Monday, July 25, 2011

CSA Basket- Week Seven

This week has to be the biggest haul we've seen so far! We have a cantaloupe, a bag of green beans, a bunch of carrots, green leaf lettuce, purslane, four red ripe tomatoes, an eggplant, dill, green onions, a zucchini, a yellow squash, three picking cucumbers, and a pint of golden orange cherry tomatoes.I could barely fit it all in the picture!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Chinese-Style Eggplant

One of my co-workers has a very plentiful garden. Our office is extremely lucky, in that she often brings the bounty in to share with the rest of us. She brings in eggplants, all sorts of peppers, heirloom tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and zucchinis. This past week, there was a large basket full of eggplant that I could not pass up. I definitely took a couple home with me.

We've had a number of Italian inspired eggplant recipes lately, so I wanted to do something a little bit different. This recipe definitely jumped out at me, and I was curious to try it. It's actually meant to be made with Chinese eggplant, but it still tasted delicious with just regular eggplant. I loved the sweet and spicy combination of flavors, and was a cinch to throw together!

Sweet and Spicy Chinese-Style Eggplant

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into chunks (or 2 long Chinese eggplants)
1 teaspoon of salt

3 Tablespoons of soy sauce
2 Tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons of white sugar
2 teaspoons of corn starch
dash of red pepper flakes

1 Tablespoon of sesame oil

Directions: Place eggplant cubes in a large bowl, and sprinkle with the salt. Fill bowl with just enough water to cover the eggplant, and set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, corn starch, and red pepper flakes.

Drain water from bowl with eggplant, and pat eggplant dry with paper towels. Heat the sesame oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok. Add eggplant, and cook over medium stirring occasionally until eggplant is mostly brown. Add sauce, stir to coat, and cook for another couple minutes. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Adapted from, original recipe here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CSA Basket- Week Six

This week, we received two heirloom tomatoes, two red tomatoes, four ears of sweet corn, a zucchini, a bag of green beans, a bunch of swiss chard, a head of green leaf lettuce, and a bunch of purslane. I am so excited it's getting to be tomato season. There is some gazpacho and stuffed tomatoes on the menu this week!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cherry Hand-Pies

Last week our grocery store had an amazing sale on cherries. Needless to say, we now have ... quite a lot of cherries. While H loves to snack on them and I froze a bit more for later, there was still a lot left over that I wanted to use for some baking. When I saw these little hand-pies, I knew they were exactly what I wanted to make.

I loved the concept- all the tasty goodness of a pie, but ... portable. (As if the lack of mobility is what was missing from your traditional pie.) It's possible though! These are perfect for a cookout or a picnic, where it might be too messy and difficult to bring, slice, and eat a full pie. Just grab one of these babies!

Cherry Hand-Pies

for the dough:
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
8 Tablespoons of cold buttermilk
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of lemon extract (or 2 teaspoons of lemon zest)
2 sticks of cold butter, cut into 1/4" pieces
powdered sugar, for dusting

for the filling:
4 cups of cherries, pitted and halved
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
1 Tablespoon of cornstarch
1/4 cup of sugar

for finishing:
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup of sugar

Directions: Combine buttermilk and vanilla extract in a small mixing bowl. Add flour, sugar, salt, and lemon extract (or zest) to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Give it a quick beating to combine. Add the butter cubes, and mix on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Remove bowl from mixer, add buttermilk/vanilla mixture, and mix by hand until dough just comes together. Move dough to a powdered sugar covered surface, and flatten into a thick disk shape. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, put three cups of cherries in a large mixing bowl. Pulse the remaining one cup of cherries in a food processor with the lemon juice until they are a thick liquid. Add the cornstarch to the cherry liquid, and whisk until combined. Then add the sugar, and stir to combine. Add the liquid back to the bowl of cherries, and stir to coat.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator, and place on a powdered sugar-dusted surface. Divide dough into 12 equal parts, and roll each part into a 6" circle, about 1/8" thick.

Preheat oven to 400. Have beaten egg and sugar, as well as cherry filling ready in bowls. Place a dough round on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Spoon about 3 Tablespoons of cherry mixture into the center of the dough. Brush the edge of one half of the dough round with beaten egg. Fold opposite side of dough over to meet the egg-brushed side, into a half circle-shape Press edges together, containing the cherry filling. Brush tops of pies with egg, and sprinkle with the sugar. Cut three 1" slits in the dough to let steam escape. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until tops start to turn golden brown. Allow to cool on pans for 10 minutes, and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy!

Adapted from Annie's Eats, original recipes here and here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Watermelon and Feta Salad with Roasted Green Beans

Some summer nights, I really just want a salad for dinner. They're light, cool, refreshing, and (usually) you don't even have to turn the oven on. This recipe doesn't meet ALL of that criteria since you do have to roast the beans, but it is still a wonderful and easy summer recipe. And bonus- the roasted green bean recipe within the salad recipe are my absolutely favorite way to eat green beans as it is, and a great side dish for anytime of year.

I love the sweet and salty combination of the watermelon and feta, and the green beans give it a nice sensory kick.

Watermelon and Feta Salad with Roasted Green Beans
(serves 2)

for the salad:
1/2 pound of raw green beans, washed and trimmed
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

4 cups of baby spinach
1/8th of a seedless watermelon, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese

for the dressing:
1 lime, juiced
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of chopped, fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
dash of black pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 375. Grease a metal baking sheet with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Place beans on the baking sheet, and toss with a spatula to coat with the oil. Sprinkle the Kosher salt and black pepper on the beans, and cover the baking sheet with foil. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, remove foil, and return to oven for 8-10 minutes more.

Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for the dressing in a bottle, and shake well. Place spinach on plates, and when green beans are done, place them on the spinach. Top with the watermelon and feta, and drizzle on the dressing. Enjoy!

Adapted from Ina Garten, for, original recipe here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

CSA Basket- Week Five

This week in our produce basket, we got three cucumbers, two pints of cherry tomatoes, a large heirloom tomato, a giant eggplant, red and green swiss chard, green onions, and two ears of corn. I have a feeling it's going to be a good week!

Chimichurri Sauce

We had a beautiful bunch of parsley in our CSA basket this week and some cilantro leftover from the BBQ chicken burgers, so I decided to make a chimichurri sauce (fairly non-authentically, as it turns out). But nevertheless, it was very tasty and easy!

I served it over NY strip steaks, but I bet it would be good on pretty much any cut, or even on chicken or pasta, since it is extremely similar in texture to pesto. It'd be a simple way to add great flavor to a lot of different foods.

Chimichurri Sauce

1 cup of parsley
1/2 cup of cilantro
1 Tablespoon of red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
dash of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and pepper to season

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until chopped and well combined. You may want to drizzle an extra bit of olive oil, to get it to a bit more liquid consistency. Enjoy!

Adapted from, original recipe here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

BBQ Chicken Burgers

I know I describe a lot of food on this blog (either dishes from a restaurant or recipes that turn out well) by saying it is "to die for." And these burgers are no different. I made these for our Fourth of July barbecue, and they were a huge hit! They are SO juicy and flavorful and out of the ordinary. 

Just a head's up though- this recipe calls for pulled pork, so plan ahead! I used this recipe, which is for crock pot Hawaiian Kalua pork. The pork recipe is very basic, as I didn't the pork to be too heavily seasoned and compete with the flavor of the burgers. It was extremely easy, it just required a bit of extra time. You could probably leave the pork out, but I really think it took these burgers to the next level.

BBQ Chicken Burgers
(makes about 10-12 burgers)

for the burgers:
2 lbs of ground chicken
1/2 cup of cornmeal
3 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup of cilantro, chopped
1/2 medium onion, minced

1 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of  garlic powder
2 teaspoons of dry mustard
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons of brown sugar

1 1/3 cups of pulled pork
4 Tablespoons of BBQ sauce

for serving/cooking:
extra BBQ sauce for basting
2 red onions, sliced into rings
8 oz. of sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
hamburger buns

Directions: Put all of the ingredients for the burgers in a large bowl. Hand mix until everything is well combined. Form about 12 equal sized patties. (I froze the patties for about 30 minutes to make them a bit more solid, since they were pretty sticky and fragile.)

Grease your grill grate, and place burgers and onions on the grill. Close the lid, and allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes. Flip the onions and burgers, and brush BBQ sauce on grilled side of the burgers. Close lid again, and cook for another 2 minutes. Flip the burgers again, top with cheese, and close the lid. Cook for about 1 minute, or until cheese is melted. Assemble burgers on buns with grilled onion, and extra BBQ sauce if desired. Enjoy!

Adapted from Pink Parsley, original recipe here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Some people feel red velvet cupcakes are a perfect Valentine's Day treat. I don't disagree, but I certainly wouldn't limit them to that holiday. I think they're perfect for many other occasions. Like Mondays. Or for the Fourth of July. I mean, they're red! What could be more perfect? With the white cream cheese frosting and some blue sugar sprinkles, they are perfectly patriotic little treats.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes 24 (and maybe a bit more) cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
5 Tablespoons of butter, softened
1 3/4 cups of sugar
2 eggs

1/4 cup of red food coloring (the liquid kind)
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups of cake flour
1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 cup of buttermilk

1 cup of sour cream
1 Tablespoon of white vinegar

For the frosting:
8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
5 Tablespoons of butter, softened
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Line standard-size cupcake tins for 24 cupcakes.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar with medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one by one, beating after each one. Turn mixer off.

Whisk red food coloring and cocoa powder together in a bowl until combined. Add to mixing bowl, beating until incorporated.

Mix the 4 dry ingredients- cake flour, all-purpose flour, salt, and baking soda together in a separate bowl. Combine the vanilla and buttermilk. Turn the mixer back to medium, and add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl in three batches, alternating with two batches of the wet ingredients. Beat until just combined.

Add vinegar to the sour cream, stir to combine, and add to the mixing bowl. Beat on low until just combined.

Fill cupcake tins 3/4 full. (You may end up with slightly over 24. I think mine made 27.) Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in pans for five minutes, and then move to racks to cool completely.

For the frosting: Beat butter, cream cheese, and vanilla together in a bowl with medium high speed until smooth and creamy. Slowly add powdered sugar, while continuing to beat mixture until it reaches the desired consistency. (If you're looking for a stiffer frosting, you may need to add more powdered sugar.) Frost cupcakes, and enjoy!

Adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, original recipe here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

CSA Basket- Week Four

Hope you all had a good weekend and a happy fourth!

This week in our produce basket we got two cucumbers, two zucchini, kohlrabi, parsley, escarole, kale, and a bag of green beans. I'm excited to be getting some new things, especially the kohlrabi. I'm going to have to find some recipes for that!