Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wednesday Fun #64 - Last Year's Learnings

First of all, sorry about missing last week, folks. It was Christmas Eve, we were away from home, I figured you'd all be busy, too... yadda, yadda, yadda. But hey, Wednesday Fun is back today, the last day of 2008!

My question for you this week, on the very last day of 2008, is what changed in your cooking during the past year? What did you learn? Did you make something for the very first time? (Fried green tomatoes for me. They were... eh.) Did a change of location (Hi, Diplowhat!) or diet or medical stuff overhaul your menu? What's different now in your cooking than it was at the beginning of 2008?

For me it was joining a CSA. Instead of being a "this is the recipe, I'll shop for the ingredients, ok, let's go" sort of cook (with some ability to substitute, etc.), I had to become a "hmmm, I've got carrots, tomatoes, a teeny bit of cauliflower... what can I do with this?" sort of chef. Granted, now that I'm NOT getting a CSA box weekly, I really do need to do a little more menu planning, but with the girls not liking things mixed together (casserole, soup, mac&cheese, etc.), it's gotten pretty basic Midwestern around here.

How about you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday Fun #63 - Argh! What's for supper?!

You know how it is. Sometimes, like, oh, say around the holidays, or during a busy week at work, you look at the clock, swear, then start digging in the frig and cupboard for something fast, easy, and hopefully nutritious to throw on the table.

You've got fall-backs, things you know you can usually make with what you've got on hand, but aren't "recipes" exactly. Well, I'd like you to share yours with us all. They might seem simple or no-brainers, but somebody else might be, "Oh gosh! I could TOTALLY make that tonight! Why did I never think to do that before?"

For us, it's often small pasta shapes (penne, radiatorie (sp?), etc.) with chunks of leftover chicken and/or chickpeas and/or pine nuts and/or ham along with some assorted vegetables - likely frozen peas or canned corn or oven-dried cherry tomatoes from the freezer or broccoli or quickly sauteed carrot coins. Mix it all together, throw it on a plate, top with some Parmesan and a little olive oil or the awesome porcini oil I got at The Olive Cellar, and YUM!

Occasionally at La Casa Di Huis is flour tortillas with leftover meat and/or chickpeas with cheese and some corn or other veg, and black olives as a plus with salsa for those who like. Either just rolled up as tortillas or heated up into quesadillas, these are a great way to use up ends and bits of leftovers. Plus, you know, melty cheese!

How about you? What's one of your I-can-almost-always-make-this dishes? Not that I'm hoping for inspiration for tonight or anything...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday Fun #62 - Holiday Food Favorites

Are there any particular holiday foods or traditions relating to food to which you look forward every year? Do you always make a particular kind of cookie? Is Christmas the only time your grandma makes her special Potatoes Ala Gramma dish? Do you love stirring your hot cocoa with a candy cane?

What's a holiday food/food tradition that you love?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wednesday Fun #61 - The Non-Chef's Menu

This weekend, my folks were here, and my dad made shaped pancakes with Pumpkin for Sunday brunch. It's one of his specialties. I can't have pancakes or cheeseburger hamburger helper (with peas added) or ring bologna (to be served with mac & cheese) without thinking about my dad, 'cuz those were some of his standard dishes. Well, those and grilled cheese sandwiches.

I got to thinking. I bet in a lot of two-adult households, one person does the majority of the cooking. And the other person might have a few standard dishes they make. What's your experience? What are some meals/food you remember your non-main-cooking parent making? Or, if you're in a two-person household, what does the non-chef make at your house now?

Monday, December 1, 2008

December's Theme - Cookies and Sweet Treats for the Holidays

Our theme for December is "Cookies and Sweet Treats for the Holidays." So get out your sugar, cinnamon red hots, and aprons and have at it!

Previous posts that could fit this category include...
(I left out ones that seemed out of season due to theme or ingredients, but if you just click on the tags for "Cookies and Bars" or "Desserts," you'll get them all.)
Of course, feel free to mention in the comments if I missed one you think should be listed here and I'll take care of it. Happy Holiday Baking!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mahogany Turkey Breast with Vegetable Gravy

I know it's too late for your Thanksgiving meals for this year, but I heartily recommend this recipe - it's what we'll be having tomorrow. (So, you know, posting this is a good way to review the recipe & see how long I'm going to need to make it.) I made it a few weeks ago with a smaller turkey breast (and a few substitutions when I thought I had stuff I didn't) and the gravy was AMAZING. It's from the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2002 cookbook.

2 c. thinly sliced onion [2 medium]
1 cup sliced carrot
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
Cooking spray
2 Tbl. low-sodium soy sauce, divided [or regular]
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided [I use "Better than Bouillon" and make about that much.]
1 (5- to 6- lb.) bone-in turkey breast
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. dry sherry or Madeira [subbed in white wine]
2 Tbl. molasses [which I didn't have but I thought I did, so I subbed 1 Tbl. real maple syrup & 1 Tbl. honey]
1 Tbl. all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine onion, carrot, and celery in a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Add 1 Tbl. soy sauce and 2/3 c. broth; stir to coat. Place turkey breast, skin side up, on vegetables. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Insert meat thermometer into turkey breast, making sure it does not touch bone. [I didn't do the thermometer in the whole time - just checked it when I thought it would be done.] Bake at 350F for 1 hour; baste turkey with 2 Tbl. broth every 30 minutes. [Who would actually measure this? Not me!]
  3. Combine 2 Tbl. soy sauce, sherry, and molasses. Bake turkey an additional 45 minutes or until thermometer registers 180F, brushing with sherry mixture every 15 minutes. Place turkey on a platter. Cover turkey loosely with foil; let stand 15 minutes. Do not discard drippings.
  4. Combine remaining chicken broth and flour, stirring with a whisk until well-blended to form a slurry. Drain onion mixture and drippings into a colander over a bowl, reserving both. Place a zip-loc bag inside a 2-cup glass measuring cup or bowl. Pour drippings into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into a medium saucepan, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat*.
  5. Add reserved onion mixture to pan [I did this the first time I made it but didn't like the chunky veg in the gravy, so now I don't put do that anymore. So I just put the with-fat drippings and slurry in the pan together, without the onion mixture.]; stir in slurry. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  6. Serve turkey with gravy. Yum!!!

*I didn't do this fat reduction step, but you could if you wanted to.

Wednesday Fun #60 - Happy Thanksgiving!

If you are cooking, or still looking for holiday recipes, I have some links for you.
I have found these to be very helpful:
Pioneer Woman Cooks - the 2nd post down is a great one about finding wine for Thanksgiving
Food Network - lots of great side dish & dessert ideas
Butterball - of course (they have more than Turkey tips though too)
Very Best Baking (nestle)- Lots of pie, cake & cookie recipes of course, but also some sides, some food gift ideas, etc.
If you have other links that you like, please share them in the comments!
I hope you all have a fun, relaxing and TASTY Thanksgiving!

P.S. Thanks to Ms. H for letting me do the Wednesday Fun for October and November! It's been fun :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cakes, good and bad... or awful and AWESOME

You might already know about Cake Wrecks, which are good for a laugh or wince of disgust.

But here, HERE is a cake that is way awesome - the Indiana Jones Temple of Doom Idol cake by Clever Cake Studio.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Turkey Cookies

Turkey Cookies -

I made these 3 years ago and thought you all might like to try. They are made with striped cookies (bought). The round chocolate ball is a peanut butter ball but you can use chocolate covered cherries (store bought). I made the peanut butter balls as I do not like chocolate covered cherries. Candy corn head. Use melted chocolate to get everything to stick together. Enjoy!!

Have also made Marshmallo Pilgrim Hats but could not find a picture.

We have also had something like Sugar-Cone Cornucopia.

Wednesday Fun #59 - Seating arrangements

I know, Thanksgiving isn't until next week (it is so LATE this year!) but it feels like everyone is thinking about it now anyway, so let's discuss.

