Gettin' fresh … in Northern Nevada

Recipes

Green Recipes Galore

I have been scrambling for different ways to eat greens and/or sneak greens into meals outside of the regular salad.  Don’t get me wrong — I love a good salad.  I get lots of compliments on the big pretty salads that I pack in my work lunchbox.   Those pretty little radishes this week were quite tasty.

However, I had no idea what to do with the kohlrabi greens.   But, I knew just based on the fact that the veggie box had a HUGE stalk of greens on the kohlrabi last week that those dazzling emerald leafs were meant to eaten.

Turns out you can do lots of things with greens!  Check this:  Recipes for Greens.  The possibilities are endless!

I chose to add the kohlrabi to a chicken teriyaki stir fry.   The hubby and the boy didn’t fully complain.   I also stuck in some turnips and green garlic on this one.   The turnips were a little mushy but not bad.

I chopped up a whole bag of kale into the spring greens mix and just disguised it as salad.   My husband didn’t mention noticing it so that’s a win.

Another bag of kale went into my version of the Olive Garden’s zuppa tuscano.  Yum.  My son actually loved this.   LOVED IT.   Can’t go wrong with Olive Garden soup and bread sticks.   Nom nom.

What new foods did you try this week?

 

 


French Onion Soup

 

 

My house was overrun by onions and it was time to do something.   Something radical, like make an entire meal out of basically just onions.    French onion soup time!

I adapted a recipe from Rachel Ray to get the job done.   Why?   Because she speaks the language of simple and savory–that’s my style.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 medium onions
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups beef stock (32 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 baguette, ends trimmed, sliced into 16 rounds about 1-inch thick
  • 1/2 pound Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons good quality dry sherry (optional)

PREPARATION

Heat a heavy soup pot over medium heat while thinly slicing the onions. Add the butter to the pot and melt. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper and gently caramelize, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes. If the onions begin to brown too quickly at the edges before they caramelize, turn the heat down a bit. Deglaze the pan with the wine, then let reduce for 1 minute while stirring. Add the stock and the Worcestershire sauce and simmer for 15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, place an oven rack in middle of the oven and heat the oven to 250˚F.

Place a cooling rack over a baking sheet and arrange the bread slices on it. Toast the bread for 15 minutes. Switch the broiler on. Top the bread with lots of mounded cheese and broil for 2-3 minutes to melt the cheese.

Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and stir in a tablespoon of sherry per bowl, if desired. Set four cheesy croutons into each bowl and serve.

Here’s how it went down at my house.   I used a mandolin for all of the onions.   It is an awesome tool–just make sure you don’t cut a finger off, that blade is sharp!

image

 

I ended up filling this pot with onions and letting them cook down.   It took forever.   This is not a 30-minute meal.

image

 

And, because I love a good short cut (and I didn’t have a french baguette at the time), I took a full bag of croutons and broiled some cheese on top.   Easy-peasy.

image

 

The crouton idea was perfect.   They added a little extra salt and seasoning to the mix and then soaked up the broth nicely.

image

 

Mmmmm, mmmm good.


Stuffed Baked Acorn Squash

image

 

This recipe was in the weekly instructions/newsletter for my CSA box.   It is originally credited to Black Sheep Farm in Ontario, Canada, Fresh Food Nation by Martha Holmberg.

Stuffed Baked Acorn Squash

  • 1 medium acorn squash
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup couscous or cooked rice
  • 1 tart apple (peeled, cored and finely diced)
  • (my addition) 1 small white onion (finely diced)
  • 1 lb cooked pork, duck, sausage, bacon or pancetta (I used Italian sausage)
  • hot sauce (to taste)
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup
  • (my addition) 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 375.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds from the cavity by scraping them out with a spoon.  Cut a small slice off the curved side of each half, so it can sit flat without wobbling.

Use a fork or sharp paring knife, poke holes in the flesh of the cut faces and cavities of the squash halves, and the brush with olive oil.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

Cook couscous or use pre-cooked rice.   Saute onions and apples in a small amount of oil until caramelized.   Mix everything with chopped meat and a few drops of hot sauce.   Taste for seasoning.

Fill each squash half with stuffing, tamping down as need to fill completely.   Drizzle with maple syrup.   Bake until squash is completely tender, about 45 minutes.   Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and broil for a nice browned topping.

image

 

This was savory with a little bit of sweet spicy.   The squishy squash texture was balanced with the rice stuffing mixture.    Good stuff.    It was a little bit of a hassle for a work night meal but everyone at my house has a happy tummy so it was worth it.    Yum!


Mixed Pepper Hot Sauce

I have been stockpiling my CSA share of hot peppers lately just waiting to make a batch of hot sauce.   All sorts of peppers:  jalapenos, serranos, fresno, romanian … and I even bought a couple of extra habaneros to throw into the mix.   My pepper farming efforts this year completely failed so I knew that I wouldn’t have a full batch of the same peppers just from the CSA box.   I figured I could come up with something good, though.   And, I did.

