Archive for December, 2011

BLT Pasta

I am a huge huge fan of BLTs, just absolutely love them (hold the mayo!), my other great love is definitely pasta. BLT pasta was just a no-brainer. This is a quick and different pasta dish that is really easy to pull together and makes a fun side that everyone likes.

Ingredients: 

– 1 box of pasta – rigatoni or penne are best
– 1/2 a package of cooked bacon (about 6 pieces, more if you want extra bacon)
– about 7 oz of baby spinach or arugula
– 1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes – we have used chopped up beefsteak tomatoes in a pinch too
– 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To Bring it all Together: 

I like to cook up my bacon first, that’s just a personal preference. While I’m getting my bacon ready I start to boil my water for pasta. Since it doesn’t matter as much to me if the bacon gets only lukewarm I cook that up first and place the cooked bacon on a plate with a paper-towel to soak up the extra grease. Once your bacon is done cooking, do not wash out that pan! Empty out most of the bacon grease from the pan and put your washed arugula/baby spinach into that pan on low. Stir that around until your spinach/arugula starts to wilt. Once it looks like it is starting to wilt transfer it to your serving bowl. Next put your quartered cherry or grape tomatoes into the pan from the bacon and cook them for about 2 minutes. I usually add just a small pinch of olive oil to the pan at this point to ensure that the tomatoes don’t stick. Once the tomatoes are warmed up add them to the bowl with the arugula/baby spinach. At this point your pasta should also be done, drain your pasta, add to the bowl with the spinach/arugula and tomatoes and the 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Mix them all up well and then crumble the bacon on top to serve.

Once you stir it all up, each bite will have a great BLT flavor, for an easy and fun side dish any night of the week!

Winter Crop Share Week 5 Report

We have now passed the half-way mark on the winter crop-share, next week is our last week for this season. Don’t worry though – I have a good stash of recipes saved up that I’m going to post at least once a week in the winter doldrums since we won’t have crop updates to discuss. I thought our weeks were getting busy the last time I wrote but we had 4 holiday parties in one weekend, so I’m voting that we are slightly more busy now than even then, which leaves little time for trying new recipes. I’m all about watching people eat my food creations but I cannot test out brand spanking new recipes on innocent party goers, so I have gone back to some of our safe holiday sharing dishes.

What we received in week 5:

– Navel Oranges
– Swiss Chard
– Collard Greens
– Cauliflower
– Cubanelle Peppers
– White sweet corn
– Organic mushroom variety pack


In the Kitchen:

The peppers have actually been really great on things from tacos to salads. They aren’t too spicy but add a nice flavor. I have never had that specific variety of pepper before but I definitely will look for it again! The mushrooms are a no-brainer for me – I adore mushrooms and could put them in almost any and every dish I make, so those will be easy to cycle through! Here is the part that threw me for a loop: Corn?! But it is December and I live in the Midatlantic, where did this corn come from? Well they decided to reach to further away farms for our crops this week and thus we have some corn! It is a nice winter treat. I’m not sure yet if I want to boil it and pretend it’s July by eating it right off of the cob OR look to some neat type of salsa or dip that features corn…

The cauliflower is going towards our easy cauliflower and pasta recipe , that is a dish we really enjoyed and after a long day of work it is quick to whip up! I’m still unsure how to approach the collard greens and swiss chard. I won’t lie, they intimidate me a bit. I’m going to do some research around the internet and in the stack of cookbooks I have borrowed from the library and see if I can find a picture that really draws me in. There has to be a not too intimidating way of cooking with these items out there, and I will be the gal to find it, try it and then share with y’all!

I mentioned in my last post that the great cookie swap of 2011 was a hit in our home! We really loved it and had such a great time waiting for our packages to arrive and just enjoyed it overall. What a fabulous event to be a part of. Keep your eyes peeled this weekend for an update post to the cookie swap on the cookies I received (Complete with links to their amazing recipes!). I sincerely hope you are all enjoying your winter holidays, and if you don’t celebrate, hope you are enjoying the beautiful cold weather and some fun outdoor winter activities!

The 2011 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Lime Cookies

This year I participated in a gigantic cookie swap! It was so much fun, and such a great experience! Many thanks to those ladies for setting up such a wonderful event! The basic gist of this swap was that each participant baked 1 dozen cookies for their ‘match’ and each person had 3 matches. My cookies went out to California, Massachusetts and Kentucky to these great food bloggers:
http://annagaz.wordpress.com/
http://kathycancook.com
http://mybflikeitsoimbg.blogspot.com

In return, I received three dozen cookies from three different parts of the country! I plan to do another post really featuring the pictures of the cookies I received but in the meantime, here are their blog links: www.the-baker-chick.com/ , www.lovelifeandpictures.blogspot.com and http://soufflebombay.blogspot.com/ . Thank you all!!

