Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Zoo Concert Picnic

So tonight we are going to hear Great Big Sea at the zoo, since we are zoo members we get in for free so we take advantage and go during the summer to as many of the concerts as we can. We went all last summer and have gone all of this summer, and Molly really enjoys it.
This is Molly dancing at the last concert we went to.

On the menu for tonight's picnic:
  • Garlic Turkey Subs (we had these last night for dinner and they were so good I changed my plans from what we were originally going to have).
  • Kettle Brand Chips (Salt & Pepper) Seen in pic from last night's dinner.
  • Crudites with dip
  • Blueberries

  • Rocky Road Brownies
Now for the brownies on a picnic the best way to take them and store them so they don't all mash together is to wrap them in wax paper and then put them into a plastic container like the following:




We will be meeting up with Auntie Jenn and Uncle Jim for tonight's concert, it should be fun!




Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Blog Hops

Tuesday Tag-Along If this is your first time here, scroll down and see if my blog is to your liking, leave a comment and I will follow you back!


















For more recipe's click here!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Grilled Tandoori Chicken & And Business Ventures

The news around the Carter dinner table of late is all of Brian's recent ventures into being a small business owner. As the month of July comes to a close it doesn't seem that much different than any other month other than we now own Pearl Printing. A company that my husband has been working for since graduating college. Apart from now owning it, not much has changed in his day to day activities other than branching the business out. He now has two subsidiary companies (Masterpiece Magnets and Petticoats & Pollywogs) one makes reproductions of classical pieces of work miniature sized, framed and magnets on the back for your fridge, the other is modern nursery art. On display now is growth charts, soon to come matching artwork to complete any nursery. The latter became an idea after I was so pleased with the work he did for our own daughters room and growth chart. Petticoats & Pollywogs just opened on Etsy and we have already made a sale. Fingers Crossed!

We have also hit the terrible two's with Miss Molly, I was hoping the two's were going to be fantastic and the three's were going to be more hellish (I thought I heard that somewhere) anyway she is pushing as hard as she can. Today was not one of her better days, she absolutely would not take a nap, and as I write this blog at 8:00pm she is still crying and/or moving around her bedroom refusing to sleep. On a plus side we spent a good 45 minutes today in our hot tub (reduced to 97 degrees for the summer) with Molly's life jacket on to get her ready for our upcoming camping trip to Wicki-up Reservoir, all children in my extended family must wear life jackets if they are anywhere near the water as a precaution so I thought I would acclimatize her now. That part of the day today was very pleasurable and I was so proud of how far she has come with being comfortable in the water. The rest of the day I wish could be left on the cutting room floor as they say.

You see, people give me the same canned response when they find out I teach middle schoolers, "Oh bless you, I could never." Or something of that ilk. But this age 2-4, is not my cup of tea. When I first started working at the age of 16, and even earlier this was the age group I always worked with. Before and after school care programs, Safety Town, Soccer Coach, T-ball Coach, Golf Coach was all with this age group. And I knew then, what is only getting reinforced now, my patience level is practically nonexistent with this age group. Teenagers, 13-14 is what I teach, we just connect. They can be talked to like an adult, reasoned with, and they are not yet disillusioned with school that I can't make a difference. But this, two year old defiance, is hard to reason with. I am not going to lie, it has been a struggle, one we are working through but lordy when it is hot and your child is working themselves up into a lather and won't go to bed, what is a parent to do?

Anyway... back to dinner. Tonight's dinner was fantastic! My husband commented numerous times on how good the chicken was, so needless to say it is a keeper. Molly even had second helpings, and even though she LOVES cous cous it is going to be the death of me - more of it was on the table and floor and her chair then I think made it into her mouth!
Tonights dinner: Grilled Tandoori with cous cous and grilled sweet onion, and steamed garlicky green beans on the side.
**The last two were added because they needed to be used, they were from our CSA last week and with our new bag arriving tomorrow with more beans why not. Everything was done on the grill or in the microwave to avoid heating up the house (we don't have AC) don't underestimate your grill, it can do anything!

Steamed Green Beans on the grill
3-4 good handfuls of trimmed green beans
1 garlic clove minced (garlic pressed for me)
2 ice cubes
Tin foil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Throw everything into a tin foil pouch (even the ice cubes) and cook right along with the chicken and onions.

