Sunday, June 28, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves

I decided to make some strawberry rhubarb preserves after my visit to the Grand Blanc Farmers Market this morning (we were in GB, so just went there). I had marked this recipe last year in my Preserving Summer's Bounty book, but was reminded of it when I saw it on A Good Appetite a few weeks ago. So I was very happy to pick up some organic rhubarb and organically grown (but not certified) strawberries at the market this morning. I bought six quarts of berries and I'm already wishing I'd bought more as they've almost all been used up! I sliced up two quarts and threw them in the dehydrator. I sliced up another quart and have it flash-freezing on a cookie sheet right now. Two quarts were used in this recipe and we've just been munching on the remaining quart. I also picked up two pints of snow peas that have been blanched and frozen, and a large bag of spinach that I plan to dehydrate tomorrow once the strawberries are done. I must say it's been a very productive nap-time (Carson's nap-time, not mine :)). I don't remember when I've felt like I'd accomplished so much in such a short amount of time... I've even gone through a couple loads of laundry - washed, dried, folded/hung, and put away. Not bad!

Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves

1 1/3 c honey (local, pretty much organic, pure)
4 c strawberries, washed, stemmed & thickly sliced (organically grown, but not certified)
4 c rhubarb, washed and sliced (organic)
3 T lemon juice

Place the strawberries in a medium enamel or stainless steel saucepan. Drizzle 1/3 cup of the honey over them & let sit at room temperature for 3 - 4 hours.

Add the rhubarb, remaining 1 cup of honey & lemon juice to the saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil stirring from time to time. Cook at a rapid boil for 15 - 20 minutes or until berries are clear & the sauce has thickened. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from heat & skim off the foam.

Ladle into four hot sterilized half-pint jars leaving about 1/4-inch headroom. Clean off the tops of the jars & cover with a lid. Close with a neckband & finger-tighten. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Turn off heat & let sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars from the water to a heat-proof surface & let cool for 12 - 24 hours (do not dry jars). Check to make sure the top of the jar has been drawn downwards, creating a seal. If it hasn't either reprocess that jar or store it in the fridge to be eaten within 3 weeks. Remove the neckbands & store jam in a cool dark place.

Makes 4 half-pints (I just about doubled the recipe and ended up with 7 1/2 half-pints.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Meal plans and the week ahead

I'm posting this a little early this week since I have the time tonight and tomorrow is going to be a busy morning/day....

Another busy week with some festivals and the 4th of July... and Kevin is gone again most of this week - Monday through Thursday - to Lafayette, Indiana for work. So I'll be taking it easy during the week as far as cooking goes, just making things that Carson loves.

Sunday ~ We're going to my cousins' (Megan's and Marty's) church festival today. Its a predominantly hispanic church (Our Lady of Guadalupe), so they have an annual FIESTA festival with authentic mexican food and fun stuff for the kids. So we'll have some sort of authentic mexican food for lunch. For dinner, I think we'll grill some chicken breasts marinated in italian dressing and some grilled baked potatoes in foil.
Meatless Monday ~ frittata with frozen broccoli, local cheddar, and chives from my garden
Tuesday ~ spaghetti with home-canned meat sauce, green beans from the freezer
Wednesday ~ leftover frittata
Thursday ~ We're going to the ski show tonight, which is part of the Fenton Freedom Festival... hopefully Kevin will be home in time for it, otherwise Carson and I will be going by ourselves. We'll do a picnic again... PB&J sandwiches made with home-canned strawberry jam and organic PB with no sugars added, organic crackers and co-jack cheese, raw snow peas from the garden.
Friday ~ Kevin and I will both be home all day today since its a holiday - hopefully we'll get a lot done outside (get the fence done primarily, but I'm hoping to start doing some major pruning on a couple of the fruit trees in the orchard since I haven't started that yet...). I think I'll make pork souvlaki for dinner with some tzatziki, grilled zucchini, fresh organic strawberries and grapes, and ABin5 bread.
Saturday ~ Happy Independence Day!! We might go see the parade in Fenton in the morning. Otherwise, we'll be at the lake all day, but no idea what the menu is yet or what I'm making... I'll update later in the week once I figure it out. I'm not sure if we'll stay out at the lake for fireworks or not... I still get awful flashbacks to an incident that I witnessed involving my cousin's leg a few years back whenever I hear fireworks, so they're really not too enjoyable for me anymore... though I do love to see them, just wish I didn't have to hear them... :) But I would like Carson to see some if we're able to keep him up that late, so we'll see.

