Monthly Archives: July 2009

Farm Share Goodies: July 29


Swiss chard, kale, tomatoes, potatoes, beets, lettuce, zucchini and yellow squash.

The zucchini and summer squash from this week’s share made their debut in my lunch for tomorrow: coconut beef

Coconut Beef

Like most things I cook, I didn’t have a recipe for this per se.  I just threw in flavors that I enjoyed in the estimated quantities below and I have to tell you, my apartment now smells fantastic.  The cinnamon, cumin and coconut are just wafting through the air and even though I was making this for tomorrow’s lunch, I was so tempted to just eat it all right then and there while standing at the stove.  To go with it, I cooked up some couscous (the best 5 minute food there is) with chicken stock and dried rosemary.  Josh is out of town, so I more or less engineered this recipe to feed just myself.  It’d be very easy to increase the recipe by however many people you’d like to feed.

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Helloooo cupcake

I’m just going to come out and say it.

I’m not a baker. I am a cook.  I love to cook things.  I do not like to bake things.  I do, however, love baked things.  And sadly, sometimes the only way to get quality baked things is to bake them yourself.  So I do.  But deep down I rebel against it and would rather be grilling a pizza.

There’s another thing I’m not.  And that’s an artist. My mother, sister and cousin and grandmother are excellent artists.  I did not get that gene.  I got every artistic gene but that one.  So why I thought I could pull this off, I have no idea.

I blame Josh.  For insisting that some day I’m going to be one of those moms who make little artistic culinary renditions for her kids’ birthday parties.  And I blame Bakerella, for making me want to be one of those moms.  And I blame the Ann Arbor library, for carrying the book Hello Cupcake!, which I inadvertently came across last week and which briefly convinced me that I, too, could create irresistible, playful creations.  Damn you, cupcake book.  Damn you. Continue reading

Come to the dark side, we have cookies

I just wanted to post pictures of cookies.

Similar to the ones here, only with dark brown sugar, half cake flour/half regular flour, 1.5 tbsp sugar, 1/2 cup flaked coconut, 1 cup oatmeal and 10oz milk chocolate chips.  The cinnamon is a must; it adds such a great undertone to the oatmeal and chocolate.

ABC and Schako-lattes

For dinner tonight, Josh and I decided we would go where no man has gone befo–no, wait, scratch that, we decided to go to Arbor Brewing Company in downtown Ann Arbor, where many a man has been before.  But not me.  I’ve heard good things about it, but it’s not usually on my radar of places to go.  I thought today would be a good time to check it out.

Having skipped lunch, we were having an early dinner (4:30ish) so we beat the Saturday evening crowd and since it was a lovely 81 degrees Fahrenheit, we decided to eat outside (“we” being “me” and “Josh grudgingly agreeing because he knows how much I love hot weather and how little of it I get in Michigan and besides, there was a breeze and thanks to the bevy of tall buildings on E Washington, we’d be in the shade anyway”).  The weather was lovely, the sidewalk seating was great, the staff was excellent and the menu was modest but delicious, which works out well for me because sometimes too many choices is a terrible thing.  Like the cereal aisle of a grocery store.  How can I possibly make up my mind?  More on that another time. Continue reading

When life gives you lemons, grill those sour little suckers

Josh is out at the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival right now and so it’s just me and the dog for dinner tonight.  I enjoy these rare occasions for a couple reasons: I feel less bad if I screw up a recipe, and I get a chance to try out recipes that either I know Josh doesn’t like or wouldn’t be a huge fan of.  Since I’ve been wanting to make these chicken skewers for a while and Josh has seemed less than enthused, I figured I’d go with that.  Besides, it’s a very simple recipe to make for one.

Making dinner for yourself is not always easy.  Especially when you’re used to feeding more people.  For a while, I was used to to cooking for three, then for two, and occasionally now for one, not to mention the occasions where we have company over and I’m cooking for 4-8.  And generally when you’re looking at recipes, they feed 4 or more, which is great if you have a family or you really like leftovers.  However, we rarely eat leftovers and somedays we end up hungrier than otheres and so it can be tricky to make just enough food.  This meal worked out really well for just one, though.

