Saturday, June 29, 2013

CSA Week 4

Here is todays share..  Week 4 of 20 from Geauga Family Farms

This is a gorgeous bunch of veggies & strawberries..  When I opened the bag, the smell of strawberries permeated the air.  They've beautiful too!
This week I got 2 large heads of red tipped lettuces, 3 kohlrabi with greens, 3 beets with greens, kale, scallions, quart of strawberries, 2 small heads of broccoli, radishes,  a 14oz slicing tomato & a huge head (2.5#) cauliflower..  

I've not gotten all my produce from last week used up but Im planning to this week..   Im going to make the Italian sausage & greens soup with most of the greens, Im planning to ferment this weeks kohlrabi greens then make "like stuffed grape leaves" out of them.   I've been wanting to do that for a couple weeks now but just wasnt feeling up to it..  I think I will be this week.  Crossing my fingers..  Sure hope it works out.  I've never done nor heard of anyone else doing it, but Im gonna give it a shot, either way.

Im going to freeze most of the broccoli (I have several heads lurking in my frig right now) and eat some with my leftover meatloaf today :P .    Im going to make Cauliflower Bisque with the cauliflower & freeze it in individual portions like I will the Sausage & Greens soup..   These are my go to lunches most days if there arent any leftovers needing to be eaten up. 
Im going to slice the kohlrabi to eat raw..  I think I'll boil some for M'honey too.. he thinks he likes them.. <G>  Same with the beets.. he loves them so I'll boil em up..  yum.    Im not into radishes myself but M'honey is..  so I may just serve them to him in a salad or I may change my mind and ferment them. I bet I'd like them better that way..  
So..thats my plan for this weeks veggies..  I think Im gonna eat those strawberries just as they are. They're beautiful. 

CSA Share Week 3

Week 3 from Geauga Family Farms

We got another great share last week..   I was concerned the continuous rains we've had this month would hamper the farmers but it looks to me like its been super beneficial to them instead..    My own poor garden has suffered.  

This week's share was sugar snap peas, broccoli, strawberries, 2 heads of leaf lettuce,  scallions, rainbow chard, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes & 2 zucchinis..   It was all yummy too!!

One dish I made with some of this produce was Artichoke & Garlic Chicken Sausage with Southern Style Greens with Caramelized Onions..  

I used the chard, onions, & skapes from this weeks share  and kale from last weeks share...

I take the fast, easy, way to slice onions..  I cut them in half longwise, and then sliced them up in my food processor. I added them to melted butter & got them going.  I love my food processor.. I use it almost daily and it makes my life so much easier.

Then I started my greens..  I used about a tablespoon or two of bacon grease I keep on hand, then added my sliced kale, chard, onions, & scapes.  I also added about a tablespoon of hot pepper sauce I made last year for this very purpose..  I also added about a teaspoon or two of sugar. 

Pepper Sauce is something that sits on many Southern tables...  Its usually made with tabasco peppers and vinegar.  I didnt have any tabasco peppers, so I made some with the Scotch Bonnet super hot peppers I was growing in my garden..  I poked pin holes in the peppers, then pushed them thru the neck of the bottle, and added vinegar.  Thats it.. Then I put it into my cabinet to age..  I want to tell you.. this pepper sauce is VERY INTENSELY HOT!!  :D  Great stuff!!   You sure dont want to use too much.. 

         I grilled up some Sabatino's Smoked Mozzarella with Artichokes & Garlic Chicken Sausage..  then added the greens and onions to the sausage on buns for M'honey... 

Then I made myself up a nice plate without the bread..  Heavenly!!

Yum!!!   I had enough for a couple lunches and that makes me a very happy Girl. 

I used the strawberries very simply.  I cleaned & chopped them in quarters, added sugar, and chopped them a little more and let them rest in the frig for a day..   I topped a few slices of pound cake with ice cream and then with the strawberries & their juices.. then added lots of whipped cream..  M'honey was very very happy.  Its one of his favorite ways to use strawberries.  Mine too. ;)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mexican Inspired Chicken With Hominy Stew 

Yesterday, I feeling pretty chilly as I was thinking about what I was going to do with some of my Geauga Family Farm CSA Share..    I wanted something warming with a bit of stick to my ribs quality..  