As far as extras go, we'll see what I find at the farmer's market tomorrow and again on Wednesday in Lansing. I'd like to get some more strawberries since they've only got about a week left on the local season (and I am going to refuse to buy the ones that are trucked in this year... I will only be buying the local stuff at the farmers markets... you'd be surprised how much actually is local vs. being trucked in... I just talk to all the farmers to figure out where things came from). I'd like to make a batch of strawberry jam, as well as freeze a few quarts and dehydrate a few quarts. That's a lot of strawberries... so we'll see what I find. I also still need to make up a triple batch of Giada's balsamic BBQ sauce to can... but I need to pick up some more organic brown sugar first. Hopefully I'll be able to get all of this done this week and next weekend.

Strawberry Syrup

This morning I made and canned a batch of strawberry syrup using a recipe that I found on one of the canning boards I visit. I had been looking for a strawberry syrup recipe for some time before finding this one - notice it contains no corn syrup? All of the strawberry syrup recipes I kept finding contained corn syrup and I've recently found out that light corn syrup now contains high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) (I guess it didn't used to have HFCS in it), which I did not want to use in my preservation efforts since that is something I'm really trying to limit and get away from. I tasted this syrup as I was filling the jars and it is yummy! Can't wait to have it on pancakes or waffles or some homemade vanilla ice cream! It was very easy to make and went very quickly once I got all the berries hulled and chopped.

Strawberry Syrup

3 quarts strawberries
1 cup water

4 cups strawberry juice
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Juice: Mash berries and crush them one layer at a time. In 8 quart pan, mix berries with water and put on med-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and take cover off and skim foam. Let it cool for 15 minutes.

Sieve over a bowl or pan to strain out the pulp. Discard the pulp and rinse the sieve. (I did not discard the pulp, but froze it in cubes to throw into fruit smoothies.) Measure 4 cups of juice.

To make syrup: In medium saucepan, mix juice, sugar and lemon juice. Over med-low heat, stir it constantly and heat till sugar is ALL dissolved. Increase heat to med-hi and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer syrup for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off any foam.

Ladle hot syrup into hot jars, leave 1/4 inch space. Wipe jar rims and threads with damp clean cloth, apply lids and rings. Process half pints in boiling water bath (BWB) for 10 minutes, pints for 15 minutes.

Makes 6 half-pints or 3 pints

(I used about three and a three-quarters quarts berries and got five cups of juice and 7 half-pints of syrup.)

Farmers Markets Galore!

This past week I have been able to hit up another farmers' market and, even though I hadn't planned it, got a good start on my preservation efforts for this summer's harvest season. As I've said before, I am trying to make/grow/buy locally as much as I can this year. It is my goal to do enough preservation and buying of meat and grain/flour straight from the farm that all I will need to buy this winter are milk, eggs, sugar, and a few other things along these lines.

I hit up a local Lansing market on Wednesday - the Allen Street Market - held in one of the neighborhoods right near where I work. I went there a few times last year and have always loved going there and look forward to making more visits there every week or two throughout the summer. I picked up a half-flat of strawberries, 2 quarts of snow peas, 2 huge bunches of spinach, and a large bunch of garlic scapes. We're getting a lot of our own snow peas from our garden, but we've been eating them raw (Carson loves them just like Kevin and I do!) and I want to freeze a good amount of them for stir fries, too. I rarely see them at farmers markets and have been told by my local farmers that its b/c they all eat them raw before they can leave the farm. So I was very excited to pick up 2 whole quarts of them! I blanched and froze the entire quantity. The spinach has received the same treatment - blanched and frozen - to supplement the spinach that I'd frozen from our garden. The strawberries have been made into strawberry syrup (post to come). And I haven't figured out what I'm going to do with the garlic scapes yet, but they keep for up to two months in the fridge, so I have time to deal with those. I'll probably add them to dishes as I would scallions mostly.

Tomorrow I'll be hitting up the Swartz Creek farmers' market before we head out to my cousins' church for their annual FIESTA festival. I'm excited to see what our market will have tomorrow!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Spicy Shrimp and Pac Choi Noodle Soup

I tried another recipe that I had seen on Two Peas and Their Pod quite awhile ago for Spicy Shrimp and Bok Choy (Pac Choi) Soup. It's a Rachael Ray recipe. Its a little hot to be eating soup, I know, but since the pac choi in my garden is growing strong right now, I figured this was the perfect time to try it. This was delicious! Kevin really loved it - it actually got a "this is really very, very good... I really like this a lot." He hasn't said that about a new dish in awhile, so that was nice to hear.