** The ice cube trick I picked up from Relish, it gives the perfect amount of steam/water for great veggies! Brilliant!

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

2-4 Chicken Breasts (I used two, but they were huge and I cut them in half, butterflied really, to make them thinner/smaller portions)
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric (You should be able to get this in your spice aisle or maybe even in your bulk section, it is a main ingredient in most curry powders, it has a very mild flavor and tons of color punch, it is what makes the curry powder yellow... this chicken will be BRIGHT yellow! Depending on how much turmeric you use.)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 large cloves garlic (micro-planer)
1 tbsp ginger (micro planer, I keep mine in the freezer it lasts practically forever and it makes using the micro-planer a breeze)
1 1/4 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne (More of less can be used according to your taste... my 2 year old loved this and I used this amount and she was able to eat it, not spicy at all just a mild kick.)

1 tbsp cooking oil to brush chicken with as you grill so it doesn't stick to the grill. (could leave this out if you don't want excess oil)

1. Marinate the chicken for about 5 minutes in the lemon juice, water, salt, and turmeric. I used a plastic Ziploc for this purpose.
2. Mix together the yogurt, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, and cayenne in a small bowl.
3. Reserve a little of the yogurt mix for after you flip your chicken on the grill (just spoon it over at the end of the cooking process for extra flavor and the keep the chicken from drying out) put the majority of the yogurt mix into the plastic bag and allow that to marinate for an additional 10 minutes.
4. Finally grill the chicken until done, again spooning over the set aside yogurt mix at the end of the cooking process for more flavor.

** This recipe is from the Food and Wine cookbook: Quick From Scratch Chicken Cookbook. I have dog- eared so many recipes in this book and so far have only been able to try about three, but they have all been good. For my family my frozen chicken breasts are a fall back when I need to go to the store. It is the protein we probably eat the most of, so cookbooks like this are good to have.


For the cous cous recipe go to one of my previous posts Step Away from the Box part 1. Only difference is that instead of boiling water on the cook top I used my microwave. I heated the water in the microwave for 5 minutes and then added the cous cous and let sit with a lid for about 5 more minutes. Then you add your flavorings and fluff it all together with a fork. This is a brilliant side dish in the summer for this reason!

Making Friends Monday

Are you looking for new friends around the blogosphere? Check out Making Friends Monday!
The rules are simple!

1. Follow the Making Friends Monday hosts (Listed as # 1-5) as well as the Spotlight Blog of the Week (listed as #6)--they WILL follow you back!

2. Link up the Making Friends Monday post on your blog.

3. Grab the Making Friends Monday button, and include it somewhere on your blog-this can include a simple post.

4. Visit as many blogs as you would like, and follow them. Be sure to tell them you are a new follower from Making Friends Monday!

5. Follow back as many bloggers as you would like from Making Friends Monday. Following your new friends back is appreciated!

Help spread the word and get more followers:

-Put the same linky list code on your blog, and you'll have the exact same list!

- Your blog visitors can add their blog to your list, and it will show up on all lists!

Menu Plan Monday #5


Monday: Grilled Tandoori Chicken, cous cous, grilled sweet onions, steamed green beans

Tuesday: Turkey Subsandwiches, salt and pepper chips
Wednesday: Zoo Concert (picnic on the lawn style) Garlic Turkey Subs, Rocky Road Brownies, Crudites and dip, Salt & Pepper Kettle Chips (**Chicken from Relish)

Thursday: Burgers, chips, potato salad ** camping type fare**

Friday: Cocktails and appetizers while camping, I am bringing Meatballs with a Greek yogurt dipping sauce and for a cocktail I am thinking vodka tonics with lime!  (**More to come on this topic in an upcoming post!)

Saturday: Steak, garlic butter noddles, peach coleslaw (Had to nix my original idea of slow cooker pulled pork because I forgot this camping trip doesn't have electricity!)

Sunday: ???

