Thursday, February 17, 2011

A taste of summer...



What do bell peppers, onions, cilantro, lime juice, a little heat equal?

HEAVEN ON EARTH.

I admit I am a Mexican food addict. Ask my husband, I would LITERALLY have taco's, taco salad chili, or some other form of Mexican food every night if I could. Give my a margarita, and anything with cilantro and lime in it, and I am a happy camper!

I want to share with you a new Salsa recipe I happened upon in one of my favorite cookbooks; The Best of Southern Living. My Aunt gave me this one for Christmas one year and I have made many recipes out of it and still do! It also has AWESOME pictures, which makes you want to cook all the yummy food even more! The best part of this salsa is that it's made with black-eyed peas! Way to go, Southern Living, for putting southern food into salsa too!

Here is the recipe! Enjoy, invite me over for salsa and margarita's! ;)

Chunky Black-eyed Pea Salsa

Ingredients:
- 1-3 jalepeno peppers, diced small (depending on the heat you want)
- 1 15oz. can of black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
- 1 ripe mango, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1/2 small red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 tsp. grated lime peel
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (I just use the whole lime!)
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Tortilla chips for serving (duh!)

Directions:
- Chop all ingredients. Try to get everything kind of around the same size.
- Add lime cilantro, beans, and olive oil. Stir everything up in a large bowl.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- ENJOY WITH CHIPS, or in salad, or whatever!

Adios! :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chicken with Swiss Chard, Lemon and Rosemary


It is still the smack-dab middle of winter here. This means that I am still deep into the habit of cooking hot and delicious 'comfort food' each week. Light salads and grilled chicken aren't in my vocab quite yet (although I really wish they were!). This Swiss chard with chicken recipe was great! My favorite part about it was that it used not only the leaves of the chard, but the stems as well! It was rainbow chard, so the stems account for the wonderful red splashes of color in the dish. This recipe was found at homemakers.com.

Ingredients:

1 bunch (about 1-1/4 lbs/625 g) Swiss chard
4 (about 1lb/500g) boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp (10 mL) fresh rosemary, chopped or 1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried
2 tsp (10 mL) lemon rind, grated
2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice

Directions:
-Strip Swiss chard leaves from stems; trim ends and chop stems and leaves separately and set aside.
-Sprinkle half of the salt and pepper on chicken. Heat half of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook chicken, turning once, for about 10 to 12 minutes or just until no longer pink inside. Transfer to a plate.
-Add remaining oil, salt and pepper, garlic and onion to skillet. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until softened.
-Stir in Swiss chard stems; cook for 2 minutes. Add leaves, rosemary and lemon rind and cook, stirring, until just wilted enough to cover pan.
-Nestle chicken into pan; reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or until chicken is hot and chard is tender. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A genius way to hide turnips!

I had this bag of turnips in the back of my fridge... What should I do with them? Put them in a soup (boring!)? Roast them with other root veggies? I was plum out of ideas. Then, I discovered Paula Dean's recipe for "Turnip Mashed Potatoes". What a smart lady! This recipe is tastes just like yummy mashed potatoes...I would have no idea there were turnips in there if I hadn't put them in myself! This is a recipe that will be a staple as long as turnips are haunting my refrigerator! :)

*Note: this recipe, in classic Paula Dean fashion, has a lot of butter etc. I am a southern girl at heart, but sometimes I just can't use whole sticks of butter at a time! :) I put half the butter called for and used 1% milk instead of cream and it was still great!


Turnip Mashed Potatoes:

-6 large red new potatoes, skin on
-2 large turnips, peeled
-1/2 cup cream, heated
-8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
-1/2 cup sour cream
-Salt and pepper]

Directions:
Slice potatoes and turnips 1/4-inch thick. Cook in boiling water for 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain. Whip unpeeled cooked potatoes and turnips with electric mixer, mixing until moderately smooth (don't overbeat them; a few lumps are nice). Add hot cream, butter, and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Whip again until blended. Adjust thickness by adding more cream, if desired.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Week of Cabbage Soup


I always enjoy the challenge of using my farmshare veggies in fun, creative ways, even if it means eating those veggies that I'm not so much a fan of. This week turned into the week of cabbage soup. John found a recipe that used, yes, an entire cabbage. I was not a huge fan of this idea (I found myself secretly wanting to toss the cabbage in the trash and forget about it!), but since John found the recipe and everything, we just had to try it out. We ate it with lot of rolls and butter!

There are two good things about this recipe:
1. It makes a heck of a lot of soup for not a lot of $$.
2. It tastes even more flavorful the next day and could easily be frozen for leftovers later if you don't need that much soup all at once.

