Monday, June 28, 2010

Roasted Beet Salad with Oranges, Walnuts, Dried Cherries and Goat Cheese

Well, I was a busy girl yesterday! I planned a Sunday dinner for my family around some of the goodies I got in my Harvest Box. The menu was this salad: Roasted Beet Salad with Oranges, walnuts, dried cherries and goat cheese. The beets, so beautiful in three different colors, were roasted in an easy marinade. The oranges were from my parent's orchard and even though they're the last of the oranges for the summer, they were still sweet and juicy! All of the contrasting colors and textures in this salad make it not only tasty, but beautiful to look at!! The main course was Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Sweet and Salty Glazed Onions along with Roasted Potatoes, Fennel and Carrots.
The Salad and Pork recipe come from one of my most favorite cookbooks: FRESH EVERYDAY by SARA FOSTER. I actually changed around the salad recipe a bit, omitted a couple things and added a few things of my own. If you ever have the chance to look through her cookbook, you will find some of the most amazing recipes ever!!

  • 3 medium beets (red, golden or any combination), trimmed of greens and washed well.
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 oranges, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 Cup glazed walnuts (store bought or homemade)
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup dried bing cherries
  • 1 large bag Organic Mixed Lettuce
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place beets in a baking dish. Pour the orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, and 1/4 cup water over beets and season with salt and pepper. Cover the baking sheet tightly with foil and roast the beets until they're tender when pierced with a knife, 40-45 minutes. Uncover and let beets cool to room temp. ** Reserve cooking liquid.
3. Peel beets and cut them into 1 inch chunks. Arrange about 1 cup of lettuce on individual plates. Layer orange slices, beets, walnuts, goat cheese and cherries.
4. Whisk the reserved beet liquid and pour over the vegetables, season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Roasted Beets just out of the oven
Look at what pretty colors these beets are!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A New Harvest

I can't believe this is the FIRST time I have bought a Harvest Box! I have friends who get them all the time and absolutely LOVE them! I'm always at the farmers markets in town and end up spending a lot, so I figured this would be a great way to get the best of what the farmers have to offer in one nice big box! So, I reserved my box at Rutiz Farms (all organic) on Thursday and was informed I could pick it up after 1pm on Friday. I know this sounds crazy, but I was SO excited to pick up my box! I couldn't even wait until I got home to peek inside the damp cardboard box. Potatoes, fennel, carrots, beets, spinach, lettuce mix, zucchini, a basket of the best strawberries on earth, and a single avocado! My mind started wandering about what I could make with all of the goodies inside. My plan is to get a box (or 2) weekly and plan my meals around what is in the box.
So, this is where I need help from my friends! I've never really cooked with beets, but I have some ideas just from dishes I've eaten at restaurants. Any good recipes you have that include beets, please send them my way! I'm thinking of a beet/goat cheese salad. I plan on using the fennel to make a roasted pork. I'm excited for this week of cooking and would love any ideas you have!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Italian herbed shrimp pasta

I'm making up for lost time by adding 2 recipes today! This original recipe comes from Cooking Light July 2008 edition and is titled "Italian Herbed Shrimp Kebabs". Well, I was in the mood for pasta, so I took all of the "kebab" ingredients and threw them into some spaghetti. I already had a bag of large frozen, cooked shrimp, but I would not use them again for this recipe. If your going to make this, then get the uncooked jumbo shrimp...which will make for a more tender, flavorful shrimp. I didn't make them as kebabs because I grilled them on my stovetop grill pan, but when I make this recipe a second time, I will definitely kebab them to save on time, then throw them in the pasta along with the grilled asparagus. Go to your local farmers market to find some awesome zucchini right now...the yellow squash is one of my favorites!! Oh, and while your there, pick up the fresh herbs that's called for in this recipe!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4-5):
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 24 peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1 bundle asparagus
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 12-16 oz. cooked spaghetti
1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat
2. Place first 6 ingredients in a blender or small food processor; add 2 teaspoons oil. Process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Add shrimp to bowl; toss well to coast. Let stand at room temp. 15 minutes.
3. Thread shrimp and zucchini slices alternately onto each skewer and reserve the marinade for pasta. Drizzle kebabs evenly with remaining 2 tsp. of oil. Place kebabs on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until done. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. While kebabs are grilling, drizzle asparagus with some olive oil, salt & pepper and place on grill for about the same amount of time as the kebabs. After asparagus is cooked, cut into 3 inch pieces. Cook the spaghetti, drain; then in a large pan heat the reserved marinade along with 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Add the spaghetti, shrimp, zucchini and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add additional olive oil as needed. Heat through then serve.
Simple ingredients...
Ok, so I just HAD to throw in a couple pictures of my nephew & niece. I had them over yesterday and it was definitely the highlight of mine & Ella's day!!