Want more weekly menu plans ideas, click here!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Homemade Caramel Corn

My husband loves caramel corn, so when I was sitting outside enjoying the hot summer sun reading a magazine while my daughter runs willy nilly in her swimsuit and I come across a simple recipe for it I say out loud, "Oh hunny a recipe for caramel corn!" My husband then responds and says that sounds like it would be a great snack right now. I have never actually made it before but it can't be that hard right? Well I can't tell if this is a curse or a blessing, it wasn't hard, and I have a feeling my husband is going to be asking for it ALL the time!

Homemade Caramel Corn
10 cups popped corn (2/3cup give or take unpopped)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1. Get your sugar is a sauce pan on medium high heat and DO NOT STIR IT! You can move the pot around a little but for the most part just leave it alone and watch it carefully.
2. Get your popcorn popping while keeping an eye on your caramel.
3. Get a piece of parchment paper on your counter to set the finish product out for cooling. Also see if you can get as many of the unpopped kernels out of the popcorn as possible so you don't break a tooth later!
4. Keep watching that caramel, as soon as it is all melted, and not a moment too soon (you don't want it burning on you!) pour it carefully over the popped popcorn coating as evenly as you can. Then put it on the parchment paper to cool off.

** The whole process takes less than ten minutes, I promise!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork and Nectarine Coleslaw

I have done inexpensive pork shoulders in the slow cooker before for pulled pork, if you haven't tried it you MUST! Easiest is the Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork, literally a 3-4 lb pork roast (1) can of Dr Pepper, and (1) 16-18oz bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (throw it all in the slow cooker set on low for 8 hours, shred and put on a toasted bun ~couldn't be simpler I have even done it while camping a few times) This recipe has a few more ingredients, my husband said he liked this one a bit better -little less sweet I think. We used it for dinner one day, lunch and dinner the next so it really gives you a bit of meat (we had it just as is the first time on buns, the second time on whole wheat bread in my sandwich press, and then for dinner on a grilled BBQ pizza).
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
1 yellow onion , chopped

1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 3-4 pound shoulder pork roast

1. Throw all ingredients into the slow cooker, make sure you flip the pork roast over a few times so it is really coated with the sauce turn on low and let go for 8 hours.
2. Once done, pull roast out and put in a big bowl, using a fork and tongs (it will be hot) shred the pork, turn the slow cooker on hot to reduce the remaining sauce, once pork is shredded put the pork back in and coat with sauce and serve on toasted buns with Hawaiian Sweet Onion chips, and dill pickles

Nectarine Coleslaw
1 head of smaller head of cabbage, shredded
1 nectarine, chopped
1/2 cup of mayo
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp celery salt
Pepper to taste
1. Mix together in a medium size bowl and let sit for 30 minutes in the fridge for ingredients to meld and serve, the nectarine is so good it adds a nice sweet/sour element.

We have been given a huge amount of cabbage this summer from our CSA so I am trying some things to shake it up a bit. This is another nod to Relish, I really can't say enough about the site I know around my family and friends when I first became a user it was all I could talk about. I have since calmed down around them-them being my family and friends, not because I like it any less but because I believed they had gotten tired of hearing me rant and rave. But know this, I am every bit as in love with this site as I have ever been. They are constantly giving me new things to cook, that I never would have tried on my own. It is helpful, yes in planning meals with its shopping lists and ease of use, but it also has a chef behind all of the recipes so even though they might sound odd; and most of the time I only make a few changes, for the most part I have gotten to the point that I completely trust their judgement. I have had enough of their meals to say, "Ok, put that in, sure!" And would you know it, it is always fantastic.
The pizza at the back in the BBQ pizza with the left over pulled pork, don't know about you but those are some good leftovers!

Menu Plan Monday #4

Monday: Roast beef and Blue cheese Quesadillas with Three Bean Salad with a Basil Vinaigrette
Tuesday: Garden Fresh Cobb Salad
Wednesday: Burgers, corn on the cobb, garden pasta salad~utilizing CSA veggies again (we aren't going to a Zoo concert this week, the music doesn't look too entertaining...insert pout face here... we will miss it)
Thursday: Zucchini Ricotta Galette (only I am making it with summer squash since that is coming in my CSA bag) **This is a recipe from smitten kitchen (Thanks Rachel for sharing it on FB!)
Friday: Garden Grilled Pizza (dough is made in my bread maker!!)
Saturday: Grilled Chicken, couscous salad, "tin foil steamed" green beans on the BBQ (green beans are coming in the CSA)
Sunday: Dinner out, because I haven't been taken out in awhile and I think it would be nice! Hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge hunny!

