Friday, December 12, 2008

St. Lucia Bread

We enjoy celebrating the Swedish custom of St. Lucia (or St. Lucy) Day. One of my favorite parts is baking the delicious saffron buns that are traditionally served on St. Lucia's Day. I make mine using my breadmaker and then handshape and bake. They really aren't hard, want to give it a try?

The following recipe comes from The All New Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook:

Add the ingredients in the order specified in your bread machine's manual. (Mine is wet first, then dry, then yeast)

3/4 c. plus 2 T milk
1 lg. egg

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1/3 c. granulated white sugar
1/4 tsp powdered saffron (if you can only find saffron in "threads", just pulverize these as best you can then measure out 1/4 tsp. A trick I just learned is to use a bit of sugar as you pulverize with your mortar and pestle.)
3 T unsalted butter

2 1/4 fast-rise yeast

Place all in a 2-cup capacity breadmaker and set on "dough". At the end of the rise, punch down the dough and let rest 5 minutes before hand-shaping.

To handshape:
Lightly sprinkle work surface with flour. Divide dough into equal peices: 2 for 2 large breads, 4 for small breads, 6 to 8 for smaller buns. Lightly sprinkle with flour. Dampen hands and roll each piece into a rope. (18 inches for the 2 large pieces, 9 inches for the 4 pieces, etc.)

Lay a rope on a lightly-greased baking sheet. Curl each end, toward the center, into a coil. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush bread with egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water). Bake for approx. 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a rack.

This bread freezes well and is excellent served toasted with orange marmalade. (We serve small buns on St. Lucy's Day and freeze a larger bread for Christmas morning.)

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Russian Tea Mix

Looking for "Mix-in-a-jar" recipe for Christmas gifts? This one is always loved: Russian Tea Mix. The spicy-orangey flavor is delicious! My kids helped mix this and everyone who received it begged for more.

3 c sugar
2 c Tang (or other orange-flavored drink mix)
1 c unsweetened instant tea mix
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 envelope unsweetened lemonade mix

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Mason jars work well and make for nice gift-giving. To serve: put 1 1/2 to 2 rounded spoonfuls of mix into a cup and fill with boiling water. Stir well. (Don't forget to include the serving instructions on your gift jar!)

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Erikson's Glogg

Svenska Glogg (or Swedish Mulled Wine) is a traditional Swedish drink for the Christmas season and no wonder - boy, will it chase away the chilly weather! It is a very potent spiced wine - served warm.

There are many different recipes for Glogg. Hubby's family's version takes two types of port wine, brandy, and vodka - and of course lots of spices. This one (the one we used last year and decided we liked equally as well) is a bit less alcoholic, but every bit as wonderful! I'm calling it "Erikson's Glogg" - because my kids are Erik's sons...and someday perhaps this will be their family recipe for Glogg.

Erikson's Glogg
1 large bottle red wine
1 reg. bottle port wine
10 cardamom pods, gently cracked
small handful of cloves (10 or so)
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 T whole allspice
1/2 c (or more) of sugar (more or less to taste - depending on your wine)
Handfuls of almonds and raisins.
1 orange cut in half

Place the spices (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, allspice) in a loosely-tied cheesecloth bundle. Combine the wine and the spice bundle in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir in 1/2 c of the sugar, carefully tasting to determine if it needs more. Continue adding by 1/4 cup fulls until it the wine tannins are smoothed out, but not too sweet. Toss in almonds and raisins (one or two handfuls of each). Float the orange halves in the glogg. Continue simmering the mixture slowly for 15 minutes.

At this point you can cool it off and store it, or go ahead and serve.

Before serving it is traditional to put a splash of Aquavit in the pot (or vodka) (or more - depending on your perferences) and light the glogg. Be VERY CAREFUL doing this...we've never had a problem, but it is fire, people! The floating almonds will sizzle and the flamed glogg mellows. (It also reduces the alcohol content a bit.) We turn down the lights and everyone gathers around when the pot is lit. The kids think it is wonderful!

Serve this in mugs - and be sure each glass gets a few of the almonds and raisins. (We serve with a spoon so we can dig these out of the bottom of the glass.) This is perfect to enjoy after the kids are in bed on Christmas a darkened room with just the Christmas tree lights on. Very relaxing!

Interested in more Christmas recipes? Come back tomorrow, I'll post more of my favorites! Also, check out Randi's Holiday Recipe Swapbox!

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Reviewed

As promised, here is my review of the recipes I used for Thanksgiving dinner:

Brined Roast Turkey - THE best way to fix a turkey. The saltiness of the brine soaks into the flesh of the bird. The light herbs give it a perfect scent. And the sugar of the brine gives a perfectly crisped and browned skin.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes - Oh, my gosh these were so good! I was a little unsure when I pulled them out of the fridge yesterday, but after they warmed up and the butter was added they fluffed right up. They were really, really delicious. I will use this recipe again!! Oh, by the way, I warmed mine covered in a 400 degree oven (with other dishes cooking). Just took them out a few times to stir them up a bit.

Pepperidge Farm Stuffing - how can you go wrong? :)

Holiday Waldorf Salad - Very, very good. I would recommend doubling the dressing recipe, though. I thought my salad needed more dressing, but I hadn't made enough. (It might have also been because I made a slightly larger salad than called for in the recipe.) The sweet with the crunchy, slightly bitter romaine was delicious.

Lighter Green Bean Casserole - Ok - this was WAY better than the stuff made with canned soup! I doubled my recipe, but I think I didn't double the mine needed a bit more salt on the plate. I also used a short cut and just purchased the French's Fried Onions rather than making them. (Although, the recipe for making them didn't seem too hard.) I found that I needed to keep this in the oven longer than it called for and then the onion-topping needed to be covered as it was browning up a bit. So, keep that in mind if you try this recipe.

Sweet Potatoes with Mini-marshmallows. - Delicious, of course. How can you mess this up? We mashed the sweet potatoes the day before and had them all ready to go in the baking dish, so that cut down on the time in the kitchen.

Orange-Cranberry Relish - Wonderful, Yummy, Scrumptious! This recipe calls for "grinding" - I used my CuisineArt and really chopped them up finely. This made for an almost paste like consistency, which became wonderfully jelly-like when I added the sugar and macerated. This dish was beautiful on the table, too - bright, ruby red!

Now, about the pies (Pecan-topped Pumpkin Pie and Black Walnut Custard Pie)...I didn't get to make them. My mom-in-law had offered to bring pies, but hubby forgot to tell me that before I planned out my dinner. So, instead we had MIL's homemade Apple-Cranberry, Pumpkin, and Black Walnut pies. (She even makes homemade crust.) They were wonderful!

But I still want to try these pies out. We are going to her house for Christmas, so I will see if I can make them for her and then I'll let you know how they are!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - Pre-Thanksgiving

Easy meals are the name of the game this week....