For my contribution to the swap, I went with a new recipe for lime cookies. I’m not as wonderful as a baker so this recipe was directly out of the BH&G ‘The Ultimate Cookie Book” . It was a great recipe and we even ended up making more batches for our friends and ourselves. The flavor of the lime was really very good in cookie form, definitely a nice cookie! The recipe also yielded about 48 cookies, which made it even better for a swap type of format since I needed at least 36. Another thing that really excited us about this recipe was that we could finally use the micro-plane we received at our wedding – that really made the recipe that much more appealing to us! Anyways, it was tasty, people seemed to really dig them so here is the scoop on how to make these! Disclaimer: I will add more photos to this post once my camera’s battery has been recharged!

Ingredients:
– 1 cup butter, softened
– 1 cup sugar
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1 tbsp finely shredded lime peel
– 2 tbsp lime juice
– 2 cups flour (all-purpose)

The ingredients below this are specifically for the sugar topping, last paragraph of the instructions, please keep them separate from the ingredients above!
– 1/3 cup granulated sugar
– 2 tbsp green colored coarse sugar (we used green sprinkles)
– 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (keep separate from above)
– 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.  In a large mixing bowl beat the butter for about 30 seconds. Add sugar, nutmeg, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and beat until combined. Beat in your lime peel and lime juice and continue to beat until combined. We actually juiced one entire lime here and we must have chosen the absolute perfectly sized lime because it was exactly the amount of lime juice we needed – that little guy gave us all the peel and juice we need: woo hoo! Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer and then begin to stir in remaining flour. We were able to beat in about a cup and a 1/4 of the flour with the mixer before giving way to stirring it in by hand. Put to the side. 

In a small bowl stir together the ingredients listed above for the sugar topping. Mix well and set aside.

Shape the dough into 1 inch balls (approx.). Place balls 2 inches apart on your cookie sheet. I always prefer to line my cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up and that worked well. The recipe calls for an ungreased cookie sheet so pick your poison: ungreased sheet or parchment paper. Using the bottom of a glass (we used a juice cup) dipped into the sugar topping flatten the balls until they are about 1/4 inch thick. Bake them for about 10 – 12 minutes depending on how many are on there and how thick they end up being. You will want the edges to be golden. Transfer them to a wire rack and allow them to cool before you dig in!

Winter Crop Share Week 3 Report

Having a week off of the share for Thanksgiving was a welcome break! It gave us some time to use up ingredients we had hanging around and give our fridge a nice thorough cleaning. Now that the holiday season is in full swing it seems that our kitchen is turning out more baked items than traditionally cooked items so I’ll be sure to share those successes and failures as quick as I can! I cannot say this enough but with our social schedule jam-packed having a smaller share has really helped us prevent waste!

What we received:

– Eggplant
– Onions
– Carrots
– Beets
– Apple Cider
– Tangelos

Upcoming Meals:

As a child raised in the early 1990’s when I think of beets the first thought that pops into my head is of the cartoon Doug, which prominently featured the band, The Beets!. Unfortunately for me, Doug did not include recipes only songs, so while I cannot get their catchy tunes out of my head I’m trying to find some recipes that will turn us on to the beets in our basket. Family has told me that they find beets to be delicious and sweet so I am going on the hunt for something that will highlight the sweet side of beets. Of course, details shall be posted!

The carrots and onions are going to be used in a stew, or chili. With colder temperatures starting to arrive it is officially soup, stew and chili season (oh yes, and cold season too!). Putting these great fresh ingredients in the stews and soups is a delicious and noticeable difference from their frozen (or dare I say canned) counterparts.

The tangelos have been an interesting inclusion in the basket. Part of the lure of this share was that it was local, which is a term I use loosely as many farms are from the surrounding states. The tangelos are from Florida. I enjoy getting citrus in winter but I’m not sure that it really what I’m looking for from this share…. I have enjoyed eating them but I’m just wishing they stuck to more winter crops from the general states that surround us, we live in Virginia so PA, MD, VA, NJ, NY, maybe even Ohio, and WV and NC wouldn’t be bad places to get crops from but Florida just seems too far. That is what I thought about as I ate my tangelo at breakfast this morning, so food for thought – when you sign up for a crop-share and expect local produce how do you feel when your produce isn’t as local, or even regional, as you expected?

Final thoughts – good week for crops, great week for baking, delicious meals shall be served in our home! Sorry for the late post everyone, hope you enjoyed!

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