Friday, November 23, 2012

Pork Chops with Apples and Shallots

I have been a terrible blog contributer lately and I have no excuse! We have been eating, of course, but am lacking inspiration and creativity these days. I need new ideas for every day meals! This is a dish I have made before and enjoy this time of year. The apples are among the last of those we picked earlier this fall in Maryland. I also made some wilted spinach and heated up the "cheesy potatoes" leftover from our Thanksgiving dinner contribution.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Four Bean and Beef Chili - Nov 3, 2012

This was good chili.  I made it in the crock pot to sustain Nick and I through a football Sunday, and I didn't really follow a recipe.  I used two cups worth of a motley assortment of dried beans that I found in the cupboard.  The mix included pinto, red kidney, black, and snow caps (an heirloom variety from Rancho Gordo).  For vegetables, in addition to the quart of home-canned tomatoes, I chopped up an onion and a carrot or two, plus some cubed sweet potato that I had leftover from another dinner.  I also added a pound of ground beef.  Once the beef and beans were cooked (I used the pressure cooker for the beans!), I tossed everything into the crock pot and seasoned with chili powder, cumin, coriander, smoked Spanish paprika, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper.

It turned out deliciously.  We topped our bowls with sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar and some crumbled corn tortilla chips.
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Monday, November 12, 2012

CSA Hash - Nov 2, 2012

Another hash made from a mish-mash of our CSA goodies and garnished with a fried egg and cheesy toast.  This version contains turnips, carrots, potatoes, onions, kale, and bacon.  Nick and I usually do this earlier in the day than dinner, but too late to really call it breakfast.  Maybe it qualifies as a late lunch?  I'm happy, however, to eat it any time of day.
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Honeynut Squash with Warm Wild Rice and Kale Salad - Nov 1, 2012

Nick and I made a similar dinner last year.  This go around I used my pressure cooker to prepare the squash, so it was cooked in about ten minutes.  These Honeynut squash that we get from our CSA share are so cute I can hardly stand it.  Each is about the size of a large russet potato, and a perfect serving size.  They are also, of course, delicious.

The salad is made of wild rice (also made in the pressure cooker), roasted kale leaves, dried cranberries, and feta cheese crumbles.  I served the salad warm with dinner, but it is equally good at room temperature or even chilled.  Because of this, it makes a nice lunch for packing.
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Monday, November 05, 2012

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes - Oct 25, 2012

A recipe shared and recommended by JJ, this chicken stew was a delicious use of some of our sweet potatoes.  I changed up a few things...first, I used chicken breasts rather than the thighs called for in the recipe, but only because that was what I had on hand.  I think this would be even richer with thigh meat.  Next, I served this over white jasmine rice rather than couscous, which probably makes it a little less "Moroccan."  JJ's notes stated that she uses rice, so I followed her lead here.  I think any grain would be an easy substitute. The rice was quite nice.

Nick and I really enjoyed this dinner.  In fact, it made enough so that we were able to enjoy it twice. 
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Thursday, November 01, 2012

Roasted Poblano "Hot Dish" - Oct 22, 2012

This is what Nick and I did with those Poblano peppers that didn't go into our roasted peppers and onions dinner.  I am having trouble remembering where I found the recipe, but I know there was a recipe.  This did not come out of my brain.  Perhaps I will need to ruminate on my source a bit more and update this when my memory starts behaving again.

What I do remember about this dish is that I roasted the Poblanos over the flames from our gas stove and then sliced them into wide, flat halves.  These were layered into a loaf pan with chopped, canned tomatoes and Cotija cheese, like a lasagna.  The last layer is crumbled corn tortilla chips.  This baked until the cheese melted, which didn't take long.  We topped our servings with sour cream and served it alongside some of the cornbread I made for another dinner.

