Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to give everyone a quick update and let you all know that I haven't given up on my writing, cooking or Friday bins. Between cupcakes, work and my daughters schedule, it's been just a tad hectic around here the last few weeks!

I haven't gotten to do as much cooking as I normally do, in fact I haven't made anything outside of the pickled garlic and spicy carrots that I canned for Christmas gifts the other day. This makes me very unhappy, but I am hoping to be back on some sort of schedule by the end of next week so that I can start cooking again!  I've eaten more fast food in the past 2 weeks than I've had in probably the entire last year and it's definitely time to break that habit!

I think that even Dylan is starting to wonder if I'm ever going to have time to cook again. It really is something that I continue to look forward to, getting to make dinner with my daughter. She has some really great ideas and always gets excited to see what's new in our bin.

Unfortunately, I also won't be doing much cooking for the holiday tomorrow outside of maybe making some mashed potatoes for dinner. Once again, work takes precedence over having any fun. However, I do plan on doing some holiday cooking next month using produce from my bins so stay tuned!!

I also want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

I knew that tonight's dinner had to include a lot of vegetables, and while strolling through the store with Dylan today, we found some boneless skinless chicken legs. This resulted in us coming up with the idea for roasted chicken, to which I decided why not just roast the veggies as well?

After rinsing and patting dry the chicken, I placed on a foil lined baking pan and sprinkled with smoked sea salt, black pepper, paprika and garlic powder.

For the vegetables, I chopped fennel, golden beets, leeks, purple and white potatoes, carrots and parsnips into bite sized chunks. I placed these into a large bowl and sprinkled with sea salt, black pepper and fresh thyme. I drizzled with a bit of olive oil and stirred until fully combined.  The vegetables were then poured out onto a large foil lined baking sheet.

I placed both the chicken and vegetables in the oven at 425 degrees, until beginning to brown and fully cooked through. I finished with a sprinkling of fresh fennel fronds.

I have to say that this was a definite fall meal. The chicken was really moist and flavorful and the vegetables all worked great together. There was a bit of sweetness from the beets and a bit of savory from the fresh thyme, very tasty.

I'm also looking forward to using the leftovers in my meal tomorrow!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fig and Pear Sauce with Pistachio Gelato

I had adriatic figs in my bin and didn't know how to use them. After doing a bit of research online, I decided that I wanted to make a sauce with them, but I also wanted to use up some of the other fruit that I had. Since my pears were reaching that really ripe stage, these were the ones to use.

I chopped the figs and pears adding them to a sauce pan with 1/4 cup of blackberry merlot and a tablespoon of rose blossom honey.  This was brought to a simmer and allowed to cook until beginning to thicken.

To serve, I scooped some pistachio gelato (Ciao Bella brand) onto a plate and topped with a few spoonfuls of the sauce.

Despite the fact that I do not like the gritty texture of the figs, it didn't seem to bother me in this sauce at all. I thought that the flavor of the figs and pears along with the wine worked very well together. Using the sauce to top my all time favorite gelato, was also an excellent idea!

Easy Steak Fajitas!

I seemed to be acquiring quite a few green onions and wasn't entirely sure what to do with them all. Then the idea of fajita's came to mind!  Although I had no idea how exactly to make fajita's, I set off to make my own version, with a twist of course.

I added 3 minced cloves of garlic, 2 thinly sliced (lengthwise) green onions, thin strips of red gypsy pepper and chopped broccoli to a pan with a little toasted sesame oil and red pepper flakes.  Once the broccoli began to soften, I added the steak strips, thinly sliced (in this case, I just purchased the pre-packaged stir fry steak).  When the steak was mostly cooked through, I removed from the heat and allowed to sit for a minute while I warmed the flour tortillas.

We added a scoop of the mixture to the tortilla, topped with a spoonful of tomatillo salsa and dinner was done!  This was so fast, used minimal ingredients and was probably the healthiest thing that we've eaten all week long!!

Dylan loved it, eating 4 entire fajita's! (I was stuffed after just 2.) She would have eaten more too, but there wasn't any left, I should mentioned that this made a large pan full of food! 

Turns out, I do know how to make a tasty tortilla and I didn't even over cook the meat! =)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Bin 10/21/11

So many delicious vegetables! I love it!!!

Gold Beets with Tops
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Red Cabbage
Acorn Squash
Collard Greens
Banana Sweet Peppers
Honey Crisp Apples
Local Bartlett Pears

I am so happy to have fennel today! This is a vegetable that I never expected to enjoy so much. Mostly because of it's close resemblance to black licorice when in its raw state (yuck!), but when cooked, fennel takes on a delicious, creamy texture with a wonderfully mild flavor to it. The collard greens are also a great item in my bin, a nice change from all of the kale we've had lately.

