Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Senate Bean Soup from our CSA

It’s impossible to take flattering pictures of soup. I tried. Instead, I give you this:

Look at those beautiful yellow-eye beans!

There were a lot of options for these beans, but the rainy weather had me craving something comforting, so I went with a traditional soup, specifically:

Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup

2 pounds dried navy beans (I used yellow-eye)
four quarts hot water
1 1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Wash the beans and run hot water through them until they are slightly whitened. Place beans into pot with hot water. ‘
  2. Add ham hocks and simmer approximately three hours in a covered pot, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove ham hocks and set aside to cool. Dice meat and return to soup.
  4. Lightly brown the onion in butter. Add to soup.
  5. Before serving, bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper.

I quartered the recipe since we only had 1 cup of beans, but I ended up using about 2 quarts of water, and I added in some extra chopped ham. For extra nutrition and flavor (and let’s be honest, I’m trying to clear out the fridge of all these delicous, but space-consuming, greens), I stirred in about 1/2 pound (3 cups maybe?) of chopped fresh spinach right before serving. The quartered recipe made four generous bowls.

This is what it looked like. Please forgive the awful picture. Soup is perhaps the most non-photogenic of all the food subjects.


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The Best French Toast

This isn’t the healthiest French toast recipe out there.

But, it’s delicious, and it’s a great breakfast for a lazy Saturday morning.

The Best French Toast

4 slices wheat bread
4 jumbo eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter, divided into 8 equal pieces
8 large strawberries, sliced
1 tbsp sugar

  1. Combine the eggs, cream, vanilla, and cinnamon. Beat with a fork until smooth.
  2. Combine the sliced strawberries and sugar.
  3. Heat a griddle on medium-low.
  4. Using tongs, dredge each slice of bread in the egg mixture, letting it soak about 30 seconds on each side. Remove to plate.
  5. Heat the oven to warm or 250-degrees. Put two plates in the oven to warm.
  6. Add one piece of butter to the griddle for each slice of bread that will fit. (I did two at a time.)
  7. Cook the bread 2-3 minutes a side, until golden brown. Remove the cooked pieces to the warmed oven, add a pat of butter to the top of each.
  8. Once all the pieces have cooked, remove the plates from the oven (carefully), and top each slice with 1/4 of the strawberries. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

The recipe is also posted at Livestrong’s MyPlate, the site I use to track my daily calorie intake.

What? Oh yeah. The whole calorie thing. Blame this lady.

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This ziti is one of my favorite dinners. The layers of fresh basil, pasta, tomatoes and spicy italian sausage and three cheeses; ricotta; Parmesan; and fresh mozzarella melt together into a gooey, satisfying, compulsively edible conglomerate. Pair a dish of this creamy, tomato-ey pasta with a caesar salad, crusty bread and a glass of wine and you have the perfect comfort food dinner.

Baked Ziti

Makes two medium baking dishes or one really large baking dish, about 12 servings

1 pound ziti or penne pasta
Olive Oil
1 pound Italian sausage
4 tbsp tomato paste
Red Pepper Flakes
2 14.5-oz cans tomato sauce
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
16-oz ricotta
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
8-oz fresh mozzarella, shredded
Italian Seasoning
Fresh Basil, chiffonade(d)
Salt & Pepper

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and boil the pasta until quite al dente. We’re going to bake the pasta, so we don’t want it to be overdone. Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. In a large saute pan or dutch oven, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the Italian sausage and cook until browned. Drain off fat if needed.
  4. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook for one minute.
  5. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, stir to combine. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste. Turn the heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally.
  6. Mix the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and half of the Parmesan together until well combined. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. To assemble the ziti, coat the bottom of your baking dishes with a scant layer of the tomato and sausage sauce. Follow up with 1/4 of the cooked pasta, then 1/4 of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle 1/4 of the fresh mozzarella, and 1/4 of the basil. Repeat with another layer of tomato sauce, then the pasta, ricotta and basil. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Repeat in the second dish.
  8. Cover the dishes, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, uncover and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Let stand about 10 minutes before dishing up.

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Zuchinni Fritters

102_0598We’ve been picking up giant zucchinis every week at our Orchard Gardens CSA, and up until now I’ve been cutting them into sticks then roasting them with a little sea salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. That technique is what I do to every vegetable, including broccoli, asparagus, big fat winter carrots, Brussels sprouts – I haven’t not roasted a vegetable that way.

I was inspired by this recipe (found via Tasty Kitchen) to try my favorite green vegetable a different way in the form of Zucchini Fritters, and made this for dinner one hot, sweaty night this week when the thought of turning on the oven seemed particularly unpleasant. The recipe calls for garnishing with Tzatziki sauce, but I used a dollop of sour cream and fresh mint here.

Zucchini Fritters

adapted (mostly just proportions) from The Noshery

Made 10 fritters, enough for 2-3 as a main course or 5 as a side dish.

1 gigantic zucchini, shredded, then squeezed in a tea towel of excess liquid
2 eggs, beaten
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small whole onion, minced
6 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Salt & Pepper to taste
Olive or vegetable oil for frying

  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix with a fork until combined. The mixture should be cohesive enough to form a loose ball.
  2. Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet (I used cast iron) over medium to medium high.
  3. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to heap out the mixture into the frying pan. Flatten slightly.
  4. Let cook 3 – 4 minutes per side until golden brown.
  5. Drain on paper towels, serve immediately with sour cream and fresh mint as garnish.

