Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sweet Day In The Morning, It's Sweet Potato Season!

So, unfortunately, my brain hates freedom tonight and no amount of Advil or Tylenol is touching it.  I am actually blogging in sunglasses at the moment.  Classy.  Thus, for now at least, this week's posts will be rather short and sweet.  In the Spoiler e-mail we linked you to our favorite, simple preparation for Sauteed Swiss Chard, which doesn't exactly scream Labor Day picnic food, but thankfully with this week's bounty of fruit you'll be able to throw together a wonderful fruit salad, fruit crisp, or even go all-American with some apple pie (or tart it up a bit!).  But I've got two preparations for those sweet potatoes for you.  One (an oldie but a goodie from our Crop Share vault) that will be a healthy, yet filling game day recipe now that football season is upon us (I might as well draw ire where I can...Go Colts!) and then another to take you from the gridiron to the grill and have you set for this weekend's picnic circuit.  Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!  Now where's a nice, dark and quiet room for me to hide?

Veggie & Chicken Sausage Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Scallions via Martha Stewart

Szechuan Noodles with Cabbage & Broccoli (Peanut & Gluten Free)

As promised, I tried my hand at a peanut & gluten free version of Barefoot's Szechuan Noodles, and my oh-so delicious results are below.  I absolutely forgot to pick up bell peppers to add in (geeze Tara, where do you work again?) and forgot to trim my beastly growing scallions to complete the recipe (again  I ask, what do I do for a living?), so this version is sans a few of the veggies from the original.  But I did add in some sauteed cabbage, which I think was a great addition and would play well with all the original veggies I forgot to include.

Szechuan Noodles with Cabbage & Broccoli

2 Tbsp wok oil (or olive oil if using a saute pan)
2 broccoli crowns, rough chopped
1/2 head of green cabbage, sliced thin into strips
pinch salt
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp dark chili oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup gluten-free soy sauce
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup sherry or dark red wine (I had a tad bit of some Merlot leftover that had gotten quite full bodied, so I used that in place of sherry.  I know, leftover wine, I should be ashamed of myself.  My Mama raised me better.)
1/4 cup local honey
3/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes
2 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 lb gluten-free pasta (I used rice-based tagliatelle noodles from Schar)

Cook pasta to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a saute pan or a wok, heat oil on medium high heat.  Add in broccoli and cabbage, and saute until they begin to brown.  Season with a pinch of coarse ground salt and lemon juice.  Stir in sesame oil and sesame seeds and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, taking care not to burn the sesame oil as it does not have the same heat properties as normal cooking oils.  Remove from  heat and set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blend ginger, clover and vegetable oil until smoothe.  Add in tahini, almond butter, soy sauce, vinegar and sherry/wine, and blend to incorporate fully, scraping down the sides if need be.  Add in honey, chili flakes, sesame oil and black pepper.  Pulse until well blended.  Pour half over pasta and toss to fully coat the noodles.  Reserve the rest in an air-tight container for future use (I think it could make a pretty killer marinade for some flank steak).  Stir in veggies and serve immediately.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Fungus Among Us!

I'm a big fan of mushrooms.  If a dish contains them, it's a pretty safe bet I will order it or see if I can add mushrooms to it.  So while I'll have a hard time NOT making the Skinny Mushroom Risotto from Skinnytaste yet again, I figured I would give you a veritable pu-pu platter of some of our recent favourite mushroom dishes we've had on the blog.  Plus, I'm just waaayyy too engrossed in SyFy channels marathon of epically cheese shark movies tonight to do much justice with the blog tonight.  Nerd alert!

Don't forget we long to know what's cooking in your kitchen, so send your recipes (mushroom containing or otherwise) to!

Mushrooms Sauteed With Sherry Vinegar via Herbivoracious

Skinny Mushroom Risotto via Skinnytaste

Veggie & Chicken Sausage Stuffed Potatoes

Szechuan Noodles with Broccoli via Barefoot Contessa

Wednesdays are typically my day off from Nalls Produce and that means I actually get to watch Barefoot Contessa.  Nothing relaxes me quicker than the soothing sound of Ina Garten's voice, even though I always feel like she's silently judging me.  Am I using good olive oil?  Would Ina approve of my faux cheeze?  And this week, as I slipped into a vicarious food coma, I watched as Ina whipped up Szechaun Noodles with Chicken & Broccoli.  Then I thought to myself, "Ooo, next time we get broccoli in the Crop Share, I'm making this!"  And then lo and behold...broccoli is coming home with all of us this week!  The version linked below is the bare bones version, but in the show she added shredded chicken from 4 roasted, bone-in chicken breasts and about a cup of blanched broccoli.  I'm going to use some of this week's cabbage and possibly some of the eggplant, as well, in this dish.  And since we're peanut free in this house, I'll see how it turns out with almond butter in place of the peanut butter called for in the sauce.  So be on the lookout for my follow up post after this weekend, but until then, I give you Barefoot's version...