How formal is your Thanksgiving dinner?

Do you all sit down at a huge table and pass plates family-style? Is there a buffet and everyone sits (or stands!) anywhere there is room? Is it very formal with the linens and the silver and the good china? Is it very laid back with paper plates/cups and you eat off your lap? Does the football stay on while you eat? Do you like things the way they are, or do you wish it was done differently?

Bonus discussion: Leftovers. If you host, do you horde the leftovers or do you try to get rid of them so you don't have quite so much? If you don't host, do you get leftovers? Should you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Fun #58 - I have never

I tried a new recipe last night (it was just for a homemade mac and cheese) and sadly it was not very good at all. But that experience and the Ratatouille recipe got me thinking about things I have never made before- and there are a lot of them!

So quick, Can you name 3 things you have never made??? (I'll put mine in comments) Bonus points if it's something common, like a chocolate cake or a lasagna or something like that. (Not that it's a bonus that you haven't made it before, just that it would be extra odd that you haven't)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


This is between a soup and a stew. It will cook down. We usually serve it in a bowl. It makes a HUGE batch and lasts along time.

1 Eggplant
4 Zucchini
1-2 onions
3-4 Green Peppers
1 Jalapeno
3 cans Diced Tomatoes (Italian Style - Basil, Oregano, Garlic)
1 can small Black Olives
3-4 cloves Garlic Minced
2 T. Chicken base
Saute garlic in Olive Oil. Add rest of ingredients and simmer for 1-1.5 hours until tender.
Top with Parmesan Cheese

Winter Salad

This was not the salad I was looking for and I have to admit I have not made this one. My mother had it at a potluck and said it was wonderful so it was on my computer. It looks good and something different. I might try making it for my cooking club next Thursday as we are doing Thanksgiving Sides. I will post all the good things people bring for all of you next weekend.

Winter Salad
1 1/2 head romaine lettuce
1 C. shredded swiss cheese
1/2 cup craisins
1 cup cashews
1 apple cubed
1 pear cubed
grapes to taste
Dressing: 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t. dijon mustard
1 T poppy seed
1 T grated onion
1/3 c lemon juice
2/3 c oil

Cider-Glazed Carrots

Another Cooking Light recipe, this one from November 2002. They suggest boiling the carrots a day ahead, refrigerating them in a zip-top plastic bag, then sauteing just before serving.

9 cups (3-inch) julienne-cut carrots (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 Tbl. butter
2 Tbl. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. celery seeds
1 Tbl. chopped fresh parsley

  1. Place carrots in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 1 minute or until tender. Drain.
  2. Combine brown sugar and remaining ingredients except parsley in a large nonstick skillet over low heat; cook until butter melts, stirring frequently. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium; add carrots. Cook 3 minutes or until carrots are glazed and thoroughly headed; stirring constantly. Sprinkle with chopped parsley; toss to combine.
Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 2/3 c.)

Bruleed Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I know this doesn't help AKJ with her Thanksgiving side dish problem, but it's a yummy non-marshmallow-but-still-sweet way to do sweet potatoes. From Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2002.

6 c. hot mashed sweet potatoes (about 4 lbs.)
[I peel 'em, cut 'em up small, and roast 'em in a lidded casserole with maybe a Tbl or two of water added. After, um, 45 min? they are soft enough to mash in the casserole with a potato masher.]

3/4 c. whole milk
3 Tbl. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Cooking spray
1/2 c. packed brown sugar

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Spoon potato mixture into a 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1/2 c. brown sugar evenly over top. Broil 2 minutes or until sugar melts. Let stand until melted sugar hardens (about 5 minutes.)
Yield: 14 servings (serving size: about 1/2 c.)

Notes: I don't think the size of the baking dish matters that much other than as it affects the ratio of sweet potato to sweet, crunchy topping. So, like brulee? Put it in a larger pan and spread on more sugar! Also, I bet if you wanted to, you could make and mash the sweet potatoes ahead of time, then reheat them in the microwave and continue with the recipe as written, but I've not tried it that way yet.

HELP! with Thanksgiving sides...

I have been instructed to bring a side for Thanksgiving. (easy, I thought, that's November's theme!) But all of this is already being brought/made by someone else:
sweet potatoes
creamed corn
green bean casserole
cranberry jello thing
pickles/relish tray

(my mom is totally greedy and is bringing 2 of the above but whatever)
What the heck is left???
Do you think that cream cheese wantons would go over well? ;)
Ideas? Suggestions?

Monday, November 10, 2008


Anyone know a good substitute for cheesecloth? I can't find any here but have a pumpkin to bake and puree and get rid of some extra juice. Or, if you know another method to do so so I can use said pumpkin puree for bread etc with out having to guess how much I need to reduce the oil/other moisture by, please let me know.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Crazy Meatballs

Crazy Meat Balls

1 16 oz sauerkraut
1 16 oz whole cranberry sauce
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 8 oz bottle chili sauce
1 ½ Cups brown sugar

Mix above ingredients well. Buy one bag of meatballs (6 lbs frozen meatballs) and put in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. (I have to use a bigger roasting pan). Pour the sauce over the meatballs. Bake meatballs at 375˚ uncovered for 1 ½ hours. (Until thick)

I will also put these in a crockpot for a party and they serve great. No one can guess what is in it but they always come back for more.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday Fun #57- Crazy recipes

What recipes do you (or your family) make that other people would never eat? Or would cause others to question your taste and/or cooking ability?

For example, my MIL made this dip/spread once with cream cheese, green peppers, and crushed pineapple. Serve with Wheat Thins. You would not think these things go together, but I find it really yummy and I make it all the time.

Or a friend of mine once told me about her family's recipe for "Corn Pudding" - it involved corn, cream, cream cheese and brown sugar. I think there were some other things too- but it was the corn and sugar together that threw me. (and I guess it's not unheard of in the south)

Another one is from when I was little, my BFF's Dad made this one and it was just called "Dad Cooking": scrambled eggs with shrimp mixed in, served over white rice. Throw on some beef consume and soy sauce to top it off.

Do you have any really strange ones?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Simple Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Open Face Sandwiches

I just posted this over at Musings & Mutterings, but I just know if I want to remember how I did them, I'm going to be looking over here, so I figured I might as well double-post these. Fun, and not as time-consuming as I thought they'd be.

Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Open Face Sandwiches

First, we used a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cheese. I used American slices (NOT individually wrapped!) and did three at a time. Peeling the outside edges before taking off the cutter works well.

After cutting out ALL the cheese slices, I cut out the jack-o-lantern faces. Again, keeping them together as the three-at-a-time I did before worked well, except that last one was always a little tricky to get the eyes and nose out. Still, MUCH better than one at a time!

Then it was time to cut out the bread. Unfortunately, that was one slice at a time, but it didn't go too badly. Pushing the cutter down and then wiggling the whole thing around on the cutting board for a little bit helps get through the last bit cleanly. Again, peeling off the outer edges first makes it easier.

Then I buttered the breads and we put a cheese pumpkin face on each.

(Aren't they cute?!)

(And all the leftover cheese and bread bits were used up in an egg bake for supper that night! Brilliant, if I do say so myself!)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

No Crust Pumpkin Pie

If you're at all like me, you find that the crust of your typical pumpkin pie kind of, well, sucks. It's just too thick for that style of pie, gets soggy etc. I think it's the only time I only eat the filling of a pie. So, here's a good solution. This pie makes it's own "crust" on the bottom which is very thin. Much more enjoyable in my mind. Plus, this is a very simple recipe. Double win.

4 eggs
1 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 can pumpkin
1 can 20 oz, evaporated milk

Combine ingredients and put in 9" pie pan.
Bake 45 min at 375 degrees.