** See other menus for the week here.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tasty Summer Meal (Sirloin Skewers with Corn and Fava Bean Salad)

Molly LOVED this corn salad, she had two helpings. I was a little worried as I was letting it cool, it is supposed to be a salad after all, because Brian said something smelled funny - I think he was referring to the smell of the roasted red peppers- anyway he ended up saying it was the star of the meal. I will definitely make the salad again and I LOVED the marinade for the meat, the meat could have been more tender but the taste was delicious!

This is another nod to Relish, my favorite meal planning site, I only made a slight changes to the salad.
**Make the salad in advance and let the flavors meld.

Sirloin Skewers & Marinade
1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak
2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

** I know a lot of recipes call for the bamboo skewers, but honestly just invest in the metal kind. You don't have pre-soak which I always found daunting, and these are reusable.
 
1. Mix oil, mustard, vinegar, and thyme ( I know it seems like a lot of Thyme, but it makes the marinade!) in a small bowl.
2. Toss the meat with the marinade in a plastic bag and let sit at least two hours (this was my mistake I believe as to why the meat was not more tender, I am not sure if it made it to two hours but I imagine if I had let it keep doing it's magic maybe even all day it would have made a difference)
3. Skewer meat on the metal skewers, alternating the tomatoes in between and grill about 2 minutes per side (don't overcook, I love my husband but he constantly overcooks our meat, no matter what I tell him!)
 
Corn and Fava Bean Salad
3 cobs of corn, cut kernels off
1 cup of shelled fava beans (original recipe called for fresh lima beans, but I got fava in my CSA bag so I used those instead)
4 strips of roasted red bell pepper, chopped (you could do this with a fresh pepper, but I actually thought the red peppers were really expensive this week, not to mention it would have been a much bigger time commitment and I had already spent about 20 minutes shelling the fava beans!)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
 2 tbsp julienned basil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1. Saute corn and fava beans for about five minutes, let cool for about ten minutes and then mix with all other ingredients. Put away in the fridge and let sit for a couple hours to let flavors meld together.
 
** You will notice in the picture we also had some fresh zucchini and vidalia sweet onions from the CSA bag, so I just tossed with olive oil and salt & pepper and grilled. Molly LOVED zucchini last summer, she didn't seem too keen on it this time, I will keep trying though, because I hope with my garden that we will have a HUGE amount of zucchini this summer (of course that is if our weather gets better and things start to actually grow).

Step Away From the Box Part Two

In a lot articles I have read recently about eating on a budget many have recommended making your own pancake and biscuit mix. I know on two separate Food Network shows; Nigella Express and Sandra Lee's Money Saving Meals they both gave recipes for their own mix. So a couple of weeks ago I went about doing it. I swear if Molly could eat pancakes every meal she would, this is one thing that she eats a lot of every time I make it and I wonder how she can pack it all away (I mean for a two year old she consistently eats like three pancakes!) I used Nigella's recipe, which is specifically for pancakes, however I did use it to make my strawberry shortcake scones, so it works for everything. The only thing is that it does call for a small amount of sugar, so if you were going to use the mix for something savory, like baked "fried" chicken for example you would just have to keep in mind it has a small sweet component. I have been very pleased with this mix and so I thought I would share it. I used an ikea plastic container and with a sharpie wrote some of the recipes out on it (pancake instructions, mix instructions, biscuits instructions, and chicken instructions). Overall I am very pleased, it couldn't be simpler to mix together and you are saving so much money, I mean really it is probably only 50 cents or less versus a $3 box that doesn't last very long.
So here is the recipe for the mix:
4 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp sugar

To make pancakes:
1 cup pancake mix
1 egg
1 cup milk
 1 tbsp melted butter
**It also makes wonderful waffles!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Salsa Verde Enchiladas

This was one of the tastiest meals I can remember in awhile. And it couldn't be more super, and since we got a reprieve here in the Northwest, we all joked because we said you know your an Oregonian when its sixty degrees out and cloudy and you are happy as can be, after a few 80-90 degree days we were all thankful for typical Pacific Northwest weather. And as such my house hovered around 70 degrees all day and I had no problem cooking the enchiladas in the oven, otherwise I was going to pass them off to my husband to do it outside on the BBQ, and use it like an oven. Hey Bobby Flay uses his grill to cook everything, why can't I? Any who the entire meal was so good, that I was about half way through the meal before I realized I didn't take a picture. Thankfully the recipe makes so much there was leftovers, this was my lunch the next day. I apologize that it doesn't include a picture of the three berry salad, there weren't any leftovers of that, but you get the idea, SO GOOD! You must must must try this one, it was too easy!