20131012_141336

My creation is called:   STANKY SAUCE!    I started to title this blog post something like “I love the stank” or “All About Stank” and then decided that would probably pull in a bunch of really bizarre spam comments that have nothing to do with a nice, wholesome veggie blog like this one.   (eh hem)

I started with a little Google searching and, one of my favorite resources, Punk Domestics.   I love that site but, fair warning, it’s a little food snobby (in a good way).   Then, I compared notes with a couple of other sites and discovered that fermenting the peppers is a good base to add for a nice hot sauce.   There are tons of options on how you could go for a sriracha or a more Tabasco-style and even a sweet hot.    If you are interested in making your own sriracha, try Peppermeister’s recipe … look around on that site for a while, there are some other good recipes to try as well.

I decided that a briney-fermented, stanky sauce with some pow-pow HOT is just what I wanted.

Well, well, well.   I just happen to have (forgotten about) a jar of mild green peppers that I did in a salty dill brine last year.   Perfect base, almost like I planned it.  (haha)

20131012_141354

Then, I had to char the skins on my fresh peppers and cook them up a little bit.   The trick to this is to get a good little burn going on the peppers but not completely kill them.   Maybe, 70-80% char and, then, you put them in a sealed container so that they steam out nicely.    After that, the skins just peel off (for the most part).   I trimmed the stems off but kept all the seeds and innards and juicy goodness for the mix.

20131012_142212   20131012_143104  20131012_144319

I did actually use the gloves.   And, I’m glad.   I have a feeling that I would have killed my hands and probably stuck my finger in my eye, resulting in death for most of the afternoon.   I am happy to report that I avoided disaster here and only had a few coughing fits due to pepper capsaicin inhalation.    Hot stuff, for real.

I blended the pickled peppers (brine and all) with my skinned fresh peppers using an immersion blender to get this:

20131012_153826

 

Now, at this point, some people choose to filter/strain their sauce to get just the liquids.   I opted for the full (slightly chunky) version.    And, after taste testing … WHOOEEEEWWWW!   Hot.   Hot.  Hot.    I decided that I still needed to kick it up a notch.    This is where lightning struck and I realized that I am a genius.    Beer.   This hot sauce needs beer.    And, not just any beer, a good stinky one.   Bitter, hoppy, stank beer.   (the good kind)

20131012_144410

 

This is my favorite.   Icky.   It’s named after the ichthyosaur, or state fossil of Nevada.   It’s about 7% ABV and hoppy all day long.   It’s a local brew, Great Basin Brewing Company.   And, it’s good.    Get some, if you can.

I’m pretty proud of this one.   But, it’s only for the truly brave.   It is a hot and powerful stanky sauce.   Not for dipping chips into or anything like that.   Maybe, it could blow the tortilla off a good fish taco or get added to some manly chili beans … it might kick some canned peaches to curb as well.    This is the real deal.

20131012_161451

 

Six beautiful little jars of screaming hot, stanky goodness.    I think Santa will keep these for his special elves.

 


Mini Meatloaf

Why, yes.  This is a Pinterest inspired post.  (Pin-spired??)    I’d like to think that I was having a brilliant moment last week when I was roasting garlic in the muffin tins and thought “meatloaf!” that I was a culinary genius.   Nope.   I have seen this trick on Pinterest.   I did add my own flair of BACON.   Again, I’m pretty sure I saw that posted online somewhere, too.

To give myself some credit, I didn’t really have any instructions and kind of made it up as I went along … that counts for something, right??

Did you know that a half of a slice of bacon fits almost perfectly into the bottom of a muffin tin?   Coincidence?   I think not.

image

 

Basically, make meatloaf and scoop it into the muffin tin on top of the bacon.   For me, I did the total easy recipe of a pound of ground beef, some bread crumbs and whatever spices float your boat, and a can of corn.   I baked it all at 350 for about 45 minutes.   Boom.

image

 

My husband likes a tomato sauce/cream of mushroom soup gravy for meatloaf and I obliged.   Yum.

The bacon crisps up nicely and makes for perfect little meatloaf cupcakes of goodness.   You will not regret trying this food experiment.   Easy and tasty.


Roasted Garlic

One of the easiest things on earth to do is roast garlic.   If you are a big fan of its savory flavor, do yourself a favor and buy a ton of garlic to roast at home.   It will make your house smell fantastic and, the next time you cook with it, you will feel like you invented food.   Good stuff.

I tried a new trick this time and put the cloves in a muffin pan in the oven.   It was easy to clean and kept the oil from going all over the place.   Nice time saver-easy to clean.

Just add some olive oil and put it in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour or so (until the cloves are soft).   Then, save it in the fridge until you want to use it.   Or, cover a french baguette of bread with it and enjoy!