Spicy Shrimp and Pac Choi Noodle Bowl

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, 3 turns of the pan (I used canola)
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (I only did about 1 t so that it wasn't too spicy for Carson)
4 cloves garlic, chopped (organic)
2 inches ginger root, peeled and cut into very thin matchsticks or grated
1/2 pound shiitake mushroom caps, sliced, a couple of cups (I left these out and added green beans instead - I know they're completely different, but its what I had in the freezer)
1 medium bok choy, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces, then cut sticks lengthwise (from the garden)
Salt and pepper
1 quart chicken broth (I used organic BTB chicken base and water)
1 cup seafood stock, available on soup aisle or, 1 cup clam juice (I used BTB, the clam base, plus water)
1 1/2 pounds medium peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 pound vermicelli (thin spaghetti) (organic)
4 scallions, cut into 3 inch pieces, then shredded lengthwise into thin sticks (organic)

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil, 3 turns of the pan, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, and bok choy, then season with salt and pepper. Add chicken broth and seafood stock or clam juice. Put a lid on the pot and bring soup to a boil.

Add shrimp and noodles and cook 3 minutes. Add in scallions and cook 2 minutes, then turn off soup and let it sit 2 to 3 minutes more. Adjust salt and serve.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Soba Noodles with Edamame and Zucchini

Last night we tried a recipe that I had seen on Two Peas and Their Pod last week. It is supposed to be soba noodles with edamame, zucchini, and spinach... but I forgot that last part - oops! I wasn't planning on using spinach anyway - I was going to use some baby pac choi from our garden, but like I said... I forgot about it. It was awesome the way it was, though, too. I'll post the original recipe below. All three of us really liked this dish. It had some spice to it with the chili sauce in there, but you can adjust to your liking on that. Carson had a ball helping me shell the edamame (I only ever buy it in the pods b/c I steam it sometimes for snacks). I thawed out the bag of pods and Carson loved reaching in, grabbing a pod, and chewing on it. He ate so many raw beans - but he loved them! He kept trying to steal my shelled edamame to eat them, even! This is definitely something I'll make again and is a great recipe to change up and work with to make it your own.

I did take a picture, but it's still on the camera. I'll update later on.

Soba Noodles with Edamame, Zucchini, and Spinach

Low sodium soy sauce (organic tamari)
Rice wine vinegar
Honey (local, pure, pretty much organic, just not certified)
Garlic Chile Paste (I used Sriracha chili sauce)

Soba noodles (I used one bunch)
1 T Sesame oil (organic)
2 cloves garlic, minced (organic)
2 zucchini, chopped (organic)
1/2 cup shelled edamame (from Trader Joe's... though I don't think it was organic)
1 cup fresh spinach leaves (was going to use pac choi, but forgot to add it)
3 green onions, chopped (organic)
Black pepper, to taste
Sesame seeds (left these off)
Extra green onions for garnish

First, make the sauce. In a small bowl whisk together the ingredients. I guessed on the measurements, so just make sure you taste as you go. Sorry we forget to measure sometimes.

Cook the soba noodles according to the package instructions. Drain them and set aside.

In a large skillet heat the sesame oil. Add in garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add in zucchini, edamame, spinach, and green onions. Cook until the zucchini is tender and the spinach is wilted.

Pour in the sauce. Stir well. Add black pepper, to taste.

Stir in the soba noodles. Let everything cook together for a couple of minutes.

Serve in a bowl. Add sesame seeds and green onions on top, if you wish.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Greek Goddess Salad

This recipe comes from my Biggest Loser Cookbook. I was kind of hesitant to make it this soon in the summer season, but I was able to find some decent looking (organic) produce at Meijer on Friday morning, so I decided to make it. This is a delicious salad and its super healthy with all the veggies! The cookbook suggests adding a grilled, sliced chicken breast on the side to make it a complete meal. We're having grilled chicken for lunch today, so I guess we'll get to try it out. :) I'll post the original recipe, which is for 2 servings. I obviously made a larger recipe since its for Kevin's family gathering.

Greek Goddess Salad

3 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
4 pitted kalamata olives, minced (I left these out b/c we don't like olives)
1 clove garlic, minced (organic)
4-5 Tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
1/2 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped (organic)
1/2 medium red or orange bell pepper, chopped (I used some red, orange, and yellow, organic)
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped (I used a few containers of organic cherry tomates, quartered)
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion (organic)
1 ounce (heaping 1/4 cup) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

In a serving bowl, combine the parsley, olives, and garlic. Whisk in 4 Tablespoons lemon juice. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, onion, and 3 Tablespoons of the cheese. Toss to coat the ingredients with dressing. Taste and add up to 1 Tablespoon more lemon juice, if desired. Top with remaining cheese.

