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Posts tagged with Dinner

Cooking away the CSA, week 21: Creamy and sweet summer salad

A healthy salad: Devoid of anything fake, but full of lots of good fat.

A healthy salad: Devoid of anything fake, but full of lots of good fat. by Sarah Henning

It has come to my attention that maybe a few of my readers are afraid of the big F-A-T word when it comes to eating.

I’ve mentioned this before and I’m going to say it again: I, too, was once scared of F-A-T making me F-A-T.

But, as part of my growth in understanding food as fuel and how our bodies work, I’ve also come to love that big, scary macronutrient.

So, let’s get this out there: Not all fat is bad.

Not in the slightest.

There is a reason an avocado is all monounsaturated (aka heart-healthy) fat. There’s a reason nuts and seeds are full of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. There’s a reason the fat in coconut oil happens to be medium-chain saturated fat, which the body loves to burn for energy.

We are meant to eat fat.

Real, naturally occurring F-A-T.

What we’re not meant to eat are the fake, processed foods completely devoid of their original, natural fats. Or “foods” created in such away that they are more chemicals than technical food. This is not food, even if it’s “low-fat.”

I’ll repeat: This is not food.

I could get on my soap box and go on and on about this. But I’ve only got so much space, so just believe me when I say: Do your research.

Know how food as fuel is supposed to work.

And then stop buying denatured crap. Buy real stuff.

Focus on real food.

Do not focus on numbers and percentages and labels — if you really want to avoid the Standard American Diet (aka the SAD diet) don’t buy food with labels at all.

End soap box rant.

So, in light of this discussion, I’m going to share a recipe made with REAL food, that’s full of GOOD FAT.

It combines our Rolling Prairie CSA cherry tomatoes with fresh spinach, ripe raspberries, avocado, hemp seed and a simple drizzle of olive oil and white balsamic with a squeeze of lemon.

Healthy, real and most definitely not SAD.

Creamy and Sweet Summer Salad for two.

Creamy and Sweet Summer Salad for two. by Sarah Henning

Creamy and Sweet Summer Salad

2 handfuls baby spinach

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 6-ounce container of raspberries

1 tablespoon hemp seed, divided

1-2 avocado, divided

Good-quality olive oil (I used Extra Virgin's garlic-infused olive oil)

White balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic)

Lemon juice

Line the bottom of two salad bowls with baby spinach. Top with 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes and half a container of raspberries. Place 1/2 tablespoon of hemp seed in each bowl, along with 1/4 of a whole avocado. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, a splash of balsamic and finish with a bit of lemon juice. Enjoy. Serves 2.

What’d we get this week? The motherload of: slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, hot peppers, bok choy, edamame, cantaloupe.

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Cooking away the CSA, week 20: Taking the kitchen outside

Grilled eggplant with tomato and goat cheese.

Grilled eggplant with tomato and goat cheese. by Sarah Henning

I always love the idea of eggplant.

They’re beautiful.

They’re tasty.

And I have a very, very bad habit of neglecting them. I buy them, or pick them from my Rolling Prairie CSA choices, look at their glorious purple skins a tad bit too long and end up doing absolutely nothing with them.

It’s a total shame.

If not for the fact that my compost pile also gets their tasty little ruined forms, but for the fact that they happen to be one of the hubby’s favorite foods. The man loves eggplant Parmesan about as much as he loves apple pie.

But it is too dang hot to make eggplant Parmesan.

Yet, we ended up both buying some eggplant at the Lawrence Farmers' Market on Saturday and then ended up getting two eggplants, along with tomatoes (slicing and grape), cucumbers, melon and little sweet peppers) in our Rolling Prairie CSA last Monday.

And I knew I couldn’t just let four of these precious little beauties waste away.

So, we took to the Internet and found the perfect recipe. Used up all four eggplant in making this special dish not once but twice this week. And, thus, avoided dropping our purple beauties in the compost pile.

Eggplant on the grill.