As I was taking pictures of the dish Molly was practicing saying cheese and smiling. She was watching daddy and mimicking him.
I did take some shortcuts with the Relish recipe, again because it is summer and hot I used Foster Farms precooked Grilled Chicken (you can buy a big bag at Costco and they are a lifesaver!) Instead of grilling two chicken breasts as an extra step I used the precooked chicken. Other than that I pretty much followed the recipe.
Salsa Verde Enchilada
2 Chicken Breasts (Since I used the precooked I just guessed on the amount)
Olive Oil & Salt and Pepper
2 cups of Prepared Salsa Verde
(8) 6 inch corn tortilla
Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese (I didn't want to grate my frozen block but I had some Mozzarella on hand and I used that -worked fine and didn't add to the spicy which was good for my daughter and myself, Brian might have liked it but it would have been too much for me)
1. Season Chicken breasts with olive oil and salt and pepper and grill till done. Cut into bite size pieces.
2. Heat tortillas for 10 minutes to make pliable (375 degrees)
3. Pour 1/4 cup of salsa verde into a shallow dish, dip warmed tortillas in salsa verde and put a small handful of chicken and roll up and place in an oven safe dish. Fill dish, and then pour the remaining salsa over the top, and cover with mozzarella.
4. Heat for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Salad Topping for Enchiladas
1 romaine heart shredded
6 radishes sliced thin (I used a mandolin, if you don't have one then slice with your chef night just be careful)
Juice of one lime (2 tbsp)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Avocado sliced
1. Toss all together and then top the enchiladas with the salad

Triple Berry Salad
1/2 of a personal seedless watermelon (cubed)
8 oz Strawberries sliced
8 oz blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1. Toss together and serve!

You know I believe it takes me longer to write these up than it takes to cook!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Grilled Chicken & Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic Rolls

Marinade for the Chicken:
1/3 cup lime juice
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp grated ginger (I freeze my ginger it lasts longer and is super easy to grate)
1 tbsp grated garlic
1 tbsp sesame oil
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sugar

1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, put 1/4 cup of the mixture in a  plastic Ziploc bag and then toss in the chicken marinade for 20 minutes up to 2 hrs.
2. Grill Chicken, and then cut into 1 in pieces (wish I would have taken a pic of just the chicken because it was gorgeous grilled)!

For Angel Hair pasta salad
12 oz of pasta
**Reserved marinade**
1 Red pepper diced
1 Yellow pepper diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (be careful here, I am a wimp with hot spices, I usually leave this out and my husband who loves it spicy will then put in saracha sauce instead)
2 green onions

** Disclaimer: I made this before going to the store and I didn't have any bell pepper, so I am using what ever I have in my fridge (I am thinking since this has some Asian undertones that some carrots, broccoli, and onion will be fine and add good color) I think sometimes when you have a great base like this that it is easy to just mix and match with whatever you have. This is a great meal to have when you are in need of a grocery store stop.

Adapted from a recipe from Relish.

Menu Plan Monday #3

Monday: Grilled Chicken & Angel Hair Pasta with garlic rolls
Tuesday: Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas with Watermelon and berry salad
Wednesday: Caravan Palace Concert at the zoo; Parmesan Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard dipping sauce, potato salad, watermelon and assorted fruit, Kettle Brand Salt & Pepper Chips, and home made chocolate chip cookies
Thursday: Sirloin & Cherry Tomato skewers with Corn and Lima (this depends on what I am getting in my CSA bag, might be Fava) Bean Salad
Friday: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Peach Coleslaw
Saturday: Roast beef and Blue cheese Quesadillas with Three Bean Salad with a Basil Vinaigrette
Sunday: Grilled Chicken Pizza with Watermelon