Makes 2 servings.

Sugared Almonds

I bought some Meijer Naturals almonds a few weeks ago with the idea that I'd try out the recipe my SIL used for pecans with them. I finally broke them out yesterday morning and Carson and I made them. He loves helping me in the kitchen - he just thinks he's a hot shot. He stirred together the sugar, salt, and cinnamon for the almonds and kept pulling his spoon out and licking it, saying "MMMMM" with a big goofy smile. Then in goes the spoon again and the process started all over. :) Yes, I let him double-dip, sorry if that grosses you out, but we're fine with him doing it right now. But anyway, back to the almonds. The sugar never really melted down like it looks like it did for Mary's pecans. Not sure why, really. But they still taste really yummy the way they are. Next time, I think I'll use less salt because I can taste the salt quite a bit. But these things are addicting, so be careful!!

Sugar Coated Nuts

1 egg white (local, organic, free-range)
1 Tablespoon water (I used 1/2 Tablespoon organic vanilla + 1/2 Tablespoon water)
1 pound pecan halves (or any nuts - I used Meijer Naturals almonds)
1 cup white sugar (organic)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used 1 teaspoon, organic)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Grease one baking sheet (I just used my non-stick sheet and no need to grease it).

In a mixing bowl, whip together the egg white and water until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cinnamon.

Add nuts to egg whites, stir to coat the nuts evenly. Remove the nuts, and toss them in the sugar mixture until coated. Spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.

Meal plans and the week ahead

Kevin's back from Mexico! Carson and I are very glad to have him home - and I think he's glad to be home, too. Even though I think he did enjoy Mexico a little more than he expected and is letting on. :-P This week will be a busy week. Father's Day today with two family parties to get to, a waterski show on Tuesday night, seeing friends on Friday, and then an open house and festival on Saturday.

Sunday ~ We'll be eating at Father's Day gatherings... grilled chicken and some sides at Kevin's parents' house... I'm making a greek goddess salad, then grilled pork tenderloins with some sides at my aunt's... though I think we'll just hit up the desserts at my aunt's house instead... :)
Meatless Monday ~ soba noodles with edamame, spinach, and zucchini
Tuesday ~ We're going to the Silver Lake Ski Club ski show tonight if the weather holds up, so we'll do a picnic at the beach/park... turkey sandwiches, leftover greek goddess salad (if there is any), Meijer Naturals corn chips, fresh pineapple, vanilla pudding
Wednesday ~ spicy shrimp and bok choy noodle bowl using some of the pac choi/bok choy from our garden... we ate at my parents' house
Thursday ~ mushroom, cheddar, and chive crustless quiche spicy shrimp and bok choy noodle bowl
Friday ~ Jaime and Jeff fly home from their trip to Germany/Czech/Austria on Thursday and we might have plans to hang with them today/tonight. We'll be playing it by ear to see what they feel like doing once they're home. We'll be grilling whether they come over or not, though... tequila lime chicken, black bean salad... the rest is TBD at this point We're grilling sirloin steaks, grilled baked potatoes in foil, roasted asparagus, grilled zucchini and yellow squash, superman ice cream for dessert for the boys
Saturday ~ We'll be hitting up my little sister's boyfriend's high school graduation open house at lunch-time, then heading down to Howell for the a hot air balloon festival, so we'll catch dinner some place down in Howell. We decided not to go to the festival, so we're just going to grill something instead. Probably some lamb chops, with peas and carrots.

As far as extras this week... I doubt I'll attempt anything extra since we'll be on the go so much. Just working in the garden will keep me busy in any spare time I have - pulling weeds and laying more straw mulch.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I made a quick trip to our local farmer's market yesterday afternoon. I didn't intend to buy much, just some fresh, local, free-range chickens. But, of course, I can't just walk into the market and only go to that one booth to get my chicken... I've got to look around and check things out! :) Several places had some of the season's first local strawberries. They smelled so good, looked so beautiful, and tasted so sweet that I decided to buy two quarts of them. I figured I'd keep some out for fresh eating for a day or two for me and then I'd hull and freeze the rest of them. When I brought them home, though, Kevin had other ideas. He asked me to make a pound cake so we could have strawberry shortcake last night. So I went looking for a pound cake recipe and found one for cream cheese pound cake on allrecipes that sounded great. It was the first time I'd made a pound cake and I'd heard they can be tricky. I didn't have any problems, though, and they turned out sooooo good! I used my loaf pans to make them - one medium-sized loaf and three mini loaves. We used a mini loaf last night with our shortcake and I froze the others. I totally forgot to take a picture of them, though, so you'll have to use your imagination on this one. But take my word for it, this cake has a great vanilla-y, sweet, cream cheese-y flavor. Its so nice and moist, more light tasting than many pound cakes I've had.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (neuchatel)
1 1/2 cups butter (unsalted, and I used 1 1/4 cup butter, plus 1/4 cup buttermilk (to use it totally up))
3 cups white sugar
6 eggs (local, organic, free-range)
3 cups all-purpose flour (organic)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (organic, and I used 2 teaspoons)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan.