 


Great Basin Basket CSA, Week 8 (08/29/13)

image

image

This week’s haul included a couple of late summer surprises (all organic):

  • Sarah’s Choice melons/cantaloupe
  • Seedless watermelon
  • Mixed summer squash
  • Japanese eggplant
  • Mixed peppers
  • Corn
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Early Girl tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Raspberries  (whaaaaaaaaaaaat??!!)
  • Rhubarb

image

The raspberries barely made it home because my little boy loves them.   He had a huge helping with dinner.

And, as weird as rhubarb can be, I really love the smell.   So sweet.

The CSA newsletter included a yummy recipe for desert.

Rhubarb-Raspberry Crunch

1 cup white sugar

1 tbsp instant tapioca

1 tbsp cornstarch

1/8 tsp salt

4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup raspberries

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1/2 cup butter, chilled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Great a 9×13 inch baking pan.   In a large bowl, combine sugar, tapioca, cornstarch, and salt.  Place rhubarb and raspberries into bowl making sure to completely coat with dry ingredients.   Pour into baking pan.  IN a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and oats.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs.  Spread on top of fruit mixture.  Bake for 45 minutes or until rhubarb is tender.

Sounds pretty tasty to me.

I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to try this recipe quick enough, though.   The boy is really loving those raspberries, straight out of the container.   Let me know if you make it!


Rhubarb Fail

Rhubarb is a strange fruit/vegetable thing.   Technically, it is a vegetable but it cooks out with a sweetness that pairs it well for jellies, jams and mostly notably PIE.   I opted out of the traditional preparations this time and tried a food experiment.   Today, I tried to make rhubarb fruit roll-ups or fruit leather.    Tried is the key word of the day.   I tried.

If you have been hanging around Fresh Veggies for a while, you might remember that last year I had great success with rhubarb pineapple upside down cupcakes.   I managed to make them while camping, no less.   Click that link if you would like to try rhubarb.   Keep reading here if you want to see my latest fail.   Fails are more fun, right?   Keep reading …

image

 

I think rhubarb is kind of pretty, don’t you?   The plants grow to a decent size.   They are actually fairly impressive if you get to see one in real life.

image

 

I started by chopping up the rhubarb and just boiling it down to a mushy syrupy mess.   At this point, most people add sugar.   I decided to be “healthy” and try it without the added sugar.   Mistake #1.   If you attempt this, add sugar.  Just do it.

image

I saved the liquid from this boiled down mess.   It has most of the natural sugars and I am going to use it for a fruit salad dressing later.   Stay tuned for another post … a hopefully, more successful execution of edible food.

The mush was a little bit stringy (like celery) so I used the hand blender to make it smoother.   My research on fruit leather suggested that I use a silicone mat to cook the goo on in the over.   This is a wise choice.   One of my only wise choices  in this food experiment.    I baked the first batch of fruit goo overnight as low as the oven would go, as suggested by several recipes.

image

 

Here’s a shot of the crispy concoction I discovered in the morning.   Fail.   Crispy, crunchy, burnt fail.

image

 

Lucky for you (or not), I had more fruit goo to try, try again.   The next batch was cooked on super low for only a few hours.   More like, four hours.   It dried nicely and came out in traditional fruit leather style.

image

 

However, it tasted like tangy, slightly bitter shoe leather.   Looking at this photo makes me think it looks like corned beef.  I wish it had tasted more like corned beef.  I regret even tasting it.  Bleck.  I do not recommend this recipe.   Again, try the cupcakes from last year if you would like a good rhubarb recipe.   HERE

Or, hang in there, I plan on a fruit salad later this week … that sounds good.

Do you like rhurbarb?  Want to share a FAIL?   Please leave a comment and make me feel better about ruining an entire batch of rhubarb.


Grilled Artichokes

 

 

 

For most people, artichokes are a labor of love.  There is a lot of work that goes into eating one and, for me, I have no idea how to tell ahead of time whether or not it is going to be worth all of the work.   I mean, really, all I want is the heart and how do you know from the outside if an artichoke has a big, tasty heart in there?   I could get all philosophical here but, let’s just cook some veggies and move on with it, OK?

First things first, clean and clip your tasty friend.

image

 

I boiled the artichokes for about 20 minutes to soften them up a bit.   You will need to cut them in half and remove the fuzzy “choke” (the purple-ish hairs that are inedible) from the center.   Then, just put them on the grill until they have a nice char, whatever you feel like.

I prefer mine with steak.   Don’t be fooled by the veggie facade, I am a carnivore at heart.

image

 

These artichokes looked good and were a fun sport but they didn’t have much heart.   I peeled and dipped each leafy layer.   At the end, though, I was glad there was steak.

image

 

I like to buy marinated artichoke hearts for salads and other meals but I have yet to figure out a better way to pick a fresh artichoke.   Any tips or suggestions?   What’s your favorite way to prepare an artichoke?


Chicken Wing Showdown Chowdown

 

 

I have been wanting to try a recipe that I saw on another blog for a very long time.   A special chicken wing recipe that, in my opinion, deserved a special day.   I gave those chicken wings:   Super Bowl Sunday, the true religious holiday of all chicken wings.   Here’s to Peppermeister’s Sweet and Spicy Asian Wings with Crema de Peppermeister!

