Category Archives: CSA

Food Haikus

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Inspired by the Pizza Party Haiku at Shut Up Dad, I wanted to share some random food haikus that have been bouncing around my head.  Here goes!

Stuffed Peppers

Super hot peppers
Whew, that’s spicy! Yum, yum, yum
Thank goodness for cheese

Polenta

Just say “polenta”
Sounds sophisticated, warm
and yummy at once

This One’s for Mom

Barefoot Contessa
Bugs the crap out of me, yet
Her food looks awesome!

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I Carried a Watermelon

Love my CSA!
A yellow watermelon
Perfect for summer

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Zucchini Parmigiana

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Let me tell you, it feels good to be sitting at a computer and NOT working!  That hasn’t happened much in the last month, as evidenced by my lack of blogging.  (And my lack of reading blogs – I have a lot of catching up to do!)

I have been cooking, I promise!  But nothing terribly exciting – lots of grilling, lots of stir-frying.

But I’m changing all that!  I want to make exciting food!  Food that is beautiful, comforting, delicious…food that feeds the body and the soul.  Okay, that was both cheesy and overdramatic, but I’m okay with it.

My Basket of Life Farm CSA has been absolutely amazing this year.  They’ve started an “add-on” program, where in addition to the standard CSA box, you can go online and purchase additional items each week.  So far, I’ve gotten some awesome cherry jam and yummy peaches.  I’m looking forward to the coffee, granola and other goodies!

I am still working through a large amount of zucchini, however.  And I’ve been craving comfort food lately – pasta, bread, soups…fall foods!  Even though it’s August, in Northeast Ohio it’s definitely been feeling like autumn.  So tonight I indulged in some comfort food – a cheesy, wonderful Zucchini Parmigiana.

I based it on Alex Guarnaschelli’s Eggplant Parmesan recipe, but used baked breaded zucchini instead of fried eggplant.  I love the tomato sauce in this recipe, and it has a ton of cheese.  Fantastic!

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For the tomato sauce, I took three candy onions (from my CSA) and thinly sliced them.  I minced 7-8 cloves of garlic and sautéed the garlic and onions together in some olive oil.  I added salt and crushed red pepper and cooked them over medium heat until the onions were soft and translucent.

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I added three 28 ounce cans of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes and a little sugar and cooked the whole thing for about 20-25 minutes.  As it cooked, I smushed the tomatoes and just mixed it all together.  I turned off the sauce and let it cool down a bit while I made the breaded zucchini.

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I basically followed this recipe for the zucchini, except I used panko bread crumbs (it’s what I had on hand).  I used three medium zucchinis, but it would also be good with yellow or patty pan squash – or of course, eggplants!

I layered the sauce, zucchini, fresh basil, mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan cheeses until I ran out of zucchini and room in the casserole dish – ending, of course, with cheese!

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Now I only have one problem.  I ate a huge piece of it, and you can’t even tell!  I hope I can talk my sister into taking some leftovers, or I’ll be eating it for a week.  That’s not bad, don’t get me wrong!  But I still have zucchini, squash, tomatoes, apples, peppers and lettuce from my newest CSA box to use!

FYI - I got this bowl for $.50 at the flea market!

FYI – I got this bowl for $.50 at the flea market!

Now, off to catch up on my blog reading.  So happy it’s the weekend!

Thai Lettuce Wraps

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In the immortal words of Dr Sheldon Cooper, “Oh goody!  Dinner; some assembly required.”

The beginning of the CSA season seems to mean a lot of greens and lettuces.  A lot.  Seriously, I had no idea there were so many kinds of lettuce!  It’s crazy!  Anyway…In trying to find ways to use lettuce that aren’t a salad, I found lettuce wraps!

My first attempt at lettuce wraps for this year was an absolute success.  I was able to use the lettuce and one of the kohlrabi from the CSA box, which was nice.  Brian and I both LOVED this recipe (except that after one lettuce wrap, he grabbed some flour tortillas out of the fridge and made Thai Steak Burritos).  The sauce would be killer in a stir-fry, too.

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Grilled sliced flank steak is possibly my favorite food, and this marinade was awesome.

I found this recipe at Iowa Girl Eats, and I pretty much followed it.  I sliced a kohlrabi into matchsticks and added that to the quick pickled onions and cucumbers, and it’s possible that I may have used more garlic than the recipe calls for.  Probable, even.

Quick pickled onions, cucumbers and kohlrabi.  Yum!

Quick pickled onions, cucumbers and kohlrabi. Yum!

I also sliced some avocado to add to the lettuce wraps.  It was a nice blend of textures and temperatures – the hot steak, cold crisp pickles and cold creamy avocado…I wish there would have been leftovers!

