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Rosemary Turnip & Rice Soup

24 Mar

“This was surprisingly good for something that was probably a staple for medieval peasants.” So says the BF.

I needed some way to use up more CSA veggies. We received yet more root vegetables, and really, I was running out of ideas. I dug up my Cooking in the Moment cookbook, Andrea Reusing’s excellent book of recipes focused on cooking seasonally. The recipes are divided into spring, summer, fall, and winter, and considering I have a winter CSA, I thought I might have some luck there.

Turnip Soup

I found her recipe for Turnip Soup with Rosemary and Black Pepper. I adapted it a bit and gave it a shot.

Considering I didn’t think I liked turnips, I thought this was very delicious. And as the BF says, as turnips are often considered a somewhat lowly vegetable, it really turned out great.  I used my own homemade vegetable stock that I had also made with rosemary, so that was really the strongest prevailing flavor, which I love. I topped mine with black pepper, parmesan, and rosemary. If you want to go vegan, leave the parmesan off, no problem. If you want a slightly different flavor, use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock.

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Rosemary Turnip & Rice Soup adapted from Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing

3 green onion bulbs, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup long-grain white basmati rice
black pepper
3-4 medium turnips, cut into small bite-size cubes
3 small branches fresh rosemary – 2 whole and 1 chopped
grated parmesan cheese

Add the olive oil to a heavy stockpot and warm over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the wine and stock, and bring to a simmer.

Add the rice, and simmer for 10 minutes over medium-low. Add the turnips and two whole rosemary branches. Cook about 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season with more salt, if necessary. Discard the rosemary branches, and serve the soup into bowls. Top with grated parmesan, fresh-ground black pepper, and chopped rosemary.

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Linking Up With:

Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou

Green Smoothies

17 Mar

If you’ve been following my posts about the CSA we’re doing, you know that I’ve been having these for breakfast almost every morning. And I haven’t gotten tired of them! They’re so easy and super fast. If you get bored, you can also add in new fruits, veggies, flavors, and other ingredients to the mix. Don’t be turned off by the idea of greens in your smoothie! When you add enough fruits, you don’t taste the greens at all. It tastes like a delicious fruit smoothie, and you get the added benefit of an extra serving of veggies. Kinda like those V8 fruit/veggie juice things.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned while experimenting with smoothies. It’s a lot, so if you’re not in the mood to read my dissertation, just jump to my recipe for a basic green smoothie at the bottom.

Mmm... green

Shopping & Prep

I recommend buying organic greens — since they don’t have a peel or skin, they can absorb a high amount of pesticides and chemicals. For other fruits and veggies, I refer to the Dirty Dozen list (a list of veggies that you should always buy organic). But mostly, I follow this rule: If it doesn’t have a skin (greens) or if I eat the skin (apples), I buy organic. If it has a thick peel that I don’t eat (bananas, citrus, avocado), I don’t bother with organic. I do buy organic dairy products (yogurt, milk, etc).

I have learned to prepare my fruits and veggies way in advance, which makes it a breeze (about 3 minutes) to prepare breakfast each morning. For example, my freezer currently contains a bag of diced fresh pineapple, banana slices, and apple chunks, and I have strawberries and blueberries in the fridge.

I have not bothered with any fancy equipment. I’ve read some blogs that say you need a super expensive blender in order to get a well-blended smoothie, but I’m not spending that much money. I use a knock-off Magic Bullet single-serving blender that my mom got me for probably less than $40. Maybe I’m missing out on incredibly well-blended smoothies, but I doubt it.

Greens

To ensure that your greens blend in smoothly, blend your greens with your liquid first, and then add the rest of your ingredients. You can use any kind of greens, but each is going to be slightly different.

When I get a big bunch of greens, I go ahead and wash them and store them right in my salad spinner. Then they’re ready for each morning, when I pull out a couple handfuls and rip them up just a bit while I stuff them into the blender.

I learned from a little internet research that many greens, especially those from the brassica/cruciferous family (pretty much everything on my list except for spinach and lettuce) have a natural chemical that can disrupt hormone function. This is really not an issue for most people because you’d have to eat a TON of greens every single day. But since I already have thyroid problems (and my spring CSA has given me almost entirely brassica vegetables), I was a little more concerned. The good news is that cooking them can help. So for brassica greens, I wash them, rip them up a bit, steam them, and then store them in a bowl in the fridge. Then each morning I can just pull some up and stuff them into the blender. Easy peasy.

