Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Using our CSA Vegetables

Last year, I didn't do a very good job of documenting how we used our vegetables so this year I am going to try to a better job of that.

Two weeks ago we received these vegetables: Asian Green Mix, Broccoli, Blue Potatoes, Bunched Spinach, Green Garlic, Kohlrabi, Red Leaf Lettuce, Rosemary, Russian Banana Fingerling Potatoes, Scallions and Strawberries.

Here is how we used them:

Salads - Red Leaf Lettuce, Spinach, Red Radishes & Scallions

Chicken & Steak Shish Kabobs with Grilled Potatoes - Blue Potatoes & Rosemary

Broccoli & Pea Pod Stir Fry - Asian Green Mix, Broccoli & Scallions

Broccoli & Pea Pod Stir Fry

Savory Bread Pudding - Spinach

Savory Bread Pudding

Tequila Lime Turkey Burgers - Green Garlic, Red Leaf Lettuce & Fingerling Potatoes

Turkey Burgers

We just ate the strawberries plain and we haven't gotten around to eating the kohlrabi, but the plan is to eat it raw with hummus when we have a minute. We get our next box tomorrow, so with a little planning nothing went to waste.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dinner for New Parents - Chicken & Rice Wraps

Last Friday, we volunteered to bring a meal to a couple from church who just had a new baby. It turned into quite the trip to South Minneapolis. Before we left we needed to pick up Patrick's car from an oil change. As we head out of the driveway it starts down pouring and by the time we get to the place it is hailing. So, we sit in the parking lot and watch Patrick's car get wailed by hail. Then finally after a few minutes the weather calmed down enough to get out of the car and pay for the oil change.

After that experience I was ready to just stay home and not go anywhere, but we said we would bring dinner, so begins our adventure. It was raining pretty hard all the way there, but it was bearable. We finally arrived in safely and delivered the chicken and rice wraps, chips and salsa. Here is the recipe for the chicken and rice wraps. These were really easy to make and hopefully it is something they can easily heat up when they are hungry.

Chicken & Rice Wraps

Chicken Rice Wraps

2 cups dry rice, cooked as directed on package (we used Chipotle Rice)
1 lb. chicken, cooked and shredded
2 cups medium salsa
1 pkg. Taco seasoning mix
8 large flour tortillas

In a large bowl, combine chicken, salsa and seasonings and cooked rice. Spoon mixture into center of tortillas and wrap.

To FREEZE: Simply wrap each folded tortilla in tin foil and place in 1 gallon freezer bag. To reheat, unwrap and microwave for about 2 minutes, flipping once.

Source: It's All Happening

Meal for New Parents

While we were there it was raining really hard and by the time we left most of the streets were flooded. Don't worry we made it through those streets just fine. After the hail experience we decided to take the Buick and not risk more hail damage to Patrick's car. And the Buick powered through all that water like a champ.

After all the flooded streets we thought we would be in the clear once we got to the freeway. That was not the case. As we are entering the freeway people are driving up the entrance ramp. From where we were we had no idea why people were turning around, but if other people were driving up the ramp we weren't going to be stuck down there by ourselves. So, after making a seventeen point turn with the Buick we were going up the entrance ramp along with everyone else.

We stopped at a pedestrian bridge on our way home and finally understood why everyone was driving up the entrance ramp. We watched a couple people push their cars out and a semi trailer plow right through the waist deep water. And then we headed out on another adventure to pick up our pizza. We had to take an alternate route to get there because 169 was flooded as well. We got our pizza without any hassles and finally headed home for the night.

Here is a picture from the pedestrian bridge. It's not that good of a picture, but you can kind of tell how high the water is.

35W Flood

Monday, June 28, 2010

Strawberries

I promised I would let you know what we did with all those strawberries. First up was strawberry jam. I made the jam right away on Sunday night and it was very simple, much easier than salsa mostly because there is no chopping involved. The jam used up 3-4 pounds of the berries, we saved two small containers for eating during the week, and the rest I froze in gallon Ziploc bags. We ended up with 2 1/2 gallon bags of frozen berries and we plan to use them for smoothies. The ten pounds ended up being the perfect amount of strawberries for the two of us.

Strawberry Jam

Simple Strawberry Jam
5 cups hulled mashed strawberries
7 cups sugar
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 49g package powdered fruit pectin

Place 8 or 9 8-ounce mason jars in a large hot water bath canner (or pot). Cover with water and bring to a simmer.

Simmer center lids in separate saucepan full of water.

Place mashed strawberries and lemon juice in a separate pot. Stir in pectin until dissolved. Bring strawberries to a strong boil.

Add sugar (measure beforehand so you can add it all at once), then return mixture to a full (violent) boil that can’t be stirred down. Boil hard for 1 minute 15 seconds.

Skim foam off the top.

Remove one jar at a time from the simmering water. Pour water back into the pot. Using a wide-mouth funnel, fill each jar with jam, being careful to keep the liquid/fruit ratio consistent. Fill jars so that they have 1/4-inch of space at the top.

Run a knife down the side of the jar to get rid of air bubbles.

Wipe rim of jar with a wet cloth to remove any residue or stickiness.

Remove center lid from simmering water and position it on top.

Put screw bands on jars, but do not overtighten.

Repeat with all jars, then place jars on canning rack and lower into the water.

Place lid on canner, then bring water to a full boil. Boil hard for 10 to 12 minutes.

Turn off heat and allow jars to remain in hot water for an addition five minutes.

Remove jars from water using a jar lifter, and allow them to sit undisturbed for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, remove screw bands and check the seal of the jars. Center lids should have no give whatsoever. If any seals are compromised, store those jars in the fridge. Otherwise, fill your pantry with your newly canned goodness.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Monday, June 21, 2010

An Ideal Sunday

After a hectic Saturday filled with car problems, the farmer's market, Esmae's photo shoot, working and Patrick's co-worker's wedding we were both ready for a day devoted to doing things we wanted to do. Without a real plan it ended up being an Ideal Sunday.

We got up on time for church, but we still ended up being a little late. I am sure that has nothing to do with the fact that we had to stop for donuts on the way to church. After church we went to the Hiawatha Golf Course right near our church. Patrick just got a new driver and was planning on going to the driving range on Saturday morning, but he ended up having to deal with my car issues instead. It was good to get out and hit a few balls, hopefully we can get on the course at a least a couple times this summer.

Drivng Range

After the driving range we were hungry for lunch so we pulled out the old iPhone and found a little deli called Cecils in Highland Park. It was exactly what we were looking for, a locally owned deli with great sandwiches. I had a turkey sandwich with muenster and tomato along with potato salad and Patrick had a pastrami sandwich with muenster, peppers and onions with a a side of pasta salad. We both really enjoyed trying a new place and we are going to try to make it priority to try more places near church since we are there every Sunday and we may as well try out a new place every once in a while.

Up next on on our Ideal Sunday was strawberry picking. Patrick had talked to our friend Dan the week before and he and a few of his friends were picking strawberries that day. Of course when I heard that I got really excited and wanted to go strawberry picking. The farm that they picked strawberries at was Applewood Orchard in Lakeville. Since they had a good experience there and the berries were only $1.39 a pound we decided to go there as well.

It was a really warm day and by the time we started picking it was around 1pm. I definitely would recommend starting earlier if you are serious about picking a lot of strawberries. It probably worked out that it was so hot though otherwise we would have ended up with way more strawberries than I would know what to do with.

Strawberry Picking

Strawberry Picking

Strawberry Picking

And here was the final tally, as you can see I was the slacker and only picked four pounds, while Patrick picked five and half pounds. And I am sure you are all dying to know what we are going to do with ten pounds of strawberries. Well, don't worry I will update you in a future post.

Strawberry Picking - Sara's Share

Strawberry Picking - Patrick's Share

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Esmae - 3 Months Old

This morning I had the privilege of taking Esmae's 3 month portraits. We were scheduled to take them last week, but she got sick so we rescheduled for today. Three months is a tough age, she can't sit up on her own, so we had to find other methods to prop her up. She was pretty content in the bucket even though she refused to smile for mom or grandma. She has grown so much since her newborn session in March and I am already looking forward to her six month session in September.

Esmae

Esmae

Esmae

Esmae

Esmae

Esmae

Esmae

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sunset

Sunset

CSA Box One

We got our first share our of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box today, unfortunately the pictures had to be inside as their were threats of tornadoes outdoors. This year we decided to go with a different CSA than last year. We choose Driftless Organics out of Madison, WI, which has a convenient pick up on my way home instead of a long trip out of my way. This week we got a ton of good vegetables. Check out the variety this early in the season. Hopefully, it will continue.

CSA Week 1

This week's box contained: Asian Green Mix, Broccoli, Blue Potatoes, Bunched Spinach, Green Garlic, Kohlrabi, Red Leaf Lettuce, Rosemary, Russian Banana Fingerling Potatoes, Scallions and Strawberries.

CSA Week 1

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Lemon & Feta

I have been into the asparagus lately, every time I see it in the store I feel the need to buy it even though I don't really have a plan of what to make with it. That was until I saw this delicious looking salad. It was pretty similar to the Asparagus and Rice we had a couple weeks ago, but it had some different ingredients so it added some variety to our asparagus eating. I used way too much salt in this because I didn't really measure it and I forgot to take into account that all the salt is absorbed into the quinoa (keen -wah) unlike pasta where most of it is in the water rather than in the finished product. So, ours was a little salty, but I am sure that I used way more than the 1/4 teaspoon that is in the recipe. We will definitely make this again in the future with less salt of course.

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Lemon & Feta
Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more (to taste) for seasoning the salad
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon shredded parmigiano-reggiano
fresh cracked black pepper
1 large garlic clove, peeled and left whole
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup crumbled feta

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the quinoa, water and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium size pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook (covered) for about 20 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Set aside.

