Monday, July 15, 2013

Give your greens a squeeze for more tender salads

This week I tried a new technique for making kale. It really made the kale taste good and took away the rough texture.

Here's the link to the full article: http://www.examiner.com/article/give-your-greens-a-squeeze-for-more-tender-salads 



http://www.examiner.com/article/give-your-greens-a-squeeze-for-more-tender-salads 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Cool down with some spicy cucumber salad

A new article posted on Examiner.com shows you a spicy, sweet way to eat your cucumbers:

http://www.examiner.com/article/cool-down-with-some-spicy-cucumber-salad

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Spring greens - Creating your own dressing

I received my first CSA box today and I was a little bit disappointed. With the cold spring we've had, I shouldn't have been surprised to see so many greens. I received salad mix, spinach, kale, bok choy, radishes and turnips.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed at first. I wasn't sure I could eat that many salads. But it did inspire me to try a new salad recipe: Spinach and Radish Salad with Sesame. I used my salad mix because they are likely to wilt the fastest. They were a perfect backdrop for the dressing which was a mix of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil.

I actually didn't have any rice wine vinegar so I used white wine vinegar instead. That made me think about how easy it is to make any type of vinaigrette at home. It's basically three types of ingredients.

You can find that post on Examiner.com or by clicking this link:  Make your own healthy vinaigrette without hitting the (store-bought) bottle

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Posts on Examiner.com

If you're looking for more information on CSAs I'm writing articles for Examiner.com. Here are a few to check out until I write another blog post:

Freezing tomatoes  - ideas for preserving any extra tomatoes you have on hand
Get closer to your food with a CSA - more information on CSAs and how to choose one, includes resources for Wisconsin
Check out the Food for Thought Festival - if you're in Madison, don't miss this fun food event sponsored by REAP, happening Sept. 15 from 8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Parmesan-Crusted Goodness


I wasn’t planning on having a Parmesan-crusted theme dinner this evening, but sometimes that’s just what happens. For me it started with a recipe for Zucchini Oven Chips from Cooking Light. This is one of my favorite ways to use zucchini.

Oven Zucchini Chips
I made the recipe as noted, except I used buttermilk instead of milk, since I happened to have a leftover carton in the refrigerator from a weekend batch of buckwheat pancakes. When they were done, they taste tender on the inside and crispy on the outside and so good you would think they were deep fried.

But before I got there, I had about a half cup of leftover breadcrumb, Parmesan, salt and pepper breading left over. I didn’t want to throw it away and that’s what would likely happen to it even if I saved it for a few weeks in the refrigerator. Instead of dumping it, I decided to make baked tomatoes with it. I added a little dried basil to the mix and cut a tomato in half before pouring the leftover breading on top. To add a little moisture, I poured a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. I slipped them in the oven to cook alongside the zucchini. When they were done, they were the perfect combination of the tart, cooked tomato and the crunchy topping.

Baked tomatoes, the black is balsamic vinegar
The zucchini and the tomato would need about a half hour to cook, so I turned my attention to the bag of beans in the crisper. Similar to green beans, I had received flat Romano beans in my box last week. I had received them in previous years and the Two Onion newsletter reminded me that I could use them similarly to other green beans, but that they may require a longer cooking time.

For these I decided to adapt a recipe I came upon this morning in the gym while reading my Oprah magazine. Ina Garten's Green Beans Gremolata recipe looked good as is, but I needed to adjust it a bit to adapt for what I had in my pantry. Instead of topping beans with pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, parsley and lemon juice, my beans were tossed with pecans, garlic and Parmesan.

Romano beans with pecans, Parmesan and garlic
The final result was amazing. I still may make the Barefoot Contessa’s some other time, but my combination wasn’t too bad either. I forgot to weight the beans, but guess I had less than a full pound. I still used two cloves of garlic, so they were garlicky, but really good.

Surprisingly or not, all three dishes worked together. Though they had most of the same ingredients (especially the zucchini and the tomato) they tasted different enough. And since they did have a lot of the same ingredients they didn’t compete with each other.  