Monday - Taco Night
Tuesday - Pasta e Fagioli (to be eaten as leftovers for lunch Wednesday, too)
Wednesday - Brussels Sprouts, Sausage and Corn Bread
Thursday - Thanksgiving Meal!
Friday - Turkey-Barley Soup, bread (scroll down a bit for the recipe)
Saturday - Pizza (in or out)
Sunday - Chicken and biscuits (with any leftover turkey thrown in, too)

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving Meal Plans

So, has Thanksgiving sneaked up on you like it has me?

I was at the grocery store yesterday marveling at how early they had the turkeys out for sale...then I did some quick mental calendar work and realized - it isn't early at all!!! I went ahead and bought my frozen turkey, because I don't want to take a chance with the slimpickings that will be left by Saturday - my usual shopping day.

Brought home a 14-pound Butterball. I debated over the nice organic turkeys and almost bought one...but I just couldn't justify the extra expense. The Butterball is a great turkey and it was on sale...and that price was about 1/3 the cost of the organic bird. I hate not to support the organic farmer, but this year it just is what it is.

Then when I got home I was DELIGHTED to find that my local newspaper had a very useful "Guide to Thanksgiving". Usually, I eschew these mass-produced meal plans, but with speed of life around here recently (adoption is really in full steam!) I'm taking full advantage of someone else doing some of the hard "thinking" work for me. Of course, I can't use it entirely as, let the tweaking begin! (Interested in this menu plan with day-by-day plan ahead countdown?) Of course, I'm already behind because I didn't clean out my freezer, fridge or pantry today...but I'll catch up tomorrow!

Here is my Thanksgiving Menu plan - as adapted from the Charlotte Observer:

Brined Roast Turkey
(A brine recipe I've been using for about a year and a half now and love it!)

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
(Not the same recipe listed in the newspaper)

Pepperidge Farm Stuffing
(I'm sure homemade is better, but I grew up on this stuff and I just LOVE it. Somethings you just can't change. And they way we make this is so - anti-gourmet. I'll have to take a picture - you'll laugh! We make big "balls" of stuffing and cook them on a cookie sheet. They get crunchy on the outside, but soft and bread-like inside.)

Holiday Waldorf Salad
(From the paper: A bit lighter and crunchier than a traditional Waldorf Salad)

Lighter Green Bean Casserole
(From the paper: Doesn't use canned soup - thank goodness!)

Sweet Potatoes with Mini-marshmallows.
(Oh, why do I give in to this? My kids just love those mini-marshmallows and it just isn't thanksgiving for them without that!)

Orange-Cranberry Relish
(My Mother-in-Law introduced me to this fresh cranberry relish and it is now an absolute must-have. I also keep the canned jellied cranberries around for sandwiches after.)

Pecan-topped Pumpkin Pie
(From the paper: This is the same recipe as listed in the paper, but I hated the name, so I changed it. The idea is that you need not choose between pecan or pumpkin pie...well, you'll see that this still doesn't get me out of making two pies...and I'm Ok with that!)

Black Walnut Custard Pie
(I've used a pecan pie and just substituted Black Walnuts with good results, but this pie recipe sounds just delicious! Hubby is a big black walnut fan, so I try to make a black walnut pie or cake for him every holiday season. Never had black walnuts? They are amazingly different than regular walnuts-very strongly scented, almost like a liquer. Don't try to substitute one for the other. If you can't find black walnuts at your grocery store, skip this recipe!)

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Pecan-topped Pumpkin Pie

Wow - love it. If this tastes as good as it looks, this will be a new tradition around here.

As listed in the Charlotte Observer:
We struggle every year to decide between pecan or pumpkin pie. Author Dorie Greenspan came up with an ingenious solution in “Baking: From My Home to Yours” (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). It's got pumpkin on the bottom and pecans on top. It's so easy to put together, it's as simple as just making a pumpkin pie.

1 (9-inch) single pie crust, partially baked and cooled

Pumpkin filling:
1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons dark rum (or rum flavoring)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pecan filling:
1/2 cup light or dark corn syrup
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (about 7 ounces) pecan halves or pieces

POSITION rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put the pie plate with the prepared crust on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon baking mat.

COMBINE all the pumpkin filling ingredients in a food processor and process, stopping to scrape down sides as needed, for 2 minutes. Leave the filling in the processor for a minute.

PLACE all the pecan filling ingredients except pecans in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.

GIVE the pumpkin filling a final pulse in the food processor, then rap the bowl on the counter a few times to release any bubbles. Pour into the crust. Spread the nuts evenly over the pumpkin layer. Pour the pecan filling over the top, pushing any nuts that float back down.

BAKE 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake 35 to 40 minutes longer, until top is puffy and a thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer pie to a cooling rack and let stand until it is just warm. Serve chilled or warm.

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Lighter Green Bean Casserole

We've never had the "green bean casserole" tradition at our Thanksgiving - I often fix broccoli or something. I've thought about fixing lima beans (this will sound crazy, but my kids adore limas...adore them). But this recipe has me taking a second look - mostly because it doesn't use canned soup.

As listed in the Charlotte Observer:
This is almost as easy as the can-opener classic, and much tastier. Adapted from “Eating Well: Comfort Food Made Healthy,” by Jessie Price and the editors of Eating Well magazine (Countryman Press, 2009).

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 medium sweet onion, half diced and half thinly sliced, divided
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen French-cut green beans (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons buttermilk powder (see note)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

COAT a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

HEAT 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt, thyme and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have released their juices and the juice has mostly evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.

SPRINKLE 1/3 cup flour over the vegetables, stirring to coat. Stir in milk and sherry and bring to a simmer, stirring often, until sauce starts to thicken. Stir in frozen green beans and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and buttermilk powder. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. (Can be made to this point about 3 hours ahead and refrigerated.)

WHISK remaining 1/3 cup flour, paprika, garlic powder and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish. Add sliced onion, breaking it apart into strands, and toss to completely coat with flour.

HEAT remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and any remaining flour mixture and cook, stirring often, until golden and flour bits are crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Spread over the casserole.

BAKE in a 400-degree oven until bubbling, about 15 minutes.

NOTE: Look for buttermilk powder, such as Saco brand, in the supermarket with the canned milk. After opening the canister, store it in the refrigerator. It will keep indefinitely.

Yield: 6 servings.

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Holiday Waldorf Salad

I love waldorf salad, but sometimes find it a bit to heavy (it tends to be too creamy for me - I need more crunch). This looks like a recipe we'll all love, so I'll let you know if it passed "muster" after Thanksgiving.

As listed in the Charlotte Observer
From “The Healthiest Meals On Earth,” by Jonny Bowden (Fairwinds, 2008)

1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 small crisp apples, cored and diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup seedless grapes, preferably purple, halved
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
8 cups romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-size pieces

WHISK together yogurt, honey, orange juice and ginger in a small bowl.

COMBINE apples, celery, grapes, cranberries, walnuts and romaine in a salad bowl or large serving bowl. Just before serving, pour the yogurt dressing over the salad and toss to combine well.