In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy. (this will take a few minutes with a stand mixer, but be sure you wait for it to get fluffy to get your cake to turn out properly)

Add eggs two at a time, beating well with each addition. Add the flour all at once and mix in (don't beat it, just mix it in to incorporate... if you beat it, your cakes will be much more dense). Add vanilla.

Pour into a 10 inch tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check for doneness at 1 hour. A toothpick inserted into center of cake will come out clean. (it may take longer than the suggested time to bake, so be prepared)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Meal plans and the week ahead

A new week already? Last week went by way too quickly for us. I hope this week goes by fast, too. Kevin found out last week that he needed to go to Mexico this week for work. He's leaving tomorrow morning out of Detroit at 6am and won't be returning until Saturday afternoon around 2:30pm. Carson and I are going to miss him - and we wish we were able to go with him! Maybe next time, though. Although, Queretaro wouldn't be my first pick of places to go in Mexico... but it'd be something, I guess. We'll see what Kevin thinks of it while he's there, but his colleagues have all said it's quite a nice place to go.

Yesterday, Kevin took a quick drive out to the Grand Rapids area to pick up our beef. We shared a half-side of beef with my SIL and BIL - my BIL's uncle raised the steer. So now we have 95 pounds of good, hormone-free, mostly grass-fed beef to get us through the next year! Yeah! We decided to try out a steak last night, rather than making the soup I'd planned and it was soooo good! I'm so glad we decided to do this! We'll be going to the local farmer's market this afternoon to pick up some local, hormone/antibiotic-free, free-range chickens, too! And we're still making our way through our hormone/antibiotic-free, mostly grass-fed lamb and pork, too. So I think we'll be totally set on meat for quite a while now. :) If only I could find a really good, more affordable source for seafood...

Since Kevin is gone this week, I'm not really sure how much cooking I'll really end up doing. I'll have to make something for Carson and me, so I'll still plan out some ideas - completely focused around what Carson loves or eats really well right now. We'll just have to see how much I stick to them this week, though.

Sunday ~ grilled burgers (pre-made ones with Laura's Lean beef that I'd frozen, not from the new beef), baked russet potato fries, home-canned peaches
Meatless Monday ~ whole wheat penne pasta with pesto and cherry tomatoes, home-canned peaches
Tuesday ~ baked chicken tenders, roasted asparagus, fresh pineapple
Wednesday ~ eating at my parents' house
Thursday ~ leftover pesto pasta from Monday, fresh pineapple
Friday ~ It depends on what we do today, but if we're out and about, I'm thinking we might just eat out as a treat for Carson... most likely nuggets and fries for Carson and grilled chicken (minus the bun) for me.
Saturday ~ Carson and I will be out at my uncle's private lake all day for the Jason Amy Memorial slalom tournament (Jason is my cousin that passed away last year from carbon monoxide poisoning) and Kevin will be flying and then driving home. I think we'll plan to grill something since its quick and easy. I think we'll grill some lamb chops, potatoes in foil, and asparagus. Maybe we'll take a walk down to the ice cream shop a few doors down as a special treat for dessert.

As far as things to accomplish this week, I'll have my hands pretty full with managing everything at home on my own. If I'm feeling ambitious on Friday morning, I'll make up a triple batch of that balsamic BBQ sauce from last week and will can it in half-pints. Otherwise, Carson and I will go work out in the veggie garden, pulling weeds on Friday morning... and MAYBE put in yet another round of green beans. If its warm on Friday afternoon, I might take Carson out to the lake - we'll just have to see what the weather is like. Otherwise, maybe we'll go visit Grandma Jackie (Great Grandma Moore). I'd also like to throw together another batch of the ABin5 bread dough on Friday morning so that it's ready to go next week for some things. At some point during the week, I plan to blanch and freeze some spinach and pac choi from the garden, too.