The dish had great flavor, with a little heat from the peppers, but it was a bit soggy.  If I repeat this, I may layer in some additional tortillas to help absorb some of the liquid from the tomatoes and peppers.
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Monday, October 29, 2012

Peppers and Onions over Cornbread - Oct 20, 2012

Nick and I had a large bag of assorted peppers from our CSA deliveries in the refrigerator that needed to be used.  This colorful dish was what we came up with.  We used a recipe from our 'How to Cook Everything' book for sauteed peppers and onions.  Mark Bittman attributes this recipe to his mother and mentions that it was a staple at his house when he was growing up.  I traditionally think of these ingredients being combined with sausage (and there is a recipe for that too), but it was nice to let the peppers shine here.

Here is our colorful pile of peppers and onions ready to go into the pan.  I reserved the dark green poblanos for another use, but all the rest got thrown into the mix.

I also used a cornbread recipe from the same cookbook.  It is, after all, how to cook everything.  It's a very standard cornbread recipe and the only thing I changed was using coconut oil in place of the oil called for.  Nick and I like the slight hint of tropical flavor that coconut oil brings to the table, although I'm sure it's not for everyone. 

This is a fine way to use up a bounty of peppers, and we enjoyed our dinner.
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Friday, October 26, 2012

Apricot-Glazed Ribs - Oct 7, 2012

One of Nick's and my favorite Sunday suppers, especially during football season, are these amazing ribs.  The recipe is an old one, that has shown up here before.  We've even made them for Jaime and Richie once when they stopped by during one of their tours of the Midwest.

So there's nothing really new here.  This is not a recipe that I tweak.  Mostly because it's so perfect, and simple as it is.  That being said, I did mistakenly purchase St. Louis style ribs, which have a lot more fat on them than the called for baby backs, which changed things up a bit.  Specifically, there was quite a bit more fat to cook through, and so the meat wasn't as tender as it normally is.  Also, these things were so rich...pretty overpoweringly so.  We have some leftovers.

Nick and I served these with a side of delicata squash from our CSA box.  I think delicata might be my current favorite squash variety.  And, here's something else that I'm excited about...I cooked this squash in my pressure cooker.  Yep, my shiny Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker that's been sitting neglected in the back of a cupboard for the past 6 years or so.  Ellen reminded me that I should pull it out and play with it when she asked to borrow it for a baked bean recipe of her grandmother's.  Now I'm rediscovering how wonderful it is to be able to cook squash in 10 minutes, and rice in five.  And beans in 20 minutes!  This thing is revolutionizing our weeknight dinner options, especially since I've been so much busier lately.  Stay tuned for more pressure cooking fun. 
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread - Oct 6, 2012

It snowed today in Minneapolis.  SNOW.  You know what I like to do on snowy days?  Bake.  I think I may make some peanut butter cookies later this afternoon.  But for now, let's talk about this pumpkin chocolate chip bread that I love this time of year.  This is my mother-in-law, Nan's, recipe.  I have, of course, made some tweaks to it.  I find it entirely irresistible (as previous posts can attest to). 

Here is how the recipe has evolved:

4 eggs
1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
1 C coconut oil
2/3 C water

Mix these together with an electric mixer

3 1/2 C flour

Mix into above mixture one cup at a time

1/2 t salt
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t ground cloves
1 1/2 t nutmeg
1 1/2 t cinnamon

Mix into batter

2 C sugar


1 C chocolate chips
(I use the Pound Plus 72% Dark Chocolate bar from Trader Joe's and pound it into small, roughly chip-sized pieces)

Mix in chocolate and pour batter into two sprayed and lined loaf pans.  Bake at 350 deg F for 45 min.  After initial 45 min, cover pans with foil tent and bake for an additional 40 min, or until toothpick inserted in center pulls out cleanly.

The coconut oil is my addition, and I love the subtle coconut flavor it imparts.  I've also increased the spices a bit to make their contribution richer and deeper.  The chocolate chunk method is extra work, but I love the little surprise the erratically sized "chips" bring to the experience.