This recipe is from allrecipes.com. I changed the cooking methods significantly from theirs, however, to add a little more flavor. The original had you boiling the chicken and all the veggies in the stock instead of sauteing them... Maybe I just have a thing against boiling chicken?? :) Below is my take on the recipe. (Pic from allrecipes.com!).

Thai Chicken Cabbage Soup

-3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into small pieces.
-8 cups chicken broth
-2 cloves of garlic, diced
-2 small onions, diced
-6 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
-1 medium head cabbage, shredded
-1 (8 ounce) package uncooked egg noodles
-1 teaspoon Thai chile sauce

Directions:
1. Cook chicken in oil in a stock pot until cooked through. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. In the same pan, cook onion and garlic in oil until translucent.
2. Add carrots and cook 5 minutes.
3. Add Stock, egg noodles, and cabbage. Cook 5 minutes or until pasta is cooked.
4. Add chicken and chile sauce to soup and simmer 5 more minutes.
5. Serve with extra Thai chili sauce and hot sauce as desired in each bowl.


PS. In other news. It's the beginning of February, which means I started my tomato, pepper, broccoli, basil and thyme seeds on my window sill! I also am trying another new flower, snap dragons. We will see if I can even get them to sprout! ;) I get nervous when the seeds so small that they are practically invisible!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Peach Muffins!


So my friends and I like to can fresh fruit in the summertime. Over the summer, my cupboards accumulate beautiful jars of peaches, cherries, apples, blueberries, strawberries, you name it! We make jam, we can the fruit whole, it's great!

I organized my pantry this week, and it made me realize how much fruit I have left to use this year! John and I don't like to eat pies very much, so I've decided to start making a few more recipes that use them.

These Peach Muffins were wonderful, and they are semi-healthy too (wheat flour, oatmeal...)! I love pastries and muffins, so this recipe was right up my alley. :)

Peach Oatmeal Muffins:
from food.com

Ingredients:
- 1 (16 ounce) can peaches, drain and diced small
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, see note
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4-1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup oatmeal, old fashioned or 1 cup quick oats, not instant
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup oil

Recipe:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix together dry ingredients, stir in oats and peaches
3. Mix together eggs, oil and milk, stir into flour and mix gently just until flour is incorporated; don't over mix lumpy is ok.
4. Pour into greased muffin cups or use muffin cups. Bake 15-18 minutes until the tops spring up lightly when touched.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The perfect end for a snow day



Today we had over a foot of snow dumped on Lowell MA yesterday. My husband John, sister-in-law Michelle, and myself had ourselves a legit snow day! Bumming around in our PJ's, 'working from home', shoveling and making a few snow angels too. Even George the cat went out onto the porch to explore the snow (wish I had pictures of THAT, he didn't last too long out there in the cold). :)


Because I knew I would probably have lots of time to cook last night, I decided to make Ina Garten's "Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash". Just minus the Saffron because I didn't have any, and substitute bacon for the pancetta because I was too lazy to drive to the store in the snow.

The three of us decided that the risotto was heavenly and one of the best Butternut squash risotto's we've had in a while! We served it with a salad and rolls.

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash:

Ingredients
* 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
* 2 ounces pancetta, diced (or bacon!)
* 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
* 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 1 teaspoon saffron threads (you can omit this and it's still good!)
* 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

-Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.

-Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

-In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned.
-Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
-Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve. *I mashed the squash a little before adding it to make it more creamy.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Awesome Crock pot potato soup

Last night I ended up making the potato soup that I spoke of in my last post. DELICIOUS! Don't hate me for it not being the most natural potato soup, but I must say that it was worth using the cream of chicken soup mix. I normally don't want seconds on soup- ever. But this soup had me going back for more. :)

"The Best Crockpot Potato Soup Recipe" from www.grouprecipes.com
(Notes: I halved the recipe, and it was perfect for the two of us with leftovers. You can easily make this vegetarian by using vegetable stock and cream of mushroom soup).

INGREDIENTS:
5lbs. potatoes; peeled and coursely chopped
1 sm. onion; chopped
8oz. cream cheese; softened
3-14.5oz. cans reduced sodium chicken broth
1can cream of chicken soup
1/4t. pepper

GARNISHES:
crisp bacon; crumbled
shredded cheddar cheese
sliced scallions

INSTRUCTIONS:
-Put potatoes & onion in crock-pot.
-Combine the cream cheese, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup & the pepper. Add this mix to the crock-pot.
-Cover & cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
-After cooking time, mash the potatoes if you want the soup to be thicker.
-Ladle into bowls and garnish with the cheese & bacon. Sprinkle with sliced scallions.

Save this recipe for a day when you know you will be cold and starving when you get home, or it's a snowstorm, or you just need some comfort food... :)