See other menus for the week here.
** Most of these recipes can be found on Relish, one of my favorite menu planning sites!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Garden

For a second year in a row we have bought two plots at our local community garden. Last year was very easy as it was the first year for the community garden -thats right we got in on the grass roots level!- and everything was nicely tilled and we were the first to own our two plots. This second year was not as easy, for reasons unbeknownst to us we didn't get our two spots back, even though we requested them, and instead picked two plots right across the aisle, when we arrived in mid-March to look at our newly assigned plot we were completely dismayed because the owners of the plot last season had dug huge holes for some reason for their tomato plants. We quickly realized these plots were going to take a lot of back breaking work, not to mention the water spicket for these plots was going to be shared with others (last season we had a great system of soaker hoses on a timer so we could stop by in the morning turn the timer for 15 minutes and head out for other things knowing that the plants were nicely watered - these plots would not allow for this system). Thankfully we were able to talk to Walt, the original organizer and planner of our community garden and get two different plots that had a conveniently place spicket right in between them (which we could use for our own use and not feel bad about it).

Now here in the Pacific Northwest we have had an extremely cold summer, some of the plants that I started bright and early (because I had ants in my pants getting so excited for the gardening season to get started) had to be brave in the face of some very horrible cold weather. It completely killed some of the seedlings that I had grown oh so preciously in the house, and then some of the seeds that I just planted straight into the soil never even had a chance to germinate. Zucchini, sugar snaps, bush beans, snow pea, edamame, corn, sunflowers, lemon cucumbers all died. I had a good pout, believe you me!

However my San Marzano Roma tomatoes looked worse for the wear, and virtually on the verge of dying, thankfully they came back strong, my potatoes and onions were fine. And part of the reason that I love the community garden is that they have set up a system with some of the big box stores that when their plant stock is past it's "expiration date" they pass them off to us. Sometimes you come to the garden and see our picnic table loaded down with FREE tomato, lettuce, squash, etc.. to take and use at your leisure. I took a flat of lettuces that I actually planted on our back patio (harder to keep the bugs off at the garden, and easier to pick right before dinner too!) and I also this year took a HUGE amount something like 8 plants of heirloom tomatoes (honestly have you ever met a tomato that you didn't like? Well, I know I haven't!)

I have realized after I just spent another whopping $12.00 that I sometimes don't know where to stop. I keep visiting my garden every morning before it gets too warm and think, I am not using this space to it's full potential. Right now it looks barren. I keep buying more (today I bought 4 plants of Brussels sprouts!). Earlier in the week, as I previously mentioned, I couldn't say no when I picked up my CSA bag to the free veggies they were handing out. I planted more zucchini, possibly a pumpkin or melon, and a summer squash (they all look relatively similar and unfortunately didn't come with any tags so it will be a surprise when they start baring fruit) I have a feeling that now is the time that I really do indeed need to stop. Because if this warm weather continues, in a few weeks I am not going to be able to walk down my rows! Hopefully they will be filled with huge, veg and fruit plants.
 (pictures to come soon, I just have to remember to bring my camera to the garden)

***Get ready for some unique dinner menus and recipes based on what is coming both from my garden and CSA bag!***

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

First Zoo Concert and Picnic of the year '10

Tonight's music is Carolina Chocolate Drops and Konono No.1 I have been waiting and waiting! Last year they started concerts in the middle of June and here it is second week of July and we are just starting! Today is like hell warmed over in case you were wondering, it will be about 91 degrees outside as we are preparing our blanket and getting ready for the show. So I have taken precaution with the menu and what I am bringing to help us stay cool. In the past when it gets this hot we have just simply not gone, but damnit, I have been waiting and waiting (I believe I have mentioned this already). To stay cool I have brought a spray bottle, and dampened wash clothes packed in ice and of course our water bottle. The zoo doesn't allow you to bring in any liquids including water, which is fine they provide everything you need including ice water. Of course I have brought sunscreen and shade hats but I won't know until we get there if we will be able to survive and not wilt in the hotness!