November's Theme - Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Welcome to a new month & a new theme. When I came up with the list of themes for the end of this year & 2009, I put down "Thanksgiving Side Dishes" for this month. How that differs from regular side dishes, um, I'll let you decide. :)

We currently have the following recipes already posted that I think qualify as Thanksgiving side dishes. Let me know in the comments if there are more and I'll add them. (I didn't put in appetizers, but you can just click on the "Appetizers/Cocktail Food" label in the sidebar to the right if that's what you're looking for.)

Veggie-type side dishes

Starchy-type side dishes
And, of course, we've got a classic from Pusher: Pumpkin Pie!

When you post YOUR yummy Thanksgiving side dishes, please label them as "vegetable side dish," "starchy side dish" (you know - rice, potatoes, pasta...), or whatever (bread? dessert?). Thanks!

P.S. As always, feel free to post whatever recipes your little heart desires - they do NOT have to be Turkey Day sides.

P.P.S. Thanks to all who contributed a slowcooker/crockpot recipe last month! There are a bunch that look yummy that I've got to try. FYI, in the interest of keeping the label list manageable, I've labeled all of them "Crockpot/Slowcooker" and eliminated the two separate tags.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday Fun #57 - Pumpkin!

I was torn between two topics this week- both of them Halloween-ish even! But in the end decided to go the obvious pumpkin route and I will save the other one for next week. (I know you are on the edge of your seats now!)

I want to know, What is your Favorite pumpkin (or other squash) recipe? Pie? Soup? Ravioli? And then, once you tell us what it is, you should dig out the recipe and post it sometime this week. That way we can all try it! Neat, huh?

Here is mine:

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Squares

Makes 24; Prep time: 30 minutes;
In addition to keeping the cake from sticking to the pan, lining the pan with foil makes it easy to lift it out after baking.

2 C. All-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 Tbl. Pumpkin-pie spice (Note: If you don't have pumpkin-pie spice, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon cloves (all ground).
1 tsp Baking soda
3/4 tsp Salt
1 C. Unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 C. Sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1 CUP Canned pumpkin purée (Note: Not the whole can! Just one cup!)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin purée (mixture may appear curdled but it's not, it's ok). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

4. Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

*I got this recipe from a message board I belong to, so I am sure it is someone's somewhere, but I'm sorry I don't know who to give credit to. All I know is that I never would have thought to mix pumpkin and chocolate chips together but it is seriously yummy and delish.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Braised Red Cabbage with Onions and Apples in Red Wine - Cranberry Sauce

If you're going to make cabbage, this isn't a bad way to do it. It's very, very red. Granted, the name's about as long as the entire list of ingredients, but hey, what're'ya gonna do? It's from Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon. (Ok, so I looked up about the name & here's the scoop.)

1 1/2 tsp. butter
1 to 2 tart apples, such as Winesaps, peeled, cored, and chopped (I used Macintosh 'cuz that's what we had.)
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbl. plus 1 tsp. [so, 4 tsp.] brown sugar
1/2 head red cabbage (about 1 lb), trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. any good vegetable stock
1/2 c. dry red wine, such as a northern Rhone
1 Tbl. plus 1 tsp. [again, 4 tsp.] unbleached white all-purpose flour
2 to 3 Tbl. jellied cranberry sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apples, onion, and brown sugar and saute until the onions are fairly limp, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and saute for another 5 minutes.

Add the vinegar and then 1/2 c. of the stock. Bring to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the cabbage is tender but still has a bit of crispness, 25 to 30 minutes. [I think I did a bit less.]

Uncover and add the wine. Raise the heat and bring to a boil.

In a small bowl, whisk the cranberry sauce and flour into the remaining 1/4 c. stock. [Or, you know, the measuring cup you were using anyway.] When the liquid is boiling, stir in the flour-stock mixture. Lower the heat slightly, and simmer, stirring often, for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday Fun #56 - What do you ALWAYS have on hand?

Whoa! Is it Wednesday already? I have no idea how the middle of the week gets here so quickly!

So Mrs. H's other post inspired me to think of this one: What do you horde? What do you always have on hand to throw a meal together? Is there an item or two that you are always buying, (even though you may have 2 or 3 already stashed in the cupboard?)

**I mean things besides flour, sugar, salt, butter, milk, etc. Spices can count but only if you have an unusually large stash of a particular item. Like nutmeg, just for one example.

For me it's Bread crumbs, pasta, and Fajita seasoning - we almost never run out of those items! How about you?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Candy Corn Cookies

Candy Corn "Log"

Uncooked cookies


Candy Corn Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter (no substitutes), softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Yellow and orange food coloring

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Divide dough in half. Tint one portion yellow. Divide remaining dough into two-thirds and one-third portions. Color the larger portion orange; leave smaller portion white.

Shape each portion of dough into two 8 in logs. Flatten top and pinch side in at a slight angle. Place orange logs on yellow logs; push the sides in at a slight angle. Top with white logs; form a rounded top. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 4 hours or until firm.
Unwrap and cut into ¼ inch slices. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until set. Remove to wire rack to cool

Yield: about 5 dozen

Tip– I rolled the logs a lot longer. I thought the first time I made them they were too large.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Recipe Request - Green Tomatoes

Um, help?!?!?

CSA Week 19 - Last delivery of 2008!

*sob* It's the last week of this season's CSA. I'm going to miss it! It's been fun every week to get a box of surprises. Sure, I could figure there was often salad mix at the beginning, lots of tomatoes in the middle, onions and garlic and potatoes towards the end, but we really got a lot of variety! I mean, garlic scapes? Gooseberries? Brusselini? Edamame? Not anything I'd've guessed we'd get going into this food adventure!

Will we sign up for next year? All signs point to yes. It's cheaper to sign up before March 1st, so we've got a bit of time to decide for sure (and pay), but it's likely. Next year I'd like to do a better job of preserving what we're not going to get to right away (esp. the herbs - lots of those went bad), and I'd also like to do our own garden with tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, and other foods that it makes sense to preserve in quantities we don't get in our CSA box. 'Cuz there's nothing like pulling some homemade marinara sauce out of the freezer in the middle of the deep, dark winter!

If you're thinking about joining a CSA for next season, start looking now, as many of them fill up quickly. Some (ours included) have options for half shares if you're not up for as much veggie goodness as we've been getting. It has certainly been an adventure, and gotten all 4 of us to try vegetables (and fruit) we haven't before.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday Fun #55- Breakfast for dinner?

I was making up the grocery list/menu plan the other day and asked the husband how he felt about Breakfast for dinner. He informed me that Breakfast at dinner time can only be Eggs Benedict. (which I have never made in my life) apparently, all other options of breakfast food are out. He's weird.
Do you do breakfast at dinnertime? We usually don't but I was thinking it would be a good way to shake up the routine, but still be fairly fast and easy. What is your opinion?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Blog all about the crockpot

Just found this blog all about crockpots and thought some might enjoy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

CSA Week 18

*le sigh* This is the almost last week of our CSA share. I will miss it! It's been fun getting the box of surprises every week. Granted, I was more keen on some foods than others, but I'm really glad we did this. Also, pretty sure we'll be signing up for next year, too. We've talked about doing the CSA, and then putting in a garden of things to keep/preserve like tomatoes, squash, green beans, etc. Because while we'd sometimes have more than we could eat of something in a week, it wasn't ever enough extra to do something with, you know?

"Autumn Green Mix" is apparently a "beautiful mixture of cooking greens which include red kale, red and green mustards, the Asian greens Komatsuna, Hon Tsai Tai, and Tatsoi, and Swiss chard."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Crockpot- Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce


Cooker size: Medium round or oval crockpot
Setting & Cook Time: LOW for 8-9 hours

One 2-pound boneless pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut into 4 pieces
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
1/2 cup prepared teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to your taste, I always add a bit more than this, we like spicy)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

For Serving:
1/2 cup chopped green onions (white part and some of the green)
1/4 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
2 limes, cut to make 8-12 wedges

1. Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Put the pork, bell peppers, teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes and garlic in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until pork is fork tender, 8 to 9 hours

2. Remove pork from cooker and coarsely chop. Add the peanut butter to the liquid in the cooker; stir well to dissolve the peanut butter and blend with the liquid to make the sauce. **I also added a touch of honey.** Return the pork to the sauce and toss to coat the meat evenly.