Avocados are so pretty.

Avocados are so pretty.

Thai Lettuce Wraps (adapted slightly from Iowa Girl Eats)

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (I used a piece about the size of my thumb)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons creamy almond butter
  • 1 flank steak
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • Bibb lettuce cups

Quick-Pickled Veggies

  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium white onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 kohlrabi, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

For the Quick-Pickled Veggies: combine ingredients in a large bowl then stir to combine. I mixed everything in a large Tupperware container and let it sit in the fridge for about 6 hours before dinner.  Every now and then I shook the container to stir it all up.

Combine soy sauce, lime juice, olive oil, honey, sesame oil, red chili pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic in a blender or food processor then blend until smooth. Remove 1/4 cup of the liquid and pour into a large ziplock baggie with the flank steak to marinate.  Add almond butter to the rest of the liquid in the blender and blend again until smooth. Because I put this together in the morning, I poured the sauce into a bowl and covered it with plastic wrap.  I put the sauce in the fridge until dinnertime.

If you put the steak in the fridge to marinate, take it out and let it come to room temp before grilling.  Grill the steak to medium rare.  Let it rest for at least 10 minutes, then slice thinly.

Assemble lettuce cups – steak, pickled veggies, avocado and sauce.  (Or wrap it all in a tortilla.)  Eat and enjoy!

Brinner!

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Brinner!  Otherwise known as “breakfast for dinner” – perfect for a quick, tasty meal after work.  Now, I may have cheated just a bit (I prefer to call it “creative license”).  Yes, technically this is eggs and toast.  But the toast is made with garlic scape butter, seared on both sides in a cast iron skillet (yum!!) and the eggs are sitting on sautéed garlic scapes and Swiss chard.

I think it’s time for me to admit something:

Until this year, I had never fried an egg.  Please don’t judge me!  I truly had no idea what I was missing.  I was convinced that I hated the squishy egg yolk and only liked eggs scrambled, so that’s all I ever made.  I wasted years of glorious yolk-dipping!  Years, people!  (The garlic scape toast was fantastic dipped in the egg yolks, by the way.)  The yolks on these got a little overcooked, but I’m getting better.  Part of my egg yolk conversion may be that I’m getting fresh eggs now, and the difference in taste is unbelievable.

Whatever the reason, I am now a sunny-side up fan!  That’s right, Mom.

The Swiss chard and garlic scapes are from my first CSA box from Basket of Life, picked up just hours ago.  Because I have no patience, I brought it home and immediately started cooking.  In my defense, I was hungry and the chard looked really good!

Swiss chard, Bibb Lettuce, kohlrabi, spring onions and garlic scapes.

Swiss chard, Bib Lettuce, kohlrabi, spring onions and garlic scapes.

Box #1 for 2013:  A great start to the CSA season.  I already can’t wait for next week!

Are you a fan of brinner?  What’s your favorite way to cook an egg?  And how do I know when a fried egg is done?  Help! 

Fried Cabbage Hot Dogs

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I’d like to start by pointing out that I used both leftovers and frozen veggies from last season’s CSA in this somewhat unconventional hot dog.  Yippee!

Many times when I’m putting a dish together in my head, I find that I’m one or two ingredients shy of what I really want.  Today, when I was thinking of ways to use my weekend leftovers, I was determined to only use the food that I had in the house.  And I did!

We had some lovely weather in Northeast Ohio this weekend, so on Saturday, Brian grilled hamburgers and brats (spicy Andouille brats!  Yum!).  I sometimes feel that Brian loves condiments more than the actual base of the meal, so burgers and dogs are always accompanied by many, many toppings.  (To give you an idea, we had lettuce, broccoli sprouts, chopped onion, Hungarian hot peppers, cheese, and of course, ketchup, and several kinds of mustard.  I might be missing some, but that’s close.)

Brian's hamburger.  Yep, that's broccoli sprouts on the bottom bun.  They're good on hot dogs, too!

Brian’s hamburger. Yep, that’s broccoli sprouts on the bottom bun. They’re good on hot dogs, too!

As per usual on hamburger and hot dog days, we had an odd conglomeration of leftovers – quite a bit of chopped onion, one and a half hot peppers, a couple of brats that got grilled but not eaten, etc.

I knew that I wanted to use the leftover brats and hot dog buns, but I couldn’t decide what to top them with (sadly, we ate all the broccoli sprouts).  So, I started making mental inventory of my fridge and my new, big shiny freezer.  Ah ha!  I have frozen cabbage from my CSA!  And apples from my last farmer’s market trip!  And leftover onions and hot peppers!  Perfect.

