Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese

Harvest season is upon us and I WISH I had a time elapsed camera set up near my squash because for the life of me I cannot figure out how on Monday they are almost but just not the right size and come Tuesday and they are like DAMN what the heck!

1st harvest 2018

1 cup measuring cup for scale


IMG_2964This morning (Saturday) I was sitting at the island enjoying my tea planning my day, making my grocery shopping list and trying to figure out what we might we eating this week. I figured I would head out to the garden and see what needed to be pulled.  I have already gotten way more radishes that any one human could eat luckily they are my Dad’s favorite and my daughter went into work (my favorite restaurant in town) tonight and asked if they might be interested in some; thankfully they said yes.
IMG_2954Veggie season gets me thinking of inventive ways to serve them. Right now it is only the squash and radishes but I see a head of Broccoli forming an the tomatoes are a few sunny days away. I tried a new recipe today using my slow cooker, which actually is not just a winter tool in my world. It doesn’t heat up the house and we get a nice meal with not a lot of effort.
IMG_2956I am going to call it a mock bolognese only because it doesn’t have any meat in it. Though I fried up some sweet italian sausage to serve along side it for us. You could make this totally vegetarian if you so wish to.
IMG_2958Crockpot cauliflower bolognese

Head of cauliflower cut into flowerettes
28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 medium diced onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1-2 cup chicken broth – or veggie broth
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
IMG_2962Put everything in the crockpot, stir and place on high for 3 ½ hours.  Once everything is cooked down take a potato masher and break up the cauliflower taste for salt and pepper. Leave it a little chunky and ladle over zoodles or spaghetti.
IMG_2971I had planned on making zoodles since I have so many in the house not but I was running late and my husband worked on a roof all day so he needed the pasta, some bread and even a cocktail.

Enjoy!

Fresh Corn Tomato Bacon Salad

What to do with the leftover corn on the cob? Not sure if your local grocery store requires you to buy a 6 – 12 ears of corn; well require might be a “strong” word it’s more like encourage you to buy more ears than you need. You can buy 6 for say $2.99 or you can buy it for a buck an ear. So being my true New England Yankee self I buy my 1/2 dozen and the 3 of us eat an ear a piece. My husband always make a comment “why did you buy so many” I think he should start doing the shopping – Just saying!
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There are actually many things you can do with the leftover ears. Once removed from the cob. Here are a few that I like. Corn Chowder is classic, add kernels to your corn bread/muffins or even your pancakes. Make a Mexican corn by frying up some onions and garlic along with the kernels and add a few spices like paprika, cumin, chili powder and squeeze in a half of a lime and top with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Corn salsa is also a good summer time use but one of my favorites is fresh corn tomato bacon salad. I mean honestly add bacon to just about anything and I would probably call it my favorite.

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Serves 4–6

6 slices of thick-cut bacon
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
cut kernels from 4 ears of corn (about 2 cups)
3 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon to a plate and set aside.

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using a little of the bacon grease

Turn heat down to medium-low and add onions to the bacon drippings in the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened – about 5 minutes.
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Add corn, turn heat back up to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender and just starting to brown in spots about 7–10 minutes.
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Remove corn and onion mixture to a large mixing bowl and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, crumble bacon.  Add the sliced tomatoes, bacon, basil, and vinegar to the bowl with the corn.  Sprinkle in a big pinch of salt and some fresh ground black pepper. Toss everything together add more salt and/or pepper if needed.

I posted this back in 2015 but just finished making this just this morning for the pictures!

had to share some more photos aka food porn!
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Basil from my herb gardens

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playing with the little sun coming through my kitchen window

Grilled Skirt or Flank Steak

It has been a crazy week and I haven’t made anything new to share so I thought I would bring back an oldie but a goody.  I have made this several times and it is always a crowd pleaser.  I hope if you haven’t made this recipe yet, it’s time – maybe for the fourth of July bbq?

If you haven’t ever purchase or tried a skirt or flank steak I really think you ought to check them out. I know they look pretty funky and not very appealing to the eye being all rolled up. And they are not as wildly available in stores as all the other yummy looking steaks; but if you do come across one or both of them give them a chance. They are fairly inexpensive, burn up fast and seasoning them is pretty endless.