3. Serve in shallow bowls over hot jasmine rice and sprinkle each serving with some of the green onions and peanuts; pass the lime wedges.

** I would recommend also serving with some stir fried veggies (maybe bell peppers and snow peas)
**You could also substitute chicken breasts in this recipe

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday Fun #54 - Bring something to share

I want to know, when someone tells you to bring something to the office pot-luck or to some other get-together, what is your go-to dish?
Do you always bring dessert? Do you always bring appetizers? Do you use it as a chance to try a new recipe on a captive audience? Or do you bring an old stand- by? Do you throw together something easy? Or do you go all out and make the complicated recipe you don't usually have time for?
I know some people who will make dishes they LOVE - because then they are forced to share and not eat it all themselves in the cozy seclusion of their own home. And I know some people who make things they know their co-workers like, but they don't really care for themselves. What do you do? Please to discuss. Share recipes too if you like!

Friday, October 3, 2008

CSA Week 17

Lots in the box this week, even if no blues or purples. I do need to issue a correction from last week though. You know those melons? Well, the most oblong one is really a spaghetti squash, which I'd never had before. It was nice. I did have fears when I was baking it whole, though, that we were going to be sitting down to a nice meal of roasted melon...

Crockpot - Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 C Salsa
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 pound chicken breasts cut into cubes
2 C frozen whole kernel corn
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 soup can water
1 tsp ground cumin
4-6" tortillas cut into small strips
1/3 C fresh cilantro leaves
Stir salsa, soup, chicken corn beans, water, and cumin in a slow cooker.
Cover and cook on high 4-5 hours or until chicken is cooked through
Stir the tortillas, 1C cheese and cilantro into the cooker. Cover and cook for 15 minutes more. Serve with additional cheese, sour cream, and I like Frito chips.

I have not made this yet but it came from a good friend in our cooking club. Thought I would give it to everyone right away to try.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Crockpot - Taco Soup

Taco Soup
1 ½ pounds ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning
2 cans whole kernel corn, undrained
2 cans ranch-style or chili beans, undrained
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
Crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese
Flour tortillas, warmed
In a Dutch over or large saucepan, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in taco seasoning, corn, beans and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
Place tortilla chips in soup bowls; ladle soup over chips. Spinkle with cheese. Serve with warmed tortillas.
(I often put the browned beef and all other ingredients in my crockpot and let simmer in there.)

Crockpot - Mashed Potatoes

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese softened
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
6 cups warm mashed potatoes (prepared without milk or butter)
In a bowl combine the cream cheese, sour cream, butter, salad dressing mix, and parsley; stir in potatoes. Transfer to a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 2-4 hours. Yield 8-10 servings

I make this for holidays. It is great because you can make it a day or two in advance and just turn your crockpot on and not use more space in the oven.

Crockpot - Potato Chowder

Potato Chowder
8 cups diced peeled potatoes
1/3 cup chopped onion
3 cans (14 ½ ounces each) chicken broth
1 can (10 ¾ ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
½ pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled, optional
snipped chives, optional
In a slow cooker, combine the first five ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until potatoes are tender. Add cream cheese; stir until blended. Garnish with bacon and chives if desired. Yield 12 servings (3 quarts)
I added some extra pepper, parsley, and oregano.

Crockpot - Spaghetti Corn

Spaghetti Corn
1 can whole corn (drain)
1 can cream corn
½ cup butter (1/4 cup is ok too)
½ cup Velveeta diced
salt and pepper
½ cup broken spaghetti (not cooked)
Put all in crock pot on low 3 hours or 350 degree or the oven for 1 hour.
I double and fits in crock pot. DO NOT double butter!!

This is what my hubby brings to potlucks at school. It is easy to make - everyone loves it - and it is done in his office during the morning. He just plugs it in when he gets to work. It does stick sometimes so use a crockpot that comes apart for easy cleaning.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday Fun #53 - Family Recipes

I recently read a story about macaroni and cheese. The author was raving about her elderly aunt's recipe, it was thick and creamy and had just the right amount of cheese and flavoring. Her mac and cheese was requested at every family get together, and everyone wanted to know how to make it, but the aunt never told anyone. Well, until she couldn't get around so much and couldn't make it herself anymore. So she told one person, her sister (the author's mother). The new recipe carrier was just as mum for a number of years. One day the author called her mom to request she bring the macaroni and cheese to a birthday party- the mom said, "Look honey, you take a box of frozen stouffers, halfway through cooking, add an egg and 2 cups of cheese, stir it up and cook it the rest of the time. That's it!"

Everybody has 'em - those recipes that your grandma made, or your great aunt, or your great great grandpa's famous potato sausage. Those dishes that turn up at almost every family gathering, or sometimes only for certain holidays. Some families are secretive about them (so no need to share the recipe if you don't want to!) , some share them with everyone, and some even try to package and market the really good ones!
So tell us, what are your family recipes? Do you like them? Do you know how to make them?

October's Theme - Crockpot Favorites

Happy October! This is our first month with a theme and it's "Crockpot Favorites." Have you got something great you make in the slow cooker? Let us know!

So far, here are previously posted recipes made in the crockpot:
Post any good crockpot recipes you've got and please label them as "Slow Cooker." If I've missed any previously posted recipes, just let me know in the comments and I'll add them above.

(Of course, you're ALWAYS welcome to post any other recipes you want to - they don't have to be theme related.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Miso & Cucumber

Sorry I don't post much anymore. Lack of food stuffs that are safe or that you know and lack of appliances make it hard. But, here's a snack you might enjoy - and it's healthy.

Miso (soybean paste) and cucumbers. You should be able to buy miso at any Asian grocery store or maybe even Trader Joes. This is a popular Japanese snack food, especially with beer. I suggest using the miso that isn't totally paste yet, but has some bean left in it.

Use large chunks of peeled cucumber, about 1" or more in length, add a small drop of miso on top (about 1/2 to 1 tsp) and enjoy. It is crunchy, salty, and very good on the health scale (except for the salt content.)

Next time I go to our favorite Japanese place, I'll try to remember to take a picture for you so you can see the pretty presentation.

Separate note: some friends also like to use the miso as a dip for carrots etc. However, I think the water content of the cucumber is better suited with miso.

Friday, September 26, 2008

CSA Week 16

You know, looking at our CSA box this week was very rainbow-y. We had
  • red (tomatoes, hot peppers, parts of bell peppers, onions, some cherry tomatoes)
  • orange (some tomatoes, some cherry tomatoes, some of the carrots)
  • yellow (melons, two tomatoes, some cherry tomatoes)
  • green (arugula, most of the bell and hot peppers, celery, one stripey tomato, the aptly named green beans)
  • blue (Well, the potatoes are called blue potatoes, even if they're not a very brilliant blue.)
  • purple (Carrots!)
Plus some white as well with the cauliflower, garlic, and white potatoes. Very, very colorful! I guess this week we get to taste the rainbow?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday Fun #52 - A Whole Year of WF!

Wow! It's been a whole year of posting something (mildly) entertaining every Wednesday. Woo-hoo! And to celebrate, I'm taking a month or so off from the WFs!

But don't be sad - the wondrous AllKnowingJen will be taking over for October and maybe a bit more. So be SURE to come back next week!

For today, however, I'd like to hear about what sort of WFs you enjoyed the most - Links? Questions about favorites? Name 3s? "Have you ever" questions?
What was fun for you?

