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This past CSA week was a good one. We’re beginning to see all of the wonderful summer produce, and in abundance. We’re getting much more of each vegetable/fruit so there are plenty of options when it comes to cooking with them.  This has also helped in limiting trips to the grocery store. Our grocery bill has been about $20 for the past few weeks.  Last week in our CSA share, we got:

Suntan Peppers, Jalepenos, and Yellow Onions

Cucumbers and Jersey Tomatoes

Shiro Plums and White Peaches

Fresh Feta Cheese from Hidden Hills Dairy Farm

Fresh Whole Wheat Pasta From Superior Pasta

We also received two large eggplants and a huge bunch of basil. We got a lot of great staples this week with tomatoes, onions, and peppers. I was especially excited about the pasta and found a great recipe that used mostly everything from this week’s share. I also whipped up some pesto and we’ll be enjoying it was some pasta and fresh cherry tomatoes from the Fountain Farmer’s Market later this week. Stay tuned for more delicious and farm fresh recipes.

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This is a much delayed post on our CSA pick up from two weeks ago. We were a little worried that our produce would be effected by all of the intense heat that we’d been having, and ironically, it poured all day on Saturday. I had to take off my shoes and wade ankle-deep in puddles to grab all of the corn, zucchini, eggplant, and apricots I could grab.

Because of our trip, we ended up giving a bit of our produce away to Stu’s parents. Even what we did keep we didn’t use enough of and I still have some left overs on top of what we’ll pick up this weekend. But I was able to use some of the fruits and vegetables that we received.

Apricots

Peaches and Blueberries

Eggplant

Pickles!

Golden Beets

We also got a six ears of corn, three zucchini, three green peppers, and delicious cheddar cheese.

I immediately made a peach, apricot and blueberry cobbler. I will most definitely share that soon. I used the zucchini to make chocolate chip zucchini bread from a recipe that I found on All Recipes.  The pickles came on our road trip to Chicago as a snack, and so did the cheese but we never got around to eating it. I gave Stu’s family some of the corn and green peppers. And I’m still waiting to use the golden beets and eggplant.  Stay tuned for healthy CSA recipes!

Make corn chowder!

In anticipation for our Fourth of July party, we grabbed a bunch of corn on the cob- for cheap. Our local super market was having a verrry good sale. Too good to turn down buying 10 ears of corn. We bought it up, brought it home, and husked it out. Then we had our party and completely forgot to grill it up. So we were left with 10 ears of corn.

I don’t particularly care for corn in general, especially in corn on the cob form, so I knew I had to find something completely different to do with it. Lucky for me, in the July issue of Real Simple magazine, there is a great section on bringing Farmer’s Market finds to your table. The article features small-town farmers from across the country and discusses the produce that they grow and their favorite recipes in which to use them.

I found a great recipe for a corn chowder from farmers Chris, Bob, and Mike Munson from Munson Farms in Boulder, CO.

Joan’s Sweet White Corn Soup with Poblano Puree
From Real Simple Magazine, July 2010

1 poblano pepper
2 and 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth (I used vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
5 cups fresh white corn kernels – from about 10 ears (ha! luck!)
kosher salt and pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
cilantro leaves, for serving

Heat broiler. On a broilerproof baking sheet, broil the pepper, turning occasionally, until charred, 8 to 12 minutes. Wrap in a paper towel; let cool for 10 minutes. Use the the paper towel to slide off the skin. Remove the seeds.

In a blender, puree the pepper with 2 tablespoons of the chicken broth;  transfer to a bowl. Rinse out the blender.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (do not let it brown), 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the corn, the remaining 2 and 1/2 cups of chicken broth, 2/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the corn is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

In the blender, working in batches, puree the soup until smooth, adjusting the consistency with water as necessary. (Alternatively, use a handheld immersion blender in the pot.)

Serve the soup with a drizzle of the cream and the poblano puree, sprinkle with cilantro.

This simple dish was ready in about a half hour. The most involved parts were cutting the corn off of the cob- which I’ve never done before, but is really fun! Then, pureeing the corn mixture in the food processor was a little involved to do in batches. Instead of pureeing all of the corn, I left about 1/4 of it and mixed it in with the  puree.  This gave it a little bit of texture. I topped the soup with scallions instead of cilantro because we had a bunch on hand from the CSA.