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The flavors reminded me of this Fried Cabbage dish, but the addition of the apples added some needed sweetness.  I made extra because my plan is to have leftovers of this dish tomorrow with grilled pork chops.  (Leftovers of leftovers!  I’m about to blow my own mind!)

This made enough to easily top six good size hot dogs/brats.  I’m thinking it will reheat well, but I’ll find out tomorrow!

Fried Cabbage Hot Dog Topping

  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 1 apple, diced (I used an Ida Red – a little bit sweet, but holds up well to cooking)
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage (I used cabbage from my CSA that I had shredded, blanched and frozen)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Caraway Seed
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Sauté the onion and garlic with a bit of olive oil over medium heat.  When the onions are translucent, add the apples, Caraway seed, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until the apples are soft.

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Remove the apple and onion mixture from the skillet and put off to the side.

In the same skillet, add the cabbage.  Now, because I did not plan ahead, I did not thaw the cabbage first.  I just tossed the frozen hunk of cabbage right into the hot skillet and it worked just fine.  Once it had thawed, I drained the excess water and turned the heat up to high.  Stir the cabbage often so it doesn’t brown.

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When the excess water is cooked off and the cabbage is heated through, add the apple and onion mixture back into the skillet.  Turn the heat down.  Add the apple cider vinegar, stir and taste it – if you need to, add more salt and pepper.  Continue cooking over medium/low heat for a few minutes to let the flavors meld.

That’s it for the fried cabbage topping!  I then started assembling my hot dog.  Lightly toasted hot dog bun, whole grain mustard, spicy brat.  Top the hot dog/brat with the fried cabbage topping and rings of Hungarian hot peppers. Eat and enjoy!!

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Warning:  These peppers range from mild to HOT!! and there’s no way to tell until you take a bite.  If you’re not a fan of heat, you may want to skip these.  In case you’re wondering, this particular pepper was hot enough that my lips were tingling after I ate it!  Just the way I like it.

This post is linked to What’s In the Box?  at In Her Chucks.

Pasta with Spinach and Butternut Squash

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I’m having a bit of a seasonal identity crisis right now.  The calendar says that it’s the first day of Spring, but there have been snow flurries blowing all day today, and I’m still cooking wintery dishes!  We’ve had a couple of random warm, sunny days this month, but it just feels like Mother Nature is having a laugh at our expense.  So is it Winter?  Or Spring?  Do we go by the official calendar designation, or the weather?

I’m hopeful that soon Ohio will settle on a season – as much as it ever does, that is! But until the weather outside starts to feel like spring, I decided to go for a new, bright background.  I thought the green lettuce was pretty, and with the name of the blog, it made sense.  Let me know what you think of the new look!

Early March in Ohio - garlic shoots poking up through the snow!

Early March in Ohio – garlic shoots poking up through the snow!

So since the weather still doesn’t feel very Springy, I’m in the mood for comfort food.  And after my Fall CSA, one of my go-to comfort foods is squash.  Who knew?  Before I started my CSA, I would never have guessed how much I loved squash.  Now it’s a bit of an obsession.  Bear with me, folks – I know that I’ve posted a lot of butternut squash recipes on this blog in the past year, but of all of them, this may just be my favorite.

Or it’s possible that my favorite recipe is always the one I just made (or just ate).

Crispy prosciutto - so pretty!

Crispy prosciutto – so pretty!

The addition of the spinach and salty prosciutto (leftover from pizza making) to this pasta dish really brightened the flavor of the butternut squash.  After I ate this, I was warm and happy, but not weighed down like pasta can do sometimes.  It was a light butternut squash pasta, which was a really nice surprise!

As I was writing this out, I realized that it looks like a complicated recipe.  I promise you that it isn’t!  It did take some time to cook the squash, but if you had frozen cooked squash from earlier in the year, you could easily use that and make this much faster.  It took me about 1 hour, 15 minutes from start to eat.

Pasta with Spinach and Butternut Squash

  • 2 lbs butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cups chicken stock, plus a splash for the spinach
  • about 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional – I had it on hand, so I added a splash or two.)
  • 2 double handfuls of baby spinach (Sorry I don’t have a more precise measurement!  Use as much or as little as you want.)
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dried Sage (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 lb Penne pasta (or whatever shape you have on hand)
  • 2-3 slices prosciutto (optional – for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cube the butternut squash and toss with a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper and sage.  Transfer the coated cubes to a baking sheet and bake until caramelized and soft, about 45 minutes.  Toss the squash several times while it’s cooking.

