastic bag to freeze.  Thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator.  Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.  Shape and bake as instructed.   

Thursday, June 10, 2010

CSA Week 5

In this week's box we got...



  • New red potatoes
  • Snow peas
  • English shelling peas
  • Radishes
  • Fresh garlic bulb
I am intrigued by the fresh garlic and can't wait to try it out.  We've got three bunches of radishes stored up now so we've got to figure out something to do with them, and the potatoes look amazing!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Cherry Tomatoes

After making the garlic scape pesto, I knew we'd have to use it in a pasta dish.  This was quick and easy to throw together after a long day.  I made the pesto that night (love my food processor!) but you can certainly make it ahead of time and cut down the preparation time even more.  Also, you could use any pesto you prefer, homemade or store bought.  You can also do it with or without chicken.  This is more of an application/procedure than a real recipe since it can be modified so many ways depending on your preferences and what you have on hand.  It's certainly not an "original" recipe, meaning written by me, but I have no real source either, I would just credit hours of watching Food Network chefs for knowing the basics of a pesto pasta dish and grilled chicken.



Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Cherry Tomatoes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 pound whole wheat pasta (definitely a rotini or penne, to catch the pesto on the ridges)
3/4 cup pesto (I used Garlic Scape Pesto)
1/4-1/2 cup pasta cooking water
1/4 cup basil, cut into strips
salt
pepper

Directions:
  • Start grill for the chicken and put water on to boil for the pasta.
  • Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt & pepper.
  • When water boils cook pasta as recommended on package. 
  • Grill chicken 6-8 minutes per side.
  • Drain cooked pasta.  Toss hot pasta in bowl with pesto, adding the pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce until it covers all the pasta.  
  • Add tomatoes and basil and combine.  
  • Let chicken rest for a few minutes after coming off the grill.  Slice and add to pasta dishes, serve.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cookbook of the Month: June 2010


For June I've chosen one of our newer cookbooks as the Cookbook of the Month -- Alton Brown's Good Eats: The Early Years.  Zach and I both have always loved watching Good Eats on the Food Network.  We enjoy Alton's crazy blend of science, humor, and of course, good eats.  We got the cookbook pretty much as soon as it came out.  It's not a typical cookbook though, organized into 'Meats', 'Side Dishes', 'Bread', 'Desserts", etc.  It's organized by episodes of the show, in chronological order.  It gives lots of background info about the episode and a lot of the science behind the ingredient/recipe.  This makes it a cookbook you really want to sit down and read.  



We are in the process of choosing our recipes for this month, but here are some recipes I've previously made, using FoodNetwork.com as a resource, that are also in this book:

Southern Biscuits and Sawmill Gravy  This makes a great breakfast!

Good Eats Meatloaf  This is still our favorite meatloaf recipe, mostly for the tasty sandwiches it makes afterwards!



Monday, June 7, 2010

Garlic Scape Pesto

I am in love with garlic scapes!  Prior to getting them in our CSA box I'd never heard of them before, but now I know how great they are!  When Zach texted me after picking up the CSA box on Wednesday afternoon I immediately googled 'garlic scapes.' I found people raving over them and some valuable information.  Basically they are the tops of the garlic plant.  They need to be cut off so that the garlic blubs in the ground can absorb more of the energy from the rest of the plant and therefore grow bigger.  I found this recipe and blog entry from The Washington Post and knew we'd be making it. 

Pesto is a dish that has recently been added to my food world.  We never had it growing up, and when I did become exposed to it I shied away because of the pine nuts.  I'm just not a huge pine nut fan, I didn't like any nuts until the past few years really.  but once I discovered that it could easily be made with almonds - my NOC (Nut Of Choice), I figured I'd give it a try.  We made pesto for the first time last year with some homegrown basil and this is our second foray into the homemade pesto world.  For this recipe the garlic scapes replace the basil.  Add some almonds, olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper and you've got a wonderful pesto ready for many applications!  Later this week I'll be posting a pasta dish and a pizza made with the pesto, both of which were delicious.  The season for garlic scapes is only a few weeks, so I hope we get them at least once more.  We've made this twice now and each time we have frozen about half the pesto to be used later -- probably in the dead of winter when it will remind us of the lovely spring veggies to come. 