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Carrot and Potato Soup

Been on a bit of a blogging break. Didn't announce it here, but did at my other blog: While I haven't been posting menus and recipes, we have been eating! HAHA! Trying to get back to blogging a bit more, probably a bit more casually on this blog. I still am trying some great seasonal fact I've got a great one I'm going to share now:

Carrot and Potato Soup - really, really good! Hearty with a touch of sweetness from the carrots...creamy with just enough chunks. Tastes like you cooked it all day - excellent flavor!

2 T butter
2 large shallots or a medium onion (I used the shallots)
3 C chopped carrots
6 C diced potatoes
8 cups broth
salt & pepper
1-2 T Herbes de Provence (or any of your favorite herb blends)
2 bay leaves

Melt butter in soup pot. Saute shallots or onions until transluscent. Add carrots and saute for a few minutes - season with some salt and pepper. Add potatoes, broth, and herbs. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Fish out the bay leaves and puree with a wand mixer just to give some creaminess to the broth, but leaving some small chunks (or scoop out about 2/3 of the vegetables and mash by hand then return to the pot and stir well). Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with a nice caraway-seeded pumpernickel or cheddar cheese bread.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Scalloped Potatoes

These are deliciously creamy!

1 cup chopped onion (1 large onion)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups milk
8 cups thinkly sliced potatoes (red, white, or yellow) - about 2 1/2 lbs

For the sauce, in a med. saucepan cook onion in hot butter until tender. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir over med heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; set aside. Place half the sliced potatoes in a greasted 3-qt rectangular baking dish. Top with half the sauce. Repeat the layers.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350* oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40-50 more minutes or until potatoes are tender. Let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes before serving.

You can add 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (chedder, gruyere, swiss) to the thickened sauce, stirring until the cheese melts if you'd like cheese scalloped potatoes.

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The Sunday Roast Menu Plan - Week 2

The Sunday Roast Menu Plan - Week 2

Well, the first week of my Sunday Roast Menu Plan went really well - except that I discovered I realy have to have 2 roast chickens to feed my family of five for most of the week. We homeschool and my husband works from home, so we at home A LOT.

Sunday - Roast Chicken, Herbed Roasted Potatoes, Green Salad with apples and raisins

Monday - Chicken Divan over Rice - this calls for cream of broccoli soup. Instead, I'm going to try using the milk and flour combination for making a cream sauce to use in this dish. (It was used in last week's Chicken and Biscuit recipe.)
An easy one-dish meal using some breast and thigh meat.

Tuesday - Chicken and Gravy, Baked Winter Squash and Apples (the original recipe calls for butternut squash, but I'm going to also use acorn squash), Corn Pudding
Using breast and thigh meat and pan drippings saved from roasting pan. Use carcasses to make broth. Freeze whatever is not used.

Wednesday - White Chili & Corn Bread (possibly the Broa)
Use some of broth and rest of meat.
Thursday - Scalloped Potatoes, Roasted Carrots, Apple salad
If there is more meat leftover, I might serve it re-warmed with this meal. Or I might make chicken salad for tomorrow's lunch.
Friday - Homemade Pizza

Saturday - Hubby's Night to Make Dinner! Don't you love that?
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Monday, October 13, 2008

The Sunday Roast Menu Plan - Week 1

The Sunday Roast Menu Plan - Week 1

I'm starting an experiment: a menu plan based on the old-fashioned Sunday Roast. For the next few weeks, I'll cook a roast chicken on Sunday and use the leftovers to make meals for the rest of the week. This should make menu planning and cooking easier...and more frugal!

Sunday - Brined & Roasted Whole Chicken, Sauteed Broccoli

Monday - Pasta al Forno with Chicken
Slice off some of the chicken breast and thighs for the casserole.

Tuesday - Chicken and Biscuits, Sweet Potato Fries
Slice off rest of breast and thigh meat for tomorrow's meal, pull off all the last bits of meat for the Pot Pie, make broth and use for tonight's pot pie and tomorrow's soup.

Wednesday - Crockpot Italian Wedding Soup, Bread
Use broth and rest of the chicken breast and thigh for the soup. If I have plenty of meat, I'm going to make a double batch of this. Instead of meatballs, I'm probably going to cook up some breakfast sausage links that I already have on hand and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

Thursday - Leftovers "Buffet"

Friday - Homemade Pizza

Saturday - Hubby's Night to Make Dinner! Don't you love that?

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Pasta al Forno with Chicken

This is pretty quick and easy to assemble; makes good leftovers; and freezes well. You could easily make a double-batch to share or put in your freezer (freeze it before baking). This could also be made without the chicken or with ground beef.

1/2-1 lb chopped cooked chicken
8 ounces small shaped pasta
1 (25 ounce) jar marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained or frozen broccoli
1 cup ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
6 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon oil

Preheat oven to 375°. Coat 2 1/2 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Cook pasta; drain; rinse with cold water.

In bowl, combine marinara, mozzarella, spinach or broccoli, cottage cheese or ricotta, 6 T Parmesan, salt and pepper. Stir in pasta and chopped, cooked chicken (or ground beef); transfer to baking dish.

Stir together bread crumbs, Parmesan and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake until hot, 25-30 minutes.

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Chicken and Biscuits

Seriously good comfort food and a wonderful one-dish meal.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, 1 tsp dried
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of milk whisked with
3 Tbsp sifted flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook until just softened and transluscent. Now add carrots and cook until the carrot is just starting to cook. Add the parsley, broth, peas, cooked chicken and salt/pepper. Bring it all to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Whisk flour and milk together (you can strain it if it is lumpy) and add to the pot. Bring back to a low boil, then simmer until it is thickened.

Biscuits (*as a short cut, you can use Bisquick and their biscuit recipe on the side of the box)
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter or margarine cut into small chunks
3/4 cup cold milk

Stir the dry ingredients together and cut in the butter (you are going for coarse crumbs). Stir the milk in just until the whole thing is moistened. Knead it very lightly 2 or 3 times.

Pour the hot chicken into a casserole. Drop pieces of the biscuits on top of the stew. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the biscuits are just starting to brown on top.

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Crockpot Italian Wedding Soup

This is a new recipe for me (from - it sounds wonderful, I'll let you know how it turns out!

16 1/2 ounces meatballs (you could make these while you are making the meatballs and tomato sauce from last week and just freeze them. I'd suggest making bite-sized meat balls for this dish or quartering regular-sized ones)
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/4 (8 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (or fresh if you have it)
garlic salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1/4 cup romano cheese
1/4 cup acini di pepe pasta (small pasta)

Combine all the ingredients except pasta in crock pot and cook all day on low (7-8 hrs). Add the pasta during the last hour of cooking. Serve with an awesome crusty bread.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Brine your Bird

Ever heard of brining your bird? Soaking your bird (chicken or turkey) in a simple brine before roasting really does result in a delicious roast. I highly recommend it!!

Here's a recipe that I use to brine chicken or turkey - it can also be used for pork roast, although I've never tried that. It comes from Chez Panisse. Use a whole recipe for a turkey, half for a chicken. Also, this recipe calls for juniper berries. You can find them at specialty cooking stores or World Market. If you can't find them, just skip it...I've made it a number of times without the berries and it was wonderful.