Szechuan Noodles with Broccoli via Barefoot Contessa

Click through to view this recipe from Barefoot Contessa...

Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup

When the Mister and I first started dating I asked him if there was one food I could make for him, what would it be.  He replied simply with, "soup."  I'd never really made soup before, other than a slapdash attempt at a curried pumpkin soup the year prior, but I'm always up for any culinary challenge and...I was blissfully in love (still am for the record!).  So I unearthed a recipe for Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup that I'd been hankering to try and with a few minor tweaks it quickly became my signature soup and one of the Mister's favourite dishes of mine.  If there's one recipe folks ask me for, it's always this one, and just so you know how good it is, there was an incident where a dear friend -- who shall remain nameless to protect his pride -- was caught standing in my kitchen, with the ladle, and eating more of the soup right out of the giant stock part.  That's love right there!

So while this post is a week late coming as we had potatoes and kale last week, file this one away in your memory banks as this comforting and hearty soup will take you through the whole winter.

And just because people need to know this...all of tonight's blogging is being done whilst watching Sharknado.  So if things start to get a little campy with tonight's posts, now you know why.  And now...the SOUPNADO!

Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
6 links turkey sausage (hot or sweet depending on your heat preference), casings removed and meat crumbled
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 - 32 oz containers of reduced sodium chicken stock
1 lb red or yellow potatoes, diced
1 bundle kale, leaves stripped from stalks and roughly chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Saute garlic and onions for 3-4 minutes or until translucent.  Add in turkey sausage and stir to continue to crumble.  Increase heat and cook until sausage is cooked through and browned.  Deglaze pan with white wine and stir to get any browned bits off of the bottom of the pan.  Add in your stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat but still keep liquid at a vigorous simmer and add in your potatoes.  Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add in chopped kale.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes and then remove pot from heat to allow soup to finish setting up and cool slightly.  Taste broth and season with additional salt & pepper, if needed.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Celebrating 101 Years of Julia Child with Tomates a la Provencale

August 15th may be one of my most favorite days on the calendar, because 101 years ago, on this very day, a little girl was born who was destined to change the face of food as we knew it.  Not just food in America, but perceptions of food across the globe.  That little girl who was never actually all that little, was none other than Julia Child.

Whether you're a Julia nerd like me, we all share in a piece of what she was all about by participating in the Crop Share program, and as Julia herself said, "You learn to cook so that you don't have to be a slave to recipes.  You get what's in season and you know what to do with it."  And that's why we're all here, eating, cooking and learning about all this wonderful seasonal produce so that we're not slaves to recipes or supermarket shelves, we can create our own magic with the bounty that the earth gives up each season.  So as we all raise our rolling pins and save the chicken liver in honor of what would have been Miss Julia's 101st birthday, here is her classic recipe for Tomates a la Provencale and then my quick gluten and dairy-free riff on it.  Bon Appetit!

Julia Child's Tomates a la Provencale

6 firm, ripe, red tomatoes about 3 inches in diameter
Salt and pepper
1 to 2 cloves mashed garlic
3 Tbsp minced shallots or green onions
4 Tbsp minced fresh basil and parsley, or parsley only
1/8 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp salt
Big pinch of pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fine, white, dry bread crumbs
A shallow, oiled roasting pan just large enough to hold the tomatoes easily in one layer

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the stems, and cut the tomatoes in half crosswise.  Gently press out the juice and seeds.  Sprinkle the halves lightly with salt and pepper.

Blend all remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Correct seasoning.  Fill each tomato half with a spoon full or two of the mixture.  Sprinkle a few drops of olive oil.  Arrange the tomatoes in the roasting pan; do not crowd them.

Place in upper third of oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender but hold their shape, and the bread crumb filling has browned lightly.