I actually followed the recipe as close as I could.   If you’ve been reading me for very long, you understand what a challenge this can be for me.    Click on the links above for the full list of ingredients, it’s not a tough recipe to follow but the processing can be a little time consuming.  Was it worth it?   Ooooh … yaaaa …

image

 

The sauce for these wings was a little bit tedious to make  (chop, chop, blend, blend) and VERY GREEN.  It made for a cool macro photo, though.

image

 

I do have to say that it looked pretty gross.   But, the smell of the spices and peppers was fantastic even when it was all still raw.   The house smelled incredible while these were cooking in the oven.   INCREDIBLE.

image

 

I am so glad that I lined the pan with foil before baking these bad boys.   What a mess!

image

 

These are the fixin’s for the Crema de Peppermeister.   I actually doubled the recipe because I wanted extra for salad dressings or something else later in the week.    Yum.

image

image

 

The Peppermeister wings were awesome and a great food experiment for me.   I’m glad I made them.   But, I do have to admit that they did not steal my heart away from my one true chicken wing love.    I’m still loyal to the traditional, buffalo-hot style.    And, I have the heart burn to prove it.

image


Good Sammiches

 

 

The hubs here at Fresh Veggies wanted to guest post.   Well, really, he wanted me to take pictures of some pretty awesome sandwiches that he made and then for me to blog about them.   I suggested that he do some typing but … that did not happen.   Anyway, here some bomb-diggity sammiches that my sweetie made for us this weekend.

Go ahead, be jealous.   The Fresh Hubs is pretty handy in the kitchen.

The fixin’s … roast beast, portabellas, roasted peppers and some good cheeeses …

image

 

The master at work.    He didn’t really want to be photographed but obliged.   (Probably because he knew I would be writing this post and he still wanted to be included in it.)   Special note:  Raiders shirt.   It was a football weekend but he is still a Raiders fan.    Go figure.

 

image

 

What’s that magic goodness that he is putting all over that artisan french bread, you ask?   Mmmmm.   This is a custom garlic aiolo that Fresh Hubs created himself.   I will guess that there are some mystery herbs and spices in there as well.   Top secret recipe.

image

 

Grilled mushrooms, peppers with gouda (cuz it’s good-a) on one side and herbed goat cheese on the other side.

image

 

Final presentation.   Nom, nom, nom.    I’m a lucky girl.

 

image


Banh Mi Inspired Lettuce Wraps and A Cooper’s Hawk

It’s slim pickens here in the high desert for CSA veggies so today’s recipe was purchased entirely at the regular grocery store.   It was quite tasty.   Don’t judge.

Last summer, I had a Vietnamese-style banh mi sandwich from a food truck.   The light vinaigrette with the sweet crunch of veggies inside of a sourdough baguette and then, the after-kapow of a little bit of hot serrano peppers was enough bliss in one bite to create an immediate addiction.   I was hooked.   Yum.

Today, I was craving some banh mi, dammit.   And, here’s what I came up with …

banh mi lettuce wrap

My not-so-original recipe ideas came from searching the internet, HERE.   Being a total non-conformist, I made one up and it came out pretty darn good.   Especially, when you consider that I didn’t have a sourdough baguette in the house and got a little crafty with the lettuce wrap idea.   (Watch out, P.F. Chang’s, I’m gunning for ya!)

Now, don’t kid yourself.   Cutting up a bunch of veggies into cute little pieces is a pain in the ass.   I have a kitchen mandolin but I am slightly afraid of it.   I will thin slice a few things on it but the whole ‘julienne’ idea seemed pretty dangerous to me today.   This kind of cutting requires more patience that I generally have.   I did get lazy toward the end and just chopped up the cucumbers.   Shoot me.

Cucumber, carrots, radishes, red bell pepper, serrano peppers and cilantro

Cucumber, carrots, radishes, red bell pepper, serrano peppers and cilantro

Indoor chicken grillin' with the grill pan

Indoor chicken grillin’ with the grill pan

Basically, I marinated the veggies in some ginger-soy salad dressing with a little bit of extra rice wine vinegar and then added some grilled chicken.   We had some baby romaine lettuce heads and just peeled leaves off to wrap up the mixture.   Lettuce burritos!

Dinner must have smelled good because we were visited by a Cooper’s Hawk.    He literally flew into our front window and freaked the F@#K out of us.   Excuse the crappy picture quality … I wasn’t prepared.   This was an impressive dinner guest.

What the Cooper's Hawk?

What the Cooper’s Hawk?

Based on the stare he is giving us, I think we should just give him our plates.    YIPES!

 


Recipe Redux Reblog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a reblog of my post from last October, “High on PCP.”    Pecan Chocolate Pumpkin Bread.

Today I busted out some frozen pumpkin puree and made them again … and added coconut.   I am a genius.   You should just drive by my house, roll down the windows and smell the heavenly aroma that is blasting the universe.   Awesome sauce.   Nom, nom, nom.

