Viruses are VERY bad things

So it has been a few weeks since I posted.  I have been cooking, and I have recipes and experiences to post (as you can see from my bacon wrapped meal just posted) there has just been a minor problem – our computer had a virus.  We went on vacation to FL to see our family a few weeks ago, and while down there our computer contracted a virus and took itself out of the game.  So no posts.  But like always I have been trying to recipes and putting them aside until we could get up and running again.  I have a draft of a turnip puff waiting to be published, I just need to allow the non-profit I work with first dibs at it… then it is all yours (whomever is reading this) to make yourself.  I will also be adding a delish egg dinner done under the broiler – if you are skeptical, it’s ok so was I.

 

For now be patient with me and thank you for reading along.  Any computer purchasing recommendations out there??

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Wrap it in bacon – it works (and tastes good too)

It was a warm day and grilling out seemed like a great idea.  We had stopped by our local grocer (Ken’s Fruit Market) and purchased some meat to make burgers.  We were all excited to bust out the grill… then BAM we remembered (once we got home of course) we forgot any sides to go with our burgers.  Time to search the kitchen high and low for something.  I was not about to turn on the stove or oven and make J’s suggested noodles… veggies sounded good and I had fresh veggies I had just purchased at the farmer’s market – SCORE!  Wrapped it in some bacon I had on hand, threw it on the grill… voila!  Dinner is served!

For the burgers we just dusted them with salt and pepper and added muenster cheese towards the end, just in time to melt.  We washed and trimmed the veggies up (asparagus and broccoli) and wrapped them in bacon.  I used tooth picks to hold the bacon on.  We grilled them until they were soft enough for our taste (and the bacon was cooked) and served.  It was simple, they didn’t fall through the grating on the grill, they were flavorful and as an added bonus the heat used for cooking DIDN’T come in the house.  WIN type of situation.

burger with bacon wrapped veggies

burger with bacon wrapped veggies

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Kale Chips – Once you start… you can’t stop!!

So it is a new family favorite in my house… Kale Chips! I had heard about using kale to make homemade alternatives to chips, but never tried it – until now!! We gave this a go a few weeks back with kale from our garden, and this week we purchased a bundle from the market – our poor plant was harvested down to the inner leaves and couldn’t feed us and our guests.

Here’s what we did…

Kale Chips
Harvest, or purchase at your local market, as much kale as you feel you need to feed everyone you are intending to serve.
Wash the kale well and place aside to dry OR wash and then cut it into chip size pieces and sit it aside to dry.
Once your kale is dried (this is to make sure it doesn’t steam in your oven, but actually bakes and gets crisp) spread it out on a cookie sheet (if it wasn’t previously cut then cut into bite sized pieces prior to spreading on the cookie sheet – we have done whole kale chips but it wasn’t as easy to “pop” in your mouth). A single layer of kale is better than stacking layers – this again is to make sure it is crispy.
Spray the kale with some olive oil and sprinkle salt/pepper on top.
Bake at 375 until crisp (this took our gas oven about 10-15 minutes).
Serve and enjoy!

We have also found this recipe to work on collard greens!!

**Note – unfortunately there are no photos for this recipe since they fly off the plate as soon as I serve them. Our oldest son can not get enough of these when I make them. Once he starts poppin them (in his mouth) there is just no stoppin him!😉

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SUPER easy family burritos…

The end of the school year is here, which means my house is crazy. To make things even more crazy we had a family funeral this past week. I needed something quick, easy and cheap to make for dinner that used up my lettuce that is GROWING galore in my container. I didn’t want to turn on the oven, but I couldn’t come home and cook so I turned to my faithful friend – the crock pot. I have a new cookbook my aunt got me for Christmas that I wanted to try out. A few minutes of searching… BAM I found my simple recipe!!

Easy Family Burritos
1-2 lb roast (pork or beef – we used beef)
1 jar 16oz salsa
Crock pot
Lettuce – optional to use in your burrito/tacos/or in place of a tortilla
Sour cream – optional to top your burrito/salad/taco
Cheese – optional to top your burro/salad/taco
Tortillas – optional to form your burritos/tacos

… as you can see there are many ways you can do this, lots of add on options.

roast in the crock pot with salsa

roast in the crock pot with salsa


1. place your roast into the crock pot
2. pour salsa on top and place on low heat for 8-10 hours
3. shred meat (it says to take it out of the crock pot to do this, but I did it inside with plastic forks and it worked great and LESS dishes, always a plus)
4. continue cooking on low for another 1-2 hours
5. serve as you see fit

**adapted from Favorite Brand Name Slow Cooker Recipes – page 150

So there are a few ways you can do this… serve on tortillas, serve on lettuce as wraps, eat plain (I did this and it was good), drain and let cool and serve on top of a salad (I also did this, but I didn’t drain mine – hence my recommendation of draining)… endless opportunities.

garden lettuce - mixture of green, red and a bit of spinach

garden lettuce – mixture of green, red and a bit of spinach


If you are growing your own lettuce, and live here in West MI, it’s still cool out and your lettuce might not have bolted yet. However, when the heat comes you can extend the life of your lettuce by making sure on hot days it has some shade. Containers is the best way to do that – they move!! Check out some helpful tips and great heirloom lettuce varieties to think about in your future: http://suite101.com/article/heat-tolerant-lettuce-varieties-a91032

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funeral… sick child (again)… and end of the school year – don’t worry though, I’m feeding everyone dinner

So a lot has been happening in my neck of the woods. Our little one still routinely gets sick and did so this past weekend when we drove down to Ohio for a family funeral. 😦 Our oldest is finishing sixth grade, OMG he is going to be a teenager and in seventh grade… where has the time gone? So with the above, my two “independent” home jobs and my part time “go into a physical building” job, I’ve been busy. I’ve been cooking though, and taking pictures.

