Archive for October, 2011

Fall Crop Share Week 5 Report

Happy Halloween everyone! This was the last week of our Fall crop-share, so it felt fitting to post this on Halloween as we start to transition from Fall into Winter, even though it definitely snowed here over the weekend. We do have a late Fall/early Winter crop-share ahead of us for another 5 or 6 weeks which should be a good time. I really enjoyed the Fall crop-share. I have said it before and I’ll say it again – the hardier produce is great for storage and shelf-life and really adds a nice depth to many recipes. Not having to worry about the crops spoiling as quickly is a really great bonus. To date the farm we go through only offers a ‘large’ crop-share, which for our family of 2 is a bit too much in the spring and summer when the produce needs to be used up quickly. The winter crop-share allowed us to sign up for only a peck of produce, which should be a better quanity for a small family like ours. In the summer I would anticipate a peck being a much better amount for us, the Winter shall steer us in the right direction I’m sure! Now, onto the details of our final Fall share…

What we received:
– Broccoli
– Onions
– Celery
– Carrots
– Apples – baking and eating varieties!
– White Potatoes
– Cabbage
– Cider (welcome treat!)
– A pumpkin
– Tomatoes!

Our Plans: 

Baking season is in full swing in our home. The apples from last week and this week will be made into apple fritters and apple pie(s). We have the recipes lined up and ready to go and really cannot wait to cook them up! I don’t know how y’all feel about baked apple products but I absolutely love them. A really good apple pie is my favorite dessert, served a la mode of course!

The celery, carrots, potatoes and onions were actually used over the weekend in a delicious stew. It was a Guinness beef stew, and I am sure you will all love it as much as we did! It was a perfect meal for the cold snowy day on Saturday. The ingredients were perfect in it, and we were lucky to get them through the crop-share this week!

There is a great summer cabbage salad that I make, so I plan to use the head of cabbage for that actually. I know it is out of season but we haven’t had that salad in months so it will be a nice meal to remind us of warmer days! The tomatoes were also a great surprise to us. Apparently, a local farm uses a greenhouse to grow out of season produce in the cold months and thus we have tomatoes. There really is little else as special as seeing nice red tomatoes on your counter in October. Tomatoes are also one of my favorites, so I look forward to having that fresh, local taste in some dishes this week! I plan to use the broccoli as usual – steamed as a side-dish. Broccoli is one of my all-time favorite veggies, I think I could all of it as-is if given the opportunity, BUT I’ll share it steamed with my husband since he fancies that vegetable too!

I think the Fall crop-share went out on a good note. We looked in our basket this week and found lots of items we were excited to cook with and had plans for. It was a great week, made a lot of new recipes and we cannot wait for some more Winter produce in the next crop-share. Recipes and other fun will be posted soon! Thanks for sticking with me through the Fall crop-share, I look forward to sharing my Winter crops with y’all!

Advertisements

Fall Favorite Recipe: Sweet Potato Bake

Going off of another recipe handed to us by our crop-share enablers we found another great way to enjoy sweet potatoes. This recipe was also very easy and relatively quick to make. While the sweet potatoes are cooking you are definitely able to get the rest of the ingredients gathered and ready to go as well, as make the topping – Can’t say it enough, this dish made it very easy to multi-task while baking. Between the topping and the bake itself this recipe uses about an entire stick of butter – It’s clearly something indulge in but if you are very health conscious just fyi. I would suggest using less brown sugar in the topping – it made it a bit too sweet and more dessert-like than a side dish should be. This recipe will be a hit at our Thanksgiving for sure! Overall we will definitely be making this again and have thoroughly enjoyed the leftovers this week!

What you will need:

The Bake
– 3 cups peeled, cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/3 cup melted butter
– 2 large eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1/4 cup heavy cream (we used half and half)

The Topping
– 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (when I make it again I plan to only use 2/3 cup)
– 1 cup chopped walnuts
– 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
– 3 tbsp melted butter

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 325 F and grease a 2 quart baking dish. Peel, cook and mash your sweet potatoes. After we peeled them we also cut them up to help them cook a bit quicker.

Mix all of ‘the bake’ ingredients (including the cooked, peeled and mashed potatoes) together except for the cream. Beat the ingredients at a medium speed with electric mixer until smooth. Add the cream and mix well. Pour this into the greased baking dish and pop into the oven for 25 – 30 minutes.

To make the topping, mix all of the ingredients except for the melted butter together. Slowly add in the butter while still hand-mixing to make into crumbs to put atop the casserole.

With about 10 minutes left on the baking clock add the topping to the top of the casserole. You just have to sprinkle it on – nothing too fancy there. You will want to ensure that the potatoes are solid enough to hold the topping and that it will not sink to the bottom. Put the casserole back into the oven for the remaining 10 minutes. Take out, serve and enjoy!

Fall Crop Share Week 4 Report

Well we have hit the one month mark for the Fall crop-share! So far so good. Again, the Fall crops that we are receiving are definitely interesting and different. The Fall crop-share more than the summer crop-share is definitely making us stretch our produce comfort zone, in a good way though. We were asked by the crop-share provider to keep an open mind to the veggies included this week so it seems like we will not be the only family going a bit out of our ‘normal’ produce range.