This dish is totally vegetarian and can easily be adapted for vegans. My sister recently became vegan and is always in search of easy vegan recipes. To make this dairy free, simply choose a different fat to sauté the onions, such as oil or cooking spray. Earth balance is also a great option.  Simply omit the heavy cream at the end, it’s definitely not necessary. Instead, top it off with crispy nacho chips and a slight sprinkle of chili pepper.

Although this soup is totally enough for a main course, we teamed it up with an awesome taco dip that my friend Natalie has become notorious for bringing to parties and impressing the heck out of everyone with. Later in the week, we paired it with a Barefoot Contessa recipe of Tequila Lime chicken.

Check it out below:

Natalie was kind enough to share her taco dip recipe with me. I’m still not sure where she found it, but it’s a definite hit every time. It’s easy to make, and really versatile.

Nat’s Taco Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. sour cream
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup shredded iceberg lettuce or green of your choosing
shredded cheese such as cheddar or jack


Mix together taco seasoning, cream cheese and sour cream. Spread cream
cheese mixture in the bottom of a pie pan. Then create a layer of
lettuce, a layer of tomato and lastly, shredded cheese. Enjoy with
tortilla chips!

Natalie said that you can also add layers of red or green peppers, jalapeños, scallions, or black olives. Feel free to experiment and switch it up.

For leftovers later in the week, we had the soup as a side dish with Tequila Lime Chicken on the grill from a Barefoot Contessa recipe.  I used silver tequila because I had it on hand and omitted the jalapeños because I forgot to buy them! It was very strong and flavorful. Really great for a wonderful Saturday night dinner in the summertime.

Read the rest of this entry »

I am really behind on this post, but I felt the need to share it because it features such a great recipe. A few weeks ago I had two friends from Connecticut visit. We had a pretty action packed weekend including trips to our CSA pickup at Greensgrow Farms, a tour of the Philadelphia Brewing Company Brewery, PYT at the Piazza for cheeseburgers and boozy milkshakes, a BYOB dinner at August in South Philly, and a night out in the gayborhood with a stop by Time.

I knew we wouldn’t have much time for breakfast and I was looking for a way to fill our bellies with something that we could grab-and-go.

Tri-Berry Muffins
From the Barefoot Contessa at Home

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 and 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 and 1/4 cups milk
2 extra-large eggs, lightly  beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1 and 1/2 cups sugar

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Stir with your hand to be sure the ingredients are combined. In another bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and melted butter. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture, pour the wet mixture into the well, and stir until just combined.  There will be some lumps but don’t overmix the batter! Add the blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and sugar and stir gently to combine.

Using a 2 and 1/4 inch ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into the muffin cups to fill the liners. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the tops are nicely browned.


I had been waiting quite a while to make this recipe. It is always easy to find fresh berries in the supermarket, but there is nothing quite as yummy as fresh berries from the farm. This past week blueberries and black raspberries have started popping up in farmer’s markets all over the place. They are inexpensive and awesome!

I grabbed some blueberries from our CSA for $1.50 at our last pick up. At a recent trip to Reading Terminal Market I found black raspberries at the Amish produce stand and quarts of strawberries for $1.00 each at Iovine Brother’s Produce. All of the berries added a noticable freshness to the muffins. They went very fast as we chowed down them for breakfast with fresh-squeezed orange juice, packed them in our purse as a snack in between our busy days, and a late-night post-drinking, pre-sleeping munch. How very versatile.

Sometimes breakfast for dinner is as good as it gets. It’s awesome to have a pancake or French Toast night and omlettes and breakfast burritos are always great if you are running out of dinner ideas.

This week I decided to use a lot of the produce that we had on hand from other dinner left overs plus the CSA share to make a breakfast-for-dinner that could easily be mistaken for just a regular weeknight dinner. See: Fritatta! I’ve never made one but have been wanting to try for ages. Turns out its incredibly easy and it was very satisfying with a side salad.

Potato, Sausage, and Kale Fritatta
From Food and Wine Magazine

10 large eggs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 sweet Italian fennel sausages (1/2 pound), meat removed from the casings
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 large kale leaves, stems and inner ribs discarded, leaves coarsely chopped

Preheat the broiler and position the rack 8 inches from the heat. Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan, season generously with salt and pepper and beat the eggs until blended.