Eggplant on the grill. by Sarah Henning

Grilled Eggplant Topped with Goat Cheese and Tomato (adapted from The Kitchn) serves 2

2 medium eggplants*

1/3 cup olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons honey balsamic vinegar OR 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar

3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

1 stalk Italian parsley, leaves only, minced (we didn’t use them)

Small handful fresh chives, chopped (we didn’t use them)

Salt and pepper

4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Slice the eggplants into rounds about 3/4-inch thick. Salt lightly and set aside. Heat the grill (or stove-top grill pan) to high heat.

Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and lightly dunk the eggplant slices so each is moist with the oil. Place them on the heated grill and cover. Cook, turning halfway through, for 8-10 minutes, or until they are as soft as you prefer.

Meanwhile, toss the chopped tomatoes with the minced herbs and mix with just a little salt and pepper to taste.

In the last couple minutes of cooking, sprinkle each eggplant slice with a few crumbles of goat cheese and cook so that the cheese begins to soften. Remove the slices, top with the tomato mixture, and serve!

*Baby eggplants, or the long, skinny Asian eggplants, are best, but smallish purple globe eggplants will do.

What’d we get this week? Tomatoes (slicing and cherry), cucumbers, garlic, green beans, bell peppers, potatoes.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, green beans, bell peppers and potatoes.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, green beans, bell peppers and potatoes. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 19: Summer by the forkful

Salad. Salad. Salad.

Salad. Salad. Salad. by Sarah Henning

Usually my family food goals revolve around attempting to plan meals and using up everything in our fridge, but last week it was something else entirely.

I was determined to get as many bits of our last CSA box from Rolling Prairie into a single salad as possible.

Hey, it’s good to have goals, right?

So, what was I trying to shoehorn? Summer squash, edamame, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, a cucumber and green beans.

We wanted to save the watermelon for dessert and the summer squash later to grill, so I threw the rest of the ingredients into a salad and called it good. (This is after boiling the green beans and edamame a bit, because they wouldn’t have been very tasty if we’d just thrown them directly in a salad, unfortunately.)

I used a bit of all of our CSA veggies... almost.

I used a bit of all of our CSA veggies... almost. by Sarah Henning

I'd say that pretty pic right there equals success.

Spoils of Summer Chopped Salad

Baby spinach

1/2 avocado, chopped

One tomato, chopped, or 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

10 olives, halved

1/4 large cucumber, chopped

1/2 to 1 whole sweet pepper, chopped

Edamame, boiled and shelled

Green beans, boiled and trimmed

Dressing of choice

Optional: Chopped hard-boiled egg, goat cheese

Separate out all ingredients into two bowls. Enjoy. Serves two.

What’d we get this week? Tomatoes (slicing and grape), cucumbers, eggplant, melon and little sweet peppers.

This week's goodies: Two types of tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, melon and little sweet peppers.

This week's goodies: Two types of tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, melon and little sweet peppers. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 18: Pantry potato pieces

Potatoes can't stay in storage forever.

Potatoes can't stay in storage forever. by Sarah Henning

So, I’m going to change things up a bit.

You see, last week we got a fabulous assortment of yumminess from our CSA, Rolling Prairie: Watermelon, tomatoes, snap peas, cucumbers, starter onions, yellow squash and peppers.

Everything was delicious. As can be expected. But I’m not going to write this week about any of those things.

Why? Because if you’ve just been following along, you know that for weeks when I describe how we use the potatoes we picked up from Rolling Prairie, I would say that we stored them. And I’m guessing if you have a CSA, you may have done the same thing.

So, this week we pulled out those stored potatoes and made some home fries to go along with one of our very excellent CSA meals.

And they were excellent. And addictive. And totally gone in a flash.

Just-washed, straight from the pantry.

Just-washed, straight from the pantry. by Sarah Henning

Pantry Potato Pieces

Potatoes

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice potatoes into quarter-inch thick slices, leaving the skins on. Place in a glass lasagna dish, toss in olive oil to coat and sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and eat immediately. Servings vary based on size of potatoes.