Pecan. Chocolate. Pumpkin. Bread.

Once again, I wish for smell-o-vision because even my best photograph will not do this baked lovely justice.   Imagine the best smelling pumpkin pie combined with a homemade bread and sprinkle chocolate on it.   My house smells like that.   Honest.

I used a basic pumpkin bread recipe and adapted it.    The original is HERE.   My modifications were to double the recipe to make two loaves, add a generous amount of chocolate chips, about a tablespoon of vanilla extract and substitute pecans for walnuts — because that’s what was in my cabinet.   For me, that’s almost going straight from a recipe.   I just like to make things my own.

Oooooh … it was so good.

You want to make this.   I am so proud of it that I took a picture of the loaves upside down just to show off that I didn’t burn the bottom.   It’s that kind of kitchen success, people.

Did I mention that I used the pumpkin puree that I saved in the refrigerator from last week’s CSA box?   Yup.   Now, I did.   Bomb-diggity.


Baked Apple Quinoa

Something healthy for a change …

This may seem obvious but I had forgotten about all of the stuff that I froze for later from the CSA boxes like apples, peaches, etc and that those count toward my whole year long experience.   It’s a no-brainer but I had just not thought about how I was going to use them all so I didn’t even remember to blog about it until now.   And, after all of the sweets and cookies of Christmas, I am not even close to being interested in an apple pie.   So, I googled up some apple breakfast bake ideas and found this:

Apples and Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa, from www.Skinnytaste.com

Servings: 4 • Serving Size: 1 bowl (1/4 of recipe) Calories: 316 • Fat: 8 g • Carbs: 53 g • Fiber: 6 g • Protein: 9 g • Sugar: 20 g Sodium: 35 mg Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon + more for sprinkling
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup warmed fat-free milk for drizzling (non-dairy milk is fine)
  • 1 gala apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:
Combine quinoa, water, cinnamon and vanilla in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes until quinoa can be fluffed with a fork.   Add apples and other ingredients, bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes.

I bought some quinoa months ago and always felt weird about cooking because I’m not even sure how to pronounce it properly.   I think the official hipster pronounciation is “keen-wah” but … what the heck do I know?   It’s supposed to be good for you so I thought I would try it.

Of course, I made some modifications to the cooking process.   I added a ton more cinnamon than the recipe called for and, thankfully, a ton more apples and a healthy sprinkle of those walnuts that I candied a while back.   (You’ll see why later.)   Here’s some photos for those of you that don’t like reading:

apple quinoa

I thought about putting some of that salted caramel apple butter in it but then decided not to … I would regret this choice later.

apple cook

This photo is a too dark but I just wanted to show you what the whole mess looked like in the baking pan.

qpples done

Here’s a better, slightly more edible-looking, view.

Final results?   Bleck.   Clearly, “keen-wah” translates to “tastes like dirt” in some healthy-hippie language.   I rinsed the quinoa as instructed but it really did taste bad.   I think adding the apple butter would have sweetened the mixture but I’m not sure that it would have saved the batch.   I mostly picked the apples and walnuts out and ate them to just not waste the big pan of crap that I made.   Yuck.

Any one successful with a quinoa adventure out there with some “make it taste better” advice?    It was dirt poop.   Gross.

 

 


Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers

Hello, bloggy friends.   Fresh Veggies is still out here … I’m just not doing much blogging these days.    Clearly, we are still eating so I thought I better share some posts before you decide that I have withered away during the winter.    As you will see, there is no chance of withering in my neck of the woods.   But, we have been busy with other non-fresh veggie adventures.

peppers cooked

What’s on the menu for today?   Buffalo chicken stuffed peppers.  It’s just something that I threw together but it was pretty darn tasty so I decided the masses needed to read all about it — and see some photos.

peppers

I started with some anaheim chiles.   They just looked good at the store.   They are not organic and, frankly, I’m not even 100% sure they are anaheims.   Honestly, I bought them on impulse and didn’t know what I was going to cook with them at the time.   Then, GENIUS struck and I had all of the right ingredients at home.  BOOM!

Here’s what I threw together:

peppers stuff

I don’t really recommend this pre-mix rice thing but my hubby bought it a while back.   We love buffalo wings and he is guilty of trying just about anything that is buffalo-flavored.   I do not recommend the Buffalo Chicken Wing Sauce-flavored Pringles.   OMG-those were horrible.   Bleck.

I just cooked the rice as directed, added some cooked/chopped chicken breast.   Then, sprinkled bleu cheese on top and baked in the oven at about 350 for 30 minutes or so.   Of course, I cleaned and cut the peppers in half but they still had some zing.  The peppers could have cooked a little longer but I liked the snap and taste that was still in them.   That’s up to you.   I really like peppers.

I would recommend adding just a little bit of finely chopped celery to the mix.   But, at the time, we didn’t have any in the fridge.