While the quinoa cooks, spread the asparagus on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil, the shredded parmigiano, salt and pepper over the asparagus; toss to coat the spears evenly and spread the spears into one even layer. Place the garlic clove on top of the spears and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until the asparagus is blistered in spots, but retains a bite. Allow the spears to cool slightly and slice into one-inch pieces. Mince the garlic.

While the asparagus roasts, whisk together the mustard and lemon juice in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in the remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper.

In the large bowl holding the vinaigrette, add the cooked quinoa, sliced asparagus, minced garlic and toasted almonds. Toss to distribute the vinaigrette throughout the quinoa. Taste for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper as needed. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the crumbled feta.

Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Source: The Kitchen Sink

Monday, June 14, 2010

Garden Update

The rain has been good for our yard, but some sun would be nice. We Minnesotans need our vitamin D. Everything in the garden is looking good. We get our first CSA share this week Thursday. Both Patrick and I are excited for the abundance of fresh vegetables to start.

Flowers

Pansies

Clematis

Flower

Lilies

Garden 6.13.10

Herbs and Tomatoes

Veggie Garden 6.13.10

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Benjamin - 13 Days Old

Patrick and I went to my cousin Kale's graduation today and we were able to see Benjamin again. He was taking a nap, but he's still cute sleeping. Here are a few pictures of him.

Ben - 13 Days Old

Ben - 13 Days Old

Ben - 13 Days Old

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Blueberry-Banana Muffins

I made these muffins a few weeks ago when we had some bananas that were about to go bad. I am usually skeptical of recipes that have wheat flour in them because they just end up too dry, but the bananas in these muffins made them both moist and healthy. Both Patrick and I both enjoyed these as an alternative to the granola bars we normally eat for breakfast.

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Blueberry-Banana Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins

1 cup whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas (about 1 pound)
1/3 cup reduced-fat (2 percent) milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together flours, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, mash bananas with a fork (you should have 3/4 cup); stir in milk and vanilla.

With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. Fold in frozen blueberries.

Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Let cool in pan 10 minutes; transfer muffins to a rack to cool 10 minutes more.

Source: The Kitchen Sink

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Graduations and More

Last weekend we went to my parents' house to go to a couple of my cousin's graduation parties and of course to visit Benjamin. Patrick had been traveling for work the week before so he hadn't met Benjamin, so he was excited to meet the little guy. On Saturday afternoon we drove to Mankato for my cousin Jessica's graduation party. It was a rainy day, but they have a nice shed that was perfect for the occasion. Then after the party we went to visit Nathan, Nickie and Benjamin. I got to hold and feed Benjamin that night and it made me so excited to watch my nephew grow up.

On Sunday, we got up and went to church and breakfast. Then afterward the Nathan, Nickie and Benjamin took a nap. While Patrick, Luke, Mom and I played a little tournament of competitions. We played shuffleboard, bean bag toss and the basketball game PIG. Patrick dominated the competitions.

Shuffleboard

Shuffleboard

The longest game of bean bag toss ever. Both teams went back to 11 at least 3 times and there was numerous rounds with zero points.

Bean Bag Toss

And the game of PIG, where Luke almost lost to Mom.

Pig

After the competitions we went over to Matt's graduation party and played some volleyball. We also were able to catch up with family and see more of Benjamin.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Benjamin Nathan

On Tuesday June 1st at 8:13pm my brother Nathan and his wife Nickie welcomed their baby boy Benjamin Nathan to the world. He was 8 pounds 12.8 ounces and 22 inches long. He has strawberry blond hair and big Traxler feet. Last night I went to the hospital with my mom and Luke to meet him. He was pretty content until we tried to get a better look at him without all his blankets on. He was not happy about that. Nathan has the blanket swaddling down though, so as soon as he was all swaddled up again he was fine.

Benjamin

Me & Benjamin

Benjamin

Benjamin

Holding Benjamin

Benjamin

Benjamin

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Weekend of Gardening

Last weekend I spent a lot of time outside working on our backyard. I think it was last Tuesday when the first peony bloomed, which in my old age is starting to signify the start of summer. Peonies are also the first thing I posted on this blog, a year ago next week. So to celebrate summer and the 1 year anniversary of our blog here are more peonies and garden pictures.

Peonies

Peony

Peonies

And although I love the peonies, the irises are also shining this time of year.

Iris Waiting to Bloom

Iris

And then after I admire the flowers that just appear every spring without much effort, I spend the rest of the time getting rid of these baby trees that like to inhabit my garden every spring.

Baby Trees

Here is the perennial garden baby tree free.

The Garden

Here is our vegetable garden this year. We are doing a CSA again this year, so we don't need much for vegetables. This year we planted 3 varieties of tomatoes, eggplant and cucumbers along with the onions that came back from last year.

The Veggie Garden