Archive for June, 2011

CSA Week 2: More greens

We ate through week 2 of our CSA share, with the exception of a few radishes and turnips, which we ate within the next couple of days.

I made pea shoot pesto and used the pea shoots from last week and this week.  It was enough for two huge batches.  I left the parmesan out of the second batch and froze it in three separate bags to be used later.  I was surprised at how much I liked the pesto.  I still prefer pesto made with basil, but this is a great way to use up pea shoots.  It has an earthier taste and was great with the pasta I made.  I made the pasta with grape tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.  As predicted, Sons #1 and #3 ate it up quickly and son #1 actually had three helpings.  Son #2 ate it out of obligation.

To use up the spinach, decided on a mac and cheese with spinach, found on the Everyday Food iPhone app.  It called for just gruyere cheese, but I added some parmesan and monterey jack I had in the refrigerator.  I also added a bit of dijon mustard to the cheese sauce because I like the flavor it adds.  The boys were not fans of the spinach, which surprised me, since they normally eat it so well.

Next up was my very favorite summer salad, which of course has arugula in it.  I added radishes, turnips, and peas to the salad because I had them on hand.  I first made this salad last year and now look forward to it as soon as arugula is in season and was able to harvest some from my own garden (thankfully the bunnies seem to hate arugula).  I love the flavors of the lemon, arugula, corn, and gorgonzola together.  I actually made this salad twice in one week.  I grilled extra chicken for the second batch.  The extra chicken also came in handy for quesadillas for another quick dinner later in the week.  I recently got Son #2 hooked on bread dipped in olive oil and fresh ground pepper.  He now asks for it at every meal.  This bread came from a new Farmer’s Market nearby, held on Friday afternoons.  Delicious!

The rest of the veggies from the share were used up in a stir fry, which is a great way to use up a bunch of veggies in one shot.  I threw in rapini, pak choi, scallions, and peas.  The sauce was acquired through a trade with my neighbor.  She had extra peanut sauce and I had extra pesto.  I think I’ll have implement the trade system more often.

Last but not least, here is a photo of our delivery for the third week.  I did give some lettuce and the scallions to my mom, but the rest is almost gone.  The strawberries were eaten up approximately four minutes after this photo was taken.  They were amazing, and my boys couldn’t stop eating them until they disappeared. 


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Father’s Day Lunch

It has been a little hectic this year and planning ahead for Father’s Day wasn’t in the cards.  Luckily, for Father’s Day, my husband decided he wanted to go for a 45-mile bike ride with a friend.  This gave me time to get a present and get some groceries for lunch.  Of course, this meant I had to bring three boys, ages 8 and under, to both the mall and the grocery store.  Yuck.  The mall trip didn’t go so well.  The older boys would not stop touching everything in sight and chasing each other, and somehow at store number two, I discovered we acquired a pair of socks from the first store without paying for them.  They got returned quickly without incident.

The boys and dad on Father's Day weekend. Check out those handsome guys!


After the mall experience, the older boys received warnings about their behavior.  I came up with a new strategy.  Any boy who wanders away in the grocery store would receive an extra 10 minutes of cleaning time for each time they wander.  It worked!  The grocery store trip was a success.  Of course, it helped that I let them choose fancy cupcakes for the family as our dessert.  Their choice was naturally chocolate with chocolate icing, which they know to be dad’s favorite.  I was the only one with a non-chocolate cupcake.  I had a lemon-filled cupcake with coconut icing.  It was awesome!

Onto our lunch.  The real reason for this post is all about the meat.  For months, I’ve pondered about where to buy locally raised meat and was having a hard time taking the plunge.  I had been receiving emails from a farm who delivers one Saturday a month, just blocks from my house.  This month, they had a special on Italian sausage brats, and I couldn’t resist.  I ended up ordering a family combo pack, which includes about 25 pounds of pork and beef, the Italian sausage brats, and some raspberry chipotle bacon.  Wow!  After just two meals, I’m never going back to grocery store meat.  Look for a future post with the most amazing pork chops ever.

It seems that in most families we know, the guys do the grilling. Not the case here. Over the years, I’ve taken over the grilling role because my husband often goes off and forgets about the food on the grill and we end up with hamburgers like hockey pucks. For these Italian sausage brats, I used my cast iron skillet to cook the onions and peppers right on the grill while the sausages were grilling.  When everything was done, we put mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce on the sausages, topped with the peppers and onions.  They were delicious. It made me wish I’d ordered a couple more packages of the sausages.  They will be at the top of the list for when I order again from Hilltop Pastures Family Farm.  We had watermelon and of course, a salad with lettuce from our CSA delivery.  I’ve got lettuce ready to go in my salad spinner all week long and it’s easy to serve a salad with every meal.  We were all too full and had to save the cupcakes for later.

If you are interested in checking out Hilltop Pastures Family Farm, here is the website.


