Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Week 15 Summary & Review

Here is what we got last week and how I used it:

Beets - I roasted them and made the salad above with feta, walnuts, and a vinaigrette made from olive oil, avocado oil, and balsamic vinegar. We also had some leftover roast chicken, so we all had mini chicken salad sandwiches to go with them. The kids had the sandwiches, but had a pear instead of the salad.

Onions - Used on the salad above. I have one left to use.

Cantaloupe - We ate it for dessert one night, and snacks the next day.

Green Peppers - I will stuff these. I am hoping we get a few more, so the each member of the family can have one.

Apples - Ate for snacks through the week and made these little apple pies last night for dinner. I had prepared the little tarts a couple of months ago. There were waiting in the freezer for a little inspiration. Yesterday seemed like a good day to pull them out and make some apple pie.

Mini Apple Pies

Acorn Squash - still plan on making soup out of them OR, a commenter left a good suggestion for this Roasted Corn Chowder with Acorn Squash.

Potatoes - Made some potato soup.

Broccoli - Made Pasta & Broccoli for the kids.

2 Delicata Winter Squash - I roasted these and made a twice baked version. I read that the skin was edible, but after the first 2nd baking, the skin were pretty chewy and no one ate the skin. I roasted them one day and did the 2nd baking the next day. I should have roasted a couple potatoes with them and mashed them up with the rest of the mixture of sour cream, chopped onion (prob about 1/4 cup), butter (about 2 Tablespoons), salt and pepper so that they were more rounded on top. The taste was EXCELLENT but presentation was lacking.

Chicken, Broccoli & Delicata Squash

Kale - Kale Chips -- that I forgot in the oven after I made them. I turned the oven off to let them crisp and didn't remembered them until I turned the oven back on to preheat for the roast chicken on Sunday.....opps.

UPDATE: I said I was going to time myself this week, but I forgot until today, and will have to start next week.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Homemade Granola

Finished Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola

4 Cups of Old Fashioned Oats
2 Cups Chopped Walnut Pieces
1/4 Cup Sesame Seeds
2/3 cup Virgin Coconut Oil
1/2 cup Raw Honey
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Salt
3 oz. dried fruit (I use one bag of Made in Nature Organic Dried Apples), chopped
1 cup Raisins

1. Mix the Oats, Walnuts and Sesame Seeds Together.

2. Mix in the coconut oil and raw honey, making sure to coat everything.

3. Sprinkle Cinnamon and salt over the Mixture and mix in. You should now have a mixture that looks like this.

Unbaked Homemade Granola

4. Spread on a greased or lined baking sheet and Bake in 300 oven for 35 mins, stirring occasionally. For a chewy granola, take out after the 35 mins are done. For a crisp granola, turn off your oven, and let the granola stay in there for another 15 minutes or so.

5. Take it out of your oven and let it cool.

6. Once cooled, mix in your dried fruit.

Adding Dried Fruit to Homemade Granola

7. You can freeze it or store it in an air-tight container

Homemade granola is always open to interpretation. Don't like walnuts? Add some chopped almonds. Don't like sesame seeds, add some flax seeds (or add them both). Don't like dried apples? Use dried apricots. This is the recipe that works for all the tastes in our family, but there are a hundred variations your family can try.

Make Homemade Granola now:

Dried Apples
Rolled Oats
Raw Honey
Sesame Seeds

Don't Feel Like Making Homemade Granola?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Broccoli Pasta Ingredients

Broccoli Pasta Ingredients, originally uploaded by HiMalta.

Several Times Throughout the share season, I've mentioned that I am going to make Broccoli and Pasta. This dish is a real winner in our house. Everyone REALLY likes it, it is really fast, and I almost always have the ingredients on hand when dinnertime strikes.

So here is what I do (the remaining pictures are from a different batch, the orecchiette is really the best pasta to make it with, but any pasta will do.)

1. Do the Math. The broccoli and pasta are going to be cooking in the same pot. The broccoli needs 8 minutes. So take whatever your pasta package tell you, minus 8 and cook it for that long. Set a buzzer, you'll be busy doing other things.

2. Get the water boiling, drop in your pasta.

3. Cut the broccoli up (I show one head here, but you can really do it to taste.  I usually do 2, but sometimes even three), slicing it into bite sized pieces - use the stems too!