If you make the whole recipe, it makes a LOT of brine, so you'll need a big pot in which to submerge the roast. Also, you'll have to plan ahead for soaking time - a day for poultry, 3 days for pork - and they must be fully plan accordingly!

Chez Panisse Brine
2 1/2 gal. of cold water
2 c kosher salt (table salt works well, too)
1 c sugar
2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
1 bunch fresh thyme, or 4 T dried thyme
1 whole head of garlic, peeled
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 juniper berries, crushed

Prepare the brine and soak: place the water in a large pot that can easily hold the liquid and the meat you intend to brine. Add all the ingredients and stir for a minute or so until the sugar and salt to dissolve. Refrigerate poultry in brine for 24 hours; pork for 3 days. If the meat floats to the top, use a plate or other weight to keep it completely submerged in the brine.

To roast: Poultry - stuff cavity with desired herbs (chicken: onions, lemon wedges, herbs such as thyme, parsley, rosemary/ turkey: lemons, herbs, onions as desired). Rub the skin with oil to help browning; sprinkle with fresh pepper - salt is not needed due to the salt in the brine. Cook uncovered in a 400-degree oven until done (about 1 hr 15 min for a 3-4 lb chicken or 12-15 minutes per pound for a turkey). Boneless pork roast: Sprinkle the roast with pepper and herbs such as sage, thyme or tarragon,if desired. Roast uncovered in a 400-degree oven for about 12-15 minutes per pound.

I think you'll find that even the leftovers stay wonderfully moist!

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Friday, October 10, 2008

The Sunday Roast Menu Plan

There is a very old-fashioned way to cook frugally that I want to give a try: The Sunday Roast. Many of our mothers probably grew up in families where their mothers cooked a big Sunday Roast of some sort and then created a variety of meals from that roast the rest of the week. What a wise, simple, frugal and sustainable way to cook!

I'm going to give it a try, want to come along?

For the next couple of weeks, I'll post my Sunday Roast Menu Plan using my weekly Sunday roast as the base for as many meals as I can the rest of the week. I'll post recipes, too. Let's see how this little experiment goes!

Tomorrow, I'll start by posting a favorite recipe of mine: a Brine for a Roast. Then come back on Monday when I post my menu plan for the week. I'll try to add recipes on Monday or during the week.

Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss the menu ideas! (Subscribe via email or RSS.) And let me know what you think of the meal ideas...and if you have some of your own, let me know!!!

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Ceci (Chick Peas) and Tagliatelle Soup

Oh, I meant to post this earlier. It was REALLY good. I kind of made this up after seeing a similar recipe on Lidia's Kitchen (PBS TV show - Italian cooking).

2-3 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
dash of salt
1 lg carrot, sliced
1 lg stalk of celery, chopped (with leafy tops)
2 cans chick peas (Ceci or garbanzo beans), drained, but not rinsed
8 c. chicken broth
1 - 2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 pkg tagliatelle noodles

In large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high flame. Add onions and sprinkle with dash of salt. Saute until they are transluscent. Add carrot and celery and continue sauteing until all the veggies are tender. Add chick peas and toss to coat. Allow the chick peas to warm up a bit, then add the chicken broth. Add the thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Let the whole thing simmer for at least 20 minutes. You can let it simmer longer at a lower heat for a more flavorful soup. This is what I prefer! Just make sure your herbs are well softened and the soup has good flavor. Adjust the salt and pepper as needed.

Just before serving, bring the soup to a gentle boil and drop in the noodles (breaking them up a bit on the way into the pot). Cook them for the length of time recommended on the package (mine were done in 4 minutes). Reduce the heat and serve!

I recommend a good hearty bread - or some homemade croutons, too!

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Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

In the past I've made these in the oven and that is a very easy and good way to make them (and a slightly different recipe). But, if you have the time I highly recommend using the stove top method - and this recipe (adapted from a recipe in Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Here it is:

1 lb ground beef or turkey
1/2 c bread crumbs
1 T onion, chopped very finely
1 T parsley, chopped
1 egg
1 T EV olive oil
3 T grated parmesan cheese
dash of ground nutmeg
dashes of salt and pepper
more oil for sauteing
1 can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped up, with their juice

In a large bowl, mix the ground meat, bread crumbs, oniob, parsley, edd, 1 T olive oil, parmesan chese, nutmet, and salt and pepper well. Use your hands or a sturdy spoon - but don't squeeze the meat.

When well mixed, gently shape into balls about 1 in in diameter. You can roll them in more bread crumbs, if you wish. I skip this, though.

In a large saute pan, heat enough oil to come up 1/4 of an inch on the sides - on a med. high heat. When the oil is hot, gently place the meatballs in the oil one at a time. Be careful not to splash the oil. Brown them on all sides (turkey will not "brown", it will get a little golden) - but turn them carefully so they don't break apart.

When done, remove the pan from the heat and tip it slightly. With a spoon, remove as much of the oil as you can. Return the pan to the heat (medium heat) and add the chopped tomatoes - give the pan a pinch salt and a grinding or two of pepper. Gently turn the meatballs to coat them in the sauce. Cover the pan and cook at a very gentle simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Serve alone, over rice or pasta (our preferred way).

These are excellent made ahead of time and then reheated before serving. They also make a great freezer meal.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Hi! I'm so glad you stopped by! If you've visited here before, you know that I am a seasonal cook...with some local and organic, as I am able. I've found that cooking with my local seasons keeps my menus from getting "stale" and makes it much easier to cook with really fresh ingredients. If you are considering going "local", but are daunted by the challenge I encourage you to make the seasonal switch first. Get used to cooking within nature's cycle...which will make local food all that much easier to find!

I am in the Southeast of the US, where we are blessed with a nice long growing season. But our mid-atlantic climate gives us a similar harvest schedule to many other places in the US.

So, what is in season this week:

Chicken is still coming from the Chicken Club, so that is wonderful! We'll get two more harvests and then be done for the season. Since hubby is still not interested in eating beef or pork, I'm going to stock up on organic chicken in my freezer. Still looking for a local farmer who can supply me with about 10 at a time for my freezer.

My local supermarket has started carrying a few truly local items. I say truly because last year they did this and "local" was two or more states away. Not so local. But not they have a mile-based system (I can't remember what it is, but I think it was within 150 miles or so). They had fantastic looking sweet potatoes, so I stocked up on those!

Celery is still coming in strong from our vegetable co-op. I'm using some for kids' snacks, the Ceci & Tagliatelle soup, and a celery risotto. Celery risotto may sound a little plain, but I have it on good authority that it is quite delicious and elegant. I'll let you know!

Broccoli - a little early for us, but my co-op has some, so I'm enjoying it.

Here is this week's menu:
"Emergency" Take out

Supremes a La Milanese (Chicken Breast rolled in parmesan and sauteed in butter), Sweet Potato Chips, steamed broccoli

Ceci (Chick Peas - pronounced: Chay-Chi) & Tagliatelle Soup, Homemade Semolina Bread
I use canned, but you could use dried and just soak and cook them before making the soup.