Friday, September 19, 2008

CSA Week 15

Oh, goodness! I almost forgot to post our CSA picture today! But as I was cutting up the cauliflower for supper I remembered... so here you go!

According to our newsletter, brusselini, also known as sprout tops, are the tops of the Brussels Sprout plants which "are harvested so energy will go to increasing the size of the sprouts." Now you know something new for today, too!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Peaches with Cava and Lemon Verbena

Okay, I haven't actually tried this recipe. I'm posting it here because I want to try it, and this seemed like more fun than just bookmarking it. Colorado peaches are still in season, and my lemon verbena plant is currently sprawling across 3/4 of the front walk. Oh well. At least it smells nice when the poor people coming to my door have to wade through it. (If any of the Recipeeples in the T.C. want some lemon verbena for this, lemon cake, tea or potpourri, stop by! I have way more than I can use.)

Peaches with Cava and Lemon Verbena
10 (3-inch) lemon verbena leaves
1 (750-milliliter) bottle Cava or other sparkling wine
1/2 cup sugar
6 cups sliced peaches (about 2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon minced lemon verbena leaves

Combine whole verbena leaves and sparkling wine in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 15 minutes). Remove and discard the whole leaves. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Add sliced peaches; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Cover and chill. Stir in minced verbena leaves just before serving.

Wednesday Fun #51 - Fall Favorites

School's started, there's a nip in the air, and the leaves are beginning to change. That means I'm starting to drink hot tea again, and use the oven, and make soups and stews. Yum! How about you?

Now that the weather is a-changing, what sorts of food are you finding yourself craving?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Ok, gang, here it is, a list of monthly themes for Recipeeps 4 Us!

Thanks to all who gave suggestions and input. I took quite a few of those, rearranged a bit, and came up with this list. Since we're so close to the end of the year, I figured I'd just go ahead and do the rest of '08 and all of '09 besides. (Crockpot Favorites is first 'cuz now that we've got Pumpkin's dance class 5:30-6 once a week, and mine another day from 6:30-7:30, I'm looking for ideas! Plus, you know, cool fall weather + the yummy smells that fill the house + hey, look, I just got home & supper's already ready = awesome!)

  • October: Crockpot Favorites
  • November: Thanksgiving Side Dishes
  • December: Cookies & Sweet Treats for the Holidays
  • January: Healthy & Low-cal
  • February: Chocolate
  • March: Soups & Stews [Revised to Breakfast.]
  • April: Quick Breads - banana, zucchini, cornbread, etc., not yeast-based ones
  • May: Grilling
  • June: Salads - fruit, veg, pasta, etc.
  • July: Tex/Mex
  • August: To-may-toe/To-mah-toe
  • September: Apples for the Teacher
  • October: Say CHEESE!
  • November: Turkey - as a main or to use the leftovers
  • December: Party Food - dips, appetizers, etc.

OF COURSE you're always welcome to post recipes / tips & hints / links / requests / whatever that don't necessarily fit that month's theme; these are just to kind of make us say, "Oh yeah, I've got a great recipe that fits that theme! I should post it!"

I'll try to start each month with a reminder of what the theme is, as well as a linked list to any previously posted recipes that would fit it. If I miss any, feel free to put them in the comments and I'll add 'em in.

(If you want to, you can take advantage of the "scheduled" option for a upcoming month's theme by putting in your recipe, then going down to "post options," which is to the left of the labels spot, and putting in a date/time that is in the desired month. But only if you want to.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ricotta pancakes

3 eggs, separated
1/2 lb. Ricotta cheese
2/3 c. milk
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Dash of salt

Separate eggs. Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine milk, egg yolks, and cheese. Mix into dry ingredients. Beat whites until stiff, then fold in. Cook on hot griddle as for any pancake, turning when bubbles. Serve with fresh fruit or preserves.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ideas for Ricotta?

I made lasagna the other night and sent the husband to the store for some ricotta cheese. Well he came home with double the amount I usually use.  I don't really want to make lasagna again, so what else can I make with the ricotta? 
(I saw a recipe in the Joy of Cooking for a cheesecake... but it looked a little difficult) 
Any ideas? 

Friday, September 12, 2008

CSA Week 14

Better late than never, here's the pictures from this week's CSA box. Yay for ground cherries!

Ground cherries aka gooseberries

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday Fun #50 - Savory Sweet Corn

According to one of our latest polls, more of you like sweet corn than tomatoes. So I ask you...

What's your FAVORITE way to eat sweet corn?

Boiled briefly, then with butter and salt? On the grill? Butter, salt & pepper? On a stick at the State Fair? Fresh and raw, husked out in the field? How do YOU like it?

Friday, September 5, 2008

CSA Week 13

Between these tomatoes & the ones from our own tomato plants, I think I'd better make marinara sauce again!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wednesday Fun #49 - Themes, Take Two

Um, ok, so right.

Last week you were all on vacation? Labor Day weekend and/or Mai Tai kept you away from the computer? Your in-laws were visiting and doing all sorts of home improvement projects for you? The dog ate your computer? Must be! :)

WF #48 was really more administrivia than fun, but, to quote Dora, "We need your help!" Now's your second chance!

Name (at least) 3 possible monthly themes we could use over the next year.

(Bonus points if they relate in some way, 'cuz that's fun.)

P.S. So far we've had a few suggestions: side dishes that go with turkey, low-cal/healthy for January, September/Apples, October/Soups & Stews, November/Thanksgiving dishes, December/Cookies or Treats. What else can you come up with?

Friday, August 29, 2008

CSA Week 12

It's week 12 of our CSA and we've got several new things! Miniwatermelons, eggplants, and edamame. Now farm-girl-me knows edamame very well as soybeans, but not very well as the "common snack food" they are in Japan. According to our newsletter, "unlike soybeans grown for oil production, animal feed, and soy products like tofu, Edamame has been bred for fresh eating. They lack the enzymes that give other soy products that 'beany' taste, instead you get a somewhat nutty and sweet flavor."

So I guess we'll be boiling the beans in their pods in salted water for 3-5 minutes until tender, rinsing them under cold water, draining, and sprinkling with coarse salt. Then comes the part where the "seeds are then squeezed directly from the pods into the mouth with the fingers." I don't know if you've had these before, but I haven't, so I'm looking forward to trying something new.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Marinara Sauce & "Favors From The Home" Review

I got this recipe from a community ed cooking class* I took a few times quite long ago, adapted just a tad, mostly in timing. It's a delicious, versatile sauce for spaghetti, manicotti, lasagna, etc. Mr. Kluges loves it best over Italian sausages and garlic mashed potatoes. You can do it with canned or fresh tomatoes, but I'm not sure of the quantity if you do fresh, so just give it a try. I'll try to update it with an approximate quantity of fresh tomatoes next time I make it.

Note: This one is doubled from the original because it's no more work & you can freeze half of it for later. Or just eat a lot.

Two 28 oz. cans Hunt's whole peeled tomatoes (or equivalent fresh tomatoes, peeled & seeded**) [9/5 - I made these starting with a bit more than 4 1/2 lbs. of fresh tomatoes. I wouldn't do less, but you could probably go between 5-6 lbs. pre-peeling/-seeding weight.]
6 Tbl. olive oil
3/4 - 1 c. diced red onion
6 large cloves minced garlic
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil OR 3 Tbl. Chef Jeff's frozen basil*** OR 3 Tbl. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dry oregano
1 tsp. sugar
salt & pepper to taste
dash of crushed red pepper flakes to taste (opt.)

1. Rough chop tomatoes in a blender or food processor and set aside. (If doing with fresh, peel and seed them first. **)

2. Place a large pan or stock pot or Dutch oven over high heat; add olive oil, onion and garlic; reduce heat to medium high and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, or until mixture becomes pale golden in color (not brown).

