Lemon Rainbow Chard

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This summer we have opted to join a crop share to see what all the fuss is about.  You know, supporting local farmers, eating fresh, choosing organic, and my favorite part which is eating what is in season.  We are proud to have chosen Genesis Growers Farms (www.genesis-growers.com) with our pickup at the Saturday morning Green City Market.  Along with the medium size box of farmer’s choice fruit, produce, and herbs we have also elected to get 1 dozen eggs.  So far I have to say the eggs are my favorite thing.  The taste of fresh eggs over store bought is almost criminal.  Especially for me who would put an egg on anything.  In our first box we got some Rainbow Chard that was just beautiful.  Interestingly enough I have never bought chard before, so I needed to do a little research before making a dish.

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Chard is in the same family as beats and is similar to kale and spinach in flavor/cooking options.  Typically chard is cooked to soften some of the bitter flavor of the greens, but can be eaten raw.  I found the greens to be more flavorful than spinach when cooked and softer than kale.  Chard is a nutritious little green to add to your life, rich in vitamins A, K, and C as well as a minerals, dietary fiber, and protein (according to Wikipedia).

A lot of the recipes I looked at sauteed the chard with lemon or garlic, and quite a few used fresh ginger.   This got me thinking, as I have a robust amount of lemon thyme already growing in my “garden” I went the lemon and garlic route.

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Ingredients:

– 1 large bunch of Rainbow Chard (stems and greens separated and diced)
– 1-2 cloves of Garlic, minced
– 1 Tbsp of fresh Lemon Thyme with center stem removed, use regular time if you don’t have lemon thyme
-1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes (optional)
– 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil, or sauteing oil of choice
– 1/4 to 1/2 Lemon, juice

Directions:

1. Cut the chard stems into 1/2 to 1/4 inch pieces, separated from the greens.

2. In a heavy skillet on medium heat, saute the chard stems in olive oil with the garlic, half of the lemon thyme, and red pepper flakes.

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3. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until stems are soft and fragrant.

4. Add the diced chard greens to the pan and stir in.  Cover and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring as needed.

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5. Spritz with fresh Lemon, garnish with remaining lemon thyme, and serve hot.

Enjoy and Eat Local!

Vitamix Skills: Coleslaw

Since purchasing my Vitamix blender I find that I am always searching for ways use it that are out of the ordinary.  When my friend told me about chopping cabbage in the Vitamix I thought it was an urban legend.  How could the Vitamix roughly chop, doesn’t it just pulverize?  It has been months since I have had the blender and for as much as I love coleslaw I haven’t yet tried to shred cabbage. Tonight was the night to experiment.

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It took me several rounds to figure out exactly how to make this work, but I think I finally found the best setup for a restaurant quality chop.  It’s not that cabbage is hard to chop, but it is time consuming and it’s so tempting to buy the bag of shredded mix.  Save yourself the money and add some freshness to your life by shredding yourself.

Step 1:

Take a small wedge or two of cabbage and place in Vitamix.  Fill with water to the point that the wedge floats just above the blades.

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Step 2:

Turn the blender on and increase to level 4 quickly, let run for under 10 seconds.

Step 3:

Pour into mesh strainer to separate from water.

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Blend in batches for desired amount.  Don’t forget to check out side dishes for my summer coleslaw recipe: https://seasonsforcooking.com/2013/09/01/summer-bbq-coleslaw/

Snacking Nuts

The holiday season is full of gatherings with friends.  I made this snack mix to put out while having a drink before going out to dinner.  I didn’t want everyone to fill up, but there is something nice about having a small snack with your beverage.  This is easy and will last in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks, so you can cover Christmas and New Years with one baking.  This would also make for a nice host/hostess gift with a bottle of wine or box of chocolates.

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I found this recipe on the Food and Wine website, perfect amount of sweet and savory without overbearing the natural nut flavors.

Ingredients:

2 cups almonds
2 cups pecans
2 cups walnuts
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup (heaping)
2 Tbsp of fresh chopped rosemary and thyme
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (heaping)
salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Toss to combine all ingredients except the salt and pepper in a large bowl.

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3. Spread out mixture on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
4. When you remove them from the oven sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and stir 1-2 more times while cooling.

2013-12-21 14.57.57Enjoy!

Roasted Sweet Momma Squash

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Sometimes a side calls for a flair of sweet instead of savory.  Today I made a marinated pork tenderloin and decided it was just the dish for a little touch of sweetness.  I found an adorable squash at the farmers market last month, and as the season goes on I have decided to remove it from the decoration basket to serve for dinner.  It is called a sweet momma squash, looks like a larger and more plump acorn squash…unfortunately I did not take a picture before cutting it.  It tastes similar to acorn squash and has the same texture qualities.