And even though I haven't mentioned it in awhile, I am still trying to find as much time as I can to exercise. I've been taking a walk with Carson in the BOB almost every night that the weather is nice. It depends on when we go how far we walk... sometimes it's only a little over a half-mile, other times it's a little over a mile, and other times it's even further. I'm going to start adding a little jogging into the walk, too. I figure even if I start by jogging a quarter mile at first, that's a start. I miss the days that I used to love to run... and when running was so easy! I'm also trying to make the time to take walks during the day at work when the weather is nice. I often go with my friend, Lina, but sometimes just go by myself, too. I'm also trying to get in as many stairs during the day as I can. I work in a four-story building with two underground levels that has two normal-sized flights of stairs between each floor. I try to at least go from the third floor down to the first floor and back up again, but will do more than that if the day allows for it. I figure every little bit will help, right? I still need to take my initial body measurements so that I can tell if it's doing much of anything. The number on the scale has been going down again, at least. A couple months ago, I'd dropped a few pounds, then put them back on, but now am down 6 pounds just in the last two or three weeks. I'm still struggling with the pop thing... I wish I could just drop it completely and just watch the pounds shed... hopefully one of these days I'll be able to, though. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Double Berry Scones

I came across a recipe for double berry scones on the Eggs on Sunday blog and thought they looked and sounded so tasty. When I saw they had buttermilk in them, I figured I'd go ahead and try them out now to use up the rest of my buttermilk. I figured I can take one for my breakfast on a couple of mornings this week and I'll freeze a few, too. So I made up a batch of them tonight and snuck a taste of one a little bit ago. Yum! These are very, very good! Definitely something I'll make again!!

Double Berry Scones

1 cup all-purpose flour (organic)
1 cup white whole wheat flour (organic)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup dried blueberries (home-dried)
1/2 cup dried strawberries, chopped (organic, home-dried)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk (organic)
1 egg yolk (local, organic, free-range)

To brush the scones with: 1 egg white and some granulated sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Combine the flours, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt and zest in a large bowl. Whisk or toss with your fingers to combine. Drop in the chunks of butter, toss them briefly to coat them with flour, then use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until you have pieces resembling coarse meal, oatmeal flakes, and peas.

Whisk together the buttermilk and egg yolk, and all at once, add to the flour and butter mixture. Stir gently and quickly with a fork until it comes together into a loose dough. Add the dried fruit. Use your hands to gather the pieces of dough into a ball and knead it a few times against the edge of the bowl, just to gather any loose pieces - the dough will be fairly moist, so you can sprinkle a little more flour on your hands if it helps.

Pat the dough out on a floured surface into a round disk, about 1 inch high. Use a sharp knife to cut the disk into 8 wedges, and place the wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

Makes 8 scones.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Peanut Turkey Burgers

So I changed up the menu again this week. I did make the ham yesterday, but I ended up making the smallest one that I had in the freezer, so I didn't have the leftovers I needed for the casserole I had planned to make today. My SIL Mary made some peanut turkey burgers earlier in the week that I had also seen originally on A Good Appetite, but had forgotten about them. I had all of the ingredients on hand already, so I decided to make them for dinner tonight. And I'm so glad I did because, wow, these were awesome turkey burgers! So moist and flavorful - a delicious asian flavor with just a little kick. I think these were probably the best turkey burgers I've had so far. Kevin and Carson both liked them a lot, too. These were very easy to make and will definitely be a keeper recipe for me! I doubled the recipe below to get four very good sized burgers.

Peanut Turkey Burgers

1 medium carrot, julienned (I grated a handful of organic baby carrots, probably had about 1/2 cup of grated carrots)
1 scallion, chopped (I used half of a vidalia onion, diced)
1/8 t ground ginger (organic)
1 t kosher salt
10 oz ground turkey
1 1/2 T chunky peanut butter (I used organic creamy b/c that's what I had)
1/4 t sesame oil
1/2 t sriracha chili sauce (you definitely need the sriracha sauce, don't substitute other kinds/brands)

Place all the ingredients together in a bowl. Work with hands to mix but to do overwork. Cook on a griddle/grill pan (turkey burgers tend not to hold together well on a grill) until done, about 6 to 7 minutes per side.

Serve with lettuce leaves, more julienned carrots & garlic mayo. (We had ours with some co-jack cheese, light mayo, and organic ketchup. Served with a side of roasted asparagus.)