I got the inspiration from an Ellie Krieger recipe for chicken and grape skewers, which I do still intend to try.  She had it garnished with lemons though, which gave me an idea: why not just chop up lemons and put them on the skewers as well?  I love the taste of lemon, especially with chicken, grilling lemons really brings out the sweetness in them, adding depth to a variety of dishes.  And I reasoned that as the heat warmed up the lemons, circulating their juices, they would baste and moisturize the chicken wedged between them.  And instead of just regular chunks of chicken, I would do meatballs.  This idea I can’t claim; it was inspired by the grilled Vietnamese meatball sandwich recipe on SeriousEats.  Only I would use chicken instead of pork and season it with my usual blend of spices, plus some basil, which goes fabulously with lemon.  But what to go with it?  I thought about whole wheat couscous, but rice seemed a better fit, and perhaps a bit of green–some steamed spinach thrown in.  Perfect.  The flavors were coming together in my mind–sweet basil, tart lemon, spicy ancho chile goodness, nutty rice and maybe a good sprinkling of salty parmesan.  Deliciousness on all fronts. Continue reading

A Ragù, of sorts

Today was a pasta kind of day.  You know those days.  It was rainy all morning and wet and even though it cleared up this afternoon, it just seemed like a day that was destined for noodles covered in sauce wearing some sort of delicious cheese.  We have pasta pretty often, though, and I wanted something not quite the same as the usual linguine or rigatoni with meatballs or meat sauce with ground beef.  So we went with a variation on the theme with a more traditional ragù.  Sometimes ragù is known as bolognese sauce, although traditional bolognese is made somewhat differently (served with tagliatelle or green lasagna and containing beef (sometimes pork or lamb), pancetta, onions, carrots, tomato paste, broth, red wine and sometimes cream or milk) and comes from Bologna, Italy.

So what did I do?

I went shopping.  I had to.  We were actually almost entirely out of pasta, which is very rare for us.  So on the way home from work, Josh and I headed to Busch’s and picked up a package of beef stew meat (I would have used a cheap cut of shoulder and chopped it up myself, but there were none), a can of crushed tomatoes, onions, a bag of shell pasta (conchiglie) and a small block of parmesan.  Including the cost of the pizza dough from yesterday to make garlic bread with, the entire dinner worked out to about $10 not including spices.  Woot!

Now, generally I can make a pasta dinner for the two of us in a half hour.  Tonight it was an hour and a half, and most of that was simmering the sauce to cook the stew meat long enough to let it start to melt into the sauce.  I’m a big fan of packaged beef stew meat for slowcooked meals.  It’s cheap, it’s delicious when properly seasoned, it responds well to long cooking times and hey, who doesn’t love the iron and the protein?  Vegetarians, that’s who. Continue reading

‘freddo, throw the ring!

So…I like semifreddo.  I like the word “semifreddo.”  It’s Italian for basically, “semi frozen.”  There’s many varieties of this dish but what originally got me hooked on it was a cookies and cream semifreddo from Tyler Florence, which I made Josh for Valentine’s Day.

So tonight I felt like making a variation on that one, with oreo cookies and chocolate whipped cream.  It’s a first iteration–it needs some work, so I’ll be trying it again and again and adjusting the recipe as I go along.

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“It happens every time; they all become blueberries.”

Josh is a fan of blueberries.  A picky, picky fan of blueberries who will only eat fresh ones in season, never in pancakes, and who makes delicious blueberry muffins.  Last summer we picked our own blueberries on a farm in West Michigan, near where Josh grew up.  Because of that, we now have stacks of frozen bags of blueberries in our fridge.  Stacks and stacks.

Flash forward to this summer.  I know the cycle will continue.  So I’m determined to use up some of those blueberry stores before Josh gets a hankering to go pick some more.  That, coupled with a request for more baked goods for his office, divided by my desire to procrastinate from doing the video work I should be doing and multiplied by the inspiration of a cupcake book I picked up from the library today equaled one thing: blueberry crumble bars.

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That’s Nacho Cheese (say it out loud)

Nacho bar night!

So what we did was a very simple beef nacho dish: diced bulb onion and 2 diced garlic cloves from our farm share, 1 pound grass-fed ground beef, lots of spices (particularly ancho chile powder, cumin, paprika, chili powder, red pepper, salt, black pepper, dried thyme), 2 cups frozen bell pepper mix and 1 can spicy whole black beans.

Toppings?  Shredded mozzarella and a monterey jack blend, guacamole, salsa and mesclun mix.  Chip selection?  Garden Fresh Gourmet Corn Tortilla Chips.


I went with the simple stacking method: chips, thin layer of cheese, beef mix, thin layer of cheese, mesclun mix, salsa, thin layer of cheese, heated in the microwave until cheese melts and the greens wilts, topped with guacamole.  The layers of cheese in between are key (and this goes for pizza, too), because it keeps the toppings from sliding off.  Instead it all meshes together nicely.

Josh also did the layering method with his chips (skipping the lettuce) but then took it one stop further, preparing it all on a baking sheet and bakng it in the oven for about 5 minutes.

And for you carb haters out there (though I will never understand your strange and foreign ways), in lieu of corn chips, you can substitute cabbage or lettuce wraps!