In a large nonstick ovenproof skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Add the sausage meat and onion and cook over moderately high heat, breaking the sausage up into small pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the potatoes and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the kale, season with salt and cook, tossing, until softened, about 2 minutes longer.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and tilt the skillet to swirl the oil around the sides. Scatter the sausage and onion in the skillet. Stir the eggs and add them to the skillet. Cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Gently lift the edge of the frittata and tilt the pan, allowing some of the uncooked egg to seep underneath. Cook until the bottom and sides are barely set, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan on top and broil until the eggs are set and the top of the frittata is lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Slide the frittata onto a large plate, cut into wedges and serve hot or warm.

This was incredibly simple to make. We had some leftover ground sausage from a grilled pizza night over the weekend and we scored some potatoes and $1 kale from Greensgrow Farms. The eggs were also from the CSA and incredibly fresh. Aside from the potato peeling, this recipe took under a half an hour and was  so quick and easy! It was really delicious and we’ll be saving the leftovers for both breakfast AND lunch! The best part? Totally adaptable for just about anything that we bring home from CSA. We have some chard, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes that I think will fit in well for another meal next week!

Just to balance out the breakfast from the dinner, I served the fritatta with some of the field greens that we got in the CSA along with cherry tomatoes, slivered almonds, raisins, red pepper, and leftover garlic cheddar from Week 2 of the CSA. Fresh and delish! n

This week past weekend was our third CSA pickup. It was extra special because I had some friends from Connecticut visit and I was able to share the farm and our share with them. It was also pretty special because we got an excellent selection of produce this week!

In our share we had apricots and peaches.

Potatoes and beets.

Swiss chard, a field greens salad mix, cilantro and garlic scapes.

Havarti Cheese.

We also had green beans and got a dozen eggs. There was also a bunch of great produce in the Farm Stand area so we scored two very large zucchini for 50 cents each as well as two ears of corn for 50 cents. Blueberries were $2.00 and a bunch of kale was $1.00. We will be eating like kings and queens for the next few weeks!

Our second week of our CSA share from Greensgrow Farms came in this week. It has been two weeks since our last pick up, but it seems like a lot longer.  I still have a few vegetables hanging out from last pick-up; some  zucchini, asparagus, and romaine. The romaine went bad pretty fast, but the zuch’s and asparagus are still hanging on. I found a great recipe to use up the zucchini, which I’ll share in my next post.

It’s definitely clear that we are getting closer to summer. This week’s share had a bit more produce than the previous pick-up, and a little wider variety.

In this weeks share we got:

Sugar Snap Peas

One pound of Cremini Mushrooms

Carrots

Natural Garlic Cheddar Cheese

We also got some green beans, strawberries, and yellow squash. I’ve already used some of the green beans and mushrooms. And I’ve got some pasta primavera and a stir fry planned for the rest of the veggies. For the cheese? I can’t wait to lay it on or stuff it in some burgers! Hopefully all of this food will keep me busy for the next two weeks and won’t spoil before our next pick-up!

The first week of our CSA brought us a lovely bunch of kale, as you may have seen in my previous post. I love kale, but I’m always trying to seek ways in which to use it that aren’t just the regular old sautéed greens. I found a great recipe from the New York Times: Recipes for Health toward the end of the Winter Season. I made it a while back and waited to make again until I could use some organic kale from the farmers’ markets or CSAs. This was just the ticket!

Pappardelle with Greens and Ricotta
From the New York Times Res for Health by Andrew Scrivani

1 pound greens, such as chard, kale or broccoli rabe, stemmed and washed well, or half of a 1-pound bag prepared greens
salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 garlic cloves, to taste, minced
3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, or a mixture of Parmesan and Romano Pecorino (to taste)
3/4 pound pappardelle

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the greens (you may have to do this in two batches). After the water returns to a boil, boil two to four minutes until the greens are tender. Using a deep-fry skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer them to the ice water. Do not drain the hot water in the pot, as you’ll use it to cook the pasta. Drain the greens, squeeze dry and chop.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Add the garlic, cook for about a minute just until fragrant, and stir in the greens. Toss in the hot pan for about a minute, just until the greens are lightly coated with oil and fragrant with garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.