What’d we get this week? Summer squash, edamame, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, a cucumber and green beans.

This week's goodies: summer squash, edamame, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, green beans.

This week's goodies: summer squash, edamame, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, green beans. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 16: Double squash delight

Double the squash fun.

Double the squash fun. by Sarah Henning

Before we get started on how to do nutritional double duty with not one but two kinds of squash in the same meal, I wanted to say thank you to all of you who contacted me with such positive things to say about my writeup on veggies and kids last week.

I heard from several of you who are also doing the very best you can, knowing that perfection just isn’t going to happen when we’re talking kids and food. If you want me to post more frequently on this topic, I most definitely will. Because children’s nutrition is obviously important, especially if it’s doable children’s nutrition.

So, thank you.

Now, to the matter at hand: how to gobble up all that CSA goodness, you’re surely getting/have gotten this week.

We’re more than halfway through the season, and it’s pretty clear from the variety coming in at local CSAs (we use Rolling Prairie) and at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market. As an example of variety, last week we received: blackberries, yellow squash, onions, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, Swiss chard, corn and cucumbers.

The cherry tomatoes and cucumbers were gone pretty darn fast, claimed by the kiddo, who helped “chop” the cucumbers with his kiddie butter knife.

Don't worry, he's using a child's knife.

Don't worry, he's using a child's knife. by Sarah Henning

The blackberries disappeared into a chocolate-spinach-banana-hemp seed smoothie.

Blackberry and chocolate smoothie = delicious.

Blackberry and chocolate smoothie = delicious. by Sarah Henning

The chard was juiced, the corn was boiled and the potatoes were stored.

But the squash and onions, they went into a delightful new dish I’m calling Double Squash Skillet.

This warm dish combines a baked spaghetti squash with an Italian-inspired saute featuring mushrooms, onions, garlic, marinara and a chopped yellow squash, for doubly squashy goodness.

Note: You will need to cook the spaghetti squash first. We do this by splitting it in half lengthwise, taking out the seeds, rubbing the edges with olive oil and then baking it on a parchment-lined cookie sheet at 425 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

Double Squash Skillet

1 spaghetti squash, baked, “noodles” scraped out with a fork

1 yellow squash, cut into half-inch pieces

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 pint button mushrooms, stems removed and sliced

1 ½ cups marinara

1 tablespoon oil for the frying pan (we used coconut oil)

Once the spaghetti squash has finished in the oven, heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan/skillet/wok.

Add garlic and onion, stir for 1 to 2 minutes, until the onions start to become clear. Add the yellow squash. Wait a minute, stirring. Add the mushrooms and baked spaghetti squash. Stir until they’re heated through.

At the last minute, add the marinara. Keep stirring and cook until all the veggies are soft.

Take off heat and serve immediately. Serves: 4.

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Cooking away the CSA, week 13: The best beets yet (you can’t beat ‘em)

Beet lunch salad. Delicious!

Beet lunch salad. Delicious! by Sarah Henning

A few weeks ago, Karrey Britt and I were discussing all the ways one could serve beets. One of the ways we discussed was roasting them a la my balsamic veggies. But another way I hadn't tried was one so simple it seemed like a bit of trickery: Baked beets, no oil.

Just aluminum foil packets and a 375-degree oven.

Supposedly (so said the Internet), you don't even have to peel them — the skins will just slip right off after they finish cooking and cool.

Seems too good to be true, right?

Well, when we received the most adorable little beets last week in our Rolling Prairie CSA, I decided to give it a go, figuring it might be the perfect method (if it worked) for them.

So, I washed them, ripped off their spindly ends and put them in their foil packets, oven set at 375.

Tiny beet packets.

Tiny beet packets. by Sarah Henning

After an hour, I pulled them out, let them cool, unwrapped them and let them cool some more. When they were room temperature, I grabbed a butter knife to coax the skin off.

And you know what? It worked like a charm.

Pretty roasted beets.

Pretty roasted beets. by Sarah Henning

What took me so long to try this, I'll never know. But this will probably be my new go-to way of cooking them.