Ingredients:

1 sweet momma squash (or acorn squash)
2 Tbsp  brown sugar
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp coconut milk

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Directions:

1. Cut squash in half and remove seeds.  Slice into wedges 1-2 inches thick.

2. Spray lightly with olive oil and roast for 10 minutes in the oven at 400 F.

3. Remove from oven and coat with mixture of brown sugar, melted butter, and coconut milk on both cut sides.  Return to oven and roast for another 10-15 minutes until tender.

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The skins of the squash got really tender so I ate the whole thing.  If the skins don’t get soft enough or it weirds you out too much, just go for the fleshy center .

Enjoy!

Vegetarian Squash Boats

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On my way home from a Fall weekend with my girlfriends, I found what appeared to be the worlds largest zucchini at a farmer’s stand in Wisconsin .  When I went to cut into it I was surprised to find out it was not a zucchini, but some sort of squash as it was hard and had a pumpkin-ish smell.  I did some research and I think what I had was actually a squash called Mo Qua.  My game plan completely changed with this discovery, I decided to make a roasted stuffed squash instead of grilled zucchini rings.  Usually I stuff squash with meatballs, pretty much the only way to get my husband to eat acorn squash, but I didn’t have any ground meat on hand so I made this veggie mixture instead.  Turned out to be amazing, sliced and served with salmon to complete the meal.  This stuffing will work in any squash, usually I prefer butternut or acorn squash for stuffing.

Stuffing Ingredients:

– 1/2 onion, diced
– 1 green pepper, diced
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, center stem removed
– 1 Tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped
– 1 large tomato, diced
– 1/8 cup sliced kalamata olives
– 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
– 1/4 cup bread crumbs
– 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
– salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. On a baking sheet roast the squash of choice by cutting in half, removing seeds, spraying with olive oil, and seasoning with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven at 350 for 40-60 minutes, until pierced easily with a fork.  For a harder squash (butternut or spaghetti) , poke it with a fork throughout and put in the microwave for 5-7 minutes to soften up enough to easily cut in half.

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2. Make stuffing by sauteing onion, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, salt and pepper in a skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil.  Saute for 10 minutes on medium heat before stirring in the diced tomatoes, olives, and fresh basil.  Stir and cook for 5 minutes before gently folding in the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.  Mixture should be soft and cohesive, if it is too wet add more bread and Parmesan, don’t over mix.

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3. When your squash are roasted remove from oven and carefully stuff with stuffing.  Return to oven and roast at 350 for 10 minutes or until stuffing looks a little browned.

2013-10-08 21.12.40Enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Red Skin Mashed Potatoes

No Fall or Winter feast is complete without mashed potatoes.  Ever since I was a kid I have been a mashed potato snob, I always demanded the real thing, none of that boxed stuff.  While I love classic mashed potatoes, I can’t help but try to enhance it.  I recently gained a new appreciation for roasted garlic, the flavor is soft yet powerful at the same time.  If roasting garlic seems frivolous or too time consuming, try popping a few cloves in the oven with a main dish to roast for sides (such as this one) or smearing on bread.  The process is totally worth the effort in my opinion.

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Ingredients:

– 2 lbs of red skin potatoes, diced evenly

– 1/4 stick of butter (or more to taste)

– 2 Tbsp fresh chives, roughly chopped

– 1/4 cup of milk (more or less for consistency)

– 1/4 cup of sour cream or plain greek yogurt.

– 3-4 cloves of garlic, roasted and mashed

– salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Roast the garlic:  Cut the top off of the cloves leaving skin intact, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Loosely wrap in foil and roast in oven at 325-350 for 45-60 minutes.  I stuck this little foil pouch in with the ham while it was cooking to save time.  To prepare garlic for mixing, remove roasted cloves from oven and push pulp out of skin and mash with a fork or knife.

2. Prepare your potatoes and cover with cold salted water, bring to a boil and cook until fork tender.  Try to not overcook.

3. When the potatoes are cooked, drain water and mix with remaining ingredients in standing mixer or hand mixer, take care to not over work.

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Enjoy!

 

Roasted Carrots and Fennel

Easy but healthy sides are an important part to every meal.  Roasted vegetables are a great part of winter weather cooking when grilling is not an option.  For tonight’s meal I kept it simple, and the fresh garlic and ginger make it taste like a much more complicated side than it really is.

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Ingredients:

– 6 carrots

– 1/2 bulb of fennel

– 3 cloves of garlic

– 1 Tbsp ginger sliced

– grape seed oil

– salt and pepper

2013-09-26 19.23.42Directions:

1. Slice carrots and fennel, mix together with garlic and ginger.

2. Drizzle with grape seed oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Spread out on cookie sheet and roast in oven for 15 minutes at 350, then mix and turn temp up to 450 to finish roasting about 10 more minutes or until fork tender.

Enjoy!