  • Lettuce: Easiest to mask their flavor because they’re super mild. But of course, they also have the least nutritional benefits. If you’re really not sure about green smoothies, start here and work your way up to something a little more green. OR… this can be a great way to use up slightly wilted salad lettuce. I used butterhead, which was great. Romaine would be great too.
  • Spinach: A classic in green smoothies. More health benefits then lettuce but still an easy flavor to mask with fruits.
  • Kale: A standard in green smoothies. Super healthy! To prepare for a smoothie, I prefer to cut the stems out before I chop them up. If you don’t mind yours a little chunky, keep the stems. They’re edible and full of nutrients. When blended, you may see some flecks, but you won’t notice any chunks when drinking. Check your teeth afterward though.
  • Turnip greens: They blend really smoothly. They have a slightly more green taste, but not noticeable if you blend in stronger or sweeter flavors like banana and sweet juices.
  • Kohlrabi leaves: Same as turnip greens.
  • Collards: Same as turnip greens.
  • Beet leaves: Really mild flavor. A great way to use up greens that you usually throw away. They will turn your smoothie pink instead of green.
  • Mustard greens: No. Don’t do it. Gross.

Liquids

For the liquid, I started off with orange-peach-mango juice from Trader Joe’s. It was incredibly delicious, but a little too much sugar to start off my morning. As I grew accustomed to the green-ness of the smoothies, I started cutting back on sugars. Apple juice is a good option — it’s lower in sugar and acids. These days, I usually mix about half apple juice and half almond milk. Prune juice can also be a good option if you need some natural assistance in that department — just be careful not to overdo it.

For a thickener, I always include yogurt. With that addition and the fact that I don’t freeze all my mix-ins, my smoothie comes out more like the consistency of a drinkable yogurt than a frozen smoothie. I prefer Greek yogurt since it adds more protein to my breakfast, helping me feel fuller longer and have a bit more energy. And as with the juice, I started off with vanilla or blueberry and have gradually progressed to plain yogurt, with the goal of cutting out extra sugar.

Mix-ins

Any fruit is great. Banana is the best for masking other flavors, plus it makes your smoothie a little thicker and smoother. I use pineapple with almost every smoothie. I’ve also used strawberry, blueberry, apple, and clementines — basically whatever I have laying around.

I’ve also mixed in veggies, either in addition to or instead of the greens. Carrot is a great option — it goes well with apple juice and bananas. Mixing in a few leftover turnip pieces didn’t change the flavor at all but did give it a slightly powdery, grainy texture. Beets are good too — they go well with apple and pineapple.

Keep in mind that some mix-ins will change the color of your smoothie, if that’s the sort of thing that bothers you. Mixing warm (red, orange) and cool (green, blue) colors will usually result in a brown color, which isn’t particularly appetizing. Though sometimes I just do it and drink it from an opaque cup. Mixing cool colors (greens and blueberries) will usually result in a cool blue color. Just think back to your elementary-school paint palette, and you’ll be fine.

Green smoothie

Okay, that is way more information than I thought I would share, so if that’s too much for you, here’s a recipe. Just try it. You’ll be glad you did.

Green Smoothie

1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup packed steamed spinach or other greens (use 1 1/2 to 2 cups if not steamed)
1/2 banana, sliced
1/4 cup pineapple chunks
1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
apple juice or almond milk to taste

Blend the juice and greens together until greens are thoroughly chopped.

Add the banana, pineapple, and yogurt. Blend until smooth.

Add more juice or almond milk until smoothie reaches desired consistency. Blend well.

After you try this, experiment a little! Add whatever you have and whatever you like. That’s the beauty of a smoothie — you can’t make it wrong. Enjoy!

Linking Up With:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities

Sweet Potato Fries

11 Mar

Yep, I said sweet potato fries. Oh my goodness, these were so delicious. They were so good, I made another batch 2 days later! We had some sweet potatoes from this week’s CSA, so this seemed like a great way to use them.

I had never used my mandoline before, so I decided to give it a try. It wasn’t quite as easy to use (or as easy to clean!) as I hoped it would be, but it still worked great. It sliced up my potatoes to a pretty consistent size and left a nice ridged surface for salt and pepper to hold on to. If you have one, use it, and then make your husband clean up afterward. But if not, just slice your potatoes thinly.