Meatballs & Tomatoes over pasta
Using good canned italian tomatoes. I know, I know - entirely not local...and canned! Someday I'll grow and can these myself, but until I do, these are the BEST tasting, so I use them without guilt!

Homemade dough, bottled Marinara, mozzerella cheese - none of it particularly seasonal nor local

Succotash, Corn bread, hard boiled eggs
This is just simple, plain, good fare.

Roast Chicken, Squash &Apples, Celery Risotto
I have a brine I'm going to use with this chicken. I'll post the recipe in the next day or two. The squash and apples are so good. Don't tell you kids that it has squash in it and I promise they'll gobble it up!

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sweet Potato Fries

These are so easy and SO GOOD. Everyone loves them and one batch is just not enough!

Updated to add: the recipe I originally posted was not the one I was thinking of when I raved about these. I'm not sure what I've done with that recipe, but it made "fries" instead of "chips". When I made the "chips" version, I was not very pleased with them - they never got crunchy - at all. So, I've found a "fries" version that should work better. These should have a nice chewy-crunch on the outside and a warm moist inside.

4 medium sweet potatoes
-- cut lenghtwise into 1/2 in slices (like "steak fries")
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes slices in a large bowl; add oil and toss to coat, add salt and pepper, toss some more. Put slices on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, turn over and bake another 15 minutes.

You might also try tossing them with parsley, thyme, basil or oregano!

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Portuguese Cornbread (Broa) - for bread machine

This is a new recipe I've just found and can't wait to try out. White cornmeal is traditionally used, but yellow or even blue can be used, too. This recipe is for a 2 lb bread machine.

1 2/3 c water
1/4 c olive oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c white cornmeal
3 1/2 c bread flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast

Place the ingredients in your breadmaker according to the manufacturer's directions (mine is all wet ingredients first, then dry and, finally, the yeast). Set on Basic cycle.

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White Chili

This is a great way to use up leftover chicken from a roast in the slow cooker.

1 c onion, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
3 15 1/2 oz cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 4 oz cans diced green chilis
4 c chicken broth (you can make this from your roast chicken or use boxed/canned)
3 c chopped, cooked chicken
2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 oz)
sour cream (optional)

In a 3 1/2 to 6-Qt slow cooker place onion, garlic, cumin oregano, green chilis, broth and cooked chicken. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 7-8 hours (or high heat for 3 1/2 to 4 hours). Stir in cheese until melted. Top individual bowls with sour cream, if desired.

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Weekly Menu Plan - Sept 28-Oct 4

On hand this week:
green onions
acorn squash
butternut squash
sweet potatoes

Sunday - Leftovers
We still had bits and pieces from last week, so instead of fixing a new meal, we decided to clean out the fridge!

Monday - Roast Chicken a la Normande*, Creamed Spinach, Mashed Potatoes and for dessert: Blackberry Pie and ice cream
This meal has been selected to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Michael and All Angels.

Tuesday - Fish Poached in White Wine*, Steamed Broccoli with lemon butter, Sweet Potato Chips
I would normally have leftovers or a casserole or stew made from the previous night's meal tonight, but I have some fish I purchased that must be used!

Wednesday - White Chili, Portuguese Corn Bread
This chili will be made with the leftover chicken from Monday.

Thursday - Leftovers
Time to clean out the fridge!

Friday - Pizza

Saturday - We are attending a wedding - so, we'll eat there!

* both these dishes come from my new cookbook Mastering The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. The recipes, while not complicated, are a bit long to retype. If you are at all interested in learning about French cooking, I HIGHLY recommend this cookbook. The recipes are superb as are Ms. Child's instructions.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Farmer's Market Report is going into hibernation

Hi, y'all! It's been quiet here, huh? Long week, little blogging.

Tomorrow is promising to be a very rainy and nasty day...and we are having a severe gas shortage here in Charlotte, so some of the vendors won't be there anyway. I love my farmer's market, but slim-pickins on a rainy day...just not calling my name. You know what is? My BED! Heh.

So, what about the Farmer's Market Report? Well, it has been a little slim the past couple of weeks (unless I've done lots of inviting around the blogosphere...and that takes me hours of searching and commenting time) which makes me wonder if lots of markets are closing for the season. I think perhaps it is time to put the Report to bed until next spring - it is hibernating!

If you have a great post you were hoping to submit, please feel free to leave a link in the comments. If I get enough of them, I'll go ahead and post the Report for this week and submit those links for you to Mr. Linky.

I do hope you've enjoyed the Farmer's Market Report the past couple of months - I sure have. I promise to bring it back next spring! In the meantime, I hope you'll stick around for more recipes and seasonal cooking ideas.

A great way to make sure you don't miss anything is to subscribe by email or by RSS (if you read your blogs in a "reader" like Bloglines or GoogleReader). Whichever you prefer, you can do both from these links: Subscribe via email or RSS.

Have a lovely weekend, friends!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Farmer's Market Report - Sept 20th

Welcome to another edition of the Farmer's Market Report. Are you new to the report? You can learn more about it here.

Today was an absolutely perfect farmer's market day here in NC. The weather this morning was breezy, sunny, cool (58F), and had a touch of that fall smell in the air. The market was quieter than the height of summer - which is unfortunate for the farmers, and the absentee shoppers, because there's still plenty of wonderful produce to be had. However, I enjoy the quieter atmosphere.

There was nice harp music playing (live!) and a local wood carver, too.

I picked up:
- Okra (1 1/2 lb)
- Black-eyed peas (two bags - probably a pound)
- 6 "old-fashioned" pears (that is what the farmer called them)
- Muscadine and Scuppernong grapes
- and 3 organic chocolate chip muffins (you'll notice the kids barely let me get a picture of them - there was only one left by the time I pulled out my camera!)

I would have grabbed more peas, but there were only two bags left. In fact, I only bought one to begin with (not to be greedy), and then went back for the second. The okra and peas will probably go into a hearty tomato-based soup (maybe with some frozen corn) to be served with homemade corn bread. Other ideas for the okra and/or black-eyed peas?

What did you find at your farmer's market today?

Submit your post below (a direct link to your post, not your main page). Don't forget, to add a link back to this Farmer's Market Report in your post. And if this is your first time, be sure to read the guidelines.

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Monday, September 15, 2008


This traditional Irish dish is a perfect in fall and winter.

1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. chunks
1 tsp salt, divided
1 1/2 c chopped green cabbage
1/3 c finely chopped green onion
2 c boiling water
2/3 c milk
2 T butter
1/8 tsp finely ground pepper

Place potatoes with cold water to cover by 2 inches and 1/ tsp salt in large saucepan. Bring to boil for 5 minutes. Add cabbage and boil for another 10 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, place green onion in sieve, pour boiling water over them and drain. Add drained onions to a medium saucepan with milk, butter and rest of salt and pepper, bring to a boil them remove from heat.

Drain cooked potatoes and cabbage and return to large sauce pan. Beat on low speeed with a hand held mixer until coarsely mashed. Increase speed to high and gradually add milk and onion mixture and continue to beat until potatoes are light and fluffy.