3. Add tomatoes, oregano, red pepper, sugar, salt and pepper to the onion mixture. (Also basil if using dried.)

4. Bring sauce to boil; reduce to simmer for 30-45 minutes for better flavor.

5. Add (fresh) basil and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until desired consistency is reached; remove from heat (and eat, or set aside to cool to use in lasagna, or to freeze).

* Oh, look - the internet is a wonderful thing! It was "Flavors From the Home" with Chef Jeff, and looking at his website, I see that it looks like he's still doing classes around the TC area, maybe starting in September. They were FUN classes where you actually get to cook and eat the menu, and take the recipes home. All the ones I took started off relaxed, but the pace picked up as you went and I think every one finished late. But the food made it all worthwhile! Note: Even though you'll get to eat, it wasn't until the end of the class, so don't go hungry or you'll be starving before the end. Also, Chef Jeff is a hoot. Looking at the menus, I took Oriental Favorites I - Menu #1, Southern Italian Family Style I - Menu #2, Gourmet with a French Accent I - Menu #3, Southern Italian Family Style II - Menu #5, Traditional Southern Italian - Menu #7, Pasta! Pasta! Pasta! II - Menu #13, and Traditional French II - Menu #14. They were all wonderful fun and delicious to boot. I highly recommend them, but I think they filled up fast, so if you're interested, check out which ones are nearby and call the appropriate contact on the registration page.

**An easy way to peel and seed fresh tomatoes is to bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Cut an X in the skin at the bottom of the tomato, then drop it in the boiling water for like 20-30 seconds. Take it out, and you should be able to peel it easily, starting at the X. To seed them easily, cut them in half along the equator, NOT from bottom to top. Then you can just take a half in your hand and squeeze out most of the seeds with ease.

*** Chef Jeff recommended taking large quantities of fresh basil, washing & roughly chopping it, mixing it with a good amount of olive oil, then making long tubes/rolls/fat-thumb-thick-snakes of it in plastic wrap and freezing it. You can whack off a hunk of it and get great fresh flavor, even if it looks browner than it would when actually fresh.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday Fun #48 - Themes, Themes & More Themes

WF / adminstrivia again today, folks, but oh, do I hear the brainstorms a-thunderin' already! Last week I asked about WF, polls, keeping the site fresh/moving, ideas, etc. There was a resounding response (hey, 100% agreement from all (2) commentors - that's resounding!) that themes - likely monthly ones - helped folks think about what to post. (Of course, non-theme-related posts very, very welcome always.)

So, let's hear it for some themes!

Leave your comment with any themes you might like to see here on Recipeeps, and if it'd fit well with a particular month/time of year, include that. Maybe a certain food (like the rhubarb request Pusher made) or type of preparation/storage (like the freezer keepers), or something like side dishes (maybe going into the turkey day / holiday season?) or low-cal/healthy for January? If you need a boost to get you going, Allknowingjen suggested these in her comment last week: September/Apples, October/Soups & Stews, November/Thanksgiving dishes, December/Cookies or Treats.

Go, go go! Storm away, O Recipeeps Brains!

The more themes, the better - we can choose a set of 12 for this year like Nectarine suggested in her comment, and save the rest for later.

Friday, August 22, 2008

CSA Week 11

Anybody got any good ideas for what to do with some green savoy cabbage? 'Cuz those are two heads of it up there...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wednesday Fun #47 - Is Fun?

When I started doing these Wednesday Funs, it was with the purpose of having at least something posted here to Recipeeps weekly. Sure, when we all/each post recipes varies widely depending on when we make something good, when we've got time, if somebody requests something, etc., but I wanted to keep it fresh / useful / a habit for people to check in. So I thought a weekly food-related thing-to-do would help with that.

But I don't know if it is accomplishing the purpose of keeping the site from getting stagnant, for lack of a better term. And I don't know if these are actually fun for people, or at least worth a semi-regular visit to the site. And you know what? It's getting kind of hard to think of something new every week. I mean, how many "Name 3s" can a person take?! ;)

What do you think? Is it worthwhile having something along these lines? Do you like the idea of a weekly something, but have an idea(s) about a way to do it better / more interesting / more fun? Would you rather do something like take turns (as folks volunteer) to post something each week for a month - a WF, a recipe, a link, a tip, whatever you want? Do you want to, say, focus on a specific food / type of dish / type of preparation / seasonal thingie for a month & everybody try to throw out a recipe / tip / whatever related to it that month? (Of course, other recipes, etc. would still be warmly encouraged. Do you like the polls or WF, but don't especially care about the other one?

Help! Let me know your thoughts, please!

Feel free to leave your comment anonymously, if you'd rather, but please let your comments be helpful and constructive. Thanks!

Friday, August 15, 2008

CSA Week 10

I can't believe it's week 10 already. This is the midway week of our CSA shares. I've gotten so used to getting most/all of our veggies by box, it'll be a real let-down when it's over!

You know how I was talking about gadgets & how handy the salad spinner has been for the salad mix we've been getting every week in our CSA box? Well, guess I don't need it this week. The dust buster got a workout though when Pumpkin opted to husk some sweet corn and have a little pre-dinner snack. Nothing like fresh corn on the cob! (Cooked or not!)

I think my girls are not too shabby on liking their vegetables...
at least some of them anyway.

(In case you were wondering, last week's CSA, which we picked up on our way out of town for a reunion for Mr. Kluges's extended family, included new potatoes, basil, leaf lettuce mix, sweet onion, green beans, carrots, garlic, summer squash & zucchini, green peppers, cucumbers & cherry tomatoes. They had some of a variety named "Sungold" that are so sweet!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday Fun #46 - Getting Gadgets?

In the past couple of months, I've purchased two kitchen gadgets that I'm so glad I now have. They reduce my workload enough to be noticeable.

Well, one of them only when we've having salad 'cuz it's a salad spinner, but I got it because we've been getting salad mix I think every week so far in our CSA box. But still - helpful!

The other one's a dust buster. I'm counting it as a kitchen gadget because it's mostly used for post-meal, under-kid-chair duty. How I did without it so long, I'll never know.

So, how about you?

Get any kitchen gadgets lately? How'd'ya like 'em?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Recipe Request - Maple Nut Ice Cream

Hello, fellow recipeeples!

Say, my mom is looking for a homemade maple nut ice cream recipe & my SIL suggested maybe I throw the question out to y'all. So how 'bout it? Anybody got a good maple nut ice cream recipe they're willing to share?


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wednesday Fun #45 - Road Trip Rations

We're about to head back to MN for the second time in about 5 weeks. As "Packer of the Car" and "Overpacker Extraordinaire," it's my job to make sure we've got snacks for the trip. 'Cuz I'm not sure which is better for quieting restless little travelers - the portable DVD player or food.

Not that I snack in the car at all. Oh no. Not me....
*wildly failing the lie detector test*

Either way, this has led me to our Wednesday Fun question for this week...

What's your favorite long road trip snack(s)?

Friday, August 1, 2008

CSA Week 8

Over at Musings & Mutterings, I talk about visiting our CSA farm last Sunday for their potluck picnic. It was great fun!

And now we're famous - Penguin's picture is on the front side of our CSA newsletter from that farm visit! She's trying to feed me a raspberry. You can see it if you go to the newsletters tab on their website and look for the July 31st one. It's not up yet, so I can't link to it directly right now, but I'd expect it to be posted soon. What a cutie!

Edited to add: Here's the direct link to the Adobe version of the newsletter with Penguin's picture!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday Fun #44 - Tomato Turn-ons

We just picked our first (three) cherry tomatoes of the year yesterday, and I know Pusher recently enjoyed her first garden tomato, too. Granted, not everybody here likes tomatoes (Right, AKJ?!), but for those of you who do,

What's your favorite thing to do with / way to eat fresh tomatoes?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tomato Bruschetta

Yesterday I was SO HUNGRY for tomato-covered bruschetta. The tomatoes, and basil, and garlic....yum! We'd gotten a large bunch of basil from our CSA the week before, so I'd thought to pick up some tomatoes...

I sort of made this recipe, which I'd gotten at a cooking class (with Chef Jeff). Didn't measure a thing, used regular tomatoes instead of Roma and a fresh CSA onion instead of the red onion, didn't toast the bread....

But it didn't matter. Because what I ended up with was absolutely, positively what I was hungry for. I'd made some dough from the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day earlier in the afternoon, so I baked up a loaf of that, and for supper, all I had was fresh, homemade bread mounded with tomato-y goodness.

It was summertime heaven.

Tomato Bruschetta
(makes 3-4 appetizer servings)

6 Roma tomatoes
1/4 c. diced red onion
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. fresh chopped basil (oh, just use LOTS)
3 Tbl. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
3-4 1/2"-1" slices of fresh Boule bread (French bread may be substituted)

  1. Remove the stem ends of the tomatoes; cut them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
  2. Dice the tomatoes and place them in a 3-quart mixing bowl. (I'd only use pottery or other non-reactive material because I think the acidic tomato tastes funny otherwise.)
  3. Add onions, garlic, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper; mix well.
  4. Serve at room temperature.
  5. Brush both sides of the bread lightly with olive oil and place on a 1/2 size sheet tray (or cookie sheet.)
  6. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until slightly golden in color. Repeat procedure so that both sides are lightly toasted.
  7. Remove from broiler, top with tomato mixture and serve.

Friday, July 25, 2008

CSA Week 7

We're excited to see some new stuff, like carrots!, in our box this week. Yum! This Sunday is a potluck picnic at "our" farm, so we might go to that, even though it looks to be about an hour drive.

I have to say that kohlrabi is fine... but I wouldn't plant it myself. Getting a little tired of it already. Maybe that's because the girls don't care for it, and it's not really a freezable thing, so it's just Mr. Kluges and I eating it up. This week the newsletter suggests making kohlrabi slaw out of it, so maybe we'll give that a try.

P.S. This week was also a mushroom share week, so we've got a pound of nice looking button mushrooms, but I forgot to include them in the picture since, as a separate share, they were in their own bag & not in the big CSA box.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New meal planning site

We've really been in a rut lately, so I am trying out this new meal planning website and thought I would mention it here.
It's called You've got supper and it's FREE!
They send you a weekly menu with 5 entrees and two sides, plus a grocery list.

This Week's Menu:
Entree 1 Honey Chicken Kebabs
Entree 2 Beef and Rice Burritos
Entree 3 Salmon Baked with Tomatoes, Lemon & Herbs
Entree 4 Tarragon Chicken Salad
Entree 5 Pizza Margherita
Side 1 Baked Summer Veggies
Side 2 Cool Lime Pie

(the website has all the above recipes listed)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday Fun #43 - Fridge Findings

Ok, I don't think I've done this one yet, so here we go...

Name three (or more) things in your refrigerator.

Bonus points if they relate in some way, shape, or form.

And as an extra bonus WF item... here's a quiz from Blogthings.

What Do the Contents of Your Fridge Say about You?

Here's what mine says:
What Your Fridge Says About You

You like to be surrounded by things you love. You aren't exactly greedy, but you can be materialistic at times.

You tend to be a fairly thrifty person. You splurge occasionally, but you're mostly a saver.

You are a very adventurous person. You love to try new things, and you get bored very easily.

You are responsible, together, and mature. You act like an adult, even when you don't feel like it.

You are likely to be married - and very busy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Orange Butter Scones

I could have sworn I posted these before, or maybe emailed them to someone, but I can't find it anywhere, so I must just be remembering writing it down or something. One of Mr. Kluges's coworkers wanted this, so I figured if I was bothering to type it up anyway, I'd put it on here, so I could find it again.

This comes from The Ballymaloe Bread Book by Tim Allen. No, not the tool guy, but the husband of Irish food guru Darina. These measurements are primarily by weight, but I'll try to remember to make note of standard ones when I can... or even come back later and edit them in the next time I make it.

450 g./ 1 lb. plain white flour [about 4 cups]
3 rounded tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
25 g./1 oz. castor sugar (superfine sugar, but standard is ok or powdered)
85 g./ 3 oz. butter, chilled [3/4 stick; 6 Tbl.]
2 medium eggs
200-225 ml. / 7-8 fluid oz. fresh milk (The eggs plus the milk should total 10 fl. oz.)

Orange butter:
2 oranges, finely grated zest
85 g./ 3 oz. butter [3/4 stick; 6 Tbl.]
100 g. / 3 1/2 oz. icing sugar, sieved (powdered sugar)

Topping: (I never bother with the topping because 1) it's sweet enough without it & 2) I forget to do it.)
egg wash
50 g. / 2 oz. granulated sugar (standard)

Prepare the orange butter in advance. Cream the butter with the finely grated orange zest, add the sieved icing sugar and beat together until light and fluffy. (You could even do this a day ahead.)

Preheat the oven to 250C / 475F / regulo 9.

To make the scone dough, into a large, wide bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add the castor sugar. (I just mix them all right away.) Cut the chilled butter into cubes (or thin slices). Then rub the butter into the dry ingredients.** Make a well in the centre.

Break the eggs into a two cup measuring cup and whisk lightly. Add the milk, bringing the liquid up to the 300 ml / 10 fl. oz. mark. Pour nearly all of the milk and egg mixture into the flour. Using one hand with the fingers open and stuff, mix in a full circle drawing the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk and egg if necessary. Bring the ingredients gently together into a soft dough. (I just use a spoon. Much easier and less messy.)

Turn the dough out onto a very well-floured work surface. Knead lightly and briefly, just enough to bring it all together.

Now gently roll the scone dough into a rectangle about 2 cm / 3/4 in high and about 35x23cm (14x9"). Using a plastic spatula, spread the orange butter over the top surface of the dough. Gently roll up the dough as you would roll a Swiss roll.

With a sharp, metal dough butter lightly dusted with flour (or just a knife), cut the rolled scone dough into about 14 slices.

Place the scones cut side down on a 9x13" pan. The recipe actually calls for a baking sheet, but the 9x13 keeps the melted butter closer in to the scones so it soaks it back in instead of letting it burn around the edges.

First brush the scones with the egg wash, then sprinkle over the top with granulated sugar. (I skip this step almost always. It looks a tiny bit fancier, but tastes just as good without it.)

Put the scones into the preheated oven to bake for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to 230C / 450C /regulo 8 and leave to bake for a further 10 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack. Then tuck in!

** Yeah, basically you stick your hands in the floury stuff and rub the small pieces of butter into it until it gets kind of crumbly... the texture will be sort of like Bisquick? This takes a while, and you could possibly get a similar effect by just using a pastry cutter, but it wouldn't be as well-distributed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

CSA Week 6

Another week, more veg! We ate up the yummy green beans already last night, but I'd say it'll probably be salad tonight. Aren't those baby beets cute? And the basil smells divine!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

4-5 cups Rhubarb
½- 1 cup sugar
Yellow or white cake mix
Grease a 9 X 13-inch cake pan. Cut rhubarb into small pieces and put into bottom of cake pan. Fill until it is about ½ inch deep or more. (The more you put in the more you get for your cake. Remember it cooks down.) Sprinkle the rhubarb with sugar. If you like your rhubarb more tart add less sugar more if you like it sweeter. (I like it sweet so I put on a lot.) Mix cake mix according to the box. Pour on top of the rhubarb and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. You will see cake pull away from the sides of your pan when it is cooked enough. Serve cool with ice cream or Cool Whip.
You can also do about the same thing this way. Make the cake – pour in greased pan. Put 3-4 cups of rhubarb on top 1 cup sugar and 1 pint of whipping cream ( just a few extra calories). Then bake.. Cook about 1 hour at 350 degrees. (I made this one last night and it is GREAT!)