On the menu:
Fried Chicken Salad (popcorn chicken, romaine lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes)
Chilled Watermelon
Fresh Cherries and Blueberries
Kettle Brand Salt & Pepper (nod to my sister and brother in-law!)
Brownie Bites
**Molly has her own bento (cherry and blueberry kabobs, salami and peppered turkey rolls, wheat thins, cucumbers, cheese shapes) -but lets face it she munches on everything mom and dad are eating so I am sure she will be eating everything mentioned above and more...

And of course there will be wine, I can't wait to use my wine stix, fabulous!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fava Bean, to Love or Not to Love? That is the Question...

So every Tuesday I anxiously await news about what will be arriving in my CSA bag (CSA stands for community supported agriculture click here to find some in your area) I have found that it is a bag of surprisingly fun adventure every week. While it is a struggle sometimes to pay the hefty price tag at the beginning, that is usually done months before your first bag arrives and as such I have found that I feel like I get all this great organic produce for free! So this week, AWESOME! A pint of delicious blueberries, gone three hours after arrival. And a pint of the last of the seasons strawberries. Molly loves her fruit, she ate a ton of those blueberries, I like to call it brain food, and a lot of strawberries. I wish I had a flip camera to inbed a video of her saying strawberries it is about the cutest thing you have ever heard, well next to the way she pronounces bacon, she says, "macon." So cute! Also three kohlrabi, a veggie popular in Europe and not too well known here in the states, although it is gaining in popularity I see it constantly at the Farmer's Markets, and my CSA farmers have mentioned that it is the most requested veggie from their patrons. Another head of cabbage, I have it coming out of my ears right now and am seriously considering making my own kraut crock, regardless of the smell! A head of red leaf lettuce, and a ton of fava beans at the bottom of the bag (ALSO, plants! A zucchini plant, pumpkin plant, summer squash plant, thyme plant, arugula plant... they had a ton of dwarf dahlia plants and others but I didn't want to seem too stingy at the truck, although now in hindsight I should have taken more!)

I knew we were getting the fava beans so I had already planned to have a carbonara (I had leftover bacon that needed to be used as well) however I will say that as I started the LONG process of "processing" the fava beans and the thermometer in the house kept on rising I started to rethink doing pasta in an already hot house. Thankfully I am a wicked quick cook, I was able to get it done without raising the temp too much. I sort of followed the recipe for Spaghetti a la Carbonara by Anne Burrell so here it is off the top of my head:
1 lb pasta
1 cup or more fava beans (depends on how much effort you want to put in, but if you have a cool spot to sit some music or TV you might be good to go- otherwise you could also substitute edamame)
6-8 slices of bacon
6 eggs
1 cup pecorino romano cheese (grated)
Salt (to salt the water for the pasta)
Pepper (used generously in egg sauce)
3 scallions (cut on a severe bias)

1. Start well salted water to boil first, and boil pasta to desired doneness. Most Italian recipes ask for al dente but my husband hates it al dente, so we tend to "overcook" our pasta in this house. Right before the pasta is completely done put "shelled" fava beans in the pasta water, I used a strainer so the fava beans stayed contained. Cook the fava beans for about two minutes and then remove.
2. While pasta is cooking cut bacon into "lardons" or bite sized pieces and cook until brown in a deep saute pan, I say deep because you need to toss the pasta in the pan later.
3. In a separate bowl mix eggs and cheese together until they are completely combined. Then add a copious amount of pepper... when you think you have added too much, add a little more.
4. Toss pasta into the saute pan straight from the boiling water, mix them with the bacon (and leftover fat... this isn't something you want to have a lot of, or all the time) toss in the fava beans and then on medium high heat pour in the eggs stirring vigorously for a couple minutes, you want to cook the eggs but stop just short of scrambled eggs (this is a fine line so be careful)!
5. Serve immediately and top with scallions.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meal Planning Monday #2

Monday: Grilled Teriyaki Chicken, with veggies and basmati rice
Tuesday: Cheese Stuffed Flank Steak with cole slaw
Wednesday: Picnic at the Zoo Concert (still planning this out... will update when I have decided!)
Thursday: Fava Bean Carbonara (CSA inspired)
Friday: Traveling to Parents house
Saturday: Parents house
Sunday: Bronco Burger

Thanks! Don't forget to check out other menu plans here!
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