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Savory Squash Bread Pudding

I think this will end up being like corn pudding, which I LOVE, but with the slight sweetness of butternut squash.

3 C butternut squash (peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2 in. pieces)
1 C chopped onion
1 clove garlic
3 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 C milk
1 C parmesan cheese (divided into 1/2 cups)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
9 cups day-old french bread, cubed

Arrange squash in single layer on greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400F, 12 minutes, until tender. Set aside. Remove from oven; reduce temp to 350F.

In a frypan, saute onion in 1 tsp olive oil over medium-high heat until tender, 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, 1/2 C parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in squash, onions, garlic. Add in bread cubes and stir gently to combine. Let stand 10 minutes. Spoon into greased 2-qt baking dish. Sprinkle top with other 1/2 C of parmesan.

Bake in preheated oven at 350F until custard is set and top is lightly browned, 45 minutes.

This recipe is another from one of my FAVORITE seasonal cookbooks: Simply In Season (World Community Cookbook)

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Menu Plan for Sept 15-21

Today is my middle son's birthday, so he got to choose tonight's dinner. You'll see in my menu plan what his favorite meal is!
Here's what I had on hand:
2 butternut squashes
5-6 apples
fresh green beans
fresh wax beans
a pound or two of bok choy
a large ziplock baggie of basil leaves (my neighbor harvested a "bush" before she left for vacation)
half a dozen or so potatoes
lots of onions
leftover corn

Here's what I'll pull from the freezer:
a whole, locally-raised chicken
large tray of pre-made Spanakopita

Here's what I'll use from the pantry:
canned italian plum tomatoes
"Star" pasta

And from the store, I picked up:
1 lb of ground turkey
2 lbs italian sausages
2 fresh roma tomatoes
taco shells
cheddar cheese

So, this week we'll be having:

Monday- Tacos!
roma tomatoes, some lettuce, ground turkey, taco shells, cheese

Tuesday- Roast chicken with Provencal herbs, Savory Squash Bread Pudding, Green & Wax beans
whole chicken, butternut squashes, green beans, wax beans

Wednesday - Crazy Colcannon and Sausages (I've linked to a traditional Colcannon recipe. Mine will be quite untraditional. If it turns out, I'll be sure to post it...but basically I'm making the same thing only with bok choy instead of cabbage and thinly-sliced regular onions instead of green ones.)
bok choy, potatoes, onions, sausages

Thursday - Chicken, Vegetable and Pasta Soup (This one I'm making up and will post after I try it. It will be a sort of minestrone with chicken.)
leftover chicken (for meat and broth) leftover corn, zucchini, canned , "star" pasta

Friday - Pizza

Saturday - Supper Club - "Appetizer Night", we are taking the Spanakopita.

So, what about all that basil from my neighbor? Well, I can't decide if I'm going to make pesto or just chop it in the CuisinArt with olive oil and then freeze it in ice cube trays. Which would you do?

There are many more menu plans at Menu Plan Monday!

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Fall Season: Food and Menu Ideas

One of the challenges of eating seasonally is knowing what is going to be in season when and having a plan to use those ingredients. The past couple of weeks, I've spent a bit of time making a list of what will be in season in my area this fall and gathering recipes.

Perhaps you'd like to make use of my list? As I use the recipes, I'll post them on the blog, so eventually, there will be a whole "recipe book" for each season. In the meantime, feel free to peruse and download my ""Fall Season Food" list. The first part is a listing of food that will be in season (E-early, M-mid, L-late) followed by recipe ideas.

Let me know if you find this document helpful (and if you download it). This will help me judge if future documents will be helpful to others.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Farmer's Market Report - Sept 13th

A nice farmer's market trip today - didn't pick up too much, though because I've got plenty on hand right now, but did get:
  • A huge head of Bok choy
  • Some muscadine grapes- I'll buy these every week until they are gone.
  • Soap from the soap lady and her stain stick, which is comes highly recommended.
  • And a large jar of local honey

While we were there, we (my Dear Neighbor and I) watched a weaving demonstration. Each week the farmer's market organizers bring in local craftsmen to exhibit their work. They also have various local chefs who come give cooking demonstrations and often live music. So, although a damp day, it was a nice one!

How was your farmer's market this week? Submit your post below (a direct link to your post, not your main page). Don't forget, to add a mention and a link back to the Farmer's Market Report in your post. And if this is your first time, be sure to read the guidelines.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Tomorrow is the next Farmer's Market Report

Don't forget - tomorrow is the Farmer's Market Report!

How about you - are you are Farmer's Market shopper? If so, maybe you'd like to publish a "Farmer's Market Report" about your trip to the Farmer's Market this week and then submit it to the "Farmer's Market Report" Mr Linky tomorrow morning. Even if you don't submit, I bet you'll enjoy living vicariously through some other bloggers.

This week's Mr Linky will be up tomorrow morning around 10AM (by Noon at the latest), so come on by and visit!

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Homemade Croutons

Got some day-old bread? Why not make croutons? It is pretty darn's how I do it.

Start with about a 1lb loaf of day old bread (or the equivalent in bits of old bread you've saved up). This is a Rosemary-Sea Salt bread I got from a "day old bread" giveaway.

Slice and cube the bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.

Drizzle oil by 1/4 cups full over the cubes, mixing thoroughly between each addition. Add 3/4 cup total - or enough to drench your bread cubes. Add seasonings of your choice (salt, pepper, herbs) and stir well.

Lay cubes on a a baking sheet in a single layer (use one with sides to make stirring during baking easier). Place in a 275 degree oven and bake for an hour or more depending on your desired crunchiness.

I like my croutons really crunchy, so I leave them in for close to two hours. But keep a close eye one them and stir them frequently!

Store in an airtight container or baggie. A one pound loaf will fill two of these large (Qt. size) mason jars, plus a little extra.

Enjoy in soup or on salads. Watch out, you'll be tempted to snitch them right from the jar, too.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Bean Soup)

Ahh.... Pasta e Fagioli! An easy, delicious soup for any time.

This recipe comes from my favorite Italian cookbook:Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. Pasta e Fagioli is a very flexible recipe, but hers is the best. I don't use it exactly as she has it here, but it is an excellent starting point.

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 T chopped onion
3 T chopped carrot
3 T chopped celery
3-4 pork ribs or ham bone with some meat on it (I totally skip this, because hubby doesn't eat pork)
2/3 c canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juices (or fresh tomatoes, peeled and cut up)
2 lbs fresh cranberry or red kidney beans (or 3 c. canned or cooked dried beans - drained) (I use whatever beans I have on hand - often canellini, always canned)
3 c (or more if needed) beef broth (1 c. canned broth diluted with 2 c. water) (We don't eat beef either, so we use Chicken Stock.)
Black pepper (freshly ground)
1/2 lb small tubular pasta (I use whatever I have on hand, but never anything long like spaghetti/fettucini/linguini)
1 T butter
2 T freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Put olive oil and onion in soup pot and turn on heat to medium. Cook the onion, stirring, until it is pale gold. Add the carrot and celery, stir once or twice to coat them well, then add pork. Cook for 10 minutes, turning meat and vegetables from time to time. Add the cut up tomatoes and their juice, adjust the heat so that the juices simmer very gently, and cook for 10 minutes.

