Monday, 29 September 2014

Farm Fresh - Week 4

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We're one month into our farm share adventure and feeling good! This process has really forced us to cook in a lot more and be really mindful of the ingredients we're using, resulting in less food waste and money saved. Win. And win.

It's also been phenomenally awesome to be able to enjoy so much lovely fresh and organic goods grown so close to home. It's no secret that Other Half and I had a lot of issues with access to foods that were healthy and safe to eat while we were living in China, often resulting in splurging on $7 lettuce during day trips to Hong Kong just because I really freaking needed a salad. Don't get me wrong, we had to turn a blind eye a lot, especially when eating out, but let's be real - a blind eye is never blind and it really started to wear on us. In short - hooray for food regulations!

We're definitely starting to get an autumnal vibe with our boxes, and that's a great thing! I love warming foods and these ingredients are perfect for that. So, shall we?

This weeks delivery included:

1 (very) large green cabbage - not shown, I forgot
3 tomatoes
1 head of garlic
2 yellow onions
1 bunch of carrots with the most lovely greens on top
4 bell peppers - 1 red, orange, yellow, and mottled yellow
10-15 small white potatoes
1 head of lettuce
1 bunch of spinach
1 butternut squash
6 apples

I'm in the mood for a good curry, and have wanted to try making biryani for a little while now, so I think one night this week will be dedicated to using the potatoes and spinach in some sort of aloo palak combination and have ourselves a little Indian feast (this will also use up some onion and garlic). I've been making a lot of soups because they are simple to make, tasty to eat, and use up lots of leftovers - this week I think it'll be a butternut squash and coconut version.

To be honest I'm a little nervous about the cabbage, I'm not used to cooking with it much because it often hurts my stomach and I loathe and detest coleslaw which is about as far as my cabbage knowledge goes, so if you have any great ideas for me please do share!

To recap what actually got made with last weeks share, there was the carrot, apple, and ginger soup, and the apple pie breakfast bars. Additionally, behind the scenes we ate a huge Mexican feast of corn salad, rice and beans, and quesadillas. I also finally got around to making the garlic and parmesan potatoes I've been talking about - these were only okay and I definitely have some ideas for improvements. And finally, last weeks head of lettuce and veggie remnants went to some vegetarian lettuce wraps that were a deliciously messy treat.

What are you cooking up this week?

Friday, 26 September 2014

Apple Pie Breakfast Bars

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Pie for breakfast? Yes. Always yes.

That's pretty much what we're making today, except instead of a flakey crust filled with sugary apples we're creating an oat-y exterior with a slightly sweet, but mostly just apples interior. But, thanks to that magical combination of apples and cinnamon (with just a touch of sugar) it feels more dessert-like than breakfast-like and it makes us feel like the good ol' days where we could eat cold pizza and half a chocolate cake for breakfast without worrying about anything at all. Don't judge me.

We're keeping it short today because it's Friday, and the cat has come into the habit of laying in front of/on top of the key board making this whole typing thing a bit difficult. So, let's not waste any more time, you go get these whipped up (you'll thank me) and I'll go give Miss Zorra (the cat) the belly rub she's been after.

Have a happy Friday!

Keep reading for the recipe...

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Carrot, Apple, and Ginger Soup

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Happy first day of autumn everyone! The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and we're all walking around saying how happy we are to be welcoming the cooler weather, when in reality we're all silently lamenting the loss of summer. Welcome to this fresh new season!

As I hinted at yesterday I've whipped up this soup to ring in the new season with open arms and warm bellies. This tastes exactly how it looks, warm and inviting. And despite this being completely vegan there's a definite creaminess that lines the body with autumnal happiness.

The ginger adds a slight spiciness that is definitely "there" but not at all overpowering, the apples lend a certain sweetness, and the carrots make it all earthy and balanced. In short this is a soup for the season.

And as are most things that I churn out of my kitchen, this is super simple and is definitely something that can be whipped up for a quick weeknight meal. It's also so utterly tasty that you'll likely be making it for your next dinner party/potluck/gathering-of-people-you-invite-just-to-impress-with-soup. Seriously friends, this is a winner.

