Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Garden Sitting

We have been garden sitting for the past week 

and it has had many tasty rewards - tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers, chard and even some blackberries.

We have been enjoying many wonderful meals, but the yellow squash has really challenged me.  I usually just grill or saute squash, but you can only have that so often before there is some rebellion.  Plus there were some really large squash which wouldn't be very tasty just grilled, so I decided to try some stuffed squash and I am happy to say it was very well received.

It is one of my favorite types of recipes - very easy and very versatile.  Simply choose a grain and a protein and you have a meal.   I opted for rice and beef, because that is what was in the fridge.  I kept it simple, but the recipe can be enhanced with some veggies.  The options are endless!

Since we still have lots of squash I am definitely going to continue experimenting with this dish.  I think next I am going to try a lighter filling.  Maybe a cold quinoa or couscous salad and add the filling to squash that has already been cooked.  I will keep you posted.

Stuffed Squash

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup rice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp finely chopped oregano
1 tsp finely chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmigiana cheese
4 large yellow squash, halved lengthwise seeds remove

Preheat oven to 375.
Over medium high, heat large saute pan.  Add ground beef, cook until brown.  Pour out excess fat, add onions.  Cook until onions are soft, then add tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add rice and vegetable broth.  Cover and cook until rice is soft.  Stir in ricotta and seasonings.  Evenly divide filling between squash halves, sprinkle with parmigiana cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes or until squash is tender.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cherry Ice Cream

We are big fans of our cherry chomper.

He is cute and easy to use - the kids love him. He is often in demand by a couple of people at once, which of course results in fighting - my kids are professional petty squabblers.  When OXO offered to send me one of their cherry pitters I jumped at the chance. Not only because it looks super easy to use, but I  thought adding another pitter to the collection would eliminate at least once source of household fighting.

When the pitter arrived OXO was very generous and also sent along an ice cream scoop.  I saw the two items together knew immediately what to make - Cherry Chocolate ice cream.

I only had one helper around, so the two of us got to work pitting the cherries.  Maggie wanted to try the new pitter, it was a little big for her hands so kept switching between the two.

 I found it super easy to use and we went through the two pounds of cherries very quickly.

I used about two cups of cherries for the ice cream. Half a cup was chopped up and thrown into the freezer. the remaining cup and a half was added to some cream, cooked until soft,

then pureed into a beautiful pink cream.  The cream was chilled for a bit and then put into the ice cream machine.  

Just as it was finished mixing the remaining half cup of chopped and frozen cherries was added to the ice cream, along with chunks of chocolate. The result was a wonderfully creamy chunky ice cream perfect for a hot summer day.  

Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 cups sweet cherries, pitted
1/2 cup roughly chopped, bittersweet chocolate

In saucepan combine heavy cream, sugar and 1 1/2 cups cherries.  Over medium high heat bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until cherries are soft.  Let mixture cool slightly, pour into blender and puree.  Pour into bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, can be left overnight.

While mixture is cooling roughly chop remaining 1/2 cup of cherries, place in freezer along with chocolate chunks.  Once mixture has cooled place into ice machine, mix following manufactures instructions.  Just before ice cream is done mixing add frozen cherries and chocolate.  Mix until combined.  

In case you were wondering it doesn't appear as if adding another pitter will eliminate any fights, it just adds to the things to fight over. Now they fight over who uses which pitter.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Texas Caviar

I am not sure when I will learn that procastination is not a good thing.  Every month I get my SRC assignment choose 2 or 3 recipes that look really good and am determined to make them right away.  Yet every month it seems as if I am scrambling to make something a few days before the posting deadline.

This month I knew I had to make something early in the month because of travel plans.  I gave myself a deadline of June 28th, but did I have anything made by then - no.  I was still ok though, I had a few days before we left on vacation and I had all the ingredients to make one of Noelle's Green Monster Smoothies, in Popsicle form.  I knew we had some super hot days coming up and couldn't wait to have a Cherry Bom Bom waiting in the freezer.

Then the power went out for two days, making our refrigerator look like this.

One good thing about an outage is that your fridge gets a really good cleaning.

 I knew the produce wouldn't last while we were gone so I passed it on to neighbors and decided to get back to An Opera Singer in the Kitchen when I returned from vacation.  I knew there were a lot of great recipes I could choose from and would definitely be able to find something to make, even if I only had a day to do it.

Since our weather was still unbearably hot I decided to go for something light and easy - Texas Caviar Salad.

This was the perfect dish for a hot summer night.  We made a meal out of it by serving it with some tortilla chips and avocado slices, but it also makes a great side dish.  I made it early in the morning, allowing all the flavors to meld together. I didn't need to turn the stove on during the heat of the day and we came home to a delicious and belly filling meal after an afternoon at the pool.  

I modified Noelle's recipe slightly - using canned beans instead of dry and reducing proportions.  Be sure to go visit An Opera Singer in the Kitchen. she has a lot of great vegan recipes on her site, so be sure to go check them out.

Texas Caviar

1 can black eyed-peas, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn (canned, frozen or fresh)
2 cups tomatoes, diced
1 cup cilantro, finely diced
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup Italian dressing

Combine all ingredients, mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.