Makes 2 burgers

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Balsamic BBQ Chicken

As mentioned below, I changed up the meal plans this week and ended up making Giada DeLaurentiis' Chicken with Balsamic BBQ Sauce for dinner tonight. I grilled the chicken on the outdoor grill and basted with the sauce. Wow, this was so good! The vinegar smell as the sauce was reducing on the stove was super strong - it burned our noses - so I wasn't sure what to expect from it in the end... but it was just delicious. Definitely something I'll make again! I'm wondering if I couldn't can this stuff in half-pints, too...

Balsamic BBQ Chicken

For the Balsamic BBQ sauce:
1 cup balsamic vinegar (organic)
3/4 cup ketchup (organic)
1/3 cup brown sugar (organic)
1 garlic clove, minced (organic)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken or steak:
4 pieces chicken (any combination of breast or leg-and-thigh pieces) or 4 pieces of New York strip or Club strip steak (I used chicken breast tenders)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Place a grill pan over medium heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Lightly coat with some of the BBQ sauce using a pastry brush. Place the meat on the grill. Place the remaining BBQ sauce, still in the small saucepan, over low heat or on the edge of a gas or charcoal grill and allow to gently simmer while the meat cooks.

Cook the chicken about 8 minutes per side. Cook the steaks starting at about 4 minutes per side until a meat thermometer reads the desired temperature, 120 degrees F for medium rare, 135 degrees F for medium (about 6 minutes per side), 155 degrees F for well done (about 9 minutes per side). Continually brush the meat with BBQ sauce every few minutes. Remove the meat from the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Serve with the heated BBQ sauce alongside.

Alternately, the chicken can be baked in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the chicken skin side up in a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and spoon the BBQ sauce all over the top of the chicken. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.

Buttermilk Cornbread

I changed up all of the meal plans this week (reflected in the meal plans post) since we ended up at my parents' house for dinner on Sunday as a last-minute plan. I had been thawing some chicken to grill that evening, so I needed to change things up so I could use it up. So we had the grilled balsamic BBQ chicken tonight instead of on Friday. I still have some buttermilk to use up, so I decided to try out a recipe for buttermilk cornbread that I'd found on AllRecipes. I threw it together and baked it this morning before I left for Windsor. We ate it tonight with dinner. This was absolutely delicious!

Buttermilk Cornbread

1/4 pound butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs (local, organic, free-range)
1 cup buttermilk (organic)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal (organic)
1 cup all-purpose flour (organic)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.

Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Buttermilk Lemon Bars

Yesterday, I decided to try a recipe I've had marked for awhile for Buttermilk Lemon Bars from Baking Bites, which is a great blog about baking if you're interested. Not only do I have buttermilk to use up, but they just sounded good. And that they were, indeed! Very yummy!! This recipe uses a sort of shortbread cookie crust, which was a nice change. And the buttermilk in the lemon part was delish! Definitely something I'll keep on file and make again! I'll update later with a picture.

Buttermilk Lemon Bars

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (organic)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

4 large eggs (local, organic, free-range)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk (organic)
1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350F. Get out a 9×9-inch baking pan, or a Baker’s Edge, if you have one, and set it aside.

Make the crust. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Cut butter into chunks and add to flour mixture. Blend in with an electric mixer at low speed until mixture forms coarse, sandy crumbs. Pour into pan and press mixture down (with your fingers or the back of a spoon) into an even layer. Bake for 16-19 minutes, until just lightly browned around the edges.

While crust is baking, make filling. Whisk together all filling ingredients in a large bowl. When the crust comes out of the oven and is still hot, pour in filling mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until filling is set and does not jiggle when the pan is gently shaken. (Mine had to cook for about 30-35 minutes b/c I used an 8x8 pan - I didn't have a 9x9) Cool completely before slicing. Top slices with confectioners’ sugar to serve.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Meal Plans

A quick post today since I want to get out in the garden for about a half hour while its still early.

Sunday - grilled tequila lime chicken, mexican rice (to use up my last packaged rice mix), grilled asparagus, we went over to my parents' for dinner last-minute... we had bbq'ed boneless pork ribs, grilled baked potatoes, sauteed asparagus and broccoli instead, but I still made some buttermilk lemon bars (post to come soon)
Meatless Monday - it'll just be Carson and me for dinner since Kevin will be driving back from Ohio, so I think I'll probably just have a spinach salad using spinach from the garden with hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, cukes, and cheese
Tuesday - I'll be in Windsor, Canada all day for meetings... I think I'll do a ham in the crockpot, roasted veggies change of plans to use up the chicken I had thawed on Sunday afternoon... grilled balsamic BBQ chicken, grilled asparagus, buttermilk cornbread
Wednesday - I'll be in Windsor all day again for meetings, then we have to go to my sister's graduation at 7:00. So we need something really fast and easy... maybe we'll do loaded baked potatoes with cheese, sour cream, scallions, and maybe some cubed leftover ham for toppings.
Thursday - creamy chicken casserole ham in the crockpot, roasted red potatoes, roasted asparagus
Friday - grilled balsamic BBQ chicken, grilled baked potatoes, green beans from the freezer creamy chicken casserole peanut turkey burgers, roasted asparagus
Saturday - bean and ham soup, homemade bread (I'll be canning a few pints of this soup for some quick and easy lunches for Kevin at some point)