Red cabbage is one of those items that I'm still not quite sure what to do with. As much as I love the flavor of it, I'd like to find a way to use it outside of it's raw form in a salad. I've been trying to stay away from salads lately, I find that when I start making them I can't seem to stop and fall into a sort of salad funk. So no salads, at least not as a main dish.

I think that with all of the remaining produce from last week, in addition to my new bin, I should be able to come up with some really great meals. I'm thinking that I will try to make extra of most dishes so that they can be frozen and eaten on those days when I am just not in the mood to cook, but want something that doesn't resemble the cardboard box it came in.

Sausage and Veggie Stew

The other day, I spent all night tossing and turning in bed thinking about this great stew recipe that I had come up with. I decided that slow cooking it would be the best way to make it and forced myself out of bed when the first alarm (at 6:30am) went off, just so that I could make it!

I layered chopped kale and chard into the cooker, then added quartered potatoes, sliced carrots, broccoli, sliced delicata squash, leeks, green onions, sliced bratwurst and fresh thyme.  I also added 2 cups of beef broth, 1 bottle of Pyramid Apricot Ale and 3 cups of water. Then I set the timer on low for 5 hours, covered and let it cook away.

When I walked into my house later that day, it smelled delicious! I could hardly wait to try it out (after adding salt and fresh ground pepper to taste), only to realize that in all of my excitement and grogginess from waking up way to early (for me anyways), I had forgotten to remove the rind from the squash. However, aside from the fact that I had to go through my bowl and remove all of the rind before I could eat it, my stew turned out pretty excellent!

This recipe also made so much that after Dylan and I both helped ourselves to a few bowls each, I still had enough left over to freeze for another time.

I think from now on I will stick to getting up at my regularly scheduled time and do my prep work at night so as to avoid any more ridiculous mishaps (at least those related to a lack of sleep anyways).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Bin 10/14/11

Today's bin is full of beautiful fall produce!

Local Carrots with Tops
Local Green Onions
Delicata Squash
Red Chard
Lacinato Kale
Mixed Potatoes
Gypsy Sweet Peppers
Flavor King & Queen Pluots
Honey Crisp Apples
Local Bartlett Pears
Adriatic Figs
Tough as Nails Coffee Blend (Middle Fork Roasters)

I'm looking forward to cooking with the delicata squash, this is an item this week that I'm not all that familiar with so hopefully I won't mess it up!  Another item I am excited to have in my bin are leeks! I haven't had them for far too long, and they have such a wonderful flavor.

I added some coffee this week too. Middle Fork Roasters is a small local roaster that gets excellent reviews. I've been wanting to try their coffee for a while now and New Roots just started offering it on their site. I can hardly wait until tomorrow morning to have some!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Veggies and Toast

It's been quite a long week already, so when Dylan asked me "What are you making tonight mom?", I replied with my usual "I have no idea" response. Once again, I just took all the veggies that I have out of the fridge and threw them in a pan, thus creating veggies and toast.

I needed something that was easy and there isn't a whole lot easier than just chopping veggies and cooking them up. I was however motivated long enough to grill up some slices of Texas toast to serve alongside though.

The veggies tonight consisted of onion, red and green bell pepper, chard leaves and stems, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower and corn sauteed until just beginning to soften. I added about 1/2 cup of chicken broth and brought to a simmer just until the cauliflower was fully cooked and the chard leaves completely wilted.  To finish, I added my usual seasoning of salt, red pepper flakes and fresh ground pepper.

I will say, for being completely unmotivated to cook, this wasn't half bad.  Dylan thoroughly enjoyed it (eating two full plates).  The toast was also a great side for this, soaking up what little liquid there was, but not getting too soggy because the slices were so thick.

And the best was ready in under 10 minutes!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Deviled Eggs with Beets

I came across a photo the other day of deviled eggs that were topped with beets and I thought well, if this tastes good it would make a great appetizer for dinner parties and get-togethers. With that in mind, I knew I had to try it out.

I made my version of deviled eggs by mixing the cooked egg yolks with horseradish dijon mayonnaise, finely chopped onion and diced pickles (in this case I used a brand called Wickles, they are an excellent spicy pickle, my favorite!!!).

I filled the cooked egg white halves with a spoonful of the yolk mixture and topped each deviled egg with diced cooked beets.

As weird as this dish sounds, it was pretty good. In fact, I do not like deviled eggs at all, however I could definitely see myself making these again for my next dinner gathering! (In fact, Dylan was lucky that I even shared any with her because I liked them so much!)