I enjoyed them in a lunchbox salad of baby spinach, local blackberries from the Lawrence Farmers' Market, walnuts, cashew goat cheese and then topped it all with honey mustard dressing.

Delicious.

What's we get this week? Chard, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, green beans, yellow squash and cherry tomatoes.

This week's bounty. As you can see, the cherry tomatoes were gone in an instant.

This week's bounty. As you can see, the cherry tomatoes were gone in an instant. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 11: Pizza-tinged mushrooms for summer’s first basil

Pizza mushrooms on top of baked spaghetti squash with extra basil.

Pizza mushrooms on top of baked spaghetti squash with extra basil. by Sarah Henning

I might have a tiny, wee bit of an obsession with basil. Not only do I have four basil plants from starters in pots but I also plant some from seed every season as well. And then I freeze it or dry it or make it into pesto at summer’s end.

So, I was pretty excited when we received our first bit of basil at our Rolling Prairie CSA last week. I mean, I already had my basil plants on my deck, but actually getting it? Awesome.

We also got beets with greens, basil, head lettuce, snap peas, kale and broccoli. We steamed the broccoli and snap peas, juiced the beets and kale, and made salad with the head lettuce.

As for the basil, I’m not going to lie — some of it went in the green juice I made with the beets and kale (no, I’m not kidding), but we also used quite a bit in a little dish we were just playing with. We made stuffed portobellos, but called them “pizza mushrooms” so the kiddo would eat them.

And we let him help, which worked extremely well. Helping us cook motivates him to eat something like nothing else.

The kiddo helping Daddy make "pizza" mushrooms.

The kiddo helping Daddy make "pizza" mushrooms. by Sarah Henning

Pizza Mushrooms

1 cup marinara

1 package baby bellas or 4 large portabella mushroom caps

1 (4 ounce) package goat cheese, crumbled and/or mozzarella

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (or more)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the sauce in the bottom of glass baking dish. Arrange clean mushroom caps, gill side up, on top. Crumble goat cheese and or mozzarella on each mushroom. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Top with the chopped basil. Makes 4 servings. Serve alone or over baked spaghetti squash with more marinara and/or cheese.

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Cooking away the CSA, week 9: (Early) summer in a bowl

Tomatoes in a salad already?! Can you blame us.

Tomatoes in a salad already?! Can you blame us. by Sarah Henning

The official start of summer is just over a week away. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend it’s already here.

I think we totally deserve some pretend summer action after having to deal with snow and frost in May. Right? Right.

So, we put our CSA salad greens from last week to work by taking a practice swing at a basic summer salad.

What makes it a basic summer salad, you ask? Tomatoes.

Yes, it’s not really tomato season, but the kiddo really, really likes grape tomatoes and so we bought some for him the other week. They aren’t as good as the ones we get in the height of summer, of course, but the kid will take what he can get. (Tomato monster: AHHHHH!)

We asked his permission for a few and put them on a bed of the beautiful salad mix we’ve been getting all season from Rolling Prairie. Added in some carrots and some garlic-stuffed olives, added a bit of EFA oil and balsamic and we were off to the races.

Delicious, easy, healthy and a sign of things to come.

As for everything else? In addition to the salad greens, we also got strawberries, Swiss chard, mushrooms, head lettuce and asparagus.

As you can imagine, the strawberries were pretty much finished the second they got home (thanks, kiddo). The asparagus was steamed, the chard and head lettuce juiced and the mushrooms stir-fried in one similar to last week.

Basic(ally) Good Salad

For each serving:

2 handfuls salad mix, baby spinach or chopped head lettuce

1 handful grape or cherry tomatoes

1 handful carrots

1 handful garlic olives, green olives or kalamata olives

Drizzle EFA or olive oil

Drizzle balsamic vinegar

Place all ingredients except oil and vinegar in a bowl. Toss. Top with oil and vinegar. Enjoy!

What’d we get this week? Strawberries and snap peas (gone before I could take a picture), green onions, head lettuce, asparagus and Swiss chard.