Place the ricotta in a large pasta bowl. Bring the water for the pasta back to a boil, and add the pappardelle. Cook al dente. Ladle 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the pasta into the ricotta and stir together. Drain the pasta, and toss with the ricotta, greens and cheeses. Serve at once.

This dish is quick, simple, and awesome! Very few ingredients, simple flavors, enriched with vitamins and protein, especially if you are using whole wheat pasta. I find it hard to even think about buying regular pasta these days, the difference between regular and whole wheat is so slight, yet so much healthier. I used Whole Wheat Rotini instead of pappardelle because it was easier to find in the grocery store. Of course I used Kale, and just simple store-bought whole milk ricotta. This makes a lot of pasta, so make sure you are serving it to a few people, or be prepared to take the left overs for lunch!

Back in the winter time I was struggling with what to make for dinner each night and how to use seasonal produce. I was in a bit of a kitchen funk, and I needed something to revitalize my love for food; to inspire me to get cooking and baking in more creative ways.

I did some reasearch on food co-ops and CSA’s, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. I had been hearing a lot about Greensgrow Farm, which is located in the Fishtown/Kensington section of Philadelphia. It’s pretty conveniently located to our apartment in South Philly, and it has a wide selection of produce, as well as dairy and vegan products that are available in each share option. Stu and I discussed the program, and decided to try it out.

We decided on a half-share, which is more cost-effective and easier for first time share-holders, because you pick up your produce every-other week. We also knew that we’d be out of town for a few weekends in the summer, and didn’t want to worry about having too much produce to use.

Our first pick-up was on May 28th. We got to pick up the first of Spring’s vegetables as well as some cheese and yogurt.  There is also the opportunity to shop for extra produce that the farm didn’t have enough quantity of to give to all share-members. I grabbed some rhubarb! There is a seperate section where share-members, as well as the public can shop for free-range meat, coffee, raw milk, honey,  and jams, jellies, and preserves. We held off this week until we are a little more into the swing of the CSA thing.

Here’s what we picked up last week:

Strawberries

Kale, Romaine Heads, Asparagus, Green Onions, Zucchini, and Organic Yogurt

Radishes

I found some interesting ways to incorporate most of these vegetables into weekly meals. I used the romaine for a fresh salad, grilled the zucchini and some crusty Italian bread and topped with ricotta cheese and fresh ground pepper, made a goat cheese and green onion omlette, served the strawberries over my cereal each morning, and used the radishes in a risotto which I will post more on later. I still have some kale, zucchini, and the yogurt left over and I’m still deciding what to do. Keep checking back for more CSA related posts and recipes!

Last week I was on a rhubarb kick. After finding some at the Whole Foods a few weeks ago for some muffins, I was on a mission to find some fresh from a Farmer’s Market.  I had a few things in mind for it and I would not rest until I could find it!

I tried the Head House Square market but by the time we arrive around noon, all of the farm stands had sold out. I stopped by the Passyunk Fountain market and both stands said that their rhubarb hasn’t arrived yet. Finally, at our first CSA pickup at Greensgrow Farms, a pound of rhubarb stalks were for sale for $3.25. I snagged them and got to work. I had a recipe that I had been saving up for this for a while.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart

For the topping:

FOR THE TOPPING

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
coarse salt

For the cake:

1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for buttering pan
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut on a very sharp diagonal about 1/2 inch thick
1 and 3/4 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
coarse salt
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the topping: Stir together butter, flour, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until moist and crumbly.

Make the cake:

Butter a 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep). Dot with 4 tablespoons butter (cut into pieces). Toss rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar; let stand for 2 minutes. Toss again, and spread in pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Beat remaining stick butter and cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in zest and juice. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, until smooth. Spread evenly over rhubarb. Crumble topping evenly over batter.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top springs back when touched, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.

cake was beautiful. The sugared rhubarb looked like stained glass on top. It was just the right amount of moist and sort of sticky. Sweet, crunchy, and wonderful. I enjoyed a few pieces myself over Memorial Day weekend, and then left it with Stu’s family  as a thank-you for all of the wonderful food they hooked us up with this weekend.  I should be getting more rhubarb next week from the CSA share, so more rhubarb treats are pending.

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