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Sometimes you can find them in a cryovac bag which is even better. I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had taken something out of the freezer for dinner. When I see any of them I tend to throw one or more in my cart they are great to have on hand and I like that I can get to it when I want versus having to cook up whatever I wasn’t able to get to and is going to spoil. Life happens and plans change all the time in my crazy world.

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There are a few tricks to these types of meat though. They are pretty fibrous and they really need to be seasoned well and they are best served medium rare and thin sliced. You also need to let them rest, but every meat is better if you give them time to rest to let the juice stay inside the meat instead of all over your cutting board. Once they have rested; slice them thin at an angle and against the grain for a tender bite. If you slice with the grain you will definitely know it as your jaw will be getting an incredible work out; and I fear you will never buy another one.

Dry Rub – enough for 2 or more Steaks

½ cup sweet Paprika
4 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 ½ tsp onion powder
2 tsp chili powder
¼ – ½ cup peanut oil
2 lb Skirt Steak
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
1-2 limes

Preheat grill to 450-500’ – cook meat about 2-3 minutes per side

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together; rub steak with peanut oil, sprinkle steak with salt and pepper and 4+/- tsp of rub on both sides; place on hot grill turning once. Remove from heat; squeeze fresh lime over meat, let rest for 3-5 minutes. Slice meat diagonally against the grain.

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Marinade – enough for 1 Steak

1½ cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped scallions
½ cup peeled chopped pear
1½ tbs sesame oil
1½ tbs grated orange zest
2 ½ tbs chopped fresh ginger
8-10 cloves garlic
2 lb Flank Steak

Place first 10 ingredients in a blender. Blend into a smooth sauce. Pour the sauce into a heavy duty Ziploc bag; add steak and marinate for up to 24 hours in the fridge.

Preheat grill 450-500’ brush grill with oil; place steak on hot grill 2-3 minutes per side turning once. Remove steak to a platter, cover with foil and let rest 3-5 minutes before serving. Slice meat diagonally against the grain.

Turkey Lettuce Wraps – give them a try

Why I love lettuce wraps – I believe my first taste was about 5 or 6 years ago and our waiter said it was his favorite app at PF Changs. If we are trying a new place we tend to ask our waiter/waitress what their favorite is and maybe not every time but majority of the time we will take their recommendation. We all really loved their chicken lettuce wraps so much so I actually made a recipe I found online that someone came up with that said they were the ones from PF Changs. They too were delicious but a little time consuming so I have only made them a couple of times.
IMG_2883.JPGThere is an added bonus to lettuce wraps; if you are watching your carb intake you can eat 2 or 3 lettuce wraps without any guilt. Not that I have anything against carbs I mean if you saw me you would be like “oh yeah she eats carbs” but it is nice to know there are other ways to have a tasty filling without having a bun of some sort to hold it together.
IMG_2866This comes together very quickly and would be a great weeknight meal on some hot summer night when you want something quick, light and delicious!
IMG_2873.JPGTurkey Lettuce Wraps

1 package of ground turkey
Olive oil for the pan
Package of white mushrooms – cleaned and chopped
3-4 scallions, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Boston or Bibb lettuce, romaine and iceberg work too
Shredded carrots
Bean Sprouts
IMG_2878.JPGSauce
3 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ tablespoon sriracha sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup water

Thai chili sauce works awesome too
IMG_2867IMG_2868IMG_2870Brown the turkey in a large saute pan until cooked through. Add the mushrooms, scallions, garlic and water chestnuts cook until the mushrooms are soften. In a small bowl mix the soy sauce, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar and then add to the turkey mixture. Cook for about a minute or so. Remove from the heat.
IMG_2879.JPGCreate the sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together. Once you make your lettuce wrap drizzle a little over the top of the turkey and veggies. Add a little thai chili sauce if you like a little more love.
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Recipe adapted from Melissa d’Arabian Food Network

Fried Chive Blossoms with Garlic Aioli

A few weeks ago while I was in Maine, I came home and my daughter Abi was cooking up a storm in the kitchen. This week, she’ll be posting one of her recipes. Enjoy! – Donna

So I have a bit of a problem with certain food related things. The most expensive of my food problems is my cookbook addiction. My collection is mostly fueled by amazon pre-orders that occur after a few glasses of wine and that are promptly forgotten until suddenly there is a surprise box or three on the porch. My collection has actually become so large that I needed to move it from its home in my room to the bookcase by the kitchen. I wound up taking up an entire shelf of my mom’s cookbook bookcase, though I’m certain once I get back all of my lent out copies that I may have to encroach on another shelf.

