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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Summer Vegetable Curry

Recently I saw a recipe for a Green Swiss Chard & Chickpea Curry on Pinterest, and it left me longing for that saucy goodness. With all the fresh summer vegetables we have in our fridge, this seemed like the perfect meal. I had a few jars of stock left over from the weekend, some quinoa in the cupboard, and a desire to devour coconut milk.

I like to take my time when I cook dinner, stretch it out as long as possible. That's why I usually add in extra side dishes as I go. As I was gathering vegetables from the fridge, I noticed a few small zucchini from the garden and immediately saw them as delicious pancakes to sop up the curry sauce. Excellent choice. The kids ate theirs with Vermont Maple Syrup, the SO buttered his, and we both used them to sop up the lingering sauce on the plate. From start to finish, the cooking took an hour, and that's with me taking my time, drinking wine, and dancing to good music. If you had the items prepped and ready to go, this meal takes about 30 minutes to cook.

Summer Vegetable Curry
Serves 4

2 C potato, cubed
2-4 T yellow curry powder
1/2 red pepper, sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 C green beans, chopped
1" fresh ginger, peeled and diced
1 bunch Swiss Chard, sliced (stems should be chopped & kept separate)
1 15oz can of Garbanzo Beans
1 15oz can Coconut Milk
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 C stock

1. In large skillet heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add potatoes and gently fry, stirring often.

2. Once potatoes are browned on all sides, add curry powder and stir to coat thoroughly. Cook 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.

3. Add in pepper, garlic, green beans, ginger and Swiss Chard stems, and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Cook 2 minutes.

4. Pour in Garbanzo Beans and stock and cover, bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes, stirring twice.

5. Add in butter, Swiss Chard and Coconut Milk and stir thoroughly. Simmer 8-10 minutes.

I served our over quinoa cooked in vegetable stock, with the ration 1 cup of grains to 1 1/4 c of stock, simmered on low for 15 minutes.

Zucchini Pancakes

1 C zucchini, shredded
1/2" fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 T curry powder
1 C flour (add more if too wet)
2 eggs
salt and pepper
2 T butter

1. Salt shredded zucchini and let sit for 15 minutes. Squeeze excess water and add to bowl.

2. Stir in ginger, curry powder, flour and eggs. Mix into a pancake like batter, adding more flour if needed. Salt and pepper.

3. Melt butter over medium heat and drop batter by the spoonfuls. This makes six 4" pancakes.

4. Serve with butter, chutney or syrup.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Weekend in Food

There are not many weekends I get to spend at home with my children. Between their visitation with their father, and my SO's band schedule, we rarely get the opportunity to relax at home all together. This weekend was our first one in over 2 months and I had plans to cook. During the week I make sure to give myself 2 hours to make dinner every night, if possible, but I desire so much more time in the kitchen. My youngest child had a birthday party this weekend, so that gave me ample opportunity to put on an apron and bust out some ingredients.

The weekend started off with our family favorite - breakfast for dinner. It's a fall back meal when I have nothing planned, or I have the desire to be a short order cook. Often the kids will ask for pancakes, eggs, toast and bacon (on the rare occasions we have it); and my SO and I will tend towards fried eggs and home fries. I love breakfast. It's my favorite meal on the weekends, and it's my favorite special dinner. We had not had omelettes in a while, and with a fresh tomato straight from the garden sitting on my counter top, I couldn't resist pairing it with caramelized onions and sharp cheddar cheese. The home fries were a hodge-podge of root veggies and some left over pork ribs, and it was all served with some sauteed Swiss Chard.

(See Marshmallow Cupcakes and Veggie Rice & Dumpling Soup below)

Tomato & Caramelized Onion Omelette
Serves 2

4 fresh eggs
1 C cheddar cheese, grated
4 tomato slices
1/2 C onion, sliced thin & caramelized*
2 T butter
4 T water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a 6 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of butter. Whisk together eggs and water. When the skillet is hot and butter has started to brown, pour in 1/2 the egg mixture and tilt pan around to coat bottom with egg. Turn heat to medium low.

2. With a spatula, gently push egg back from edge of pan and tip to fill with wet egg. Do this 2 times around the pan, letting the uncooked egg gently under the edge of the cooked egg. 