Have you ever made any Buffalo Chicken Wing-inspired dishes?   I would love to hear about them.   I am certain my hubs would appreciate a new recipe or two as well!

 


Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)

I have to admit that when these gems arrived in the veggie box, I thought they were something else.   I was at first excited because I had been given the world’s largest CSA share of ginger.   Then, I realized there is now way any farmer in their right mind (at least not in Northern Nevada) would be just handing out pounds of ginger for the taking.  I did not get a bag of ginger.

So, I had to ask the CSA volunteer for help.   It sounded something like “What the HECK are these??!”     She held back the laughter and explained that they are a potato-like tuber that taste a little bit like an artichoke heart.   She was nice about it but I did feel a little dumb for thinking it was ginger.

Well, silly me.   How was I supposed to know?    Anyway, I took the sunchokes home and have waited this long to figure out what to do with them.    After Googling and recipe hunting for something special, I went with the most common recommendation, just roast them with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper at 375 for about 40 minutes.

On the inside, they look just like a potato.

image

On the outside, they are kind of ugly.

image

As for flavor, I don’t think they are really that much like an artichoke but I can see why people have explained them that way.   The flavor isn’t 100% potato and the outside skin has a little bit of a snappy texture.   Final review:   very good for something different.   But, I wouldn’t go out of my way or pay too much for them.   A potato is a lot simpler and cheaper.


Cranberry-Maple-Cinnamon Walnuts

Remember that crazy huge sack of walnuts that I was crack-a-lacking on last week?    Well, I finally did something with them.   I covered them in a cinnamony-maple glaze.   If you are lucky, you will get a lovely little Christmas-decorated baggie of these:

Once again, I wish for smell-o-vision on the blog.   I’m not the biggest fan of walnuts but these were so good straight out of the oven.   The house smelled like maple-cinnamon Christmas.    And, yes, I ate walnuts for lunch.   It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Adapted from this recipe on http://www.marthastewart.com:

Ingredients

  •                                         1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  •                                         1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  •                                         2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •                                         1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •                                         Coarse salt
  •                                         2 cups walnuts (6 ounces)
  •                                         See modifications regarding cinnamon and cranberry

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Stir in maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and  3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer (mixture should be frothy), about 3 minutes. Add walnuts, and toss to coat using a rubber spatula. Cook, stirring, until sauce is syrupy and bubbly, about 3 minutes.
  2.  Transfer walnut mixture to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and spread into a single layer. Bake until walnuts are caramelized, about 10 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack. Stir, and let stand until cool and hardened, about 30 minutes.

My modifications:

I had cooked down some cranberries for something else so I strained the juice for this syrup mixture.   I also added an obscene amount of cinnamon.   It was not measured.   I had a bottle with about an inch of cinnamon left.   I just dumped the whole thing in there because I was making this recipe for about 10 cups of walnuts.    That ended up being about five cookie sheets worth of nuts.


Walnuts and Wild Horses

Yesterday was a rainy day here on the Comstock.   It is actually pretty rare when it drizzles in the desert all day.   So, I did some house chores and burrowed inside all day long cracking walnuts from that HUGE bag that my friend gave me.   Yup.   Just nut crackin’, pretty much all day.    I have officially gone nuts.   (Insert a billion more sophomoric nut references here.)

I just set up nut camp in the dining room and watched it rain all day.   One of the best things about where I live is that I am kind of out in the boonies and we have wild horses that just roam free.   Seriously.   Wild horses just wander the neighborhood at will.    And, I’m only about 20 minutes from civilization so it’s not like I’m totally out in the wilderness or anything.   I live in a regular neighborhood, kinda.  How about some pictures?

It was just a grey day but the pinion pines need the water. I was really wishing for snow.

I think the walnuts were multiplying when I wasn’t looking.

I used some serious hardware to crack the walnuts and did my work in a brown bag to keep the walnut shrapnel from flying all over the house.  I decided to even keep the shells because the oil in them makes for pretty good kindling in the wood stove.

My bounty for the day. I only made it through half the bag. My hands are sore–that’s pitiful.

What am I going to do with all of my hard-earned walnuts?   I am making a cinnamon maple candy over the walnuts and going wrap them up as Christmas goodies.   And, I will absolutely be freezing some for later.   Want the recipe?

Ingredients

    • 1 lb walnut halves
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • Drizzle of maple syrup
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 6 tablespoons milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread nuts in a single layer over a baking sheet and roast for about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Stir together sugar, syrup, cinnamon, salt and milk in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes or until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage of 236°F Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  3. Add walnuts to sugar syrup and stir to coat well. Spoon nuts onto waxed paper lined sheet pan and separate with fork.
  4. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Easy Side Dishes

Sometimes, you don’t have to be a culinary genius to get the job done here at Fresh Veggies in the Desert.   Just cut up some carrots and turnips (or other random root vegetables) and sprinkle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey.    Bake at 400 for about 45 minutes.

image

The rest of dinner looks pretty good, too.   But, the carrots are awesome.    Not awesome enough to make turnips my favorite but awesome enough to get me to eat a couple of them.

image

 


Coconut Curry Squash Soup and a Watermelon Radish

Squash-a-palooza is still happening here at my house.   I roasted a butternut, delicata and a spaghetti squash today.   I am almost caught up on squash.  It is the first time in weeks that my counter has not had any type of squash on it.   I’m feeling a little squashed out, if ya know what I mean.