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the shelf is bending under the weight of them….maybe we need a sturdier bookcase

The problem with having such an addiction is that if you buy enough cookbooks, you’ll eventually start finding ones that are more for reading and less for actually making anything from. It’s not that the recipes are inaccessible or things I wouldn’t try; it’s just more that I live in the middle of nowhere and certain ingredients aren’t widely available. Also anything that calls for ‘foraging’…well let’s put it this way…my idea of being outdoorsy is drinking wine on the patio. You will not catch me traipsing through the woods for fiddleheads at the beginning of spring, nor will you catch me with my hands in mom’s garden, unless manicures have been promised for afterwards.

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This lengthy preamble brings me to one of my cookbooks that I never thought I would cook from, mostly due to the foraging that seemed to be necessary for ingredients, The Lost Kitchen by Erin French. I was in need of fresh tarragon, which isn’t readily available in either my mom’s herb boxes or at the more local grocery stores, but then I remembered Rosaly’s Farm. It’s a farm stand in our home town that has a Pick-Your-Own-Herbs garden. With my clippers and bucket in hand, I was good to go, but while I was out there, I got distracted by the gorgeous purple chive blossoms. Recalling that The Lost Kitchen had a recipe for fried chive blossoms, and a literal field of chive blossoms before me, I just couldn’t help myself.

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Upon returning home and actually reading the recipe, I already knew I’d be changing things around a bit. I suppose that is another food problem that I have…I never seem to be able to follow a recipe as written. I always want to tinker.  

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if you leave the stems on before frying, they make an excellent handle to dip into the batter, then hold them directly above the oil and use scissors to cut the stem off to drop them in

As written, it was a simple tempura batter, but since reading Night+Market by Kris Yenbamroong I have found myself incapable of sticking to a simple tempura when it comes to frying. So I added tapioca starch and rice flour to the batter with the reasoning that more crunch when frying is always better. Neither tapioca or rice flour have gluten, which helps them to fry really crispy, a fact learned from The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. Tapioca starch is actually how your General Tso’s chicken stays crispy despite being smothered in sauce, and rice flour is what gives Japanese karaage (fried chicken) it’s distinctive crunch. So clearly, more is better.  

Honestly, this batter is everything. It continues to get harder and crunchier after it gets taken out of the oil and even the next day, providing you didn’t store your leftovers while hot, they will still be crunchy. Add some aioli to dip the fried chive blossoms into and you’ve got yourself an easy snack that is guaranteed to impress your friends when you’ve told them what exactly it was that you’ve made.

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FRIED CHIVE BLOSSOMS

1 1/4 cups tempura flour or tempura batter mix

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1/3 cup white rice flour

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground white pepper

3 cups club soda

24 + chive blossoms

Heat oil in a wok, dutch oven, or deep fryer to 375. To test the oil, drop a small blob of batter into it, it should bubble and brown within 30-40 seconds.

In a medium bowl, stir together the tempura, tapioca and rice flours and the salt and pepper. Pour in the soda water. Mix until there are no lumps left. It should be the consistency of a thin pancake batter.

Working in batches, dip the chive blossoms in the batter, and then drop into the oil. Fry until golden brown, flipping once. This should take about 1-2 minutes.

Transfer the blossoms to paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Serve immediately with the lemon-garlic aioli.

 

LEMON GARLIC AIOLI

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2 large egg yolks

1/2 garlic clove minced (my recipe dyslexia read this as 1-2 cloves garlic, so mine was VERY garlicky. not that anyone in our family minds)

1 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Salt

Using a handheld mixer or whisk, combine the yolks and garlic in a bowl. Continue to whisk as you add the oil very slowly, almost drop by drop. Once it starts to get thick and fluffy, you can add the oil in a steadier stream. Continue mixing until all of the oil has emulsified into the egg mixture. Add the lemon and season with salt to taste. Serve with fried chive blossoms.

If the aioli starts to look thin and greasy instead of fluffy and creamy, set it aside and start over. Once you’ve gotten the second batch to look fluffy and creamy then you can incorporate the old batch. You can never have too much aioli.