3. When egg is 85% cooked through on the top, cover one half of the omelette with cheese, onions and tomato slices. Fold in half and finish cooking. Flip gently onto a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

How to make caramelized onions:

1. In large cast iron skillet melt 2 T of butter over medium heat. 

2. Add thinly sliced onions and toss to coat thoroughly in butter, then turn heat down to medium low. Stir as necessary to prevent burning. Add a tablespoon of butter if needed.

3. Cook onions until soft and caramel color.

Root Veggie Home Fries
Serves 4

3 C potato, cubed and steamed*
1 C carrot, thickly sliced and steamed*
1/4 C beet, diced and steamed*
1/2 C onion, chopped
1/4 C pork, cooked & chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 C lard/oil/shortening
2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste

*Steam veggies until just soft. Do not overcook or you'll get mushy home fries. (They still taste fine).

1. Melt lard/oil/shortening over medium heat in a large deep cast iron skillet. Add in veggies once it is sizzling hot. You don't want the oil to cool or the veggies will soak it in and be greasy. You want it hot enough to sear the moisture in. Cook for 10 mins, stirring 2 or 3 times.

2. Add in the onions and pork and stir to mix evenly. Keep cooking 5 minutes, flipping mixture over once.

3. Add in the butter and garlic, and stir to coat. Continue to cook another 5 minutes or until desired done-ness is achieved. Season with salt & pepper.

Swiss Chard Saute
Serves 2

2 C Swiss Chard, sliced thinly, stems reserved for another meal
1/4 Water
2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a medium cast iron skillet combine Swiss Chard and water over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes.

2. Add butter to Swiss Chard and toss to coat as it melts. Cook 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


For my youngest child's birthday party I was going to make banana cupcakes with honey cinnamon frosting, and they were going to be amazing. Until I discovered meal worms in ALL my flour and oats in my cupboard. Admittedly, I hadn't baked in months because summer is too hot for that, and I had some oats from the farm that were probably the carrier. It was a sad moment, and I had to throw away all my flours. Which meant no cupcakes. With no time to go to the store, I called my parents to see if they had a box of cake mix (they live downstairs, so convenience was a huge factor in this). They did, AND they had some frosting....which was great because although I had confectioner's sugar, I had forgotten to buy butter.

The cake mix was your basic chocolate, and the frosting was cream cheese. I could work with this. In the cupboard I had some leftover marshmallows from a camping trip, and I decided to recreate an idea I saw on Pinterest. The directions are simple, but the results were perfect for the birthday party. I made 12 cupcakes and one small heart-shaped cake.

Make the cake mix as directed, or if you have the ability, make it from scratch. Take the marshmallow's and cut them in half. Place one half in the batter, gently pressing it down, but not so far it's buried. Bake according to directions, but cut time short by 3 minutes. When timer goes off, pull out of oven, press the other half of the marshmallow into the cavity formed by the first half. Bake remaining 3 minutes. 

I frosted these with the aforementioned cream cheese frosting, but I stirred in some orange flavoring for extra oomph. I had to go out the next day and buy a second thing of frosting, though, as one container was not enough for 10 cupcakes and a small cake.

Sunday Soup 

The weekend was a success and to reward ourselves for pulling off the birthday party, and getting some much needed chores done, I made us a hearty soup. Our garden has been over flowing with zucchini, summer squash, and green beans, and recently we've started seeing some small carrots and beets. I was craving a summer vegetable soup, but with colder nights being upon us, I wanted something with more substance. I needed dumplings! 

To start off, the day before we made the soup I started making a fresh veggie stock. I keep all our veggie scraps and meat bones in the freezer. Whenever I need stock I pull some out, boil it up for a day (or in this case 2) and voila! Fresh made stock. This weekends stock had a chicken carcass and a lot of summer veggie skins and left-overs. I simmered covered on the stove for 8 hours on Saturday, put it in the fridge with everything still in it, and then simmered again for 2 hours on Sunday. I strained out the veggies and put it in the fridge for 2 hours to cool. I then removed it from the fridge, skimmed off the milk and used about 6 cups for the soup. Delicious! And I have 2 cups left for curry tomorrow night.

Summer Veggie Rice Soup with Dumplings
Serves 4

6 C vegetable/chicken stock
salt pork, about 6-8 slices
1 C onion, chopped
1 C carrots, chopped
1/2 C Swiss Chard stems, chopped
1 C green beans, chopped
1 1/2 C summer squash & zucchini, chopped
2 C kale, chopped
1/2 C zucchini, shredded
1 T butter
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 C rice, cooked
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat soup pan over medium heat with salt pork. Cook for about 5 minutes, until pork is browned.

2. Toss in onions, carrots, chard, and green beans and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often. 

3. Stir in butter. Add in green beans, summer squash, chopped zucchini and kale, Sprinkle with salt and stir to coat.

4. Add 6 cups of stock and bring to a boil. Drop down to a simmer and cook 20 minutes, until veggies are soft.

5. Add shredded zucchini, rice and garlic. Stir and drop in spoonfuls of dumpling batter*. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. I served the soup garnished with fried zucchini and beet slices.

Gluten Free Dumplings

1 1/2 C gluten free flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 T sugar
1 t salt
1 C buttermilk
2 T butter, melted

Mix together dry ingredients. Toss in melted butter. Stir in buttermilk until a dough forms.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Food Albums

During the time that I was not writing down recipes, I was still cooking food. Here are some of my albums - if any of them garner any interest, I'll try and recall the recipes for you.

Summer Vegetable & Bean Soup

The climate in Maine this summer has not been great for most vegetables, but the squash - well that's another story. The farmers' markets and farm stands are overwhelmed in the yellow and green goodness that is the staple of every summer garden. Our own measly backyard garden is producing at an astounding rate - we even found our first pie pumpkin this morning!

My kids are not that interested in squash, but they eat it 12 months a year. I can't get enough of it - soups, stir fries, baked & stuffed, shredded, raw, cookies & pies - so I have to find ways to incorporate it into dinner without them disliking it. If I stuff it, they eat the insides. If I stir fry it, they will usually pick it out. But if I shred it....oh the things I have done with shredded squash. Tonight's dinner was created for just this occasion! The shredded summer squash acted like a noodle in this decadent summer soup, and my kids devoured it none-the-wiser.

The other stars of this delicious soup were inspired by what we could cut from the garden, and what my SO could grab from the Swango Farm Stand, where he works. He came home with a bushel of summer squash and added that to our growing stock, plus a handful of onions. In the garden we have fresh Swiss chard and chives, which I gathered up. In the cupboard we had some canned beans, a perfect source of protein for my mostly vegetarian family.
Beautiful fresh ribbons of Swiss Chard not 5 minutes after I snipped them from the garden.

Fresh chives from the garden add the perfect pop for this savory soup.

Summer Vegetable & Bean Soup
(serves 4)
1 large onion, sliced
4 T butter, unsalted
2 C water
3 vegetable stock bouillions
1 can white beans, rinsed
1 can butter beans, rinsed
1 C Swiss chard, leaves and stems
1 C summer squash, grated
4 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
4 T chives, fresh chopped
1/4 C Parmesan cheese, shredded

With cold and flu season on its way, we are going to be including garlic in every meal.

1. In a large pot over medium heat melt butter, and add onions, tossing to coat thoroughly. Turn to med-low and simmer onions gently, stirring 1 or 2 times, for 10 minutes.

2. Add bouillion to the onions and stir to coat with spices. Pour in water (add more if you want a more brothy soup) and beans.

3. Stir in chard, summer squash and garlic until combined.

4. Bring to a gentle boil, drop to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and chives, with some crusty bread.

We had the green tops from the fresh onions, so we added those on top of the cheese & chives.

Mac 'n Cheese 'n Summer Squash

This is the time of year when zucchini and summer squash run rampant through our gardens. You can buy it by the bag loads from farm stands and farmers' markets. Most of us can get bushels from friends who are overwhelmed with these long, vivacious green and yellow vegetables. We eat zucchini bread, fry rounds of them in butter, stuff them, make noodles from them, and try to find a number of other ways to use up the plethora of zucchini and summer squash we are surrounded by.

My kids eat just about anything, but they have already reached their limit of these summer vegetables. I know have to find new and creative ways to use them up. Tonight's dinner was a win in all categories. The kids got homemade macaroni and cheese, I served them a healthy dose of summer squash, and the SO gave it two thumbs up. I cheated on the sauce, admittedly, because I was lazy and it needed to be used up, but you can make a roux and a white sauce from scratch.

This is what it looked like before baking.

Mac 'n Cheese 'n Summer Squash
1 package pasta
2 C cheddar cheese
2/3 C Alfredo sauce
1 C shredded summer squash
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
4 mushrooms, thinly sliced (optional)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 T butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta until just cooked. Drain and set aside.

2. In the meantime, heat 1 T of butter over medium heat and add onion slices. Toss the onion slices so they all get coated in butter. Turn heat down to medium low and let cook until a golden brown.

3. In a pot melt 1 T butter over medium heat and add in Alfredo sauce and shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Add in summer squash and cook for 2 minutes.

4. Butter a baking dish and add cooked pasta. Dump in cheese and squash sauce, mix thoroughly. Serve with a fresh salad, sauteed green beans, and some crusty bread.

Delicious and creamy, topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Vegan Tuscan Soup

This winter has been nothing but an array of sick...6 long months of virus after virus. Tonight another round has swept through the household, and I'm tired of it. In response to this sickening grip on our household, I decided to whip up this warm and hearty soup. If you have leftover rice and beans, this soup comes together in about 20 minutes. It is great for those with dietary restrictions, too - it's vegan and gluten free - and would be spectacular with tofu. If you're a meat eater, don't hesitate to stir in some cooked chicken or sausage for some added protein. All-in-all, this soup was a big hit with the kids and mister alike, it was slightly warm with spices, but not so much so that it made it uncomfortable. However, if you want a little kick, double the spices!

Vegan Tuscan Soup
(serves 8)

8 C Vegetable Stock
1 C rice (leftover rice would cut the time)
1 onion, chopped
1 head of garlic, sliced
2 C pinto beans (precooked)
3 C fresh spinach
1/2 C salsa
2 T dried thyme
1 T cumin
1 t Cajun spice

In a large stock pot add stock, rice, onion, garlic and spices and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the rice is just cooked. Stir in pinto beans, salsa and spinach and cook at a simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with a thick slice of warm bread.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New England Winter Stew

I love my winter CSA more than any other season. When I first decided to do one, I was concerned that winter in Maine is not a viable time for growing food at the farm. I was quickly proven wrong. My first winter CSA was through Little Ridge Farms in Lisbon, and I was astonished at the variety of vegetables - from delicata to butternut squash, turnips, beets, onions, shallots, kale to collard greens. And I never got bored with them. My body craved them. And each winter I tingle with anticipation for creating recipes to keep my family warm in the cold New England weather while providing them with the plethora of vitamins our bodies crave. This year's holidays took a toll on us, berated by colds, a gastrointestinal virus, and the exhaustion from late nights and too much candy. We were in dire need of soup, a thick hearty stew that could warm us from the inside out. Serve this with a hearty chunk of bread and a small salad for a full meal.

(serves 4)
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 C sausage, cooked
2 C butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 turnip, peeled and cubed
1 fennel bulb, chopped, tops removed (for another use)
2 C cooked rice
4 C vegetable stock
4 T butter, unsalted
1 t cumin
1/2 t cayenne
1 sprig savory
1 apple

In large sauce pan put whole sausages in and cover with water. Cook 15 minutes over medium-high heat. Set aside and drain any remaining water from the pan. Return pan to medium low heat and melt 3 T of butter in it. Toss in onion and coat with the butter. Cook over medium low heat until the onions have caramelized. Add in garlic, squash, turnip and fennel and toss to coat with onions. Chop sausage into pieces and mix into veggies. Pour in vegetable stock. Stir in cumin and cayenne, and drop a sprig of savory in. Bring to a boil and drop to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour. Add in rice and cook for another 30 minutes. Mix in 1 T of butter, salt and pepper if desired.

To serve, scoop stew into a bowl and garnish with fresh chopped apple and fennel ferns.