Snow, or no, this is a lovely recipe to make on an October afternoon.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Potato Leek Soup with Tarragon and Truffle Oil - Oct 2, 2012

It's been raining most of the day here in Minneapolis, which I'm so grateful for, after our very dry summer.  Rainy days seem made for soup, even if this soup appeared much earlier in the month.  Just because it's long gone from our bowls, doesn't mean it's too late to talk about it here.  This simple soup is one of my go-to recipes* for an easy, but delicious dinner.  When we received potatoes and leeks in our CSA delivery, it was a given that this would show up on our table.  I dressed this version up with some fresh tarragon and a drizzle of luxurious truffle oil.  This was belly-filling and spirit-lifting...just what one needs on a rainy day.

* I omit the yogurt and cream and puree all the other ingredients together for a smooth, creamy texture with no dairy needed.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Saute Greens and Mashed Potatoes - Sept 21, 2012

Picking up where I left off, a month or so ago (!), here is our dinner from September 21st.  It's pretty self-explanatory, really.  Nick and I sauteed the pork chops on the stove top, and then tossed our bag of saute greens from the CSA box in with the juices left over from that process.  The potatoes are boiled and then passed through a potato ricer for perfect fluffiness every time.

Life is busy, and consequently I find I have less desire to blog about our eats of late.  In fact, planning and cooking in general has seemed more of a chore than a pleasure in the past several weeks. It's not an excuse, but an explanation, Dinner Clubbers. I am hoping to find my inspiration again soon, and I think with the cooler weather approaching I will start to get excited about cooking heartier fall and winter dishes.

I have more to post from the last four weeks and I will try to stay consistent and motivated in my blogging in the weeks to come.
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jess & Nick's CSA Deliery #11 - Sept 20, 2012

CSA delivery number 11 is here.  In it I found poblano peppers; Japanese rose daikon radishes; cauliflower; tomatoes; peppers; more peppers and more celery; golden beets; leeks; and desiree potatoes.  Not pictured are green and red baby romaine lettuce, spigarello, garlic, onions, saute mix, and edamame.

Thank you Harmony Valley Farm
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Matzo Ball Soup with Pastrami on Rye - Sept 14, 2012

Nick stayed home from work last Friday with a cold.  That meant chicken soup was on the menu.  Instead of noodles, I thought matzo balls would be a nice addition.  And why stop there?  Since I had a little Jewish Deli theme going, pastrami sandwiches on marble rye with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut seemed only appropriate.


I followed the recipe in our How to Cook Everything cookbook.  Luckily I had carrots, celery and onions from our CSA delivery to make up a nice mirepoix.  I picked up the matzo meal at the store and mixed it up according to the directions.  All turned out deliciously.  Nick is feeling much better.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fresh Tomato Basil Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches - Sept 12, 2012

This is that same tomato soup that makes an appearance at Chez Jess and Nick every year about this time.  It's a Dinner Club recipe, and by that I mean that this exact recipe made an appearance at an original Dinner Club meeting.  If I have my history right, this was part of the very first dinner, hosted by Jaime.  Oddly enough, neither Nick nor I were present that night, which might be why we make sure to have it once a year at our house.  We don't want to miss out on it ever again!  As I posted last time, I can't find a link for the exact recipe online, but it's from a Martha Stewart Living magazine, circa August 2001.

We made grilled cheese to to with the soup.  I used up some Boursin garlic and herb cheese along with the sharp cheddar and it was delicious.
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Shrimp Tacos - Sept 9, 2012

I don't remember what inspired this dinner idea.  I think I was looking through our How to Eat Supper cookbook and came across directions for cooking frozen shrimp to ensure they have good flavor and texture.  The process involves boiling lime juice, along with the squeezed lime halves, in a pot of water.  Anyway, I tried the technique and it worked out fine.  I can't say I noticed any more flavor than usual, but then I'm probably spoiled for frozen shrimp forever after our trip to Folly Beach earlier this summer.  Nothing comes close to those fresh shrimp we ate at the beach.