 

Pesto Turkey Pasta

I need to start by saying I try to keep my online media presence pretty low key, well actually I do the same in my day to day “real” life as well. I think I share just enough information about me and also about my family. I try to not “offend” or “overshare” too much and I don’t normally talk about the 3 hot topics; money, religion and politics. At least that was the top three while I was growing up.  Today it seems there is nothing off limits; more and more things are coming out of the shadows everyday.

I was very saddened to hear about the tragedy of Kate Spade and now Anthony Bourdain. I initially wrote the word suicides but I took it out and replaced it with tragedy because it sounded too harsh to me. I was brought up to not talk about anything too personal and I really don’t. Thankfully my daughter does not follow the same rules as I do. She needs help she asks, maybe someday I’ll be more like her.
IMG_2852.JPGI am a firm believer and have said it many many times that no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. My heart breaks for their families and I hope that something positive can come out of these tragic losses. I felt I needed to say this as I have been thinking about it constantly. Depression is real if you need help please ask
US National suicide prevention line: 1-800-273-8255.

IMG_2848I don’t really know how to lead into the recipe I want to share with you so here it goes. My daughter made some delicious Basil Pistachio Pesto last weekend and what we didn’t eat with crackers I thought about using the rest for dinner. I also had some turkey cutlets that I needed to cook up and so it screamed pasta night. This would also be great if you had any leftover turkey though most people I know only eat turkey around Thanksgiving which is kind of a shame.  Who knows maybe you’ll want to try this and make a turkey leg or breast.
IMG_2849Pesto Turkey Pasta

2 large eggs
½ cup pesto – make fresh or buy your favorite brand (my “norm” recipe below) 
Box of pasta – farfalle, egg noodles, gemelli or similar
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lemon zested
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 cups chopped cooked turkey meat (cutlets or leftovers)
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Boil water for the pasta and cook according to the package, drain reserving some of the liquid.
IMG_2851.JPGIn a medium bowl add the pesto along with the eggs and the lemon zest.

Saute the onions along with the garlic, add the chopped turkey cook through, or add the already cooked turkey.  
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Add the pasta to the onions and turkey. Pour the egg pesto mixture over the pasta turkey. The heat will cook the egg – similar to carbonara.  


Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If needed add some of the reserved pasta water to lighten up if needed.

Basil Pesto
6 Ounces of washed and dried basil leaves, stems removed
4 Ounces of pine nut
6-8 Cloves of Garlic
2 Ounces of grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil – Salt and Pepper
Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor or blender, pulse to combine. Add olive oil until you get the consistency you like, finish by adding the Parmesan cheese a little salt and pepper pulsing until combined.  Enjoy with and/or on just about anything.

 

Thai chicken breast lettuce wraps

The other day I went to my local grocery store with my usual shopping list bread, milk, lunch meat, lettuce, tom’s etc. and they didn’t have romaine or iceberg lettuce. My husband loves lettuce on his sandwiches so I brought home some butter lettuce also known as boston bibb lettuce. Well the lettuce was still in the fridge a week later, he probably looked in the drawer, didn’t see the “norm” and had lettuce free sandwiches all week. His loss!
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So me being well me I needed to use up what was in the fridge before it goes bad. Butter lettuce is perfect for lettuce wraps. I had some chicken breast that needed to be cooked up and it seemed like my fridge wanted me to make chicken breast lettuce wraps. They are simple, light and quite tasty.
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If you do not have thai sweet chili sauce of some sort in your pantry or fridge, you really should put it on your shopping list for next week.  It is simply divine; sweet and spicy. You can use it to top a taco, sandwich add to a salad. I fell in love with it dipping my fried dumplings in. Buy some you won’t regret it!
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Thai chicken breast lettuce wraps

3-4 boneless skinless chicken wraps
½ cup sweet thai chili sauce
⅓ cup soy sauce
1 lime juiced
3 Tbs olive oil
1-2 Tbs sriracha
2 tsp ginger – freshly grated or in a squeeze tube like mine
3-4 cloves garlic minced
1 small red onion – sliced thinly
1 carrot – julienned

In a bowl add chili, soy, lime, olive oil, sriracha, ginger and garlic. Stir and add chicken. Marinate for about an hour or less.
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In a pan cook the chicken till done, no longer pink.  Let it rest for about 10-15 minutes then slice thinly.
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Take a piece of lettuce add some chicken and top with red onion and a few carrots. It won’t be needed but you could also top with a little more sweet Thai chili sauce – just saying!