I remembered seeing this recipe  on one of my favorite Foodie Blogs ONEPERFECTBITE on Friday and decided that this was what I was going to do..  Sort of..  :)    
It reminded me of a dish I used to eat when I was a kid in the very bottom tip of Texas where I was born & raised.

One thing about me.. I rarely ever follow a recipe exactly..  You will rarely see me running out to buy specific ingredients, especially if I have something already on hand that will work...  I keep several pantry areas pretty filled up and I have a large freezer in addition to my freezer on my frig..    Baking is a different story, but I wasnt baking yesterday..  <G>  

I had USDA certified-organic chicken chicken breasts & leg quarters from Pellegrino Pastures, who are  Geauga Family Farms meat farmers, in my freezer.. I had about a quarter of a bottle of chardonnay in my frig.. a can of white hominy,  2 cans of chopped Hatch Green Chili's, garlic scapes, my 1 zucchini, & a bunch of scallions..   That sounds like something really good in my mind.. 

I washed & rough chopped the garlic scapes, and the bottom 2/3rds of the scallions..  and added half of them to the crockpot..     Then I added my chicken pieces, the rest of the scallions & scapes,  the Hatch Green Chili's,  about a cup of wine, and 4 cups of chicken broth..    Then I added at least a tablespoon of a spice mix I make that has ground onion powder, garlic powder, & cumin..    I put the lid on the crock pot and let it cook  4-5 hours on high.. 

 I removed the chicken from the crockpot at this point because I didnt want to overcook it.  I personally love my chicken falling off the bone but M'honey doenst prefer it that way..  so out it comes..  ;) 

Sometime or another a jar of dehydrated tomatoes jumped out at me so I added a couple palms full to the soup to add a bit of color after I sliced up the zucchini and added it.  I added my rinsed hominy into the pot too.

I let the zucchini cook for about 45 minutes until it was tender, then I mixed in about 2-3 tablespoons of Maseca Corn Tortilla Mix..  which is a super fine corn meal with a tad bit of lime.   
I premixed it with about a cup of the broth that I let cool then added it to the pot to thicken up a bit..
Regular corn meal would work fine as will corn starch.  The corn meal gives it more of that corn/hominy flavor though..  It cooked for another 20 minutes or so.

I added the chicken back in for a little white to get warm again... then served us up a bowl..  

While Im not the only one who thinks its tough to get a good picture of stew.. I promise you, it tasted really good... if you like Mexican.. or Hominy.. or Cumin, you'll love it.  
Yum!  All are my favorite things! 
Along with Garlic Scapes, Zucchini, Hatch Green Chilis.. and the list goes on! 

The best part of this is.. there are only 2 of us eating this.. which means I get to eat it a couple more times this week for lunch!!  Whoohoo!!  :) 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

CSA Week 2

We got our second CSA share on Saturday...   Its a total beauty and Im looking forward to getting busy with it. 

From the bottom left to right..   4 heads of broccoli, garlic scapes, 1 zucchini, a quart of strawberries, a 14oz tomato, green leaf lettuce, in the back row, a bunch of kale, kohlrabi + greens, beets + greens, 2 bunches scallions, and more green leaf lettuce..  

I've shared the lettuce with my daughter, my step daughter & neighbor..  and M'honey & I ate that gorgeous tomato yesterday on hamburgers I grilled..

I washed all my greens & set them out to dry on my deck under an umbrella so they didnt get sunburned. :D
I also soaked my strawberries in about a quart of water & a half cup of white vinegar.. It inhibits mold and the strawberries can last a good long while in the frig if they dont get eaten quickly..  They're half gone though so I dont guess it was necessary this week.  ;)

After they were mostly dry,  I packed each type of green & lettuce up and put them in their own baggie with a paper towel in it to keep the moisture absorbed and off the greens. I pack greens on either side of the paper towel.  This can extend the life of your greens/lettuce for  weeks and weeks!! 