This week, I will continue to do some planting in the veggie garden. I'll do the second round of planting for some green and yellow beans, as well as a few more zucchini plants. I'll also be working on getting marigolds planted around the perimeter and throughout some areas of the veggie garden. This method really worked well last year to keep most of the bugs/pests away. Now if I can only figure out how to effectively keep the rabbits and other critters away... any suggestions?? They're eating my pea vines up before they can even produce peas and some mysterious creature back there has figured out how to unscrew lids on containers of corn gluten meal (an organic way to prevent weeds from sprouting) and dump it all out in the field. I'd like to also clean a few bags of junk out of the garage... we still have leftovers from our garage sale two summers ago in the corner, so I want to bag it up and drop it off for donation.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Crockpot Corn Chowder

I realized I never posted that I made some corn chowder from A Year of Crockpotting last week. This was a little different than most of the corn chowders I've had in restaurants - mostly because this doesn't use any milk/cream. It was still good, though... and much healthier than the versions using milk/cream. Kevin really liked it because it pretty much tasted like creamed corn with a little kick. Next time, I won't puree it quite as much so it doesn't have as much of a creamed corn texture.

Crockpot Corn Chowder

2 quarts of chicken broth (I used organic BTB and water)
1 small onion
1 red pepper
1 peeled and chopped carrot
2 (16-ounce) bags frozen corn
2 medium potatoes

Finely chop the onion and brown in a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan. (I skipped this step) You want the onion to be cooked, but not totally translucent since it will continue to cook in the crockpot. Finely chop the carrots and the red pepper. Wash and coarsely chop the potatoes. I kept the skin on - it's up to you. Dump all the veggies into the stoneware insert. Add the bags of frozen corn. Empty both cartons of chicken broth (2 quarts; 8 cups) on top. Plug in your crockpot and set on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 hours.

After the chowder has cooked all day, use a hand blender to chowderify.

If you don't have a hand blender you can pour into a blender and pulse to desired consistency.

Pizza on the Grill

I used the ABin5 dough (the master Boule recipe) to do grilled pizzas on the grill for dinner tonight. YUM! They were so good! (Note: I also used this dough to make calzones on Tuesday and they were very good, too!) I love grilled pizzas at restaurants, but I'd never tried them at home. I was a little uncertain as to how they'd turn out, but they turned out great! I made a few different kinds (small pizzas), a chicken pesto pizza (pesto, chicken, feta, mozzarella, parmesan), a margherita (olive oil, marinated tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, plus a little feta sprinkled over top) pizza, and a more traditional one with pepperoni, mozzarella, and parmesan. They were all very yummy! Kevin liked the traditional one best, but I loved the margherita and pesto pizzas (margherita pizza being my favorite). Carson loved them all - he just loves any kind of pizza. :) But I think the margherita pizza was probably his favorite, too. We had these for our main course, but these would be great appetizers for a party, too. Very quick and very easy to make!

I didn't follow recipes, just made my own combos, but I did read up on the technique to use when grilling with this very wet ABin5 dough. If you're interested in making these at home, be sure to read this Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day Discussion Board.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Italian Cheese Spread

Yesterday, we had our good friends, Ben and Kati, over for a cookout. I had seen a recipe in one of those Kraft Food & Family magazines that they mail out all the time that I wanted to try as an appetizer. I believe it was called Italian Cheese Spread (I'm going off of memory here since the magazine is at home). I didn't think to take a picture, either. Which is a bummer because it was a pretty dip with all the colors. And boy, was it yummy!! And super easy!!

Italian Cheese Spread

1 brick cream cheese
1/4 cup pesto
1/4-1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup shredded cheese

Start with a piece of aluminum foil, like 8x8 or so. Place the cream cheese brick in the center. Top with pesto, then tomatoes, then cheese. Make a packet with the foil and place on the grill for 8-10 minutes. (I used spinach pesto and it was awesome, but basil would be just as yummy. And I just put it on a sheet pan and put it in the oven on 350 for 10 minutes.) Serve on a plate with the foil folded back and crackers.