Ella & Kai having a tea party...Kai was addicted to the tea!!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, we're finishing up the second week of summer vacation and WOW, has it been busy! I signed the boys up for an Ag Adventure camp, full of horseback riding, roping, jerky making, goat milking FUN!! They've come home every day this week exhausted! It's been exciting to hear all of the stories they come home with and all of the hay that comes pouring out of their shoes!! I've pretty much succumbed to the fact that this summer may be a little busier than others in the past, but I'm glad the kids are having fun being kids and that their isn't much time for arguing & bickering at home (which I'm REALLY happy about)!
Yesterday was one of those days that I figured they would be really happy to come home to freshly baked cookies...I mean, after a hard day on the farm, who wouldn't? So, to one of my most FAVORITE cookbooks I went and found one of my favorite cookie recipes. Had a nice big heaping plateful for them to devour after they washed their grubby paws!

Foster's Market Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
(I noted where modifications were made)
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I omitted this)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (I used 1/2 tsp.)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I made half without & then poured 1 cup chips into the rest of the dough)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (this is the easiest clean-up method)!
2. Cream butter and both sugars in a large bowls with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of the bowl and blending thoroughly after each addition. Stir in the vanilla
3. In a separate large bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon (if using) and salt. Stir to mix. Add to the creamed butter-sugar mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are moist and blended in. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Scoop the doughy out with a 1/4 cup measure or ice cream scoop and drop onto the prepared baking sheet. Leave about 3 inches between cookies because they will expand! Press the cookies to 1/2 in to 1/4 inch thickness with the palm of your hand.
5. Bake cookies on a center rack for 12-14 minutes to get soft, chewy cookies. If you want crunchy cookies, bake about 4-5 min. longer. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mini Lasagnas with Sweet Corn and Mascarpone

When I saw these cute little lasagnas being made, I was determined to try them! They look delicious & I just love that they are made individually. I think the kids liked that too! My oldest, Jaden had so much fun making these with me and he really enjoyed the fruits of his labor! This is yet another Giada De Laurentiis recipe and she uses a couple of stronger/sharper cheeses in this recipe, so I will give you some adjustments if you prefer to have a more mild flavor. I rounded out the meal with some broccolini (my kids favorite veggie) and some good bread! Click on the title above to be sent to Giada's recipe.

  • Butter for ramekins
  • 12 lasagne sheet
  • 3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream, at room temp.
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup (8 oz) mascarpone cheese, at room temp.
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) finely grated Pecorino Romano, plus 1/2 cup (Or you can use Parmesan for a more mild flavor)
  • 1 large lemon, zested
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded sharp Provolone (OR I used Mozzarella)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
  • 6 (10 oz) ramekins

Arrange rack in the center of oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter ramekins and set aside. Boil lasagna noodles according to package, drain and lay out on wax or parchment paper. I like to do this because it makes them so much easier to handle. Lay out 2 cooked noodles into the ramekins making an "X". Push noodles down gently, allowing excess pasta to hang over edges (I have a picture below).

In a food processor, blend the corn, cream and garlic until chunky. Add the mascarpone, 1 cup of Romano cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add the basil and pulse until just combined. Spoon 1/4 cup filling into the bottom of each ramekin and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. of the Provolone (or Mozzarella). Fold overhanging 2 pieces of pasta over the filling (trim end of pasta with scissors if necessary). Add another 1/4 cup filling to each ramekin and top with another 2 Tbsp. Provolone. Fold over the 2 remaining pieces of pasta.
Spoon any remaining filling on top of pasta. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1/2 cup Romano and drizzle with olive oil. Place ramekins on large baking sheet and bake until tops are golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 25-30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.
To serve, run a knife around the edge of the ramekins to loosen the lasagna. Unmold onto serving plates.

