Sunday, June 30, 2013

This Week's (Brief) Menu

I've been home for about an hour from my week away and already headed back out again to pick up groceries.  Such is the life of the busy Home Cook!! 
  • Monday: New Recipe!  Balsamic Roasted Pork Loin, some kind of potato, and a fresh salad courtesy of our CSA greens.
  • Tuesday: Grilled cheese sandwiches, chips, and carrot sticks
Happy planning!!
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

CSA Week 2

I'm so sorry for my silence this week.  Not only did the last couple new recipes I tried not turn out quite as delicious as I'd hoped, but my boys & I are also in full-blown Summer Vacation Mode.  And PBS' Cat in the Hat has apparently turned into our perfect theme for how we do things ("Here we go, go, go, go on an adventure!").  Whew... it's been hard to catch my breath sometimes.

I also don't have a meal plan to share with you today as we're headed out of town next week.  See? What'd I tell you...nothing but "go, go, go, go" for us!

It is our 2nd week of CSA pick-up though so I can at least share that with you:
Please ignore the slow-cooker full of Chicken Azteca.
This is my only kitchen window for natural light.

This is what we have for Week 2:

  • Lettuce
  • Scallions
  • Peashoots
  • Kale
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Parsley (omg it's GORGEOUS!!)
  • Chard
  • Spinach 
  • Eggs
Well, since I'm traveling next week, some of this will be coming with to my parents house.  My folks are pretty adventurous foodies so I'm betting they'll be excited to play with these too!  Some I'll leave at home for Rob to munch on.

We are supporting LOTFOTL Farm by purchasing a Seesaw Share, plus a dozen eggs.  This means we will get a box of produce and a dozen eggs every other week. To learn more about CSA's and how to participate, visit 
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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

Does anyone else have that problem when it comes to uber-ripe bananas?  I mean, sure, the classic use for those soft fruits is banana bread.  I like banana bread.  It's good.  It's fine.

It's boring.

So as easy as it is to use up my extra, ripe bananas in some bread, I'm always on the lookout for newer, different recipes.

Recipes like this one!

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes
Recipe from my mom
Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 5ish minutes per pancake
1 medium ripe banana, mashed
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup quick oatmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons ground flax seed*
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
2 cups milk

*If you don't have flax seed you can leave it out but cut down on the amount of milk. You could also substitute some finely chopped walnuts for the flax seed but you would still need to cut the milk - about 1/4 cup.
1.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk briskly until batter is smooth. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2.  Drop by 1/4 cup measure onto hot griddle. Let cook until golden brown around edges and bubbles form in middle of pancake. Flip and let cook 1-2 minutes more. Makes 12 pancakes.

I. Love. These. Pancakes!!!  They are so tasty, and so easy, and just so good for you it makes me do a happy dance when I notice I have bananas getting a little too brown.  Not only do I love the taste of these golden disks of happiness, I love how much easier they make breakfast, snack time, or dinner.  Mix up a batch Sunday evening and you're set for breakfast for a week (yes, the batter keeps that long in the fridge)!  Use a couple tablespoons of batter to make silver dollar-sized cakes for a quick and simple snack at a play date.  Or make up the batter in the morning before work, and come home to the always popular Breakfast-for-Dinner meal ready and waiting for you!

And, if you've got a pancake pen, your life just got even easier.  Store the batter in this little gem and suddenly you're able to make pancakes in one hand while comforting a whiny but curious 2-year-old who just wants his Mama and to see what she's doing on top of that big, black stove.
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Friday, June 14, 2013

Indian Chicken (or Pork) Wrap

Omg...I. Am. HORRIFIED that it's taken me this long to post a recipe that was so amazingly incredible!!  Please forgive me!

Indian Chicken (or Pork) Wrap
Recipe from Food Network Magazine
Prep time: 15 minutes   Cook time: 7 minutes

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled
1 serrano chile pepper, halved, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Kosher salt
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp lime juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish if you like
1 tbsp canola oil
2 cups cooked shredded chicken [NOTE: if you discover that you used up all your pre-cooked chicken in that last awesome casserole, pulled pork is just as yummy in this]
2 medium carrots, shredded
1/2 cup water
4 pieces naan bread OR pocketless pita OR tortillas

1.  Combine the ginger, chile, onion, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor and pulse to make a thick paste. [NOTE: if you keep your ginger in the freezer, take it easy on your FP and grate it into the paste mixture using a microplane.  If it's not frozen, just giving it a rough chop and let the machine do the rest.]  Mix the yogurt, lime juice, cilantro and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Cover and chill until ready to use.
The aromas coming from your FP will pretty much rock your world.


2.  Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ginger-chile paste and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid is evaporated and the paste is toasted, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken, carrots, water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and continue to cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick and the chicken is heated through, about 2 more minutes. Season with additional salt, if necessary.
I am in love with toasting up a dishes flavor seasonings first.

