Thank you!

For everyone who stops by this blog, uses its recipes, cooks with produce they may not have otherwise, and is inspired to be Farm Share members of their own, I want to thank you for reading.  We thoroughly enjoy being Farm Share members and are proud to support our local growers.  Appreciating what is in season and what produce is local has completely changed--in only positive ways--how we think about our shopping, cooking, and eating.  Please know this blog will continue to be here for a resource, and...as always...  Happy, healthy eating!

Cranberry Jam

Thanksgiving came and went--we had friends over in our little Boston apartment and we visited family in the coal-topped hills of PA--yet we somehow didn't use our cranberries for Thanksgiving dinners.

In anticipation of the holidays, which we spent, for the first time, away from family and by ourselves in Boston, I made some cranberry jam.  It perfectly triggered waves of nostalgia with its spicy scent and flavor.

Cranberry Jam
(Adapted from Gourmet)

1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 (12-oz) bag fresh or unthawed frozen cranberries (3 1/2 c.)
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. fresh orange juice
1/2 c. water
3-4 cloves All Spice
3-4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 nutmeg, grated*
* Ingredients I added

Scrape vanilla seeds from pod into a 2-quart heavy saucepan.  Add pod and remaining ingredients  (All Spice, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, if including) and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 20 minutes (jam will continue to thicken as it cools).
Puree jam in food mill set over a bowl, discarding skins and pod (I actually kept the skins for a less jelly-like, more jam-like texture).  Cool, stirring occasionally.

11/18 Farm Share Arrival

The week of 11/18--just before Thanksgiving--brought us some wonderful produce that we did in fact use in our Thanksgiving meal.  We received two Butternut squashes, carrots, an abundance of onions, green beans, cranberries, turnips, sweet potatoes, Russet potatoes, and a bunch of herbs (rosemary, sage, and thyme) to stick in the cavity of the turkey for seasoning.

Happy, healthy eating!

Butternut Squash Lasagna

In addition to Acorn squash, Patty Pan squash, Butter Cup squash, and Carnival squash, we also received several Butternut Squash in our Farm Share.  I LOVE Butternut squash soup, which I posted a recipe for earlier.  However, to switch things up I decided to make a Butternut squash lasagna.

First, I think I found the best method (for me) to peel the squash that is the least life or limb threatening.  I cut the squash in 3-4 sections cross-wise, so I have chunks of squash as seen below.  I then was able to better manipulate the squash and peel a thin layer of skin off the squash.  This proved to be a much better method than my previous, chef's-knife-in-one-hand, whole-squash-in-another, trying to peel-the-entire-length-of-the-squash-that-has-no-flat-bottom method.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

2 medium sized Butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and diced
1 package no-boil lasagna noodles
2 cans San Marzano tomatoes, diced
1 large package spinach
1 large container of Ricotta cheese
4 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. basil, chopped
1 large onions and 5 cloves garlic, diced and cooked in skillet with olive oil, until soft.

First cook Butternut squash by roasting it in a pan in an oven at 350 degrees until soft (for a sweeter Butternut squash flavor), OR place squash and about 1/2 c. water in a microwave-safe bowl and lid in the microwave and cook on high until soft.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a lasagna pan or 9x12 baking dish, line pan with thin layer of olive oil.  Then layer noodles, Ricotta cheese, tomatoes, basil, onions, spinach, squash, and Mozzarella--in that order and across the entire surface of the pan--until pan is filled and all ingredients are used.  Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes with the foil removed, until top is bubbling and the cheese is melted or golden brown.

Let stand for approximately 15 minutes, and serve!

Ravioli with Acorn Squash and Spinach

We received a plethora of squash from our Fall Farm Share, and I find the hard-shelled varieties to be a little intimidating when thinking of ways to use it for dinner...especially dinner for two.  With an entire bowl-full of squash to use (which, until I figured out how to use it, made a lovely Fall centerpiece) I decided to throw it in a pasta.

I cut the acorn squash in half, scooped out all the seeds from the center of the squash, and discarded the seeds.  After stabbing the skin with a knife to allow moisture to escape, I baked the squash halves in the oven flesh-side-down until tender (about 20 minutes).  

We paired the acorn squash with an Arrabbiata sauce, Kalamata olives, spinach, and a pumpkin ravioloi.


