Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hanging Peppers

The question still is: What to do with all those peppers? I still don't know, but it's likely I'm going to make chili oil. Chili oil means I need dried peppers. It's doable with fresh chilies, but I've heard the flavors aren't as strong - and I want SPICY!!!!

These peppers have been hanging happily for just under one week and they're shriveling up nicely!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dino Kale and Turkey Manicotti

I forget why, but I've had manicotti shells in my cupboard since.....I don't even know when (and you probably don't want to know either). That aside, it IS dried pasta after all, so it's harmless. There are two key motives for this recipe - 1. to finally make use of my manicotti shells, and 2. to use up some of the fresh crisp dino kale. Manicotti is often made with a simple ricotta and spinach mixture, but I like meat with my pasta, and I my box gave me kale - not spinach. Since kale doesn't wilt as much as spinach does, the key to making the little green specs is to finely chop up the big leafy greens before cooking it. Otherwise, you'll pull out a big piece of kale when cutting into it. Don't let the ugly photo fool you - it turned out amazing.

12 Manicotti Shells (Usually comes in one box)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped
1.5 tsp italian seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste
1.5 - 2 cups of finely chopped kale
1.5 cups of ricotta cheese
1 Jar (26 oz) of marinara sauce
1/3 cup of shredded mozzarella

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Boil a big pot of water w/ salt - cook the manicotti shells until just under al dente. There should still be bit of a bite to it, but still pliable. Set the pasta aside and let cool.

While the pasta is cooking, chop the onion and garlic and saute for 2 minutes in a pan with the olive oil. Add in turkey, salt, pepper and italian seasoning and cook until turkey is lightly golden brown. Throw in the chopped kale and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Put the turkey/kale mixture in a large mixing bowl and let cool slightly. Mix in ricotta cheese.

Pour a thin layer of marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 in. pan (about 1/3 of the jar). Once the pasta is cool enough to handle, stuff them with the turkey/kale/ricotta mixture, and line them up in the pan. Once the pan is full, pour the rest of the marinara sauce over the top and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake, covered w/ foil, for 30 minutes or until sauce is boiling. Remove foil and return to the oven until the cheese is golden brown. Serve warm.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tuna Potato Cakes

There are those moments when I get incredibly inspired, but am too lazy/tired to actually take the time to go to the store and get the ingredients for it. The idea for these tuna potato cakes came out of an email newsletter I got from Saveur Magazine. It was a recipe for Hawaiian Taro cakes - using purple taro root and fresh ahi tuna - they looked DELICIOUS. In my pantry, I had, the beautiful red potatoes from my produce box and canned tuna. Same difference....right? Hmmmm...suuuurrrre, why not? I served it over a mix of lettuce, arugula, and cilantro w/ citrus vinaigrette.

1/2 lb of potatoes (I used 2 of my red ones)
1 can of tuna (in water)
1 rib of celery, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs milk
1 egg
1/4 cup of dried bread crumbs
Salt & Pepper to taste

Peel and boil the potatoes until soft and tender, drain. While the potatoes are cooking, dice the celery and onion, and mix in with the tuna, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Keep the tuna a bit chunky. Mash the potatoes in a separate bowl with the butter and milk. Mix in the egg once it's slightly cooled. Season the potatoes and fold in tuna mixture and bread crumbs. Form the mixture into little cakes about 2 inches in diameter and 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick. Pan fry in olive oil - about 2-3 minutes on each side or until it's golden brown. Makes about 7-9 cakes.

For the Citrus Vinaigrette:
Juice of 1/2 Orange, 1/2 Lemon, 1/2 Lime
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (or depending on the amount of juice your fruits give - 1 part juice to 2 parts oil)
1 Tbs Honey
1/2 Tbs Mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Mix/Shake all ingredients together vigorously and drizzle over greens.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's like Christmas every 2 weeks.

I got my first produce box yesterday! All the items are so incredibly fresh - it's ridiculous how excited I am over a silly box of fruits and veggies. So here's what I got this week:

White Button Mushrooms (6 oz)
1 Butternut Squash (3lbs)
5 Red Jonagold Apples
4 Starkrimson Pears (There are only 3 in the picture - but I couldn't help myself - I ate one before I got home)
Red Potatoes (1.5 lbs) - the site said "Fingerling Potatoes"...but they don't look very fingerlingy to me. They're red and round.
1 Napa Cabbage
1 Bunch Lacinato/Dino Kale
3 Stalks Baby Bok Choy (1lb)
1 Bunch Arugula
1 Green Leaf Lettuce Head

Cayenne Peppers (.5 lb)

The pears - absolutely delicious, perfectly ripe. I could make poached pears - but I think I'll have to save that for when I have company. (Anyone coming over for dinner anytime soon?) The apples - crisp and sweet. Now, with apples, fuji's are my absolute favorite, but I think these come pretty darn close. They aren't sandy in texture nor are they too bland/sweet/tart. What else would you want in an apple?

The Cayenne Peppers (yes, I have to start a whole new paragraph for these babies)...the cayenne peppers are HOT - and there are a LOT of them. So many - I have no clue what to do with them. Since I have my box delivered to my office, my boss, John, decided to be the brave one. He broke one in half and took a tiny bite out of it - I think it almost burned his tongue off. I put my tongue to the other half of the pepper and I now think John is practically superman 'cuz he survived a whole bite, chew and swallowing of it. So - what to do with these babies? Chili Herbed Oil, perhaps? Merry Christmas, my friends, here's a bottle of chili oil, from my heart to yours.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

....and so it begins

First of all: I'm SO excited to get my first box of yummy local organic produce from Farm Fresh To You. the premise from which this blog will grow from and hopefully, become my long term love affair.

In the midst of a quarter-life crisis, I've decided to do something for myself. This blog is it. I love food. Everything about it takes over every single one of my senses. It's gorgeous to look at in all forms (except for maybe on the way out), and the smells, tastes, and textures vary infinitely. There's always something new to try, and if I like it, I can have it over and over and over again. Food, for me, is survival, it's an indulgence and a passion. What better way to go through a quarter-life crisis than to dive into something I'm familiar with, but yet, know SO incredibly little about in the grander scheme of things. There's much to discover, so much to succeed at, and as awesome of a cook as I think I much to fail at and learn from.

Local, organic produce that I may or may not purchase on a regular basis- delivered right to my door! It will be like my own personal Iron Chef competition - against myself - "What's the secret ingredient this week?"....BEETS? SQUASH?'s whatever's in season, my dear. And each time that same ingredient comes to my door, I will make something different with it - and perhaps even more delicious and amazing than the dish from the week prior.