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

2-4 large, red tomatoes, tops sliced off and diced, insides scooped out and seeded
8 oz Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (or real dairy cream cheese)
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, minced
1 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
1 cup quinoa, cooked to package directions
Salt & pepper
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese through quinoa.  Mix well to incorporate.  Stir in diced tops of tomatoes, and then season mixture to taste with salt and pepper and hit it with a quick splash of olive oil.  Stuff each tomato till full with the quinoa mixture and place into a baking dish.  Drizzle tops with a smidge of olive oil and then bake in oven at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until tops are slightly browned and skin on the tomatoes has blistered a bit.

Baked Kale Chips

I've had several Crop Share members ask me about these mythical baked kale chips that folks promise will turn any kale hater into a kale believer, and every single time we have kale in the Crop Share...I forget to post my recipe.  *sigh*  BUT!  Today I finally remembered!  Hooray!  This week we're bringing you a different type of kale than we've given you before, but this one will be fantabulous for kale chips.  What is this variety of kale you ask?  Well, it's lacinto kale, but many also refer to it as...DINOSAUR KALE!  The little ginger girl inside me who's still in her Brontosaurus t-shirt longing to be a paleontologist is super psyched over kale called dinosaur.  While it won't be the size of a Brontosaurus, it's dark coloring and ripply texture will make you think of Godzilla.  So start pre-heating your oven now, because these kale chips are about to become your new go-to snack.

Baked Kale Chips


1 bundle of kale, removed from stock and rough chopped into chip sized pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 300.

Toss kale in olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Lay it out evenly on a baking sheet and bake at 300 for 20 minutes.  Be sure to start checking it at about 15 minutes because any smaller pieces may have begun to crisp up, and thus it is your sole duty to begin eating these pieces right off the hot pan.  I dare you not to eat half of the pan of kale chips before you remove them from the oven.

Dinosaurs love kale!

William Tell's Never-Miss Apple Cake via Taste of Home

I had a bunch of recipes stewing in my brain to give you to for this week's Ginger Gold Apples and then we ran across this, this thing of utter beauty, this apple cake.  No not just any apple cake, as I've had and made plenty of apple cake in my days, but never have I beheld something that calls to me quite like this gorgeous piece of cake courtesy of Taste of Home.  Plus, it calls for carrots so if you still need to use up yours from last week...bake a cake!  So just like legendary Swiss marksman, William Tell, this cake is sure to hit the mark!  You can bet I will concocting a way to make this gluten, dairy & egg free for our household and then will bake it whilst listening to the William Tell Overture, because I am that kind of nerd.

William Tell's Never Miss Apple Cake

Thursday, August 8, 2013

All Jalapeno Business!

We're turning up the heat this week with lots of local jalapenos!  Don't fear the heat, as there are plenty of easy ways to prepare them that will mask the burn and highlight their lovely smoky flavor.  But be warned, you will want to wear kitchen gloves or put some baggies on your hands when seeding and chopping the jalapenos, because not only will you undoubtedly rub your eyes sometime later that day and then rue the jalapeno's existence, but you will also find that your fingertips themselves will burn.  Leave feeling the burn to the gym, not the kitchen!

So here's two great recipes for this week's bounty of jalapenos.  First up, the best ever layered taco dip I've had in my life, courtesy of my good friend Alicia.  There was a memorable New Years Eve when we co-hosted a party in which this taco dip was made, along with enough food to feed about 30 people.  There were 5 of us at this party.  We have a slight problem with going over board.  But you will want to make a ton of this layered taco dip and then go hide yourself in a closet with a bag of chips.  Just the spiced cream cheese base of this is to die for!  

Then the next recipe comes from everyone's favorite down-home gal, The Pioneer Woman.  She once made these killer BBQ Jalapeno Poppers, and while you can certainly go the BBQ route (how amazing would they be with some of that Almost Heaven Apple Butter BBQ we have in store?!?), Miss Valerie in our office LOVES to replace the BBQ in this recipe with peach jam.  Say what?!  Sweet with heat, sign us up!  We pretty much have peach jam coming out our ears in the store, including a new Sunshine Peach Jam.  But ooo, how deliciously exotic would it be with some Mango Jam or some of the Mango Mango Preserves?  Go ahead, get a little crazy this week!

Miss Alicia's Taco Dip

Layer 1:
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
1 package low-sodium taco seasoning
1 tsp chipotle pepper (or less to control the heat)

Beat all ingredients together until well-blended and creamy.  Spread in the bottom or a deep dish or pie plate.