So the next time an ingredient speaks to you, go for it. You may just end up having a theme dinner you didn't plan on. 
Is it me or does this bean look like a bird?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Want Easier Stuffed Peppers? Don't Stuff Them


I like stuffed peppers mostly for the stuffing inside. It’s an easy way to use peppers, but sometimes the peppers can be a little overwhelming when you eat the final dish. Also, sometimes the peppers don’t get done all the way through. As a result, usually I’m pretending I like the dish more than I do as I try to ignore the fact that the outside is raw even while the inside is really good.

So tonight, instead of making real stuffed peppers I decided to make “inside out” stuffed peppers. It would still have all the ingredients, just be served up more like a casserole. It would also be an easier dish to make on a weeknight, since stuffed peppers can take a long time to make. With a plan in mind, I only had to decide just what kind of stuffed peppers to make.

That brings me to another great thing about stuffed peppers. They are easily adaptable to whatever you have on hand. I’ve made Middle Eastern varieties, with couscous, Indian varieties heavy on garam masala, and stuffed them with lentils, rice, bulgur, and everything in between. Last night when I surveyed what I had on hand, I decided these would be Mexican stuffed peppers. My stuffed pepper casserole would consist of chorizo, brown rice, enchilada sauce, salsa and cheese.

unstuffed peppers casserole
Unstuffed pepper casserole 
I had all the ingredients on hand, so to get a jump on tonight’s prep, I decided to make the rice. That way when I came home from work tonight I’d be able to brown the chorizo, mix everything together and pop it in the oven. Doing some of the prep work in advance and cutting out the long cooking time for stuffed peppers which can take more than an hour, made this a do-able dish for a weeknight.

All in all, prep took about 10 minutes, and the casserole was done in about 35 minutes. The peppers were tender and it was a whole lot easier to eat than stuffed peppers. It also had more portion control than whole stuffed peppers. When I make those, I tend to eat at least half or the whole thing, since it’s easier that way. That would have amounted to about 2 – 4 servings had I made the peppers that way. The casserole looks more like at least 6 – 8.

The Unstuffed Peppers Casserole is definitely going in my pepper recipe file. I like the Mexican variety quite a bit, but I’m looking forward to seeing what other varieties I might make. I’ll have to see what’s on hand the next time I get peppers in my CSA box. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eggplant Meet Crockpot

One of my favorite parts of getting a CSA share has been learning to cook and like vegetables I wouldn’t necessarily eat if they didn’t show up in my kitchen. One has been eggplant. Judging from the swap box yesterday, I can say that I’m not alone. I looked inside to see what I might swap my own eggplants for and found nothing but eggplants inside.


I received them in my last box too and instead of hiding them at the bottom of the crisper, decided to try to use them up right away. I did the same this week and I’m proud to say I have two new recipes I love for one of the vegetables I’m most likely to avoid. And as a bonus, they both use the crockpot and made tasty meals that I didn’t have to cook after a busy day.

Crockpot Spiced Eggplant and Lentil
Crockpot Spiced Eggplant and Lentils
Last week’s was inspired by a recipe I found in an Indian cookbook I picked up at a garage sale earlier in the year, Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness. I stole the idea of their recipe for Smoked Spiced Eggplant, by using some of the same ingredients and spices, adding lentils to make it more of a main dish, and adapting it for the slow cooker.

It worked out perfectly. It made a spicy dish that was good warm or cold. The best part was the eggplant. Sometimes eggplant has a slimy texture to me that isn’t appealing. In this dish the eggplant took on a firmer texture that tasted very good. Here is the recipe for Crockpot Spiced Eggplant and Lentils.

crockpot Moussaka
Crockpot Moussaka
For tonight’s dinner, prepped last night, I made crockpot moussaka. I already wrote about moussaka in this post, but I was looking for a quicker and easier way to enjoy one of my favorite meals. I found this recipe and adapted it a bit by using cinnamon instead of oregano and fresh tomatoes instead of canned.

It cooked all day while I was at work and tasted amazing. Although it didn’t have the béchamel crust it was still really good. If you want, you could add feta cheese for a bit more flavor, but I thought it tasted fine without anything on top.

I don’t know if I’ll be getting anymore eggplant this season, but if I do, I’m sure I’ll be able to find more recipes to enjoy it in. I think I might even be sad if I don’t get the chance. Who would’ve ever thought I could feel so strongly about eggplant.