4.  Spoon a little of the chicken filling down the middle of each piece of bread. Drizzle with some of the yogurt sauce and roll up. Or you can live on the edge and smear the yogurt sauce first and top with the chicken filling.  Either way works!  Serve with chips.
Simple and delicious!

I'm beginning to think that professional chefs and recipe writers must want to strangle people like me.  I mean, I am always on the hunt for new, exciting, and delicious recipes.  BUT they have to be easy.  And preferably take less than 30 minutes to make.  And oh yeah, use the same old ingredients I use for everything else but it can't taste like anything I've made before.

THIS recipe totally delivers on ALL those points!!  It is so fresh, and flavorful, and a little spicy from the serrano, but cooling with the yogurt sauce, and tasty, and easy, and just plain AWESOME.  Not kidding, I inhaled these leftovers within two days of making these for dinner.  And that's only because I limited myself to two small wraps at a time.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

This Week's Menu

No CSA pickup today...that fun continues next week.  But that's ok since I'm still working on what we picked up last week.
  • Thursday:Gavin desperately wants BLT's.  I think I can indulge that one. ;)  With some chips and fresh veggies we have an easy meal for one of my busiest days of the week.
  • Friday: Pizza and popcorn of course!
  • Sunday: Happy Father's Day!  We're celebrating with some good grilled food: New Recipe! Triple B Burgers, steamed corn on the cob, and baked potatoes.
  • Monday: New Recipe! Whole Wheat Pasta with Walnuts & Feta, tossed salad
  • Tuesday: This is going to be a loooooooooooooooooooooong day for us so I'm planning ahead that we'll just swing through a drive-thru for some kid-happy takeout.
  • Wednesday: Leftovers
Happy planning!!
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Monday, June 10, 2013

Cheesy Potatoes

Also known as Hashbrown Casserole.  Because that's what I've always known it as.

My first introduction to this hot dish of goodness, it was so amazing that I ate three helpings.  Large helpings.  Large helpings of cheesy, buttery, amazingness.  Oh my it was delicious.

I was sooooo siiiiiiick that night.

Remember, large quantities of fat doesn't agree with my system.  Yes, this can be a blessing but it can also be a curse.  Apparently there was so much butter in this casserole that three helpings of it was more than I could tolerate.  So I refused to eat this casserole for a long, long, loooong time.  Even when my mom swore that she used far less butter, I would only scoop about two bites on my plate.

Nowadays I'm less squeamish about taking a more acceptable helping, but it's still been on my mind to find a variation with little to NO butter in it, while still keeping all that same decadent flavor.


Cheesy Potatoes
Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers
Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

1 (10 3/4oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese NOTE: the sharper, the better
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 to 1/3 cup finely chopped scallions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (32oz) package frozen shredded or diced hash brown potatoes, thawed

2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup Panko

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 2-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside. In a very large bowl, combine soup, cheese, milk, yogurt, scallion, and season to taste. Stir in potatoes. Spread mixture evenly in prepared baking dish.

Creamy, cheesy...what could be wrong with this??

Could not resist a shot of how gorgeously GREEN these are!

2.  In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and Panko.  Sprinkle evenly on top of the potatoes. 

This already looks fabulous.

3. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 20 to 25 minutes more or until heated through and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
If the top doesn't get brown enough for you, turn on the broiler for a minute or two.

You'll notice, if you click through to the original recipe, that I took out every single "reduced fat" phrase on the ingredient list.  Why?  Because even though there are some things that I buy reduced fat (hello sour cream), others I cannot stand even the idea of getting low fat.  Cheese is one of them.  Have you tried reduced fat cheese??  Ew, ew, ewwwwwwwwwwwww!  I think you are far better off using a full fat cheese, but get something with a good sharp flavor so you end up using a little less.  So, if you normally buy a medium cheddar cheese, consider getting sharp, or extra sharp, for this casserole.  That more intense cheesy flavor will go farther to satisfy you.

Not that you won't take extra helpings of this casserole.  I made this for a cookout get together and I'm pretty sure every single adult there had at least two helpings of this dish.  Including me!!  It was so creamy, and cheesy, and rich (but NOT fatty!!), and wonderful!  I'm soooo thrilled with how this came out.  Now I can indulge my desire for this without fear!  WAHOO!!!
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

CSA Week 1

Alright, so here it is!  Our first-ever selection of CSA goodies.  Mmmmm.....

We went with LOTFOTL Farm and are doing the Seesaw Share, plus a dozen eggs.  This means we will get a box of produce and a dozen eggs every other week.  After talking with friends who did this exact same share last year, we felt this would be a good fit for our family.  Especially considering we didn't know what kind of produce we'd be dealing with!

This is what we have for Week 1:

  • Asparagus (Jersey)
  • Scallions 1 bunch
  • 2 Lettuce (panisse, butterhead, or leaf)
  • Spinach 1 bag
  • Green Garlic
  • Peas
  • Rhubarb 1 bunch
 As for what I'm planning to do with all this?  Well, here are my thoughts...

