Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Crockpot Yams

Wash the yams. Wrap them in tinfoil. Put them in a crockpot on high for 5 hours or until soft. Peel off foil and skins. Mash. Add butter and salt. Serve.

Note: this also works for 'baked' potatoes. It's a great way to have yams or potatoes without heating up the house.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Zucchini with Orzo and Feta

I got this great simple meal idea from JL and it was a huge hit at our house. Basically just cook up some orzo pasta, saute some vegetables, and pile them up with feta and pine nuts. We had pecans on hand so I toasted them and used those instead of the pine nuts. It was fan-tas-tic. And simple to make. I hear it also works well with quinoa or brown rice instead of the orzo. Maybe I'd even try amaranth. So good though. And you can sub in whatever veggies you happen to have in your csa box that week.

I chopped up 3 yellow zucchini and 3 rond de nice.
Saute in butter and salt to taste. It was so much zucchini, I started it in two pans and then moved it all into one once it cooked down.
Pile it all up - orzo, veg, feta, nuts - and serve.
Update: We've made this again with brown rice and with couscous. Both versions were great. We love feta at our house!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Green Smoothies

I have jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon. I went to a Relief Society mtg last month about healthy eating and we got to sample a green smoothie. It was actually pretty good so I thought I could try it at home and we've been so happy with the results - they're now on our regular menu. It a super simple lunch with some peanut butter toast or crackers and cheese. And I feel so healthy eating it!

handful of greens (kale, spinach, etc.)
banana (peeled, frozen is ok)
lemon (peeled but not necessarily seeded)
something else (cored apple, pear, handful of frozen fruit)
ice (opt.)

And that's it. Stick it in your BlendTec or Vitamix. Not sure if this will work in a normal blender. My ingredients usually fill up the blender and then I pour water in to about half the level and add 3-4 ice cubes. I usually use a frozen banana so that makes it cold too. I think it's important to be cold. I also like it a bit thinner than my usual smoothies or I start thinking 'sludge' when drinking it and that grosses me out.

But seriously, it tastes great. And the green color is fun. I like to serve it in our mason jars so we can see the pretty green. When I put it in our red plastic cups, it looks brown and no one wants to drink a brown smoothie. On that note - I was warned not to do carrots with greens or you run into the same problem.

The key part I'd been missing when previously thinking about green smoothies is that the lemon cuts the bitterness. The lemon is vital to having it taste good so don't leave it out. Also, I tried it with apple juice instead of the water and thought it was too sweet. But if you don't find the basic recipe sweet enough, you could try subbing juices.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Summer Trip

We had some fun culinary experiences on our summer trip this year. We went to NC, KY, and OH to visit family. Our favorite find is called Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, NC. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere - but it was fantastic! Above is a picture of my fried okra with ranch ice cream (it wasn't plated like that - I just didn't pause to take a picture until it was almost all gone). The whole experience was amazing. I ordered their Succotash and Carolina Rice Risotto. Delicious. V got the Berkshire pork. So great. It was just a lovely dining experience and no one gave us dirty looks for bringing kids - tho I will say they were pretty much perfect while we were there.

We also hit Los Fogones in Goldsboro. I wish I had a picture. The place was classic. And the chicken was amazing. I'm really not a huge fan of chicken lately but it was remarkably flavorful. And they had this purple drink that they make from scratch from stewed corn, cinnamon, sugar and random tropical fruits. It was surprisingly good. Like, I had to keep tasting it to figure out another layer of flavor.

We went to the Rundown Cafe after seeing Kitty Hawk and their soup was fabulous. I would really like to figure out how to recreate it here. I did find a recipe to try but I'm sure it was a white fish and not shrimp at the cafe. It was basically chunks of yam and veggies with a bit of fish in a savory coconut milk broth. Really good even though it was hot out. Didn't love the rest of what we ordered but I would love to figure out how to make that soup.

V made the trek to Hillbilly Hotdog while in KY and split the home-wrecker with his brother. And garlic ranch fries. Apparently it was spectacular despite being his nervous about some of the toppings. It comes on a platter with a chef's knife.

While in Cleveland, we went to Lola's. Very awesome. And a triple date with my siblings so it was super fun. I had the ribeye with the smoked garlic bone marrow butter. Yeah. Incredible. V had the quail and pork belly. The Lola fries were great and the 6am Special was whimsical but not particularly wowing. The Beef Cheek Pierogi had a ton of flavor and tho I'm not a fan of Ceviche, I recognized it was really well done. Note: it is a place you need to order appetizer, main, and dessert to come away feeling satisfied - which we did.

And we invaded The Melt with all the cousins. Seriously, we took up like 1/3 of the restaurant but they were super nice about it. Their portions were huge and apparently I was hungry cause I easily downed mine and most of the Monkey's servings. I had the Mushroom Melt, V had the Meatball, and the Monkey got the pbj. I did not love their coleslaw but the sandwiches were great. And huge.

V also did B Spot Burgers. Blew his mind. Apparently the best burgers he's had. I guess he ordered a TON of food though and was pretty full for like a whole day afterwards (the Fat Doug, the Stadium Brat, Chili Cheese Fries, Chocolate banana shake with caramelized marshmallows on top, and a taste of the Apple Pie Bacon shake - which seemed to be an actual piece of apple pie stuck in the blender with vanilla ice cream and bacon sprinkled on top). I'd definitely like to try B Spot next time we're in town. It just didn't work out timing wise for us both to go.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Strawberry Jam Round 2

Somehow amidst all the craziness around here, we managed to make some jam. I made some last year to break in my canner and surprisingly that batch lasted us a full 12 months. I really liked last year's jam but this year I decided to tweak it a bit and try using less honey. 

I made three different versions - same as last year, half the honey, and no honey at all. We used most of 2 flats of organic berries. I think it ended up being about 27 pints of jam. V thinks it was about $70 of berries. I used the no sugar pectin that I bought last minute at Ralph's. Next year I need to get the pectin in bulk online so it will be cheaper. It's really not cheap to make it this way but it's honey sweetened and organic with no preservatives. I like being in control of what I eat. Plus, I feel like a super-homemaker when I can.

We didn't really like the no honey version - tho it was a beautiful bright red. I think the berries are just too acidic. But the others turned out well. I am happy with the half honey version so I think I'll do that from here on out. At least for strawberry jam. I am starting to think about berry combinations. Maybe next year I'll be confident enough to get more adventurous. Raspberry jam is actually my favorite but fresh raspberries are super expensive around here and I've never had frozen berry jam turn out for me.

mash the berries (V's job)
boil berries, pectin, and apple juice. add honey and boil 3 min.
fill the jars and process 10 minutes at sea level

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Halibut Curry

I've been without a computer for a while so there haven't been new posts for a few weeks. But I have still been cooking! I made this chicken curry recipe with halibut and it turned out really well. I haven't really been a fan of chicken lately so I was excited that the substitution worked.