Archive | August, 2009

Thai Basil Chicken

30 Aug

Thai Basil chickenAnother compilation of internet recipes.  I planted Thai basil because I love the stuff, but I hardly ever use it!  Chicken tonight, plus I’ve found several more recipes that look good.  I went a little heavy on the lime, but I reduced the amount for the recipe.  I also only used the chiles in the marinade, because they’re smokin’ hot – it was the perfect amount of heat for a kid-friendly dish, but if you like spice, throw a few in with the green beans.   I served this over rice stick noodles, but rice would be great too.

Thai Basil Chicken Stirfry


Fall Planting Update

25 Aug

IMG_3796I am happy to report that everything I planted last week has sprouted.  (I’m always a little skeptical)  Now if I can keep the squash bugs and stink bugs away, I should have a pretty good harvest.  I have noticed lots of black stink bugs with spots lately.  I just read on another website that fennel and dill plants can deter the bugs, and I’ve noticed lots more since I cut down my dill that had gone to seed.  I guess next year I’ll keep it in the ground until I’m ready to pull up everything else!

Book Review: “In Defense of Food”

21 Aug

foodI just finished reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.  It makes complete sense – “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants”. 

Our culture of food has veered sharply away from home and family based traditions, to a need for speed and convenience – and therefore ignorance.  Increasingly, the food we eat is the product of a vast industrial, commercial system – even unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables are shipped long distances from giant farms, where they may have been grown using genetically modified seeds, and were surely doused with chemical pesticides and herbicides. 

Our reliance on packaged foods and agriculture on a massive scale has led to increased rates of obesity and related diseases, foodborne illness outbreaks that affect the entire country, and widespread plant diseases, like the recent tomato blight in the Northeast. 

As a society, we no longer learn about food from our family.  The traditions of planting, harvesting, cooking, and preserving, although they are experiencing a renaissance, have for too long been ignored.  Now, our food culture consists of a trip to the frozen foods aisle, and a date with the microwave.  If we learn about food, we hear about vitamins and nutrients, carbs and fats, protiens and antioxidants. 

But we can’t break broccoli down into its various vitamins and nutrients, reassemble it as a pill, and expect our bodies to think its broccoli.  Different cultures of food around the world evolved and adapted to provide their populations with a healthy, complete diet.  We need to rediscover those traditions, eat whole foods, know where they came from, and teach our children how to put together a balanced diet.

Tomato Chutney

17 Aug

roma tomatoA friend gave me this recipe for tomato chutney a few years ago, and I’ve been waiting all summer to get enough tomatoes to make a big batch.  I canned mine, but it will keep up to 2 months in the fridge.  I used Roma tomatoes and hot peppers from the garden.  The dried cranberries came from Nutsonline – my new source for nuts.  Usually dried cranberries look like raisins, just a little bigger.  These were plump and huge – Bella loved them! 

uncooked chutneyHere are the ingredients just before I turned the stove on.  The recipe is so simple – everything goes into the pan, bring to a boil, and simmer 45 minutes.  The only hard part (and it’s not really hard, just time-consuming) is peeling & seeding the tomatoes.

tomato chutney


Here’s what is looks like after cooking, in the pan and then in jars.  I tripled the recipe, and it filled 7 pint jars, and 6 1/2 pints, plus a little extra for the fridge.  I processed my jars for 10 minutes.

chutney in jars

 So…what do you do with chutney?  Here are 2 ideas –

  • Chutney Mozzarella Burgers: mix 1/2 c chutney with 1 lb ground beef.  Shape into 4 or 5 balls.  Stick your thumb into the ball, fill indentation with shredded mozzarella, then reshape into a patty. 

Chutney Chicken Sandwich: take your favorite bread, spread with chutney, top with your favorite cheese and grilled chicken or turkey. 


Tomato Chutney

Fall Planting

15 Aug

seed packetsI planted my late summer/fall vegetables today: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes, & mache.  The fall seed selection around here is dismal.  I ordered from Bountiful Gardens.  They had a great selection of open-pollinated seeds at very reasonable prices. 


bountyMy zucchini plant is still going strong.  I’m planning one more batch of pickles, plus more grated for the freezer.  I made tomato chutney this week – look for a recipe in a few days.  I also finally harvested enough okra to bother cooking it.  I planted most of my okra too early, and it didn’t come up, so I’ve only got 5 plants.  I’ll plan better next year. 

hot peppersI have tons of hot peppers.  We’ll be having lots of stuffed poblanos in the next few weeks, and I’m going to dry a bunch as well.

The first canteloupe should be ready any day now.  Also a few cucmber stragglers – didn’t get very many this year, but the cukes I got were very good – not a hint of bitterness, and a nice mild, sweet taste.

Finally Mac & Cheese

11 Aug

Every time I decide to make mac & cheese I scour the internet and my cookbooks for a good recipe, and every time I’m disappointed.  My criteria:

  • few dishes to wash
  • budget friendly cheeses (I love gourmet cheeses, but we’re talking dinner for kids here!)
  • quick & easy

So this time I decided to wing it, and we’ve found a winner.   I added crabmeat (ok – imitation crabmeat – I’m not perfect).  You could also use prepared bread crumbs, or none at all.

mac and cheese

I’m going to post directions, rather than a recipe, because I didn’t measure anything.

1. Cook 1 lb small whole wheat pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water.*If you add a tiny bit of oil to the pot, it won’t boil over.

2. While pasta cooks, toast 2 slices of bread.  I used whole wheat, which is why my topping is so dark.  Tear the toast into 3 or 4 pieces, and add it to the workbowl of a food processor, along with a few chunks of parmesan, and about 1 tsp of Old Bay.  Pulse until it forms crumbs.  Add 1/2 T butter cut into chunks and pulse 3-4 more times.  Set aside.

3. Drain and rinse pasta.  Return pan to the stove, and add 1/2 stick of butter.  Melt butter over medium heat, then add 1/4 c flour and stir until combined.  Add about 2 c milk in batches, stirring completely after each addition.  Stir until smooth and thickened.  Whisk in 1 T Old Bay, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp ground mustard.  Add 2 c assorted shredded cheeses – I used 1 cheddar and 1 c Italian cheese blend w/ mozzarella, parmesan, and fontina.  Don’t use more than 1 c cheddar or its too sharp and bitter.  Stir until smooth and melted.  Stir in pasta. 

4. Pour into buttered 9×12 pan, top with bread crumbs, and broil on low 8-10 minutes until topping is golden brown.

Luscious Lemon Bars

10 Aug

I’ve never made lemon bars, but Shawn loves lemon, so I thought I’d give it a try.  My recipe is adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.  These are a new family favorite!  The crust is crumbly and sweet, and a perfect base for the lusciously tangy lemon filling. 

Lemon Bars





Luscious Lemon Bars

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