What we have:
– Cranberries
– Apples (stayman variety)
– Hard Squash
– Cauliflower
– Brussel Sprouts
– Potatoes
– Onions
– Turnips
– Spinach

Our Plans:
Ok, everyone is thinking about it so I’ll start with the elephant in the room – brussel sprouts. What in the world are we going to do with brussel sprouts? I have no idea and I wish I did. I have never even sampled a brussel sprout before never the less cook with one so I am really at a loss for what our plans are for this one. I’m going to page through as many recipes I can find and find something that sounds appealing and just dive right in! Since I’ve never had them I don’t want to pre-judge them, so I’m trying to keep an open mind and be adventurous with these guys.

We still haven’t done anything with the turnips from last week so now that we have a few more in our possession we will be able to turn out one or maybe even two great dishes to sample. A recipe hunt is also on for the turnips!

I actually really enjoy cauliflower so I’m excited to have this. I may try it in a pasta/Italian themed dish. They gave us quite a large crown of cauliflower so there may be some fried cauliflower in order too – you can’t go wrong with something fried!

At this point we are elbow deep in both onions and potatoes. I think the week ahead will feature both of these items as much as humanly possible. It has to be done – there are just too many darn potatoes and onions around here right now! I’m not exactly sure how we are going to use them all, or most of them but here are the highlights of what I was thinking: Potato pancakes (should use at least 2 – 3 potatoes, hopefully more), boiled potatoes with steak, Chili (to use some onions), onion rings if it’s nice enough to do burgers one evening, a chunkier pasta sauce that’s heartier in veggies including onions…. I’ll need some more ideas to use the remainders up so I may shift my turnip and brussel sprout focus to really emphasize any recipe that includes potatoes or onions.

Fall has been fun cooking-wise so far.  We have started honing in on some meals that are able to be prepared ahead just to account for our lack of wanting to cook for hours after a busy day of work. There are quite a few that we have come up with that can be semi-started over the weekend then finished when it’s time to actually cook and consume them and we have done a few casseroles that allow us to make large enough portions that we cook now and freeze for later saving us time down the road. We also have quite a collection of apples so I do believe that some apple-focused treats are in order in the very near future. I love Fall, that’s certainly no secret, and the crop-share has made Fall a really fun time for cooking and trying new recipes and produce!

Chinese Firecrackers (featuring Ground Turkey)

Each week our crop-share includes in our boxes some recipes that they enjoy and suggest to use with the ingredients we have received. A few weeks ago we received this recipe. After finally remembering to purchase ground turkey we gave it a try, and it was pretty good!

While we enjoyed them, we both felt it was missing a little something – I followed the recipe almost to a tee but I think what could be added is bean sprouts (because one can never have too many of those!) and red pepper to give it a bit more flavor, it was almost a bit bland and overpowered by the dough. That’s my two cents – here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

– 1 tsp vegetable oil
– 1/2 lb ground turkey
– 1 cup shredded cabbage
– 1/2 cup shredded carrots
– 2 green onion (finely chopped)
– 1 tbsp chile paste
– 1 tsp cornstarch
– 1 tbsp white wine
– 14 sheets phyllo pastry dough (halved into triangles)
– 4 tsp vegetable oil
– 3/4 cup sweet and sour sauce for dipping

Directions
Pre-heat your oven to 375 F and defrost your phyllo dough based on package directions. Grease a baking sheet (I use parchment paper instead of greasing a baking sheet – saves me time on cleanup). Heat 1 tsp vegetable oil in a skillet, cook your ground turkey (until no longer pink) and leave it in the skillet. Once the turkey is cooked add the cabbage, carrots, green onions and cook until the veggies are all slightly tender (give or take 5 minutes for the veggies to be cooked). Stir the chili paste through the veggie and turkey mixture.

Whisk the cornstarch into the wine in a small bowl. Once the veggies are tender and the chili paste has been added to them stir in the wine/cornstarch mixture and cook until the liquid is slightly thickened. Remove the mixture from heat and allow a few minutes to cook.

Place one half sheet of phyllo dough on a flat surface, brush with a small amount of vegetable oil and top with a second sheet of phyllo dough. Place about 2 tbsp of the turkey/veggie mixture on the short end of the phyllo and shape into a log shape. Roll the dough and mixture into a firecracker shape (twist the ends so that the ‘log’ of mixture and dough is in the center) and place on the cookie sheet. Lightly brush the firecrackers with vegetable oil. Repeat until all of the dough and mixture is used.

Bake these in the preheated oven until the phyllo dough is crisp and golden brown – about 20 – 25 minutes. Serve with the sweet and sour sauce.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you away. This really was simple and almost a ‘one pan’ dish – almost everything is cooked in the skillet, it’s easy to chop and dice the veggies while the turkey is cooking, ect. It really was a very manageable dish overall to make. If you are worried about where to find phyllo dough – check in the International food freezer section of your local grocery store. We both enjoyed them and I think they would be great as appetizers at a party. Whenever you eat them – Enjoy!