What to do with all that produce?

Stir fries are one of the easiest ways to use an abundance of produce, and I love how little you have to cook the vegetables.  With soy sauce, fish sauce, toasted sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and chili powder, you can turn a refrigerator drawer-full of carrots, cabbage, red and green peppers, onions, broccoli, etc. into a great meal!  Don't forget to add the shiitake mushrooms (my favorite)!


Kale and Collards

This is yet another post about one of the many nights I cooked up our greens.  We had both Kale and Collards that needed to be cooked, so I threw them together, not knowing if they would really work as a single dish, but they were great.  Honestly, you can't go wrong when you cook any greens in a little bacon fat.

They are so pretty!

I don't really have a recipe to share for this one, but after slicing a Farm Share onion and throwing it in some bacon that had rendered a little fat, I let the onion cook until it was translucent and then threw in the chopped greens.  After stirring for a few minutes, they were good to go!


Homemade Apple Sauce

One of my blog readers commented on a previous post about baked apples, mentioning how she makes homemade apple sauce.  I thought that was a brilliant idea!  We get an abundance of apples from our Farm Share at times, and we also buy a lot of local apples throughout the Fall because they are so readily available and delicious.  This is a great alternative to noshing on a raw apple that was so easy and yielded a really delicious dish!

Homemade Apple Sauce

Step 1: Wash, core and chop apples into chunks.  I kept the skin on (it's the most nutritional part!)

Step 2: Heat the apples on the stove, medium heat.

Step 3: Cook the apples until they start to soften.  They'll start to look a little mushy (like above).  Once they reach this consistency, either purée the mixture with a hand blender (I have a Cuisinart immersion blender that I use) or let cool, then transfer to a food processor or blender to purée.

Final Step: Add cinnamon to taste, and voilá!  Delicious homemade apple sauce with no sugar added!

10/21 Farm Share Arrival

Here is the next week's Farm Share arrival (from October 21, 2010).

As you can see, we received red leaf lettuce, green apples, romaine lettuce, some great carrots, parsley, collards, beets (which I gave to my friend--she made chocolate beet muffins with them--happy to spread the love), yellow onions, and a buttercup squash.

Happy (healthy) eating!

Spinach Salad with Spiced Pecans, Apples, Sweet Potatoes, and Goat Cheese

The Fall and Winter is a great time to receive leafy greens in New England, but it's also a time when you crave warm, comforting food...so sometimes salads aren't the first thing you think about making for dinner.  This salad, however, was a great way to use our leafy greens--in this case spinach--but still satisfy our comfort food craving.

Spinach Salad with Spiced Pecans, Apples, Sweet Potatoes, and Goat Cheese.

The only recipe I used for this meal was for the spiced pecans, which I'll post below.  This was a really simple salad to throw together, and delicious!  We thinly sliced a sweet potato and tossed it in olive oil, salt and pepper, and then roasted the potatoes in the oven until tender.  We then tossed spinach with thinly sliced apples and the roasted sweet potatoes, and lastly topped it all off with goat cheese and spiced pecans--and dinner was served!

Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans
From Bon Appétit

3 tbs. light corn syrup (could use Agave nectar as substitute)
1 1/2 tbs. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. (generous) freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 c. pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 325 deg F.  Lightly cover baking sheet with vegetable oil.  Combine corn syrup and next 4 ingredients in large bowl.  Stir to blend.  Add pecans; stir gently to coat.  Transfer to baking sheet.

Place large piece of foil on work surface.  Bake pecans 5 minutes.  Using fork, stir pecans to coat with melted spice mixture.  Continue baking until pecans are golden and coating bubbles, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to foil.  Working quickly (if you use corn syrup, you really do have to work very quickly!), separate nuts with fork.  Cool.  (Can be made 3 days ahead.  Store airtight at room temperature.)

10/14 Farm Share Arrival

I am wayyy behind, but I'm determined to round out the full year (Fall 2009 - Fall 2010) of Farm Share arrival posts.  It's hard to believe, but I will soon be done!

Below is the Farm Share arrival from October 14, 2010.    In this box we received lovely sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, Lacitano kale, green leaf lettuce, bunched spinach, baby bok choy, apples, daikon radish, Kabocha (or a buttercup-type squash), a green pepper, and a couple yellow onions.  What a great assortment!