If using fresh beans: Shell, rinse and put in soup pot. Stir 2-3 times to coat well, then add the broth. Cover the pot, adjust the heat so that the broth bubbles at a steady, but gentle boil, and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beans are fully tender.

If using canned (or cooked dried) beans: Extend the cooking time for the tomatoes in Step 3 to 20 minutes. Add the drained cooked or canned beans, stirring them thoroughly to coat them well. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the broth, cover the pot, and bring the broth to a gentle boil.

Scoop up about 1/2 c of beans and mash them and return to the pot. Add salt, a few grindings of black pepper, and stir thoroughly.

Check the soup for density: It should be liquid enough to cook the pasta in. If necessary, add more broth or, if you are using canned broth, more water. When the soup comes to a steady, moderate boil, add the pasta. Stop cooking when pasta is tender, but still firm to the bite. Before turning off the heat, swirl in the butter and grated cheese.

Allow it to settle for 10 minutes before serving as it tastes better when warm rather than piping hot. Serve with a nice, crusty bread!

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Baked Butternut Squash and Apples

Oh, the color is gorgeous! We'll see how my kids like it...they'll groan when I say "squash", but the brown sugar glaze may get their attention.

2 lbs butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and fibers removed; cubed)
2-3 baking apples (roughly chopped)
1/3 c brown sugar
3 T butter, melted
1 T flour
1/4 tsp allspice

Arrange squash and apples in baking dish. Combine next 4 ingredients in a small bowl then sprinkle on top of apples and squash. Cover and bake at 350 degrees until squash is tender, 40-50 minutes.

This recipe is from one of my FAVORITE seasonal cookbooks: Simply In Season (World Community Cookbook)

Updated to add: Oh, by the way, the kids LOVED this!

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Balsamic Marinated Chicken

This is easy and delicious! My kids rave about this and they can be picky eaters. It is so easy to fix, but you do have to think ahead in order to get the 2 hours of marinating done. Not a last minute supper...but almost!

1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c honey
1/4 c olive oil
2 T fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt
3 lbs chicken (breast, thighs, legs)

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; add chicken. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 2 hours, turning occasionally.

Remove chicken, and place in a lightly greased baking pan (13x9); pour marinade over chicken.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until done, basting often with pan drippings.

Serves my family of 6 with leftovers.

I like to make extra and have this for lunch the next day, too. It is quite good over rice or couscous - and save some of the good pan juices to pour over that rice!

Menu Plan for Sept 8-13

Since we are starting to see some "fall" produce, it is time to start pulling out the fall menus around here! This week you'll notice we are doing just that...

Here's what I had on hand:
organic chicken in the freezer
2 butternut squashes
5-6 apples
frozen green beans
frozen italian-style meatbals (homemade)
lots of lettuce
semolina flour
2-3 cans of cannelini
chicken broth
some leftover corn
frozen zucchini that needs to be used
onions, celery

Here's what I'm making:

Tuesday- Spaghetti and Meatballs, Green Salad, Semolina bread

Wednesay- Pasta e Fagioli Soup, bread

Thursday- Leftovers and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Friday- Thai Shrimp over pasta for the adults, Pizza for the kids

Come back later this week, I'll post my menu ideas for the Fall to help you start thinking about seasonal cooking!

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Farmer's Market Report - Sept 6th

Well, no rain this morning, but the ground at the Farmer's Market was a little squishy. Crowd was definitely down, but still tons of gorgeous produce. I picked up:

  • My whole, organic chicken from the "Chicken Club" (like a CSA).

  • Butternut squash - for a butternut-apple bake, I think.

  • Muscadine grapes - a southern grape and my favorite!

  • Tomatoes - some lovely green stripey ones, should make delicious sandwiches.

  • Wax beans - I've never had these before, so I thought we'd give them a try.

  • Some wonderful goat cheese to enjoy with my figs again and maybe in a quiche.

Come by on Monday for "Menu Plan Monday". I'll post my menu plan for the week to use this yummy haul!

Can't wait to see what you all found today!

Use the Mr Linky below, but please read the guidelines first. Be sure to link back to this page, mention the Farmer's Market Report in your post, and link to your post page (not your homepage).

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Reminder - Farmer's Market Report

Don't forget - tomorrow is the Farmer's Market Report!

It is looking to be a bit wet at my Farmer's Market as Hannah treks across the coast of North Carolina. Here in the Piedmont, we won't get severe weather, but will probably have some wind and rain. Despite that our Farmer's Market promises to still be open - I'll be there!

How about you - are you are Farmer's Market shopper? If so, maybe you'd like to publish a "Farmer's Market Report" about your trip to the Farmer's Market this week and then submit it to the "Farmer's Market Report" Mr Linky tomorrow morning. Even if you don't submit, I bet you'll enjoy living vicariously through some other bloggers.

This week's Mr Linky will be up tomorrow morning around 10AM, so come on by and visit!

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Farmer's Market Report - Aug 30th

Company in town, no Farmer's Market trip today for me. So, I'll have to live vicariously through you guys! What did you find at your markets this week?

Use the Mr Linky below, but please read the guidelines first. Be sure to link back to this page, mention the Farmer's Market Report in your post, and link to your post page (not your homepage).

Don't miss next week's Farmer's Market Report - subscribe via email or RSS.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mexican Chicken Salad

This is great to have when you've got leftover chicken from the grill or from a roast.

Here is the recipe from Southern Living:

4 c chopped cooked chicken
2 c shredded sharp Cheddar

Use what you like of these:
2 T chopped green pepper
2 T chopped sweet red pepper
1 16 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 4.5 oz can of chopped green chilis
1 med. onion, chopped

1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c mayo
1 pkg (1.25 oz) taco seasoning mix

Or use your favorite oil and vinegar dressing.

Corn chips
Shredded iceburg or romaine lettuce
2 med tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 med avocadoes, coarsely chopped (skin and remove pit, of course)
1 can (2 1/4 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained

Combine the first 7 ingredients (or of those, what you want to use). Set aside.

Use the dressing of your choice (mix ingredients for Dressing 1 together). Pour over chicken mixture; toss gently, cover and chill.

Place corn chip on a plate; top with lettuce. Spoon chicken mixture onto lettuce. Top with tomato, avocado and olives. Serves 8.

When I made this I made only 2 servings. I used the oil and vinegar dressing and just poured it all over the salad rather than mixing and chilling. :) I'm never one to follow a recipe, but I figured I'd give you the "official" recipe then let you adapt it.

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Making Sustainble Fish Choices

In general, I go for wild-caught fish. I don't buy it terribly often, so I don't mind if it occasionally comes from far (Alaskan salmon, for instance), but try to avoid fish that comes from far off when there are closer-caught options. I also usually avoid farmed fish - especially salmon. Some people say it is it better to purchase farmed fish and not contribute to over-fishing, but it seems to me that anything grown in industrial conditions isn't good. And most farms these days are industrial farms...including fish farms.