Fall Crop Share Week 3 Report

It’s week 3 of the fall crop-share! Things have been going really well with this fall crop-share. There is nothing more delicious than steaming fresh veggies as side dishes and having nice long-lasting fresh products on-hand for whatever we feel like cooking. This crop-share has really turned our eating and food shopping around. At the food store yesterday we spent a lot of time in the produce section deciding what additional veggies we wanted to cook and planning out our meals to include MANY more fresh items. It was a great feeling leaving with less processed foods and a lot more fresh items. Consistent healthy eating is definitely a change we are loving! Sorry for the side-trip there, back to the main attraction – week 3 of the crop-share:

What we have:
– Cabbage
– Onions
– Turnips
– Acorn Squash
– Carrots
– Jona Gold Apples
– Red Delicious Apples
– Sweet Potatoes
– White Potatoes
– Seckle Pears
– Green Leaf Lettuce

Our Plans: 

We were blown away by the amazing variety we have received this week! Lots of goodies for us to cook with that is fresh and new and lots we have worked with before. We have a great recipe for a ‘chinese’ firecracker that will help us use up the onions, cabbage and carrots (at least partially).

With the remaining onions we want to attempt to make onion rings with – we have tried them once before but they did not come out well at all, so hopefully our second try will be better. If not I’ll still hold out for a third attempt (3rd time’s a charm, right?) but I shall be sure to blog the onion ring success (or failure). Lots and lots of apples will lead to some apple chips, and some mini apple pies! Apple pies and caramel are my favorite dessert item, so I am really looking forward to smelling some baking apple pies and then devouring it a la mode style!

The turnips will be a new fun experiment to work with. I enjoy dishes with turnips in them but I’ve never cooked with them to date. I’m not sure what to try. Our crop-share providers have given us a ‘cheesy turnips’ recipe but that seems too easy and plain, I want to try something more daring with the turnips. Any ideas on a fun way to use the turnips?

Overall, fall crop-share has been wonderful! We are definitely enjoying the hardier produce varieties that have been coming into our basket. It’s great having food that will not perish as quickly and as easily. The meals we are turning out with this food are nice and filling, perfect as the cooler weather sits in.

Apple Muffins with Cinnamon Crumbs

With the onslaught of apples we have received through our crop-share Greg found this recipe and decided it sounded delicious (and simple enough) so we gave it a whirl. What a great turnout! We didn’t put enough batter in each so we didn’t get the ‘real’ muffin look on them but next time we figured we would cut 4 out and make just 12 like they suggested and fill them up more. We ended up making 16…

You can find the recipe online at: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/apple-strudel-muffins/detail.aspx

What you will need:
1 ½ cups chopped apples (2 apples got us to this amount )
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 ¼ tsp vanilla


For the Crumb Topping –

½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon (a generous sprinkling will do)
1 tbsp butter (softened)

To Bake:

Pre-heat your oven to 375 F. You can grease up a muffin pan or use the cupcake/muffin liners to save yourself a mess later! In a medium bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, beat butter, sugar and eggs until smooth. Mix in your vanilla and stir in your apples. Gradually blend in your flour mixture with the beaters – this helps get any larger chunks of apples you may have had a bit easier to handle. Spoon your
mixture into your muffin pan.

In a different bowl mix brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is like course crumbs. Sprinkle over the tops of mixture in the muffin pan. Bake for 20 minutes and then enjoy them! Again, as you can see in the picture below they didn’t ‘muffin up’ enough because we simply didn’t put enough batter in each. Plan for 12 muffins and not one additional and they should turn out perfect!

Fall Crop Share Week 2 Report

Week 2 of our fall cropshare – the air is getting even crisper and the smells of the season are definitely in full swing! Here is our weekly cropshare breakdown:

What we have: 

– Green Bell Peppers
– Red Swiss Chard
– Red Leaf Lettuce
– Mushrooms
– Roma Tomatoes
– Rome Beauty Apples
– Suncrisp Apples (Golden color)
-Buttercup Squash
– Seedless Navel Oranges

Our Plans: 

Quite a variety this week! This looks like it will be a fun week to experiment because among the many things included in our cropshare there are a bunch of items we haven’t really cooked with or explored to date. We received Rainbow Swiss Chard before and gave it away, this time around I’m going to search around and see what I can come up with to use it, it seems interesting and nothing I have ever really heard about before so I’m definitely eager to see what its potential is.

The buttercup squash (pictured above) also looks peculiar. I have definitely seen this squash around before but really have no idea what to do with it. But since it’s a squash, have no fear I’m sure I’ll find a million and a half ways to cook it and will love each of them enough to wax on and on in a future post about the wonderful ways to cook it (like I do about squash here all the time)….

We are looking into apple muffins with the baking apples as we also have a bit of a backlog of baking apples from a previous “desserted”  recipe (Aren’t I just too darn punny?!).

The oranges will be a delicious treat – citrus in the fall – yum! The remainder of the items will really be handy in salads and side-dishes throughout the week but won’t be a main feature. I think the main time this week on meals will be focused on the new squash variety we have received and the swiss chard. Wish us luck – this should be an interesting, and hopefully fun/tasty, week!

%d bloggers like this: