Sunday, May 31, 2009

Greensgrow CSA - week 1

We had our first CSA pick up last week and so far so good. It wasn't a ton of food but it's early in the season so we'll see what happens as the weeks go by.

This is what we got and where it's from:

Strawberries - Fifer Orchards, Wyoming, DE
Asparagus - Fifer Orchards, Wyoming, DE
Boston Lettuce - Flaim Farms, Vineland, NJ
Spring Onions - Lancaster County, PA
Mushrooms - Bo-ka Specialties, Kennett Square, PA
Cilantro - Greensgrow Farms, Philadelphia
Olive Oil Buns - Tony Rolls, Philadelphia
Cheese - XX Sharp Cheddar, Le Rayesville Cheese Factory, Le Rayesville, PA
1 dozen Free-Range Eggs
Ground Bison - Backyard Bison, Bucks County, PA

We had really tasty bison burgers with cheddar cheese, boston lettuce, and tomatoes on olive oil buns. I grilled the spring onions and asparagus for a barley salad with a lemony vinagrette and goat cheese (SO good). I need to use up those mushrooms & the rest of that lettuce asap - I'm thinking a mushroom barley risotto might be in the works soon. I'm determined not to waste a bit of this stuff!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Memorial Day/Birthday BBQ!

I already told you about the Bacon Explosion we had last weekend at my friend Mike's birthday BBQ but that's not the only thing we ate!

Ron made chicken wings and I made ribs. The ribs were so easy - I just covered the ribs with salt, pepper and BBQ rub and put them in the oven covered with foil for 3 hours at 300 degrees. At the party I covered them with BBQ sauce and put them on the grill to reheat. The birthday boy enjoyed them!

I also made a few new salads - the crowd favorite was this beet and barley salad. I cut up and roasted three beets and added them to the cooked barley but I didn't love the texture. I suggest roasting the beets whole wrapped in foil and dicing them after they're cooked. I added feta cheese, diced red onion, sliced scallions, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to the salad. I can't wait to make this again with extra beets!

I wanted to do a new potato salad so I tossed the potatoes with spinach and basil pesto and peas - like the pasta, pesto and peas salad I always make but, duh, with potatoes instead of pasta. I also made an israeli couscous salad with grilled asparagus, red and green peppers, red onion, and scallion. I had zucchini on the grill too but I forgot about them and they were far to charred to serve! Oops. The vinaigrette was lemon juice, olive oil, honey, mustard, salt and pepper.

I also made my favorite chocolate chip cookies with pecans and since Mike, like me, is a peanut butter junkie I made these really, really good peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. They got a little crumbly in the bags but no one seemed to mind!

I told the lovely Marybeth about Mike's love of peanut butter so she made these butterscotch, peanut butter rice krispy treats. Oh man, yum!

That's a tomato pie box next to the rice krispy treats - a couple of our friends brought these and they were a great addition to the party. Friends also brought fresh fruit salad, homemade salsa and guac and lots of beer! I ate way too much, drank some beers, got a little sun, and got to see lots of good friends - now that's what I'd call a successful party. Thanks for coming guys!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bacon Explosion

Yup that's right, bacon explosion.  A little while back Ron and I saw this meaty creation in the New York Times labeled as a "blog sensation".  I think Ron's been looking for an excuse to make it ever since.  One of my very best friends, Mike, was celebrating his birthday (I won't tell you how old but it's certainly a milestone b-day) and we were throwing a little birthday/memorial day BBQ for him down at FDR park.  Yay - an excuse for a 4 pound pork loaf!  Here's the gist:

Weave together a pound of bacon, top with 2lbs of hot sausage, top that with a pound of chopped fried bacon.  Top the fried bacon with BBQ sauce, roll up the sausage around the bacon then roll that up in the bacon weave.  


Once you've got the weave rolled up sprinkle it with BBQ seasoning then put it on the smoker.  Smoke your bacon explosion for 2 1/2 hours until it looks really dark brown, almost burnt.  Ron cooked this the day before the BBQ - when it was finished smoking he let it cool then wrapped it in tin foil and put it in the fridge.  The next day he took the foil off and slowly reheated it on the grill at the party.  He sliced it up and served it on hamburger rolls with BBQ sauce.  

I'll admit that I only had one bite, I feared that my arteries would instantly close.  But, that one bite was smokey and spicy and, of course, meaty!  It was definitely a hit with all of our friends - just look at all everyone taking pictures and video taping the much anticipated slicing of the bacon explosion!

More about the less heart attack inducing dishes I made for the BBQ soon!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Potato Salad with Red Pepper-Smoked Paprika Mayo

I like almost all forms of potato salad, the exception being those bad deli case ones that always seem oddly sweet.  I generally make an old school creamy version with mayo, hard boiled eggs, celery, grated onion, and a touch of mustard and vinegar.  Ron's sister recently made a kick ass german potato salad with lots of vinegar and bacon (not "kiss ass" like I originally posted - Ron you're supposed to be my proof reader!) .  

Bobby Flay's red pepper and paprika version is one of my new favorites.  It's very Bobby Flay isn't it?  The recipe says to grill the potatoes after you boil them but both times I've made this I've been a bit rushed so I've skipped that step and just used plain old boiled potatoes.  I do plan on doing it Bobby's way soon though!

It's so easy - no chopping or grating or hard boiling eggs!  You just throw the ingredient in the blender, whir it up and toss the sauce with boiled potatoes (I used red potatoes this time).  I like to top mine with some scallions for color.  Definitely a nice change from the standard potato salad.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Huevos Rancheros

This is probably my favorite breakfast.  If I'm out to brunch and it's on the menu it's hard for me to order anything else, well, unless there's eggs benedict - then its a toss up!  I make a quick and easy version of huevos rancheros at home.

I brush a corn tortilla with olive oil, sprinkle it with salt then toast it in the toaster oven until its crispy.  I make my "refried" beans buy heating up a can of drained and rinsed pinto beans with some chicken stock and diced tomatoes (this time I used the kind with green chiles) then mashing them up with salt, pepper and cumin.  The tortilla is topped with the beans, one or two over easy eggs, some more of the diced tomatoes with chiles and chopped lettuce.  Sour cream would have put these over the top but I didn't have any in the fridge!

This past weekend I had brunch with a good friend at The Tortilla Press in Collingswood, NJ.  They have a $5 menu from 11am - 12pm that they call an "early bird" menu.   I don't think I've ever gotten an early bird anything on a weekend!  The menu is pretty great and I ordered, you guessed it, huevos rancheros.  My friend and I both ordered off the $5 menu (she had a quiche that came with fruit salad, my huevos came with rice and beans) and had bottomless cups of coffee and our bill was $16.  They weren't the best huevos rancheros I've had but I think that huevos rancheros are sort of like pizza - when it's great, it's REALLY great and when it's bad, well, it's still pretty good.  I'll be back to The Tortilla Press to try their dinner menu.  If you're into the meat free thing like I sometimes am May 19th and 20th they're doing a 4 course vegetarian meal for $30 and the menu looks great.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

I love rhubarb, as a kid we'd eat the super sour stalks dipped in a shot glass full of sugar. The rhubarb and strawberry combo is a pretty perfect. This crumble was my contribution to the dinner we made for Ron's family for mothers day.

I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen - I guess the addition of baking soda is supposed to bulk up the topping and make it more like a crisp but I'm not sure it worked. I can't imagine that has anything to do with the fact that I lost the lid to my baking soda and it's sitting in my cabinet wide open - oops.

The filling was just strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.

The topping of brown sugar, sugar, butter, flour and baking soda turned crispy and golden brown in the oven.

This was tasty and perfectly tart and sweet but I think I'm a crisp kind of girl. I like some oats in my topping.

Oh - and speaking of strawberries check this out!

Our strawberry plant has a few perfectly ripe strawberries on it. They're tiny but really sweet - and better than anything we could buy at the store because we grew them ourselves!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chicken Empanadas

Ron's cousins Cinco De Mayo party last week was a perfect excuse for me to make these empanadas I saw on Smitten Kitchen a while ago.  I followed the recipe for the dough and decided to wing it with the filling. 

For the filling I combined two shredded chicken breast (leftover from a roasted chicken the night before), a large red onion that I caramelized, 6 or so finely chopped green olives, a finely chopped chipotle, garlic, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and a splash of the liquid from a jar of pickled jalepenos and a bit of tabasco to add the little bit of hear it was missing.  Whew - in other words I added just about anything with in an arms reach! 

I stuffed the empanadas, brushed them with egg wash and put them in the oven - 25 minutes later they came out crispy and golden brown.   

I generally have dough anxiety but this was really easy and came out perfect.  The final product went pretty quickly at the party - that's always a good sign!  

Looks good huh?  I only used about half of the dough and I'm looking forward to making big empanadas stuffed with Ron's homemade chicken sausage, veggies and cheese for a dinner this week.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tomato Festival!

While in Florida last weekend the fam and I went to a tomato festival near my sister's house.  It was pretty small with lots of vendors selling stuff I wasn't all that interested in but the food was pretty darn tasty.  

With the $5 cost of admission you got one of these huge tomato plants!
Unfortunately I don't think they'd make it past airport security so instead we scored three for my sister's house.

Another freebie - perfectly ripe sliced tomatoes.  Yum.  

Ron sampled some mullet stew from the mullet shack.

And we had the best fried green tomatoes ever.  Check out these batter fried beauties.
With ranch of course - it is the south!

We had a great weekend and it's nice to see that my sister and her family are settling into their new digs.  I think my sister's tomato fest purchase says it all.  
She's officially a country girl!  

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Red Neck Livin'

My big sister lives a life that's slightly different from mine.  She lives in Florida in what I'd call, um, how do you say it nicely?  The sticks?  We went for a visit this past weekend to meet my new niece and celebrate my nephews birthday and it was pretty awesome.  There was fishing and shooting and little butt cracks - all things you expect to see in the south!  


Oh there was also wrestling in the parking lot of a local bar, that was awesome.  Ron couldn't get enough!  He's since dug up an old fishing rod, bought a tackle box and tackle to fill it and has been fishing twice - once at FDR park and once in South Jersey!  I don't really get the point of fishing if you can't eat what you catch, but it looks like its Ron's new hobby. 

I don't think I stopped eating the entire weekend we were in Florida.  My sister's a good cook and she made way too much food for my nephews birthday party!  We ate meatballs, kielbasa, stuffed shells, spinach lasagna and all kinds of salads for days.  I'm not complaining, these were the kind of leftovers that just get better after a few days in the fridge!  

But, the best part of the long weekend wasn't the food - it was hanging out with two of the cutest kids you'll ever meet.  

Seriously can you handle it?  Cute overload right?

My parents were also down for the weekend and my mom (who I've recently gotten addicted to tastespotting) made these cookie dough tree pops with my nephew.  
We had tree pops, cake and homemade ice cream sandwiches for dessert - a delicious sugar overload.

We also went to a pretty cool tomato festival - more about that soon!