4. When your buzzer goes off, drop in your cut-up broccoli,. Set your timer again for 8 minutes.

5. While the pasta and broccoli are finishing up cooking, open the anchovies. Take 1/2 of them out and chop them up really fine. Chop up 2-4 cloves of garlic.

6. When the pasta finishes, drain it. Put the pan back on the stove. Pour enough olive oil in the pan to cover the bottom. Drop in your chopped garlic and anchovies, and add a few shakes of the hot pepper flakes.  Saute them until the garlic just begin to brown.  Remove from the heat, throw the pasta back in, add some salt.

7. Plate it up and add some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh pepper.  [KID VERSION: Don't put their pasta back in the anchovy mix.  Put it right on their plates add some butter and parmigiano and they are good to go.

Week 15 Maple Creek Farm CSA 2009 - September 23, 2009

Here is what we got this week and how I plan to use it:

Cantaloupe - We ate it for dessert one night, and snacks today.
Green Peppers - I will stuff these
Apples - Will eat for snacks through the week
Onions - Will save for cooking through the week
Acorn Squash - these should keep for a couple of month. I've always wanted to try making acorn squash soup, and think I may give this recipe a try: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/winter-squash-chowder-recipe/index.html
Potatoes - Will store for cooking use.
Beets - Think I will roast them, get some lettuce and goat cheese, make a vinaigrette and make a nice salad. Ohh - and some walnut pieces.
Broccoli - Made Pasta & Broccoli for the kids last night.
2 Delicata Winter Squash (the two yellow things in the foreground). I was thinking of trying a twice baked version of this. Roasting them, then cutting them in half, scooping out the flesh, mashing it and mixing it with something and then baking it in the oven.
Kale - Kale Chips, Yeah!!!!

On Sunday, I am going to start something that should be interesting. I plan to time myself every time I start cooking for a week, to see how much time I actually am spending cooking every week...should be interesting. I'll share the results here of course.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Homemade Tortillas with Recipe

Homemade Tortillas with refried beans, cheese, avacado, and hot sauce

I really like to have tortillas on hand because they make an extremely quick dinner or lunch when filled with any number of goodies (we'll save that for another post).  What I don't like is that most of the ones of the grocery store have a lot of extra junk in them.  Trader Joes has some with basic ingredients, but they often go bad before I use them since I am saving them for "emergency" use.  So I wondered, how hard could it be to make them myself, when they only consist of a handful of ingredients?  The Answer: SUPER EASY!

I looked online and saw a few variations of the same recipe.  Here is what I came up with:

1. Stir Together
2 cup of flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder

2. Work In:
1 Tablespoon butter

3. Add until you have a soft dough:
3/4 cup warm water

4. Knead for 5 minutes

Tortilla Dough Kneaded, and ready to Be Weighed and Split

5. Divide into 1/4 cup (3 oz) portions

.3 Tortillas

6. Roll Flat into 6-inch circles

Tortilla Rolled Out Ready to be Cooked

7. Brown on both sides in a medium-hot pan.

Tortilla in the Pan

Tortilla after being flipped

8. Top with your favorites and enjoy!

Late Summer Peach Torte

Late Summer Peach Torte Uncooked

One of my favorite blogs is Bakers Banter by King Arthur Flour.  First, if you've never tried their flour, you should; you WILL notice a difference in the way things turn out.  Anyway, they posted a recipe this week for Late Summer Berry Torte, a seemingly very popular recipe that has been around for years.

Now you may be wondering why didn't you use berries?  Well, for the past week every time I opened my fridge four little peaches that were beyond eating, but still good for baking, were calling out to me, asking "what are you going to do with us?" This recipe seemed like a good chance to shut them up answer that question.

So I made the cake, my two-year-old put the sliced peaches on top and 30 minutes later, we had a very good peach cake for a morning snack.  The kids liked it, I liked it, we even hopped in the car and delivered some to the hubby at work, and he liked it.  This was excellent and I think it could really be used with any fruit you have on hand.

Here is the link to the recipe for all who want to give it a try: Late Summer Berry Torte

Late Summer Peach Torte

Above is not a very good picture....but you get the point.

Organize Recipes

How do you organize your recipes?

Here is my system:

I have a shelf in my pantry. On either side of the food are the cookbooks.  The picture above is the right side (books pictured left to right are: Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker, The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper, Rustic European Breads from your Bread Machine, I'm Just Here for the Food, New Good Food): 

The purple folder has all the recipes I have printed or people have given me that I want to try. The white binder has all the recipes that I've tried and like and will make again in page protectors pictured below (organized by topic).

Recipe Organization

I'm not a big fan of cookbooks that only give you recipes. I like a cookbook that gives you information and techniques with a few suggestions on how you can use these techniques. I have a separate shelf in my dining room with my whole cookbook collection, but the books above and below (the left side: books pictured top to bottom are: Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook, Pressure Perfect, Williams Sonoma Kitchen Companion) are my most referenced, when I am cooking and have a question on a technicality of the food I am using.

Recipes 2

I would love to hear in the comments how you organize your recipes and cookbooks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 14 Summary and Review

Here is how I used what we got last week:

Apples - Ate for snacks for the week.
Tomatoes - the kids ate them for dinner
Potatoes - Made some potato soup
Purple "Green" Beans - Still need to blanch, freeze and save for winter..
Beets - Roasted them and froze them for winter
Cabbage - Make the Cabbage soup pictured above. Added some white beans - very good. The kids aren't super big on cabbage soup, so I made them some whole wheat biscuits to go with them. Not the healthiest of alternatives, but it is a nice treat for them every once and awhile.
Peppers - Still saving. Think I will slice them and freeze for use in salsa for winter.
Purple Onions - used for cooking
Mustard Greens - I will blanch them and try using in what is turning into my "choose a green lasagna recipe".

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Cooking Philosophy

Photo Credit: mcbeth

I like to believe it all started with a Carrot.

I must have been 4 or 5 years old when my Great Grandma K took me outside and let me pick carrots from her garden.  I vividly remember making a pledge that one day I would grow my own carrots in my own garden.  And I'd like to think that is what started my enjoyment of cooking and health.

A joy that has been fed by many along the way:

  • My Grandma M. who is always baking, cooking, experimenting and winning pie baking contests.
  • My Grandma S. who is always seeking out new herbs and alternative medicinal therapies to try for this or that.  She is the one who told me back in 1997 to avoid trans-fats in my food - years before most people even knew what they were.
  • My Mother-in-Law who is is very very good cook and is so dedicated that she cooks even on the hottest Maltese summer day.  I've seen her cook a hundred different things from stuffed eggplant to cake and never once have I seen her pull out a recipe.  She is the one who inspired me to learn how to cook so I don't need a recipe.
  • My Sister-in-Law who upon seeing chopped jarred garlic in my fridge days before I got married admonished me that it was not garlic and Europeans would never dream of adding that to their food let along give it the dignity of calling it garlic.
  • My Husband who was and is completely against microwaves, fast food and junk food. 
  • Living in Germany for 2.5 years had a big affect on my ability to try and enjoy new foods.  It was here I discovered great things like Brie, Arugula, chanterelle mushrooms, strawberries that aren't the size of plums, and many more.
  • My Dad who would always make time to cook with me and my two sisters.  Biscuits were a favorite of ours.
  • My Mom, who has never really loved to cook, but always cooked us healthy family dinners and put important seeds in my head that I will never forget.  About those little barrel shaped juice drinks from the 80s, "we're not getting that, it's sugar water." About Juice boxes, "that is just empty calories." About Diet Pop, "thats full of chemicals." and most importantly, that good food was like "manna from heaven"
  • My parents who I know I've mentioned individually, but together they ALWAYS let us help in the kitchen;  cooking and baking on our own and with them.

So for many years I have had these anti-processed food views about cooking, food and health but it has always been based on my experience rather than anything I've learned.  

Then I watched Food Inc.,
And read In Defense of Food
And read The Omnivores Dilemma
And read Fast Food Nation

And now I am educated.  I know why processed food is bad.  I know that most of the nutritional advice I've been feed by the "experts" was a load of junk.  I know that there is a human cost to the food I buy.  I know why I like our eggs, meat, dairy and produce to be raised organically eating the same things they were 100 years ago by people paid a fair wage to produce it.   And I am very happy to begin this journey of learning how to cook with these foods.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Week 14 Maple Creek Farm CSA 2009 - September 16, 2009

Here is what we got this week and how I plan to use it:

Apples - Will eat for snacks for the week.
Tomatoes - the kids ate them for dinner
Potatoes - Save for cooking...maybe some potato soup?
Purple "Green" Bean - Will serve with dinner.
Beets - Cut them up and using them for three different projects
Cabbage - Some Soup? Our babysitter gave us her leftover ham bone, will make some yummy soup for a chilly fall.
Peppers - Not sure...Ideas anyone. Toddlers aren't big on spicy.
Purple Onions - Will use for cooking
Mystery Greens - I emailed Michele and she said they are mustard greens. Maybe these are Kale? I emailed iasmindecordoba, another blogger who gets the Maple Creek Farm Share, and she is thinking it is Kale too. It is much lighter and thinner than the Kale we've been getting, but I know I'll be making Kale chips out of this if it is, because we are addicted to them! I need to look up how to use them.
Watermelon - We ate it all in one night --- it was good!

3 Uses for One Bunch of Beets

3 Uses for Your Beets, originally uploaded by HiMalta.
Today we got beets in our share. I cut them up into their three parts; the beets, the greens, and the stems.

  • The beets I'll roast and then cook into something.
  • The greens I'll blanch and freeze for winter use in a lasagna
  • The stems I boiled in water, strain out and use the dyed water to make a natural dye for my kids Play-Doh.
Disney's Family Fun magazine had a recipe for make your own dough that uses natural coloring to color the Play-Doh-like mixture, something I have been looking for for a long time.

Here is the Play-Doh recipe:
1 cup flour
3/8 cup salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Natural Dye

Natural Play-Doh Color Options:
Brown - 3/8 plus one tablespoon hot water and 4 tablespoons cocoa powder.
Fuchsia - 3/8 cup beet juice
Orange - 3/8 cup how water and 1 tablespoon paprika
Yellow - 3/8 cup water and 1 tablespoon turmeric

Week 13 Summary & Review

Here is what I did with last week's share:

Cabbage - Cabbage Salad with lemon juice
Kale - Kale Chips
Watermelon - Ate for snacks through the week.
2 melons - I cut them up and my husband and I ate them for lunch
Pepper - Stuffed Peppers with quinoa and ground beef.
Tomato - Bruchetta
Squash - Shredded it and made muffins for my son's snacks for school.
Apples - snacks. We had a playgroup on Saturday, and made some caramel apple dip.
Eggplant - just roasted it tonight. They were really small, so I will probably just chop it up and add it to something...pasta sauce, a bean salad?
Corn - served with dinner.
Basil - used in bruchetta
Potatoes - stored for cooking

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dairy Free Caramel Apple Dip

Dairy Free Caramel Apple Dip

Dairy Free Caramel Apple Dip Recipe

1 1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
12 ounces of coconut milk (not light)
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Mix the sugar, cornstarch and 1/4 cup of the coconut milk in a pan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.

2. Add the rest of the milk and the corn syrup. Cook until it starts to bubble. Let it bubble for 2 minutes.

3. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla.

4. Let it cool. You can store it in the fridge for a couple of days.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

How to Cook Eggplant

eggplant, originally uploaded by specialkrb.

Eggplant started appearing in our share this week, so I've been researching how to cook eggplant. I've cooked with it before, but never been that happy with the results, so I decided to do some research into what I might be doing wrong -- mine was always mushy.

I came across the two videos below on eggplant from Alton Brown. After watching them, I decided to make the Baba Ghannouj recipe.

The main Eggplant Cooking Tips I picked up from him are:
  • Eggplants are berries
  • The bigger an eggplant gets the more seeds it has; the more seeds it has, the more bitter it is.
  • If you are buying a bigger eggplant, buy the male version (circle bottom) not the female version (oval bottom) because the males have less seeds.
  • To store for 1-2 days, place in the coolest spot in your kitchen.  If longer, top shelf of your fridge wrapped in plastic wrap.
  • You can freeze eggplant.
  • To prevent mushy eggplant, you can break the cell walls, but putting some salt on each side and letting them sit.
Part One:

Part Two:

I am pretty sure that these are the two peelers he suggests in the last video:
Oxo Good Grips Swivel Peeler and Oxo Good Grips i-Series Y Peeler

btw... we don't have cable, so I don't watch Alton Brown's show (ever) but I can find most of the shows on YouTube and watch them there. This month he is coming to the local university. I can't wait to go see him!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Week 13 Maple Creek Farm CSA 2009 - September 9, 2009

Here is what I plan to do with this week's share:

Cabbage - Cabbage Salad with lemon juice
Kale - Kale Chips
Watermelon - eating for snacks
2 melons - I cut them up and my husband and I ate them for lunch
Pepper - Stuffed Pepper
Tomato - Bruchetta
Squash - not sure yet
Apples - snacks. We have playgroup on Saturday, might make some caramel apple dip and bring it.
Eggplant - not sure yet
Corn - served with dinner.
Basil - used in bruchetta
Potatoes - stored for cooking

Week 12 Summary and Review

Here is how I used last week's share:

2 Watermelons - Served for Leonard's 10 Years in the Mitten family get-together.
Tomatoes - Made a quiche and put one in it. I used the other one to make some Bruchetta for us for lunch one day. Walked over to the Give Thanks Bakery to get a fresh baguette to go with it.
Corn - Served over 2 dinners.
Onions - Store for cooking
Beets - I roasted them and frozen them for use during winter
Mini Tomatoes - my daughter ate 1/2 the package while I was cooking dinner, l used the 4 that were left in the aforementioned bruchetta.
Cabbage - Coleslaw
Green Pepper - Still haven't used them, making stuffed peppers tomorrow night.
Beet Greens - Ahhhh!!! What am I going to do with these things? HELP!
Squash - Still need to use them up. Might prepare them for freezing for winter.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Week 12 Maple Creek Farm CSA 2009 - September 2, 2009

Here is what we got this week and how I plan to use it.

2 Watermelons - Will serve for Leonard's 10 Years in the Mitten family get-together.
Tomatoes - Made a quiche and put one in it. I have two friends who are Greek and both of them have taught me how to cook up tomatoes and eggs together and we've been doing that a lot lately. Probably will do that with the one I have left.
Corn - Hi! Served half for dinner last night, the other half tonight.
Onions - Store for cooking
Beets - Beet Salad or Beet Risotto. I roasted them last night when I got them, I just need to do something with them.
Mini Tomatoes - my daughter ate 1/2 the package while I was cooking dinner, will probably throw some in a salad during the week.
Cabbage - Coleslaw
Green Pepper - Hmmm...I need to start using them. This is my third one. I know....I'll stuff them!
Beet Greens - Maybe in a lasagna?
Squash - Not sure yet.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

10 Years in the Mitten

10 Years ago this week, my husband moved to Michigan from Malta.

To celebrate we are having a little party with the family. Since we are, in a way, celebrating Michigan and the opportunities it presented, we made it a Made in Michigan party. Everything I'm making and other people are bringing are going to be Michigan products.

Here is what I have on the menu so far (it is still a work in progress)

  • Michigan Wine (plan on hitting up Whole Foods to get some Michigan wine recommendations)
  • Michigan Beer (same Whole Foods Plan)
  • Faygo (pop makes an entrance about once a year at our house, I guess this will be it)

Appetizer Snacks:
  • Michigan Apples with Carmel Dipping Sauce (I'll make it from Morley caramels)
  • Better Made Potato Chips (see note about pop, same applies here)
I think I need another side dish for dinner. I thought about corn, but that is kind of hard to cook and have ready all at once for a bigger crowd. Leaning toward potato salad because I have a lot of those left from the last couple of weeks of the share.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Week 11 Summary and Review

Spinach - Made this recipe from Whole Foods. It is fantastic and worthy of any high-end restaurant. It was really good. I used Turkey Sausage instead of pork.
Lettuce - Had my parents over and made a salad to go with our pasta.
Tomatoes - Put it in the salad and have one left.
Pepper - Still waiting for some inspiration... not quite sure, maybe a salad
Onions - Store for cooking
Melon - Dessert for when my parents come over. This was the first thing we tasted all season that wasn't that good. It wasn't bad, just bland.
Zucchini - Soup tomorrow.
Corn - We had it over the course of 2 dinners.
Potatoes - Store for cooking.
Cabbage - Made a coleslaw and brought to a party.

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