Garlic Scape Pesto
adapted from A Mighty Appetite, found on washingtonpost.com


Ingredients:
1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into ¼-inch slices
1/3 cup almonds
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmigiano 
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
Directions:
  • Place scapes and almonds in the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined and somewhat smooth. 
  • Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. 
  • Add parmigiano to taste; add salt and pepper. 
Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Keeps for up to one week in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

CSA Week 4

 Our Week Four box inlcuded....
  • Strawberries
  • Radishes
  • Garlic scapes
  • Happy Rich (Asian rabe)
  • Salad mix
Yay more scapes!  I am interested in the Happy Rich, I'm planning to use it like broccoli raab.  Forgot to take a picture this week, but the last few pictures looked the same anyway!  :-)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Spring Green Risotto: Barefoot Bloggers


This is the first recipe from the Barefoot Bloggers group for the month of May.  I was a bit hesitant about it since, even though I LOVE risotto, the veggies and flavors were not ones I typically use.  It would not be a recipe I'd normally choose.  But, then I figured that was half the point of joining the group right?  I wanted to be inspired/pushed to try new recipes.  So I made a few substitutions and it turned out really yummy!  I used 4 cups of leeks and omitted the fennel.  Neither Zach or I like fennel, and I really don't like anise flavors in general.  I do not like peas, so we only added them at the end to Zach's bowl.  I was a little wary of the strong lemon flavor profile, since I'm not usually a fan of citrus based sauces or dishes, but it ended up being very good!  We also got to use some of our homegrown fresh chives, so that was fun too. 

chosen by Kimberly from Indulge & Enjoy

Unfortunately this will be my only recipe for May, as the other one was for a shrimp dish.  I don't eat shrimp, and we never had time this month to fit it onto the menu for a Zach-only meal.  I can't wait to see what's posted for June though!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

CSA Week 3

Week Three in our box we got:
  • Garlic scapes
  • Strawberries
  • Chard
  • Radishes
We are super excited about the garlic scapes, and after a bit of googling have figured out what they are and what to do with them, watch for a post soon!

Summer Creek Farms: CSA Week 1

On May 12th we got our first CSA box!  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  Basically you buy a share in a farm and then you receive a weekly box of veggies grown at the farm.  Zach and I have wanted to do this for several years now, but we had to move over the past two summers, the last move being from New York to Virginia, so it wasn't possible.  This year we knew we'd be staying put over the summer so we could invest in a CSA.  Our farm is Summer Creek Farms.  It's in Frederick County, Maryland and is USDA certified Organic.  I love that we are supporting a local farmer (Farmer Rick!).  Support of a local business was only one reason we couldn't wait to join a CSA though.  We love cooking and knew that getting lots of fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies each week would keep us busy in the kitchen. It's also kept us busy in the researching department -- even in just the first 4 weeks we've been getting several veggies we haven't cooked with before.  This has been a great challenge to find new recipes, try new techniques and really expand our cooking.  It's been great already to work with fresh fruits and vegetables while they are in season.  We also have been eating and cooking healthier, since our fridge is now packed with lots of fresh produce, it would be a shame to waste it.  I can't wait to see what we continue to get all summer and what other new recipes we'll get a chance to learn! 

 Here is a picture of our Week One box:
  • Radishes
  • Chard
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli raab
  • Arugula
  • Spinach

CSA Week 2

Week Two in our box we got: 
  • Radishes
  • Mint
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli raab
  • Spinach
We've got some plans for the radishes that I am excited about, we just need to pick up a few more at the farmer's market this weekend to have enough for the recipe I have planned...