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to go eat more soup and then put on my cutest fall boots and find a pile of leaves to jump in.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Farm Fresh - Week 3

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Happy Monday! Many humans least favourite day of the week... except mine, I personally hate Tuesdays.

Instead of moping around because everyone in the whole world has a "case of the mondays" let's take a look at the yummy farm fresh produce we've got going on this week and then think about all the yummy meals we can make! So much better than moping.

Even if you don't have a weekly delivery of delicious local and organic foods waiting to be used, that doesn't mean you can't spend your Monday food-dreaming and planning all the delightful treats just waiting to be made. It's a great time to sit down and focus on the week ahead and get your creative juices flowing.

If you are interested in starting with a farm-share program, there are several links in this post that will lead you in the right direction (provided you live in Ontario). Alternatively why not check out your local farmers market? Most of them will run until at least late October. Check out this website to help you find the closest one near you.

Let's do this!

This week's box featured:

2 large tomatoes
1 head of green leaf lettuce
1 bag of mixed salad greens
2 small heads of broccoli
1 large yellow onion
1 bulb of garlic
4 fresh green cayenne peppers
6 apples
10 small red potatoes (approximately)
2 lbs of carrots (not pictured)
4 cobs of corn

What a week it's going to be! I've already got a pot of carrot, apple and ginger soup on the the stove to welcome the new season (and use some of those apples and carrots!). Last week instead of the corn salad I had thought of making I ended up whipping up some fresh corn salsa when some pals came to visit, so I think this weeks corn will go to that original thought and the potatoes will go to some classic smashed potatoes in garlic butter. Oh, and more of those apples are definitely destined for some sort of hearty dessert or breakfast bar!

Any other thoughts or ideas for me? What are you planning on cooking/baking this week?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Leek, Feta, and Roasted Tomato Savoury Scones

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Nothing makes me feel more accomplished in the kitchen than a successful scone recipe. Scones aren't that complicated or difficult, and in fact they are super adaptable. But there's just something about a warm, fluffy scone that makes me think "Yeah I did!"

For this recipe I used Smitten Kitchen's basic cream scone recipe and altered to my needs. Her recipe is great and has yet to fail me (not that I make all that many scones). Having received so many big tomatoes in the last couple of weeks from our farm box, I wanted to feature them in some way that wasn't just a salad, and since I like to roast just about everything I can I figured that was the direction I would take here.

Roasting tomatoes is super easy, and while I had only ever tried it with small tomatoes, big tomatoes works just as well. The flavour enhances to a point of smoky/sweet/savoury complexity and the process is just so dang easy. These would be great as a replacement to your regular salad tomatoes, as part of your next soup, pasta sauce, or scone! Seriously. Try it.

The feta and leek were obvious additions as they both enhance the savoury factor (and taste ridiculously good together), and in the end I ended up with a melt-in-your-mouth, eat-two-at-a-time, don't-judge-me treat.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Farm Fresh - Week 2

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Another Monday, another farm share post! As a reminder, Other Half and I recently purchased a share in a local CSA program and each week I'll be sharing what we received and what we plan to do with it, along with any winner recipes that may come from it. Last week was a success with both this Spinach Pasta Bake and this Tomatillo Salsa Verde.

This week was just as plentiful and just as exciting.  Before picking up our share we were worried that it was going to be a carbon copy of the week before, which wouldn't have been terrible because we love what we received, but variety is the spice of life ... or so they say.

Happily this week was different enough that meal planning cogs started turning almost immediately! Here's what we got:

1 (very) large eggplant
4 cobs of corn
1 bunch of swiss chard
2 large red bell peppers
2 large onions
2 large tomatoes
2 bulbs of garlic
5 large red potatoes
1 bag of mixed salad greens
2 cantaloupes

I've always wanted to try making garlic parmesan fries like these, so at least a few of the potatoes will hopefully be going towards that.  The corn is destined for a Mexican corn salad in which I'm hoping to emulate the flavours of the amazing corn bar at our recent wedding. The bell peppers, swiss chard and eggplant will go towards stuffed peppers, hopefully of the thai curry variety and the cantaloupe took our smoothies to the next level last week, so at least one of them will continue to be used for those, but hopefully the other will find its way into some sort of dessert. Phew! It's going to be a busy week!

