Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cooking Strange Leafy Veggies Part 1: Success! Kale, Sausage, and Potatoes.

My mom signed up for a local CSA farm (Community Supported Agriculture) and is splitting her shares with myself, my brother and sister-in-law, and my sister and brother-in-law.  I think my mom has been doing this for a while now.  I remember going with her and picking stuff up.  They set up all these veggies in kind of a U shape in this barn.  Each share gets so much of everything, according to how much of each they have that week.  So they write a big list on a chalkboard, like this:

Tomatoes: 2
Radishes: 2
Kale: 1 bunch
Lettuce: 4 handfuls

Anyway, the list is much longer than that, and has much stranger things on it than that.  I don't know what all was there this first week, since we're splitting it between the 4 couples, and I wasn't the one to pick it up.  I just know that we got kale, a lettuce mixture, and some garlic somethings that I was told to make hummus with.  Research, cooking, and maybe recipe to come, when inspiration strikes.

This evening, when I was tired and hungry and in a hurry to make dinner, I also wanted to use up our kale, knowing that we have different things planned to eat or places to go the next few days.  I had made a dinner before with sausage, onions, potatoes, green peppers, and who knows what else cooked together in a pan.  Nick likes to call this a hobo meal, although I found this slightly offensive.  Urban dictionary says that a hobo meal is one requiring "no plates or dishes to cook with".  The first time I made something like this it was some internet-sharer's grandma's famous Italian sausage bake or something... which I worked hard to make, and I was slightly offended when it was called a hobo meal!  Nick had "hobo meals" when he was camping a few years back, which happened to have ingredients similar to this dish.

Oh darn!!! Just realized I have no picture of this fabulous meal!  Please humor me as I send you to look at pictures on a different website of something that is similar, but not the same.  That link is a recipe like what I made a few months ago.

Tonight's recipe has no measurements.  It's more of a dump-and-go thing.  I used up half an onion we had, the rest of some potatoes we had, and all of our kale.  Here's the general idea:

1.  Heat a pan over medium heat.  Add oil and let it heat up.  While heating your pan and oil, cut up some potatoes into chunks or slices that will be able to cook in 15-ish minutes.  Throw them in your pan and let them start to cook.  Loosen them from the bottom and stir every few minutes.

2.  Cook 2 sweet Italian sausages in another pan.  Either remove the casing before cooking sausages, or slice after they're done cooking.

3.  As sausage and potatoes are cooking, cut up onions, kale, and whatever other veggies you want to put in.  Once potatoes are tender, add veggies.  (If you're using carrots or another veggie that would take longer to cook, use your own discretion for when to add them and how long to cook them).  Optional: add parsley, basil, and any other spices you think would be yummy.  Add sausage, mix, serve, and enjoy!

Similar kale and other strange leafy vegetable posts to come as the summer goes on.

Please let me know if you have any kale suggestions!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these a few weeks ago and somehow they slipped through the cracks of blogging.   But here they are!  Honestly, when I started writing this post, it had been a few weeks since I'd made them... but I decided to make them again today.  Best decision of the day, for sure.

What's awesome about these cookies is how big and soft they are.  I've never made cookies this big before.  It's hard not to laugh as you're making these cookies a scant quarter cup each.  I think the day I made these I just wanted to make something sweet and just started searching on  When I found these I couldn't resist.  If you haven't yet found your perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, give this one a try.  These are certainly worth your time to make at least once if you're still on the market for the "perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe".

Oh, also, mine might be slightly larger than they're supposed to be.  The recipe from brown eyed baker is supposed to make 18.  But I found it's easier to put 8 giant cookies on my cookie sheets than 9, so I gave in and only made 16.

Also, I made these cookies without any measuring! ... almost.  The weights of the ingredients are included below and she strongly suggested using weight instead of measuring cups to make them.  So I did!  Until I came to the chocolate chips.  I ended up measuring only the last ingredient.  Oh well.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 18 cookies
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
• 1 cup packed (7 oz.) light or dark brown sugar
• 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz.) granulated sugar
• 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 - 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1.  Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower- middle positions.  Heat the oven to 325°.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  Measure and whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt together, in a medium bowl; set aside.