Ta da!

the kid in me

While Josh and I do love our culinary explorations of things like grilled pizza and Moroccan Spice Chicken, sometimes we like to just go back to a couple of our childhood faves:

Sloppy Joes and Kraft Mac and Cheese.

Now, Josh doesn’t let me doctor up the Cheesy Mac too far beyond adding a bit of broccoli or spinach, but I do have a variety of twists on sloppy joes, including adding in sliced garlic and onion, bell peppers, spinach, steak seasoning, sliced chili peppers, etc.  Tonight, though, we kept it simple (and I kept it open faced). Sometimes the oldies are goodies.

Ring that Bell Pepper

Josh is growing bell peppers on the deck for the first time ever and they are coming in quite nicely, as evidenced by the photo below of the biggest pepper we’ve got going so far.  So in preparation for the deliciousness to come, I thought I’d post a few of my favorite recipes for utilizing bell peppers….

Bell Pepper and Feta Pasta Toss

French Market Meatloaf (this is my favorite meatloaf recipe, btw)

Cuban Style Beef and Peppers

Artichoke and Red Pepper Pizza

Roasted Red Pepper and Cannellini Bean Dip

When the moon hits your eye like a grilled pizza pie….ow. That’s gotta hurt.

Josh and I had a late-ish dinner tonight and decided to go with something light and easy: grilled pizzas.  We were encouraged by our first efforts to try it again…because it’s delicious.

Going off a tip from Jodi (thanks Jodi!) about sprinkling garlic salt on the crust, I doctored ours up with a bit of the steak seasoning we’d gotten for our NY strip steaks on Friday.  We hadn’t liked it much for the steaks but I thought the garlicky-ness of it would go great with the bread. Continue reading

Farm Share Goodies: July 17….and Steak!

This week’s farm share brought in some great goodies: most notably, our first bulb garlic!  Yay!  Also more Swiss chard and kale and bulb fennel, which we donated to family/friends, kohlrabi, broccoli, bok choy, new potatoes and chives.

Kohlrabi is an interesting little plant that I’ve wanted to try before but never bothered to purchase.  It’s a small, hard cabbage with a texture similar to a cabbage heart but very faint in flavor.  We used it, the potatoes, 2 cloves from the bulb garlic and the cabbage from last week to make tonight’s dinner…

Grilled NY Strip Steaks with Basil-Thyme Pesto Potatoes and Sautéed Cabbage and Kohlrabi. Continue reading

So a chicken gets dressed up for the ball…

Chicken meatballs.

Are like space.

They are my final frontier.  There is so much to explore with them and yet, I’ve only been so far as the moon.  Which is made of mozzarella.  Not green cheese.  Well maybe it gets moldy from time to time.

Anyway, it was an off-again-on-again rainy kind of day and it’s been kind of a tiring week, one of those weeks where I’ve been craving comfort foods all the time.  So far this week there’ve been hot dogs, barbecue, pizza, Hunan chicken and today, pasta.  Rigatoni.  With red sauce.  And chicken meatballs.

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Strawberry Tiramisu

I like tiramisu.  I like the idea of it even more.  I don’t make the traditional version at home because I don’t keep coffee in the apartment (for anything, ever) and Josh doesn’t like the taste of coffee anyway.  Also, it’s a bit indulgent and we wouldn’t want to eat a whole tiramisu ourselves.  One summer I really wanted a lighter, fresher version of the dessert though and luckily, a few weeks later Giada de Laurentiis did a raspberry version on her show and then I found a recipe for a low-cal tiramisu in Everyday Food. .  I thought, I could do something with this, with a bit of inspiration from FoodTV.  I picked strawberries because they are one of my top three favorite foods (the other two being chocolate and barbecue), not to mention healthy and delicious.

And thus, the recipe below:

1 8oz package lite cream cheese
8oz heavy whipping cream
1/3 c. sugar
1 small jar sugar-free strawberry jam
1 c. fresh strawberries, cut
few pinches of powdered sugar
1 small baked angel food cake

Mix the cream cheese, whipping cream, and sugar until soft peaks form.  Layer a little on the bottom of a large dessert pan or bowl.  Cut the angel food cake into flat slices and layer on top of cream.  Spread more cream on top of the cake slices, and then spread strawberry jam.  Layer with more cake, and then cream and jam until almost all the cream is gone.  Top the final layer with the cream mix, then top with fresh strawberries.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and a half.

Porky's Revenge: In Pictures

(bone-in pork shoulder roast)


(lemon, spice mix and olive oil)


(combine and marinate in a bag over night)


(wrap tightly in tin foil and place on grill over medium heat; lower lid and cook about 4 hours)


(barbecue pork roast!)