The recipe below is a very loose outline. Since everyone likes their fries with different flavors and textures and degrees of crispiness, make it your own. We enjoyed ours lightly salted, slightly crispy, and served alongside a super yummy veggie burger. Don’t forget the ketchup and the barbecue sauce!

Fries

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potatoes
Olive oil or grapeseed oil
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Slice the sweet potatoes in thin rounds. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet.

Pour a small amount oil over the potatoes. Toss until potatoes have a light, even coating. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake at 425 F for 35-45 minutes or until potatoes reach desired crispiness.

Or chips?

 

Linking Up With:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities

Spring CSA – Week 3

7 Mar

I unfortunately learned the hard lesson of why you should store your vegetables properly. I had a crazy week at work and ended up leaving my box of food on the table for a while. By the time I remembered them on day 4, the collards had completely turned brown and dry, and a carrot and one turnip has mold growing on them. I threw them out and salvaged what was left. Lesson learned: vegetables should not be stored in a cardboard box. With fewer vegetables, there were only so many meals I could make out of it, but I still managed to eat at home more than last week, so that’s good.

What’s in our CSA box this week?

1.2 lbs of carrots
2 apples
1 bunch of spring onions (S)
1.5 lbs of turnips
1 bunch of kale (O)
1 bunch of collard greens (O)

(O=Certified Organic. S=Sustainably Grown)

What we made:

Day 1

I made another batch of kale and white bean soup for dinner. This time I used great northern beans, and I added some carrots.

Day 2

Green smoothie with kale, apple, and pineapple.

[Frozen Indian meal from Trader Joe’s for lunch.]

Leftover kale and bean soup.

Day 3

Green smoothie with kale, apple, and pineapple.

Leftover kale and bean soup and a slice of pizza.

[Dinner at Beasley’s. Chicken + waffles = AMAZING.]

Day 4

[Half a banana, granola bar, and tea for breakfast. I was late for work!]

Leftover kale and bean soup.

Apple and peanut butter for dinner. I wasn’t feeling well, so that was about all I could manage.

Day 5

[Out for a work brunch.]

[Peanut butter sandwich for lunch.]

Roasted turnips and carrots in the oven, to go with some super delicious pork chops (chops stuffed with ham and gruyere, topped with an amazing mushroom sauce).

Day 6

Green smoothie with spinach, apple, pineapple, and almond milk.

[I made lunch (tomato soup and ham & cheese sandwich), but not using any CSA food.]

[The BF worked late, so I ordered Chinese food and watched TV all night. C’mon, cut me some slack — it’s a Monday.]

Day 7

Carrot smoothie: carrot, apple, pineapple, plain Greek yogurt, almond milk, and apple juice.

Falafel on garlic flatbread with carrot, tomato, avocado, spinach, and garlic Greek yogurt sauce.

[Snacks at the movies for dinner. SO healthy.]

Day 8

Green smoothie: spinach, turnip, apple, pineapple, apple juice, and almond milk. Yeah, I added a few pieces of turnip. It didn’t change the taste, but it made the texture a little odd.

I stir-fried some carrotturnip, and green onion and had it alongside the leftover sesame chicken from dinner a couple nights ago.

Not bad, right?

I still have some green onions and a little bit of carrot left. I’ll add it to the root vegetables we’re getting in next week’s batch.

Spring CSA – Week 2

28 Feb

The first week of our CSA was awesome! I was really excited to figure out what to do with our produce box. It was especially fun because I had a couple things I’d never cooked with before, like beets and collards.

Green Smoothie... delicious!This week is a little more of a challenge — the box is almost entirely greens. This is pretty typical for CSAs in the spring, since greens are what’s in season. But I generally don’t eat much or cook much greens, and if I do, it’s mainly just spinach. The first step was asking a coworker to help me identify what was what in my box! The next step was figuring out meals. I figured I’d be doing a lot of salads, soups, sauteed greens, and maybe a new version of a green smoothie. I think the only thing I had cooked with before was the bok choy and the lettuce, so another challenge!

In the end, I ended up eating out a lot this week. My goal is to cook more next week!

What’s in my CSA box this week?

1/2 lb of Turnip Greens (O)
1 Butterhead Lettuce (O)
1.3 lbs of Rutabagas (O)
1 bunch of Bok Choy (S)
1 oz of Curly Parsley (O)
1 bunch of Mustard Greens (O)
1 kohlrabi (my coworker shared from her box!)

(O=Certified Organic. S=Sustainably Grown)

What we made:

Day 1

Delicious stir fry! Rutabaga, kohlrabi, and last week’s carrot chopped into matchsticks; baby bok choy and last week’s cabbage; two fried eggs; soy and oyster sauce; brown rice.

Day 2

Green smoothie, this time with turnip greens instead of kale.

I sauteed some mustard greens and mixed it with rice and leftover carrot/potato soup that a friend made. The soup was amazing. But it turns out, I DO NOT like mustard greens. I picked them all out and enjoyed the soup.

[Worked late and picked up some fast food on the way home.]

Day 3

Green smoothie. I mixed in a bit of parsley along with the turnip greens.

[Ordered out with my coworkers.]

[Dinner with friends.]

Day 4

[Slept late and skipped breakfast. Definitely should have had a smoothie.]

[Brunch out with friends.]

[Dinner out with my family.]

Day 5

Green smoothie.

[Leftovers]

Mashed rutabagas and a green salad with barbecue pork chops.

Day 6 -Mon

Green smoothie with rutabaga leaves.

[Leftovers] I did add a chopped tomato from last week to an avocado to make up some guacamole.

[Out to eat to use a Groupon that was about to expire.]

Day 7

Green smoothie with rutabaga leaves, turnip greens, and a bit of parsley.

Leftover stir fry.

Leftover mashed rutabagas and pork chops.

Day 8

[Leftover pasta for breakfast]

Green smoothie for lunch.

See? WAY TOO MUCH eating out. I did have a whole lot of green smoothies though. Next week will be better!

Garlic Mashed Rutabagas

25 Feb

We got rutabagas in our CSA this week. Having never seen one before, I had to do a bit of research. Here’s what I found:

Rutabaga!

  • It’s a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. In English-speaking countries outside of North America, it’s more commonly referred to as a “Swedish turnip.”
  • It’s in the brassica family, so it’s related to turnips, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc. Rutabagas have loads of nutritional value.
  • You can eat any part of the rutabaga! Some ideas: The root/bulb and stems can be sliced and diced and added to a stir fry. The bulb can be mashed like mashed potatoes. The leaves can be cooked like any greens, sauteed and added to pastas or soups, or used raw in green smoothies.
  • Pretty much anything you’d do to a potato or sweet potato, you can do to the rutabaga bulb. It’s like a healthier, more nutrient-rich, less-starchy, delicious version of potato.

For dinner, we decided to try garlic mashed rutabagas. The BF and I spent a considerable amount of time shouting “rutabaga!” while cooking. It just is a necessary part of cooking a veggie with such a weird name.

Mash 'em up

I thought it was delicious. It tastes so much like the butter and garlic I added, I really didn’t think it was all that different from mashed potatoes. Give this a try! Even if you still include the unhealthy dairy mixed into it, rutabagas are still way healthier than potatoes. They have about 36 calories and 8 grams of carbs, compared 77 calories and 18 grams of carbs in a white potato. I added some plain Greek yogurt to make it a little creamier. That allowed me to reduce the amount of milk and butter.

Smashed

They’re a little more yellow than potatoes. I like ’em smashed, not mashed. Or shmashed. Whichever. We had garlic mashed rutabagas with barbecue pork chops and a green salad. Yum-o! (And just for the record, I did eat more salad than what’s pictured here. Gotta get your veggies!)

Dinner's ready!

Garlic Mashed Rutabagas, with inspiration from Paula Deen

My sincere apologies that this isn’t a real recipe. I didn’t measure anything! Here’s my recommendation: take your favorite mashed potato recipe, and follow that, subbing rutabagas for the white potatoes. It’s that simple.

2 rutabagas, peeled and cut into 1-2″ chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
plain Greek yogurt
milk
butter
salt & pepper

Peel the rutabagas and cut them into small chunks. Place in a large pot and cover completely with water. Add a few dashes of salt. Bring to a rapid boil, and then simmer 35-40 minutes until tender.

Drain the rutabagas. While they’re draining, add the garlic and a little butter to the pot. Heat over medium or medium-low until you can smell the garlic, 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

Return rutabagas to the pot and smash with a fork or potato masher. Add a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt and a splash of milk. Mix well. Add butter to taste, and/or serve with a pat of butter on top.

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou

Spring CSA – Week 1

20 Feb

The BF and I just started a spring CSA. I’m super excited to get a delivery of fresh veggies each week. Our CSA runs for 9 weeks, so my plan is to post once a week about what we got and what I made. (Just fyi, day 1 and day 8 overlap each week — Day 8 is breakfast and lunch, and then Day 1 would be what I make for dinner that same night after receiving the new delivery that afternoon.)