These were good tacos, though.  Nick and I topped them with shredded cabbage, fresh tomato salsa, and cilantro.
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend Morsels - Sept 8-9, 2012

The chill in the air here in Minneapolis is a reminder that fall is on it's way, and causing me to keep the tea kettle on heavy rotation. After cleaning out my tea cupboard, I've been enjoying a sampling of teas that I forgot I had. This particular flavor is a gift from my sister, Kate.

In addition to tea, I've been treating myself to weekly bouquets of gladiolus from Trader Joe's. They are so pretty, and TJ's has them for a bargain.


I love how they have such a sharp, vertical profile. They are, at the same time, modern and old-fashioned (my grandma loved them!). I hope you are all enjoying your late summer/early fall.
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Corn Chowder - Sept 5, 2012

Nick and I made this soup using the fresh ears of corn on the cob from our CSA.  It was delicious and hearty, with potatoes, peppers, and onions in addition to the corn.  I used a recipe from my trusty Foster's Market Cookbook, which can't be beat for traditional Southern soups and desserts. This is a great soup to bridge the gap between summer and fall.  It's warm and comforting, while at the same time, fresh and bright.  I can't think of a better way to utilized some of late summer's bounty.  
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Jess & Nick's CSA Delivery #10 - Sept 6, 2012

Here is our vegetable array from CSA delivery number 10.  Nick and I received an assortment of lovelies, including patty pan squash; Dr. Seuss-ish tomatoes; fresh lemongrass; loads of brightly colored peppers; red onions; and edamame.  We also got broccoli and corn on the cob. 

As always, a big thank you goes out to everyone working hard on the farm.  Thank you Harmony Valley!
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Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Salad - Sept 4, 2012

While I'm on the topic of cannellin bean salads, here's another one Nick and I made, way back near the beginning of September.  We used a favorite recipe from the book 'How to Eat Supper,' but replaced the wilted spinach with roasted broccoli.  The rest of the ingredients are the same, right up to the topping (which I think is the best part), a mix of toasted breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper.
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Parmesan Celery and Cannellini Bean Salad - Aug 21, 2012

Nick and I enjoyed this salad way back in August. Yikes!  It's been awhile since I've been on a regular blogging schedule, I guess.   It was inspired by the beautiful bunch of celery that arrived in our CSA delivery. The recipe, like so many of my quick, weeknight, vegetarian dinners, is from 101 Cookbooks. Heidi's recipes are healthy, always delicious, and beautifully photographed. She's one of my go-to's for dinner inspiration when I open my refrigerator and all I see are vegetables staring back at me.  We garnished ours with celery leaves and enjoyed the freshness and crunch of this salad.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Herb Salsa - September 11, 2012

After our brief vacation to Puerto Rico last weekend, we returned home to find that the mid-Atlantic area's months long summer heat wave had finally broken and a hint of fall was in the air. That has inspired me to do more meal planning and less flying-by-the-seat-of-my-plants scrambling. It has also made heavier, meat centric dishes much more appealing. This dish was a nice transition to the fall season because while it fit that bill, it also utilized the grill which was extremely pleasant on an evening when then temperatures hovered in the low 70s - especially after what felt like an endless stretch of upper 90s and high humidity on top of that.

This recipe for grilled pork tenderloin with herb salsa came from this month's issue of Food & Wine magazine, which we have been getting for a few months now as a free bonus after I bought a new KitchenAid mixer. I made a couple modifications, starting with the reality that the flat leaf parsley plant has given up for the summer and the curly leaf plant is still going strong, so I used that. Also, I couldn't find any dried currants that didn't have suspicious "vegetable oil" in the ingredient list, so I substituted my tried and true Thompson raisins from Trader Joe's.

The pork came from one of the local farmers that sells at our closest little farmer's market. It was so much darker in color than the supermarket pork we are used to that when I unwrapped it I actually did a double check of the wrapper to make sure I hadn't accidentally bought beef.

The dish was tasty, but not particularly exciting. Come to think of it, that is how I would describe every recipe from Food & Wine we've tried. Don't think they are going to convert us to paid subscribers once the free year is up...


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