Layer 2:
1/2 head of iceburg lettuce, chopped fine

Evenly spread over cream cheese mixture.

Layer 3:
Grated cheddar cheese to taste

Evenly sprinkled over lettuce.

Layer 4:
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 chopped sweet onion
1 chopped and seeded jalapeno pepper
3 Tbsp minced, fresh cilantro
1 tsp lime juice

Mix all ingredients together in a separate bowl and then evenly spread over top of cheese.  You'll likely have left over pico de gallo, so save to use as a plain salsa or for topping homemade tacos, grilled fish or chicken.

Pioneer Woman's BBQ Jalapeno Poppers

Baked Peach Melba

Last spring I got to test some recipes for a cookbook the Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce in Maine was putting together.  And this one was by far one of the highlights of the 8 or so recipes I tested.  A super quick and easy dessert to make, and there is ZERO added sugar.  The sweetness of the fruit and the honey takes care of that in spades.  So for those of you watching your sugar intake, this is a wonderful dessert.  Plus you get an added protein boost from the walnuts and all that lovely fiber from the oats.  A dessert that eats like a health food but tastes like something sinful?  Count me in!

Baked Peach Melba


6 to 8 slightly firm peaches (still have peaches leftover from last week, here's your chance to use them up while we give you even more, muahahahaha!)
1 cup fresh or frozen, yet thawed, raspberries
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (use Earth Balance margarine for dairy-free)
1 cup old fashioned oats (I use Bob's Red Mill oats for gluten-free)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp local honey

Preheat oven to 375.

Halve and put unpeeled peaches.  Slice each half into wedges.  Place in a 9x13 baking dish, and sprinkle with the raspberries.

In a separate bowl, mix together oats, walnuts and honey.  Melt butter and pour over oats and walnut mixture, stirring well to fully combine.  Sprinkle topping over the fruit and bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned.

Apple & Hazelnut Clafoutis via La Tartine Gourmande

Béa Peltre, aka La Tartine Gourmande, may have been my first blogger crush.  I used to spend my entire lunch break pouring over her elegant yet rustic recipes, and was so intrigued by all these random ingredients she used.  Something about gluten-free, to which I wondered, at the time, "what's so wrong with gluten?"  Lo and behold, a few years later, I found out, at least according to my own immune system, and was overjoyed to realize that all of these go-to recipes I'd mastered from Béa were absolutely safe for me to eat.  Whew!  And by far my favorite recipe of hers has been her Apple & Hazelnut Clafoutis.  Not only is it super fun to say (say it with me now, kla-FOO-tee) it's ridiculously delicious.  Even my Grandpa Freer, who decidedly does not like his food fussy, raved over this strange dish I had the audacity to serve him.  So since this week's Rambo apples are perfect for baking, I think there's nothing better to do than take those manly apples and turn them into a dessert that sounds like the noise a sneezing fairy would make. 

Apple & Hazelnut Clafoutis via La Tartine Gourmande

Guest Post: Peachy Kale & Barley from Nicole Wood & 6 Kale Fun Facts via HuffPo

I'm an avowed kale fanatic.  There was a good month-long period last fall where I'm fairly certain I ate my weight in kale chips.  But I understand that kale is not for everyone, and that last week many of you may have been thinking, "Ugh, kale, what am I going to do with ALL of this?!"  Well should you still have kale left over and it's still in good shape, I dare you not to drool over this recipe from Crop Share member, Nicole Wood.  So drool away and then check out 6 fun facts on kale from the HuffPo (I'm clearly too cool to use the publication's full name)...

Peachy Kale & Barley via Nicole Wood

1 bag Trader Joe’s 10 minute barley or other quick barley
2 cans of premade stock/broth or bouillon to make 2 ½ cups of stock
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 small or ½ medium onion chopped
1 lb kale bunch roughly chopped
1 T olive oil
1 T toasted sesame seed oil
½ cup diced peaches (room temperature)

Cook barley according to sauté instructions on bag with stock not water. I used half a bag.
While that is cooking (approx. 10 minutes) sauté your onions in the olive and sesame oil until they start to look clear on medium/high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add 1 cup of stock and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes but don’t let garlic brown. Add rinsed kale, toss to coat kale with mixture and cover. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes or until kale is soft.

Mix kale and barley in large mixing bowl and add fruit to garnish. Salt and pepper to taste.