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If you’re using the prosciutto, lay the slices out on a Silpat on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, until crispy.  Remove from oven, crumble or rough chop and set aside for a garnish.

While the squash cooks, start the water for the pasta.  Next, heat a flat sided sauté pan (I think that’s what it’s called) over medium heat.  Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil, the garlic and onion and cook until the onion is slightly translucent.  Add a splash of chicken stock and the spinach, and cover until the spinach wilts.

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By now, the squash should be done.  Reserve about a cup of roasted squash pieces to add to the sauce at the end (for texture, and because they’re pretty).  Put the rest of the squash cubes in a blender with 2 cups of chicken stock and the heavy cream, if you’re using it.  (If you like a thicker sauce, start with less stock and do what feels right.) Blend the squash until smooth.

I wanted to roast the squash to get that rich taste - so yummy!

I wanted to roast the squash to get that rich taste – so yummy!

Add the blended squash to the pan of cooked spinach and stir together.  Admire the swirls of green throughout the bright orange squash sauce.  Take a picture, if you like.

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At this point, your water should be boiling.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  While the pasta cooks, add the Parmesan cheese to the spinach and squash sauce.  Stir.  Keep the sauce warm over low heat until the pasta is done.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce.  Stir.  Remove from heat.

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Top the pasta with crumbled prosciutto and a little bit of cheese, if desired.  This made easily six servings, but it works great for leftovers (I made this last night, and ate it for lunch again today).  As you know, anything that I will willingly eat leftovers from is a good dish!

Yum!

Yum!

This post is linked to What’s in the Box? at In Her Chucks. 

What do you think of the new look?  What’s your go-to comfort food for cold weather? 

Butternut Squash Hash

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Happy New Year, everyone!

So after some baked apples, and Mom’s peppermint bark candies, I did finally get in the Christmas spirit and really enjoyed the holidays.  I will confess though, I haven’t done much cooking since before Christmas.  I took advantage of all the family dinners and the leftovers that come with them!

But now that the holidays are over, it’s time to get back in my regular routine – and that includes cooking a real dinner after work (at least a couple of times a week!).  Before New Year’s, I had bought a couple of good steaks, fully intending to make a fancy New Year’s Eve dinner for Brian and myself.  Didn’t happen.  We lazed around the house watching movies all weekend, and cooking a fancy dinner was just too much work!  We ended up going out New Year’s Day for a late lunch.  I would have cooked, but since Brian suggested going out…well, I happily accepted!  (Now, I did make sauerkraut and sausages on New Year’s Day, but I used the slow cooker.  Nothing better than cooking and being lazy at the same time!)

However, that meant that I had some really nice cuts of meat that needed to be cooked.  All right, I’ll have a fancy weeknight dinner!  I also had a couple of squashes stashed away from my Fall CSA share that needed to be used up pretty soon.  What else…oooo, bacon!  And little gold potatoes, red onions…that works!  Butternut Squash Hash!

I didn’t have a recipe for this, and I’m terrible with measuring, but I’ll try to approximate amounts.  The hash made two hearty servings, which was perfect, since I was just cooking for me.   (I’ll probably take the leftovers for lunch tomorrow).

I diced about half of the small butternut squash and about the same amount of little gold Yukon potatoes.  I also diced up about a half cup of red onion and three strips of good, thick cut bacon.

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I cooked the bacon in a flat sided pan until it was crispy, then pulled it and put it aside.  I had quite a bit of bacon grease in the pan, so I drained a little of it, but not all.  I turned the heat up to high and tossed in  the butternut squash and potatoes.  I added salt, fresh ground black pepper and a couple generous pinches of Chinese Five Spice.

I cooked this on high for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the squash and potatoes could get carmelized all over.  Then I turned the heat down to medium low and added the red onion.

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I let this cook until the squash and potatoes were soft – about another 10 minutes.  I added the bacon bits back in just before I served it so they stayed crispy.

While this was going, I cooked the steaks in a skillet.  While the skillet was preheating on medium high, I seasoned the steaks with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I cooked the first side on medium high for about 5 minutes, then flipped and cooked the second side for another 5 minutes.  Because these were really thick pieces, I then turned the heat down and let them continue to cook for about another 10 minutes.  Perfect medium rare.  Awesome!

I topped the steak with some herb butter and served it with a big helping of the hash.  It was fantastic!  The hash had a deep, warm flavor from the five spice, and the herb butter was fresh and sweet.  It was a nice contrast and made for a happy belly!

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While I was taking pictures, my big orange cat, Jake, sat down in the chair across from me.  I think he was wondering where his steak was – I know he didn’t want the butternut squash hash!

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