But I think there is a more important aspect to consider rather than "wild-caught" vs "farmed" vs. "local", and that is sustainability. Figuring out what is sustainable in the fish industry, however, is not easy for the layman.

I found a resource to share with you that might help - I know it helped me!

Top Ten Sustainable Fish Choices and Ten Fish You Should Avoid Eating at

So, what do you think? Which of these choices surprised you? What changes might you make based on this. I know I'm glad I've been opting for Wild Alaskan Salmon lately...and this week I'm going to try Farm-Raised Rainbow Trout. Normally, I would have eschewed "farm-raised", but it is the most sustainable option I can make at my supermarket this week.

Now if I can just learn to fish. :)

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Figs with Goat Cheese and Balsamic

I heard about this somewhere recently - darn, wish I could remember so I could give a link. (If you recognize this recipe and posted it recently, let me know and I'll link to you!) Anyway - we tried it and it is SPLENDID!

Here's what I did:

Take a large handful of the freshest figs you can find. Slice in half. Top each with a small amount of goat cheese. (I scooped a small amount and gently formed a clump for each fig half.) Drizzle balsamic vinegar (splurge on a good quality Modena for this if you can) over the top - you want just a splach on each fig. (We drizzled it on the plate first and then set our figs on top.)

The tartness, sweetness, creaminess is to die for! I should have taken a photo - but we gobbled them up to quickly!

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Weekly Menu Aug 24-Aug 30

Here's what I have on hand to "use up" this week:

- a lot of mushrooms
- head of romaine lettuce
- three lovely slicing tomatoes
- a LOT of cherry tomatoes
- couple lbs of okra
- 2 sm and 2 lg eggplants
- 1 avocado
- 1 mango
- fresh pita
- 5 oz of goat cheese
- a handful of basil
- a LOT of cucumbers
- 1/4 peck of peaches
- some leftover chicken (from a roast last week)
- 6 or 7 figs from our fig tree (and more to be picked during the week for "snacks")
- a tub of plain yogurt

So, with that I am making:

  • Lunch - Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes (and mushrooms, basil and onions) Used up one slicing tomato, some mushrooms and some basil.

  • Dinner - Since we had such a late lunch, we kept dinner fairly light: Figs with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar and Baba Ganouj and Fresh Pita Used a bit of the goat cheese, the figs that were harvested this morning, 2 small eggplants and most of the fresh pita.


  • Lunch - left over pizza
  • Dinner - Mexican Chicken Salad and Sliced Mango. Will use up an avocado, the leftover chicken and some of the romaine.


  • Dinner - Quiche with Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese and Melon Salad. Will use up a frozen quiche base from my freezer and some mushrooms which I'll add. A sprinkling of goat cheese on top will use up the rest of the goat cheese.


  • Dinner - Eggplant Parmagiana and a Green Salad. Dessert: Peach Crisp and Vanilla Ice Cream. Will use up the 2 large eggplants, the rest of the romaine, and the peaches.


  • Dinner - Broiled Lemon Fish, Fresh Tomato & Basil Pasta, and Cucumber and Yogurt Salad. Will use up some cherry tomatoes and basil, cucumbers and plain yogurt.


  • Dinner - Pizza (we'll do cheese for the kids and whatever toppings we have on hand for the adults)

I'll add some of the recipes this week! Check out lots of great other menus at !

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Farmer's Market Report - August 23rd

I saw a sign on one of the farmer's tables today that said they'd have tomatoes until OCTOBER 31!!! Wow, that makes me happy. Of course, that is precluding bad weather or an early frost. But here in the piedmont of North Carlina, that is unlikely.

Our Farmer's Market goes until November and possibly longer depending on the farmers. I've noticed the past week that the organizers of the market are really pushing that fact. Last year, I was not a confirmed farmer's marketeer, so I missed out on the late harvest. I am looking forward to it this year!

How long does your market last?

So, what found this week -

  • I was hoping to pick up some cataloupes, but there were none to be found. Still watermelons, but I decided against one.

  • Picked up some Bosky Acres goat cheese - my hubby will LOVE this. And I think I'm going to try it with our figs (from our side yard fig tree) and some balsamic.

  • Tomatoes are still coming in strong, so I grabbed a nice selection - a Pink Lady and some Mecklenburgs.

  • Eggplant is looked lovely, so I grabbed a couple of those. Next week I'm going to try the "Violetta"- it's that pretty pale purple striped variety. The farmer told me it is a bit sweeter than regular eggplant. Sounds promising!

  • But NO EGGS. Oh I was so disappointed! My egg lady wasn't there this week. I even had finally gathered up some egg cartons to return to her and she wasn't there. Hopefully next week.

  • The "Peach Guys" are still bringing in loads of peaches, so I grabbed a bag. These guys make me laugh - definitely lovely South Carolina gentlemen. Most of the farmers come in their grungies, but these two look like they just stepped off the golf course.
  • And my favorite PITA!

Want to share what you found at your farmer's market? Use the Mr Linky below, but please read the guidelines first. Be sure to link back to this page, mention the Farmer's Market Report in your post, and link to your post page (not your homepage).

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Turkey meatballs and Spaghetti

These are such a hit at my house! These are a great easy meal for any time of year.

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 tsp garlic powder
1 T Worchester sauce
1/8 c. Parmesan cheese (grated)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c dry breadcrumbs
1/4 c. tomato sauce (I use Barilla Marinara), plus the more for the pan.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with veggie oil. Pour a very thin layer of sauce on the bottom then begin forming the meatballs and placing them in the pan. Spoon a little more sauce over the top of each meat ball (I just gently drizzle it around the pan - hitting most of the meatballs). If you have more sauce in your jar, you can save it to top the spaghetti. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Pull off the foil after 30 minutes and turn off the oven. Let the meatballs sit in the warm oven while you finish the pasta.
I use Barilla thick spaghetti noodles, boiled until al dente.

Serve a plate (or bowl) of pasta topped with a dollop of sauce and a few meatballs. Parmesan cheese is always delicious on top, too!

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Menu Plan Monday: Aug 18-22

This is the first week I'm using a rotation meal plan I've designed for the busy days of the school year. I've never done this before, but I think it will make life much easier during the school year to have a "set" plan that also provides a bit of flexibility. I'll blog more about this idea in the future.

In the mean is my menu plan for this week:

Monday: Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs, Green Salad
Tuesday: Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon, Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes (these are just sliced with olive oil and salt/pepper), Melon Salad (watermelon and cantaloupe - garnish with mint)
Wednesday: Going out for Mother-in-Law's birthday
Thursday: Clean out the Fridge Night
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Thai Noodles with Peanut sauce and Green Onions and Shrimp

I'll add these recipes as I can over the next day or so. If you are interested, subscribe via email or RSS so you won't miss them. And be sure to check out the rest of the great menu ideas at the Org Junkie!