3.  Mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended.  Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined.  Stir in the chips to taste.

4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball.  Pull apart into two equal halves.  Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough's uneven surface.  Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake until cookies are light golden brown and the outer edges start to harden, yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.  Cool the cookies on the sheets.  Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a wide metal spatula.

Source: Browneyedbaker's blog, originally from Baking Illustrated, pg. 434

Monday, June 13, 2011

Colby BBQ chicken

This is an easy BBQ chicken stuffed with cheese.  There is no mixing or measuring, and if you're like me, husband does all the grilling - so this is an easy one.  Or, if you don't have a grill, or a husband, or just don't feel like grilling, you can also broil it.  When I first found this recipe I figured I'd broil it, but grilling just seemed so much better that I changed my mind.

So, watcha gotta do for this scrumptious chicken is cut it in half, and put cheese in it.  Cheese of your choice.  The recipe said pepper jack - but I had slices of colby, so it's what we used.  My chicken is a little beat up, as you can see in the picture below.  That's because of the lady that was buying chicken at the same time as me at Giant Eagle.  We were discussing how all of the "thin sliced chicken breasts" cost way more than the regular ones.  She said, "Just get those ones and pound it out."  And as I stood there and continued to look at the chicken, she choose her thick chicken breasts, shoved them in her overflowing basket, and starting saying to her little girl, "I'll just have to pound it out.  Pound it out."  I think she was giving herself a pep talk.  So I followed suit, got the giant thick chicken breasts, and pounded it out.  Nice and pounded out, it became 2 chicken breasts (cut in half) and then I sliced them in half the other way and stuck the cheese in.

Colby BBQ chicken:
• Chicken breasts
• Colby, Pepper Jack, or other sliced cheese - 1 per chicken breast
• BBQ sauce

If necessary, pound and cut chicken to desired size.  Carefully cut a pocket for cheese.  Insert 1 slice of cheese in a chicken breast and close it with metal skewers or wooden skewers (soaked in water first).  Grill over medium heat, brushing with BBQ sauce often.  OR broil 4 in. from heat for 6-8 minutes on each side until juices run clear, basting frequently with BBQ sauce.  Remove skewers before serving.

Source:  Taste of Home Simple and Delicious Cookbook (2007), page 63

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Grilled Corn

This was our first time grilling corn.  Until recently I haven't heard much about grilled corn - but this year and last year I keep hearing people talk about it.  I was really impressed with it and think I'd prefer it to regular boiled corn.

I didn't research what to do until after I'd husked it, so I ended up wrapping them in foil.  They were so good!  Even though I want to try grilling them with some of husk on, I'd do it like this again.  We really liked the flavor from the olive oil on these.

Grilled Corn (out of husk):

1.  Husk the corn.  Heat grill to 350°.

2.  Brush with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and any other herb or sauce that you want.  Wrap in foil and twist the ends closed.

3.  Grill for 20-30 minutes over med-low heat.  Use an oven mitt to hold them.  Unwrap and enjoy! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Too much pasta - not enough veggies!

I was looking back at some of my blog posts from more recently.

We eat a lot of pasta.  It's just so easy and so darn good!

A friend made dinner for us last night - yummy vegetarian tacos.  Black bean and corn tacos, I believe.  Seeing the vegetarian cookbooks in her kitchen and eating those awesome tacos went right along with what I've been thinking about recently - we don't eat enough veggies!

The problem with what I'm thinking is that we don't need less meat... we need less carbs, and healthy choices and portions for meat.  I'm not looking for a diet or anything... just some ideas for better balanced meals.

I went ahead and got online and reserved a few cookbooks from the library that will hopefully be helpful to my "healthy cooking" ideals.  So in the next few weeks you may see some recipes from those!  Any suggestions for recipes or sources would be appreciated!