At any rate, today’s tasty recipe includes the butternut and delicata squash puree and the original recipe can be found HERE.

My version is more like this:

2 large squash (5 pounds total)—halved lengthwise, peeled and seeded

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon thyme

1 teaspoon curry powder

3 cups chicken stock

1 16oz can unsweetened coconut milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Set the squash, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Fill each cavity with 1/2 tablespoon of the butter; season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, until tender; cut into large pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the olive oil. Add the onion, leek, shallot, ginger and curry powder and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned. Add the wine and cook until evaporated.
  3. Add the cooked squash, water, coconut milk and thyme. Simmer over moderately low heat for 15 minutes.   Blend with immersion blender to desired smoothness or consistency.
  4. Viola — serve with a crusty bread for dipping!

This soup is pretty heavy in my opinion so I wanted something light like a salad to go with it.   Originally, I thought I would just do a regular green salad but then I remembered that I still had some pomegranate to go with a little bit of feta cheese.   AND, bonus, I had a watermelon radish.

Until now, I had never seen a watermelon radish but I could not resist when I found one at Whole Foods the other day.    It is beautiful.

What does it taste like?   Well, buckle your seat belts, it does not taste like watermelon.   It is a very strong radish actually, which I like.   But, if you are not necessarily a radish fan, this is not the one for you — pretty or not.

Have you ever had a watermelon radish?


Squash Mac and Cheese

What?   How dare someone befoul my beloved mac and cheese?!   I like Kraft Dinner or the really orange mac and cheese!   Don’t I?   Whoa.    Hold your horses.   Before you get all worked up about what is real food and not real food.   I do like my box of orange cheese powder.   I really do.  But, I just had to try something new.   And, uhm … I liked it.    Look for yourself:

Who is the evil genius behind this masterpiece?  Again, Rachel Ray comes to the rescue.   And, of course, I took a few liberties with my modifications.   Here’s the original recipe:

1 pound of macaroni

Salt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 medium onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups chicken stock

10 oz frozen, cooked squash

1 cup cream or half/half

2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 cup grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Directions:

Heat a pot of water to boil for the pasta.  Salt the water then add the pasta and cook to al dente.  While pasta cooks, heat a medium heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Add the extra virgin olive oil and butter.  When butter melts into the oil, add the thyme and grate the onion directly into the pot with a hand held grater or microplane.  Cook the grated onion in butter and oil 1 to 2 minutes, then add the flour and cook together 1 to 2 more minutes.  Whisk in stock, then combine with squash until warmed through and smooth.  Stir  in cream and bring sauce to a bubble.  Stir in cheeses in a figure 8 motion and season the completed sauce with spices.  Drain cooked pasta well and combine with sauce.  Serve with a little sprig of thyme for garnish.

My modifications:

I used all of the cream making those squash pies so I improvised and put in a huge scoop of cream cheese.   This was an excellent idea.   Smooth and creamy.  Of course, I didn’t have frozen puree, I had was still working from the batch of fresh puree.   Go figure.   Then, I used Havarti cheese instead of the Cheddar.   I happened to have some and I know it melts smoother.   NOW, here’s where I went all crazy and got off the grid.   I chopped up the fresh Hiratake mushroom from the CSA box .   Boo-ya!   Great idea!    And, since I was starting to go way off the charts, I didn’t just mix the cheesy goo with the noodles, I baked it for just a couple of minutes with the shredded parmagiano and some french fried onions (from a can).   OMG–BRILLIANT!

And, because this is the heaviest mac and cheese casserole ever … I had to have a side salad with some fresh pomegranate seeds.   Mmmm.   Mmmmm.   Good.

What’s on your plate today?

 


Autumn Squash Pie

It looks a lot like a pumpkin pie but it’s not.    Remember all of that squash that I baked up the other day?   Well, I decided that I just didn’t want to make soup out of it just yet so I opted for pie.    Pie sounds better than soup, doesn’t it?

There are about a million pie recipes on the internet so I started with this generic one from http://www.southernfood.about.com and made it my own.

Ingredients:

  • 1 unbaked and chilled 9-inch pie shell
  • 1 large butternut squash (or similar variety), cooked and pureed, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk or half/half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

To cook the squash:

Cut the squash in half lengthwise; remove stem and scoop out seeds.   Place the squash, cut side down, on a foil-lined and oiled baking pan; bake at 400 for about an hour.  Let cool completely and scoop out squash.   Mash or blend with hand mixer.