Our CSA box, minus strawberries and snap peas: Green onions, head lettuce, asparagus and Swiss chard.

Our CSA box, minus strawberries and snap peas: Green onions, head lettuce, asparagus and Swiss chard. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 8: Stir-fry, local style

Bok choy and pepper stir-fry.

Bok choy and pepper stir-fry. by Sarah Henning

I don’t know what made me do it, but last week at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market, I was drawn — drawn — to the baby bok choy at one of the stalls. It was leafy, green and perfect. And it clashed pretty horribly with every other item I purchased.

Yet, I knew that there would be some stir-fry and yummy bok choy pay off for me in the future.

That future came when I showed up to get my vegetables at my Monday Rolling Prairie CSA pickup. There, staring at me were more beautiful bok choy. Plus, green onions. I’d already picked up bell peppers over the weekend and knew I now had enough bok choy to really make a huge stir-fry.

So we did. And it was glorious.

Bok choy does an amazing job of “soaking up” whatever sauce you use. In this case, we created a stir-fry based on a sauce included in Nancy O’Connor’s “Rolling Prairie Cookbook” and it worked perfectly with the bok choy, peppers and green onions. I had it plain, while the hubby paired it with homemade miso-glazed salmon.

Delicious and super simple and quick.

Simple Stir-Fry (Adapted from Nancy O’Connor’s “Rolling Prairie Cookbook”)

6 small bok choy, stems cut on the diagonal, leaves cut into the ribbons

3 to 5 bell peppers, chopped

2 green onions, sliced

2 tablespoons coconut oil

3 tablespoons tamari

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 teaspoon honey

Heat coconut oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.

While that’s heating, whisk together tamari, garlic, ginger and honey. Set aside.

Once the coconut oil is nice and melted, add bok choy and peppers, stirring the whole time. When the bok choy is nearly cooked down and done, add green onions. Keep on for 30 seconds more and then take off the heat. Serve alone or with protein of your choice. Serves 4.

What’d we get this week? Strawberries, Swiss chard, mushrooms, head lettuce, asparagus and salad greens.

Swiss chard, strawberries, salad greens, asparagus, head lettuce and mushrooms.

Swiss chard, strawberries, salad greens, asparagus, head lettuce and mushrooms. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 7: Fruity starter salad

Fruity Starter Salad.

Fruity Starter Salad. by Sarah Henning

I warned you last week that I'm deep in the midst of enjoying salad season. And you know what other season we're just starting? Berry season.

And the collision is beautiful.

I just adore fruity salads. They're light and beautiful and exactly what I want as it gets hotter out. They also pair nicely with something savory — try mixing berries with olives or something pickled like onions or cauliflower. The mix is fabulous.

Now, to refresh: last week we received asparagus, salad greens, spinach, eggs, radishes, green onions and head lettuce.

That meant steamed asparagus with a bunch of eggs, spinach and green onions cooked like our kitchen-sink tofu. We also had plenty of salad, including one that marries salad season and berry season in one fruity punch.

There's not a ton of "oomph" to this salad, so I called it a "starter" salad rather than a dinner salad. It's perfect before a nice veggie or regular burger or maybe a bit of fish or chicken, depending on how you eat. It's sweet and sunny and completely uncomplicated.

Fruity Starter Salad

Mixed salad greens

1 tangerine, peeled, sectioned and each section halved

1/2 cup raspberries

Roasted beets or other cooked root vegetables

EFA oil, hemp oil or olive oil (to taste)

Put salad mix in bowls, top with fruit and roasted vegetables. Immediately before serving, drizzle a bit of oil. Serves 2.

Now, what'd we get this week? Head lettuce, radishes, asparagus, green onions, baby bok choy, whole-wheat flour and salad mix.

This week's haul: Head lettuce, salad mix, green onions, asparagus, whole-wheat flour, radishes and baby bok choy.

This week's haul: Head lettuce, salad mix, green onions, asparagus, whole-wheat flour, radishes and baby bok choy. by Sarah Henning

Have a great week!

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