Salad - easy no prep

Just wanted to share a great salad we have been making this summer.

Buy a bag of Broccoli Slaw - Poppy Seed Dressing - Gorp (mix of dried fruits and nuts- no chocolate) - Mayo of your choice (I like Miracle Whip)

Mix together - eat!!

Tastes good the next day also.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wednesday Fun #42 - So so summertime

We had BLTs for supper last night. (Well, actually, I had a BLT, Mr. Kluges had a BL, Pumpkin had toast and bacon and frozen peas, and Penguin had a bit of this and a bit of that.)

Anyway, it got me thinking about how much BLTs are a summer food to me. Sure, I could make one in December, but even if you set aside that the tomatoes would likely be crap, it still just wouldn't taste right. It's just not the right time for it. But summer? Mmmmmm, BLT!!!

What's a food that speaks "summer" to you?

Friday, July 11, 2008

CSA Week 5 & Asian-Style Sesame Saute

A big box this week! I think I might end up blanching and freezing some of the peas because there is so much to get through this week. We're also excited to have the first of our mushroom share - yum, portabellas! Already cooked up the Asian saute mix with a recipe from the farm's newsletter. Quick and easy and yummy enough to post, I'd say.

Asian-Style Sesame Saute
Serves 3-4 as a vegetable side.

1 bag (8 oz.) saute mix - I have NO idea what was all in here, but you could do spinach, bok choi, etc.
1/4 c. onion, diced (I skipped this since the girls aren't big on onions.)
2-3 garlic scapes, minced (You could sub a clove of garlic.)
1/8 c. toasted sesame seeds*
1 T. vinegar (I used seasoned rice vinegar.)
2 T. tamari (or other soy sauce)
freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet to moderate heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 2 minutes. Add the saute mix (or whatever greens you're using) and saute until just wilted. Remove from heat, and stir in vinegar, tamari, and pepper. Add sesame seeds, toss, and serve. You may need to adjust the seasons to taste.

*To toast regular sesame seeds, heat a dry (no oil) pan, and cook the sesame seeds in it until light brown, shaking and/or stirring fairly often.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wednesday Fun #41 - Holiday Report

Happy belated Independence Day! I know at least a few of you enjoyed grilling out and/or campfire cooking over the holiday weekend.

What's something you had recently that was cooked over fire?

Bonus points if it was something especially unusual or delicious! And yeah, I figure you probably ALL had s'mores! *grin*

Friday, July 4, 2008

CSA Week 4

No actual CSA post this week, since we're traveling this 4th of July. But through the miracles of blogger and being able to schedule posts, here's some CSA goodness for you this week anyway.

Over on The Wednesday Chef, Luisa writes about Why You Should Belong to a CSA and includes a photo of what she got in her New York CSA box. I love her writing, and she muses about what she's planning on doing with her veggie treasures. It makes me hungry just reading about it.

In case you're curious, here's the homepage for our CSA, which includes their newsletter, which should tell you what we WOULD have gotten this week, had we been around to pick it up.

(But don't worry, the veg won't go to waste - our neighbors are picking it up and get to enjoy it. Who knows - maybe they'll decide to join next year!)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wednesday Fun #40 - Brats, Brats, Brats

Independence Day is a great day for brats on the grill. Do you have any particular kind/brand that you love the most? Share your recommendation, please!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Garlic scape pesto

Ms. Huis Herself's CSA boxes made me remember and dig up this recipe I found a while back online. It's from Greensgal at The Omnivore's Solution. I went ahead and posted her comments at the top. This may be horrible Internet etiquette...

One of the most fantastic uses I know is in Garlic Scape Pesto. Our very favorite omelet is folded over a ribbon of this pesto – yum! We also eat it plain as a spread on crunchy bread or crackers. It can be used to season steamed vegetables, a topping for brown rice, or as an addition to potato salad for a mild garlic flavor. Stir some into vegetable soups as a garnish and flavor enhancer. This freezes amazingly well and keeps many months in the freezer.


1/2 lb. organic scapes, top bulbs removed (chopped into 1" sections)
1/2 C pine nuts
2 c. grated parmesan cheese (substitute romano or asiago)
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil (to achieve the correct texture)

Use only the tender parts of the scapes, peeling bottom ends if tough.
In a food processor, combine the scapes and pine nuts, pulse to chop into a rough paste. Add cheese and pulse. With processor running, drizzle in just enough olive oil to achieve a moist spreading consistency. Taste for salt and add some sea salt if necessary. It depends on the saltiness of the cheese.

Note: I substitute a “lesser” parmesan for economy sake. Using the finest parmesan doesn’t make a tremendous difference because of the strength of the garlic taste.

Possible additions: 1/2 C fresh herbs – parsley, dill, or cilantro
Place in processor with scapes and pine nuts.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rhubarb Bar

I know I am really slow at getting on and posting things. I love to cook and have lots of things already typed up on my computer. I am excited to now be able to post. I thought I remember someone looking for rhubarb things. This is just one of our many that our family makes. Enjoy!!

Rhubarb Bar
1 Cup Flour
5 TBL Powder Sugar
½ cup butter
Mix together press into a 9x9 and bake @ 350 degrees for 15 Minutes
(I doubled the whole recipe and put it into a large bar pan.)
2 beaten eggs
1 ½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
¾ tsp. Salt
2 cup finely chopped rhubarb
Spoon onto crust and bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Best if eaten the same day but we eat it for many days afterwards.

CSA Week 3

Our CSA box always includes a newsletter from the farm. This week they mention that cilantro is one of the few herbs that does not retain its flavor when dehydrated, but that you can freeze the fresh leaves in a ziploc. Just remove the air, seal the bag, and freeze. They point out that you shouldn't thaw them before use or they'll turn into a mushy green mess. Since we don't use cilantro very often, I think I'll give it a try.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday Fun #39 - Fast Food Fantasy

If you could make one item at one fast food chain magically have 0 calories, but still taste the same, etc., what would it be?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sesame Ginger Chicken

Got this recipe from one of Mr. Kluges's high school friends who is married to another one of his high school friends when they made it for us one time. She says it's from Jenny Craig. It's yummy. I've adapted it slightly.

1 1/2 Tbl. toasted sesame seeds*
1 Tbl. grated fresh ginger
3 Tbl. low-sodium (or regular) soy sauce
3 Tbl. honey
6 (4 oz) boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1) Combine first four ingredients.

2) Place chicken between plastic wrap and flatten to 1/4 inch thickness. (You might actually have a meat mallet. I use our marble rolling pin.)

3) Coat rimmed cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. You might need two, depending on how spread out your chicken breast ends up.

4) Brush half of sauce misture over chicken, coating both sides. Set them on the cookie sheet when coated.

5) Cook at 350F or broil about 8-10 minutes or until done through.
(You can baste during the baking/broiling if you'd like, but since it's in a cookie sheet, the sauce can't really escape. I think this direction is left over from being made in a broiler pan, but when I tried it that way, all the sauce just ran off and burnt in the bottom.)

I've never tried it, but I'd suspect you could do this stove-top as well.

*If you just have regular, put them in a dry (not greased) nonstick skillet over medium-low heat for a while until they brown a bit. It takes kind of a while, so start this right away, and don't be tempted to turn the heat up too high or they'll burn. Not that I know or anything.

Friday, June 20, 2008

CSA Week 2

We already ate up most of the peas (Yum! We all loved 'em. Pumpkin kept asking for more.) and we're definitely going to do the bok choi just like last week 'cuz it was so good. As you can see, we got strawberries this week! Penguin was reaching for them and making "gimme"-type noises as soon as she saw 'em in the box.

On another note, their newsletter said that normally we'd have kohlrabi by this week, which leads me to expect some next week. I have no idea what to do with kohlrabi. None. At all. So if you've got any tips or hints, I'd love to hear them!