For the pie mix:

In a mixing bowl, blend the squash with brown sugar.  Add eggs, milk, spices, flour and vanilla.  Beat until well-blended.   Pour the filling into the chilled pie crust and bake  on the center oven rack at 350 for about an hour.   Check pie at about 35 minutes and use foil or edge protectors to keep crusts from getting too dark.   When the filling is set, transfer the pie to a rack to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.

My modifications:

I bought pre-made pie crusts so there were two and I had a ton of puree.   So, I doubled the recipe for two pies.   I like a lot of cinnamon so I added more than the recipe calls for … same with the vanilla.   Then, I cut back on the eggs and added a nice scoop of ricotta cheese.   I don’t know why but this sounded like a good idea.   Then, I blended the heck out of the mix trying to get an even mix.   I think I probably could have mixed even longer but I didn’t want it to be all fluffy or something.

These pies are going to be my contribution to the CSA potluck tomorrow out at Lattin Farms.    I’ll let you know more about that later … there will be pictures to share, I’m sure.

 


Thai-Spiced Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Chicken Peanut Satay

The force is strong in the spaghetti squash.   When the green beans waged the flavor war on them, it wasn’t really fair.   The green beans had bacon on their side.   And, well, bacon is known for its Jedi mind tricks, especially at my house.  If you have no idea what I am typing about … there was a vegetable war at my house a while back.   Read all about it HERE.

Now, let it be known that if you make the spaghetti squash gods mad by calling it boring, they will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger.   Thai-spiced vengeance and anger.   Tonight, the veggie war was on … on like Donkey Kong!

It all started to come together back at the CSA box pick-up last week.   I have mentioned before that I love the volunteer that is there every week.   She is super friendly and helpful.   This week, she was looking through one of those freebie magazine things that they give out at Whole Foods, Delicious Living.   She pointed out this awesome thai-inspired recipe and pretty much commanded to me that this was right up my alley.   She was right.   Here’s the full recipe and LINK:

3 3 1/2 pounds spaghetti squash
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 medium-large Fresno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 medium-large Thai peppers, chopped (seed for less heat)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
chopped roasted peanuts and lime wedges, for garnish
Recipe Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350˚. Cut squash in half lengthwise, remove membranes and seeds, brush lightly with olive oil, and place cut-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 55–60 minutes, until flesh shreds easily with a fork. Cool slightly, remove flesh into strands with a fork, and set aside. In a large, deep sauté pan, heat sesame oil over medium-low heat. Add ginger, garlic, coriander, and peppers; sauté until fragrant and tender, 3 minutes. Stir in salt. Add squash threads and toss; add cilantro and toss until well combined. Serve immediately, garnished with peanuts and a squeeze of lime.
My modifications were to add some purple basil with the fresh cilantro.   I didn’t have any lime so I did a quick splash of lemon juice just to give it that zest of flavor.   OH, I also didn’t do the peanuts.   The side of peanut satay chicken gave the touch of flavor needed here.   And, yup, I also did not have any fresh ginger.   I substituted dried ground ginger from the spice rack.   I’m sure fresh would have been better here but it worked out just fine.   And, the peppers were from the CSA box weeks ago.   They had just enough fire to be hot but not enough to burn your face off or anything.
For the chicken peanut satay, this was a total cheater.   I just happened to have a jar of Trader Joe’s peanut satay sauce in the cabinet.   I just grilled up some chicken and simmered.   Easy.
Wowzers!   This is by far one of the best food experiments that I have managed to not screw up to date.   Really, really good.   As in … game on, BACON.   Those green beans would not have stood a chance next to this spaghetti squash.
If you are in the spirit to have some thai-spiced vengeance and anger in your life, go cook a spaghetti squash.   It’s really tasty.

Grilled Kielbasa with Fennel and Pears

Magic happens when you get creative.

Fennel has an interesting licorice flavor and this recipe was a food experiment.    Partially because I didn’t think the fennel bulb was big enough to do something else with it and what I had left in the kitchen that I wanted to use:   pears and a random kielbasa sausage.

After a quick Google, I found a Rachel Ray suggestion to put these bad boys together and viola!   A Sunday afternoon football-watching snack was born.   Rach’s version is HERE.

I started to go straight from the recipe but the pears were really ripe and I wasn’t sure if the fennel would slice well enough to withstand the real grill in my backyard.   So, I used a grill pan in the kitchen and modified just a touch.   I cooked the kielbasa first to get some good greasy juices going in the pan.   Then, I was pretty generous with the honey and skipped the oil, etc all together.   I even used some of the local honey that I bought when I was out in Fallon a couple of weeks ago.

I kept the kielbasa to the side and grilled the pears and fennel quickly by themselves.    And, a thought a little cup of spicy mustard for dipping would be just the right touch.

The sweet and savory was absolutely fantastic with the strong flavor of the fennel.   I will admit that it was a messy plate but IT WAS GOOD.   If I made this for a party or as an appetizer for a group, I would make mini-kabobs ahead of time and put them on the grill.   For me and the hubs, though, this was just fine.