So first, some FAQs.

What’s a CSA?

Community-Supported Agriculture looks different in every town, but for the most part, they work like this: You pay a subscription fee up front to a local farm. Then for a certain number of weeks, the farm gives you a box of produce, containing whatever was harvested that week. Each week the box looks a little different, though it’s fairly easy to guess what types of foods you’re going to receive if you know a little about seasonal produce in your area. (Hint: spring means greens. Lots of  ’em.) Most CSAs use organic and sustainable farming techniques. Read more at LocalHarvest.org about the benefits of CSAs for both farmer and consumer.

Where is your CSA subscription? 

Our subscription is with the Community Nutrition Partnership, a nonprofit in North Carolina that aims to provide fresh, healthy produce to families of all income levels. Unlike a traditional CSA with a local farm, going through a nonprofit means that our subscription also pays for TWO needy families to have their own subscription. Also, if people forget to pick up their CSA one week, instead of going back to the farm to rot, that box will be delivered to a local family in need. Also, they deliver. Awesome perk.

How can I find a CSA for me?

Check out the interactive map at LocalHarvest.org to find a CSA in your area.

What’s in my CSA box this week?

1 bunch of Collard Greens (O)
1 head of Cabbage (O)
1 lbs of Carrots (S)
2 Apples (O)
1 lb of Sunburst Tomatoes (O)
1 bunch of Kale (O)

For this week only, I also received extras as a thank you for getting a few coworkers to sign up:
more greens (kale and other mixed greens)
2 extra tomatoes
1 bunch of beets

(O=Certified Organic. S=Sustainably Grown)

What we made:

Day 1

Pasta! We sauteed some of the collards and 2 tomatoes in rosemary and olive oil. We added spaghetti noodles and jarred tomato sauce to complete the pasta, and served it with hunks of baguette and a couple eggplant cutlets from Trader Joe’s on the side.

Day 2 

Breakfast smoothie! I added two kale leaves to my fruit smoothie. And since it was Valentine’s Day, I added 3 or 4 beet leaves to make it pink. With bananas, vanilla yogurt, and orange juice, it was delicious (just tastes like fruit) and healthy.

I sauteed some more collards, this time in garlic grapeseed oil. I took them to work and mixed them into some leftover Indian chickpea soup with that I got from Sandwhich. Served over white rice that I pre-cooked, my leftover soup became a delicious curry dish.

For Valentine’s Day, the BF and I decided to play it chill and spend some time together at home. I made a cabbage and carrot slaw (shredded cabbage, matchstick carrots, juice of 1 clementine, a bit of garlic grapeseed oil, salt, and pepper) that we enjoyed as a healthy side dish to the Papa John’s pizza we ordered. Then we settled in for a marathon of The Wire — we’re halfway through season 1!

Day 3

Apple and peanut butter for breakfast.

Some more cabbage and carrot slaw with leftover pizza.

Delicious kale and bean soup with a hunk of baguette.

Day 4

Green Smoothie... delicious!

A green smoothie! Kale, orange-peach-mango juice, banana, frozen pineapple, and blueberry yogurt. Yum!

[Lunch out at Moe’s]

[Mac & cheese and popcorn for dinner. Terrible, I know.]

Day 5

A green smoothie before hitting the road to Asheville, NC!

[Lunch at Salsa’s in Asheville]

[Dinner at Tupelo Honey in Asheville]

Day 6

[Tea for breakfast]

[Lunch at 12 Bones in Asheville]

Bowl of leftover kale and bean soup for a late dinner.

Day 7Kale &  bean soup

Green smoothie! Not even getting tired of these.

[Lunch: leftover Moe’s]

Bowl of leftover kale and bean soup for dinner. Plus I made a salad with greens, beets, walnuts, and fried goat cheese. The goat cheese was the best part (duh).

Day 8

Apple with peanut butter for breakfast.

I didn’t have time to put anything together, so I just had leftover beets for lunch, added to a random hodgepodge of snacks to make a meal.

Leftovers:

I had 3 collard green leaves leftover that I’ll just throw out — they’re pretty limp.

I have half a head of cabbage that I’ll save a little bit longer and try to find something for them. And I have 2 carrots and a tomato that will keep a while longer too. Maybe a stir fry? I hear we’re getting bok choy next! Another pasta? We’ll see…