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CSA Week 1: Eating our Greens

Mission accomplished!  We ate everything from our first delivery before the second box is picked up.  Okay, not quite everything…we received A LOT of pea shoots.  I have plans to make a pea shoot pesto and we were out-of-town for the weekend, so I’m not counting them.  In the first delivery we received scallions, spinach, arugula, two types of lettuce, radishes, and the pea shoots.  Normally we pass on some of our share with family, but we kept it all to ourselves this week.

While the lettuce is delicious, I can’t ever get enough arugula.  It is my favorite and it was the first thing to disappear.  It tastes great with a lemon garlic vinaigrette and I could eat it every day.  I did save enough for a pasta recipe, which was also really good.  I got the recipe from the latest Everyday Food magazine.  The boys aren’t big fans of the arugula, so the pasta didn’t go over too well.

Tonight, in an attempt to finish off some of our produce, I threw together a meal based on what we had in the house.  I thawed a couple of chicken breasts to grill.  My new favorite marinade consists of plain yogurt, lemon, oregano, a touch of olive oil, and salt and pepper.  It keeps the chicken juicy and adds great flavor.  Plain yogurt is one of my staples and I always have it on hand.  I sautéed spinach in garlic, butter and squeezed some lemon over it.  I also had a mix of grains from Trader Joe’s which includes Israeli couscous, red quinoa, baby garbanzo beans and orzo.  It was one of those “trial runs” with the boys and it turns out, they loved it all.  Son #1 ate the spinach before anything else, Son #2 declared the grains “DELICIOUS” and Son #3 said “good”.  I love it when an unplanned meal goes this way.  Doesn’t happen as often as I’d like.

I’m looking forward to our next delivery tomorrow.  Right now I get excited about all these greens, but I know that by week four or so, it gets harder to come up with new ideas.  We’ll see if we can continue our trend of eating everything before the next delivery.


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The best time of the year

It’s growing season here in Minnesota and each year I find myself getting more and more excited about it.  The lilacs have bloomed, the garden is in and thriving, the farmers markets are open, and our first CSA delivery is this week.

Our flowering crabtree in full bloom. It almost makes up for the winter we had.


Even though I haven’t figured out how it will all get harvested, I’ve planted 15 tomato plants, 6 pots full of herbs, radishes, peas, beans, turnips, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, and some raspberry and blueberry shrubs.  As I was planting my seeds, I realized that the harvest time for much of the garden is just about the time this baby will be making an appearance. We might not have to worry about the peas since the rabbits seem to nibble at a couple each night.  Every morning is a disappointment for me when I wake to find the stumps of the pea shoots.  I almost wish they’d just get it over with and eat them all.  The marigolds aren’t big enough to ward off the critters yet.

Thankfully, rhubarb is an early crop and I got to harvest mine a couple of weeks ago.  This is our fourth summer at our house, and I’ve never gotten around to using the rhubarb that grows at the back of our house.  I was determined to use it this year.  I remembered making rhubarb muffins when I was pregnant with Son #2 six years ago.  Rhubarb muffin recipes are hard to come by.  It seems every recipe involving rhubarb is a dessert and contains loads of sugar.  Personally, I like maintaining the tartness of rhubarb.  After several Google searches, I finally found a recipe for muffins that looked good. 

The recipe did not disappoint.  My whole family enjoyed them, which is saying a lot, since they are not a rhubarb-loving group.  My husband said it was just the right amount of rhubarb, meaning not too much.  I loved the recipe because the sugar didn’t cover the tartness of the rhubarb, but wasn’t overwhelming either.  I can’t wait to make them again.  Here is the link to the recipe I used:


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Our old standby

After all these posts, I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned our family’s all-time favorite meal; tomato and sausage risotto.  This meal started as a favorite when Son #2 was a toddler and would eat the risotto as quickly as he could, shoving it in his mouth with both hands.  Now Son #3 loves it as much as his older brothers, but is a bit more skilled with his utensils.

There are so many reasons why we go back to this recipe over and over.  I love that it gets the boys to eat spinach and tomatoes without complaint.  The whole family looks forward to this meal.  I’ve made it so many times, I don’t need the recipe.  In fact, Son #2 can make it.  He knows how to gradually add the liquid and stir it in, waiting until the liquid has been absorbed.  He loves standing at the stove helping and is always proud when we serve it.

I love making risotto because it feels more interactive to me.  I like that you have to constantly stir it and add to it.  As much as I cook, I’m terrible at making rice.  Ask my husband.  I’m always too tempted to look at it before it’s done.  For some reason, I can’t trust that it is doing okay on its own.  It’s taken me years to leave the rice alone so that it cooks properly.  Maybe I’m getting more patient.  Or more likely, I just don’t have the time to check on it anymore.  I’m too busy making sure Son #1 has done his homework, Son #2 has practiced piano, and that Son #3 isn’t eating the Legos that his older brothers have left out.

Here is the link to the recipe:

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