  • Rob is over-the-moon about the asparagus (which I looooooaaaaaaathe with every fiber of my being), so he wants to grill it.  To make it more palatable for me, I'm going to do grilled bacon-wrapped asparagus bundles.  
  • Green Garlic Butter to go with some grilled steak sounds lovely
  • Classic peas and carrots
  • A rhubarb quick bread sounds yummy.  That or rhubarb compote.
  • The spinach I will use in our Squooshi packs, plus some salads
  • The lettuce is AWESOME on sandwiches, plus I'll make a giant salad this weekend to eat for lunches next week.
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This Week's Menu

In a few hours I'll be headed over to a local coffee shop (our designated pick-up site) and getting our box of CSA vegetables and a carton of farm-fresh eggs.  I know what we're getting, but I'm not going to share until I get it all home and take pics of the goodness. ;)  Yeah, I'm mean, I know. But your patience wil be rewarded!

  • Thursday: New Recipe! Banana Oatmeal Pancakes, fresh fruit
  • Friday: Cookout at a friend's house!  I think I should bring New Recipe! Cheesy Potatoes, don't you?
  • Saturday: Grilled steak, CSA vegetable side, and fresh bread.
  • Sunday: I think we still have some brats in the freezer (we got them in bulk from a local butcher a while ago).  So since my hubby is in the mood to grill, why stop him!  These would be good with Parmesan Potatoes, and a tossed salad
  • Monday: New Recipe! Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps
  • Tuesday: Freezer Find, CSA vegetable side
  • Wednesday: Leftovers
Happy planning!!
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Berry Whiskey Barbecue Chicken

I love recipes like this.  Ones where I could follow the instructions EXACTLY and come out with a flavor EXACTLY like they say I should.  Or I can make a few flavor changes here and there and still end up with a PHENOMENAL dish.  And I can keep changing up the flavor depending on what I have on hand. 

One recipe, infinite flavor possibilities!!

Berry Whiskey Barbecue Chicken
Recipe ever-so-slightly adapted from Ree Drummond
Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 2ish hours

1 1/2 to 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups whiskey
12 oz barbecue sauce
1 jar berry jam or preserves (I used some 3 Berry Honey jam I had left from last summer)
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, peeled

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
I fail to see how this combination could go wrong.

2.  Heat oil and butter in a heavy, oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Place chicken, 3-4 pieces at a time, in the pot. Brown both sides, then remove to a plate and repeat until all chicken is browned.
Beautifully browned.

3.  Add onions to pan and stir, cooking for 2 minutes. Pour whiskey into the pot, being very careful if you're using an open flame. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan, allowing whiskey to reduce for a minute or two. Pour in barbecue sauce, jam, water, and Worcestershire sauce. Throw in garlic cloves. Stir until combined, then return chicken to the pot, skin side up.  Cover and put pot in oven.
I actually turned my burner OFF to do this.  I don't mess around with alcohol and fire.

4.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours, then remove from oven.
Two hours later... *droooool*

Yes, there is a LOT of whiskey in this sauce.  Yes, your sauce will initially smell predominantly of whiskey.  Yes, you will get nervous about this despite knowing the alcohol cooks off.  NO, the sauce does not taste like a Whiskey Sauce.  It is the beautiful balance of sweet and tangy and maybe a little bit of spice depending on what barbecue sauce you use. 

And if you're still nervous about trying this sauce, just know that Gavin (aka Picky Eater) took one bite, then another, and happily gave me two enthusiastic thumbs up as he scarfed up the rest of his chicken.  This is the ultimate praise in my house!!

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Golden Sweet Cornbread

I'm going to start out by saying something that you may not expect from a fellow recipe-hound.  But, if you are from the South, and you value some good ol' traditional cornbread, please look away now. 

Cornbread is traditionally made in a cast iron skillet, and often with lard or butter as the fat ingredient.  In my recipe, I don't use either.  And I don't even own a cast iron skillet.  I know!  Shocking.

If you can recover from your shock though, and look past my traditional-cornbread-failings to give this recipe a shot, I feel safe is saying that you won't be disappointed!

Golden Sweet Cornbread
Recipe adapted from
Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 35-45 minutes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil 

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray or lightly grease a 8x8 inch glass baking dish.
Basic dry ingredients, meet...

...basic wet ingredients.

2.  In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
This is so easy the batter is in the pan before the oven's hot yet.

3.  Bake in preheated oven for about 35-45minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Golden and glorious

I'm actually not a big cornbread person, but Rob is so I try to indulge him on occasion.  But since I don't have a cast iron skillet, I needed to find an alternate method of baking it.  And as for the fat ingredient, I can't handle lard and I've been using enough butter lately; it's nice to try something else!  

This bread bakes up fluffy and tender with a perfectly sweet flavor.  We LOOOVE eating this warm with butter and honey drizzeled all over.  It makes for the perfect complement to a spicy chili on a cool night. ;)
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