**If you have kids, pull some of the barley out before mixing with the kale and give to them as a pasta/grain.

While you let that kale saute for 10 minutes, get your education on with this article...

Click here to view a HuffPo article on 6 Things You Don't Know About Kale...

Canary Melon & Basil Popsicles via Whole Living

Have you ever had a canary melon? If not, get ready for a delicious treat.  Very similar in taste to a honeydew, but sweeter.  So while you can always enjoy some refreshing slices of melon as an afternoon treat or after dinner palate cleanser, or even wrap them with prosciutto for an easy yet elegant appetizer, you may also want to take the challenge and make some melon & basil popsicles.  If your basil is growing as out of control as mine is, you'll be needing an excuse to use it up.  Go give a go at this delicious looking recipe from Whole Living.  While the recipe itself calls for honeydew, you'll be easily able to substitute canary melon.

Canary Melon & Basil Popsicles

Cucumber Mint Gin & Tonic

While I highly considered making some mint & cucumber water for a lovely detox with last week's Crop Share, I had that sad bottle of gin sitting on my counter, just looking at me longingly.  So I used up the last of the bottle to experiment with a mint & cucumber infused gin.  On a date night out with the Mister recently, I'd had this great mint & cucumber cocktail, so I was on a quest to recreate it.  I dare say I succeeded.  Super easy to make and this is the ultimate in refreshing summer cocktails.

Cucumber Mint Gin & Tonic

Ingredients for infused gin:
15-20 fresh, mint leaves
8 slices cucumber

Fill a mason jar with gin and add mint leaves and cucumber slices.  Seal lid and allow to infuse in fridge for at least 1 day up to 3 days.  Discard mint and cucumbers when finished.

Ingredients for cocktail (makes 1 cocktail):
1 shot cucumber & mint infused gin
8 oz club soda
slice of cucumber, for garnish
slice of lime, for garnish

In a double old fashioned glass, add 1 shot of infused gin and top with club soda to fill glass.  Garnish glass with a slice of cucumber and lime.  Cheers!

Cherry Berry Spritzer

Inspired by the Blackberry Gin Cocktail from Crop Share member Bethany Duffy, I had to try my hand at infusing gin with fruit.  So I took a handful of blackberries from the Crop Share two weeks ago and infused the heck out of some gin.  I followed Bethany's directions to muddle the berries and then add gin, but I allowed mine to steep for about 4-5 days before straining out the blackberries and reserving the blackberry gin.  And then as I was strolling through the grocery I came across a sale on black cherry seltzer, which was pretty much my favorite beverage as a kid (I know, I was a strange kid).  And thus was born in my mind, the Cherry Berry Spritzer!

Cherry Berry Spritzer

Ingredients (for 1 cocktail):
1 shot blackberry infused gin
10-12 oz black cherry seltzer
juice of half a lime
handfull of ice

In a highball glass add blackberry gin and ice, then top with seltzer until glass is nearly full.  Add in juice of half a lime and stir to mix well.  Serve immediately and enjoy the bubbles!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Take Another Little Piece of My Tart!

Back in March, I posted my no-fail tart crust recipe.  At the time it was for a Cinnamon Apple Tart, but now it's summertime and that means stone fruit is coming out of our ears!  So with this weeks nectarines, you'll be well on your way to wowing those around you with a chic nectarine tart.  Below are some past versions of nectarine tarts I've made, and you already know how incredible the local blackberries are, so if you're already afraid of blackberry withdrawal for this week, go ahead and snag a pint to create a Nectarine & Blackberry Tart.

Nectarine & Blackberry Tart

Nectarine, Plum & Cherry Tart

Now that I have you drooling, click through to view the No-Fail Tart Crust recipe and get ready to be crowned the queen of tarts!

Cucumber Cool & Minty Fresh

With the combo of mint and cucumber in this week's Crop Share, it'll be a passport to cool and refreshing.  If you need a bit of a detox, slice up some cucumber, lemon and toss it in a pitcher of ice water with a bundle of mint leaves.  Allow it to set up for a bit in the fridge and then enjoy your 8 glasses of water a day with an added detox boost.

But if you're looking for something a tad more substantial, try these two delicious looking recipes from Eating In Instead and A House In The Hills.  Both call for honey, so grab some local honey in store to help battle allergies while you nosh away!

Cool Cucumber Mint Salad via Eating In Instead

 Cucumber & Mint Slushie via A House In The Hills