CSA Veggies!

My husband and I decided to join a CSA for the summer!  A CSA is community supported agriculture – basically, getting a basket of locally grown, fresh, and seasonable vegetables and fruit every week from early June through September.  A big reason we decided to participate is to force ourselves to eat interesting and different vegetables.  We are stuck in an asparagus, broccoli, green bean rut and are always trying to think of new veggies to prepare.  We picked up our first basket of veggies yesterday…

Cilantro, garlic scapes, hakurei turnips, arugula…what should we make??

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

Now that it’s just about summer it’s time for pasta salads!  I have always wanted to make an orzo salad so last weekend when we were home with a sick baby, we made this Orzo with Roasted Vegetables for a side dish with hamburgers.  It was great!  Here is the recipe…

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
from Barefoot Contessa Parties

1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 C good olive oil
1 1/2 Tsp kosher salt
1/2 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb orzo or rice-shaped pasta

For the dressing
1/3 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/3 C good olive oil
1 Tsp kosher salt
1/2 Tsp freshly ground black pepper

To assemble:
4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)
1/4 C pignolis (pine nuts), toasted (we eliminated these)
3/4 lb good feta, 1/2-inch diced (not crumbled) (we used crumbled)
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.
Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.
For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pignolis, feta, and basil. Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.


Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes

I saw this on my friend Martha Stewart’s Pinterest page recently and knew we’d want to make it soon.  We used instant polenta instead of that part of Martha’s recipe (don’t tell her!) and it came out great.  The roasted tomatoes were just delicious, I would recommend to make those for a side dish with any meal!

Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes
from Everyday Food, March, 2008

2 pints grape tomatoes
6 scallions, white and green parts separated and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbs olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 C yellow cornmeal
1 Tbs butter
1/4 C finely grated Parmesan
1 1/2 lb skirt steak (cut into 2 or more pieces, if necessary, to fit in skillet)
1 C balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large saucepan, set 4 cups water to boil. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss tomatoes with scallion whites and 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes are tender and some skins have split, 12 to 15 minutes; toss with scallion greens.
Meanwhile, add 1 teaspoon salt to boiling water; gradually whisk in cornmeal. Simmer very gently over low heat, whisking occasionally, until polenta is thickened and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Whisk in butter and Parmesan, and keep warm over very low heat (whisk in some water just before serving if polenta becomes too thick). Note, again – we used instant polenta but added a little butter and the Parm.
Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high. Season steak with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Cook, turning once, 6 to 8 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest, 5 to 10 minutes (reserve skillet).
Add vinegar to skillet, and boil over high until reduced to 1/2 cup, 5 to 7 minutes; stir in any juices from resting steak. Slice steak, and serve with vinegar sauce, polenta, and tomatoes.


Cranberry Orange Muffins

So the plan was to celebrate my mom’s birthday this weekend down in Newport, RI…the plan was made, reservations set…muffins were baked!  Then our baby girl got a fever and we found ourselves staying home for the long Memorial Day Weekend.  More of what we did later this week…

But first, I thought I would share the muffin recipe we used to make these muffins for my mom’s birthday brunch…we ended up eating a few and freezing the rest! (Note, my mom is an animal print fanatic so when I saw these muffin tin liners at Home Goods I had to get them!)

Cranberry Orange Muffins
from foodnetwork.com

1 C dried cranberries
1/4 C fresh orange juice
2 C unbleached flour
2 Tsp baking powder
1/4 Tsp fine salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened, plus more for preparing the muffin tin
1 Tsp grated orange zest
2/3 C granulated sugar, plus up to 1 tablespoon for topping the muffins, if desired
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 C milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan, and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Remove berries from the heat, and set aside to cool and plump. Drain off any excess liquid and set aside.  Lightly brush a 12-muffin tin with butter (we used animal print muffin tin liners instead). Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand-held mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter, orange zest, and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

Fold the flour in 3 parts into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Do not over mix. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool muffins in the pan on a rack. Serve warm.


Homemade Sushi

Homemade and Sushi are not two words you usually hear together.  My husband and I both found ourselves home early this past Friday afternoon so we decided to swing by our local H Mart Asian grocery store for the ingredients to make our own sushi. I have to tell you, it’s relatively easy! Here is everything you need…

Prepare your sushi rice in advance and according to the package instructions, this is the timeliest step of this process. Then prep all your filler ingredients, ie. cut the cucumber and avocado into strips, slice your fish, mix the red chili hot oil with regular mayo for spicy mayo sauce, etc…

Then start rolling!

First, dip your hands into a prepared bowl of 1C water and 1 Tbs rice vinegar, this will help the sticky sushi rice NOT stick to your fingers.  Spread a very thin layer of rice onto the seaweed wrap, about 3/8″ thick:

Then layer your desired ingredients

Then roll!  When you’re all rolled up, squeeze your finished roll a bit to make sure everything is set in place.

Dip your knife into the same water/rice vinegar combo and cut into pieces.

And voila…homemade sushi!

Other tips:
– We like this book for real instructions on how to cook the sushi rice, a good rolling technique and more.

– Definitely visit an Asian market for your fish.  You don’t want American grocery store salmon for your sushi rolls, you need sushi grade, of course.

– If you use shrimp, take raw shrimp and place a skewer through the middle before you cook, then your shrimp will be long instead of curled over.

– Rolling gets easier with practice as you go …and with a second glass of wine.


Couple Things…

I hope you have a great weekend – the weather is supposed to be great around here, I can’t wait to get outside!

I can’t imagine spending this long setting up dominos that will just come crashing down!

Sometimes I really like a big-budget summer movie, my husband and I definitely want to get a sitter and see this when it comes out.

Bloomingdale’s unveiled their new Big Brown Bag app this week.

Another cute tea party idea…I guess I really have tea parties on the brain!

For my sister…


After a lonnnnnng weekend of working an event I came home Sunday morning to the most amazing Mother’s Day Brunch and I wanted to share it with you.  It’s the perfect brunch for Mother’s Day or any other occasion for that matter…

First – the table centerpiece of lovely hot pink roses, photo above!

Second, a delicious homemade brunch of:

Grandma J’s crumb cake
Breakfast potatoes
Mini Crust less Quiche – here’s a similar recipe to what my hubby made
And a hot latte

Third, my favorite brunch company – cute husband and sweet baby girl. =)