What are you cooking up this week?

Until next time!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

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Happy weekend! Have some salsa.

This salsa is fresh, bright (yes, food can be bright), and addictive. It features tomatillos (a small green item that at first resembles a brussel sprout but is actually related to the tomato and has a dry husk on the outside keeping it safe. I also threw in some yellow and red cherry tomatoes from my brother-in-law's garden for some extra colour.

Like just about every recipe I share this one is super simple and comes together in a snap. You basically just throw everything in a food processor and watch the magic happen. It's the best kind of recipe.

Make it for a crowd. Make it for yourself. Make it for your new neighbours. Whomever you make it for, make sure you make it!

This is great as a regular dip but would be amazing as an addition to a bigger fiesta feast night. The next time I happen upon some fresh fish I'll be whipping up some fish tacos and using this as my main topping. Yum!

Keep reading for the recipe!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Cheesy Spinach, Kale, & Zucchini Pasta Bake

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So it turns out that Canada is cold. Go figure. This is my first September in Canada in a few years and I forgot how chilly it can get. Yes, I'm still trotting around in shorts and t-shirts, but that's an act of pure defiance and there is definitely a large part of me that wants to curl up in a wool blanket instead. But I'm not ready to give up my flip flops and sunhat just yet, so I'm getting my coziness from my food instead.

In my last post I shared all the goodies we received in our farm share box and promised to share winner recipes. Well, I think I've got one. This is a rib-sticker and is exactly what this cooler weather calls for. I think there are going to be many variations of this over the next few months, as it's only going to get colder from here!

This dish features lovely hearty leafy greens along with some silky zucchini, all tossed together with pasta and coated with a simple cheese sauce.  I was aiming for a sauce similar in style to this mac and cheese I made awhile ago, but realized literally as I was making it that I had no butter and no milk. Hmmmmm time to improvise! In place of the butter I used coconut oil, and in place of regular milk I used almond. I made a simple roux out of that before adding a good dollop of cheddar and the result was awesome! Not at all coconut-y just silky smooth cheesy goodness. I'm telling you guys, it's a winner.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Farm Fresh - Week 1

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Last weekend Other Half and I moved back to the city. Finally. We’ve both been craving all that Toronto has to offer for a while now and we’ve really tried to make the most of being back in our own place. Bike rides through the park and along the lakeshore, dinners out with friends, and my own extensive exploring of our new neighbourhood has us feeling pretty good.

One of the first things we decided to do when we got back was to partake in a CSA program. CSA stands for ‘community supported agriculture’ which essentially means you order a box of fresh fruit and/or veggies that are guaranteed to be local (and most farms are also organic) that gets delivered either to your door, or a nearby drop point. Some programs have foods from just one farm, others have foods from a series of neighbouring or nearby farms, it all depends on what you’re looking for. Luckily, there are several to choose from in the Southern Ontario region thanks to our abundant, but threatened, farm lands. The best part is it was all picked within the last 48 hours, translating to ultimate freshness for us! We went with a local box from Plan B Organics and just received our first shipment, colour us excited!

The point of all this is, I’m hoping to experiment a bit on this ol’ blog and share what we received each week along with some plans I have for the food - winner recipes will then also be shared – in an attempt to keep us accountable for the abundance of veggies we’re receiving. So without further ado, here’s what we got!

  • 5 cobs of corn
  • a bunch of kale, spinach, and pac choi
  • a cantaloupe
  • approximately 25 tomatillos
  • 2 zucchinis
  • a bag of mixed salad greens
  • 2 tomatoes
  • a small bunch of radishes

Most of the leafy greens (minus the salad mix) will hopefully go into a cheesy pasta bake along with the zucchinis, the tomatillos and tomatoes will go towards a fresh salsa verde, the corn will be cooked up and spread with our favourite topping – jaljeera spice mix and lemon - and the rest will likely go towards salads etc. throughout the week, except the cantaloupe which will be a welcome addition to our daily smoothies. I’m really looking forward to this food adventure!

Do you have any other ideas for me? Or things you’re excited to cook up in your kitchen this week? Do share!

Until next time!


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