Jaden was so excited to help me make these

Lay the noodles in an "X" shape

Peach, Apricot, Mixed Berry Crisp

Ahhh, the sweet smells of summer-time! There's nothing like super ripe juicy peaches, bright red sweet berries and the smell of a buttery crisp baking in the oven! I LOVE experimenting with crisps, cobblers & pies! The fun thing about them is that you don't have to stick to any particular recipe, you can use any combination of fruit that you like & it always turns out amazing with that crispy, buttery topping! This particular combination turned out so good because the fruit was so ripe & sweet on it's own that I didn't have to add much sugar at all. I followed Ina Garten's recipeHERE, but tweaked a few things. So go ahead and make a crisp this summer and don't let that crisp topping turn you's summer after all!!

  • 5 peaches, sliced in thick wedges
  • 4 apricots, sliced in thick wedges
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 pint blackberries
  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or more if fruit is tart)
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • juice squeezed from 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 Cup flour (you can use whole wheat flour too)
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Cup Oatmeal (I used old fashioned, but you can use quick also)
  • 1/2 lb (yes 2 STICKS) unsalted butter, diced
Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray or butter a 9 by 13 rectangle or oval baking dish. Set aside. Combine all of the filling ingredients, stirring the flour and sugar in carefully so you don't break apart the berries. Place the fruit in the pan. Combine the topping ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. If you don't have one, then you can use a fork or your trusty hands to mix. Mix on low speed until butter is pea-sized and mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over fruit and bake for 1 hour, until top is browned and the crisp is bubbly. Serve WARM...with a scoop of vanilla ice cream of course!!

Crispy topping and bubbly fruit!

My little helper piling on the topping...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cinnamon Streusel Cake

This is a recipe that my mom has been making for a really long time! I've always loved this cake because it smells soooo incredibly good as it's baking!! As I got older and started making this cake on my own I realized how incredibly EASY it is also! There aren't many ingredients, so it's quick to prepare. I have made this cake for breakfast, brunches, dessert, pretty much for anything.

  • 1 Box Yellow Cake Mix (I use good old betty crocker)
  • 1 pkg. vanilla instant pudding
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 1/3 Cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Cup flour
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 3/4 Cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
Beat cake ingredients together with mixer for 2 minutes at medium speed. Spread 3/4 of the batter in greased & floured (or sprayed) 10 inch Bundt Pan.
Combine streusel ingredients. Sprinkle 2/3 Cup streusel over batter. Spread remaining batter over streusel and top with remaining streusel. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Cool 25 minutes then remove from pan by inverting onto serving plate.
Whisk together glaze then drizzle over cooled cake.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chewy Granola Bars

A few months back I decided that I was going to try making granola bars. We love granola bars in our house & with me being a busy mom and a runner, I like to snack on bars that will give me some good energy without being loaded down with too much fat or sugar. So I figured, what the heck, I'll give it a try! The first ones turned out a little dry, the second batch was better, but not quite what I was hoping for. Tonight I made a batch & they were really good! The kids were begging for one, so once they were cool enough I cut them up and gave them a little snack before bed! I'd love some suggestions on how these could be even better, so feel free to give me your input!!!

  • 2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1 Cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg white, beaten until frothy
  • 1/2 Cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 Cup Natural Peanut Butter (try Sunflower Seed Butter if you have nut allergies)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/2 Cup slivered Almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 Cup dried fruit (I use cranberries)
  • 1/4 Cup mini chocolate chips
  • (Optional) 1/4 Cup shredded Coconut
In a large bowl, mix together first 5 ingredients. In mixing bowl, beat egg white until frothy, then add next 4 ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, then add nuts, fruit, choc. chips and coconut. Combine together and pour into a greased 9 by 13 pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden edges.
Cool for at least an hour, then cut into bars. Makes 12-18 bars. Store in airtight container or separately in small ziploc bags (which make them easy to grab & go)!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Spinach Salad with Mangos, Candied Pecans & Goat Cheese

I was once again in the mood for goat cheese the other night, but wanted to make something light and easy. I found this recipe on Epicurious (love that site!) and tweaked it a bit to make this fresh & tasty salad. Since a salad isn't quite enough for us big eaters, I grilled some chicken breasts and placed them on top of the salad. The kids pretty much stuck to the chicken and mangos...which is fine with me! We rounded out the meal with some really yummy seeded rolls from TJ's (find them in the freezer section). Oh, and if you don't feel like making these pecans, you can totally buy the ones that are already candied (those are just as good)!