Then today I decided to make up a batch of Strawberry Walnut Cake Bars.. 
They're really tasty and everyone loves them. 
I took some over to the neighbors too.. we have the best neighbors.. 

 Yum!  This is a super versatile recipe & you can use any kind of fruit you'd like..     Last week I used rhubarb..  Both worked great!!

Here is the recipe for the Bars.. The original recipe calls for Blueberries and in this recipe I just swapped out the quartered strawberries for the blueberries and walnuts for pecans cuz thats what M'honey likes.
 They're Beautiful & super tasty!1

Blueberry Cake Bars

3/4 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 3/4 cups washed and stemmed fresh blueberries
2/3 cup chopped pecans
Confectioners' sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar for 5 minutes. Add eggs and beat another 2 minutes. Mix in flour and almond extract. Fold in blueberries and pecans until well combined.

Coat a 13 x 9-inch pan with cooking spray (and dust with flour, if desired). Spread batter evenly in pan and bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick tests clean (except for blueberry juice). Cool on a wire rack. When cool, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Cut into bars of desired size.
World of Taste

Im planning on trying a new recipe for the kohlrabi greens one day this week. .. I've never eaten them though they are a relative of cabbage and collard greens.  My plan is to use them like you would to make stuffed grape leaves. 
I saw a recipe not too long ago where someone used collards and when I saw these I thought this might be a great way to use them.    I'll let you know how it goes!!

I also went to the garden today but got no photos..  It reminded me of a rice paddy.. 
Soaked!!    Hopefully it'll start to dry out this week so I can get more planted.. 

So far I've got my tomatoes, peppers, brussels sprouts & broccoli planted.. 
and they're all looking good..  even if water-logged a bit.. 

Today I planted some JadeII Green Beans & 4 or 5 varieties of cucumbers..
Thats really all I could get done today..  Praying for lots of sunshine this week!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Rhubarb Cake Bars

Rhubarb Cake Bars

A day or two ago, I saw a recipe on Facebook for   Blueberry cake bars on the World of Taste Page and I thought it  looked awesome..  but...  Im not supposed to eat wheat.. not celiac but highly sensitive .. I thought it looked like something M'honey would love... except he's not really wild about blueberries like I am. . <G>  I did however have some rhubarb from my CSA (Geauga Family Farms) share but I'd already made a rhubarb pie  recently

so I thought I'd see how it would work swapping out rhubarb for the blueberries.
    And thats what I did...  First. I gathered up my players ..  

I then chopped my rhubarb into rough 3/8" slices (discarding end pieces)
and placed them in a heavy sauce pan with a teaspoon of butter and 2-3 Tbsp of sugar.

I turned the heat on low and gave it 3 or 4 slight stirs, just enough to get the juices simmering, about 4 or 5 minutes.
My intent was to soften the rhubarb, but still retain some individual pieces to bite into. 

             So far so good..  Then I proceeded to follow the recipe exactly...  Ok..not exactly..     I didnt measure the rhubarb but it was pretty close to the 13/4 cup measure of blueberries the original called for.. and I used chopped walnuts instead of pecans since thats what M'honey prefers. 

THEN I followed the recipe exactly... 

 I greased & floured my cake pan and poured in my gorgeous batter... 
 I swirled some of the rhubarb around where it was still hanging out in clumps.  I didnt go overboard with that, just gave it a good swish or two.. 

My oven is running a little bit hot for some reason so I took it out about 10 minutes early and it was PERFECT!!  Oh man oh man was it good..  (reminder to self.. oven is running hot!)

I cant wait for it to cool to taste it..  so I didnt ..wait..  

Oh man did it taste heavenly... so good I forgot all about the confectioners sugar
 that is supposed to go on top of it..

I remedied that & took M'honey a this nice large slice to sample..

His opinion?  Pretty Darn Good!!  And that's saying something coming from him.  ;) 
He also said its a Keeper!!  YAY! 

I agree completely... its more than pretty darn good.. its AWESOME!!  
And I plan on using this recipe for a long long time to come..  