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These carnitas are amazing. This is the second time I’ve made them – the first time was for the Super Bowl. They have so much flavor! They’re sweet and spicy all at once, the crispy, caramelized edges are melt in your mouth delicious, and the smell of them braising in the oven is divine. I had to stop myself from eating the entire pan, standing by the stove and burning my fingers. The recipe is basically David Lebovitz’s, with a few edits.

I served these on toasted flour tortillas (I prefer corn tortillas with this, but we were out) with shredded red cabbage fresh from our community garden, cotija cheese and a mayonnaise cilantro spice sauce. Next time I’d use plain yogurt or sour cream as the base for the sauce – the recipe is below. These would also be just a delicious with nothing but the meat and fresh squeezed lime over the top wrapped in tortillas.


adapted from David Lebovitz

4 – 5 lb pork shoulder, trimmed
Vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (I used ½ tsp cinnamon)
2 tsp chili powder
2 dried red chiles
¼ tsp cumin
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
Water or chicken broth

  1. Cut pork shoulder into 5” chunks. Rub salt all over, then let them rest in the fridge, covered for up to 3 days, or just proceed to the next step.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan.
  4. Sear chunks of pork well on each side until deep golden brown. Remove to plate or paper towels.
  5. Deglaze the pan with water or chicken broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the tasty brown bits.
  6. Add the spices and garlic to the pan, stir. Put the pork back in the pan, pour water or broth in the pan until the pork is covered 2/3 of the way up. Turn the pieces to coat.
  7. Roast uncovered in the oven 3 ½ hours, turning every 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the pan seems to be running dry before the pork starts falling apart, add more water or broth to the pan. When you go to turn the meat and it falls apart, it’s done.
  8. Remove the pork to a plate and let cool. When you can handle it, shred it in to chunks, then add it back to the roasting pan and toss it in the leftover juices.
  9. Add the pan back to the oven and allow the extra juice to evaporate out, so the chunks get a crunchy crisp to them. Be careful not to over-crisp, but if you do over-crisp a bit of broth or water mixed through will rehydrate.

Cilantro Spice Sauce

1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 bunch (about 3 – 5 tbsp chopped) cilantro, chopped finely
2 tbsp lime juice, or enough to thin out the sauce
Chile sauce – I used Sriracha

  1. Mix all ingredients, using lime juice to thin out to the desired consistency and Sriracha until desired spice level is reached.

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102_0403When it comes to quick dinners, pasta is my ultimate go-to dish. The formula is simple – take a protein (or not), saute it, add some sort of vegetable, sauce it (or don’t), and toss it all together with some cooked pasta. There isn’t a recipe – it’s a method. Clean out your fridge, be creative!

This meal followed the formula exactly – I sauted chopped up bacon, then added about 2 cups of chopped kale and cooked until wilted, added 4 -5 cloves of minced garlic, then deglazed the pan with about a cup of pasta water. I added the juice of half a lemon, a couple pats of butter, some fresh ground pepper, then tossed in the cooked pasta. A generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan completed the dish – and it took about 30 minutes to throw together.

Despite the bacon and butter, this was a light, fresh, satisfying dish with bold flavors – the bitterness of the kale, the saltiness of the bacon, the sharp tang of lemon and garlic.

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Beet Green & Ham Gratin

Beet Green & Ham Au GratinI based tonight’s dinner off a recipe provided by Garden City Harvest, the organization that provides our CSA share. The recipe, Bok Choy and Ham Gratin, caught my eye for its simplicity, and for an outside-of-the-box approach to Bok Choy, what I think of as an Asian vegetable good for stir fries and soups. Then again, I’ve yet to actually cook bok choy, so what do I know?

Anyways, I ended up making it with beet greens instead. When I got home and opened the fridge, the beet greens were limp and the bok choy was still in great shape, so beet greens it was. I soaked the slightly wilted greens in ice water until they regained some of their rigidity – totally salvageable. Why did I do this? The Joy of Cooking told me to. I generally do what Irma Rombauer & the Beckers say – they haven’t steered me wrong yet.

This was a great dish – a hearty main course and perfect with a fresh salad with a drizzle of Caesar dressing and spritz of lemon on the side. The beet greens retained much of their sharp flavor and weren’t overwhelmed by the ham or the cheese, though next time I’ll cut back on the cheese sauce. I made more cheese sauce than the original recipe suggested – I just really like cheese sauce. It’s shameful, really, how much I like it. As I made it, though, we needed spoons to delve into this goodness. In this case, less cheese sauce would be good.

A fun benefit of using beet greens instead of bok choy? The dish was slightly pink. Fun!

The recipe below is how I would make it next time – so it should have a thicker texture.

Beet Green and Ham Gratin

1 ½  tbsp butter
1 small onion, sliced thinly
2 scapes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups beet greens, cut into 2 to 3 inch lengths cross wise, including stems
Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 ½ cup milk
½ cup grated Swiss or other good melting cheese (I used a mild cheddar, it didn’t melt well), plus ¼ cup for topping
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup lean ham, chopped

  1. Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, sauté until soft.
  2. Add scapes and garlic, cook, stirring until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add beet greens and salt and pepper, cook, stirring often, until the stems are tender and the leaves are wilted. Remove from heat.
  4. Add butter to small saucepan, melt. Add 2 tbsp flour and cook, whisking until browned. Add milk and heat until just about to simmer. Remove from heat. Preheat broiler.
  5. Add cheese and nutmeg, stir in until melted, then add ¾ of the ham. Add the beet green mixture and stir.
  6. Pour mixture into a small baking pan, sprinkle ham on top.
  7. Broil until bubbly, then add cheese and broil until just brown.
  8. Remove from oven and let sit before serving.

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