  • Cooking Spray
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
**Line a baking sheet with foil then spray. Combine sugar, oil & vinegar in small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Continue boiling for 3 minutes, until sugar dissolves. Spread on baking sheet and separate nuts with fork. Let cool completely.
  • 6 0z. bag baby spinach or a combination of mixed greens. I had some fresh lettuce from my neighbor, so I combined the spinach with the lettuce (it was good)
  • 1 large Mango, pitted and cut into chunks
  • 6 oz. Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • Candied Pecans
  • Grilled or Cooked Chicken Breasts (optional)
  • 4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
  • Sea Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
**Toss spinach. Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt & pepper then pour over salad. Next top with mango, pecans and goat cheese.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Petite Vanilla Bean Scones

All I have to say is A-MAZING! This recipe came from The Pioneer Woman they do NOT disappoint! If you make these, you will want to make them over and over and over! Yes, vanilla beans are a little pricey, but they really make these scones taste amazing!!
I made them up the night before then threw them in the oven the next morning. Or you could probably even freeze the cut dough and then bake them whenever you want.
Here's the recipe from The Pioneer Woman:
  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour
  • ⅔ cups Sugar
  • 5 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 2 sticks (1/2 Pound) UNSALTED Butter, Chilled
  • 1 whole Large Egg
  • ¾ cups Heavy Cream (more If Needed)
  • 2 whole Vanilla Beans
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted
  • ½ cups Whole Milk
  • 1 whole Vanilla Bean
  • Dash Of Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Split the vanilla beans down the middle lengthwise and scrape out all the vanilla “caviar” inside. Stir caviar into cream. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Sift together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Cut cold butter into pats, then use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour. Keep going until mixture resembles crumbs.

Mix vanilla cream with egg, then combine with flour mixture; stir gently with a fork just until it comes together.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and lightly press it together until it forms a rough rectangle. (Mixture will be pretty crumbly.) Use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Use your hands to help with the forming if necessary.

Use a knife to trim into a symmetrical rectangle, then cut the rectangle into 12 symmetrical squares/rectangles. Next, cut each square/rectangle in half diagonally, to form two triangles.

Transfer to a parchment or baking mat-lined cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes, removing from the oven just before they start to turn golden. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.


To make the icing, split one vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the caviar. Stir caviar into milk; allow to sit for awhile. Mix powdered sugar with the vanilla milk, adding more powdered sugar or milk if necessary to get the consistency the right thickness. Stir or whisk until completely smooth.

One at a time, carefully dunk each cooled scone in the glaze, turning it over if necessary. Transfer to parchment paper or the cooling rack. Allow the glaze to set completely, about an hour. Scones will keep several days if glazed.

Fried Rice!

Busy, busy, busy is what I've been! Got to be a part of my brothers wedding this past weekend and it was the most beautiful, amazing, fun wedding I've been to in a long time! They had it out at a local winery, Edna Valley about a stunning sight! Rolling hills, bright green grapevines and a clear sunny day. My sister in law was a beauty and it was a blessing to stand beside her as she said "I do" to my brother. So happy for them as they start their life together as husband & wife!!!

Ok, so now on to some killer fried rice! My sister came up with this recipe and it's been one of our favorite main or side dish. Sometimes I'll make Teriyaki Chicken to have with the rice, but other times we'll just have a big bowl of rice & maybe some potstickers alongside. My sister adds cut up chicken to the fried rice and that would be a perfect way to have a one dish meal. I've tried this recipe with other veggies like finely diced zucchini & finely diced mushrooms. The great thing about this dish is you can experiment any way you like!! If you don't like green onions, then go ahead and leave them out!!

  • Cooked Jasmine Rice (white or brown) I buy the frozen pre-cooked rice from Trader Joes and use 2-3 bags depending on how much I want to make. If you start with uncooked rice, this recipe will call for 1-2 cups uncooked.
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped (some green parts too)
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 Tbsp. butter
  • garlic salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • sesame seeds to taste
  • Soy Sauce to taste
Cook rice and set aside. Heat a large Wok or Skillet over med-high heat. Add eggs and scramble. Next add onions, carrots and garlic. Cook until slightly tender (about 3 min). Next add your rice and butter. Stir to combine then season with garlic salt and pepper. Drizzle some soy sauce all around the rice (you can always add more later if you like), then sprinkle sesame seeds and stir again to combine. If you are adding chicken, you can mix it in at the end. Serve immediately. Trust me...your kids will LOVE this rice!!


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