I can just taste White Peach Cake Bars..

 Wild Texas Persimmon Cake Bars..  

Candied Pear Cake Bars...

Blueberry Cake Bars..


Oh wait.. Im not supposed to eat wheat! 

Looking around for a really great gluten free baking blend!  ;)

Here is the recipe in its original form...

Blueberry Cake Bars

3/4 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 3/4 cups washed and stemmed fresh blueberries
2/3 cup chopped pecans
Confectioners' sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar for 5 minutes. Add eggs and beat another 2 minutes. Mix in flour and almond extract. Fold in blueberries and pecans until well combined.

Coat a 13 x 9-inch pan with cooking spray (and dust with flour, if desired). Spread batter evenly in pan and bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick tests clean (except for blueberry juice). Cool on a wire rack. When cool, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Cut into bars of desired size.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

 Fagioli, Cicoria e Salsicce Soupa
 (Medley of Beans, Danelion Greens, and Sausages Soup)

Oh my!  I have hit upon a tiny bit of heaven today..   I had some cultivated dandelion greens from my very first CSA ( share of the season

and wondered upon a tasty way to use them since I've never actually eaten them.
I've read plenty about how nutritious they are and how in years past, they were an early spring green that were looked upon with great favor and eagerly foraged by many. 

I started out by by doing a search for dandelion, bean & sausage soup and came upon this recipe for  Fagioli, Cicoria e Salsicce (Medley of Beans, Danelion Greens, and Sausages) by
Antonio Bruno from San Pietro, New York, NY on the  James Beard Found  James Beard Org  website.

I rummaged around in my pantries & freezers to see what I had to make this dish as it sounded right up my alley & pretty tasty..

What I came up with was this..

I had 1 bunch of dandelion greens,
1 nice bunch of fresh chard,
both red & white bunching onions,
a package of uncooked chicken sausage with spinach & feta (I think thats what they are.. haha.. my bad, no info on the sausages. ) and a jar of white beans with ham soup I canned last fall.  I forgot the garlic until I needed it, but never fail, I always have loads of garlic in my freezer.

If you didnt know this.. Garlic stores beautifully in the freezer... 

I cant tell you how many bags I've had that started to mold on me in the refrigerator before I used them up, and one day it just occurred to me to toss them in the freezer.. Waalah!  Fresh garlic on hand at all times.

You can slice, dice, puree, whatever you want after you've removed what you want & let it thaw for a few minutes.  Works for me!!

I started chopping up my veggies...  I trimmed the ends of the dandelions & chard, discarding them, then I  stripped the leafy greens from the chard and rough chopped the stems and the bunching onions, chopping about 3/8 inch cuts. 

I was planning on just blanching the greens as the recipe dictated so I thought I'd toss in the chard stems to give them a few extra minutes to cook.  While that was cooking, I removed my frozen sausages from the package and decided to toss them in the boiling water to cook as well...  Im improvising here, yanno.  ;)

I let them cook until the sausages were done, removed them, and added my chopped up greens to blanch.  After 5 or 6 minutes,  I decided to toss in the bulb and neck part of the bunching onions to let them get a tiny bit soft..  I was on my way to remove the greens to proceed with the next part of the recipe but here is where I took a real turn..    I tasted the water the sausage, greens, & onions had cooked in & it was quite tasty.. I had been afraid it was going to be bitter from the dandelions but to my surprise, it wasnt at all..  That settled that..  I was making this soup instead of the dish I'd been working towards..

I sliced my cooked sausages in rounds, and sliced up about  10 or so garlic bulbs and added them to the pot and then I added the green onion tops that were also rough chopped..

Last, I added my jar of my homemade bean & ham soup and stirred it all together and let it simmer for another 4 or 5 minutes.  If you'd like an undertone of heat, add some dried red pepper or a splash or two of your favorite hot sauce or pepper sauce.

Then, I served myself up a bowl of this bit of heaven & surprised even myself as to how delightful it truly is.

 Give it a shot.. Your taste buds will love you and you'll have found another great way to use up some of that CSA Chard & Dandelion Greens.