How things are going to start working on my blog is… I’ll first post on the website of the non-profit I work with (http://oktjustice.org/) then I’ll repost here about a week later. I want to make sure I tailor my meals this season to our growers and market participants. So if I mention a local place or highlight something from my current town, I am sure you’ll understand and go looking for something similar where you are. Keeping it local is my goal. 🙂 Easy Family Burros will be making its way to the blog this weekend.

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Meatless Strata redone from OUR garden

2 cups of torn/semi dried bread pieces
Swiss Chard – cleaned, stems removed, chopped into bite size pieces (about 10 oz)
bok choy – cleaned, chopped into bite size pieces (including stems if you’d like) (about 10 oz)
8 oz of cheese – your choice (we used mozzarella)
4 beaten eggs
1 ¾ cup milk – we used fat free milk
½ cup sour cream – again we used fat free
1 chopped onion
1 tbsp Dijon style mustard
¼ tsp caraway seeds (crushed)
1/8 tsp pepper

Strata Ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. place 1 cup of the torn torn bread in a 2 qt baking dish (we are using an 8×8 square baking dish)
2. saute onions until caramelized to your liking, add in swiss chard and bok choy and continue cooking for 4 minutes – make sure to stir often

Strata

Strata

3. allow the veggies to cool to the touch
4. top the bread with 1/2 of your cheese and cooled, cooked veggies

Almost complete strata

Almost complete strata

5. place the remaining ½ of torn bread on top of the veggies, then top the bread with the remaining 1/2 of cheese
6. in a mixing  bowl (at least a 4 cup capacity) beat your eggs, add in your milk, sour cream, pepper and caraway seeds
7. pour your mixture above over your bread/veggie/cheese layers 

Strata - All Done

Strata – All Done

8. chill for 2 – 24 hours (isn’t that cool you can prep this the day before) – minimum I let mine always set for 6 hours, but the original recipe only calls for a min of 2
9. when ready cook at 325 for 50 – 55 mins
7. check for doneness with a knife or toothpick – if it comes out clean TADA it is done!
8. serve!!

 **adapted from BHG: New Cookbook – page 238

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Mustard Greens… a new adventure

So it is another year of market cooking. Last year I did not do as good as I’d hoped I would in blogging about our meals. As a family however we did a pretty good job increasing our food consumption of market based meals. This year I am keeping the same challenge of eating from the market (as local as possible) however I am going to one up it and try to blog a bit longer than I did last year, meaning till the end of the market… December 2013.
From now until September I will be mainly focusing on items I can find at a local farmers market that Our Kitchen Table (http://oktjustice.org/) supports – The Southeast Farmer’s Market. In doing this I hope to support Our Kitchen Table in providing recipes for fresh, homemade meals that their participants can make at home. Meals based on the vegetables, fruits and products they can buy at the market and supplement with items they are growing in their own garden, or with ingredients found in their kitchens.
Recently OKT supplied their participants with seedlings to grow at home, some of which were mustard greens. So I will be honest, I have eaten mustard greens, but never cooked with them… a new challenge was taken on.
The other day while watering my own garden, some of which includes mustard greens, I thought I’d try a leaf raw and get a feel for what I was going to be cooking this week. STRONG flavor is just a minor way I’d describe mustard greens. It does have a mustardy flavor, just not one I enjoyed raw. To find a recipe around this leafy green that highlighted its flavor was my job tonight.
Greens from our GardenI went out and harvested my mustard greens, collard greens, bok choy and swiss chard. I put my mustard greens aside with the collards, stored the rest in the fridge and got to work going through my cook books. Needless to say my cookbooks did not give me any recipes I was looking for… so off to the internet my search went. I found a vegan site, http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2009/07/balsamic-glazed-chickpeas-and-mustard.html, that had what I was looking for, but I didn’t have all it was asking for. Time to improvise…
I diced my red onion, removed the stems of my mustard greens and collard greens, I didn’t have that many collard greens so I combined them to reach the full 10ozs required for the recipe – consequences of a smaller garden. I got out my broth, this is a oil free recipe, and my improvised ingredients. I didn’t have garlic or red pepper, so I took out black pepper and some chili powder. I didn’t have balsamic vinegar, but I had apple – good enough for me. Soy sauce, nope… just left it out. I used honey instead of sugar and I had 16 oz of chick peas. Time to cook and make it happen with what I had.

1. chop onion, remove stems from greens and cut/tear into bite size pieces
2. in a 3qt pot (I used a dutch oven – you can even use a wok) place your onion in with broth and sauté until desired softness

diced red onions in 3qt dutch oven

diced red onions in 3qt dutch oven

3. I sprinkled on chili powder and pepper and continued sauteing a few minutes longer
4. I added in my greens and wilted them for about 3 minutes

added greens

added greens

wilted greens

wilted greens

5. I removed the greens and onions with a slotted spoon, leaving as much liquid as possible and placed in the chick peas, vinegar and honey and continued to heat
6. I cooked until the liquid was half of what it began at and then pour on top of the greens and served

final product

final product

Everyone enjoyed the side dish, however they weren’t a fan of the chick peas flavor. Perhaps the soy sauce would have improved the taste or perhaps not. My husband suggested a different bean perhaps the cannellini or a butter bean might be better. My eldest enjoyed the dish and finished it.
If you have your own mustard green recipes please do share them in the comments below with links. Thanks

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